Respect please!

David Ben-Gurion signs the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. Moshe Sharett is on the right

David Ben-Gurion signs the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. Moshe Sharett is on the right

Some democracies – certainly not all – were bequeathed formative documents formulated by prescient founding fathers who deliberately devoted utmost care to address every conceivable future interpretation. The least such seminal documents deserve is special deference from the nations fortunate enough to have inherited them.

They most certainly don’t deserve to be expediently turned into the proverbial rope in a political tug-of-war. Sadly, our Declaration of Independence – doubtless Israel’s most basic and vital text – is being misused in precisely this manner.

It all has to do with the “democratic and Jewish” catchphrase that has gained broad but unsubstantiated acceptance as the Declaration’s bipolar blueprint for the state’s character. Continue reading

Another Tack: The Perils of Peace

Twin inspirations: Abbas inflames his volatile masses in eerily the same idiom as Arafat

Twin inspirations: Abbas inflames his volatile masses in eerily the same idiom as Arafat

It’s a perplexing fact of our life: anything that remotely and vaguely resembles peace in Israel’s neighborhood is serially shattered once peace negotiations are kick-started. This is how it has invariably been – all the more emphatically so since the advent of Oslo.

According to this unique pattern, unequalled anywhere else, peace overtures are tantamount to harbingers of death and destruction.

Then, once the violence of peace somehow subsides, we briefly luxuriate in the lull of an impasse – the closest we ever get to calm.

But these rare respites inevitably rub do-gooder meddlers the wrong way both in the US and in the EU. With obsessive peevishness they begrudge us our breather. They summon summits, draw road maps, determine deadlines, weave tapestries, formulate fantasies and in short terminate the temporary time-outs.

It’s an inexorable rhythm.  After each round of jibber-jabbering about peace comes the carnage.

Sometimes the weapons of choice are rockets from Gaza. Sometimes they comprise rocks, axes, knives, Molotov cocktails, vehicles, guns and suicide bombs from Mahmoud Abbas’s Ramallah realm.

On occasion, if the mayhem lasts long enough, we call it an intifada. There are those among us who already opine that we are now in the preliminary throes of the third intifada. Others shudder to use such terminology.  Continue reading

Willing Dupes

Cement entering Gaza from Israel last year at the Kerem Shalom Crossing

Cement entering Gaza from Israel last year at the Kerem Shalom Crossing

Hamas, which imperiously rules Gaza, has been named in the latest issue of Forbes Israel as the world’s second-richest terrorist organization. It annually rakes in a billion dollars, outdone only by Islamic State (a.k.a. Da’esh, ISIS, ISIL) which – with an annual income of some two billion dollars – tops the chart of terrorist moneybags.

Hamas’s financial success has by far eclipsed Hezbollah, Taliban and al-Qaida.

IS finances its offensives by selling thousands of barrels of Iraqi oil every day on the black market. Hamas’s chief sources of earnings, according to the exhaustive Forbes report, are accrued from skimming hefty sums off foreign NGO donations and putting the squeeze on ordinary Gazans – the very ones the NGOs are ostensibly seeking to aid. Continue reading

Another Tack: Not Telling It Like It Is

 Hebron 1929: exhorting the mobs to save al-Aksa from the Jews

Hebron 1929: exhorting the mobs to save al-Aksa from the Jews

For hours after last week’s vehicular terror in Jerusalem (capped by an attack on passersby with a metal rod), Sky News persisted in not telling it like it is.

Its running news ticker at the bottom of the screen single-mindedly informed viewers that “Israeli police say a driver has rammed his car into pedestrians in East Jerusalem in an ‘intentional’ attack causing several injuries.”

The very inclusion of the verb say sufficed to cast doubt on Israeli communiqués. Then, to chip further away at residual Israeli credibility the word intentionally was tendentiously placed in quotation marks. This surely was overkill, considering that the reliability of the Israeli report was already challenged by the caveat of the opening phrase.

If during the first few minutes of the incident Sky could somehow make excuses for what looked like thinly-veiled antagonism, it certainly couldn’t long after the event. Nevertheless, that hardly objective news bar was still featured when any duty editor of even grudging goodwill or nominal neutrality should have known better.

In contrast, another report was cited with unadulterated acceptance. Sky’s above mentioned “breaking news” flash was accompanied throughout – for as many hours – by a bulletin that stated matter-of-factly (without any caveats this time) that “Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s al-Aksa Mosque compound after Jewish nationalists announced plans to visit the site.” Continue reading

Sedition by Parliamentarians

Moshe German’s car ablaze in Taibe

“I am not a contractor for calming operations,” proclaimed MK Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al) when asked in a host of interviews, following the Kafr Kana shooting and ensuing countrywide riots, what he might do to cool passions.

With in-your-face bluntness Tibi proceeded to do quite the opposite and to pour oil on the flames. In breathless succession he accused the officers who shot 22-year-old Khair-a-din Hamadan of pre-meditated homicide, deliberate execution mafia-style, committing racist murder and altogether being “bloodthirsty animals.”

Shouting down other speakers, Tibi railed and vituperated. He charged that the policemen were out to “intentionally terminate Hamadan” rather than neutralize him when he attacked them with a knife. Tibi belittled Hamadan’s actions as “an understandable expression of anger.”

He insisted on stiff punishment for the individual cops, their commanders and government ministers. Continue reading

Fundamental Perspectives

An Israeli military outpost as seen from South Lebanon, where a Hezbollah flag flutters

An Israeli military outpost as seen from South Lebanon, where a Hezbollah flag flutters

Perceived dangers to our lives and ways of life can be a function of trends – just like everything else in our existence. The latest headline-grabbing focus of fear is Islamic State expansionism. This isn’t a bugbear of negligible proportions.  IS bloodlust and fanatic belligerence are nothing to scoff at.

That said, however, IS isn’t the only threat to the world’s democracies – Israel among them. Neither is it the greatest threat – certainly not to Israel.

Regardless of the repugnance aroused by IS’s sensationalist and lurid beheadings, worse villains abound in our region. Iran with its nuclear ambitions is foremost one, even though the White House is poised to appease Tehran’s ayatollahs without disarming them. Continue reading

Another Tack: Before the Chickenshit Hit the Fan

Obama and Sarkozy in Cannes: No hint of an apology ever came from either Washington or Paris

Obama and Sarkozy in Cannes: No hint of an apology ever came from either Washington or Paris

Gosh darn! Smack dab on the eve of a midterm election, US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to almost sort-of say sorry for reported name-calling in high Administration places – ‘chickenshit’ comes to mind.

A morsel of humble pie, after all, is prescribed when one’s party suspects its headliners may have offended voters at the close of a crucial campaign.

So, is everything now peachy keen in our world all over again?

Maybe, if this were the only memorable outburst and if Obama’s administration were as forgiving as it imperiously decrees Israel must be. Trouble is, though, that there was loads of loathing even before the chickenshit hit the fan.  Continue reading

Egypt’s disengagement from Gaza

Egypt’s Army demolishes Rafah buildings to create a buffer zone

Egypt’s Army demolishes Rafah buildings to create a buffer zone

Imagine the following: Israel declares its intention to create a buffer zone between itself and the Gaza Strip.

The rationale is trenchant. After the discovery of numerous attack tunnels leading from Gaza into Israeli communities – to say nothing of ambushes, attempted abductions and mortar fire – Israel resolved to clear a swathe of territory from any habitation. This would deny the terrorists cover for their tunnel-digging, ambushes, etc.

It’s no stretch to suppose that immediately upon Israel’s announcement of intentions, the entire international community would explode into a deafening recriminatory uproar. Condemnations and threats would flow in from around the globe. The UN would censure, the US would threaten and the EU would preach.

If Israel would proceed with its plans despite the pandemonium, a horrific terror spate would erupt, rockets would rain on Israeli civilians, Israel would be ostracized, sanctions would ensue and a maelstrom of malevolence would engulf the Jewish state. Continue reading

Another Tack: Zissel means Sweetie

Last photo of little Zissel at the Western Wall, a short time before her murder

Last photo of little Zissel at the Western Wall, a short time before her murder

Oftentimes what is barely mentioned – if at all – by the world’s media is (or ought to be) as thought-provoking as what the talking heads focus on with undisguised relish.

The fetching face of three-months-old Chaya Zissel Braun, for example, was missing from front pages around the globe and it was never featured on any foreign TV news outlets. She was murdered (as was 22-year-old student Karen Yemima Mosquera) last week by an Arab terrorist who homicidally rammed his vehicle into a crowd of passengers waiting at a light rail stop. But to observers abroad this amounted to dog bites man.

Uninteresting. Been there. Heard that before. Jewish whines. Who cares?

Newsroom groupthink doesn’t only trickle down to conformist reporters on the scene who quickly figure out what the chiefs want to hear and what they shouldn’t be bothered with. The signals from atop the journalistic hierarchy also determine for news-consumers what constitutes news and what does not.

Media linchpins put together the current-events agenda and they shape mass awareness. Perforce they dictate public opinion. What doesn’t pass through their selective filter will forever remain esoteric knowledge – even in these days of social networking on the World Wide Web. Continue reading

What Moderation?

Reyhaneh JabbariA young woman – 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari – was hanged last Saturday from the gallows in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Her crime was self-defense.  She struck down an attacker as he attempted to rape her when she was still a teenager in 2007.

President Hassan Rouhani, who won election last year on a purportedly liberal reformist platform, failed to intervene and commute the death sentence imposed back in 2009.

If anything, this tragedy underscores the gaping chasm between the regime’s “make-nice” affectations toward the international community and the unchanging face of the harsh ayatollah rule at home.

Jabbari’s sad story exposes Iranian hypocrisy and double-dealing vis-à-vis the West, which could barely contain its alacrity to ease sanctions on Tehran as soon as Rouhani was sworn in. Continue reading