Thursday, December 31, 2015

From Ian:

This Is What Happens When BDS Infiltrates Social Causes That Have Nothing to Do With Israel
If intersectionality, as applied to Israel, sounds like a contrived excuse to blame the Jewish state for everything under the sun, that’s because it is. Anti-Israel circles understand that their cause isn’t even on the radar of the average college student. By hitching their wagon to issues with greater popular appeal, pro-Palestinian activists seek to expand their tent and build a coalition larger than the handful of students fanatic enough to spend their college years slandering Israel.
Ironically, this disturbing phenomenon is hardest not on conservative-leaning Jewish students, but on left-wing Jewish activists who don’t support BDS. Social justice work is increasingly seen as a “package,” and one cannot be for racial justice, gender equality or humanitarianism without also swearing allegiance to the cult of Israel-despisers.
Left-wing Jews hew to the same social vision as the progressive community – but Israel and BDS are thorns for those who still believe in Zionism. An anecdote is instructive. At Brown, where this author is a freshman, student groups organized several events around the Syrian refugee crisis. One of the events was to take place at Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream store, but had to be moved to a new venue after a member of Students for Justice in Palestine circulated a report accusing the ice-cream company of doing business in Israeli settlements. Jewish activists found it particularly uncomfortable being invested in this sundry activist cause while at the same time weathering the rising tide of anti-Israelism.
This discomfort is particularly dangerous because left-leaning young Jews are a weak link in the American-Jewish community’s relationship with Israel. As any exit poll can tell you, American-Jews do not, on the whole, vote based on Israel. American Jews vote for candidates who share their liberal social values. Thus, liberalism trumps pro-Israelism for most secular Jews. What will be when liberal Jewish students are forced to choose between their allegiance to Israel and their commitment to social justice? What will happen when not supporting BDS is seen as a fatal tribal weakness? The answer should frighten anybody concerned with the future of the Diaspora’s relationship with Israel.
The stench of imperialism
If anyone is still unsure that Europeans have difficulty coming to terms with the fact that Israel, as a sovereign nation, will not let the European Union meddle in its internal affairs, the debacle ‎over the NGO bill should remove all doubts.‎
Army Radio reported on Sunday that the EU furiously protested the ‎proposed legislation. According to the report, based on what Army Radio said was a leaked ‎internal EU document, EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen met with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked several weeks ‎ago. He called upon Israel to refrain from taking actions that will "make more complicated" the ‎space in which Israeli nongovernmental organizations operate, claiming that this would impinge on freedom of expression ‎and association. According to the report, the ambassador said that while the request for ‎transparency was legitimate, the draft law is aimed at organizations critical of the government. ‎‎
"This will have a negative impact on Israel's image and on Europe's relating to it as an open and ‎democratic society," he was quoted as saying. Faaborg-Andersen also reportedly said that placing ‎restraints on civil society is something "we see mostly in tyrannical regimes. We call on Israel to ‎remain in the family of democratic states and not to join this worrying trend."
Naturally, the EU is very unhappy with having its meddling in the internal affairs of Israel limited ‎in any way, especially since it has been able to do so with impunity up until now. However, to ‎claim that Israel would be breaching any human rights, such as freedom of expression or ‎association, by implementing the NGO bill is taking the hyperbole beyond all red lines.
UN Watch: The Top 10 Biggest UN Watch Moments in 2015
10. Head of Gaza Inquiry forced to resign
On the same day that the UN appointed William Schabas to head its Gaza probe, UN Watch released videos of his anti-Israel statements—and led a 6-month campaign demanding his removal. “I have opinions like everybody else about the situation in Israel,” Schabas insisted to the media, only “they may not be the same as Hillel Neuer’s or Benjamin Netanyahu’s, that’s all.” Yet by February 2015——after his paid legal work for the PLO was exposed—Schabas resigned in disgrace.
3. Under pressure, UNRWA suspends employees for incitement.
In an unprecedented acknowledgment of wrongdoing, UNRWA was recently forced to suspend several employees, after UN Watch published three reports documenting how UNRWA teachers regularly incite to racial hatred, anti-Semitism and terrorism on social media. UN Watch identified more than 30 perpetrators, and organized petitions to pressure key governments.
2. Top commanders refute UN Gaza Inquiry
When the UN inquiry into the 2014 Gaza war presented its biased report in June, UN Watch was there to respond with a counter-report, and gave a UN platform to top military experts. Major General Mike Jones and Lt. Col. Geoffrey Corn from the U.S. military, and British Colonel Richard Kemp, all took the floor in the UN debate. The distorted findings of the UN probe—falsely accusing Israel of war crimes—were contrasted with those of the experienced military officers, who explained how Israel acted in self-defense, and to minimize casualties.

  • Thursday, December 31, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
As I read other websites showing off their best accomplishments of the year (and asking for money), I realized that I have many categories of things I posted that each deserve their own "Best Of" post.

So here are my best posters of 2015. Click to enlarge.

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  • Thursday, December 31, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Palestine Press Agency reports that Saudi Arabia will provide "generous financial support" for the Palestinian Authority to pay off its deficit.

Sources indicated that the Saudis promised to provide financial and political support and the money transfer is likely within the next few days.

Mahmoud Abbas met yesterday in Riyadh Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and gave him an award, the Grand Medal of the Order of the State of Palestine.

The Saudi monarch reiterated the Kingdom's unwavering support for the Palestinian rights, stressing Riyadh to continue to provide political and financial support for the Palestinian people.

Abbas then returned to Ramallah and is taking part in celebrations of the 51st anniversary of Fatah's first terror attack on Israeli soil. He issued a statement for the occasion with his usual threats of no security for Israel as long as his demands aren't met in full, including the "right of return."

Here's a poster of him laying a wreath for Yasir Arafat for the occasion. Note, as always, that the map  replacing the "1" eradicates Israel.

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Vic Rosenthal's weekly column:

In a dramatic development, a district judge ordered the police and Shabak to release a suspected Jewish extremist who had been held in administrative detention for a month, not allowed to speak to a lawyer for almost three weeks, and who claimed (persuasively) to have been tortured. The police and State Prosecutor refused to obey the court order to release him for several hours, saying that they would appeal the district court’s decision to the Supreme Court, but finally relented. The youth was let go to house arrest on bail. 

The detainee (his name is apparently still under gag order) was detained as a suspect in the triple arson murder in the Arab village of Kfar Duma (previous Abu Yehuda posts on this incident are here). But after the authorities finally admitted that they had no evidence of his connection to this crime, they decided to charge him for an assault on a Bedouin that he had allegedly committed two years ago (he says it was in self-defense). The district court decided that this didn’t justify continuing to hold him.

The hysteria – it’s the only possible description – over so-called “Jewish terrorists” that’s overtaken the political Left, Right and Center in Israel and their associates abroad is puzzling. Keep in mind that the arson/murder is unsolved, even after the Jewish suspects, members of the so-called “hilltop youth” have undergone very heavy pressure. There is a hypothesis that Arabs feuding with the Dawabshe clan were responsible, but this line of inquiry has not been followed up.

Yes, a truly horrifying murder was committed in which three members of an Arab family including an 18-month-old baby died. And some people danced at a hilltop youth wedding with weapons and photographs of the murdered child (but it still isn’t clear how the pictures got there). The wedding was reportedly crawling with agents of the security forces, and the Shabak has used agents provocateurs before. The bride’s father, Lenny Goldberg, said,

I really don't know who brought those pictures anyway. Knowing the hilltop youth, I can tell you that photographing pictures and mounting them on signs is not their specialty. If you look closely, everyone dancing is wearing white shirts, but the guys holding the signs are wearing jackets and their faces are blurred.

The official story is that one of the hilltop youth – there may or may not be several hundred in this category – wrote a manifesto in which he expressed a desire to commit terrorist acts against Arabs in a Charles-Manson-like attempt to destabilize the country, so that they could replace the government with one operating according to (their idea of) Jewish law and governed by a king.


According to almost everyone in the government and media including the religious-rightish Naftali Bennett, the Shabak was entirely justified in using exceptional measures including administrative detention and “aggressive interrogation techniques” which may or may not constitute torture, to eliminate this threat. Isi Liebler, usually a voice of moderate Zionism, said the radicals were “like a cancer,” “religious lunatics” and “fanatical thugs,” and, calling for the government to use an “iron fist” against them, wrote that

Despite the appalling disgrace and besmirching of our name by such demonic behavior, this pales in significance to the impact that such horrific acts can have on our society if not ruthlessly expunged.

I’m not so sure. Arcane cult murders are bad things, but they tend to be isolated, not metastatic, like for example the suicidal stabbings of Jews because “Al Aqsa is in danger” which seem to have turned all of Palestinian society into a murderous cult.

Eric Yoffie, former head of the Union for Reform Judaism and a reliable indicator of liberal American Jewish opinion (at least, among liberal American Jews that still have an interest in events in Israel), wrote this:

Suspected Jewish terrorists  — in particular, those involved in the killings of the Dawabsheh family in Duma — are now being defended by those who claim that the civil rights of the suspects are being violated by Israel’s security services.  As a left of center American Jew, I would like to say plainly: There are times when human rights and civil liberties are not the most important thing for a democratic country that is fighting for her very survival.  For Israel, now is such a time.

The question is not: Is Israel violating the human rights of the Jewish terrorists and their supporters who exult in the murder of babies?  The question is: Why have the security services not already put an end to this network of murderers and monsters who threaten the very foundations of Zionism?

Leaving aside his unjustified certainty that the suspects “were involved” in the murder, I wonder if Yoffie would have written this if Americans – particularly blacks or Muslims – were being ‘aggressively interrogated’ by the police and FBI? I think we know the answer to this question. Indeed, Daniel Greenfield notes that Yoffie opposed torture of al Qaeda terrorists in Guantanamo.

Yoffie’s sudden lack of concern for democracy and civil rights in Israel is in contrast to the view he expressed several years ago when the question of limiting and documenting the flow of foreign money into left-wing NGOs was first raised:

When rabbis and Jewish leaders speak in communities and synagogues about the Jewish state, what they emphasize, with great pride, is Israel's democratic character. But what will they say if these anti-democratic laws are approved in the Knesset?

What will (American) rabbis and Jewish leaders say about the Israeli democracy that imprisons suspects without charging them, denies them legal counsel and applies “aggressive interrogation techniques?” I presume the ‘progressive’ ones like Yoffie will be on board as long as the suspects are right-wing extremists. But just as free speech in a democratic state is not only for speech with which you agree, civil rights are particularly important for those suspected of having committed crimes.

I may be under-reacting, but the threat of a small group of extremists imposing a theocratic monarchy is not high on my list of scary scenarios. I don’t know a lot of Israelis who would sit still for a coronation. Although three innocent people were murdered at Duma in July, 25 Jews have been slaughtered in Israel since October 1 by Arab terrorists. This doesn’t make it acceptable, but it does put the magnitude of the danger in perspective. And I don’t see how they threaten the “foundations of Zionism” when 99.98% of Zionists (assuming 6 million Zionists and 1000 hilltop youth) reject their goals and their methods.

To those like Liebler who insist that the damage to Israel’s image done by “Jewish terrorists” is enormous, I can only say that far more damage is done by the massive anti-Zionist industry in every Muslim nation, in Europe and in universities everywhere, which is dedicated to besmirching Israel’s image. Here is where the limitations on foreign money feeding the anti-state NGOs that Yoffie opposes would do a lot more to improve Israel’s image than beating up extremists.

So why the hysteria?  In my opinion, the cause is an atavistic Diaspora-Jewish reaction to extirpate the source of the shanda fur die goyim [disgrace before non-Jews]. But haven’t we learned yet that self-flagellation just provides more material for the anti-Zionists to use against us?

Let’s calm down. Let’s keep the rule of law, obey court orders and ensure that everyone’s rights, even those of suspected theocratic monarchists, are preserved. Let’s employ careful forensic police work, solve the Duma murders and punish the murderers. Punish the theocratic monarchists too, if they have committed crimes from vandalism to assault to arson and murder. But these people are not ‘ticking bombs’ and there is no need or justification to beat confessions out of them.

Just to forestall the inevitable question: yes, everything I said applies to Arabs too. Although there are a lot more ticking bombs there.

If we are going to tell everyone that we are the only democracy in the Middle East, we ought to be one.

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From Ian:

Terror thwarted: 'East Jerusalem men planned to set off bomb in Eilat hotel'
Two Israeli citizens of east Jerusalem were indicted Thursday on charges that they plotted to blow up a hotel in the southern resort town of Eilat.
According to the indictment, the two suspects, Halil Nimri and Ashraf Salaimeh, met while working at the same hotel in Eilat. Some two months ago the pair met and decided to carry out a terror attack against Jews in order to "get revenge" against Israel for its actions during the current terror wave, the indictment added.
One of the suspects wished to avenge the death of his childhood friend, Fadi Elon, who was killed while carrying out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on October 4. Halil first suggested carrying out a stabbing attack aimed at killing a religious Jew. Ashraf argued that the two could be apprehended while carrying out such an attack and therefore the act would have no meaning. Therefore, he suggested carrying out a terror attack by placing a bomb at a hotel in Eilat. Halil agreed to the plot, according to the indictment.
The two began carrying out surveillance of the hotel and following the movements of groups of religious Jews who checked in. One of the suspects searched the Internet for information on preparing an improvised explosive device.
PMW: Abbas' Fatah celebrates 51 years of murder and vows to continue
Abbas' Fatah movement chose to celebrate 51 years of violence and killing to mark the 51st anniversary of its founding. It posted the above image on its Lebanese website, where the number 51 is made up of a knife, a bullet and a rifle. The text says "Revolution until victory."
[Falestinona, website of Fatah's Information and Culture Commission in Lebanon, Dec. 12, 2015]
On Facebook, Fatah's official page cheered the results of its terror attacks - what it calls "sowing terror" among Israelis - and posted a picture of a masked Fatah fighter with the words:
"Half a century of sowing terror in the eyes of the sons of Zion"
‎[Official Facebook page of the Fatah ‎Movement, Dec. 29, 2015] ‎
Another post, this time with a masked Fatah fighter with a rifle, vowed to "redeem the homeland with blood":
"We march, we are not afraid of the fire and we do not fear death. With blood we will redeem the homeland and saturate its ground. The anniversary is approaching."
[Official Facebook page of the Fatah Movement, Dec. 26, 2015]
The knife in the logo above is particularly relevant at the current time amid the surge of Palestinian terror attacks, many of which have been stabbings. Since October, 10 Israelis have been killed and 72 wounded in stabbing attacks. In total, 25 Israelis have been murdered and 259 have been injured during the current terror wave.
Throughout the surge in violence, Fatah has emphasized its support for violence against Israelis in general and for stabbings in particular.
Other posters and images glorifying the rifle and violence have been posted recently by Fatah on Facebook, Twitter, and on Fatah's official websites.
Official PA TV accuses PMW director Itamar Marcus of “incitement against Mahmoud Abbas”

Samir Kuntar: ‘Resistance hero’ or sex monster?
Some new disturbing facts are emerging about the character of Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar who was assassinated in an airstrike attributed to Israel earlier this month.
Sources that were were familiar with Kuntar have described him to Lebanese daily newspaper, The Beirut Observer as no less than a “sex monster.” The report, that was later confirmed to The Jerusalem Post by Syrian rebel sources, says that since his release from Israeli prison in 2008, he has has had a series of sexual affairs – some with the women being pressured and intimidated by Kuntar.
The website for The Beirut Observer ceased to operate following the publication of the report and sources in Lebanon suspect that a deliberate hacking attack took down the site to prevent the report from being seen.
The sources say that when Kuntar visited his “working office” on the outskirts of Damascus, women were brought to him to “release his stress.”' One of the women who was involved with Kuntar was the widow of a terrorist who fought with the arch-terrorist and was killed after a bomb exploded in his car (an action that was also attributed to Israel).
Even inside Hezbollah, fighters were surprised to hear the warm words that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said after Kuntar's death, and the promises to avenge him. “Is this a way that a ‘hero of the resistance’ behaves?” the sources asked.

  • Thursday, December 31, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Henry Siegman writes in Haaretz:
In the late sixties or early seventies, when I served as the executive head of the Synagogue Council of America, the coordinating body for certain social action and interreligious activities of the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform national rabbinical and congregational organizations in the United States, I had a private conversation—one of many—with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who was considered the leader of modern Orthodoxy in the United States, if not the world.

Rabbi Soloveitchik had just completed a high-level seminar attended by a select group of rabbis and Christian ministers. I asked him if he would agree to lead another such a seminar on the Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel and the concept of “kedushat haaretz” (the holiness of the land), and how these are to be differentiated from concepts such as “blut und boden” (blood and land) at the heart of German fascism and other totalitarian regimes.

Soloveitchik’s answer surprised me, for I was then not only a practicing Orthodox Jew but an ardent Zionist who identified with the religious nationalist branch of the Zionist movement. He told me he could not lead such a seminar because “I would have difficulty explaining that difference even to my own children.” 
This anecdote seems extraordinarily unlikely.

Rabbi Soloveitchik game a number of lectures on the concept of “kedushas haaretz” and was by any measure an expert on the matter. And his interpretation of that concept is antithetical to how Siegman portrays it.

The German idea of “blut und boden” adopted by the Nazis was that there was a mystical tie between Germans and land. Peasants were celebrated and urban areas were derided as "Jewish."

I asked an expert and prolific author of books on Rabbi Soloveitchik what he thought about Siegman's claim. He wrote back to me "I don’t believe it at all . He gave numerous lectures on Kedushas Haaretz. 'Couldn’t explain it to his kids'???

"The entire premise that Kedushas Haaretz is the same as Blut und Boden is utterly ridiculous. Kedushas Haaretz has to do with Shemittah [Sabbatical year when no planting is allowed], Maaser [tithing produce from Israel], etc., i.e., the restrictions associated with Eretz Yisrael. Milchemes Mitzvah and milchemes reshus [obligatory and non-obligatory wars] are separate obligations that have nothing to do with Kedushas Haaretz per se."

Here are Rav Soloveitchik's own words at a lecture he gave a few months after the Six Day War:

I will tell you a secret – it doesn’t matter under whose jurisdiction the Western Wall lies – whether it is under the ministry of parks or under the ministry of religions, either way no Jew will disturb the Kotel. One is indeed on a great spiritual level if he desires to pray at the Kotel Hama'arovi. But many mistakenly believe that the significance of the victory lies more in regaining the Kotel Hamaarovi than the fact that 2 million Jews were saved, and that the Jewish nation was saved. Because really, a Jew does not need the Kotel to be "before G-d." Naturally, the [site of the Temple] has a separate holiness which is "before G-d." But there is a "before G-d" which spreads out over the entire world, wherever a Jew does not sin, wherever a Jew learns Torah, wherever a Jew does mitzvos (commandments). As the Talmud states: “from where do we derive the idea that the Divine Presence accompanies two who learn Torah?” – [the Presence can be found] throughout the entire world.

I want you to understand, I give praise and thanks to the Master of the Universe for liberating the Western Wall and for liberating and for removing all Eretz Yisrael from the jurisdiction of the Arabs, so that it now belongs to us. But I don’t need to rule whether we should give the West Bank back to the Arabs or not to give the West Bank to the Arabs: we Rabbis should not be involved in decisions regarding the safety and security of the population. Such [decisions] are not merely Halakhic rulings : these decisions are a matter of pikuach nefesh [saving lives] for the entire population. And if the government were to rule that the safety of the population requires that specific territories must be returned, whether I issue a halakhic ruling or not, their decision is the deciding factor according to Jewish law. If saving lives supersedes all other mitzvos, it supersedes all prohibitions of the Torah, especially saving the lives of the population in Eretz Yisrael. And all the silly statements I read in the newspapers – one journalist says that we must give all the territory back, another says that we must give only some territory back, another releases edicts, strictures and warnings not to give anything back. This is laughable: these people are playing with two million lives. And as dear as the Kotel is, the two million lives of Jews are more important.

We have to negotiate with common sense as the security of the yishuv requires. What specifically these security requirements are, I don’t know, I don’t understand these things. These decisions require a military perspective which must be researched assiduously. The borders that must be established should be [solely] based upon security considerations. It is not a topic for Rabbinical conferences.
Rav Soloveitchik does not diminish the idea of the importance of the sanctity of the land - but he says that some things are more important. His views that military considerations are paramount in determining the future course of action are compatible, on paper, with Peace Now as well as Likud - unlike how Siegman disgustingly compares his views of "kedushat haaretz" to the Nazi philosophy of blut und boden.

Siegman's article, comparing the Jews who do hold a spiritual attachment to the Holy Land with Nazi philosophy, is obscene even for the more hawkish rabbis who disagree with R. Soloveitchik. No Jewish legal authority is justifying Jewish terror as Siegman implies. But Siegman's use of this rabbi as justifying his own hate is disgusting - even though it is at home in Haaretz.

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  • Thursday, December 31, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
AFP reports:
Islamist group Hamas has banned public New Year's Eve parties in the Gaza Strip because they offend the territory's "values and religious traditions", police said on Wednesday.

"The interior ministry and police department did not give permits to any restaurants, hotels or halls for end-of-year parties" after several venues requested permission, police spokesman Ayman al-Batinji told AFP.

He said New Year's Eve celebrations were "incompatible with our customs, traditions, values and the teachings of our religion".
They have two others reasons as well:
Parties had also been curtailed in "solidarity with the families of the martyrs of the Jerusalem intifada," Batinji said, referring to violence that has swept the city and parts of the West Bank in recent months.

He also highlighted the "pains and sacrifices" that come with living in Gaza due to Israel's "imposed siege" on the Strip.

RT notes that Hamas has allowed New Year's Eve parties in the past, so this is not a religiously motivated ban.

And reasoning is shared by the PA:
In Bethlehem, Christmas celebrations were toned-down significantly out of respect for the more than 120 Palestinian families who have lost loved ones since the start this year's upheaval in October.

Since the start of October, municipalities across the occupied West Bank have also asked bars and restaurants to refrain from having large parties or celebrations out of respect for the seriousness of the current political situation.
Hamas has as little theological problem with New Year's Eve celebrations as the PA has with Christmas parties. The real reason for the bans is that Hamas and Fatah want to ensure that they maintain a perpetual victimhood status, and happy people belie that idea.

Most observers do not fully grasp the implications of an honor/shame society. The fundamental difference between honor/shame culture and Western-style guilt culture is that, in shame cultures, appearances are far more important than reality. There is a carefully crafted narrative of Palestinian Arabs as the ultimate victims, and this is the narrative that they teach their children from birth. Any other issues must not be discussed outside their own circles because it is shameful to admit any shortcomings but not shameful to blame Israel.

This is why we have seen so many "eyewitnesses" to events reflexively make up stories to blame Israel - because not to do so is to admit there are other internal problems in their society, and they will rarely say that to reporters or Western NGOs. Instead, the party line must be adhered to, and the only people who say the truth ask to remain anonymous.

Their leadership is particularly attuned to this dynamic. One photo or video of happy partygoers in the territories, they believe, can undo months of carefully plotted anti-Israel propaganda, of "solidarity with the families of the martyrs" and "pains and sacrifices" that is the one message that they hammer away at to any outsiders. To show otherwise is to admit that they have some responsibility for their own lives, and they don't want that responsibility - since their entire identity is based on being perpetual victims of an event nearly seven decades ago that they started.

In an honor/shame culture, the message given to the outside world must be carefully calibrated and plotted. People who act against that message are ostracized, so they become willing (or unwilling) characters in an ongoing piece of fiction, a dramatic play where the entire world is the audience and one bad actor can ruin the performance.  No one will publicly protest the Palestinian Grinch that stole the holidays, because the playwrights have guns to enforce only one possible ending to the drama - the destruction of another state.

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  • Thursday, December 31, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics came out with their year-end population figures.

According to them, the total number of Palestinians in the world is now up to 12.37 million, with 2.9 million in the West Bank, 1.85 million in Gaza, 1.47 million Arabs in Israel, 5.46 million in Arab countries and around 685,000 in foreign countries.

Last year they counted 12.1 million, meaning that despite Israel's supposed attempts at genocide, somehow some 270,000 more Palestinians managed to appear in just one year.

Some genocide!

However, the Bureau's methods of counting people seem to be less than scientific. 

For example, every year, they release the percentage of the population in the territories that are "refugees."

This year they said that 42.8% of all Palestinian Arabs in the territories are "refugees," 27.1% in the West Bank and 67.3% in Gaza.

Yet last year the numbers came out as 43.1% total, 38.8% in the West Bank and 61.2% in Gaza. And in 2012, the numbers were 44.2%, 41.4% in WB and 58.6% in Gaza.

A 14% difference in percentage of "refugees" in the West Bank, and 9% difference in Gaza, in only three years?

But the trend was completely different in 2006, when they claimed 28.8% in the West Bank and 69.2% in Gaza were "refugees."

Does this make any sense?

There is no rational way to explain such wildly divergent numbers among a statistic that should be largely static if you assume reasonably consistent population growth between refugee and non-refugee populations.

So all of the PCBS' population figures must be considered equally unreliable.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

  • Wednesday, December 30, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Here are the most popular posts of the year (not counting posts from previous years that did well):

10. Hamas accuses Israel of being behind Paris attacks, threatens to kill all French immigrants to Israel

Par for the course.
9. Former Cambridge researcher refuses to answer 13 year old Israeli girl's question about horses 

Making Marsha Levine a household name!

8. Introducing the First International Ayatollah Khamenei Cartoon and Poster Contest

I confess I never chose a winner. Sorry.

7. Gaza's Shujaiyeh will not be rebuilt anytime soon - because of its propaganda value

And it is still in ruins.

6. How to manipulate photos to tell an anti-Israel story 

Making it look like IDF is attacking a little kid. Video shows how photos lie.

5. Some Charlie Hebdo cartoons that are offensive to Jews
Because if you support free speech, you must include speech you disagree with. A fundamental point that many have never learned.

4. Hebrew language charter school in Washington DC serves diverse student body

A feel-good story and video.

3. Outstanding speech by Matti Friedman (UPDATE: Video)
Someone needs to nominate this for a Hasby!

2. Reporters in Malmo, Sweden put on a kipah, Stars of David and get threatened by residents


1. The collection of Charlie Hebdo Mohammed cartoons

What the media didn't want you to see.

These may be the most popular, but they are not the best. That list is coming up, based on comments. (Hint - they are on the sidebar.)

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From Ian:

Journalist: I realized the left's positions were childish
Israeli journalist Avri Gilad on Tuesday credited the late Minister Uri Orbach for changing his worldview from the left to the right.
Gilad and Orbach were, for many years, co-hosts of a show on Army Radio called “Hamila Ha’acharona” (lit. “The Last Word”) which pits a leftist and a rightist journalist against one another for one hour daily.
Speaking at a meeting with students and faculty at the School of Communications at the University of Ariel, Gilad was asked what influenced him and helped change his views, and he replied: "A lot of it was a result of the weekly meeting with Uri Orbach and Jacky Levy when we hosted ‘Hamila Ha’acharona’ together. We would talk for two hours a week, and [Orbach] would embarrass me time and time again, and that caused me disappointment."
Gilad continued, "It made me feel that I was reciting the left’s positions like a puppet reciting empty messages. I learned that if I cannot truly defend my position, I guess I'm not really standing behind it."
Asked about his position today, he said, "I'm not a rightist, but what I took from Uri Orbach is the understanding that the positions of the left are childish. A little boy facing a problem wants a solution here and now, but there comes a time when a reasonable person must say ‘I tried, there is no solution at this time, and we have to live with that’. So even though we are paying a price for the continued occupation in the form of our society becoming more violent and so on, if I have to choose between dying and being violent, I choose violence. However, I certainly hope there will be a change in the future."
Go figure: Israel’s standing in the world is both fantastic and awful
It is no secret that Israel and some Arab countries cooperate clandestinely and have done so for years. Netanyahu has long been saying that many moderate Sunni states no longer see Israel as an enemy and are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in fending off their common foe, Iran.
“There are Arab states that our sought our assistance. If I mentioned their names you’d fall off your chair,” Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said last week.
Israel's incoming Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold and former Saudi government adviser Anwar Eshki shake hands in Washington DC, June 4, 2015 (Debby Communications Group)
The expansion of secret contacts with Sunni states is certainly a welcome development, but so far have not paid off, a senior diplomatic official argued. As long as Israeli athletes cannot obtain visas for certain Arab countries or are not allowed to display their flag there, the much-hailed rapprochement is nothing to brag about, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Israel always had behind-the-scenes contacts with Arab countries, but they also need to be translated into concrete achievements. “In diplomacy many people talk to many other people behind the closed doors. That in itself means very little,” he said.
“How does it help Israel if Dore Gold meets someone from Dubai to talk about the mutual threat emanating from Iran and agree to meet some time in the future to chat about Syria, when publicly the same person is still trashing us, telling everyone we’re murderers and genocidal maniacs?”
 Isi Leibler: Cauterize the cancer of Jewish terrorism
In the Palestinian arena, the terror is preceded by vile campaigns inciting Muslims to kill Jews ‎and become martyrs. Every murder is sanctified and glorified at the national level from PA ‎head Mahmoud Abbas and extended by the mullahs in the mosques, through to the schools ‎and the media. Every murder results in joyful street celebrations with scenes of the proud ‎parents of the "martyrs." Soon thereafter, streets, city squares and even football clubs will be ‎named after the murderers.‎
Compare that with Israel, where the entire nation, including every party in the Knesset, is ‎horrified and shocked that even isolated barbaric behavior of this nature could occur in this ‎country and where draconian steps are taken to identify and indict the Jewish terrorists.‎
We should give full backing to the government to act with uncompromising discipline and ‎eradicate these home-grown aberrations who reject the sanctity of human life as well as ‎investigating the behavior of a handful of fringe extremist rabbis. ‎
These are early days and the situation can be rectified but there must be a recognition that, ‎like cancer in a body, these elements must be completely cauterized or they could revive and ‎cause us immeasurable damage, shaking the very moral foundations of the nation.‎

  • Wednesday, December 30, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Iran's Abna news agency is belittling Saudi Arabia for being too ridiculously anti-Israel.

Of course, the reason is because Iran hates Saudi Arabia, not because Iran likes Israel. The last two paragraphs reveal all.

Ahlul Bayt News Agency - Saudi “Grand Mufti” Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh who is dependent upon Al-Saud Royal Family has called ISIS part of the Zionist regime, while many believe that Al-Saud is the first and the major source of support and ideology behind ISIS terrorist group.

The 72-year old Mufti said that ISIS terrorists are part of Israeli army.

"Actually ISIS is part of the Israeli soldiers," he stated, asserting an alliance between the Israeli army and ISIS militants.

Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, issued a whopper of a conspiracy theory on Monday, said that ISIS militants are actually "Israeli soldiers."

Speaking to the Saudi Gazette, Asheikh said ISIS members are "harming" Islam and Muslims.

"They cannot be considered as followers of Islam. Rather, they are an extension of Kharijites, who rose in revolt against the Islamic caliphate for the first time by labeling Muslims as infidels and permitting their bloodletting," said Asheikh.

The Grand Mufti then spoke about ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's threat against Israel made in an audio recording on Saturday, in which al-Baghdadi said, "Palestine will not be your land or your home, but it will be a graveyard for you."

"This threat against Israel is simply a big lair. Actually, Daesh (ISIS) is part of the Israeli soldiers," said Asheikh.

Saudi Arabia has been the main financial and logistical supporter of ISIS and Al-Saud family have made a lot of investment on ISIS to use this terrorist group to overthrow the legitimate and elected government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

This remark by Saudi grand Mufti has astonished experts while many experts and intellectuals strongly believe that ISIS has been derived from Wahhabi Ideology.
(h/t Yohanan)

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  • Wednesday, December 30, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

Check out their Facebook page.

I said my piece today in court about my innocence, and about how I will respect the High Court's rulings on my impending prison sentences. My legal team is examining what further options we have, but it comes down to this: whom do I have to bribe to get my conviction for accepting bribes overturned?

There's always a way. My decades in politics have taught me nothing if not that. It just takes finding the right people, and the right inducements. Then it's merely a matter of persuasion, timing, and execution. So who's it gonna be? I can still call in favors to make it worth somebody's while. All I have to do is come up with a plan, and find the people willing to be handsomely rewarded for facilitating that plan.

Of course some setbacks are to be expected. That's the nature of the game. I can't seriously expect to resolve this problem before my incarceration begins as scheduled in February. These things do take time. Even if my legal team can't prevent the eighteen-month sentence from starting, I can still work things from behind bars. It might even take as long as the whole sentence, but I've got my sights set on cleansing myself of the "moral turpitude" this conviction attached to the sentence. Unless I can arrange to have that reversed, I won't be allowed to re-enter politics for seven years after my release. That would be a shame, because I'm not so young anymore, and I wouldn't be able to serve the electorate with the same arrogance and incompetence that they came to expect from me. So I need to know who the fixer is who can get this done for me. I pay well.

I need to find the right people or person in the right position to make my case to them, in whatever denominations they prefer. Someone who understands, as I do, and as so many leftist Israelis do, that sometimes the rigid rules of the system have to give way to a higher value. In my case, it was the development of Jerusalem. In the case of the Left, it's a peace agreement, and who cares about a few bribes before I was even prime minister? To the fixer I'm looking for, it's a little of both: grease the right palms, make the right threats, all in the interest of clearing my name so I can get back into politics, make a triumphant return to the premiership, and give away huge swaths of the Jewish homeland to a bunch of unreconstructed terrorists in suits.

So who's it gonna be? Name your price.

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From Ian:

US spied on Netanyahu during Iran deal talks, WSJ reports
The U.S. administration continued to spy on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even after U.S. President Barack Obama announced two years ago he would curtail the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program on friendly heads of state, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The NSA's foreign eavesdropping included phone conversations between top Israeli officials and U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing current and former U.S. officials.
White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Netanyahu's campaign against the nuclear deal with Iran, according to the unnamed officials cited by the Journal.
According to the report, NSA eavesdropping suggested to the White House that Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations, which they learned through Israeli spying operations.
The Journal reported that the NSA's "targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups."
Asked for comment on the Journal report, a White House National Security Council spokesman said: "We do not conduct any foreign intelligence surveillance activities unless there is a specific and validated national security purpose. This applies to ordinary citizens and world leaders alike."
Israel: We don’t spy on US, and expect US not to spy on us
Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on Wednesday maintained that Israel does not spy on the US and said it expects Washington to uphold the same standards.
The Likud minister was responding to a report in The Wall Street Journal that said the White House instructed US spies to eavesdrop on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials earlier this year in an effort to counter campaigning against the Iran nuclear deal, despite having promised to curtail listening in on foreign leaders.
The National Security Agency’s spying dragnet was cast so wide it caught conversations Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders had with US officials and Jewish American leaders. This led to what one source called an “oh shit moment,” because of fears that “the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress,” according to the report.
“Israel does not spy on the US, and we expect that our great friend, the US, will treat us in a similar fashion,” Katz told the Ynet news website. “If the information on the subject turns out to be true, Israel must file a formal protest with the American government and demand it stop all activities of this kind.”
Nonetheless, Israel’s former ambassador the US Michael Oren said Wednesday that Israel assumes that the US, and others, attempt to spy on it. “It’s not very nice, but that is the assumption,” Oren, now a Kulanu MK, said on Channel 2.
If he had something absolutely confidential that he had to convey to the prime minister, Oren added, “I got on a plane.”
LISTENING IN: Congress reportedly caught up in NSA spying on Israelis
According to the paper, the enhanced monitoring of Netanyahu began, with the assent of lawmakers from both parties, late in Obama's first term out of concerns that the Israeli leader would pursue a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The sweeping up of conversations between Israeli officials and U.S. lawmakers began in earnest earlier this year, ahead of a March visit to Capitol Hill by Netanyahu to speak out against the developing Iran nuclear deal, and continued through this past September, when the deadline for Congress to block the deal passed.
The Journal, citing U.S. officials, reported that Netanyahu's office repeatedly attempted to learn details about changes in U.S. positions during the sensitive nuclear talks. Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ron Derner, was described as coaching unnamed Jewish- American groups to press members of Congress, especially Democrats, to oppose the deal.

  • Wednesday, December 30, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
A very insightful post at OpenDemocracy from a dovish Israeli, Efraim Perlmutter, who is now a teacher at a Bedouin high school:

About twelve years ago I participated in a conference in Cyprus that was co-sponsored by an American and Spanish NGO. The conference brought together Israeli and Palestinian educators to discuss introducing peace-oriented study in their respective school curricula.

We were all asked to bring material relating to peace already in use, which would be reviewed and from which either side could borrow creative ideas. Palestinian educators had no such material so the time at the conference was spent reviewing Israeli material.

During a discussion about, if I remember correctly, problems of teaching peace in the classroom, one of the Palestinian teachers raised an issue that was quite unexpected by the conference sponsors, and by me for that matter. She, being a Christian Arab from Jerusalem, expressed discouragement at the increasing gap between Christians and Muslims within the Palestinian community. As a lifelong Palestinian nationalist she was disturbed by the fact that her teenage son had more in common with Israeli teenagers that he met on the beach in Tel Aviv than he did with Muslim Palestinian teenagers who were his lifelong neighbors.

After she had expressed her concerns the room went dead silent. It seemed to me that we all recognized that the discussion had taken a sudden turn in a direction that could easily lead the entire conference into an orgy of mutual recrimination, which was definitely not the intention of the organizers nor the participants.

The silence was broken when one of the other Arab participants announced that the problem was obviously caused by “the occupation”. No one, including me, contradicted him. We were all just relieved that the comment gave us an avenue of escape back to the subject of educating for peace.
I recalled this incident when reading a recent opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post about “honor” killings in Israeli Arab society. The author made some valid points but couldn’t help writing, “The government is also responsible for the fact that the unnecessary occupation has caused bloodshed to become a routine and everyday occurrence for Israel’s Arab community.”

One again, the “occupation” allows problems in Arab society, like an unwanted foundling, to be placed at Israel’s doorstep. To the author’s credit, after genuflecting to “the occupation” a pretty good analysis of the phenomenon of the murder of women in the Israeli Arab community followed.

When I first began commenting on articles here at openDemocracy, I was motivated to answer a writer who contended that the State of Israel had intentionally opened the flood gates on one of its dams in order to flood some villages in Gaza.

The article was simply one of many examples where Palestinian leadership misfeasance brought tribulations to Palestinians that were blamed on the Israelis. I have come to refer to such observers as “Israel Firsters”.

The first time I saw the term “Israel Firster” it was used as an anti-Semitic canard by a writer in reference to the alleged dual loyalty of all Jews to their countries of residence and to the State of Israel, with the latter taking precedence.

I have also seen “Israel Firster” used to describe American neo-cons and others of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. Despite its unfortunate prejudicial origins it seems to me that the term quite accurately describes Jews, Christians, Muslims, Arabs, Europeans and all others who blame the problems and misfortunes of Palestinians (and others) on Israel first. This has had a detrimental effect mostly on Palestinians because it has retarded valid criticism of Palestinian leadership which might have motivated them to do a better job for the Palestinian people. Instead “Israel Firsters” have had the effect of letting Palestinian leadership off the hook, allowing them to go on their way extracting what they can from the situation for their own personal benefit.

For the past few months we (Israelis and Palestinians) have experienced a wave of terrorist attacks mainly on civilian targets. These have mostly been knifings but have also included using vehicles and guns as weapons. For the most part the attackers have been young people, including a few pre-teens, who are inspired to express their nationalism by killing random passersby on the streets. Most of the attackers have been killed in the act, glorified as “shaheed” (martyr) and have become part of the pantheon of Palestinian heroes.

“Israel Firsters” reflexively blame the actions of these young terrorists on “the occupation”. I would suggest that the absence of peace education in most Palestinian Authority schools may have something to do with the motivation of these young people to kill and be killed. A recent article on openDemocracy about reforming education in Egypt, in my opinion, has a great deal of relevance for the Palestinian educational system.

Until Palestinian schools seriously engage in educating for peace rather than glorifying conflict, waves of youthful suicidal terrorism should not be unexpected whether or not “the occupation” continues.
This is similar to the point I have made in the past that many people have "occupation glasses" where everything Israel does, good or bad,  is filtered through those lenses.

It isn't just the "absence of peace education in most Palestinian Authority schools" that causes the problem, it is the open incitement to murder in Palestinian schools and on TV and in music videos.

An exchange between exactly one of the people Perlmutter describes and himself is instructive as well:

Michael Hess: Obviously this place has little to do with "democracy" and quite a bit to do with defending Apartheid Israel. It's ironic how you don't even realize that you are carrying on the Israel Firster tradition. The one that says no matter what Israel does, it's the victim's fault, the Palestinians.

Efraim: Every political leader, whether dealing at the international or domestic level, is dealt a set of cards which are almost never equal to the cards dealt his opponent. The success or failure of political leaders usually depends on the value of the cards they are dealt and the skill with which they play their hand. It is my opinion that the Palestinian leadership have mostly overplayed their hand and have, as a consequence, done poorly. In part because observers like you cannot bring yourselves to criticize the Palestinian leadership which remains unaccountable for their failures. Instead you contend that everything is Israel's fault and therefore the Palestinians are never to blame.

Do you think that the Palestinian leadership have played their cards well or poorly?
(h/t JW)

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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