Sunday, September 25, 2011

He Wants the Whole Thing

Naturally there has been a lot of talk and analysis of the speeches by Abbas and Netanyahu at the United Nations last week. The following letter from a friend of mine sums up the reactions of so many.

What is it about “Let's sit down and talk” that Mahmud Abbas doesn't understand?

He gives a tear-jerker speech to the UN laden with all of the politically correct jargon:

Democracy (never mind the fact that he hasn't allowed elections for the last two years because he's afraid he'll be booted out of office).

The colonial occupiers (never mind the fact that Jews have a historical claim to the Land of Israel that goes back 2,500 years).

The plight of refugees (never mind the fact that more than 850,000 Jews who had lived in Arab countries for centuries were evicted from their homes when Israel was established).

In the wake of this speech, the Quartet then proposes that the Israelis and Palestinians meet within a month with an agenda for talks.

The prime minister of Israel says Yes. What does Abbas say? What the Palestinians have always said. "No".

That No is just another is a series of Nos that began in Khartoum in September 1967 when, at an Arab League summit, a resolution was issued calling for "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it."

In 2000, Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreements that would have established a Palestinian state. When the terms were about to be implemented, what did the Palestinians say? No.

In 2008, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza with the goal of moving toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. What did the Palestinians say? No.

This is beginning to sound like a scenario in a marriage counselor's office. One spouse drags the other to therapy. When prompted to talk about the problems between them, the second spouse folds his or her hands and says, No.

Why? Because deep down, the second spouse doesn't want the marriage to work. He or she wants the spouse to just get out of the house and leave it, all of its furnishings, and the bank account to him or her.

Deep down, what Abbas wants is not independent ownership of part of the house.

He wants the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting Out of the Slums

About one billion people across the planet live in slums. International development organizations have been investing resources and efforts in tackling this issue, as one of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals is to "achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020." But despite some successes, the situation has continued to worsen as rural-urban migration and natural demographic growth continue to aggravate the problem.

Enter Israel's Weitz Center for Development Studies in Rehovot, which provides month-long training courses on upgrading poor urban neighborhoods and communities. The program is sponsored by MASHAV, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation.

In July, a group of 31 participants from 15 African, Asian and Eastern European countries came for a session, representing such countries as Kosovo, Montenegro, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, Myanmar and Thailand.

Israel - working in cooperation with the United Nations agency UN-Habitat for the past two years - has made a name for itself on the international circuit for its experience in upgrading poor urban residential areas.For the full story, read

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Palestinian Refugees Will Not Be Citizens of the New State

Palestinian refugees will not become citizens of a new Palestinian state, according to Palestine’s ambassador to Lebanon. From behind a desk topped by a miniature model of Palestine’s hoped-for blue United Nations chair, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah spoke to The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon last week about Palestine’s upcoming bid for U.N. statehood.

Let us just remind ourselves that when 700,000 Jews were kicked out of the Arab countries, many with only the clothes they wore, Israel immediately took them in and gave them citizenship.

Sorry, but whether there are left wing or right wing politics at play, this is incredible, this is an Alice in Wonderland scenario.

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” he says. “But … they are not automatically citizens.”

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.

For the full article see

Israel Accepted to CERN

With groups pressing for the deligitimisation of Israel and boycott campaigns against Israeli products, it is interesting to note that the majority of the world sees Israel as a positive partner in so many fields.

The latest was last week when Israel signed an agreement in Geneva with CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, becoming an associate member of the organization, in preparation for its acceptance as a full member. Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, signed the agreement on behalf of the government of Israel.

The signing of the agreement with CERN is the climax of a long and challenging process by various Israel government ministries (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Science, the Planning & Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, and the Prime Minister's Office), and must be ratified by the Knesset.

Ambassador Leshno-Yaar: The agreement is testimony to Europe's recognition of Israel's scientific and technological capabilities, of the quality of its scientists, and of its contribution throughout many years to the research activities of CERN

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

View From a Hospital in Northern Israel

I received the letter below from a friend at a hospital in the north of Israel and I think his views represent a majority of opinions in this country.

I, therefore decided to publish it as received.

When faced with difficult situations / problems, people have a tendency to sometimes look for solutions in the wrong place. This is usually a result of …
• Ignorance
• Being exposed to inaccurate information
• Having been brainwashed
• An inability to understand the facts
• Predetermination to a particular mindset or point of view
• Dogmatic stubbornness
• Being intentionally misinformed (lied to)

So, what does this have to do with Emek Medical Center? First, as a major medical center, our physicians and professional staff are faced with difficult and often life or death situations / decisions every day. Fortunately for our patients, their assessments are based upon years of hard-earned knowledge, shared experiences, consultations and an ability to listen. Emek is located is one of the most volatile regions on earth and our life-saving abilities are often called upon as a result of actions by people who have nothing in common with our values or way of life.

Politicians and theologians are often the catalytic forces behind crazed extremists and Emek’s multi-ethnic staff is often called upon to treat and save the multi-ethnic victims of such radicalism. Emek is a part of Israel and represents all that is sensible between people, however, many in this world blame Israel for the turmoil and conflict that destroys bodies and lives. Enough is enough!

Israel is not the problem.
Jews are not the problem.
This conflict has never been about land or settlers or farms or cities.

The real problem is blind theocratic hatred, fascist intolerance and a vile lust for political power that brings with it staggering amounts of unearned wealth (attained through taxation and gifts to “rulers” by well meaning countries who hope that their gifts will improve the lives of foreign populations). All too often those funds never reach their intended targets and end up lining the greedy pockets of immoral power grabbing gun-wielding despots.

Examples of sanity may be found at eye level, if that is what you seek. Emek is a central player in the Jewish/Arab Middle East saga because here everyone meets everyone and here Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze treat one another and heal together. Emek is an apolitical, often surreal Israeli phenomenon that doesn’t fit any established Middle Eastern mold. It’s simply a place where people care for one another and share a common value … life.

Emek exists in and is a thriving part of Israel. No such institution exists in any other Middle Eastern country.

Emek is a wonderful example of humanitarian sanity; however it is not the solution to the infectious hatred running rampant throughout the Middle East. And Israel is not the problem.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Smart Classrooms" Open in Acco

With the return to school completed this week, many pupils in Acco found themselves in "smart classrooms". This has been the culmination of a joint project bewtween a numnber of organisations to equip the school with interactive boards instead of the traditional chalk boards, as well as computerised teaching stations and projectors, all networked for access by pupils at mobilecomputer stations.

Pupils will be able to digitally raise their hands and ask questions, all integrated into the interactive board von the classroom wall.

The Mayor, at the opening of the new school year, said that this epitomises the digital revolution in Acco and will alow pupils to expand their learning skills.

Monday, September 5, 2011

So You Think You know the Terror Stats?

In August 2011, there were 178 terrorist attacks carried out against Israel - a significant increase from the 53 that occurred in July.

The data was published in a monthly report released by the Israel Security Agency.
134 of the terrorist events were rocket or mortar attacks.
The main source of the increase was from the Gaza Strip, from which 135 attacks originated in August, compared to 20 in July.

The most noteworthy terrorist attack that occurred last month took place on August 18 on the Israel-Egypt border north of Eilat. Eight Israelis (six civilians and two security forces members) were killed in that attack and 29 were wounded.

An increase in terrorist attacks also occurred in Judea and Samaria, where 30 attacks occurred in August, compared to 25 in July.

In Jerusalem, there was a slight decrease, with six attacks in August, compared to eight in July.

On August 29, a Palestinian seized control of a taxi cab in Tel Aviv and ran into a number of people. He also stabbed people before being arrested.
One Israeli was killed when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in Be'er Sheva on August 20.

Overall, nine Israelis were killed and 55 wounded in terrorist attacks in August.

During August, 145 rockets and 46 mortars were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, compared to 20 rockets and two mortars in July.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Listen to Facts Not to Polemics

Time after time, I am asked to comment on an article from a newspaper, a lecture, a statement or action undertaken by those with agendas against the existence of the Jewish State of Israel.

So often, the comments made have NO basis in fact but provide an emotional message to the uninformed. Recently, the students of Edinburgh University "decided" to boycott all things Israel. Again the students are throwing out words like "Nazism" and "Apartheid", which goes to show just how ignorant they are of the facts. More worryingly is that if these arew the thoughts processes of the leaders of future, heaven help the rest of the population.

An alumni of the University, a non Jew and an accredited expert inn Middle Eastern affairs has written an open letter to the students which has messages not just for the students but for the world at large.

He writes "University is supposed to be about learning to use your brain, to think rationally, to examine evidence, to reach conclusions based on solid evidence, to compare sources, to weigh up one view against one or more others. If the best Edinburgh can now produce are students who have no idea how to do any of these things, then the future is bleak. I do not object to well documented criticism of Israel. I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations. We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it's clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens. Israel citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest).

Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world's freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Baha'is.... Need I go on? The imbalance is perceptible, and it sheds no credit on anyone who voted for this boycott.

I ask you to show some common sense. Get information from the Israeli embassy. Ask for some speakers. Listen to more than one side. Do not make your minds up until you have given a fair hearing to both parties. You have a duty to your students, and that is to protect them from one-sided argument. They are not at university to be propagandized. And they are certainly not there to be tricked into anti-Semitism by punishing one country among all the countries of the world, which happens to be the only Jewish state. If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930s (which, sadly, there was not), don't you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it? Of course he would, and he would not have stopped there. Your generation has a duty to ensure that the perennial racism of anti-Semitism never sets down roots among you. Today, however, there are clear signs that it has done so and is putting down more. You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play. Please tell me that this makes sense. I have given you some of the evidence. It's up to you to find out more.

His full letter can be read at