Good News Friday – Tu Bishvat edition

The day is short and I’m nearly out of time, but there is still  time to post a Good News Friday edition.

"My" almond tree, the shkedia, in blossom

“My” almond tree, the shkedia, in blossom

Tomorrow is the minor festival of Tu Bishvat, the 15th of Shvat, considered “the birthday of the trees” in Jewish tradition. You can read about the festival in my post of last year.  One of the main signifiers of the festival is the blossoming of the almond tree – the Shkedia – which usually blossoms more or less exactly on Tu Bishvat itself. This year, being a lunar leap year, “my” almond tree across the road blossomed a week early. Nevertheless it is a beautiful sight to see. We shall celebrate tonight by eating (or trying to!) 15 different types of fruit at our Shabbat meal.

And in honour of the festival, our new baby granddaughter was named Shaked (pronounced Shah-ked). She is our little “Almond”. May she grow and blossom like the almond tree ad 120!

On the subject of Tu Bishvat, here are some fascinating pictures from 100 years ago via the Picture a Day website:

Below we see tree-planting around 1930:

Planting trees on the barren hills on the way to Jerusalem (circa 1930)

Planting trees on the barren hills on the way to Jerusalem (circa 1930)

Below we see a group of Jewish British soldiers during WWI at a tree-planting in then-Palestine:

 Original caption:

Original caption: “A group from the 39th Battalion with workers and children from Ben-Shemen. 15th (of Shvat).” The sign quotes from Leviticus: “When you come to the Land, you shall plant…”

Besides the historical interest in these pictures, they provide extra proof that the Land of Israel was barren until the Jews arrived and took an interest in it and made it blossom. There are no “Palestinian” villages or farms or forests in any of the pictures above.

While we’re on the subject of trees, an Israeli discovery reveals that trees interact with each other, even sharing resources!

Trees are truly amazing. Besides producing nearly half the earth’s oxygen, providing habitat for millions of species, and creating the soil and timber resources we depend on, trees also do one more surprising thing: they share resources, Israeli researchers show.

Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Tamir Klein recently made such a startling discovery that his supervisors at first declared that the finding must have been a mistake. In the forest, trees are known to compete for resources such as light and nutrients, but Klein found that the same trees also engage in sharing.

Dr. Tamir Klein (center) with members of the Weizmann Tree Lab.

Dr. Tamir Klein (center) with members of the Weizmann Tree Lab.

Klein showed that the carbon molecules taken up by the canopies of mature spruce trees were passed through the soil in surprisingly large quantities to neighboring beech, larch and pine. As Klein recently reported in the prestigious scientific journal Science, the carbon was being transferred via “underground highways” formed by overlapping networks of root fungi.

“Neighboring trees interact with one another in complex ways,” Klein said in a statement. “Of course, there is a great deal of competition among them, but they also form communities, sort of ‘guilds,’ within which individual trees share valuable resources. In fact, trees belonging to a ‘guild’ usually do much better than those that don’t.”

This is astounding and fascinating! It is also bound to have great implications regarding climate change, global warming and scarcity of resources. Kol hakavod to Dr. Klein for this remarkable discovery.

And one last item, not connected to the festival, but simply some good news: SodaStream is to feature the Israeli flag on every one of its bottles with the message “made by Arabs and Jews working side by side” printed on it:

The SodaStream company has decided to feature an Israeli flag on all its products, which are sold in 45 countries.

“The company management wants to send a message of national pride, particularly in days when many of us hide our Israeli identity from the world,” the company, which manufactures sparkling water makers for home use, said in a statement this week.

The Israeli flag is accompanied by the English message reading, “This product is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.”

SodaStream International CEO Daniel Birnbaum said that “as a proud Israeli company, we have always taken care to keep our Israeli profile high, even if that means fighting for our place in the face of the European Union and economic terrorism from the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

“In recent years, we Israelis have found ourselves under attack, apologizing and boycotted all over the world. We may not be perfect, but we have a lot to be proud of, and we decided to show that to ourselves and to the world.

“I’m proud to be Israeli, so I’m putting my flag on 50 million products manufactured in Israel and bringing an unusual message of innovation and social responsibility. I wish every Israeli exporter would put the flag on its products, and I wish every one of us who goes abroad would feel confident in being a proud ambassador for the State of Israel,” he said.

Kol hakavod to Daniel Birnbaum on his initiative and his patriotism. May the company, which has been through so much targeted hate, grow and succeed even more.

And now I wish you all happy Tu Bishvat, Shabbat Shalom, and Happy Birthday trees!

Posted in History, indigenous rights, Judaism, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Terror strikes again – in Eilat and Petach Tikva

Two of the more unlikely places in Israel to fall victim to terror attacks found themselves the target this week.

The first attack, on Wednesday, was claimed by ISIS who fired missiles into Eilat. They were immediately shot down by Iron Dome and thank G-d there were no injuries.

An Islamic State-affiliated terror group on Thursday claimed an attack that saw four rockets fired at the Red Sea resort city of Eilat in southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday night.

Watch the video below:

The attack in Eilat was followed by an attack in my sleepy hometown of Petach Tikva, when a terrorist opened fire near the local shuk (market) and then continued his spree as he ran into the center of town.

Six people were wounded in a combination shooting and stabbing attack Thursday afternoon in a Petah Tikva market.

At 4:42, MDA first responders were dispatched to the market after the MDA Yarkon Region call center received a report regarding the attack.

MDA Emergency responders report that two men and two women were wounded in the attack, including a man and woman in their 50s, a man in his 40s, and a woman in her 30s.

Most of the victims were shot by the terrorist, while at least one was stabbed.

Six people in all were injured, thank G-d none of them seriously. He was chased by local residents, some armed with nothing more than brooms and sticks. Watch the video below, especially around the 1:18 mark.

He was eventually immobilised by a sewing machine thrown at him!

A bloodied sewing machine used to immobilise the terrorist in Petach Tikva

It’s chilling to think that it could have been any one of us or my family at the scene yesterday.  My daughter and I had considered popping in to town but decided we were too tired after sleepless nights with the new baby.

Let’s hope and pray for better news, and give thanks to Hashem that there were no serious injuries in either of these attacks.

Posted in Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The settlements bill and judicial overreach

The destruction of Amona was the price that the Israeli settlement enterprise agreed to pay in order to legalise and regulate the status of all the other settlements and outposts. The deal was a kind of plea bargain for want of another term. As we know, one of the conditions of the deal – the transfer of Amona’s houses to another plot up the road – was rejected by the Supreme Court.

However, the other part of the “plea bargain”, the “Settlement Regulation Bill”, (or the Settlement Bill for short) was pushed through the Knesset and passed its three readings to become law. (My apologies for the horrible leftist terms like “settler homes” and “West Bank”):

Following months of coalition wrangling, damning criticism from internal and international opposition and bleak warnings from legal experts, Israel on Monday legalized all West Bank outposts with sweeping legislation that will prevent future demolitions of settler homes built on private Palestinian land.

In a late-night session, the Knesset passed the final readings of the controversial so-called Regulation Bill, which paves the way for Israel to recognize some 4,000 illegally built settler homes.

New pre-fab homes in Ofra

New pre-fab homes in Ofra

After a day of back-and-forth on whether the vote would take place at all, the bill went before lawmakers at 10.30 p.m., receiving 60 votes in favor to just 52 against. All opposition MKs present voted against the bill — with veteran Likud lawmaker Benny Begin standing out as the only coalition member to oppose the measure. Eight MKs were not present in the plenary for the vote.

The Knesset plenum during the vote on the Settlements Bill

The Knesset plenum during the vote on the Settlements Bill

Speaking for the government in defense of the measure before the vote, Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said the vote was not just over this specific law, but rather about the right of the Jewish people to live in Israel. “This whole debate is based on one question: Who does this land belong to?” he told the plenary.

As expected the usual nay-sayers issued their condemnations:

Condemned by the Barack Obama administration, the European Union, the United Nations and Israel’s attorney general, the law was hailed by the settler movement as a turning point in the 50-year settlement project. Now, supporters say, the era of evacuating Jewish settlements such as the one carried out against the illegal Amona outpost last week, is over.

The law freezes demolition proceedings against the homes.

For any structures found to have been built in good faith — that is, if the homeowners did not know the house was being built on privately owned land — the state would seize the property from its Palestinian owners in exchange for compensation valued at slightly more than the land’s market value, as determined by an Israeli government committee established for that purpose.

The following explains the connection to the Amona imbroglio:

First put forward by the Jewish Home party, the original proposal was intended to overturn a High Court of Justice verdict forbidding the expropriation of the privately owned Palestinian land on which Amona once stood. The clause that would have circumvented that court ruling, however, was removed from the bill following coalition infighting.

Speaking before the vote, Jewish Home MK Shuli Muallem-Refaeli, one of the MKs who proposed the legislation, said the law was “dedicated to the brave people of Amona who were forced to go through what no Jewish family will have to again.” She used her speech to read out the names of every one of the 42 Amona families evicted last Wednesday.

On Sunday, the pro-settlement Jewish Home party doubled down on its insistence that the bill be brought Monday for its final votes. “Half a million residents of Samaria, Judea and the Jordan Valley deserve normal lives just like residents of Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv. Fifty years late, the Regulation Bill will come up tomorrow and pass in the Knesset in order to give them this normalcy,” said a statement from the Jewish Home party.

Binyamin Netanyahu himself missed the vote, visiting British PM Theresa May at the time.

Speaking to reporters from London, Netanyahu said he had informed the US administration of the vote, but had never intended to delay it.“I never said I want to push it off,” he said from the Foreign Office, where he later met with UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. “I act according to the national interests. In my view, you don’t surprise friends. Friends don’t surprise each other. Friends update each other. That’s what I did.”

Binyamin Netanyahu meets British PM Theresa May

Binyamin Netanyahu meets British PM Theresa May

Netanyahu stressed that he did not ask the Americans for permission to pass the legislation, but merely informed them of his intention to pass the bill through a second and third reading.

And how could we manage without some negative commentary from the UN?

The United Nations envoy on Middle East peace warned Monday that the law could have significant legal implications for Israel and would push away the hope of a peace agreement with the Arab world. “All core issues should be resolved between the parties through direct negotiations on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and mutual agreements,” said Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov in a statement.

The Israeli opposition behaved irresponsibly, and counter to their own interests, by refusing to participate in the debate:

After a week of debates on the bill ahead of the final vote, the opposition opted Monday to remove all of its reservations to the bill, saying it would not participate in the “coalition circus.”

Opposition chairman Isaac Herzog in the Knesset

Opposition chairman Isaac Herzog in the Knesset

Speaking before the vote, opposition leader Isaac Herzog slammed the bill and urged coalition MKs to “stop tonight’s vote, which would be a disaster for the state.

“This vote is not a vote for or against the settlers, but a vote for or against Israel’s interests,” Herzog said, warning that the law will cause indictments against IDF soldiers in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

In a refreshing turn of events the White House refused to comment on the bill, preferring to discuss it directly when Netanyahu visits President Trump next week. Of course Germany and France and others objected to the legislation, but then did anyone expect anything different?

One of the most upsetting reactions was from the Attorney General himself, who fiercely opposed the Settlements bill and has informed the government that he won’t defend it in the Supreme Court.

Regarding the Regulation Bill, Mandelblit is of the opinion that it is not constitutional, even after the amendments to it during its revising in the Knesset. He expressed concern that the law will expedite the preliminary check against Israel in The Hague’s International Court of Justice, saying that it could turn their investigation into Israeli settlements into a lawsuit.

The ToI expands on the implications of the Attorney General’s stance:

In a sign of the depth of his opposition, the attorney general is now weighing taking it a step further by appearing in court to argue against the law, Channel 2 news reported Tuesday.

If Mandelblit were to take such a drastic step, it would be unprecedented. The TV report said past attorney generals have threatened to appear in the court against the state, but none has made good on such a pledge.

Several anti-settlement groups have announced their intention to petition the High Court against the new law.

The question arises, as it always does in Israel, whether the High Court is not overreaching itself as it judges the new legislation:

Earlier on Tuesday, a government minister attacked the legitimacy of Israel’s High Court to decide on the constitutionality of laws, ahead of an expected challenge.

Tourism Minister Yariv Lavin from the ruling Likud party said judges should not have the authority to overturn laws made by democratically elected parliamentarians.

“The situation in which everyone waits until a handful of judges who are self-selected behind closed doors decide whether they like the law or not is not democratic and not correct,” he told Israel Radio, calling for “soul-searching” by the bench.

Yariv Levin is correct in his assertion. The Israeli High Court and Supreme Court’s judicial hyper-activism has been the subject of many furious discussions in the political sphere and in the media.

International Law expert Prof. Eugene Kontorovich sought to put AG Mandelblit’s mind at rest with the following series of tweets:

Prof. Kontorovich expands on this issue in his article in Just Security entitled Israel’s Settlement Regulation Bill and International Law. It is long and detailed but worthwhile reading to gain an understanding of the intricacies of the law, and clarifies how “international law” is applied very unevenly, with an unjust focus on Israel.  (No surprise there).

If in the final event the Supreme Court gets its way and refuses to allow the Knesset to go ahead with the new legislation – even though the legislation went through all the proper bureaucratic and legal hurdles – Jewish Home party chair MK Shul Mualem suggests that Israel should just go ahead and apply sovereignty, alongside a much more controversial but sadly necessary bill to limit the power of the courts:

“If the Supreme Court rejects the law we would have two options: Proceeding to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria starting in Area C, and in parallel to proceed with the court limitation bill. We have now begun to recruit coalition cosponsors of the proposed law.”

The blogger Abu Yehuda comes to a similar conclusion when he says “sovereignty is the only solution”:

The Knesset may well pass the “regularization law” that will allow other communities with claims against them to pay a ransom that will keep them from being erased as well, but do you think the Supreme Court – the same Supreme Court that decided that the whole community had to be razed because about one-half acre out of 125 “belonged” to Arabs, who were given it as stolen property by King Hussein, the same court that at the last minute scuttled the compromise that would have allowed at least some Amona residents to move to a nearby location, because Arabs had claims on that land too – will allow the law to stand?

I have heard many versions of who is at fault here. The leftist Supreme Court, which has endless compassion for Arabs but not for Jews? The Netanyahu government which “didn’t stand up for” the people of Amona? The European-financed NGOs with multi-million shekel budgets, working day and night to impeach, weaken and delegitimize our country? The Knesset which didn’t pass a law with teeth to stop the flow of money to these treasonous organizations?

There is plenty of fault to go around, but it comes down to a lack of Zionist will. It is the result of not exercising the sovereignty over Judea and Samaria that was given to us both by God and international law (real international law, not the phony arguments of the Europeans who want to grant Hitler the victory over the Jews that he failed to win in the 1940s).

It’s our land, it belongs to us, the Jewish people, the original indigenous inhabitants of the land of Israel, and not to the descendents of Arab migrants of the 19th and 20th centuries, who don’t even have their own language, religion or culture (except for the culture of murder and hate that has grown up since they failed to kill or expel us in 1948).

If we don’t recognize this truth, if we keep on internalizing the Arab narrative of upside-down history in which we are colonialists that are occupying their land, in which there was no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and in which the solution is for us to “go back to Europe,” as the mayor of an Arab village near Amona suggested, then there is no hope for the continued existence of a Jewish state.

That really is the whole problem in a nutshell.

Posted in Defence and Military, indigenous rights, International relations, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Good News Friday

As so often happens in Israel, we have had a difficult week, but here is Shabbat on our doorstep and we need to have some good news to cheer us up for Shabbat. So here is this week’s Good News Friday installment.

We’ll start with a couple of cute items via Facebook:

Here is  Item 774 from 1000 cool things about Israel:

Check out the class of new army intelligence officers, including two pregnant religious women, who were granted waivers of the uniform requirement because of their pregnancies. G-d bless this country!

Kol hakavod to the dedication of these young women who could easily have received an exemption from IDF service on religious grounds and certainly on the grounds of being pregnant. May their service continue to be as fruitful as their personal life!  Kol hakavod too to the IDF which made special arrangements for these “blooming” young women. 😉

Another story which has being doing the rounds, though it is not new, is this little vignette about the woman who collects abandoned balloons in Ben Gurion Airport arrivals hall, and then distributes them to sick children to brighten up their days in hospital:


What a beautiful idea, so simple and yet so magical for those sick children. Kol hakavod to Samita who has undertaken this project, her consideration for others is an example for all of us.

Talking of hospitals, an Israeli developed software helps reduce prescription errors, something vital to busy hospitals:

A new study by Harvard Medical School shows that software developed by Israeli startup MedAware helps reduce prescription errors, potentially saving the lives of patients.

Ra’anana-based MedAware has developed software that uses algorithms and machine learning based on data and patterns gathered from thousands of physicians who treat millions of patients. The data is used to identify and give alerts about prescription errors in real time.

The company says its self-learning, self-adaptive system is proven to dramatically reduce healthcare costs while improving patient safety.

The Harvard study analyzed records from almost 800,000 patients to assess the efficacy of MedAware’s software. The report found that MedAware’s technology identifies errors otherwise undetected by current systems in use, minimizes the risks arising from fatigued doctors who are used to getting false alerts from current systems, and reduces prescription errors with high accuracy.

The findings, published on Sunday in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), showed that MedAware’s technology sets a new standard for prescription alerts and patient safety vis-à-vis traditional safety systems, which only detect a fraction of actual errors, and are not geared up to identify random or complex errors, like prescribing a medication used only in pregnant women for an elderly make, for example.

The current clinical decision support (CDS) systems that are used by physicians are not patient-specific and suffer from high false alarm rates — which create a phenomenon known as “alert fatigue,” in which physicians simply learn to disregard notifications, a statement issued by MedAware said.

In the US healthcare market, more than $20 billion is lost, annually, as a result of prescription errors and their consequences, the statement said. In the US alone, medication errors harm at least 1.5 million people every year and cause the annual premature death of more than 220,000 patients, MedAware says on its website. Adverse drug events are among the most common medical errors. Out of the 4 billion medical prescriptions that are written up annually in the US, 8 million contain life-threatening errors.

Kol hakavod to the developers and researchers at MedAware for this brilliant development. Let’s hope it is implemented in every hospital in order to prevent further harm to patients.

Prof. Adi Shamir

Prof. Adi Shamir

Another item from the scientific field: Computer science professor Adi Shamir, of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, is to receive the Japan Prize for his cryptography work:

An Israeli computer scientist was among three winners of the 2017 Japan Prize, an award honoring achievement in science and technology, for his work in the field of cryptography.

Adi Shamir, a professor at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, was recognized for his “[c]ontribution to information security through pioneering research on cryptography,” according to the prize’s website. The Japan Prize Foundation announced the awards Thursday.

Shamir, 64, is the second Israeli to win the prize. Ephraim Katzir, a biophysicist and former Israeli president, was honored in 1985, the inaugural year of the award.

In 2002 Shamir, with Ronald Rivest and Leonard Adleman, won the Turing Award, widely considered to be the world’s most prestigious computer science prize.

Kol hakavod to Professor Shamir on winning this prestigious award. He has brought honour to himself and pride to the country. May he go on to much more success in the future.

And a final heart-warming story of cooperation between Arabs and Jews at an environmental program in the Arava desert:

Neat rows of corn, spinach, carrots and nasturtium grow near the edge of Kibbutz Ketura in southern Israel’s barren Arava Valley. Nearby, a satellite dish lined with mirrors distills 400 liters of potable water per day, and food waste is converted into cooking gas in a tank loaded with sandbags.

Students learn about alternative energy sources at the Arava Institute

Students learn about alternative energy sources at the Arava Institute

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies’ “Off Grid Hub” tests and models technology for communities that are disconnected from public utilities like water, electricity and sewage. It is part of the institute’s goal of improving environmental and human interests in the region through environmental cooperation. The tanks producing cooking gas are designed for use by Negev Bedouin, while the crops and water purification systems were developed with Kenya’s Turkana region, which has a climate similar to the Arava Valley, in mind.

The aquifers supplying groundwater to the project are shared with neighboring Jordan, notes Rabbi Michael Cohen, who has been involved with the institute since 1996.

“The environment is a constant that allows us to keep moving forward,” Cohen said. “Lines, borders, walls, divisions — when seeing the environment all of those fall away.”

The Arava Insitute for Environmental Studies, established in 1996, is located about 25 miles north of Eilat on Kibbutz Ketura, a small community overlooked by sandstone mountains on the Jordanian side of the border.

The institute is a research and academic center, hosting students from Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and elsewhere. The focus on the environment gives the students a platform to address and discuss the conflicts in the region.

Students working together at the Arava Institute

Students working together at the Arava Institute

“This is the only place that brings Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli students to study together. They share the same classroom, they share the same dining room, they share the same grass,” said Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, the academic director of the institute and former Israeli Ministry of Science’s Deputy Chief Scientist and Acting Chief Scientist.

“We are not trying to convince any side,” Abu Hamed said. “We expose them to the reality of this region and we encourage them to talk about it.”

The story so far would be wonderful on its own, but it has another angle too:

The students are given a forum to discuss the political and social situation of the region, and present their side of the story, in a weekly seminar. For example, before Israel’s Independence Day, the Palestinian students give a presentation on the Nakba and the Israeli students present on Israel’s War of Independence. Unlike other mixed universities in Israel, the institute encourages the students to talk about the conflict, Abu Hamed said.

The idea to address the conflict now is to prepare them to collaborate on environmental projects in the future.

“We do the narrative activities and I learn from the other side as well as they learn from me. I think it can make my life better on a daily basis, especially where I live,” said Mohannad Nairoukh, from East Jerusalem. “I learned to hold myself. I want to hear first the other perspective, then speak my mind,” he said.

The Israeli students, most of whom are center-left politically, also start to shift. When they feel blamed for the conflict, or if someone legitimizes Hamas, for example, they can find themselves moving more to the right, said Ben Yelin, from Haifa. The isolated location helps to keep everything calm, while the use of English as a shared language levels the playing field, Yelin said, unlike in mainstream Israeli society. The focus on improving the environment, which benefits everyone in the region, helps them find common ground, Yelin said.

It’s not all rosy of course, but what a wonderful program, greening the desert, teaching citizens of other desert habitats how to green their own desert, while making friends of former enemies. If only the entire Middle East could be sorted out by such a program!

With this food for thought, I shall bid you all Shabbat Shalom as my family prepares for a special Shabbat when our new granddaughter will be named in the synagogue – followed of course by a traditional Lechaim!

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Posted in Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Amona betrayed

Evacuating Amona

Evacuating Amona

I have been watching the TV and listening to the radio all day with a growing sick feeling in my stomach, as anger, fury and frustration overtook my feelings of sadness as the community of Amona was evacuated and destroyed. Anger at our government, fury at our Supreme Court and frustration at the lack of any organized response from the politicians whom we voted for as well as at ourselves – and I include myself in that list.

A few weeks ago I wrote a couple of posts about Amona, the first being a general backgrounder on the Amona dilemma, and the second about a possible solution to the problem.

Up to the last few days it looked as if the solution was going to go through. And then – even before the Supreme Court managed to issue its ruling! – the government gave the instruction to evacuate the settlement.

Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman added insult to injury by ordering the destruction of agricultural plots despite these not being included in the court order.

Some of the police lined up to enforce the evacuation of Amona

Some of the police lined up to enforce the evacuation of Amona

And what now for the poor evacuees of Amona? Where will they go? Has the government lived up to its promise to have learned the lesson of the Disengagement (aka expulsion) from Gaza and provided alternate housing?

It has not! The Supreme Court knocked down the suggested solution of alternate housing in Ofra, because after all, you cannot have Jewish settlers actually settling anywhere can you? That would never do! Human rights for everyone except Jews, doncha know? (Yes, I am burning furious about this. The unfairness, the injustice, the inequality, is blatant and burning and absolutely outrageous and unacceptable).

The Supreme Court struck down the outline agreed to by the residents of Amona and the government last month, which would have provided alternative housing for the residents who are being evacuated from their homes.

The court accepted the petition by the leftist organization Yesh Din, which argued that the plots of land which the State had set aside to construct alternative housing for the residents of Amona through the use of the absentee property law, was private Arab land.

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) slammed the court’s decision. “The Supreme Court whose political composition is determined by President Miriam Naor, prohibited a step which could have alleviated this injustice. Do not worry. We do not only pray ‘Restore our judges as in times of old’ (a Jewish prayer). We will act in every way to curb the dictatorship of the Supreme Court, the ‘High Court of Injustice,’ and to restore democracy to the State of Israel.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) said that “In light of the Supreme Court’s decision the government must approve the construction of a new town for the residents of Amona. That would be an appropriate Zionist response, and we must implement it as soon as possible.”

No construction had begun on the plots of land agreed upon by the residents and the government, and the residents of Amona are left without housing.

NOW Bibi has woken up and set up a committee (duh) to discuss a housing solution. So the ex-residents of ex-Amona will have to live in tents in sub-freezing temperatures (several were treated for hypothermia today) while the government gets off its backside and has a big long think about what to do with these inconvenient Israelis.

Shomron Regional Council head Yossi Dagan warned that our enemies are celebrating at watching our struggle.

RJ Streets at Israellycool also mentions the glee of the Arabs who ostensibly claim the territory, and concludes with this disgusting statement by the Mayor of Silwad:

The Major of Silwad was very happy, so excited, he let slip:

The only solution is for those expelled from Amona was to return to Europe where they came from.

THAT shows what the Arabs think of us. In their eyes we are not the indigenous people of the country. They regard as interlopers, temporary colonizers who will soon be gone. And if they continue getting help from our treacherous leftist NGOs and biased judicial system, who never saw a human right that belonged to Jews living over the non-existent Green Line, they may very well get their way G-d forbid.

Meanwhile a very interesting statement from the IDF commander in charge of the infamous Gaza Disengagement warned that the Left is deluding people:

General (Res.) Gershon Hacohen, who commanded the 2005 Gaza “Disengagement,” in which every Jew living in the Gaza Strip, some 8000 Israeli citizens, was forcefully expelled from his home by the government of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sharply criticized the Amona evacuation and attacked the left-wing organizations acting against Amona.

In a Radio South interview Hacohen said that “there is no place for another eviction of Jews and anybody who thinks that way like ‘Generals for Israel’s security’ (a campaign of former army officers calling for an evacuation of communities in Judea and Samaria, ed.) doesn’t understand what is going on in this area, since the State of Israel cannot defend itself within the Green Line borders.”

“The residents of Judea and Samaria are protecting Tel Aviv. This is a national interest of the first order because there is no possibility for Israel to survive on the coastal plain alone, ” Hacohen asserted.

He added that “if we leave we will have shootings on Road 6 and mortars on Ben Gurion airport and the IDF will not be able to perform [defense] operations on a daily basis.”

His words must resonate widely and demand to be heeded by the government and the Supreme Court as well as by the Left. Unfortunately I think the only people who will pay attention will be the very people who know the lesson well already.

As for what comes next, Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said that while we mourn the loss of Amona, we must welcome the “settlements bill” that once and for all regulates the legal status of the communities in Judea and Samaria:

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) mourned the destruction of Amona in an address to the Knesset plenum on Wednesday while IDF forces demolish the town, saying that the future was uncertain for the 42 families being evicted.

“Brothers and sisters,” said Bennett, “the residents of Amona are heroes. For 20 years they lived on that mountain, under difficult physical conditions, [suffering] winter storms and summer heat, facing security threats and intifadas.”

But, continued Bennett, “worse than any natural disaster is the uncertainty of their future.”

The Education Minister spoke just hours after security forces implemented a general closure of Amona and prepared to evict residents and protesters, enforcing an evacuation order by the Supreme Court.

While a deal negotiated between Bennett and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and later signed by the town of Amona promised a peaceful evacuation in exchange for alternative housing at a nearby site for 24 of the town’s 42 families, along with a second neighborhood at a separate site for the remaining 18, no work has been done on the replacement housing.

Last week a Supreme Court injunction barred work on the replacement neighborhood adjacent to Amona’s present location.

In other words, the residents were betrayed. The deal they signed was not worth the paper it was written on!

Though Bennett conceded that despite his party’s efforts, the battle to preserve Amona had failed, he added that its loss was instrumental in the passage of the Regulation Law, a bill intended to protect thousands of homes across Judea and Samaria from suffering the same fate as Amona.

Today is a difficult day. These are very trying times.”

“We need to say the truth: we started our efforts [to prevent the evacuation] when there was already a final eviction order from the Supreme Court against us. We came to Amona, looked the residents in the yes and said that we know that we are going to fight against all odds, and we didn’t give up,” said Bennett.

But can we trust the settlements bill to pass? And if it passes can we trust the Supreme Court, or even the government, to uphold it and enforce it?  After the agreement between Amona residents and the government that they would agree to evacuate to alternative housing was struck down, how can we rely on any further promises by any state institution?

I am sorry to say that I have lost all trust in both of those illustrious institutions and I feel almost physically sick at this thought.

MP, a Facebook friend expressed it so well:

Feeling sick with pain, embarrassed, humiliated, shame, pity and many more negative feelings.

Pain for the residents of Amona. These people built their lives on what they thought was legal land (so please don’t compare them to last weeks Bedouins case .. who knew full well what they were doing was illegal).

Embarrassed… that i personally did nothing about it? Besides posting on fb and twitter. Could i have done more ? Yes. Would it have helped? Probably not. Doesn’t change the feeling.

Humiliated. By the left wing organizations and Jewish self haters. To those people… I say… great, you got your wish. You destroyed 40 families. Do you feel good about yourselves ? I only hope that retribution will come by you spending eternity in hell.

Shame. I say shame on the courts. Shame on the politicians. Shame on the establishment for ruining these peoples lives, simply because they are Jewish, right wing and religious. Shame on those responsible and shame on me for voting for them.

Pity..for the youth of today. They see that they can no longer rely on the army, the govt, or the courts to uphold Jewish human rights. How do I face my kids and tell them to rely on the establishment. Do I lie to their faces?

I hope that Am Yisrael will overcome this mean hurdle soon. In the meantime, I hope I can overcome my negativity.

It’s going to take a lot of confidence building as well as settlement building by the government to regain our lost trust.

Posted in indigenous rights, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The UN does something right for a change – and the Palestinians have a hissy fit

UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres

UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres

On International Holocaust Memorial Day, which fell last Friday, 27th January, the new Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres spoke movingly about the vicious antisemitism throughout the millennia which led to its inexorable nadir in the Holocaust.

What distinguished this speech from similar anodyne speeches delivered every Holocaust Memorial Day was the fact that Gutteres clearly mentioned, in words that cannot be misinterpreted any other way, the connection of the Jewish people to the Temple.

Elder of Ziyon has the complete transcript, but here are the relevant words:

Imperial Rome not only destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, but also made Jews pariahs in many ways.

There surely is not much to object to in those words. After all they are simply a matter of historical fact.

Not so according to the Palestinians who went into complete meltdown mode at the very idea that a UN official, and the Secretary General no less, could mention the Temple, obviously in Jerusalem, in terms of any kind of connection to the Jews. They are now demanding an apology!

Senior Palestinian officials blasted the United Nations’ new secretary general on Sunday for acknowledging that a Jewish temple once stood on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

In remarks commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, newly installed Secretary General António Guterres traced the history of anti-Semitism, beginning when “Imperial Rome not only destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, but also made Jews pariahs in many ways.”

Speaking to Israel Radio on Friday, Gutteres added, “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is holy to three religions today.”

However, Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s minister for Jerusalem affairs, told China’s Xinhua news agency that Guterres “neglected the UNESCO resolutions, which clearly said that the al-Aqsa Mosque is purely an Islamic heritage.”

This complete reversal of the facts and denial of historical facts would be highly amusing if it were not so outrageous and so dangerous in its inflammatory language, and only highlights the danger inherent in these absurd UN resolutions.

Husseini called Guterres’ remarks “a violation to all human, diplomatic and legal rules and laws and a violation to his position as the secretary general,” and demanded that Guterres “apologize to the Palestinian people for his remarks.”

Husseini was referring to two Arab-sponsored resolutions passed in October by UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, which denied the well-documented, centuries-old Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. The resolutions were widely condemned at the time, including by then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and were praised by the terrorist group Hamas as a “victory for the Palestinian people.” Their exclusionary language contrasted with a number of recent archaeological finds, including an inscription on the 10th century mosque near Hebron, confirming the Temple Mount’s Jewish history.

Ahmed Majdalani, an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said in an emailed press statement that Guterres’ comments are “a strike to the credibility of the UN as a global organization that should stay to the side of the occupied people and be against the power of the occupation.”

“[It] seems the new UN secretary general is lacking trust and he doesn’t understand his position,” Majdalani claimed.

In 2015, Brown University historian Michael Satlow said that the existence of a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount is “as historically certain a fact as one can get.” However, efforts to erase or cast doubt on the connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish faith have led many Palestinians to “increasingly [express] doubt that the temples ever existed,”

You can watch the speech of Antonio Gutteres here, and admire the forthright way in which he admits the sins of his own nation as well as the rest of the world which were committed against the Jews, and how they have tried to atone for them.

Kol hakavod to Mr. Gutteres. If he is genuine in his desire to repair his country’s relationship with the Jews, not to mention the UN’s, he would do well to begin by repealing the outrageous Security Council resolution 2334 as well as all the UNESCO resolutions denying any connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. He could also stop the farce of a permanent anti-Israel agenda item at the Human Wrongs Rights Council.

Let’s hope the new Secretary General will perform a clean sweep.

Posted in Antisemitism, History, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments
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