Sunday, August 12, 2018

It’s not ‘anti-Arab’ to criticize an Arab supporter of terrorism

My column from JNS.ORG about western Jewish liberal reaction to events in Israel.

It’s not ‘anti-Arab’ to criticize an Arab supporter of terrorism

Eight Jewish organizations this week signed a public statement accusing Israel of being, in effect, a racist state. Seven of them were left-of-center groups whose harsh criticism of Israel is old news. But one of them was the National Council of Jewish Women, a venerable American Jewish organization that ordinarily does not associate itself with such vile smears of the Jewish state.

The statement, distributed on July 31 as an Internet advertisement, accused “the Prime Minister and Government Ministers” of Israel of engaging in “shameful and dangerous incitement” against Israel’s Arab citizens.

That is an extremely serious charge. A regime that deliberately incites hatred against citizens of a particular ethnic and racial group is behaving on the moral level of some of the worst authoritarian regimes in memory.

So what’s the evidence? Where’s the proof that the Israeli government has degenerated into a mob of racist inciters?
The declaration cites three pieces of “evidence.”
The first refers to an incident in April. An Israeli news report claimed that some fans at a soccer game in the Israeli Arab village of Sakhnin refused to stand, or even booed, during a moment of silence for Israeli victims of a recent flood. The article was then posted on the Facebook page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with a statement by the prime minister calling the fans’ behavior “an utter disgrace.”
Criticizing individuals for their behavior is not “racist,” and it’s not “incitement.” In this case, however, as soon as doubts arose concerning the accuracy of the report, the prime minister’s staff removed it from the Facebook page. Certainly, it was careless of them not to have looked further into the story before publicizing it. But that’s not the same as deliberately and maliciously trying to whip up hatred of all Israeli Arabs.
The other “evidence” in this week’s declaration was even less credible. It pointed to the fact that two cabinet ministers strongly criticized the pro-terrorist statements and actions of Arab Knesset member Ayman Odeh.
The ministers didn’t criticize Odeh for being an Arab. They didn’t call for Arabs to be banned from the Knesset. In fact, they didn’t call for any action against Arabs at all. They called for action against Odeh because of his indisputable record of supporting terrorism and terrorists.
For example, in an interview with Israel Army Radio on Oct. 6, 2015, Odeh was asked about that week’s Palestinian murders of U.S. citizen Eitam Henkin and his wife, Na’ama, in front of their four young children. At first, Odeh avoided endorsing the murders, but then he asserted that Palestinians have “a right to struggle” against Israel. He cited the first intifada—with its thousands of bombings, shootings and other attacks—as an example of “struggle” that is “fully justified.”
Pressed by the interviewer as to whether throwing rocks at Jews is legitimate, Odeh replied: “I always blame the occupation for being guilty. I cannot tell the nation how to struggle, where and which target to throw the rock. I do not put red lines on the Arab Palestinian nation.”
Knesset member Itzik Shmuly denounced Odeh’s statements as “angering and disappointing.” Shmuly represents the Zionist Union, better known as the Labor Party. One of the eight groups signing this week’s statement was Ameinu, better known as the U.S. wing of the Labor Party. I wonder why they didn’t include Shmuly in their denunciation of “incitement.” I guess if “our guy” says it, then it’s not incitement.
In an interview with Al-Arabiya television on March 4, 2016, Odeh was asked about the wave of Palestinian knife attacks against Israelis. He replied: “We should examine our history and the history of the nations to determine strategies. There is no doubt that a popular intifada is most beneficial to the Palestinian people. I, from my place, cannot tell the Palestinian people how to resist.”
Just six weeks ago, on June 18, Odeh took part in a conference in eastern Jerusalem sponsored by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). The PFLP and the DFLP are terrorist groups that have murdered and maimed many hundreds of Israelis—and Americans—since the 1960s. That’s who Ayman Odeh chooses to associate with. And that’s why he deserves to be criticized.
I’m not surprised that J Street and Americans for Peace Now signed the “anti-incitement” declaration. Pointing an accusing finger at Israel has become their trademark. But I am profoundly disappointed that the National Council of Jewish Women would sully its good name by allowing itself to be dragged into this smear of the Jewish state.
I’m giving the leaders of the NCJW the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they were misled by the other signatories. Perhaps they did not see the final text before they gave their approval. Maybe they didn’t carefully research the claims that are made in the anti-Israel declaration. They can rectify this error by immediately disavowing the declaration.
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Well, that's what I think and invite you to comment.

Look for my new book in October, "A Father's Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror"

The Day Trump And The Media Saw Eye To Eye

In case you missed my column on A look at an extraordinary event-

The Day Trump And The Media Saw Eye To Eye

Something remarkable happened in the nation’s capital last week. The president, who derides
most journalists as purveyors of “fake news,” and journalists who openly despise the president, suddenly found an issue on which they could agree: the innumerable virtues of a visiting dictator who shelters murderers of American citizens.

It was a week in which enraged journalists compared the president’s border policies to those
of the Nazis, and prominent Democrats called for mobs to besiege administration officials
whom they spot in restaurants. Yet, amid all this sound and fury, the political combatants
paused, set aside their mutual hatred for a few hours, and joined hands in a lovefest devoted
to a foreign tyrant who rules by royal decree and provides haven to the killers of American
women and children.

Who is this extraordinary despot who captures the hearts of American journalists and the
president alike? Why, it’s King Abdullah of Jordan, of course.

Liberals are outraged when Trump seems to behave like a would-be monarch, yet they swoon
when a real-life king came to town. Conservatives were furious over the exchange of Bo
Bergdahl for Taliban killers of Americans, yet they rolled out the red carpet for the Jordanian
leader who protects killers of Americans.

After President Trump and King Abdullah met at the White House, they spoke to reporters.
Trump began by praising Abdullah as “incredible” and “fantastic.” The reporters then asked
about the president’s executive order concerning border separations, about the chances for
Middle East peace, and about the administration’s forthcoming Mideast peace plan.

Later in the day, the president spoke to reporters again. They asked about Harley-Davidson
moving some of its operations overseas; the tariffs dispute; the actions of steel manufacturers; U.S.-China trade; the Supreme Court travel ban ruling; the process for deporting illegal immigrants; and funding for the border wall.

President Trump did not say a word about the killers of Americans whom Abdullah is
sheltering. And not one journalist asked him about it. It was “Don’t ask, don’t tell” at its most

But since the president and the news media won’t tell you about it, I will. On August 9, 1982,
Palestinian terrorists firing submachine guns and throwing hand grenades attacked lunchtime
diners at the Chez Jo Goldenberg restaurant in downtown Paris. Six people were murdered, 22
were wounded. Among the fatalities were two women from Chicago: Grace Cutler, age 66,
and Ann Van Zanten, age 31, a curator at the Chicago Historical Society.

In 2016, Zuhair al-Abbasi, one of the perpetrators of the Paris attack, was detained in Jordan
because of an Interpol warrant. France asked Jordan to surrender him. Jordan refused, claiming the French-Jordanian extradition treaty went into effect only after al-Abbasi was arrested in Jordan.

Then why not extradite him to the United States? The U.S.-Jordanian extradition treaty has been in effect since 1995. But the Trump administration has never asked Jordan to hand over al-Abbasi.

Exactly 19 years to the day after the Paris attack, on August 9, 2001, terrorists bombed the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed, 130 wounded. Three of the
fatalities were American citizens, including 15-year-old Malki Roth. Two of the terrorists were
captured. One was 21-year-old Ahlam Tamimi. She confessed, was sentenced to 16 terms of
life imprisonment, and then released in a 2011 prisoner exchange.

Tamimi settled in the Jordanian capital of Amman, where King Abdullah’s regime rewarded her
with her own television show, called “Breezes of the Fire.” She repeatedly boasted on air about her role in the Sbarro attack.

Last year, the Trump administration finally unsealed a U.S. indictment against Tamimi that had originally been issued four years earlier. Why it took four years to unseal it was never explained.

When the indictment was unsealed, Tamimi was added to America’s Most Wanted list. Yet, no
monetary reward was offered for her capture, as is routinely done in all such cases. It took an entire year of pressure by the Roth family to finally get the Trump administration to post a reward.

The Justice Department also belatedly issued a wanted poster with Tamimi’s photo. But it’s
written in English, not Arabic. And it appears only on the department’s website, not in the
streets of Jordan. It’s not even posted at the American embassy in Amman.

Indeed, the Justice Department has told the Roth family that if a bounty-hunter were to capture Tammy and bring her to the U.S. embassy in Amman, the U.S. would refuse to accept her because she must be transferred according to the extradition treaty. Talk about a Catch22!

And so, the murderers of Americans continue to walk free in Jordan, the Jordanian regime continues to receive $1 billion in aid each year from the Trump administration, and justice continues to be trampled upon.

Well, that's what I think.
Stephen M. Flatow

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This column and others I have written may be read on line at JewishPress.comBe sure to be on the lookout for my book "A Father's Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror" out in October.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Riots in Gaza - What if the Israelis didn’t shoot?

A scenario that is not quite out of the possible - if Western critics had their way- my JNS column:

What if the Israelis didn’t shoot?

It’s been a month now since the Israeli government made its controversial decision to stop shooting back at the Palestinian mobs surging toward the Gaza fence. Let’s see how things turned out.

Palestinian protesters during clashes with Israeli
forces along the border with the Gaza
strip east of Gaza City on May 11, 2018.
Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
At first, of course, Israel’s leaders insisted that they had a right to defend the border. But eventually, international pressure got to be too much. All those editorials in The New York Times accusing Israel of brutality. The constant hectoring by the hosts of cable TV’s “Morning Joe” and “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” The condemnations by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The U.N. resolutions.
Then American Jews jumped on the bandwagon. At first, it was just the predictable groups—Jewish Voice for Peace and J Street denounced Israel. That’s what they do. But then, Rabbi Rick Jacobs started squirming when the pundits on his favorite MSNBC talk show began criticizing Israel, and soon his Union for Reform Judaism was proclaiming how “alarmed, concerned and profoundly saddened” it was about the deaths of all those Gaza rioters. Not much alarm, concern or sadness about the border kibbutzim being devastated as flaming kites set their crops ablaze. But never mind all that.
The Anti-Defamation League, increasingly resembling the Obama administration for which its national director once worked, chimed in with “concern” of its own. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations dithered, unable to reach a consensus on what position to take. Right-of-center groups issued their usually verbose, over-the-top press releases that nobody took seriously. No wonder the Israelis felt so alone. They really were.
So Israel announced that its soldiers would cease firing and expressed the hope that the Gaza mobs would reciprocate. Unfortunately, the word “reciprocity” is not in the vocabulary of the Palestinian Arabs. As soon as the Israelis stopped shooting, the mobs rushed forward.
Not just the few thousand who happened to be at the border that day. Word immediately spread that the Zionist enemy had collapsed, and soon there were tens of thousands of Gazans streaming towards the border fence. Then hundreds of thousands.
The young men with knives and steel bars were followed by waves of women armed with empty bags. Older Israelis remembered scenes from the 1948 war, when an Arab military force was about to overrun some Israeli town, and neighboring Arab women would rush to the scene with their empty bags, anxious to loot the Jews’ property.
What happened next wasn’t exactly a surprise. After all, on May 14, Washington Post reporters Loveday Morris and Hazem Balousha had asked the would-be border-crashers about their intentions. Here’s what they reported:
“ ‘We are excited to storm and get inside,’ said 23-year-old Mohammed Mansoura. When asked what he would do inside Israel, he said, ‘Whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones’ . . . Two other young men carried large knives and said they wanted to kill Jews on the other side of the fence.”
Mansoura was true to his word. As the Israeli soldiers retreated, Mansoura led a mob of hundreds across the border fence and through the fields of nearby Kibbutz Mefalsim. The kibbutz security men were hopelessly outnumbered. Mansoura and his comrades smashed their way into the communal kitchen, helped themselves to dozens of knives and then invaded the homes of the kibbutzniks. What happened next is too gruesome to recount here.
In the old days, the kibbutzim were American Jewry’s pride and joy. More than a few J Streeters had spent a summer on a kibbutz, picking olives and fantasizing about how a more socialist, egalitarian Israel might gain favor in the eyes of Western intellectuals. Alas, now the kibbutzim in southern Israel just got in the way. Why did they have to build them so close to the Gaza border anyway? the Jewish peaceniks wondered with dismay.
Those two “young men with large knives” who told The Washington Postthat “they wanted to kill Jews” kept their word, too. So did hundreds, and then thousands, of other Gazans. For Israel’s leaders, the choice was between headlines about dead Palestinians or retreating. They ordered the army to continue its retreat. Border towns such as Sderot and Netivot were overrun. The slaughter was horrific.
Finally, at Ashkelon, the army dug in. Tel Aviv, after all, was just 36 miles away. The left-wing Israeli intellectuals who bitterly protested when the army was shooting rioters at the Gaza border changed their tune as the Palestinian mobs got within striking distance of the cafes on Dizengoff Street.
There was a brief lull in the violence as the Palestinians filled Molotov cocktail bottles with gasoline, and the Israelis positioned thousands of sandbags along Ashkelon’s perimeter. Surely, now the world would see that the Palestinians were the aggressors, Israel’s beleaguered leaders thought. Surely, now Thomas Friedman and the United Nations would stop criticizing Israel, they thought.
But as the firebomb-throwers surged forward again and the Israeli army shot back, it all started again. Headlines about the number of dead Palestinian “protesters.” Liberal Jewish leaders expressing “sadness” over the “clashes.” Pundits calling for Israel to stop using “disproportionate force.” Ex-State Department officials pontificating about the need for Israel to “compromise.”
And that’s what it would look like, a month after the Israelis stopped shooting at the Gaza attackers.

This column and others can be read on line at

Monday, March 19, 2018

Israeli Officials Blast Jewish Visits To Qatar

Israeli Officials Blast Jewish Visits To Qatar

What are we to make of Jewish leaders who visit Qatar as the guests of the emir?  I'm opposed to such visits as my March 8, 2018 column in the Jewish Press makes clear.

It’s the Jewish controversy that just won’t go away. Nor should it.

Fully six months after Jewish leaders first began trooping off to Qatar, the op-ed columns of American Jewish and Israeli publications are still filled with lively commentaries on the affair.
And well they should be. Because this sordid episode has laid bare patterns of behavior among some Jewish leaders that need changing.
* There needs to be accountability. The members of these Jewish organizations should have been allowed to vote on whether their leaders should hobnob with an emir who finances Hamas.
* There needs to be transparency. Who went? How many times? Who paid their expenses? Do any of the visitors have business interests in the Gulf?
* There needs to be an open and honest discussion. The Jewish officials who went to Qatar need to stop responding to their critics with such extreme defensiveness. Cut out the name-calling and mud-slinging and threats of lawsuits. Discuss the issues calmly and seriously.
And please stop telling us the Israeli government secretly approved of the visits.
Have you ever noticed how people who want to defend indefensible behavior always seem to claim that unnamed “Israeli officials” secretly authorized their actions? Sorry, friends, blaming Israel is not going to get you off the hook.
Way back in November, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, told Forbes magazine that Israel did not approve of Jewish leaders going to Qatar.
Subsequently, a spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in Washington told Haaretz “that anyone who says [the Jewish embrace of Qatar] has won the blessing of the ambassador is not telling the truth.”
Then The New York Times reported: “The parade to Doha grew so large that Itai Bar Dov, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, issued a scolding. ‘We do not approve of these visits by the Jewish organizations to Qatar,’ Mr. Dov said.”
If that’s not enough, consider what two other prominent Israeli officials have said in recent days.
Acting Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that the spectacle of “self-appointed members of the Jewish community running to Qatar is an exercise of pure ego.”
According to Hotovely, “They never checked with anyone in the Israeli government. Qatar is responsible for the funding of Hamas and other terrorist groups that target us and our children. We are baffled by this development.”
Major-General (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who formerly served as Israel’s national security adviser, likewise takes a dim view of the Qatar pilgrimages. “I think it is a huge mistake for American Jewish leaders to go over to Qatar,” Amidror has said. “They are using these Jews, and their tremendous egos, to gain international legitimacy. What chutzpah for them to think that they have the power to change [Qatar’s] deeply entrenched views.”
Amidror, who has also served as head of the Israeli Military Intelligence research department, said that Jewish officials should have insisted, as a prior condition to visiting Qatar, “that Qatar stops its financial and material support for Hamas and other terrorist groups” and “Al Jazeera’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views be totally changed…. Otherwise, Qatar is just using these Jews and their tremendous egos as a cover to gain international legitimacy.”
Six months have passed since the American Jewish leaders’ romance with Qatar began. Qatar is still financing the mass murderers of Hamas. Senior Hamas fugitives are still being sheltered in Qatar. The Qatar-sponsored media outlet Al Jazeera is still filling the airwaves with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda.
And so the controversy will continue, until the Jews who allowed themselves to be used by Qatar publicly acknowledge that they were wrong, and apologize to the members of their organizations and to the entire Jewish community.

The Trump administration just doesn’t get Gaza

My JNS.ORG column-

The Trump administration just doesn’t get Gaza

The Trump administration’s conference on the situation in the Gaza Strip this week “focused on the need for the Palestinian Authority to take control over Gaza,” a White House official told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. If that report is accurate, it means that the United States still doesn’t understand the basic problem in Gaza—or how to solve it.

The idea that Hamas is the “bad guy” and the Palestinian Authority is the “good guy” is a fallacy that began with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and is still the mindset of too many people in Washington.

The attempts to distinguish between the “moderate” P.A. and the “extremist” Hamas always foundered on the reality that the P.A. regards Hamas as its brother, not its enemy. Brothers may quarrel from time to time—they may get into a scuffle now and then, or even try to kill each other—but they remain brothers.

The P.A. leadership promised, as part of Oslo, to disband all terrorist groups, seize their weapons and outlaw them—in short, to put them out of business. But here we are, 25 years later, and Hamas still has active terrorist cells throughout the P.A.-controlled parts of Judea and Samaria.

There’s no doubt that the P.A. has the means to eliminate Hamas in the territories; it has one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world. Yet it has never even outlawed Hamas. It has never made a real effort to capture its members or confiscate its weapons. It has not extradited a single Hamas terrorist to Israel, even though the Oslo agreement obligates it to do so.

Even The New York Times, a longtime cheerleader for the P.A., has occasionally conceded that Hamas and other terrorists roam free in P.A.-run cities. On March 23, 2014, the Times reported that Israeli troops were forced to enter the Jenin refugee camp in pursuit of terrorists because although Jenin is under the “full control” of the Palestinian Authority, “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.”

When the P.A.’s newspapers, television and radio glorify terrorists as “martyrs” and “heroes,” they don’t talk about only Fatah terrorists. They glorify Hamas murderers, too.

When the P.A. pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists, they don’t give out the payments only to Fatah members. They pay Hamas murderers and their families, too.

So there’s no reason for surprise that the P.A. boycotted this week’s conference on Gaza in Washington. No matter how hard the State Department crowd wishes it, the P.A. is not going to fight Hamas for control of Gaza. In fact, it’s not going to fight Hamas at all.

The solution to Gaza’s various ills is not to pump more international money into the region. That has been tried for decades, and it hasn’t worked. The solution is regime change. But a change from Hamas to the P.A. —even if it were possible and even if the P.A. were amenable to that— would not represent genuine change. It would mean replacing one corrupt, violent Palestinian dictatorship with another corrupt, violent Palestinian dictatorship.

Not every group of people with a grievance deserves, or is ready for, self-rule. Some have too little experience with the culture of democracy to establish and run a free society; the last thing the world needs is more dictatorships. Some are too violent to live in peace with their neighbors; that is the danger Israel faces.

For years, advocates of Palestinian statehood urged Israel to grant self-rule to the Arabs in Gaza. They claimed that if the Gazans were allowed to rule themselves, they would become peaceful neighbors since surely they wouldn’t want to risk losing their self-rule. It would be an experiment to see if giving them a fully sovereign state could succeed. Yitzhak Rabin took that risk (my family paid a high price for it) and then Ariel Sharon decided to take that risk.

The tens of thousands of rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over the years have demonstrated that the experiment was an abject failure. Gaza proves that the Palestinian Arabs are not yet ready for self-rule. Neither conferences in Washington nor handouts from the international community will change that.

Four Lessons From An Israeli Raid

Four Lessons From An Israeli Raid

My column in the Jewish Press-
Israeli security authorities revealed last week that members of two Islamic Jihad terrorist cells operating in the Bethlehem region have been arrested. The terrorists had carried out “shooting attacks against Jewish civilians and IDF soldiers” in the area and were planning to murder Israel’s defense minister.
It was one of those announcements that will not make the Washington Post or Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room” program on CNN. But it should. Because we can all learn some very important lessons from this seemingly routine incident.
Lesson 1: Israel can’t count on the PA security forces.
The Palestinian Authority leadership promised, in the Oslo accords, to disband all terrorist groups, seize their weapons, and outlaw them – in short, to put them out of business. How can it be that, 23 years after the PA took over sole control of Bethlehem, Islamic Jihad still has active terrorist cells in and around the city?
There’s no doubt the PA has the means to do the job. The PA has one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world. Yet the PA never outlawed Islamic Jihad. It has never made a serious effort to capture its members or seize its weapons. The PA treats the terrorists in the areas under its control like brothers and allows them to operate freely.
Even The New York Times, longtime cheerleader for the PA, has occasionally conceded that terrorists roam free in PA cities. On March 23, 2014, the Times reported that Israeli troops were forced to enter the Jenin refugee camp in pursuit of terrorists because although Jenin is under the “full control” of the PA, “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.”
Lesson 2: Terrorists who are released tend to return to terrorism.
The leaders of both Islamic Jihad cells were previously imprisoned by Israel but then released. Awad al-Askara had been behind bars from 2015 to 2017. Mahmoud Ali al-Askara “had been imprisoned twice for Islamic Jihad activity and involvement in preparing an IED and planning an attack against IDF forces,” the announcement revealed.
Israeli security officials were recently quoted in the press as saying that 420 of the 1,027 terrorists – more than 40 percent of them – who were set free in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal have already returned to terrorism. That’s just the ones they know about so far, and it doesn’t include those who have taken a few years off but will resume their terrorism later. So the actual final number is likely to be even higher.
Lesson 3: The PA’s payments incentivize terrorism.
Israeli authorities revealed that “one of the motives for the activity of one cell member, similar to other young people in the Bethlehem area, was to be arrested in order to receive prisoner payments from Islamic Jihad.”
Not only will the terrorists receive payments from Islamic Jihad, they will also receive payments from the Palestinian Authority itself, since the PA distributes financial rewards to all imprisoned terrorists, regardless of which faction they belong to.
An Arab who is imprisoned for attacking, but not killing, Jews (and thus is sentenced to between one and three years in jail) receives a monthly salary of $400 from the PA. A terrorist who succeeds in killing a Jew, and therefore is sentenced to 30 or more years in prison, receives a monthly salary of $3,400.
The financial rewards don’t stop there. After he completes his sentence, the terrorist who was imprisoned for one to three years receives an additional grant of $1,500. The size of the grant increases according to the length of his sentence. Let’s say a terrorist murders someone, is sentenced to life in prison, but then gets out in a prisoner exchange. The PA gives him a grant of $25,000.
And terrorists can rest assured that if they are killed while trying to murder Jews, their families will be rewarded by the PA. The family of an unmarried terrorist who is killed receives $100 monthly. The widow of a terrorist receives $250 each month, for life.
Lesson 4: The experiment in Palestinian self-rule has failed.
The Bethlehem terrorists were connected to terror groups in Gaza and expected to receive financial and other assistance from their Gaza colleagues, Israeli authorities said. According to the announcement, this reflects “the recent and increasing efforts of Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to intensify operations in Judea and Samaria…. [There is a] growing trend by terrorists in Judea and Samaria to acquire financing, war materiel, guidance and sponsorship from sources outside Judea and Samaria.”
For years, advocates of Palestinian statehood urged Israel to grant self-rule to the Arabs in Gaza. They claimed that if the Gazans were allowed to rule themselves, they would become peaceful neighbors since, surely, they would not want to risk losing their self-rule. It would be an experiment to see if giving them a fully sovereign state could succeed.
The tens of thousands of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza at Israel over the years should have been enough to demonstrate that the experiment was a colossal mistake. But if anybody still needs convincing, here’s more proof. Instead of living quietly and peacefully under their own regime, the Gazans are busy trying to organize the murder of Jews in Judea and Samaria. It’s time to admit the experiment has failed. Palestinian self-rule is an active threat to the lives of Israelis, and Palestinian statehood would constitute a threat to Israel’s very existence.
Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, February 5, 2018

Why Polls on a Palestinian State are a Mirage

Why Polls on a Palestinian State are a Mirage

My Jewish Press Column

How can it be that despite the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) support for terrorism, violations of the Oslo Accords and non-stop anti-Israel incitement, so many Israelis seem to be in favor of establishing a Palestinian state next door? Could it be that the answer is found in the asking?
Just last week, newspaper headlines announced that according to a new poll, 47 percent of Israeli Jews still support Palestinian statehood. The poll was carried out by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, at Tel Aviv University.
But as with most news about Israel, you need to dig behind the headlines to find out the real story. In this case, the real story is the wording that the Steinmetz Center used. The question which got that 47 percent figure was loaded with false assumptions and completely unrealistic expectations. In other words, the poll offered a fantasy.
The Steinmetz Center asked respondents if they supported a “two-state solution” that would include:
  1. It would be a “permanent settlement.” In reality, of course, nobody can guarantee that any settlement would be “permanent.” The Palestinian leader who signs an agreement could be overthrown the next day. Arab leaders are constantly being ousted and replaced by arch-rivals.
  2. The agreement would include “demilitarization of the Palestinian state.” This, despite the fact that every Palestinian leader has rejected the idea of demilitarization. Even if they signed an agreement saying it would be demilitarized, what’s the likelihood they would abide by that? If a “demilitarized” Palestinian state started importing tanks that it claimed were needed for self-defense, Israel would face international condemnation and sanctions if it tried to intervene.
  3. There would be “family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees.” Notice the use of the sympathetic term “family unification.” What cruel person would oppose unifying families? More important, the PA’s position has always been that millions of Palestinian “refugees”—not a mere 100,000—must be allowed to settle in Israel. The 100,000 figure is an illusion that Jewish supporters of the Palestinians trot out to try to sell their imaginary deal.
  4. “The Palestinian state will fight terror against Israelis.” What a joke. The heart and soul of the Oslo Accords was that the PA would stamp out terrorist groups. Yet here we are, 25 years later, and the PA has never disarmed or outlawed any of the terrorist groups, never extradited any terrorists to Israel, never even expelled terror factions from the PLO. But now, when they have a state, they will suddenly “fight terror?”
So there you have it: The “Palestinian state” that 47 percent of Israeli Jews would favor is a creature of the Steinmetz Center’s imagination. A permanently peaceful, totally demilitarized, terror-fighting Palestinian state that won’t insist on flooding Israel with “refugees.” Who wouldn’t want such a neighbor? Frankly, I’m surprised only 47 percent of Israeli Jews voiced their support.
It’s not hard to understand why advocates of the Palestinian cause are so enamored of the Steinmetz Center. The center’s website reports that its polls of Israeli public opinion are undertaken “with funding from the European Union and the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah.” I guess the EU and the Dutch government, both of which are passionately pro-Palestinian, see the center’s work as helpful to the Palestinian cause.
You can bet the EU and the Dutch would be mighty unhappy if the Steinmetz Center asked questions that included factual statements about Palestinian statehood. How about questions such as these:
  1. If a Palestinian state is established, Israel will be nine miles wide at its midsection. Is that a risk you are willing to take?
  2. If a Palestinian state is established, a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, standing inside the borders of “Palestine,” will be able to shoot down a plane taking off from Ben Gurion Airport. Do you believe the PA can be relied upon to stop such attacks?
  3. The PA has never honored its Oslo obligations to disarm our outlaw terrorist groups. Do you believe that a Palestinian state would take those actions?
Any chance of the Steinmetz Center ever asking such questions? I’m not holding my breath, and you shouldn’t either.
Well, that's what I think.  Feel free to share.
Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, January 29, 2018

Group formed to support UK victims of terrorist attacks

Survivors Against Terror launched.

Who does a terror victim turn to to give voice to their dead child, parent, sibling? Unfortunately, sympathy abounds but it doesn't get you action.

In Great Britain, a new organization has been formed, Survivors Against Terror, that aims to be the voice of British victims of terror.

As reported by the London-based The Independent:
Survivors of terrorist atrocities committed on British soil and elsewhere will launch a new group to lobby the Government on counter-terror policies and improved support for victims.
The Survivors Against Terror group, which is being founded by survivors and bereaved relatives of victims of Islamist bombings, IRA attacks and far-right extremist murders, has urged others to join as it begins on Monday.
The group aims to campaign for more effective policies to combat terror and identify gaps in support for victims and the bereaved, as well as help the public tackle hate speech and the terror threat.

Good for them!

Read the full article here. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Shiva Call

The Shiva Call

I got into Ben Yishai’s car outside my Jerusalem hotel with butterflies in my stomach. We were headed north to make a shiva call in the Shomron. A few days earlier, a terrorist attack took the life of 35-year-old Rabbi Raziel Shevach. Twenty-two bullets punctured his car as he drove on Route 60 to his home in the community of Havat Gilad.  Before he lost consciousness Rabbi Shevach called his wife and told her to call an ambulance. He died in that ambulance on the drive to the hospital.
On the way, Ben Yishai pulled off the road so we could look down on Nablus, the site of biblical Shechem. I had never seen it before. It’s a large city, with prominent buildings, soccer pitches, a sprawling UN facility, and Joseph’s Tomb.
Joseph’s Tomb is frequently in the news. Local Palestinian Arabs have tried to burn it down several times. They painted it green to turn it into a mosque, but it’s white once again. It’s been the site of bloodshed over the years. Rabbi Hillel Lieberman was murdered there as he tried to rescue Torah scrolls from a fire after control of the city had been turned over to the PA. And IDF soldiers lost their lives when their commanders didn’t act fast enough to come to their aid when they came under fire from terrorists.
After recent declarations by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, it’s hard to believe he once condemned an attack on Joseph’s Tomb, saying it “violate[d] law and order, and…distort[ed] our culture, our morals and our religion.” Apparently that statement was not taken to heart by his constituents; over the past two years there have been many attacks on the site and on worshipers – and just last week security personnel discovered an explosive device that had been wired for remote detonation right outside the tomb as masses of people would be arriving to pray there.
As you look down on the southern part of the city, you notice a change in the architecture and layout. Suddenly, white multi-storied buildings give way to an area of low structures seemingly packed together like sardines in a can. What you are looking at is the Balata refugee camp. I cannot answer the question why, 20 years after control of the city was given to the Palestinians, Balata’s residents, some 30,000 of them, continue to live in the camp.
Back in the car we continued on to Rabbi Shevach’s community of Havat Gilad, which is called an “outpost” because it’s not recognized as a settlement by the government that sits one hour away in Jerusalem. Outside the shiva house, a family friend explained to me that because it is built on private land bought many years ago by a businessman in memory of another terror victim, its status is in limbo.
Rabbi Raziel Shevach HY"D and his family.
Photo courtesy Shevach family
Since it’s an outpost, the community of 40 families with 130 children is not directly connected to Israel’s electric grid. Don’t misunderstand; they have electricity in Havat Gilad. But imagine a long extension cord running from Yitzhar, a settlement about two miles away, to Havat Gilad. That’s how the residents get their electricity.
However, that will now change according to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who ordered the Defense Ministry to connect the community to Israel’s national electricity grid. Said the rabbi’s widow in response, “It’s a joke that you’re trying to give us electricity when there is an entire village that needs to be legalized. I want to know that in 10 years’ time they will not move my husband’s grave because we waited too long [to legalize it].” I couldn’t laugh.
The community had no cemetery until the residents, at the request of Rabbi Shevach’s family, leveled a hill to create one. It’s not a pretty site, but neither is Havat Gilad after a rain.
The ground outside the shiva house was muddy, and the rugs that had been put down under a quickly erected blue plastic tarp to protect visitors from the sun sank into the mud.
The concrete patio in front of the house had muddy puddles and some young girls did an admirable job using a squeegee broom to move water into a drainage pit. It seems they were experienced at it.
An hour after the end of shiva, all the chairs were neatly stacked, the water and food pots and pans, were cleaned and removed. If you didn’t know that many hundreds of people had gone through the front door of the house over the preceding week, you could not tell from the way things looked now.
Survived by his widow, Yael, and six orphans – Renana, 10, Naomi, 8, Miriam, 6, Malka, 5, Ovadia, 3, and Benayahu, 10 months – Raziel Shevach was an incongruous man. He always dressed in a black suit, I was told, but wore a large white knitted kippah. He was a quiet man with a perpetual smile on his face who possessed many talents. He was a student, a teacher, the community rabbi, a mohel whose fees were turned over to the community children, a shochet, an emergency first-responder, and, to hear his neighbors talk of him, one of Hashem’s gifts to His people.
Rav Shevach’s senseless murder will not change anything for Palestinian Arabs, who praised it, other than lead to more death; the terrorist who murdered him has already been found and, in the IDF’s lexicon, “neutralized.” The residents of the Balata refugee camp will continue to be “refugees” under the thumb of the PA with the help of the United Nations.
We can hope the government recognizes Havat Gilad as a legal community, but as Kfar Darom and all the communities of Gaza were uprooted, including their graves, that does not guarantee anything. So you return to Jerusalem, you thank Ben Yishai for the ride, and you put a big smile on your face as you hug and hold tight your Israeli grandchildren, just as Raziel Shevach had held his children a week earlier.

May the memory of Rabbi Raziel Shevach be a blessing and may God avenge his blood.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Two vice presidential visits to Israel: what a difference!

Two vice presidential visits to Israel: what a difference!
By Stephen M. Flatow 

Anybody who watched Vice President Mike Pence's address to the Knesset had to be deeply impressed by his heartfelt solidarity with Israel. His repeated pledges of support for the Jewish state were authentic and unwavering.

On Nov. 10, 2016 Vice President Joe Biden , left,meets with then Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the White House. Credit Office of the Vice President of the United States.
Unlike the previous president, who seemed to think the Jews took an interest in Eretz Yisrael only because of the Holocaust, Pence did not shy away from affirming the Jewish people's ancient ties to the land of Israel.

 "It was the faith of the Jewish people that gathered the scattered fragments of a people and made them whole again, that took the language of the Bible and the landscape of the Psalms and made them live again," Pence said. "And it was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made them strong again. The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends."

Watching Pence's address, I could not help but recall the very different actions of the last vice president who visited Israel.

Joe Biden visited Israel in March 2010. Almost exactly at the moment Biden was speaking at a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "somebody" leaked to the press that the Israeli government supposedly had just announced plans to build 1,600 Jewish homes in "occupied East Jerusalem."

In fact, it was not some new plan, but an unexceptional housing construction project that had been slowly winding its way through the Israeli bureaucracy for years. The government did not make some grand "announcement" at the moment of Biden's visit; the old plan just happened to advance slightly through the normal bureaucratic procedures.

The plan was not for 1,600 "homes," which sounds as if Israel was going to build 1,600 separate houses. It was for 1,600 apartments in apartment buildings, meaning that it would take up less than one-tenth of the land that houses would require. In any event, nobody would be displaced by the new apartments; they were in Ramat Shlomo, an existing Jewish neighborhood in Israel's capital of Jerusalem.

But of course, the Obama-Biden administration, unlike the current U.S. government, did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. So, even apartments in the uncontroversial Ramat Shlomo neighborhood were suddenly branded "illegal Israeli settlements."

Time magazine declared that Israel had "publicly humiliated" Biden. An article in The Atlantic was headlined "Israel Humiliates Joe Biden." And so it went, a carefully choreographed "crisis" that sure sounded a lot like the infamous "echo chamber" which presidential aide Ben Rhodes later boasted about creating to promote the Iran deal. We may never know who leaked the Jerusalem "news" to the press, but I have my suspicions.

The only actual humiliation that took place was when Biden forced Israel to publicly apologize, even though it had done nothing wrong. The ugly episode would, of course, be followed by many other instances in which the president, vice president, secretary of state or other Obama administration officials chastised Israel or leaked anti-Israel accusations to the press.

Friends of Israel have not yet forgotten Biden's deeply disturbing decision to honor J Street by addressing its national conference in 2016. Legitimizing a group whose only purpose is to undermine Israel's positions was bad enough. But in his address, Biden outrageously accused Israel of being the obstacle to peace, because of what he called "the steady and systematic expansion of settlements."

Yes, that was the accusation made by the vice president whose administration had successfully pressured Israel into freezing Jewish housing construction for 10 months, in exchange for an unfulfilled U.S. promise that the Palestinians would resume negotiations.

Now contrast that vice president with his loquacious successor. "We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight," Mike Pence said in the Knesset. "We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny. We stand with Israel because that's what Americans have always done, and so has it been since my country's earliest days."

He might have added "except between 2008 and 2016" to that last sentence, however. The sad truth is that "standing with Israel" was not the policy of the Obama-Biden administration. But it is now, and that's what matters most.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Richard Kemp - We must end this appeasement and ban Hezbollah

Col. Richard Kemp makes a logical argument as to why "We must end this appeasement and ban Hezbollah"

Per Kemp- 

"Hezbollah is the most powerful terrorist organisation in the world. Yet Britain has proscribed only part of it: its military wing. This Thursday the MP Joan Ryan will lead a parliamentary debate aimed at designating the whole organisation, as the US, Canada and the Netherlands already do. Her chances are slim. The film Darkest Hour has reminded us of British ministers’ penchant for appeasement and, like Churchill, that is what she’s up against."

What's the problem with Hezbollah?

"Hezbollah, the creation of Iran, emerged onto the world stage in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers in the most devastating terrorist attack before 9/11. Since then it has attacked in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East and planned strikes from Cyprus to Singapore. Last summer US authorities charged two Hezbollah terrorists with planning attacks in New York and Panama. Hezbollah is fighting to keep Assad in power in Syria and maintains an arsenal of 100,000 rockets in Lebanon, pointed at Israel."

You can read the full article by clicking on the above link.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Yoram Hazony - Trump in the Middle East: Note Who Curses America, and Who Blesses It - National Review

Hazony says -
The administration’s foreign policy is a welcome break from the preexisting Washington consensus.
He's right!  Some excerpts-

President Donald Trump has promised that in the Middle East under his presidency, “there are many things that can happen now that would never have happened before.” Two speeches of the last ten days offer dramatic confirmation of the emerging reconfiguration of America’s relationship with Israel and the Middle East under his leadership. 

In a two-hour speech before the Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) last week, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, denounced the British, Dutch, French, and Americans for having conspired, ever since the 1650s, to create a Jewish colonial outpost that would “erase the Palestinians from Palestine.” As Abbas tells it, all this reached a climax on the eve of World War I, when the West realized that it was on the verge of collapse and that the Islamic world was “poised to inherit European civilization.” To put an end to this threat, the Western nations went about carving up the Muslim world so that it would be forever “divided, backward, and engulfed in infighting.” As for the United States, it has been “playing games” of this sort ever since then, importing, for example, the disastrous Arab Spring into Middle East.
More - 
But in the ensuing 30 years of talk, the only major agreements signed have been those the PLO leadership could find a way to fit into its narrative: Agreements such as the 1993 Oslo Accords, which could be portrayed as inflicting a bitter defeat on Israel and the West — and as a step on the road to ultimate triumph.
President Trump, Vice President Pence, and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are pioneering an alternative policy, which can be summed up in Haley’s words: “We’re not going to pay to be abused.” If players like the PLO, North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran (hopefully, Turkey gets added to this list soon) want to cultivate a civilizational hatred of America, double-talking while they give aid to global terrorism and conjure diplomatic scandals at the U.N. — well, then they don’t get to be allies. They don’t get funded. They don’t get grants of land, authority, and prestige. Those things will be reserved for actual allies.
For long decades, Washington has crafted policies based on the tacit assumption that America needs the PLO if it is to bring peace to the Middle East. In its effort to “balance” the demands of this extremist organization against Israel’s concerns, American policy inflated the PLO’s importance, and it learned to tolerate and even embrace an organization whose views have always been profoundly anti-Western, not to mention anti-Semitic.

Read the full article - National Review

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How one raid tells all you need to know about Israel’s predicament

How one raid tells all you need to know about Israel’s predicament
You wouldn’t think that one isolated Israeli counter-terror raid could explode every major myth about Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian Arabs. But last week’s raid in Jenin came pretty close to doing just that.

You wouldn’t think that one isolated Israeli counter-terror raid could explode every major myth about Israel’s conflict with the Palestinian Arabs. But last week’s raid in Jenin came pretty close to doing just that.
An IDF soldier who took part in last week’s counter-terror raid in Jenin. Credit: IDF.
Overnight Jan. 17, Israeli commandos entered the city of Jenin in search of two particular Arab terrorists. When the operation was over a few hours later, the Israeli forces withdrew. 
Wait! The Israelis withdrew? But isn’t Israel “occupying” the Palestinians? That’s what J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace are always telling us. Just this week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, wrote that Israel is “ruling over millions of Palestinians.”
I guess Rabbi Jacobs hasn’t been to Jenin lately. In fact, I would imagine he hasn’t been there since at least 1995. That was the year Israel withdrew all its forces from the city (and the other areas where 98 percent of Palestinians reside) and a new ruler took over: the Palestinian Authority (PA). Counter-terror raids like the one in Jenin are the only occasions on which Israeli forces enter PA-ruled cities.
Back to the story. The Israeli commandos were searching for the terrorists who carried out last week’s brutal drive-by murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, father of six young children. As the Israelis were searching, The Times of Israel reports, “a violent riot broke out…Palestinians hurled improvised explosive devices, rocks and fired at the forces.”
Wait, what? The Jewish left has been telling us for decades that ordinary Palestinian Arabs are moderate, peace-seeking, and opposed to terrorism. The residents of Jenin should have been delighted that Israeli forces were coming to rid their city of terrorists. In fact, if they’re so moderate, they should have been actively assisting the anti-terror efforts.
Instead, the local residents impeded the hunt for the terrorists, by trying to shoot, stone, and burn the Israeli soldiers to death. Would some J Streeter please explain this? I’m so confused! Can these be Israel’s future peaceful neighbors?
I wonder if Jenin residents’ passionate support for terrorism and hatred of Jews and Israel has anything to do with the anti-Jewish textbooks that are used in PA schools, or the non-stop anti-Jewish incitement in the PA-controlled media and mosques.
Or maybe that’s all just a coincidence. Maybe how Palestinians behave has no connection whatsoever to what they watch, hear and read from their teachers, imams and political leaders 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Fortunately, the Israeli forces eventually caught up to two of the terrorists. They killed one and captured the other. They were both identified as members of a local Hamas cell.
Wait, that can’t be! The Palestinian leadership promised, in the Oslo Accords, to disband all terrorist groups, seize their weapons and outlaw them. In other words, to put them out of business. How can it be that, 23 years after the PA took over, Hamas still has active terrorist cells in the city?
Surely the PA has the means to do the job. After all, the PA has one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world. Yet the PA never outlawed Hamas. It never arrested its members or seized its weapons. The PA treats Hamas like brothers and allows them to operate freely in Jenin, and everywhere else.
But don’t take my word for it. Look at The New York Times. Every once in a while, the truth about the PA and the terrorists manages to slip into one of its articles. On March 23, 2014, The Times reported that Israeli troops were forced to enter the Jenin refugee camp in pursuit of terrorists because although Jenin is under the “full control” of the PA, “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.”
Let me repeat what The Times said: The PA’s security forces do not operate in refugee camps. It doesn’t matter what the Oslo Accords say about the PA’s obligation to fight terrorists. It doesn’t matter how many Israelis the terrorists murder. The PA is not going to shut them down. Never has, never will.
One final fact from this week’s Jenin raid. The shots fired—by “moderate” Jenin residents and by terrorists whom the PA lets run free—wounded two of the Israeli soldiers. An Israeli military spokesman said one soldier was injured “seriously” and one was injured “lightly.”
According to IDF terminology, an injury is classified as “serious” if the victim’s life is in danger. A “moderate” injury means the victim could lose a limb. Anything short of losing a limb is categorized as a “light” injury. The victim might have to go through dozens of surgeries. He might have to walk with a severe limp, or he might suffer seizures for years to come. Technically, it’s still a “light” injury.
These two courageous young Israeli men risked their lives to protect their fellow Jews, and their lives may well have been shattered as a result. But you will never hear anything further about it. You will never hear on CNN or read in The New York Times about what these two Israelis suffered, or how their future lives will be affected. That kind of news is not considered fit to print.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.