Monday, November 15, 2010

Obama Offers Not to Sell Out Israel in Exchange for False Hope

Obama is pushing ahead with his attempts to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table with Israel. It looks like Israel is going to accept his proposal for Freeze II. Israel will once again stop construction for 90 days in the West Bank in exchange for some military equipment and a promise not to sell out Israel on the world stage (for now). Plenty has already been written on how Obama's hands on diplomacy has made a bigger mess than he started with. The best articles on the Obama approach to peace talks are here and here.

In an effort to restart Peace talks, at the end of last year the Israeli government agreed to a settlement freeze for 10 months. Politicians promissed it would show the world that Israel is serious about reaching an agreement and the Palestinians would have only one shot. As expected the opposite happened. The Palestinians waited 9 months to join the negotiating table and made it clear they would walk without an extension. Instead of commending Israel for their efforts the world decided that the Palestinians must be appeased and Obama flexed is Presidential powers to make it happened.

If there is going to be another Freeze there needs to be at least some chance of success. Instead of hoping the Palestinians will return to the negotiating table it should be a condition of Israel accepting the freeze. Another condition should be that the moment the Palestinians walk away from the table the freeze is automatically over. It is the only scenario that doesn't result in a repeat of the original diplomatic failure.

Obama has mistakenly made settlements the #1 obstacle to peace. What is going to happen come January? He will have to choose between honouring his commitment to Israel or continuing to spar with Israel over settlement construction.

Monday, November 1, 2010

UNESCO to Declare Mosque of the Nativity, Palestinian Holy Site?

The most effective political weapon being used the Palestinians is the use of the political arena. The aim is to create the perception that the Jewish people have no connection to the land of Israel and to instigate scenarios that make Israel look bad in the eyes of the world. The United Nations has been a key tool to this goal. Palestinian leadership can call on the Arab world to pass any condemnation of Israel they wish.

This week UNESCO passed 5 resolutions condemning Israel. Sadly, most of them could be dismissed as just another example of intentional ignorance of the facts on the ground. One resolution was particularily disturbing by it's implications. UNESCO demanded Israel remove Me'arat HaMachpela (Tomb of the Patriarchs) and Kever Rochel (Rachel's Tomb) from the Israel's list of heritage sites. They consider these mosques to be integral part of the Palestinian identity and Israel has no right to control them.

Me'arat HaMachepela is the burial place of the founders of the Jewish people. Avraham and Sarah; Issac and Rifka; Yaakov and Leah are buried there. As descendants of Avraham the Arabs claim the spot as there own holy spot. For centuries Jews were only able to approach the outside of the building but never enter.

Under Israeli control a compromise has been put in place recognizing the importance to both Jews and Muslims. The building is split in half with seperate entrances. 10 days a year, the entire building is open exclusivly to Jews and 10 days the entire building is open exclusivley to Muslims. When the dates conflict priority is given to the Muslim calendar. The Muslim side has undergone renovations over the years, while the Waqf has refused to allow any major renovations on the Jewish side. The United Nations condemning a solution that mostly works, comes as no surprise.

Kever Rochel is the burial place of Rochel the other Jewish Matriarch. Through the centuries it was an important place for Jews to pray. She is completely irrelevant to Muslim tradition Elder of Ziyon has documented that it was not until after the Oslo Accords that this important Jewish site was started to be referred to as an ancient holy mosque.

The goal of the condemnation is to disconnect the Jewish people from their founders and further discredit, the history of their presence on the land. Kever Rochel has extra meaning because Jewish tradition teaches it was in her merit that the God promised her the Jews would return from exile. It is the reason that when Jews make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) the song Shavu Banim (Her Children have returned to their borders) is sung in shul.

Kever Rochel is no more an anicient Muslim holy site than; the Mosque of the Nativity, Mosque of the Holy Sepulcher, or the Mosque being built at the World Trade Centre.

The United States is the only country to vote against the 5 resolutions, with a dozen or so choosing to take a knee and abstain. Rewriting history for political means, is a disgrace to UNESCO who has as it's goal to preserve culture and education. The countries that choose to remain silent and watch should be embarrassed for not being brave enough to stand up for the truth.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Toronto Voters Face Tough Decision

With Municipal elections taking place tomorrow, I am glad I don't have to live with the consequences of choosing the new Mayor. While David Miller has taken himself out of the race, each of the remaining candidates have major flaws that put into question their ability to lead.

Rob Ford - Ford has been a tremendous assest to City Council. He has been a thorn in the side to many in the old boys networks of patronage and privilege. He has recieved rath and scorn from councillors who were not happy with his boat rocking. He was even investigated for not spending enough money from his office budget. He has fought and lost many times to put a cap on spending or to reduce the perks councilors are entitled to. His fiscally responsible approach is what has put him within range of this election. However their is more to being a Mayor then cutting spending. The city also needs to be allocate funds wisely in order to grow and prosper. I just don't see Ford being able to grow beyond his rebel image to fill the shoes necessary for the job.

George Smitherman - The last provincial election predominantly factored into our decision to leave Canada. The government campaigned on the principle that all Ontario students are entitled to the same secular public education. Catholics can also have their own education but funding any other religion is an attack on public education. Smitherman was a prominent member of the government and the election campaign.

Joe Pantalone - Pantalone was the unions only pick to run for Mayor. As Mayor he would be as close to David Miller as it is possible to get. The city needs to take control of it's finances, instead of trying to find more creative ways to tax the same people.

There is a plus side. A bunch of councillors have stepped down leaving the arena open to fresh blood with fresh ideas. Although Ford may not make it to council there are a number of fiscally responsible councilors (Doug Holyday, Karen Stintz, Denzil Minnan-Wong etc.) who should be returned to serve another term. Hopfully the fresh faces in Council and the Mayor's office combined with the reelection of deserving councilors will be a huge leap forward for the City of Toronto.

The fallout from this election is going to filter into the next Provincial election and possibly Federal election. Most people are billing it up as Ford (Hudak) vs Smitherman (McGuinty). A number of scenarios have been proposed as to who to cheer for. When McGuinty was elected Premier for his first term he campaigned that as a Liberal he would be better suited to deal with PM Paul Martin. In the end they didn't get along and Martin was kicked out of office a short time later. McGuinty is hoping a Smitherman win would bring in an era of like minded leaders that would help him in the election. The flip side is if Smitherman fails the demand for change will sweep through Queen's Park and knock the Liberals out of power.

The same analysis could play out in reverse. Ford falling flat on his face in his first year could be an anchor on Hudak, allowing McGuinty to win for a 3rd time. Win or lose Ford has a lot of political capital. If he doesn't become Mayor he will find himself a seat in Queen's Park or Ottawa. His reputation for shaking things up to help the Conservatives come election time. Which ever direction voters send his political career, he will remain a force to be reckoned with.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Israel Bashing Returns to Toronto Gay Pride Parade

The Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) have been a thorn in the side of the Toronto Gay Pride Parade for a number of years. They change the nature of the parade from an expression of unity and celebration of values, to a medium for decisiveness and controversy.

Acting out of self interest and political pressure the organizers of the parade banned the term Israel Apartheid from this years parade effectively banning QuAIA. This caused a grass roots backlash sighting an attack on free speech. In order to keep both sides happy the parade organizers have changed policy again leaving it to the City of Toronto to determine if their parade participants are behaving appropriately. It is a technical loophole that gets the parade off the hook. An ironic decision considering other parades this year, across the country have fallen to heavy criticism for not keeping out unwanted elements.

Putting aside the technical issues, does QuAIA belong in the parade? This can be answered by examining two simple questions. Is the parade an appropriate venue for political protest? Do they represent the values of the community under whose banner they choose to protest?

QuAIA sights two examples as proof that the parade is an appropriate form of protest. The parade originally started as a form of political protest and the Gay community was instrumental in the protest against Apartheid South Africa. While these may be important history lessons, they might as well be ancient history. As Gay rights have changed over the decades, so has the nature of the parade.

The second question takes the form of why single out Israel. Their response is that there are no gay rights without universal human rights. They envision, Israel as a secular democratic state stripped of it's Jewish identity. Any of their criticism of Israel are universal values that would apply anywhere in the world.

There are so many human rights issues around the world including; Arab countries denying Palestinians the rights to livelihood, property and citizenship. President of the Islamic Republic of Iran denies there are gays in his country and violently put down protests of election results, genocide in Darfur, spread of Sharia law in Asia and Africa, Hamas murder of political opponents, 2 cities in Saudi Arabia are banned to non-Muslim visitors, China's human rights record, Turkey's oppression of Armenians, Canadian issues with it's aboriginal population and many more. There are so many issues that no one individual or organization can devote resources to every issue.

Based on QuAIA, criteria in choosing Israel one would expect at least some of these issue to reverberate in the gay community, never mind manifesting into protests at the Gay Pride Parade.

For an activist who has already won their battles at home, Israel represents a low hanging fruit. It is far enough away to limit the damage from the fall out of a social engineering experiment gone wrong. Israel doesn't have the economic or political power to punish it's detractors.

By hooking on to the Gay Pride Parade, QuAIA generates more publicity than their cause could ever generate on it's own merits. They alienate people, who have a as much right to be considered part of the community the parade represents. They don't deserve the privilege of participating.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Remembering the Iran Election

Today marks the one year anniversary of the rigged Iranian election. The democratic protests that followed resulted in 60 dead and thousands of arrests. Everyone remembers the video Neda Agha-Soltan who was shot while walking the streets in peaceful protest. To commemorate the anniversary we will look at what the world has done, to condemn the actions of the Iranian governments gross violations of human rights. Below are the complete texts of both the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution and the report by independent international investigation.

UNHRC Resolution


Independent International Investigation Report


Happy International Hypocrisy Day!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Defending "Peaceful" Violent Resistance

On Monday morning, the Israeli Navy carried out their part in what should have been a well rehearsed script. Free Gaza sent a flotilla to run the Gaza blockade under the cover of a humanitarian mission. Israel's offer to transfer all the aid through the port of Ashdod under the watch of Free Gaza was turned down because it avoided the primary goal of running the blockade. The script was simple. Israel would stop the ships and tow them to Ashdod. The aid would be transferred to Gaza. Free Gaza promised publicly over and over again, that they would abide by their mantra of peaceful resistance.

As dawn approached Israeli commandos armed primarily with paintball guns strapped to their backs, they carried out their part of the script. 5 of the 6 boats cooperated and went off with out a hitch. However the lead boat had decided to change the script. They attempted to kill the soldiers, as they boarded the ship. The soldiers had no choice but to defend themselves, which resulted in the deaths of 9 of the 'peace activists'.

For the first few days Free Gaza claimed that it was not possible that the soldiers were attacked. There was a baby on the ship, plus at the shipped raised the white flag and all activists were trained in non-violent confrontation. When it was proven that the attacks did take place, they should have said the boat was commissioned by the IHH and did not act in accordance with the mission. Instead they have claimed the passengers had a right to attack the soldiers. Israel should have done things differently, they should have landed during the day, they should have sent less soldiers, they should not have been stopped in international waters. Even under attack, the soldiers should not have killed anyone. They can make all the excuses they want but if they had resisted peacefully, as promised, as was done on the other 5 ships nobody would have been hurt. Instead they have declared that IHH is welcome to participate in future flotillas.

As this entire episode was about PR, Free Gaza has won. Israel has rejected, demands from around the world to allow an impartial international investigation into the incident. For those who have already passed judgment this is just further proof that Israel is guilty.

The United States has suggested that Israel appoint a high profile international judge to conduct the investigation. Who would be respected enough by the world, who would consider all the facts before drawing conclusions? The logical choice would be the judge who carried out the independent investigation into the Iran elections. The judge had a lot more to consider. There was vote rigging, demonstrators shot dead in the street, unjustified arrests and beatings all under the watchful eye of the world. There were at least 69 deaths and over 4000 initial arrests. The results of the findings were factual, indisputable and accepted by both sides.

What did you say? There was no investigation. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the issue on September 14th, 2009.

"The recent elections in Iran and the subsequent protests over the result were a reminder of both the vitality of Iran's civil society and political life, but also of the towering constraints that peaceful activism faces. I call on the Government to release those detained for peaceful protest, to investigate reports of their ill-treatment, and to ensure respect for human rights "

Israeli soldiers kill 9 people, from a mob of 'peaceful' protesters that were trying to kill them. Iran kills 69 people for peacefully marching the streets to protest a rigged election. In one case the UNHRC calls for an internal investigation and the other an international investigation. What could possibly be the mitigating factors that determine who should conduct an investigation?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Free Gaza Rejects Request to Help Gilad Shalit

The Israeli Navy is busy preparing for an all too familiar scenario. Free Gaza has started launching boats in preparation for their attempt to run the Gaza blockade and deliver their cargo of humanitarian aid. This time more boats, more cameras, more drama. The fact they could have easily shipped their cargo through Israeli channels or that it is a small drop in the bucket to what is already being shipped to Gaza are not relevant for their supporters.

The scenario will once again play out as it has in the past. The Free Gaza boats will be boarded and towed to Ashdod. The goods will be transferred to Gaza and the activists will be sent home. There will be plenty of cameras to capture some sob story of the activists mistreatment or how terrible Israel is for blocking a shipment that contains some sentimental items. With 7 boats in their fleet Free Gaza is bound to create havoc for the Navy and create some heroic drama.

The Shalit family has thrown an unexpected twist into the story line. They offered to support the flotilla if they would agree to pressure Hamas to deliver humanitarian aid to their son. Gilad Shalit has not had contact with his family in 4 years, in violation of the Geneva connection. Previous attempts to send care packages by the family have failed. His imprisonment is a major reason behind the restrictions that has been imposed on Gaza that Free Gaza claims to be protesting. With support from the Shalit family, the Navy would be forced to reconsider plans to stop the flotilla. Objective human rights believers should not make any distinction as to who's rights are being violated. As it says on the Free Gaza website "Respect for international law is not optional, it is obligatory."

Free Gaza rejected the request. Free Gaza has shown their true colours. They are interested in being part of the PR campaign for the resistance against Israel. In the coming days they will make enough noise to cover up their relative morality black whole. Seeing these activists for who they truly are is the only way to understand why Israel is taking a necessary course of action. Perhaps one day, people who believe in human rights will be able to take up the plight of Gilad Shalit with as much passion and enthusiasm as they show for meaningless feel good gestures to help Palestinians.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Is George Galloway a Terrorist

In 2009 George Galloway was denied entry into Canada. The grounds for the ban were based on his aid convoy to Gaza where he gave cash directly to Hamas. The Government is saying he was giving money to a terrorist organization while Galloway claims he was offering aid to the people of Gaza and their elected Government. Today Galloway had his day in court.

His lawyers have argued that there is no difference between Galloway giving money to help the people of Gaza and the Canadian government or other Governments of the world providing aid to Gaza. If he is a terrorist than the Prime Minister is a terrorist. No matter what the courts decide Galloway has won the publicity war. He has painted himself as a hero on a simple mission to help those in need.

The details of his trip tell a very different story. The rest of the world follows a standard protocal for delivering aid to Gaza. Most aid is transferred through Israel. During Operation Cast Lead, Israel stopped fighting to allow aid convoys to pass through the border even though Israeli positions were under fire. Israel has continued sending aid into Gaza to provide for basic needs. Thousands of Palestinians have gone to Israel to seek medical treatment. A field hospital during the operation was shut down, when Hamas blocked their wounded from seeking medical attention that Israel was offering.

Galloway intentionally ignored protocol because he wanted things done his way. He angered Egyptian officials who stopped him at their border and insisted the aid be transferred through Israel. He faced numerous delays all for the ability to give his cash gift directly into the hands of Hamas leadership instead of UN agencies that could gaurentee the money went to the needy. If the aid really was urgently needed he could have had it delivered a lot faster through normal channels.

Hamas has brought the problems in Gaza upon themselves. They threw Fatah memebers off of buildings tied to chairs as they took control of Gaza by force. They fired rockets at Israeli civilians for years with no regrets. They are holding captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the hopes of exchanging him for 1000 prisoners. They have violated the Geneva Convention by not allowing Red Cross visits or contact with his family. Israel had to release prisoners from jail just for a video tape confirming he was alive. Negotiations have broken down because Hamas wants those serving multiple life sentences for carrying out terrorist attacks to be free.

The court is dealing with a difficult case as the evaluate issues of free speech and alleged Government interference. No matter what the out come of Galloway's admissibility hopefully the courts will clarify that there is a huge difference between giving money directly to a terrorist organizations like Hamas and transferring aid through organization that are supposed to have safe guards to make sure aid gets to the people and not confiscated for future terrorist attacks. Failure to make this distinction will open up a whole can of worms, as other take the opportunity to disguise their political aspirations as merely helping those in need.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Obama vs Bibi; Battle for Jerusalem

As the air raid siren sounds, the Israeli flag is lowered. An entire nation stops to remember the sacrifices made by it's soldiers. Victims of terrorism are remembered for the price they have paid for trying to go about their day to day lives. The siren will sound again tomorrow morning and once again life will stop and the sacrifices will once again be remembered. As the sun sets the flag will once again be raised and the country can begin celebrating independence. It is a good time to reflect on how the actions of President Barak Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu will affect celebrations in the future.

Obama rose to the White House on a simple campaign of charisma and hope. He promised badly needed health care changes and a promise to make the Peace Process his primary goals. He faced a weak Republican campaign. He was even able to step aside from criticism on the type of people he choose to be his mentors.

Obama offered a very wishy washy vision of the health care plan. He wanted something that was bipartisan. He ended up making major sacrifices to this end. In the end he didn't get any Republican support and had to make additional changes to get his own party on board. For all of his efforts he did not bring in a single payer system. It is estimated that the paperwork to comply with the number of insurance companies adds 30% to the overall health care cost.

In 1948 the Arab world rejected the 1947 UN-partition plan by declaring war on Israel the day after it was created. During the 1950s the Arab nations demanded Israel pull back to the 1947 Partition plan instead of the borders established the 1949 Armistice Treaty (Green Line). In 1967 despite Israeli requests, Jordan entered the 6 day war. Israel captured the West Bank and liberated Jewish own land that was captured by Jordan in 1948. This included the Old City of Jerusalem, sight of the Jewish people's most holy sight.

Obama has taken the same appeasement approach to his foreign policy. He has failed to make any progress on stopping Iranian nuclear ambitions. He has marked Israeli settlements as the number on enemy to an Israeli/Palestinian peace treaty. He asked blocked Israel from buy US military equipment and blocked the Israeli Defence Industry from bidding on contracts that would compete with American companies.

George Bush had said that a final agreement Israel would have 1967+ borders. They would retain areas of natural interest due to facts on the ground such as population bases and and security considerations. Obama has had harsh criticism for any moves over the 1967 borders. This is even true for areas that Palestinians have already agreed to concede in previous negotiations. Israel would trade for land that would be more practical for a Palestinian State. The White House response to Israeli concessions has been a blanket not enough. Palestinians have not been on the receiving end of criticism and have taken the President's lead to dig in their heals and wait for the 1967 borders to be established for them rather then through negotiations.

Netanyahu took a different route to return himself to the Prime Minister's chair. He has been a cunning strategist at obtaining his political power. His first rise to power was when he opposed the expulsion of Jews from Gaza. His change of heart took place after it was too late to stop it. He had Likud rewrite their election bylaws to push his chief opponent Moshe Feiglin down on the party list, resulting in him not making it into the Knesset. He argued that he should be Prime Minster even though he had one less seat than Kadima because the right wing won more seats. He then formed a government including part of the left wing Labor party. Those who refused to join have their hands tied to a certain degree. Voting against their own party would prevent them from running in the next election. Legislation has also been passed making floor crossing easier. There have already been some close calls on failed attempts for Likud to pick off members of Kadima.

Netanyahu paid the price of 4 prisonors just for a short video to show Gilad Shalit is alive and can walk. He has also taken a firm approach with Obama. He has made concessions such as acknowledging a Palestinian State and a 10 month settlement freeze. While painful for Israelis Obama has responded that it is not enough. The same time he has lacked the same courage to criticize Palestinians. The plight of Gilad Shalit who is held by the defacto Gaza government barely makes the radar screen.

Everytime Netanyahu stands up to the White House, Israelis rally to the support of their Prime Minister. The opposition parties have been mostly silenced as they don't have an opening to attack the government. Opposition leader Livni took a short bounce in popularity when a warrant was issued for her arrest in London, for her role in Operation Cast Lead. She tried to play it up but the cancellation of the warrant sent her back to the wilderness.

Israel has demonstrated over and over again the willingness to make sacrifices for peace. The Palestinians have demonstrated they are willing to sacrifice the benefits of improving their own lot in order to concede an inch to their final goal. Obama has completely misread the situation and as a result has put many lives in danger.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Canada Doesn't Follow American Lead in Latest Diplomatic Mistep.

This week should have cast any doubts that at the moment Canada is Israel's #1 ally.

From the Toronto Star Editorial Staff

If Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to rebuke the Israeli government for expanding Jewish settlements in disputed East Jerusalem, as Washington and others have done, why doesn't he just come out and say so in plain language?

Instead, Harper has opted to send politically mixed messages in what appears to be a bid to curry favour with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration without alienating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. Amid the fog, it's hard to know just where the Conservatives stand.

Netanyahu's government infuriated the Obama administration on March 9 by provocatively announcing it plans to build 1,600 more housing units for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, despite Obama's express request not to. Worse, the news came as U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden was in Israel, professing America's unshakeable support. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it "insulting." The White House cancelled a planned visit by Mideast envoy George Mitchell.

So what was Ottawa's reaction? Last Thursday, March 11, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon merely voiced tepid "regret" and "concern." No surprise there, given Harper's reflexively pro-Israel stance. However by Tuesday Cannon told a Commons committee, "We feel that this is contrary to international law and therefore condemn it." That sounded more like Washington's angry reaction.

Yet when Harper was questioned in Parliament that same afternoon about a call he put in to Netanyahu, he pointedly declined to reinforce Cannon's tough stance. All he would say was that Canada's "position is well known," and that he hoped peace talks would resume.

To cap it all off, Cannon's office issued a backtracking statement later in the day insisting his condemnation wasn't "an escalation in our diplomatic language," just business as usual.

So there it stands. The United Nations, the European Union, the U.S. and Russia have all condemned the new housing, unequivocally. Even Israeli Labour leader Ehud Barak, who is Netanyahu's coalition partner and defence minister, called the move "unnecessary and damaging." Meanwhile Canada's political leaders bob and weave, lost in a fog of their own making.

I wrote a response that doesn't have a chance of being published. I decided to share it here.

While in Israel Joe Biden was insulted by the announcement of a construction project to build much needed housing. On the very same trip PA President Abbas attended the inauguration of a square named after a terrorist who killed 37 Israelis. While an insult to Israel this move didn't warrant any attention from the US Administration.

I am rather baffled by the Toronto Star editorial staff for condemning Stephen Harper and Lawerence Cannon for not following the American lead in over reacting to this minor announcement.

It is likely that Palestinian negotiators have already agreed it would remain on the Israeli side of any border with a Palestinian State. If it doesn't Israel has proven over and over again they are willing to throw their own citizens out of their homes to make peace. Palestinians would get 1600 brand new housing units.

Obama's Administration created an international incident that caused violence without any diplomatic gain. The little more level headedness by world leaders, exhibited by Harper and Cannon would much more practical for creating a practical peace arangement.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rebuilding Hurva Shul Scares the Arab World

The history of the Hurva shul in Jerusalem's Old City provides a deep insight into the history of the Jewish people. It was originally built in the 1700s and destroyed a few decades later by the local Arab population. In the 19th century the shul was once again rebuilt. It was a major centre in the Jewish Quarter.

In 1948 during the War of Independence a couple of tactical mistakes lead to the Old City's capture by the Jordanian Army. At the beginning of the battle the Jews captured the most important strategic building as it was the high ground in the area. The building was a church so they withdrew in order to keep the UN happy. The Jordanian's had no problem with using the building. Badly needed Jewish reinforcements did not remain to hold the positions they captured because they were tired from battle and did not have orders to stay. When the local Jews surendered they were given a short window of time to evacuate. As soon as the Jews were gone, the Jordanian blew up the Hurva Shul.

The 8 year project to rebuild the shul is complete and the dedication ceremony was today. Palestinian and Arab world have been outraged by the move. Security has been stepped up throughout the country out of fear of Arab rioting. There were a wide range of excuses for the harsh objection. 1. It is trying to destroy the "Muslim/Christian" nature of the city 2. (Due it's location on a hill) The building is higher then the Dome of the Rock and Al Asqa Mosque. 3. The Jews are going to destroy Al Asqa Mosque. 4. It is built on Occupied Territory, that is to be the capital of the Palestinian State.

The story line fits in perfectly for most people who's knowledge of Israeli history spans no more than 3 days. Israel captured the West Bank through war and all else is irrelevant. The fact that Israel request Jordan to remain out of the 6 day war in 1967 or how and where people lived when there was no artificial borders in the area.

It makes it easy to condemn construction in areas like Hevron or Gush where it's habitant were expelled in 1929 and 1948 respectively. It allows for the telling of the story where Kever Rachel in Bethlehem, for centuries the undisputed sight holy only to Jews has in the past decade become the sight of an ancient mosque. An Arab MK was even willing to overturn his own belief system as decendants of Abraham by declaring that Palestinians are decendants of the original owners of Marat HaMachpela which sold the land to Abraham. The fact that a valid sale would negate the Palestinian claim to the end doesn't even come into play.

Israel continues to deal with the consequences of a political science experiment gone wrong. Every step results in another political crisis. Early this year PA President Abbas tried to gain leverage by threatening to not run in upcoming elections. While milking a crisis for the West he was cancelling elections and strengthening his position in different levels of the Palestinian political structure. The rebuilding of the Hurva shul symbolizes that the Jews will continue to bounce back and lay claim what is rightfully theirs. The only hope for peace is to accept reality that the Jewish people are not going to go away and are not out to destroy the Arab population.

Monday, March 15, 2010

We're Back

Thanks to my wife for bringing back this blog from Prorogation with a great brand new look and feel. I plan to start blogging a little bit more regularly again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who is Israel?

Not something I would expect to see from Peace Now. Definitely an important message.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Obama Take Note: Israel Outshines American Officials AGAIN

When Barak Obama took office last year, there was a great deal of hope of what he could accomplish. Hope was so high that he was nominated for a Nobel Prize within days of taking office and eventually won. He ignored the old adage of speak little and do a lot. Instead he set his top priorities as overhauling the health care system and bringing peace to the Middle East.

On the health care file he has a long way to go. The future of the entire health care system could hinge on the Senate election today in Massachusetts. Unfortunatly Martha Coakley has not taken her campaign seriously and is at risk of losing. The Democrats are at risk of losing a seat they have held for over 3o years. It would also mean they lose the 60 seat threshold which gives them the ability to limit the amount of stalling tactics on any final bills. A major strategy change may be neccesary in order to get a new health care bill on the President's desk before mid-term elections. Best case scenario is to replace the broken health care system and replace it with a broken socialized health care system. The most important components of effective health care have been addressed.

Obama addressed to the Arab world from Cairo. He apologized for passed wrong doings and promised to hold off meddling in the Arab world. At the same time he stepped up the pressure on Israel to agree to Palestinian demands and make them happy. The Americans also took Canada's seat on the UNHRC, in order to fix the broken system from within.

The results have been predicatably embarrasing. The UNHRC continues to be used as a platform for condemning Israel while ignoring human rights from the rest of the world. The silence from the White House was loud and clear as ordinary citizens rallied to show support for Iranian protests against a fraudulent election. Iran is still unhindered in their efforts to build a nuclear bomb. The Palestinian Authority is using American pressure to add new pre-conditions to returning to the bargaining table.

The biggest news stories of the past month create an ironic twist on the White House criticism of Israel. Those two stories would be the attempted terrorist attack on a flight to Detriot and the last week's earth quake in Haiti.

TSA has been an embarrasement for how they operate airport security. Shortly before the attempted attack they accidentally released confidential information about operation procedures. After the attempted attack they scrambled to create all kinds of new protocols to insure safty. Meanwhile, the President was overseeing the national emergency while on vacation. In the mean time the media was turning to Israel to ask how to do security. Israel was recognized as the best in the world at maintaining security. People could see through the TSA changes as just more window dressing to make things appear safer then actually protecting passengers.

The earthquake in Haiti has created a major humanitarian crisis. A Belgium staffed medical team was forced to abandon helping people because of saftey concerns. American staffed hospital units are complaining they don't have the resources to help their patients. They are unable to administer life saving treatment. Israel was the first country to set up a field hospital, beating the Americans by days. All American officials can say about Israel responding faster is that they are doing the best job possible. Sounds a little bit like the disaster relief plan in New Orleans.

"So far, 300 patients have been admitted, 92 surgeries have been performed and 5 babies have been delivered (2 were premature). Because of the advanced medical equipment at the IDF field hospital, the UN coordinator has been sending doctors and nurses from other countries to join the Israeli medical staff. Thus far, 8 Colombian and 9 American USC doctors and nurses and 10 British volunteers have joined the IDF field hospital." -- IDF

What lessons can the White House learn from Israel as the President enters his second year in office? Like all countries Israel has it's own domestic issues. Israel has greater challenges then Americans as wars are fought either close to or on home turf. It is nice to declare that if only Israel did X everything would be perfect. Tactical mistakes from this logic cost lives. Israel takes the hand they are dealt and strives to be the best in the world. An appreciation of what Israel has accomplished with the challenges they face. The change of attitude is absolutely necessary if Obama wants to contribute anything to the region. Hopfully he will be able to learn from the disasters of the last month and use them to have a better 2nd year in office.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Not All Walls are the Same

Last year I participated in a recreational hockey tournament. It was shortly after Operation Cast Lead. There were a few players who had to withdraw because they received their army call up papers and were not released before the tournament.

One of the players had been asked to write and article for a large minor hockey organization in the United States. He was to address three issues in the article; the tournament, hockey in Israel and how it relates to Gaza. I told him to go outside the rink and take a picture of Lebanon. The ice hockey rink in Israel is located Metulah next to the Lebanese border. When the Ottoman Empire collapse it had original fell under the French mandate before being swapped to the British. Hezzbolah does not recognize the swap and considers all land from the original French mandate to be part of Lebanon. Hockey in Metullah has absolutely nothing to do with Gaza.

The Israeli Government decided this week to beef up the border with Egypt. It includes building a wall near Rafah and Eilat. The current government has been proactive in dealing with illegal immigrants. A new unit was created to find and deport those who do not have permission to stay. Tightening the border is just an extension of that policy. While an important project it is not an issue that is newsworthy especially for an International audience.

From the best I can tell the Globe and Mail, National Post and Toronto Star did not feel this was a newsworthy story. CBC and CTV managed to carry very different version of the same events. CTV carried the Associated Press version of the story while CBC decided to blend the story with a recap of other recent events of in the region.

CBC choose to end the article by mentioning the Gaza blockade. A comment from the government spokesman and was put in the last section, instead of the main part of the article. It also has an incredibly brief recap mentioned that an aid convoy had been blocked by Egypt leaving a guard dead.

The Viva Palestina convoy had been stopped by Egypt for not following proper rules and procedures. The entire time George Galloway played victim for not being allowed to have everything his way. Egypt was so annoyed with the convoy that all members including Galloway are not allowed back into Egypt and they will not permit any future convoys. Egypt has also started building an underground fence to stop the smuggling tunnels and finally secure the border with Gaza. An Egyptian gaurd was shot dead by Palestinians on the Gaza side of the border. The top of the article has links to three other articles pertaining to the Egypt/Gaza border battle. The Gaza commentary has resulted in the comment section being filled with comments about Gaza rather than the actual story of Israel trying to deal with illegal immirgrants.

There are no articles relating the government prorogation to John Tory not running as Mayor. No articles linking the Caledonia Occupation by natives to new airport security measures. No articles linking the Vancouver Olympics to the Ottawa Senators 4 game losing streak. The reason is that they have nothing to do with each other. CBC has taken two unrelated events and tied them together because they take place in the same country. It is completly irresponsible for CBC to connect these events, especially when they know their readers will use it to draw further conclusions that are definitely not true.