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November 15, 2012: Necessary Battle

Yesterday, on its FaceBook page, the IDF put up the following message:

“We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.”

A great message. I am reading that Hamas and assorted other terrorist leaders are not to be seen.


So we are waging the battle that is understood in all reasonable quarters to be necessary.

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said last night:

“We are in the midst of an attack that will continue and grow. There is no hourglass. We received the green light from the Prime Minister and the Minster of Defense. If I were a senior Hamas activist–I would look for a place to hide.

“…All options that allow us to cause serious damage to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations are on the table.”


Mordecai also said: “the IDF operates with pinpoint accuracy to try to make as clean a hit as possible, but unfortunately some of the weapons are located near kindergartens and mosques.. An orchard is intended for oranges, not weapons, and a school is intended for studies and not weapons. A mosque is intended for prayer and not weapons.”

Well put, and a warning about potential “collateral damage.” This is always the dilemma for the IDF, because the terrorists hide their weapons and often do the launching in the midst of civilian areas. They figure they will win one way or the other: either we won’t hit or we hit and risk international condemnation.

The IDF is doing everything possible to minimize those civilian casualties. Today leaflets were dispersed in several areas of Gaza, warning residents to stay away from the operatives and facilities of Hamas and other terror organizations, as they may pose a threat to their safety. Additionally, over 20,000 phone calls have been made to residents to warn them to vacate areas that are likely to be hit soon.

Now I ask: What other nation in the world would do this? Please, do Israel a favor and publicize this fact, via letters to the editor, talk shows, discussions with friends, etc.

It would be impossible to exaggerate the incredible intelligence required, and the level of cooperation necessary between the Shin Bet and the IDF, in order to pull off the two-pronged attack that took place yesterday. It represents a stunning beginning to this battle.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Eitan Ben-Eliyahu, former commander of the Air Force, estimated on the news last night that the Air Force probably had something like 20 seconds for successfully executing the strike against Jaabari.

Israel also successfully located the sites of the long-range Fajr missiles, capable of hitting Tel Aviv, and took most of those out as well.

It may take a while for us to act, but when we do… watch out! This, this is the IDF the world needs to see.


This does not mean that it will not be difficult for Israel during the course of Operation Pillar of Defense. Since that operation began late yesterday, over 130 rockets have been launched at Israel — and by the time you read this, it will be more. A barrage of rockets was aimed at Be’ersheva; as well as at Ashkelon; Yavne; Ofakim — where a school building was hit; Ashdod — where a home was hit; Eshkol — where three soldiers were injured by mortar shells; Sderot, etc. etc. And this will continue.

What is more, by 5:00 PM a rocket had landed in Rishon Letzion, which is farther north, below Tel Aviv. And then the sirens went off in Tel Aviv and two rockets landed in an open field.


The painful news is that there was a direct hit in Kiryat Malachi, which led to deaths of three people, serious injury to two additional adults, moderate injury to one boy, and light injury to two babies (one of whom is pictured here).

תינוקת שנפצע×

Credit: Gideon Rahamim/YNet


One of the dead is Mira Sharef, who was a Chabad Lubavitch emissary in India. She and her family had come to Israel to participate in a memorial for the victims of the terror attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai four years ago.


Sharef, was pregnant; her husband and children were injured.


The IDF reserves are being mobilized, although it is not yet clear what will happen with regard to a ground operation. Certain units are being moved south. And we are continuing to hit multiple sites in Gaza from the air — with some 200 plus sites already hit.


In a press conference last night, Defense Minister Barak laid out four goals for this operation:

1. Strengthening our deterrence
2. To inflict serious damage on the rocket launching network
3. To deliver a painful blow for Hamas and the other terrorist organizations
4. To minimize damage to our home front

“There is no ‘quick-fix’ solution,” he said. “…But we will achieve these aforementioned goals throughout the course of this operation.”

The clear delineation of goals is considered to be of great importance. For otherwise, the IDF cannot determine when it’s time to stop because the goals have been achieved, and when it is necessary to continue.

Please note, taking down of Hamas entirely is not one of the goals. Actually, there may be solid reason not to eliminate Hamas right now: There are more radical Islamists groups such as al-Qaeda operating in Gaza today. Creating chaos or a vacuum that allows such groups to come to the fore would be no gain.


At the call of Palestinian Arabs, Egyptians and others, the Security Council met late last night to discuss what is going on in Gaza. It disbanded with no conclusion.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, reminded those assembled that he had registered concerns multiple times about the rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza but there was never a response.

Rest assured, there will be international diplomatic efforts afoot in no time to “restore quiet” to the region — which essentially means demanding that Israel call a halt.


There has been reasonably wide scale support of Israel’s “right to defend itself.” But it often comes with a proviso about not escalating matters unduly or causing unnecessary civilian casualties, or whatever. In other words:

Yes, Israel, you have a right to defend yourself, but there should be considerable constraints levied with regard to how you do this. Preferably, you shouldn’t kill anyone.

Or, another version:

Yes, yes, Hamas started it with its rockets. But the region doesn’t really heat up until Israel responds. Things would be quieter if Israel restrained itself.

Canada issued a statement of support for Israel. And the US also voiced support. This came from Obama, Clinton, and Rice at the UN.

But Clinton was one of those who found it necessary to add a proviso: “We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”


The EU’s Catherine Ashton made a totally ludicrous statement: “There is no place for violence in the Middle East. It is only through resumed negotiations that the legitimate aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis will be met, through a two-state solution.”

Would someone please tell her that Israel is (theoretically, at least) supposed to be negotiating with the PA in Judea and Samaria about a “two state solution” and that this has nothing to do with Gaza or with Hamas, a terrorist entity with whom Israel will not negotiate and which is in favor of destroying Israel, not establishing a state along side the Jewish state.

How pathetic can it get?


On Monday, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, Israeli National Security Advisor, was in Washington meeting with his American counterpart. Official word then had it that they were discussing the situations in Gaza and Syria. Well, yes, but it retrospect it becomes clear that Amidror was sent to give heads up to the Obama administration on intended Israeli action in Gaza. What we began last night was no surprise at the White House.


Earlier this week Netanyahu addressed ambassadors in Israel from foreign nations, making Israel’s case for self-defense. Today he called Obama to express appreciation for his support. Talking points are going out to Israel’s emissaries in various parts of the world, providing background information on what Israel has dealt with and what her rights are.


Egypt has recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations.

Sec. of State Clinton, who has been on the road, was at the Egyptian presidential palace, and apparently an appeal was made to her for the US to intervene. (I see nothing about a response on this from her.) President Morsi is doing some sort of balancing act — siding with Palestinian Arabs but trying to appear balanced so he can negotiate a cease fire. He seems not to have lashed out verbally at Israel as he might have been expected to do.


Shabbat comes in very early now. Not sure there will be time to post again until after Shabbat.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 03:35PMby Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 14, 2012: All Right!

Truly, I didn’t expect this to happen. There was a lot of talk from Israeli leadership about taking action against Hamas because of some 150 rockets launched into southern Israel. Talk. And then news broke about a cease fire being brokered by Egypt. And Defense Minister Barak made a statement about the “resilience” of the residents in Israel’s south.

And I thought, oh no. Agreeing to temporary quiet yet again, waiting for the terrorists in Gaza to decide when to launch the next attack against those “resilient” residents?

But the military surprised me, and all of us, and acted.


A series of airstrikes was launched by the Air Force inside of Gaza late this afternoon. The key strike was the bombing of a car in Gaza City, which instantly killed Ahmed al-Jaabari, the head of the military wing of Hamas (Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades).

Credit: TimesofIsrael

Reportedly, his son was killed as well, and two others wounded.


The IDF has now announced that it has launched a “widespread campaign on terror sites and operatives in the Gaza Strip, chief among them Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets.”

This campaign has been dubbed “Operation Pillar of Defense.” In Hebrew it’s “Amud Anan,” which alludes to the pillar of cloud that led that the Hebrews in the Sinai after the Exodus from Egypt. I like that. And once there’s a name applied, we know it’s serious and not just a one time event we’re looking at.

Said IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai,”…Jaabari is the first target… We’ve only just started, and this isn’t the end of it. All of the options are open, and we will persist in our determination to continue to hit all of the [terror] organizations further down the line.

“While we are not talking about conquering all of Gaza, there is preparation for a ground operation as well, which will be undertaken if it is necessary. The required military units that need to be diverted for such an operation are at the ready.”

A Shin Bet statement clarified that, “By nature of his position, Jaabari has been responsible over the past decade for all anti-Israel terror activity emanating from the [Gaza] Strip,” That’s a whole lot of terror activity. He oversaw the abduction of Gilad Shalit (and personally escorted him to the Rafah Crossing when he was released). And he played a major role in the Hamas take-over of Gaza from Fatah in 2007.

According to military officials, the ability to hit him was made possible through “precise intelligence” that had been gathered over a period of months. Twice before his home had been targeted but he avoided being hit; he was a very careful man. Until now.

Credit: news.iowapublicradio


Other Israeli airstrikes today aimed for targets in Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah; in all, some 20 targets have been hit. Reportedly, Raed Atar, head of Hamas’s Rafah Battalion, has been killed; some of the strikes targeted reinforced silos of sophisticated Fajr 3 and Fajr 5 missiles — which have a longer range capability.


Please understand: What we have been doing in response to rocket attacks for some time now is striking against crews that had just launched rockets or were preparing to do so. Occasionally we hit a smuggling tunnel. This was of minimal concern to Hamas leadership, as there were always other crews and other launchings, and lots of other tunnels. While it was an attempt to show we were “doing something,” such action is fairly worthless as a deterrent or as reprisal.

What was done today, and presumably will continue to be done, has very real impact. Not only are we aiming to eliminate leaders who are able to plan the attacks — thus reducing the terror groups’ capacity to plan and act, we undermine morale, and strike fear in those leaders who haven’t been hit (yet). When you’re busy deciding where to hide, you have less time to plot attacks against Israel and you begin to think twice about doing so at all.

(Although, they do have the option of hiding in hospitals, as they did last time so bravely — using the sick as human shields while planning their war, confident that Israel, even knowing that they are there, would not hit a hospital.)

In addition, caches of weapons and other infrastructure will be struck. This doesn’t eliminate Hamas, or Islamic Jihad, but it’s the beginning of a credible, blow.


Of course, Hamas will not sit still for this. Its armed wing declared that Israel has “opened the gates of hell.” We’re at war now, says Hamas.

Rockets have been launched at Sderot and Ashkelon. It’s only going to get more intense and life will not be normal for the people of the south for some while. But it’s different, I have no doubt, and easier to deal with, when the government is acting.


Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak went north, and engaged in public discussion of the situation in Syria. There is speculation (reasonable) that this was done to divert the attention of Hamas and make it possible to catch them off guard.


In April of 2004, political head of Hamas, Abdel Aziz Ali Abdulmajid al-Rantissi, was taken out when Israel fired missiles from an Apache helicopter at his car.

That was only a brief time after Israel had hit the terrorist mastermind and head of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, by targeting his car.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 02:06PMby Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 12, 2012: What We Are Facing Now

Before I begin to talk about what we are facing, I want to provide one quote. In going over my notes regarding the situation of Christians in Muslim lands, I found a quote from Raymond Ibrahim that it is too good not to reproduce here:

Israel is the dhimmi that got away.”

Dhimmi, defined by Sharia law, is a second class citizen (Jewish, Christian or other monotheist) living in a Muslim society.

What is more, says Ibrahim, Israel is now in a position of authority over some Muslims, and that is intolerable. Remember, Muslim Arab pride is very important.

Food for thought.


I am sorry that my crystal ball seems a big fogged up today. Perhaps it’s because of the wonderful rain we’ve been having here in Jerusalem — a great blessing.

But at any rate, my capacity to forecast is weak and what I want to do here, in the main, is issue a report:

The barrage of weapons coming from Gaza has been severe. By late yesterday over 100 rockets had fallen in a 24 hour period, and dozens more were launched this morning. There have been hits — in Sderot and on a home in Netivot. This last was a more powerful Grad rocket, and although several people were hospitalized for shock, thank Heaven, there no injuries.

Credit: Israel Hayom


A series of rockets was launched yesterday at just about the time for children to be dismissed from school (some, but not all schools had cancelled), and that no kids were hit was truly a miracle.


So, the question is, what happens next. The residents of the south have had it. As have many members of the government and the Knesset.

Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter, for example, is quoted as saying: “There is no precedent in history of destroying terror by air power alone. It hasn’t happened and it won’t happen. Thus it is necessary to reformat Gaza altogether.” “Reformatting” Gaza sounds good.

And Education Minister Gideon Saar said that Israel “was in the last stages of preparing for a very wide military offensive in Gaza.”

While Tzachi Hanegbi, former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said today that “Israel’s deterrence against terror from Gaza, including Hamas and others there, no longer exists, and now we find ourselves in a countdown toward a large and aggressive ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Air power has run its course. They have obviously forgotten the lessons they learned from Operation Cast Lead.”

What Hanegbi suggested is that this action should not resemble Cast Lead but, instead, Operation Defensive Shield,during which the IDF moved into large Palestinian Arab cities in Judea and Samaria in 2002 in order to root out terrorist forces..


So, maybe this time…

Another indication that something might be happening is that PM Netanyahu is calling for meetings with foreign ambassadors, reportedly to diplomatically pave the way for an understanding of our need to attack.

I hesitate to predict an attack, however, for at least a couple of reasons.

First, why so much talk? Why are they not shutting their mouths and letting our military actions speak? Is this talk nothing more than empty saber rattling?

And then, Barak made a statement about the strong action we will take “if it is necessary.” IF?? It IS necessary. Is he looking for an out?

As I write, the number of rockets being launched is fewer, and there’s talk of the possibility of an Egyptian-negotiated cease fire.

This would be deplorable. One woman resident in the south was quoted as saying, “This is the worst it’s been in months.” And that’s the point. If there is such a ceasefire then, at the will of the Islamic terrorists, there will be another barrage in another few weeks or months. And our civilians continue to be at their mercy.

I fear — I always fear this — that it will take, G-d forbid, the death of some of those civilians to motivate what should be undertaken immediately.

Deterrence power is the key here. This means we instill sufficient fear of Israel and how we will respond into these jihadists so that they hesitate to launch against us.

I don’t know if it should be a full operation into Gaza, or bombing of the headquarters of Hamas and other groups so that leaders become afraid or the taking of certain cities. That is for the military people to decide. What I do know is that it is time — past time — for a powerful action that hurts them badly.

I mention again here, as I have in the past, that I have no doubt that Hezbollah is watching. They will mark well how we respond in Gaza and may temper their actions against us accordingly. This is all part of deterrence.


Frankly, I am hard put to understand why it should be necessary (if this is what is about to happen) for our prime minister to explain to foreign diplomats our need to attack before we do so. They have eyes and ears. And living in Israel they are privy to Israeli news (even if international news doesn’t carry the story). They know what the Gaza terrorists are doing, and they know that their own nations would tolerate no such thing. What’s to explain? And why give the terrorists a heads-up on our intentions?

It is our place to act as we need to, with pride, as a sovereign nation.

We should begin our operation without prior fanfare, in my opinion, and then the prime minister can call a press conference saying, “Here is the evidence of rockets launched against our civilians without provocation. The world can thus see for itself the necessity of what we have now undertaken. Israel will not allow its citizens to remain at risk.” Period. No permission sought and no apologies.


What I must also report here is how tense matters are at our northern border with Syria.

Yesterday morning, after a 120mm mortar shell landed in the Israeli Golan, for the first time since the Yom Kippur war in 1973, Israel fired directly into Syria. A Tammuz missile was launched, not for purposes of direct hit, but rather to indicate, with utilization of that very sophisticated missile, that Israel was serious in demanding that the civil war not begin to move across the border.

Now today, another shell struck Israeli territory, and this time retaliation was with tanks stationed near the border. This was more than a warning: two D-3 mortar launchers belonging to the Syrian army were hit directly.

Credit: Avihu Shapira/YNet

Israel has no intention of becoming involved in the Syrian civil war, and that attitude has been conveyed to the UN and in other venues.

One would think that Assad has his hands full enough at present, and will absorb the Israeli message and attempt to pull back fighting from so close to the Israel Golan.

But Assad is desperate, and desperate tyrants do crazy things some times. There is no predicting here, either.

I do not believe, however, that we can allow this to deter us from what we must do with regard to Gaza. Our military is well prepared for a variety of scenarios, including the possibility of contending on more than one front.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

Posted on Monday, November 12, 2012 at 10:48AMby Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 11, 2012: Christians in the Middle East

I want to begin by switching gears today, to consider an important, and much neglected issue. Last Thursday night, a symposium — co-sponsored by B’nai Brith World Center, the Menachem Begin Center and the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Jerusalem — was held on “The Present and Future of Christians in the Middle East.”

That Christians in Muslim and Arab countries in this region have it very difficult was hardly news to me. But this symposium provided a broader context and some significant information.


Raymond Ibrahim, author and ME specialist with the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the ME Forum, is an American born to Christian Copts from Egypt.

Credit: twitter

He provided an historical context for the situation:

What we are seeing today is a 1,400-year long manifestation of a Muslim doctrine of conquest of Christians. This is not an historical aberration or a modern phenomenon. It is what has been happening over the centuries.

And this has been a conquest by the sword. There is a Koranic doctrine of hostility to non-Muslims.

Across the region, there was a Christian presence before the advent of Islam, and now it is said that “The entire Islamic world is one occupied territory.” This conquest began in the Arabian peninsula and spread to Egypt, Syria and elsewhere. Fifteen hundred years ago 90% of Egypt was under Copt control.

With this conquest has come a pattern of destruction of churches, degradation, persecution and forced conversions.

Today there is a serious humanitarian crisis. In different continents, in different cultures, there is persecution of Christians. The common denominator is Islam. In Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, etc. In recent months, tens of thousands of Christians have been shoved out of Mali. The Islamist opposition in Syria attacks Christians. In Egypt, the Copts are suffering with the rise of the Brotherhood.


Says Ibrahim: The situation of the Christians makes the Palestinian issue a non-issue. Christians in the US do not sufficiently address this suffering. But leaders within liberal denominations are eager to promote the Palestinian issue.

The same can be said about the media.


Juliana Taimoorazy is an Assyrian Christian. The Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans) are indigenous to the region — descended from the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians. A Semitic people, not Arab and not Kurdish, they converted to Christianity in the First Century of the Common Era and still utilize Aramaic.

Credit: Voiceofthecopts

Taimoorazy fled Iran, where she had been born, at age 15 and ultimately made her way to the US, where she has lived for over 20 years. There she founded the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, which lends badly needed assistance to the beleaguered Assyrian Christians living in Iraq.

The information she provided was chilling:

From 1914-18, three out of four Assyrian Christians were murdered: As the Turks slaughtered Armenians so did they kill the Assyrians, some 750,000 in total.

From 2004 until the present there have been 80 church bombings, as well as numerous kidnappings. In the south of Iraqi there is ethnic cleansing. In the north, persecution by Kurds.

There were over one million Christians in Iraq, but the number is down to 450,000 because the rest have fled as refugees, to Syria, Jordan and elsewhere. Some 45% of all Iraqi refugees are Christian. There are those who believe the solution is for all to leave, but there is reluctance because they have ancient roots in the land.

Priests are not only murdered, their bodies are cut into pieces and scattered around their churches.


Even more chilling were the still photos and video clips she showed. The portrayals of massacres of Christians were starkly reminiscent of Jewish suffering during pogroms over the centuries, and I knew I had to write about this. It is forbidden to remain silent.

In particular, I encourage Christians reading this to learn more about suffering fellow Christians, and how you can help them.


Taimoorazy said the Obama administration has been contacted about this situation, but there is no response.


Dr. Moti Kedar, who teaches Arabic at Bar Ilan University and is an expert on Arab populations, provided further insight into the situation of Christians in the Middle East.

Credit: cjnews

The Copts, he told us, were the original Egyptians. “Copt” is a Greek version of the word “Egypt.”

It was the Christians who brought ideas of nationalism to the Middle East after exposure to this ideology in Europe. Their hope was that everyone would be equal, united as patriots of a nation. But their notion of converting Islamism to nationalism never worked. Muslims focus on the Umm, the Muslim nation — intended to unite Muslims.

Muslims are historically hostile to Jews and Christians. According to their beliefs, Islam came to replace Judaism and Christianity, not to live side by side with these faiths. It is for this reason that they have a common practice of building mosques over churches — or turning churches into mosques.


Even though Muslims have a long history of persecution of Christians, the situation has been worse in recent times.

First there is a factor of frustration. They knew that Islam was supposed to replace Christianity because their Koran has told them so. But the US, a much despised Christian nation, has been successful. Not only successful — via modern technology, the despised American culture has invaded their lands. As a result of this, they vent their frustration upon those Christians living within their lands.

Then there is the increased radicalization of Islam. The Copts did not have it good under Mubarak. It’s worse with the Brotherhood.

Lastly, there is the situation of the Jews. Not only have they not disappeared, they have had the temerity to establish their own nation, where their people are protected from Muslim persecution. A source of enormous frustration. But as the Muslims don’t have Jewish populations — whom they can attack — within their lands any longer, they turn with increased ferocity upon the Christians who still live amongst them.

Jews and Christians, then, are united in recent history, in facing Islamic animosity, and need to make common cause.


A few diverse political observations:

Dr. Kedar provides a knowledgeable description of Islamic frustration. His understanding, his insight, is what is missing from most political analyses:

The Muslims were supposed to replace the Jews. That’s what their religious teachings tell them. How then can they be expected to accept with equanimity the success of the Jewish state? Israel is an irritant to them, in the best of circumstances.

How can they be expected to approach with genuine good will ideas of living side by side with Israel?

The answer is that this cannot realistically be expected of them — and especially is this the case because moderation is decreasing and there is a growing radicalization of Muslims, including the Muslims of Fatah (the PA/PLO).

And yet, this expectation is what the deluded and clueless leaders of the Western world continue to promote and foster.


Juliana Taimoorazy said this at the end of her presentation:

“The America I knew 20 years ago is not the America of today. Americans are very politically correct and wants to welcome everyone who comes.” But there are those who are coming, she explained, who are working to bring Sharia (Islamic) law. “I am very afraid for America.”


I, too, am very afraid for America. And it’s not just because the Muslims are coming, as they’ve come to Europe. It’s for another reason as well.

As I have struggled in the last few days in an attempt to understand what has happened with the last election, I have been advised time and again that America is not what she was because there is now a more diverse ethnic population. But this did not seem to me sufficient explanation. The United States is proudly a nation of immigrants. So, it’s different immigrants. So what?

And suddenly I knew “so what?”

I think back to the situation of the early years of the twentieth century, when the land was flooded with immigrants: Jewish, Italian, Greek and more. America in those days was referred to as a melting pot. The goal of immigrants was to become American, to absorb American values.

That is what is lost in today’s politically correct America, where everything is considered as good as everything else and it is not considered appropriate to attempt to inculcate American values in newcomers. “Old fashioned” values — such as self-reliance and defense of liberty at all costs and dedication to the constitution — are being diluted.

And along with it, notions of American exceptionalism, which for many decades made America the leader of the free world. No more. Now America leads from behind and the world is poorer for it.

John F. Kennedy, in his inaugural speech, said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” That was 52 years ago. Would his words reverberate throughout the land today, inspiring people?

A rhetorical question: The election just past was about entitlements — about what America would be doing for its citizens.

Add to this an America terribly divided — by ethnic group and economic class and more — because there is less sense of common peoplehood and all pulling together.

I grieve.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 01:38PMby Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 10, 2012: The World Goes On

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

I’m not done talking about the election. Not by a long shot. But it’s time, here, to return to consideration of other events. Wish I could say I had good news…

Things have heated up again in Israel’s south.

Early Saturday evening, an anti-tank missile was fired at IDF soldiers, reportedly of the Givati Brigade, who were riding a jeep along the fence at the Gaza border — adjacent to central Gaza — doing a security check. Four soldiers were wounded, one seriously and one very seriously. The IDF responded with tank fire and then fire from helicopters. Reports are that three Arabs were killed and several more wounded.


This followed an incident on Thursday in which a tunnel, which extended into Israeli territory and had been packed with hundreds of kilograms of explosives blew up. One soldier was lightly wounded, and it seems a small miracle that this was all that happened.


And now there has begun again what is referred to in the news as an “escalation” in attacks from Gaza. Kassams, mortar shells, and Grad katyushas are being launched — a total of,more than 30 so far tonight, as I write — into Eshkol, Gadera, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Yavne, Sderot and Sha’ar Hanegev. I’m seeing conflicting reports on whether Islamic Jihad or Hamas is responsible for these attacks.

Again, there is talk of closing schools, as weary residents have to hunker down. Again that breathtaking requirement that they remain within 15 seconds of a shelter.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz is calling for a security assessment.


Bottom line: this is an unacceptable situation.
Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter apparently agreed, as he said that Israel “must reestablish its military deterrence in Gaza.”

While Alon Shuster, head of Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, speaking to Ynet, said “…we now realize there is no easy solution and that the country must address this situation.”

And so?


In the north, the situation is not exactly placid either. In this instance, however, it does not appear that there is a deliberate attack on Israel. Rather, there is “spillover” of the fighting going on in Syria near the Israeli border:

Last Monday, an IDF jeep on the Golan Heights was hit, although no one was hurt. On Wednesday, stray bullets hit near an IDF position. On Thursday, three mortar shells landed in a town close to the border.

New rules of engagement for soldiers stationed in the area instruct them to return fire if there is continuous fire that comes from Syria. While there is no desire to provoke confrontation, there is concern about Islamists slipping over the border.

Chief of Staff Gantz visited the northern border this past week and noted that the Syrian war might “become an Israeli matter” if this situation persists. From where he stood, he was able to hear cries of “Allahu Akbar” from across the border — it’s close indeed.

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon said Syria has been sent several warnings about the situation.


As for the Palestinian Arabs, they are still talking about going to the UN General Assembly, either on November 15 or November 29 — or, maybe they’ll wait. Their announcements are made with the usual clarity. And are accompanied by conflicting statements: this will allow us to proceed more effectively with the peace process; this will render Oslo null and void.

I will examine the situation in more detail as it becomes a bit more clear as to what may transpire. The legal issues are confusing, to say the least — in no small part because not everyone is playing by the rules.

The US, the UK, and Israel are attempting to dissuade them from proceeding.


Not long ago, Abbas made a statement on Israeli television regarding the fact that he would not seek to return to live in S’fat (in the Galil), which is where his family had lived, although he wouldn’t mind visiting. (He has long pretended to be a “refugee” from there, but there are clear statements by him on the record to the effect that his family moved voluntarily.) Now he spoke about a Palestinian state as being compromised of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

With this he generated apoplexy among other Palestinian Arab leaders, who furiously accused him of relinquishing the “right of return.” Thus he quickly backtracked: No, no, he was speaking for himself only. Of course the “right of return” is an inalienable right that still exists.


This is noteworthy for only one reason. There may soon be another push by the Obama administration for Israel to sit down with the PA to negotiate. But what is obvious on the face of it is that if the PA demands this “right” that cannot ever be relinquished, then no agreement is possible. (This aside from all the other reasons, of course.) Even if Abbas truly would want to negotiate away this “right,” he would not be able to — not if he valued his safety.


Just before Abbas made his statement, PLO official Farouk Kaddoumi made another sort of proposal: Jordan should annex Judea and Samara (aka the West Bank) he said, thereby creating a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation. End of negotiations, end of Oslo.

But the very hard line Kaddoumi never supported Oslo. He’s still in Tunisia, whence the PLO leadership had come, because he wouldn’t participate in the Palestinian Authority.

Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose position is very shaky, would never support such a proposal, for fear of being overrun totally by the PLO. There’s history here: His father, King Hussein, in a bloody engagement, threw the PLO out of Jordan in 1970, when Arafat threatened to wrest control of the country.

Jordan had occupied the West Bank from 1949-67, and today some 70% of Jordanians are of Palestinian origins. But in recent years Jordan has actually been stripping some Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship.

Nonetheless, I found this proposal interesting. Only becaused it seemed to me that Kaddoumi was expressing a weariness with the game-playing of Oslo and attempting to put a new scenario into play.


Administration officials are being cited in news reports saying that, while President Obama has not made his final decision regarding a new Secretary of State, first on his list is Susan Rice, currently US Ambassador to the UN.

Heaven help us. She makes Hillary look pro-Israel.

When PM Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly recently, she opted to absent herself.

This past February, in a speech to the Security Council she said: “For more than four decades Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”

This statement, you must understand, came immediately after the US had vetoed a SC resolution on Israeli settlements. It was vetoed because Obama wanted to see negotiations, and feared that interference by the UN would be counterproductive to his goal. All she had to do was veto. There was no need to editorialize. As Omni Ceren put it, in Commentary: “the American ambassador to the United Nations telegraphed – through words, body language, and her anti-Israel tantrum – that she didn’t support the policy she was implementing on behalf of the president.”


And the above is just the latest on Rice.

She is on record as having said that: “when we meet our financial obligations to the UN, we make Americans safer,” and “the UN promotes universal values Americans hold dear.” (If THAT doesn’t give you nightmares…)


According to Rick Moran:

“Her steadfast belief that poverty, not radical Islamist ideology, is responsible for terrorism has upended 20 years of American anti-terrorism policy. Rice is the inspiration behind the Obama administration’s de-emphasizing military action against terrorists, while looking for ways to address the ‘root causes’ of the violence. She co-authored an academic article in 2005 that postulated that terrorism was ‘a threat borne of both oppression and deprivation.'”

In 2009, she counseled against the US pulling out of the virulently anti-Israel Durban Conference (although the US ultimately did).


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 03:55AMby Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 8, 2012: Looking Backward, Focusing Forward

Before I can proceed with other matters that are waiting to be addressed, I realize I must revisit the issue of the election. I’ve had more communication from very upset readers on this matter than I have ever received on any other issue.

One particularly savvy and thoughtful reader wrote: “Any reasonable, thinking, caring person, who is a fact driven voter could not have possibly voted for Obama…” And, indeed, he is correct. The reality of the situation smacks one in the face. (My hat would be off to you, Don, if I were wearing one.)

The key lies in the phrase “fact-driven,” for it is clear that a good percentage of people are not fact-driven. They respond emotively, or are moved by symbols or broad-ranging concepts.


A politically active American friend observed — when I referred to the failure of mainstream media to sufficiently publicize the Benghazi affair — that anyone who wanted information on this could have gotten it. And she, too, is correct. (Appreciated, Reisa.)

Most Americans own computers or Internet-linked devices. Once jarred by a sense that the media wasn’t saying everything that needed to be known (and certainly broad hints of this were out there), they would only have had to google “Benghazi” to secure a huge amount of information.

And so it is perhaps insufficient to blame the media, which is indeed culpable. We are, I suggest, looking at something deeper right now: Many Americans would rather not know.


The Democratic message is more comforting: Bin Laden has been eliminated and al-Qaeda is seriously weakened. The Arab spring will bring democracy to the Middle East and the American president is helping it happen. At the same time, he is watching out for the security of Israel.

Phew… then things aren’t so bad, huh?

A whole lot safer and more reassuring than contemplating an al-Qaeda that moves from one country to another in the region but is still a formidable and destructive force; nations that have fallen into the hands of radical Islamists for whom destruction of America is a chief goal; and a president who pushes Israel to retreat to lines that are most definitely not secure.

Obama, presenting himself as a symbol of hope, reassures. He’s the candidate who cares about the little man, not like that businessman Romney who deals with corporations. (Negative campaigning also works, big time.) No need to delve into the facts that would shatter this picture. Hold fast, hold fast, to that more optimistic feeling. No need to be responsible for clarifying the issues. No need to seek out and then grapple with information that can cause sleeplessness. Cover your ears, close your eyes, before those facts assail you.


If this theory is correct, it explains a whole lot about Obama’s electoral success.

And there is reason to think that it may have credibility. Eleven years ago, with the Twin Towers attack, 3,000 Americans were destroyed. Destroyed by ideologically radical Muslims who cannot even be identified as such in official government communication in Obama’s America.

Here in Israel we were aghast at the severity, the trauma, of that attack, and then at the speed with which Americans developed amnesia regarding the dangers that continue to threaten them and their country.

Facts can be very unpleasant things.


If this theory is correct, it suggests that Obama is not the problem, but rather a symptom of a dangerous mindset.


With regard to looking forward politically, I make these observations:

Not enough to mourn the result of the election. Not even enough to pinpoint the reasons why it turned out as it did. Now is the time for Americans alarmed by the situation to rally and plan.

I do not take away from Romney the fact that he would have been a far better president than Obama, who is a dangerous man. Not for a moment. He might have achieved needed changes on many fronts, for Romney is, to the very best of my understanding of his record, honorable, competent, and a patriotic American. But in the end he represented mostly an alternative to Obama, and many analysts are now saying that this was not enough.

I agree.

Romney is not an ideologue. He is someone who knows how to get things done and was selling himself that way: as someone who has the capacity to fix much that is wrong with the country, fiscally and otherwise.

But it may have been insufficient because there was no clear vision. No ideological passion.

In fact, in the waning days and weeks of the campaign, Romney — taking the cue from his political advisors — waxed increasingly timid. The strategy was to avoid coming on too strong, as this, it was feared, would alarm the electorate. No suggestions about Islamist threats out there that might require the US to take a strong and dedicated stand. No firm rebuttal to some of the Obama claims.

No direct challenge to America to face these matters.


Now, I know I have just written that the electorate, or some significant part of it, does not want to know. Obviously, this is what Romney was attempting to deal with. In fact, I strongly suspect that Romney was selected by Republicans over ideologues such as Newt Gingrich who would have spoken out boldly because he seemed safer and more comfortable and more “midstream.”

But it’s time for a dramatically different approach.

Members of the Republican party and Americans on the right more broadly must consolidate their efforts without delay and establish a firm ideological base.

There are several reasons why this is critical.

First, because hard realities must be hammered home to the American populace. Dangers to the US and the West that do exist will not disappear because they are ignored. Calling Islamic regimes in Arab states “democratic” will not make them so. Pretending that Iran can be dealt with does not change the goals of the mullahs. Saying that al-Qaeda is essentially defeated will not make it melt away in places where it is gaining strength.

To publicly confront these issues is to do the nation and the world a great service. They must be written about and discussed, again and again and again.


I’ve written in other contexts about a paradigm shift — a shift in how matters are viewed. This is what is needed here. Yes, facts must be exposed. But as many do not respond in terms of facts, a new perception needs to be promoted that speaks also in terms of images and emotions:

People who confront those controversial issues unflinchingly must be embraced by the right, and congratulated for being forthright. They must not be ostracized as far right “kooks” or alarmists, but acknowledged as responsible individuals who are struggling to present a picture of the world that makes sense in light of significant realities.

It must be emphasized that those who are willing to deal with the tough stuff are the true patriots, who can save the country. Avoiding the issues exacerbates danger and in the end the country will pay.

There may be difference of opinion on how to deal with those issues, but public debate on these matters is laudable.

And as the issues are debated, there absolutely needs to be — as part of that ideology — a sense of dedication to traditional values. A reawakened pride in the concept of American exceptionalism. While problems must be identified, the positive must also be reinforced, and values drawn upon in solving those problems.


What I am describing is a process that requires clarity and dedication on the right. No hand-wringing. No self-pity. Just a determination to move on.

Little by little, a new awareness, a new way of thinking can make its way at a grass roots level. Sounds impossible, perhaps, but you know what they say about a journey of a thousand miles starting with the first step.


The second goal of such a campaign, of course, is that it creates fertile ground for election of conservative candidates, both in the mid-term election in two years, and in the next presidential election.


Daniel Greenfield wrote about all of this superbly yesterday, and I cite portions of his piece here (with emphasis added):

“Moderation does not win elections…America’s new rulers were once considered far more extreme and unpopular than the Tea Party. Embracing radical and unpopular ideas is not a losing strategy. It is a short term losing strategy and a long term winning strategy so long as your ideas can be used to build a movement capable of turning those ideas into an organizing force.

“…Most people, left and right, want a society based on values. Opting out of the values debate means that we lose by default…

“…It’s not enough to be against things. It’s not enough to be for things because they are the opposite of the things that the people you are at war with are for.

A movement needs a deeper sense of passion. It must be fueled by a certainty that it holds the answer to the problems of its society and its civilization. It must believe that its existence would be necessary even if the left did not exist. And it must be willing to do anything to win.

“…Revolutions are not born out of success, they are born out of despair. They rise out of the dark hours of the night. They come from the understanding that all the other options are running out. Sometimes you have to fall down to rise and sometimes you have to hit bottom, to gather one last breath and fight to reach the top.

This is still a wonderful country. It is the finest place that this civilization has produced. Despite the events of the last day, it is worth fighting for.”


And now, a correction regarding my last posting, one I make with considerable embarrassment. That I was over-tired and over-wrought might explain the error, but does not excuse it.

When writing last, right after the election results come out, I googled “Obama acceptance speech 2012” and picked up a link from that search. The only problem is that it was his acceptance of the nomination, not acceptance for having won the election. Oops! Now accept my apologies, please. (And with thanks to Maura S-F for catching this.)

Here is the proper link:


People have begun asking me how Israel’s situation will be affected by the Obama win. I am answering that it’s too soon to tell. But I would less than honest if I did not admit that I feel great anxiety; I have picked up some vibes that are decidedly not positive (to put it mildly).

Remember what Obama shouted to a crowd that was booing Romney:
“Don’t boo, vote! Voting is the best revenge!” Revenge? Who thinks this way?

One commentator wrote that Obama has become “President Revenge.” Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel demurs, saying Obama isn’t like that. No?


Netanyahu knows Romney personally and has a good relationship with him. It was no secret that he preferred a Romney win, but he did not interfere in the election.

There are left wing people here — mostly those who will be involved in our upcoming elections — who are attacking Netanyahu now. Pointing their fingers, they say that if we have trouble with Obama, it will be Netanyahu’s fault. This i

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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,, 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,, 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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