Monday, May 31, 2010

A Well Thought Plan

I am taking the opportunity to reprint an article by Ari Bussel who sends "Postcards from Israel" from time to time.

I feel that he is echoing the views of some many here in Israel, I would welcome your comments

At 10 PM Pacific Standard Time the news started coming in. First it was two dead, then 16 later 20. Bloomberg reports “Israeli Forces Clash With Gaza-bound Ships; Reports of 10 Dead.” Al Jazeera in English: “Israel attacks Gaza aid fleet, up to 16 people reportedly killed and dozens injured after troops board ships trying to break Gaza siege.” Israeli Debka site in Hebrew, among the very first to report the news: “At least 20 dead and tens wounded in the vessels of the flotilla to Gaza during the IDF’s boarding. The IDF soldiers who were attacked by cold weapons started firing.”


“IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.”

The response to the breaking news was immediate, as it was pre-planned for weeks, possibly months: Turkey called the Israeli ambassador to the Foreign Ministry. The Turkish Government announces that the Israeli aggression against the flotilla will bring about horrendous results whose end is unforeseen. Hamas calls the Arabs of Judea and Samaria and the Palestinians of Gaza to go out (to protest) for a Day of Rage. In leading role is Turkey, now overseeing and coordinating the attack against Israel. Viva Palestine has done its job organizing the flotilla. From here, the powers to be take over.

All that needed was a cue, and the ball started rolling. There was nothing spontaneous, just a well-thought, well-rehearsed and well-executed plan. The next few hours will show if Israel, too, has had a plan it could immediately put to action. Let us pray this is the case.

This was not the first flotilla aiming to reach Gaza. Yet with each execution, the level of sophistication had increased, each time the level of daring had expanded. This time around, children were brought as human shields. One is only left to wonder if dead bodies were boarded onto the ships prior to departure. [Palestinians used exhumed bodies before to show the effects of Israeli atrocities in Gaza, so it will not be the first time, nor beyond their normal modus operandi to do the same.]

This is how wars break. A ruse is used, which then leads to an avalanche. The cost, whether in human life or otherwise, is meaningless to the organizers of the convoy to Gaza. Their goal was to break the naval siege at all costs, or in the alternative to cause as much harm to Israel as possible, both on the international public diplomacy front and on the domestic resistance / fifth column of Israeli Arabs. In either case they are the victors.

One would remember the Palestinian terrorists taking over the Church of Nativity. There was no respect to the holy place. It served a purpose, thus whether desecrated or defiled, they did not care. Likewise now, there is meaning to human life, the goal of humiliating and hurting Israel is worth more than the means used to achieve it.

This will not die down. The flotilla to Gaza was the match that was needed to be lit. The Middle East was getting ready for this day.

The real question is not whether or not Israel has a plan of action, now that the vessels (most or all) have been stopped and taken over. Rather, it is: Does Iran – via her cronies, Hizbollah, Hamas, Syria and Turkey – have the urge to wipe Israel off the map now, or is she still waiting. It all boils down to Iran’s will and determination. For if Iran were ready, then the war would start in the next few hours, Israel will be bombarded with rockets and missiles from all fronts.

The looming war was generally accepted for some time now. It was only a question of time. In the meantime, a game was played, primarily by Israel (“the International community needs to act against Iran”), the USA (forcing upon those who were clearly uninterested “Proximity Talks”) and Russia (supplying advanced weapon systems and overall reclaiming its spot as the bully no one dares say a word against). On the other side, Turkey, Brazil, Syria and Hizbollah continued their preparations, laughing at the meager efforts by a weak global leadership and the Nobel Peace Laureate, the head of the US-Superpower.

Despite Israel’s legitimate claims for being right, the only images that will be seen in the coming hours and days and later remembered are her brutality against children and humanitarian aid convoys; her soldiers boarding vessels of peace and starting to shoot; her top spokesmen (the Foreign Minister and his Deputy) following the lead of the Minister of Defense who said the convoy will be stopped at all costs. Israel, the aggressor, the occupier, the country committing a bloodbath in Gaza – to use the phraseology of a leading Israeli reporter – has this time crossed all red lines. It is indeed just for Israeli Arabs to set their march onto Jerusalem and for the Palestinian People to declare their nationhood. The world, finally, will not allow it to go on, and one after another, the members of the world community will say “Yes” when asked to vote for the formation and declaration of the new Palestine.

Oh cry Israel, for whatever you do you are found guilty. Facts and figures, logic and justice no longer hold. We are in the midst of a fantasia, where a flotilla that was never needed in the first place and could only result in bloodshed (present or future – had it been allowed to reach its intended destination) ushers in the new war. When will we wake up from this nightmare?

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Lies the Media and NGO's Tell About Gaza

Below are notes from Gaza accumulated by Tom Gross – May 25th. I believe everyone should be aware of what the newspapers DON'T print.

In recent days, the international media, particularly in Europe and the Mid East, has been full of stories about “activist boats sailing to Gaza carrying desperately-needed humanitarian aid and building materials.”

The BBC World Service even led its world news broadcasts with this story at one point over the weekend. (The BBC yesterday boasted that its global news audience has now risen to 220 million persons a week, making it by far the biggest news broadcaster in the world.)

Yet the BBC and other media fail to report on the fancy new restaurants and swimming pools of Gaza, or about the wind surfing competitions on Gaza beaches, or the Strip’s crowded shops and markets.

No, this would spoil their agenda. Playing the manipulative game of the BBC is easy. If we had their vast taxpayer funded resources, we too could produce reports about parts of London, Manchester and Glasgow and make it look as though there is a humanitarian catastrophe throughout the UK. We could produce the same effect by selectively filming seedy parts of Paris and Rome and New York and Los Angeles too.
Of course there is poverty in Gaza. There is poverty in parts of Israel too. (When was the last time a foreign journalist based in Israel left the pampered lounge bars and restaurants of the King David and American Colony hotels in Jerusalem and went to check out the slum-like areas of southern Tel Aviv? Or the hard-hit Negev towns of Netivot or Rahat?)

But the way the BBC and other prominent Western news media are deliberately misleading global audiences and systematically creating the false impression that people are somehow starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel’s fault, can only serve to increase hatred for the Jewish state – which one suspects was the goal of many of the editors and reporters involved in the first place.


If you drop by the Roots Club in Gaza, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook for Gaza and the West Bank, you can “dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu”.

The restaurant’s website
in Arabic gives a window into middle class dining and the lifestyle of Hamas officials in Gaza.

And here it is in English, for all the journalists, UN types and NGO staff who regularly frequent this and other nice Gaza restaurants (but don’t tell their readers about them).

Please take a look at the pictures on the above website. They are not the kind of things you see in The New York Times or CNN or in Newsweek, whose international edition last week had one of the most disgracefully misleading stories about Gaza I have ever seen, portraying it in terms which were virtually reminiscent of Hiroshima after a nuclear blast.

In case anyone doubts the authenticity of this information (which is up on the club’s own website), I just called the club in Gaza City and had a nice chat with the manager who proudly confirmed business is booming and many Palestinians and international guests are dining there.

In a piece for The Wall Street Journal last year, I documented the “after effects” of a previous “emergency Gaza boat flotilla,” when the arrivals were seen afterwards
purchasing souvenirs in well-stocked shops.

And please see here
for more pictures of Gaza’s “impoverished” shops.

While Western media, misled by corrupt and biased NGOs, continue to report on a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports on the Olympic-size swimming pool that opened in Gaza last week.

As reader Joy Wolfe of Manchester, England, a subscriber to this list, points out to me in an email: “How does an area that claims to be starved of water and building materials and depends on humanitarian aid build an Olympic size swimming pool and create a luxury lifestyle for some while others are forced to live in abject poverty as political pawn refugees?”

Another reader, Barry Shaw, writes from the Israeli town of Netanya:
“Gaza City recently opened an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Netanya does not have a municipal Olympic pool. Neither does Ashkelon, or Sderot. Gaza City is part of the Palestinian territory operated by the Islamic terror regime, Hamas. Netanya has been hit by repeated Palestinian suicide attacks, car bombings, and terrorist gunmen that have left over fifty of its citizens dead and more than three hundred injured. The Palestinians receive record amounts of international funding. The victims of Palestinian terror get nothing.”

Another subscriber, Michael Horesh, points out, “The Financial Times of London, a leading media beacon in international money matters and no friend of Israel, observes that ‘Branded products such as Coca-Cola, NescafĂ©, Snickers and Heinz ketchup are both cheap and widely available in Gaza… [as are] Korean refrigerators, German food mixers and Chinese air conditioning units.’”


While middle class Palestinians plead poverty and receive excessive amounts of international funding, elsewhere in the world (in places like Congo and Zimbabwe and Bangladesh) millions of children really are dying of starvation and disease, all but ignored by those very same governments and aid agencies that pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the Palestinian coffers.

Of course, there is a whole industry of people (UN and EU staff, NGO workers, journalists) who make their living and have a vested interest in continuing to propagate lies about Gaza and West Bank.

As the boats of “humanitarian aid activists” (including a number of European politicians and journalists) left Turkey on Saturday I wonder if they understood what the crowd was chanting.

The crowd shouted: “Intifada, intifada, intifada!” “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Mohammed will return!”

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports (May 18, 2010):

“Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza’s first Olympic-standard swimming pool was inaugurated at the As-Sadaka club during a ceremony on Tuesday held by the Islamic Society.
“Gaza government ministers, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, leaders of Islamic and national governing bodies, as well as club members and athletes were among those at the opening ceremony, where Secretary-General of the Islamic Society Nasim Yaseen thanked the donors who helped realize the project.

“Yaseen praised the As-Sadaka club for a number of wins in international and regional football, volleyball and table tennis matches.

“As-Sadaka athletes performed a number of swimming exercises in the new pool to mark its opening.”


A UN-run summer camp for Palestinian children was burned to the ground on Sunday and the UN staff threatened with murder. Tens of thousands of Gazan children were due to attend the camp this summer, as they have every summer in recent years.

This is a rare occasion when the international media did report on Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence, although most downplayed any criticism of Hamas or other Islamists in their reports.


The BBC reported online:

Masked gunmen have attacked a UN summer camp being set up for children in the Gaza Strip, UN officials say.

The attackers burned tents and destroyed other equipment after tying up a guard. They also left a letter threatening the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), John Ging…

“The armed men torched the camp, which contained recreational equipment and swimming pools, and completely destroyed it,” UNRWA spokesman Abu Hasna told journalists.

The camp is one of dozens of beach facilities set up by the UN offering a summer programme of arts, sport and other activities for some quarter of a million children in the Gaza Strip…


CNN explained that the Islamists of Gaza object to the fact that boys and girls were due to participate in activities together at the camp:

CNN began its online report: “A U.N.-sponsored summer camp in Gaza was burned Sunday hours before it was due to open, witnesses said, blaming Muslim extremists who apparently object to boys and girls going to camp together.”
Reuters also reported:

“About 20 men, some carrying assault rifles, tore up large plastic tents and burned storage facilities at the site, where tens of thousands of children are due to attend camp sessions…

“Two days earlier, a previously unknown militant group, The Free of the Homeland, issued a statement criticizing the camp’s organizer, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), for, ‘teaching schoolgirls fitness, dancing and immorality.’”

The Al-Jazeera report online adds:

“Dozens of armed attackers also vandalized bathrooms… and assaulted a guard and tied him up… the men also left a letter with four bullets, threatening the agency’s Gaza director and sending a chilling message to the camp’s organizers.”

In an editorial, The Jerusalem Post reflects on the atrocious human rights situation in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and notes that “an iron curtain of a strict theocracy is slowly descending on Gaza, but many human rights proponents still prefer to depict it as the embattled bastion of freedom fighters…
“Both foreign governments and NGOs, in their inaction, are signaling to Hamas that domestic oppression by its tyrannical regime is tolerable so far as the international community is concerned,” said the paper.


Following a meeting between IDF OC Central Command and Palestinian security officials yesterday, Israel has announced the further dismantling of 60 roadblocks and the easing of travel throughout the West Bank. Most West Bank roadblocks have been dismantled since the government of Benjamin Netanyahu assumed power in Israel last year.

The Israelis explained that the success of the Palestinian security forces in fighting terror led to the decision to ease restrictions.

The IDF pointed out, however, that it will “continue to operate firmly against terrorism while sustaining liaison and coordination with Palestinian officials, in order to maintain the life routine and security of all residents” of the West Bank and Israel.


Israeli President Shimon Peres yesterday accused the British paper The Guardian of telling blatant lies about Israel in a front page story that slandered Israel in general, and Peres in particular.

It is quite something when the president of a country sees the need to criticize a foreign newspaper for failing to maintain elementary journalistic standards – failing to ask for his response before publishing a massive defamation of him, for example. But such are the depths to which The Guardian sunk yesterday. (As I noted on this email list, The Guardian recently had to apologize for running a notorious organ trafficking libel about Israel.)

Additional Israeli government sources added that “documents that Guardian journalist Chris McGreal – who has a long track record of writing anti-Israel pieces – used to run his story are completely fabricated.” (The alleged documents come from a new book by a publicity-seeking anti-Zionist American researcher.)
The story concerned an alleged offer to sell arms, including nuclear warheads, by Israel to South Africa in 1975. Quite why The Guardian decided this is now lead front-page breaking news 35 years later, is beyond me, given how much real current news there is in the world.

Of course, The Guardian has nothing to say about the arms sales by Britain and many other Western countries to Apartheid South Africa in the 1970s. Could its continuous singling out of Israel perhaps be because Israel is a Jewish state?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Drumming on Heart Strings

Hospital Wing & Teenager
Wing (below)

It was a privilege to visit, together with a group visiting from the UK, the village of Aleh Hanegev, located not more than a few kilometers from the Gazan border. The UK team had raised funds to finance the equipment in a room dealing with seriously disabled teenagers.

Aleh believes that every child, regardless of the severity of the physical or cognitive disability, has the right to benefit from the best available care and develop to his or her fullest potential. The first home was established in 1982, and today Aleh is Israel's largest and most advanced network of residential facilities for children with severe disabilities.

Approximately 650 severely disabled Jewish children are receiving top quality medical, educational and rehabilitative care at branches in
Aleh cares for children with medical conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, as well as genetic disorders including Tay-Sachs, Canavan disease and Rett syndrome. Many of them are learning how to overcome their handicaps and do the things that other children do, such as climb on jungle gyms, splash in the pool, finger paint, sing and dance. Others are learning how to eat and how to get dressed by themselves. They are also discovering how to communicate with the outside world, and some of them are now able to say those three important words: "I love you."

One story really touches the heart strings:-

“Avi’s birth was extremely traumatic, with serious complications resulting in a lack of oxygen as he was born. Unfortunately the damage was irreversible and Avi was left severely cognitively and physically disabled in addition to being blind.

His parents, without the resources to provide for his very specialized needs, brought him to Aleh. There, they hoped, Avi would be cared for, loved, and maybe even learn to respond to those around him.

At Aleh, Avi was indeed loved and cared for. His specialized feeding needs, daily medical care and therapies were all meticulously provided, and Avi grew into a beautiful boy with soft brown eyes. Unfortunately, however, those eyes were often glassy and remote.

Avi was completely engrossed in his own restricted world. He spent hours repeating the same activity or motion again and again. Aleh’s staff tried numerous approaches to connect with him, but he seemed unable to break through the barriers of silence surrounding him.

Until one day, when a miraculous breakthrough occurred in the form of Shai, an Israeli drummer with a heart that matches his incredible talent. Shai plays with Israel’s most popular bands, including performer Danny Sanderson. Looking for a way to share his unique blend of music, song and joy with vulnerable children, Shai began volunteering at Aleh on a steady basis.

Working with small groups of children at a time, Shai paid special notice to each child’s reactions and responses to his beat. Suddenly, little Avi caught his attention as he rhythmically tapped on his drum. Sitting in his wheelchair, calm and relaxed, Avi was copying his beat exactly with the palms of his hands!

The two continued playing together, as the celebrated drummer and the disabled little boy found a common language and connection that broke through all barriers. Week after week, Shai and Avi joined together in creating a concert of love and hope, of feeling and spirit. And the two have been best friends ever since.

The miracle of Avi’s breakthrough has led to his growth and development in every area. Today Avi smiles at familiar faces. He is a more active participant in daily activities. The concert of his life plays daily, as we witness his spirit come alive again with every music session.”

This is the real, compassionate Israel. During the visit we were told of the reaction of the staff, which consists of Israelis, Palestinians, Bedouin and Christians, to the outbreak of war in Gaza in 2008-9. The staff obviously had their own opinions of the war but at a staff meeting they joined hands and agreed that politics would not enter the walls of the center, the treatment of the occupants was paramount. Now, that should be newsworthy, but of course it ain't

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gush Katif Revisited

Having some time to spare between meetings in Jerusalem, I used the opportunity to visit the Gush Katif museum which was established just two years ago.

Most people seem to think of the settlement of the Gaza strip as a recent phenomenon, an outcome of the 6 day war in 1967. However, the museum traces the Jewish communities existence in the strip from way back in 145 BCE.

Below is the chronicle of their history, I hope you find it interesting.

145 BCE Jewish settlements started in Gaza, following the battles of Simon, the Hasmonean

61 BCE Governor of Syria exiles Jews from Gaza

508-9 BCE Largest synagogue built during Roman Byzantine occupation

700 CE Destroyed by Arab conquest

1400-1500 Israel conquered and Turkish occupation begins. At this time, the expansion of the Jewish community begins

1799 Napolean’s failure to conquer Israel affects the Jews in Gaza and they flee the city and settle in Hebron

1835 Egyptian ruler orders synagogue to be dismantled and stones used to build fortress in Majdal (Ashkelon)

1885 Renewed settlement in Gaza as part of wider plan to establish Jewish settlements throughout the country

1910 Jewish school founded in Gaza city

1917 Following outbreak of World War 1, the Turks expelled the residents of Gaza including the Jewish population, thus settlement in Gaza again came to an end.

1919 Jewish settlement again renewed, however in 1929 during the infamous Arab riots, the Arabs of Gaza sought to riot against the small Jewish community. The Jews barricaded themselves in the city’s hotel and the British managed to save them and transfer them to Tel Aviv in the middle of the night. Once again, the end of the Jewish community in Gaza

1946 After Yom Kippur ended, as part of the 11 points in the Negev settlement plan, the settlement of Kfar Darom was established. The kibbutz lasted for 18 months. During the war of independence 1948, the kibbutz staunchly defended against the Egyptian onslaught. In July ’48 the Chief of Staff ordered the abandonment.

1948 War of independence ended with Gaza and its locality from Bet Hanoun to Rafiah under Egyptian control, 200,000 Arabs fled into Gaza.

1956 During the military campaign, the Gaza strip was conquered by the IDF and a Nahal outpost establish at Rafiah

1957 Under pressure from the superpowers and the UN, the Strip was evacuated

1967 After 4 days of fighting the IDF captured the Strip and thus began the chapter Israel’s 38 years of rule
which ended in 2005

Monday, May 17, 2010

"If Music Be the Food of Love"

Thus spoke Duke Orsino in Shalespeare's "Twelfth Night". And, if this is true, then the efforts of the Jerusalem Music Center in general and the family of my good friend who died some 11 years ago, will surely bring love not war to this region.

We attended, what was for us, a unique evening at the Jerusalem Music Center (JMC) for the launch of a sponsored program aimed at the development of young musicians.

The JMC is situated in one of Jerusalem’s most picturesque corners, see photograph, in the first Jewish neighborhood established outside the walls of the old city.

The Center has the mission of nurturing young musicians from the whole spectrum of Israeli society. It provides opportunities for Israeli music students to meet and learn from internationally renowned artists.

The special evening to which we were invited was to launch the David Goldman program for outstanding young musicians in conjunction with the Jerusalm foundation. As close friends of the Goldman family from our life in the UK, it was an emotional evening as it was attended by the late David's widow and her children and grandchildren.

The family have supported young musicians also in the UK but here in Jerusalem, these young talented people have a unique opportunity in a unique setting.

We were treated to performances by a number of quartets during the evening and were able to mingle with the students for coffee and cake at the end of the evening.

A prime aim of the center is also to develop co-existence and it seems this aim is succeeding. Let's hope that "the food of love" takes the place of hatred and jealously and helps to build a better future for all.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Moving closer to stem cell therapy

An Israeli discovery allowing stem cells to be cultivated in quantities ample enough to meet the world's needs means that stem cell therapy could soon be within the reach of millions.

Mass-market manufacture of stem cells is closer than ever after a breakthrough by researchers from Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem's Hadassah University Medical Center has announced a breakthrough in methods for cultivating embryonic stem cells that enables the next step in the development of stem cell therapy, and the world has taken notice.

Citing medical breakthroughs in the scientific community can be irresponsible. Such announcements can raise expectations and false hopes for cures that are plausible only decades in the future, or even impossible to attain.

However, Hadassah's advance, as the scientists report in the prestigious journal
Nature Biotechnology, takes stem cell researchers closer to realizing their dream of manufacturing mass market stem cell treatments for disorders such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes and age-related macular degeneration.

Lead researcher in the Hadassah study, Prof. Benjamin Reubinoff, director of the Hadassah Human Embryonic Stem Cells Research Center and an established and recognized researcher in the field, reports to ISRAEL21c that
stem cell therapy applications are not just science fiction.

Within the next year or two, companies in the US and Hadassah's technology company in Israel will start clinical trials on humans. His center's advance - a novel technique that allows researchers to grow and cultivate embryonic cells in suspension - paves the way for making this therapy available to everyone, not just the rich.

See full story at

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Archeological investigation in the Land of Israel

There are some 20,000 recognized sites of antiquity in Israel that are protected by law. Every year, dozens of sites from every period of history and in all parts of the country are excavated. Licenses to excavate are issued to expeditions - from Israel and abroad - by the
Israel Antiquities Authority, which is entrusted with the preservation of the country's antiquities. Israel's Antiquities Law requires every site slated for construction to be examined for archeological remains and a salvage excavation to be conducted if deemed necessary. The state also has the right to preserve finds of public interest; some of the more important of these are exhibited at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Archeological research in Israel accords much importance to the fact that the country is the home of the spiritual heritage of the great monotheistic religions. Above all it clearly reveals the historical link between the Jewish people, the Bible and the Land of Israel, uncovering the remains of the cultural heritage of the Jewish people in its homeland. These visible remains, buried in the soil, constitute the physical link between the past, the present and the future of the Jewish people in its country.

See full report at

And now an amazing result from a dig showing proof of 2,000 years of water in Jerusalem. A spectacular arched bridge that was part of the ancient aqueduct which conveyed water to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was exposed in archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted near the Sultan's Pool

Work on the city's modern water infrastructure uncovered a section of Jerusalem's ancient aqueduct. While the Gihon Corporation was working on the sewage infrastructure in the vicinity of the Sultan's Pool in the
Jerusalem Walls National Park, a section of Jerusalem's ancient aqueduct was discovered.

In the wake of this discovery, the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted an excavation in which a spectacular arched bridge was revealed that was part of the very old aqueduct that conveyed water to the Temple Mount.

The bridge was built in 1320 CE (in the Mamluke period) by Sultan Nasser al-Din Muhammed Ibn Qalawun, as evidenced by the dedicatory inscription set in it; however, it was apparently constructed to replace an earlier bridge dating to the time of the Second Temple period that was part of the original aqueduct."