The discussion these days is about the nuclear deal with Iran. I don’t think it needs explaining that any deal that allows Iran even the slightest chance of acquiring a nuclear weapon is seriously bad. This is the regime that has outwardly declared that it would wipe Israel of the Earth, and is also directing most of the Islamist terrorism worldwide. Not the type of people we want having nukes.
On to other matters, last Thursday (July 9th), it was revealed that two Israeli citizens are being held in Gaza, after illegally crossing the border some months ago. The details that have been released are rather fuzzy. One is an Ethiopian-born Israeli Jew, possibly with a history of mental illness. The other is a Bedouin Arab, with a history of illegally crossing borders. If Israel has a soft underbelly, POWs is it. It goes back to the times of European Jewry, collecting huge sums of money to ransom community members taken by the local powers. In modern history, Israel has made enormous concessions towards the Palestinians as well as Hizballah in Lebanon in order to release POWs. The latest case was Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped in 2006 by Hamas, held captive for five years, and eventually released in return for over 1000 Palestinian terrorists, many of who have murdered again since being released. His release followed a huge public campaign spearheaded by his family, demanding that Israel do whatever it takes to bring him home.
While I completely agree with the sentiment- a core principal of Israel’s ethos is that we don’t leave people behind, and that we will do whatever it takes to get our people home, this is a statement best left unsaid. The more you shout it out loud, the higher the price you will eventually have to pay. So while we expect the IDF and the Israeli government to work tirelessly to bring Avara Mangisto and the Bedouin Israeli (who’s name has yet to be released) home, shouting about it and putting pressure on our own government will only serve to postpone their release. That is why I plan that the next time the issue is mentioned on this blog will be when they return home.
So what have we had these past two weeks?
1. July 1st, proportionality at the UN: How many times has Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, been condemned by UN Human Rights council? How many times have the lovely dictatorships around us, who regularly hang gays or forbid women to drive been condemned by the same council? The answer may have something to do with the fact that those lovely dictatorships actually lead this council. Video by HonestReporting. Link here (03:25).
2. July 1st. Terrorism is terrorism. We stand with Egypt in their fight against terrorism. Photo via standwithus. Article from the Times of Israel.
3. July 1st, “US General tells UN council why its Gaza report is flawed”. Video (01:25).
4. July 1st, Only in Israel: a family renovating their living room in the picturesque Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Karem found a Second-Temple period, 2000 year old ritual bath under the floor. Link (article on Ynet).
5. July 1st, a year after operation Protective Edge, not everyone has come home yet. Status via The Jewish Standard.
Still lying unconscious since being injured in the Gaza war last summer, Yehuda Yitzhak ben Iris is a father of two from Ofra. The 23-year-old had another operation Wednesday and his friends and family are asking the public to pray for his recovery.
Pass it on.
6. July 2nd, in my last post, I mentioned (in item #43) the flotilla headed for Gaza with “humanitarian aid”. Turns out there was so much aid on board- it fit in two cardboard boxes (!). They could have just mailed it.
“Did the flotilla to Gaza have humanitarian aid on board or not?“, from the Washington Post.
So, that’s a no.
7. July 2nd, Raz Bibi, an Israeli border policeman, was critically wounded after being stabbed in the neck by a Palestinian terrorist at the Damascus Gate of the Old City in Jerusalem two weeks ago. He is recovering and was just released from hospital and went to pray and give thanks at the Western Wall. This is the welcome he got from his friends when he got there. video (00:26) via Avihai Shorshan.
8. July 5th, if this is true, it’s nothing short of historic. “Prince Talal of Saudi Arabia: my visit to Israel shall mark the new age of peace and fraternity“. from awdnews.com.
9. July 5th, why am I not surprised? “Israeli army says Hamas helping Islamic State in Sinai“. from the Times of Israel.
10. July 5th, Dr. Mordechai Kedar’s weekly piece- “Ramadan Terror“, from Arutz 7.
11. July 5th, Ben-Dror Yemini asks why, while most Muslims oppose ISIS and terrorism, is the West still fighting alone? “There will be no change until Muslims wake up“, from Ynet.
12. July 5th, a year later, a reminder of what happened in operation Protective Edge. from Israel Defense Forces.
13. July 6th, it’s the fast of the 17th of Tamuz. status by Gesher:
The 17th of Tammuz marks the beginning of the end of Jewish rule in Israel nearly 2000 years ago and 2500 years ago.
In both cases, a lack of unity was a reason for the state’s destruction.
What can we do to make sure that the mistakes of the past aren’t made again? How can we learn to speak to the other with which we so vehemently disagree?
14. July 6th, it took a whole year, but the truth is out. Pallywood strikes again. “US expert: Hamas, not Israel, killed boys on beach in Gaza war“. from virtualjerusalem.com.
15. July 6th, CNN once again shows a complete misunderstanding of the Middle East. “Dome of Rock tops CNN list of sites on ‘verge of extinction’; no place for Palmyra“. from TimesofIsrael.
16. July 6th, Last week, 39 years ago. One of Israel’s finest moments. The Entebbe rescue. video (03:53) via standwithus.
17. July 7th, terrorism continues. I should point out that dozens of similar incidents occur daily. Only those that result in injuries get reported, and not all of them. “Heartbreaking photo: Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli baby sitting in car seat” from theyeshivaworld.com
18. July 8th, F*** BDS. Status by standwitus:
The new target for modern-day bullying from the anti-Israel boycott (BDS) thugs? Little kids dancing.
After threats from BDS activists, the first ever Irish dance competition in Israel was forced to cancel because of safety concerns.
This isn’t about human rights, it’s about racism, hate and bigotry. Shame on the BDS movement.
19. July 8th, is the world finally beginning to wake up? Status by British politician Boris Johnson:
If we are going to defeat our enemies we have to know who they are. We have to know what to call them. We must at least settle on a name – a terminology – with which we can all agree. And the trouble with the fight against Islamic terror is that we are increasingly grappling with language, and with what it is permissible or sensible to say.
When a man sprays bullets at innocent tourists on a beach, or when a man decapitates his boss and sticks his head on the railings, or when a man blows himself up in a mosque in Kuwait – and when all three atrocities are instantly “claimed” by the same disgusting organisation – it is surely obvious that we are dealing with the same specific form of evil. This is terrorism.
But what are the objectives of this terrorism? Is it religious? Is it political? Is it a toxic mixture of the two? And what exactly is its relationship with Islam? Many thoughtful Muslims are now attempting – understandably – to decouple their religion from any association with violence of this kind.
The excellent Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham, has launched a campaign to change the way we all talk about “Isil”. He points out that the very use of the term “Islamic State” is in itself a capitulation to these sadistic and loathsome murderers. They are not running a state, and their gangster organisation is not Islamic – it is a narcissistic death cult.
Rehman’s point is that if you call it Islamic State you are playing their game; you are dignifying their criminal and barbaric behaviour; you are giving them a propaganda boost that they don’t deserve, especially in the eyes of some impressionable young Muslims. He wants us all to drop the terms, in favour of more derogatory names such as “Daesh” or “Faesh”, and his point deserves a wider hearing.
But then there are others who would go much further, and strip out any reference to the words “Muslim” or “Islam” in the discussion of this kind of terrorism – and here I am afraid I disagree. I can well understand why so many Muslims feel this way. Whatever we may think of the “truth” of any religion, there are billions of people for whom faith is a wonderful thing: a consolation, an inspiration – part of their identity.
There are hundreds of millions of Muslims for whom the word “Islamic” is a term of the highest praise. They resent the constant association of “Islam” with “terrorism”, as though the one was always fated to give birth to the other. They dislike even the concept of “Islamic extremism”, since it seems to imply a seamless continuum of Muslim belief and behaviour: from liberal to tolerant to conservative to reactionary to terrorist.
Their point is that terrorist violence is alien from Islam, and that is why they argue so strenuously that we should drop all references to “Muslim terrorists” or “Islamic terrorists”. They say that any use of the word Islam or Muslim in such a context is actually offensive and derogatory, and helps to alienate the very people we need to win over.
As one Muslim friend put it to me, “you wouldn’t talk about Christian terrorists would you?” And there is some truth in that. We don’t talk about “Christian terrorism” even in the context of the sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Why do we seem to taint a whole religion by association with a violent minority?
Well, I am afraid there are two broad reasons why some such association is inevitable. The first is a simple point of language, and the need to use terms that everyone can readily grasp. It is very difficult to bleach out all reference to Islam or Muslim from discussion of this kind of terror, because we have to pinpoint what we are actually talking about. It turns out that there is virtually no word to describe an Islamically-inspired terrorist that is not in some way prejudicial, at least to Muslim ears.
You can’t say “salafist”, because there are many law-abiding and peaceful salafists. You can’t say jihadi, because jihad – the idea of struggle – is a central concept of Islam, and doesn’t necessarily involve violence; indeed, you can be engaged in a jihad against your own moral weakness. The only word that seems to carry general support among Muslim leaders is Kharijite – which means a heretic – and which is not, to put it mildly, a word in general use among the British public.
We can’t just call it “terrorism”, as some have suggested, because we need to distinguish it from any other type of terrorism – whether animal rights terrorists or Sendero Luminoso Marxists. We need to speak plainly, to call a spade a spade. We can’t censor the use of “Muslim” or “Islamic”.
That just lets too many people off the hook. If we deny any connection between terrorism and religion, then we are saying there is no problem in any of the mosques; that there is nothing in the religious texts that is capable of being twisted or misunderstood; that there are no religious leaders whipping up hatred of the west, no perverting of religious belief for political ends.
If we purge our vocabulary of any reference to the specifically religious associations of the problem, then we are not only ignoring the claims of the terrorists themselves (which might be reasonable), but the giant fact that there is a struggle going on now for the future of Islam, and how it can adapt to the 21st century. The terrorism we are seeing across the Muslim world is partly a function of that struggle, and of the chronic failure of much Islamic thinking to distinguish between politics and religion.
The struggle is really about power, of course, rather than spirituality – but that does not mean we can ignore the potency of the religious dimension. It doesn’t much matter which word we agree on, with Muslim communities, to describe this ideology of terror – Islamism? Islamo-fascism? – but we need to settle on it fast, and then join together to stamp out the phenomenon. If we are going to beat them, we must all at least know their name.
20. July 8th, hypocrisy everywhere. The UN strikes again. Video (03:50) via myisrael.
21. July 8th, An interactive video showing the kind of dilemmas the IDF was forced to deal with during operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer. Spolier: in every one of the scenarios in this video, the IDF aborted the missions for fear of harming civilians. What is not made clear in this video is that Hamas is fully aware of this decision making process and intentionally conducts its terrorist operations from inside civilian populations, using schools, hospitals, mosques and even ambulances for their terrorist activities. A Hamas terrorist that knows he’s a potential target will intentionally surround himself with children at all times, because he knows that the IDF will avoid targeting him, and if by mistake, the IDF does target him- Hamas gets the “added bonus” of being able to claim that the IDF kills kids. Sickening.
link (00:51 with an option of more).
22. July 9th, new numbers on the so-called siege on Gaza. So, there is no siege. via COGAT – Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories.
23. July 9th, one of the false claims made by Hamas in the UN report on last summer’s Gaza operation was that they did not target civilians, only military targets. Of course, when you’re a terrorist organization, you can say whatever kind of BS you like. Here’s the truth:
Here is a propagandistic poster recently published by the terrorist organization, Hamas. It lists the targets they intend to hit with rockets. Unsurprisingly, they include areas such as Gush Dan (Israel’s most densely populated civilian area) alongside military bases.
Hamas openly and willingly target civilians in clear violation of both human morality and international law. It is vital to highlight these war-crimes to the world.
H/T: Gidon Shaviv
24. July 10th, this photo, via Danny Ayalon needs no explanation.
25. July 10th, via standwithus:
Rocks are not harmless: Violence and hatred hurts both Israelis and Palestinians. Today COGAT – Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories released photos from the Qalandia checkpoint where Palestinians were throwing rocks over the crossing. Instead of hitting Israeli soldiers, they ended up hitting a Palestinian child who required emergency medical treatment.
26. July 12th, I am amused. An intel presentation explaining to their employees how to interact with Israelis.
27. July 12th, this cartoon by Guy Morad for Yediot Ahronot:
28. July 12th, “These are the 10 best cities to visit around the world” from Time Magazine, and guess who’s in 10th place?
29. July 12th, Israel has been accused of Genocide. I would roll my eyes, but it wouldn’t show up in the blog. So here’s an infographic instead. via Israel’s Voice
30. July 12th, some good news! The Necropolis of Beit She’arim is now on the UNESCO world heritage list! “Necropolis of Bet She’arim- a landmark of Jewish renewal- UNESCO world heritage center“.
31. July 12th, one year ago. Watch this moving video by Friends of the IDF, on the heroes of operation Protective Edge. Link (05:35).
32. July 12th, Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian based Palestinian writes in Yisrael Hayom, “If Israel disappears, others will too“.
33. July 12th, A Syrian refugee who is working with Israel will be answering questions online tonight (July 13th). link.
I’ve already met him and heard his amazing story- read about it on my blogpost here.
34. July 13th, this cartoon by Vladik Sandler for Yediot Ahronot:
35. July 13th, civilized people anywhere must not tolerate this kind of behavior, regardless of political affiliations. “Report: Thousands of Israeli Arabs, Palestinians post ‘death to Jews’ on their Facebook profiles” from Algemeiner.com.
36. July 13th, We love Mayim Bialik! “Hate mail won’t stop Mayim Bialik from coming to Israel“, from the Jerusalem Post.
37. July 13th, Minions have been spotted in Tel Aviv. video (01:24).
38. July 13th- and finally- 220 American Jews are on their way to Israel, as we speak, to make Aliyah- the term used to describe Jews immigrating to Israel, which literally means to ascend. Israel is the Jewish homeland, where we can be “a free nation in our land”.
Taking the step isn’t easy. It means leaving your friends and family behind, adjusting to a new lifestyle, learning a new language, fitting into a country with a different mentality. It also means tying your future to the State of Israel for better and for worse.
I celebrated my 27th Aliyah-versary last week. I came here as a five year-old, and the decision wasn’t mine, but rather my parents’. I’m glad they made the decision. But it must not have been easy. My entire family on my mother’s side is in the States, and in those days there was no skype, no emails, no facebook. Just the lousy service at the post office, which hasn’t gotten better since (more likely, it’s gotten worse), and expensive overseas calls.
So, to the 220 Jews who will be landing in Israel tomorrow morning, I salute you, and welcome Home!
“Overheard at JFK Aliyah chartered flight boarding” from Nefesh B’Nefesh.