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Latest News in Israel – 17th August

Series of planned Hezbollah attacks in Israel foiled

Cleared for publication: In an operation involving the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the Israel Police several terror cells have been recently exposed. The terrorists, residents of Judea and Samaria, had been recruited through Facebook by Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon and Gaza.

The arrest of the terrorists prevented the cells from carrying out attacks in Israel.

The Shin Bet emphasized that the terror cells reflect a concentrated effort by Hezbollah over the past few years to recruit terrorists from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, to commit terror attacks against Israeli targets.

The recruits were instructed to help with fundraising for terror operations as well.

Among the cells exposed was one from the Qalqilya area. The cell had been ordered to commit an attack against an IDF patrol. Heading the cell was Mustafa Kemal Hindi, 28, of Qalqilya who was recruited to the Hezbollah in December of 2015 through a Facebook page containing anti-Israel and jihadist content.

Hindi told interrogators that he was in constant contact with his Hezbollah controller through Facebook, and later through email. The controller even sent him an encryption program to allow them to communicate undetected.

Hindi was directed to gather recruits and act against Israel, including shooting at IDF patrols in the area.

Hindi recruited four terrorists from Qalqilya and they began to gather information on army patrols in the Qalqilya area and training with hunting rifles.

In June 2016 the cell-members were arrested before they managed to bring their plans to fruition. Indictments have been filed against the terrorists.

In addition, security forces arrested terrorists who had been recruited by a Hezbollah operative from Gaza and were ordered to commit suicide and shooting attacks.

Mohammed Faiz Abu Jadian, the Gaza Hezbollah operative, had recruited several terrorists from Judea and Samaria through Facebook. Most of the terrorists received encryption programs through email.      (Arutz Sheva)

Chief of staff: Over 50,000 Palestinians cross into Israel illegally every day

IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Tuesday that some 50,000-60,000 Palestinians illegally infiltrate Israel daily from the West Bank, but only 4,300 of are arrested each year.

Speaking at the Knesset State Control Committee, Eisenkot said there is a huge gap in funding to finish the West Bank barrier, but that building the wall was not the only issue – the entry-permit approval process must also move faster.

The IDF chief said there are 101,000 Palestinian workers who legally arrive in Israel every day, and “from those with entry permits there have not been terrorists in the recent wave, and I think, even going back a decade.”

Committee chairwoman MK Karin Elharar noted that 44 percent of the terrorist attacks that have killed dozens and wounded some 300 in recent months have been connected to illegal infiltrators.

“We are making great efforts to close off the open border areas, [but at the same time] there are still 100 kilometers without a security wall,” Eisenkot said. “Two parts are lacking NIS 260 million to be built in the Turkumia and Jerusalem areas.”

He said work has started there, but there are still huge gaps around Battir and Gush Etzion.

Col. Sharon Biton of the Civil Administration unit that issued permits said 1,693,670 permits were issued in 2015 moving at the current “slow” speed, but that only 800,000 of them are still in effect, showing that part of the issue is the temporariness of many permits or jobs.

Some Palestinians apply for permits, but wait so long for an answer that they eventually forget the application and just cross illegally, he said, adding that punishments should be more severe for Israeli employers of Palestinians without permits and others who help them cross the border illegally.

Of the 4,300 infiltrators arrested year, some 1,500 are indicted, an increase, but one that has not kept up with the wave of terrorism, according to Lt.-Col. Nir Yishaya, head of operations for Central Command. The punishments handed down, he added, tend to be only a few days to five months despite a relatively new law permitting sentences of up to five years.

In the past, the IDF has admitted that most illegal infiltrators are released the first time they are arrested, and merely warned without being indicted as a matter of policy.

Comptroller Defense Division Head Yossi Beinhorn said all the problems listed were identified years ago in comptroller reports, but that little progress has been made.

There is no certainty that the issues will be readily addressed in the near future either, as completion of the West Bank barrier is a political bomb with the Palestinians and much of the world, since it could be viewed as setting borders around Jerusalem and cutting off Palestinians in the West Bank from east Jerusalem.

Deputy Police Chief Zohar Dvir told the committee that the police are working hard to combat infiltrating Palestinians, including those involved in lower-grade crimes such as theft or violence that is not nationalistic.

Echoing one of Eisenkot’s themes, he complained that even when the police arrest those assisting infiltrators, 25 percent do not receive jail time, and many who do receive short sentences. Furthermore, he said, 83 percent of the fines for those assisting infiltrators were under NIS 5,000.

Earlier in the day, Eisenkot toured the North with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was provided with a review of security challenges on the northern front from IDF Northern Commander Maj.- Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and Maj.-Gen.Tamir Heyman.             (Jerusalem Post)

Israel: Non-Muslims Will Not Be Banned from Temple Mount

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter said Monday, “The idea that what was done in Saudi Arabia – where two cities holy to Islam, Mecca and Medina, are sites where only Muslims have the right to enter – will be done on the Temple Mount is a distorted idea that we will not let happen. We will respect the sanctity of al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, and will stand up for our rights on the Temple Mount.” Non-Muslims are not allowed into al-Aksa’s prayer hall, while they are permitted on the Temple Mount.

Dichter was responding to comments made by Jordan’s Minister of Wakf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat denouncing a visit by a group of Jews to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples located at the site. Arabiyat had accused Jews of “breaking into al-Aksa mosque,” “storming” the shrine, and performing “Talmudic rituals” in the mosque.

Dichter noted that there is an attempt underway to conflate the Aksa Mosque with the entire Temple Mount compound. “Recently there has been a growing tendency calling for the ‘defense’ of al-Aksa.

This defense has grown a great deal, and from the mosque on the southern part of the Temple Mount they are now talking about the whole area of the Temple Mount. Israel will not let this happen.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Ya’alon founds new non-governmental organization to advance himself

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon has taken his first step toward political independence by forming a non-governmental organization to advance himself politically, The Jerusalem Post learned Monday.

Ya’alon quit the Knesset and blasted the Likud in May after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu replaced Ya’alon with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman as defense minister when Liberman’s party joined the coalition.

But Ya’alon remains a Likud member and may still run for the premiership withing the party. Nevertheless, he is keeping all options open, and the new NGO can be used as a platform to form a new party in the future or cooperate with existing parties.

The non-profit is called “The NGO for Different Leadership.” It will be used as a platform for Ya’alon’s work all over the country. He intends to meet with different sectors of the population under that banner.

But before he does that, Ya’alon intends to visit Australia and the United States. As reported in September he will be a fellow in the Washington Institute, a think tank in America’s capital.

Netanyahu will face a challenge from within the Likud Tuesday when the party’s governing secretariat will meet in Ramat Gan to consider proposals that could limit the power of the party leader.

Activists loyal to Netanyahu see the proposal as an attempt by the head of the secretariat, Transportation Minister Israel Katz, to oust the prime minister. Sources close to Katz declined to discuss the agenda of the meeting or respond to the charges.          (Jerusalem Post)

Sharansky to Israel’s regulators: Shut down ‘repugnant, immoral’ binary options

Branding the binary options industry in Israel “repugnant,” “immoral” and profoundly damaging to the country, Natan Sharansky on Monday urged Israeli regulators to do everything in their power to close it down.

Sharansky, who heads the Jewish Agency, the primary organization responsible for immigration and absorption of Diaspora Jews in Israel, said the Agency is alerting all immigrants and other potential employees to steer clear of the industry, “which uses immoral methods to entice innocent victims.”

In a statement issued a day after the head of the Israel Securities Authority, Shmuel Hauser, told The Times of Israel that the global scam perpetrated by Israel-based firms is doing immense harm to Israel’s reputation and promised to tackle the fraudulent industry, Sharansky said he had been “dismayed to learn of the extensive manipulation perpetrated on unwitting, innocent people by companies marketing binary options trading services.”

Sharansky said the Jewish Agency has “consistently directed our professionals to reject job postings from binary options companies and to alert all immigrants and other potential employees against employment in this industry, which uses immoral methods to entice innocent victims.”

And he said he would be writing to the Council of Immigrant Associations in Israel, urging them to do the same.

“The damage caused to the victims, to job-seekers lured into becoming involved and tainted, and to the State of Israel is profound,” said Sharansky, a former Soviet Prisoner of Zion and ex-cabinet minister and Knesset member. “I call on the regulating authorities to do whatever they can to prevent this repugnant industry from operating within Israel’s shores.”

The Times of Israel has in recent months been detailing massive fraud by Israeli binary options firms, beginning in March with an article entitled “The Wolves of Tel Aviv.” The fraudulent firms purport to be guiding their customers in making lucrative short-term investments, but are in fact using various ruses, including misrepresentation, manipulating rigged trading platforms and outright refusal to return deposits, to steal their clients’ money.

All local binary options firms are now banned by the ISA from targeting Israelis, but they remain free to target people abroad. The US has banned overseas binary options firms from targeting its citizens, and numerous countries, including the US, Canada and France, are investigating Israel-based binary options fraud on behalf of their citizens who have been cheated. Belgium last week became the first European country to ban the industry, in a move that takes formal effect on Thursday, August 18.

Immigrants from French- and English-speaking countries are particularly prized by the fraudulent Israel-based firms, which target victims worldwide and often encourage their salespeople to use false identities, lie about their financial skills, and misrepresent where they are calling from as they seek to persuade victims to trust them with their money.

The wide-scale fraud has been snowballing over the past decade, and the ISA has thus far proved slow to react. Earlier this year, it finally banned all binary options firms from targeting Israelis, but it has said it lacks the tools and the authority to prevent Israel-based firms from fleecing victims overseas.

Hauser told The Times of Israel, however, that he is now recruiting all arms of law enforcement, will push for new legislation as needed, and has full political support to grapple with the flourishing fraudulent industry, which, The Times of Israel has reported, employs thousands of Israelis working for more than 100 companies that defraud victims all over the world of billions of dollars.

“I see this on a personal level,” Hauser said, “not just as a regulator, but as an Israeli citizen and as someone who is disgusted by fraud and especially by the type of people who take money from the unfortunate, from orphans and widows.”

Hauser stressed that while his ISA cannot “regulate the entire world,” the scale and nature of the Israel-based fraud requires an urgent and specific solution, including changes to the law if necessary.

“Any way you look at it, as a human being, as a citizen, as a regulator, as a Zionist, as a father, and as a grandfather,” Hauser said, “it looks awful to me.”

Within months, Hauser therefore promised, the authorities would “step up a notch… and take a big step” to tackle the fraudsters. He said the various Israeli enforcement bodies, including regulators and the police, have a high-level consultative forum, and that they would get together in that forum to “formulate the policy, and quickly, for how to deal with this problem, because it is a problem of national significance.” The forum, he said, would “decide on operative steps within the current law, and also on additional steps to expand our jurisdiction.”

Two weeks ago, MK Michael Oren, now a deputy minister responsible for public diplomacy, recommended an inquiry into Israel’s binary options industry, calling revelations of a massive global scam defrauding hundreds of thousands of international customers “very, very disturbing” and warning of its potential to damage Israel’s international standing.                  (the Times of Israel)

Ancient ballista ball unearthed by students in Gush Etzion from Bar Kokhba revolt

An ancient ballista ball used by Jewish warriors fighting against the Roman Empire in the Judean Hills during the legendary Bar Kokhba revolt has been unearthed by high school students in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem.

The rebellion, led by Simon Bar Kokhba between 132-136 CE, was also known as the Third Jewish Revolt, because it was the final of three Jewish uprisings against the Romans due to religious and political persecution.

It is estimated that over 580,000 Jews died during the revolt, resulting in a massive depopulation of the Jewish communities inhabiting the Judean Hills. Many survivors of the battle were sold into slavery by Roman captors.

On Monday, Yoran Rosenthal, director of the Kfar Etzion Field School, said the stone ball fashioned for a ballista, or catapult, was discovered by students during an annual excavation in Gush Etzion led by school counselors shortly before Tisha B’Av.

“This is a discovery of historic magnitude because this battle was the last battle fought by a Jewish army in Israel until modern times,” said Rosenthal, noting that the discovery is of great interest to archeologists.

“This finding serves as a mute testimony to the persistent struggle that took place there,” he continued. “The battle that took place there is said to have been fought by brave warriors, and shows the power and greatness of the Jewish fighters.”

According to Rosenthal, several school counselors helped students from around the country who gathered for the annual trip searching for evidence of the historic uprising.

To date, some 2,000 ballista balls from ancient battles have been found in Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.                    (Jerusalem Post)

New mall for settlers and Palestinians opens in Gush Etzion

Politicians on Monday afternoon dedicated a new mall for settlers and Palestinians at the Gush Etzion junction, an area that has been a hot spot for terrorist attacks during the last year.

“The opening of this mall sends an unequivocal message to our enemies that you won’t break us,” said MK Nurit Koren (Likud).

“I hope the mall will be a symbol of co-existence based on economic peace,” Koren said.

She spoke at the small ribbon-cutting ceremony on the top floor of the three-story, 5,000-meter structure with 15 shops, including a clothing outlet and a home goods retailer from the well-known FOX chain.

Below the ceremony, on the second floor, Muslim women wearing hijabs and traditional dress, shopped alongside religious Jewish women in skirts and scarves tied over their hair.

Among the Palestinians who arrived to check out the mall’s wares, was the Alana family from their nearby hometown of Beit Umar.

“It took us only five minutes to get here,” said Muhammad as he stood with Odai, his 12-year-old son while they shopped for back-to-school clothes at FOX.

Without the mall, Muhammad said, a trip to FOX would have involved getting a permit to enter Israel and a trip which would have cost them at least several hours.

Inside the Greg Cafe, Didy Freedman of the Elazar settlement was on a night out with his wife, Zila.

“Greg is our favorite restaurant,” he said.

They were glad to have somewhere close by to go, thereby saving them the longer trip to the Malha Mall on the southern edge of Jerusalem.

Among those who attended the ceremony was Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan (Bayit Yehudi).

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi), who also spoke at the ceremony, recalled how she needed something for her daughter’s post-wedding party a number of weeks ago, but worried she didn’t have the time to make the trip from her home in the Gush Etzion settlement of Neveh Daniel to Jerusalem.

A friend solved the problem by telling her that FOX had moved into the mall, which had unofficially opened its doors.

As she stood in front of its red neon sign and glass windows, she thought, “we have become normal. We no longer have to leave Gush Etzion, we have everything here.”

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl recalled a time during his childhood when the area was considered so remote that there wasn’t even an Israeli public transportation system.

When his family traveled to Jerusalem, they caught a Palestinian bus, he said. A passing car was considered a rare event, he added.

Now, he said, when Gush Etzion residents call him to complain about traffic jams particularly at the junction, he is relieved that there are so many people on the roads and that the region suffers from the same problems that plagues the rest of the country.

Moalem-Refaeli said that the next phase has to be for Israel to annex the Gush Etzion bloc, so that it is part of the country’s sovereign territory.

“Gush Etzion is in the ‘consensus,’” Moalem-Refaeli said, as she explained that it’s understood that the region would remain part of Israel’s final borders in any diplomatic resolution to the conflict.

In the future, she said, she hoped that all of Judea and Samaria would be annexed to Israel. “But Gush Etzion should be first.”

Dahan added: “We have returned to our land to remain forever.”

He called on the Palestinians in the area “to come and see what the State of Israel can give you. Come and enjoy the Israeli economy, but know that this is the land of the Jews and accept it.”    (Jerusalem Post)

Police: Most weapons used in violent crimes stolen from IDF

Most weapons used in the dangerous crime family wars in Israel’s streets are stolen from the Israel Defense Forces, a secret police report Israel Hayom obtained on Sunday reveals. The use of military-grade weapons in crime families’ disputes places innocent lives at risk and has long caused great concern for the Israel Police.

The report found that between 2014 and mid-2016, some 1,004 out of 1,284 criminal incidents involved the use of military weapons, including rockets, grenades and explosives as well as firearms, stolen from military bases or personnel.

The military is aware of this, and while it allocates considerable resources to address the issue, the phenomenon has proved relentless.

According to the findings, out of 522 incidents in 2014 referred to as “criminal attacks,” some 394 were carried out using stolen military weapons. In 2015, 400 out of 476 criminal attacks were perpetrated using stolen military weapons, while the first six months of 2016 saw 232 out of 282 criminal attacks carried out using such weapons.

Criminal attacks over the past few years have included car bombs, planting explosives in parks, point-blank assassinations, at times in broad daylight, and even attempted assassinations of law enforcement officers. A police source told Israel Hayom that criminals no longer have any qualms about innocent bystanders being caught in the line of fire.

According to the police, the underworld’s growing demand for military-grade weapons has seen an “emerging market” develop.

The police spare no effort to stop criminals from getting their hands on advanced weapons, and thwart criminal attacks, the report said, noting that in 2014 the police prevented 1,523 criminal attacks using weapons stolen from the IDF, with various operations seizing 50 fragmentation grenades, 707 flash grenades, 98 explosive bricks, and 30 grenade launchers.

The police foiled 1,249 criminal attacks in 2015, seizing 82 fragmentation grenades, 40 explosive bricks, and 29 grenade launchers. Similar raids in the first half of 2016 yielded 51 fragmentation grenades, 518 flash grenades, 38 explosive bricks, and seven grenade launchers.

The report noted that the IDF is aware of the disturbing quantities of military-grade explosives making their way into the underworld, saying the IDF has increased security in its armories and conducts spot checks to fight the phenomenon.

Various initiatives to form a joint police-military task force to combat this issue “have yet to exhaust themselves,” one police official said, adding that one measure under consideration is marking IDF weapons in a way that would make it easier to trace them.

According to the official, one of the reasons criminals can easily obtain military-grade weapons is that young members of crime families often serve in the army.

“IDF armories are effectively easier to access compared to the civilian [arms] industry, and they also have greater diversity for them [criminal elements] to get their hands on. As we all know, opportunity makes a thief,” the official said.

An IDF Spokesperson’s Unit statement said: “The IDF, through the Military Police and ground-level operations, spares no effort to fight the phenomenon of stolen weapons. The military employs multiple measures to that effect, including intelligence, operational, educational, and preventative means, and strives to increase awareness among all soldiers of the importance of safeguarding weapons.”

The military’s data on arms theft indicates a decline in the number of stolen weapons from base armories. According to the IDF, there were 67 stolen weapons incident in 2015, compared to 92 in 2014.                    (Israel Hayom)

Ten False Assumptions Regarding Israel

by Alan Baker,                  Jerusalem Center for Contemporary Affairs

http://jcpa.org/article/ten-false-assumptions-regarding-israel/

Israel is inundated with one-sided international resolutions, declarations, “peace plans,” and advice from governments, international organizations, leaders, pundits, and elements within the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.

Most of the above rest on widely-held, false and mistaken assumptions regarding Israel, its leaders, government, policies, and positions held by the vast majority of the Israeli public.

These false and mistaken assumptions need to be addressed:

  1. “Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank territories (Judea and Samaria) will provide Israel with security and international acceptance.”Wrong.

Prior to Israel’s entry into the territories in the 1967 war, the Arab states made every effort to attack and weaken Israel militarily and diplomatically.

The Arab and Iranian attempts today to challenge Jewish history in the Biblical land of Israel and in Jerusalem and the legitimacy of the State of Israel as a Jewish state still resonate in the international community, most recently in UNESCO.

The Palestinians are committed to eventually establishing their state over all of mandatory Palestine and they indoctrinate their children this way.

The most recent, absurd initiative by the Palestinian leadership to prosecute Britain for issuing the 1917 Balfour Declaration proves the deeply-rooted Palestinian rejection of the existence of Israel.

From Israel’s establishment in 1948 and up to present day, Israel has been, and continues to be the only UN member state denied its UN Charter-guaranteed right of “sovereign equality.”

Clearly, withdrawal from the territories now under these conditions would threaten Israel’s security.

  1. “Israel’s ‘occupation of the territories’ is illegal and a violation of international law.” Wrong.

Israel entered the territories in 1967 after being attacked by all its neighbors, acting in self-defense against an offensive and aggressive war.

Occupation of territory during an armed conflict is an accepted and recognized legal state-of-affairs in international law and practice.

Israel has committed itself to abide by the international humanitarian and legal norms for the administration of such territories. Israel’s administration of the territories is under strict judicial supervision by Israel’s Supreme Court.

The territory was never under Palestinian rule or sovereignty, and when it was under Jordanian control there was no intention by Jordan to turn it into a Palestinian state.

The oft-used term in UN resolutions “occupied Palestinian territories” has no legal basis or validity whatsoever. It is not supported by any legal, historical or other binding document, and its use prejudges the outcome of a still pending negotiation.

It is an accepted fact that the issue of the future of the territories is in dispute. Israel entertains valid, widely acknowledged and long-held historic and legal claims regarding the territories.

Signed agreements between the Palestinian leadership and Israel have established an agreed framework for settling the territorial dispute through negotiation of their permanent status.

Pending agreement between Israel and the Palestinians regarding the permanent status of the territory, no external, third-party political determination or resolution can establish that that the territories belong to the Palestinians.

  1. “The Palestinian leadership is united and popularly supported.”Wrong.

The Palestinian leadership is far from united. There is a total, irreconcilable disconnect between the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria, and the Hamas administration in Gaza. The leadership is seen as incorrigibly corrupt. President Mahmoud Abbas is in the 11th year of his four-year term. The Authority lacks internal credibility, accountability, and popular support.

This situation undermines any confidence in a viable and united governance and representation of the Palestinians. It neutralizes any capacity to enter into and to implement any international commitment or obligation.

  1. “The Palestinian leadership is moderate, willing to negotiate and to live in peace with Israel.” Wrong.

The Palestinian leadership, is far from moderate, by any standard. Even without Hamas incitement, it engages in an officially-sanctioned policy of “de-normalization” vis-à-vis The leadership often praises, memorializes, and encourages Palestinian terrorists.

Abbas_blood

The Palestinian leadership refuses to resume negotiations, refuses to meet or to enter into any dialogue with Israel’s leaders. It blocks contacts between Palestinians and Israelis at diplomatic, professional, and people-to-people levels. This policy runs counter to Palestinian commitments in the Oslo Accords to encourage development cooperation and “people-to-people dialogues” at all levels.

The Palestinian leadership initiates and openly supports boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) aimed at the delegitimization of Israel in the international community on international and regional organizations, international tribunals, and the UN and its specialized agencies.

While Israel has expressed its willingness for the principle of “two states for two peoples,” the Palestinian leadership consistently refuses to accept the concept of Israel as the democratic nation state of the Jewish People.

  1. “Israel’s settlements are illegal and violate international law.” Wrong.

These allegations are based on a misreading of the relevant international laws and the reciprocal commitments between Israel and the PLO.

The prohibition on the transfer of population into territory occupied during war, set out in the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, was specifically drafted in order to prevent a recurrence of the mass forcible population transfers that occurred during the Second World War. In the case of Israel’s settlement policy, there are no forced expulsions or coerced settling.

This has no bearing on, or relevance to Israel’s settlement policy, which enables the legitimate utilization of non-privately-owned land pending the permanent settlement of the dispute. Use of non-privately-owned public land for settlement or for agriculture is fully consistent with accepted international norms as long as the status of the land is not changed pending its final negotiated outcome.

As such, Israel’s settlements cannot be seen to be a violation of international law. Any determination of such is based on a selective, politically biased viewpoint taken outside the accepted international practice.

Notwithstanding the divergence of views on the legality of Israel’s settlements, according to the Oslo Accords, this issue is an open negotiating issue between the Palestinians and Israel.

Pending attainment of a negotiated settlement, the Oslo Accords place no freeze or restriction on either Israel or the Palestinians to engage in planning, zoning, and construction in the respective areas under its control. To the contrary, planning, zoning and construction are specifically permitted.

Accordingly, arbitrary and unilateral predetermination as to the legitimacy of settlements, and any call for their removal prior to an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians are inconsistent with the agreements and constitute prejudgment of a negotiating issue.

The claim that the settlements are the source of the conflict holds no logic. The Arab-Israel conflict existed long before the establishment of any settlement, with efforts by the Arab states in 1948 to prevent the establishment of the state of Israel and their ongoing efforts since then to bring about its demise.

  1. “Jerusalem belongs to the Arabs. The Jews have no rights or claims to it.” Wrong.

The Palestinian leadership manipulates history and denies Jewish history and heritage in Jewish holy sites in its presentations to international organizations such as UNESCO. They cannot alter the historic fact that Jerusalem has, from time immemorial, been the epicenter of the Jewish religion and heritage. It also plays a major role in the history of Christianity.

This is acknowledged in the Quran, the Old and New Testaments and in the writings of historians.

Attempts by the Palestinian leadership to generate incitement and violence through false accusations regarding the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem have no basis and will not alter the fact that the issue of Jerusalem is an agreed negotiating issue between Israel and the Palestinians pursuant to the Oslo Accords.

Any assumption or expectation that the Israeli public may be pressured into supporting demands for a unilateral withdrawal from Arab areas of east Jerusalem outside of a negotiated and agreed-upon framework is misplaced and has no basis in fact.

  1. “The Israeli leadership and government are inflexible, extreme and oppose peace.” Wrong.

The intense hostility towards Israel’s democratically-elected government is misplaced and insulting to the Israeli public.

The tendency, especially in Europe and in international organizations, to accept outrageous Palestinian allegations against Israel, often old anti-Semitic canards, is nothing more than submission to cynical manipulation. Such allegations deliberately abuse of the bona fides and sense of political correctness prevalent among Western countries and societies.

This comes at the expense of genuine objective, historic, legal and factual analysis.

Well-meaning and sincere European and American politicians, community-leaders and organizations together with international and regional organizations appear to feel that they are better-able and equipped, more-so than Israel’s elected leaders and the Israeli public, to know what is in the better interests of Israel.

The Israeli public, whose voters and their elected officials face the threats of hostility and terror on a daily basis, have deep political awareness and are fully capable of determining the fate of Israel.

The assumption that international pressure will bring about the downfall of Israel’s democratically-elected government belies the strength of Israel’s democracy and undermines the West’s democratic principles.

  1. “The present status quo between Israel and the Palestinians is unsustainable.” Wrong.

The present situation of political stalemate between the Palestinians and Israel is not the result of Israeli defiance, as claimed by some Western leaders, governments, and commentators.

Israel has repeatedly expressed its willingness to resume the negotiation process immediately. Israel is committed in the Oslo Accords and has made it very clear that it has no intention of carrying out any unilateral action aimed at changing the status of the territories.

The “present status quo” is determined by the fact that the Palestinian leadership consistently refuses to return to a negotiating table. It prefers to indulge the international community with its victimhood and to generate negative initiatives aimed at denying Israel’s character as the Jewish State, and delegitimizing Israel.

Palestinian leadership prefers to conduct diplomatic warfare through boycotts against Israel and legal proceedings against Israel’s leaders in international and national courts.

The one-sided imposition of politically oriented solutions is not an acceptable mode of changing the status quo.

In the absence of a viable diplomatic process today, the current status quo is sustainable.

  1. “Islamophobia is parallel to anti-Semitism.” Wrong.

The tendency in the international community to link anti-Semitism with Islamophobia as two equal phenomena of racism is totally wrong. This tendency regrettably emanates from exaggerated political correctness on the part of many Western countries and communities.

Anti-Semitism has been a tragic phenomenon conducted solely against Jews for thousands of years, causing massacres, pogroms, expulsions, public torture and executions, lynching, forced conversion, destruction of synagogues, enslavement, confiscation of belongings, culminating in the Nazi Holocaust.

Anti-Semitic themes are a staple of Palestinian and Arab media, school curricula, cartoons, and sermons.

The aim of anti-Semitism has been to exterminate and bring about the total genocide of the Jewish People as a race.

Anti-Semitism cannot be compared or linked to Islamophobia, which emanates from the fear of Islam as a result of fanatical Islamic movements and the terror generated by them. It bears no relation whatsoever to any philosophy advocating genocide of Muslims.

In this context, de-legitimization of Israel is seen by most Western states, as a new version of anti-Semitism.

  1. “Israel is a racist state that violates human rights and practices apartheid.” Wrong

This claim is repeated by Palestinian leaders and left-wing propagandists throughout the world. It was initially advocated by Yasser Arafat and adopted by NGO groups at discredited 2001 UN Conference on Racism at Durban.

It is indicative of an evident lack of understanding of the racist nature of the phenomenon of “apartheid” and an even further and deeper misunderstanding of the character of Israel as an open, pluralistic and democratic society.

Israel Miss Universe

Israel Miss Universe pageant 2013 and the winner, second from the left,

Yityish Aynaw, an Ethiopian Israeli (African Sun Times)

The comparison of Israel to South Africa under white supremacist rule has been utterly rejected by those with intimate understanding of the old Apartheid system, especially South Africans. The aim of such propaganda, in addition to delegitimizing the very basis of existence of the State of Israel, is to cynically manipulate the international community and to encourage imposition of an international sanctions regime against Israel modeled on the actions against the former apartheid regime in South Africa.

Israel is a multi-racial and multi-colored society, and the Israeli Arab population actively participates in the political process. Israeli Arabs enjoy complete equality and freedom of expression. They elect their own Knesset members and Arab judges serve in the Supreme Court. Israeli Arabs serve as heads of hospital departments, university professors, diplomats, and senior police and army officers.

Each religious community has its own religious court system, applying Sharia, Canon, and Jewish law respectively.

Unlike those Arab and other states in which one religion is declared the state religion, or Western countries where Christianity is the predominant religion, or Moslem countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia where certain areas, towns, and roads are restricted to “Moslems only,” and where women are treated as second-class citizens and gay people as criminals, Israeli law regards Judaism, Islam, and Christianity as official religions and constitutionally ensures complete freedom and equality to all.

Incitement to or practice of racism in Israel is a criminal offence, as is any discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or gender. Israeli schools, universities, and hospitals make no distinction between Jews and Arabs.

Whether in day-to-day political and social discourse, or whether in the international and local media, the above accusations appear repeatedly and consistently.

Ben-Gurion on Israel, Peace and Back Pain: A Lost Interview Is Brought to Life

by Isabel Kershner                         The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/13/world/middleeast/israel-ben-gurion-interview.html?ref=middleeast&_r=0

The rare, intimate and reflective interview with Israel’s founding prime minister was filmed nearly 50 years ago, but it never aired.

David Ben-Gurion, at 82 and five years out of office, spoke in the six-hour interview of state-building and the biblical prophets that guided him; the security imperative of his young nation and Israel’s quest for spiritual and moral superiority; his battle with lower back pain and his interest in Buddhism.

It was April 1968, and “The Old Man,” as Ben-Gurion was nicknamed for much of his life, had been largely abandoned by his own political protégés. Paula, his rather brusque and devoted wife, had died that January, leaving him in near isolation in his chosen retirement home in Sde Boker, a remote communal village in the Negev desert.

“The most important thing which I learned, I learned by living here,” he said. “I want to live in a place when I know that my friends, and myself, we did it. Everything. It’s our creation.”

He sat for two hours a day, over three consecutive days, and spoke in English. He wore a turtleneck sweater, his casual uniform for cooler days. When the interviewer said he was ready to wrap up the final session, Ben-Gurion protested that they still had 10 minutes to go.

But the reels of silent footage and the soundtrack languished for decades in separate archives. Excerpts from the recently rediscovered conversation form the core of a new documentary, “Ben-Gurion, Epilogue,” in which the Zionist luminary offers a raw, contemplative self-analysis of his life’s work.

Asked if he feared for his country, he replied, “Oh, I always feared. I always. Not just now.” Though it was 20 years after Israel’s founding, he said that he feared “the state does not yet exist. It’s a beginning only.”

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Interwoven with other footage from the period — of meetings with foreign leaders, a speech in Israel’s Parliament, birthday celebrations — the film is, in part, a wistful ode to a lost generation of leaders who viewed simplicity as a virtue even as they strove for giant goals.

“There is an absence of leadership with those values and that vision,” said Yariv Mozer, the Israeli writer, director and producer of the movie, which premiered last month at the Jerusalem Film Festival. The film, and the recent book by Avi Shilon on which it is based, Mr. Mozer added, “reflect the interest of some young Israelis to turn back to our history, to our past, in order to find answers for today and maybe for the future.”

Ben-Gurion’s matter-of-fact voice from the grave resonates hauntingly, with its mix of pragmatism and philosophical prescriptions bordering on the prophetic. He described the prophet Jeremiah as one of the greatest because, he said, “I have the feeling that what he was saying is true.”

“He understood politics more than the kings,” Ben-Gurion said. “But he was unpopular.”

Mr. Mozer and Mr. Shilon pointed to the former prime minister’s pronouncements at the time that in return for a true peace, he would give up the territories that Israel conquered in the Arab-Israeli War in 1967, except for the Golan Heights, Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Hebron. He saw no contradiction in believing that Israel had the right to all the land, but could also concede some of it.

“He thought that the most important thing was to live in the Middle East in peace with our neighbors,” Mr. Shilon said. “He said that Israel can win a lot of wars and the Arabs can lose a lot of wars, but that Israel would not be able to stand one defeat; that one lost war would be the end of Israel.” Mr. Shilon added, “The problem with Ben-Gurion was that people stopped listening to him.”

Ben Gurion[1]

David Ben-Gurion, at his home in 1972 on the eve of his 86th birthday.

Mr. Mozer and Yael Perlov, the editor and co-producer of the documentary, uncovered the lost interview almost by chance, in the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive in Jerusalem. There, while working to restore an old and unsuccessful feature film about Ben-Gurion by Ms. Perlov’s late father, David Perlov, they tripped across the silent film reels. It took six months to find the soundtrack, which they did in the Ben-Gurion Archives in the Negev.

The interview had actually been conducted as background research for the Perlov film. The former prime minister had chosen the interviewer, Clinton Bailey, who was then a recent immigrant from the United States. Mr. Bailey had been befriended by the Ben-Gurions after Paula invited him in for tea one day when he was wandering near their home in Tel Aviv.

Ben-Gurion helped Mr. Bailey secure a teaching job at the academy he had established at Sde Boker, and Mr. Bailey would sometimes join the aging politician on his brisk walks around the kibbutz.

Mr. Bailey went on to become an eminent scholar of Bedouin culture — and mostly forgot about the 1968 interview. Recalling the period, Mr. Bailey said the simplicity of the Ben-Gurions’ cabin at Sde Boker was “a statement,” adding: “I don’t think Ben-Gurion wanted the perks of power.”

At Ben-Gurion’s request, the cabin has been preserved and is open to the public. A trickle of Israeli families on school break and foreign tourists passed through on a recent sunbaked weekday.

The man who helped create the modern state of Israel insisted, in his sunset years, on being treated like any other member of the Sde Boker collective and ate lunch in the cramped communal dining room.

“In our kibbutz I told them my name is David,” he said in the interview with Mr. Bailey. “Not Ben-Gurion. So every morning I came to see what David has to do, and I went to do the work. This is what our prophets said, to serve as an example to other people.”

(Kibbutz residents who were there at the time said they gave him the easier jobs, like tending to the lambs and measuring precipitation.)

Archival footage shows Ben-Gurion dedicating the arrival in Sde Boker of the “radiotelephone,” which he called a “dubious blessing.” In another clip, Moshe Feldenkrais, the mind-body clinician, described how he persuaded Ben-Gurion to perform a circuslike physical feat to bring him more in tune with his body, which resulted in Ben-Gurion’s famously photographed headstands.

Ben-Gurion died in 1973, and was buried in a simple grave next to Paula’s on the edge of a stunning desert canyon. His will stipulated no eulogies or gun salute. The tombstone is inscribed only with his name and the dates of his birth, death and immigration to the country.

Settling the Negev, in his mind, was imperative for the young state’s future. It was also a place where he could champion his ideals.

“We wanted to create a new life, not the life that exists,” he said of the Zionist pioneers. “I believed that we had a right to this country. Not taking away from others, but recreating it.”

He had made tough choices along the way, like refusing to allow the return of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war over Israel’s creation, and placing Israel’s Arab citizens under military rule.

Ben-Gurion believed the state’s mission was to fulfill the biblical concept of an “am segulah,” an exemplary nation of higher virtues, treasured by God. Asked in 1968 if Israel was carrying out that mission, he replied: “Not yet.”