Monday, February 27, 2017

Palestinians: Why a "Regional Peace Process" Will Fail

  • Many Palestinians sometimes refer to Arab leaders and regimes as the "real enemies" of the Palestinians. They would rather have France, Sweden, Norway and Belgium oversee a peace process with Israel than any of the Arab countries.
  • Hani al-Masri, a prominent Palestinian political analyst, echoed this skepticism. He, in fact, believes the Arabs want to help Israel "liquidate" the Palestinian cause.
  • The Jordanians are worried that a "regional solution" would promote the idea of replacing the Hashemite kingdom with a Palestinian state. Former Jordanian Minister of Information Saleh al-Qallab denounced the talk of a "regional conference" as a "poisonous gift and conspiracy" against Jordan and the Palestinians.
  • The Lebanese have for decades dreamed of the day they could rid themselves of the Palestinian refugee camps and their inhabitants, who have long been subjected to apartheid and discriminatory laws.
  • Israel as a Jewish state is anathema to Palestinian aspirations. Any Arab or Palestinian leader who promotes such compromise is taking his life in his hands. And Palestinian history will record him as a "traitor" who sold out to the Jews and surrendered to American and Israeli pressure.
  • Abbas and his Ramallah cohorts are already up at night worrying about the talking between Israel and some Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Such "normalization", in the view of the PA, is to be reserved for after Israel submits to its demands.
  • Any "regional solution" involving Arab countries would be doomed to fail because the Palestinians and their Arab brethren hate each other. Any solution offered by the Arab governments will always be regarded as an "American-Zionist dictate."
  • Here is what Palestinians really want: to use the Europeans to impose a "solution" on Israel.

For full article by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  February 27, 2017 see  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Accelerating To Warp Speed

Israel innovation is about to enter warp (very high) drive, funding CEO Jon Medved says.

With a bunch of good news in recent weeks, such as fourth-quarter 2016 growth figures of 6.2% – pretty much warp drive itself – and record low unemployment of 4.3%. If you are looking for something upbeat, no one fits the bill better than Medved, who describes himself as “a guy who believes in miracles.”

Medved sees Israel’s tech sector getting even stronger than it is now and that can only be good news.

The tech community, he explains, and especially its investment arm, is shifting its interest to deep technology. In other words, while a lot of tech companies made it big on things that “didn’t require changing the laws of physics” as he puts it, today’s tech is intensely complicated, be it machine learning, computer vision, autonomous driving or whatever.

“These aren’t apps. This is beyond the app economy – this is really complicated stuff and this is stuff where Israel shines. Things are about to get more intensely into Israel’s favor, because as the market shifts into deep technology, Israel becomes more important,” says Medved.

So what does all of that difficult stuff translate to in economic terms? “If Israel has already taken a disproportionate share of the innovation economy, which it has, then it is going to be getting even more,” says Medved. In 2016, he notes the tech sector in the whole of Europe – population several hundred million – attracted $13.6 billion in investment, while Israel with a population of 8.5 million drew some $4.8b. “Do the arithmetic,” says Medved, that’s 30 x on a per capita basis more than the European levels.”

There are challenges to making sure Israel’s tech sector picks up speed fast enough to go into warp drive, in particular a chronic shortage of manpower.

“We have to do essentially three things all at once,” says Medved. “The way we solve that problem is, No. 1, to widen the circle of employment in tech to include the three big underrepresented groups.

The biggest one is women; we need to bring in women in a major way, women entrepreneurs, women venture capitalists, women engineers and that’s starting to happen, but not quickly enough. We need to bring Arab Israelis into tech and finally the haredim, where we have gone from a couple of thousand to 14,000 haredim in four-year colleges.”

Second on Medved’s list: importing engineers.

“It’s really crazy that we can import Thai farm workers and Romanian construction workers, but we can’t import Indian coders,” he says before adding, “Where do we get more added value for the economy?” That, as he notes, is changing with government programs such as start-up visas for entrepreneurs and expert visas for coders and programmers.

Third up for Medved is recognition that start-up economies are no longer about single country companies. “Sharp Israeli companies are now relying on all kinds of talent from all over the world, with development teams in Ukraine, India, the Philippines and who knows where that trend is going to continue.”

What Medved is willing to say is that he is a believer in the growth of Israeli technology companies and the growth of the Israeli tech sector regardless of who is in charge.

“People have got to get out of this perspective that strategic issues change over matters of weeks. The relationship between Israel and the US is so much bigger than whoever is sitting in the Oval Office,” says Medved. “It is so broad and so deep, with so many elements involved, but increasingly it’s technology and business.. The fact is there is so much joint development of products that academic research has gone up nearly 50% in the last decade.”

And, throwing political correctness to the winds, he adds, “Let the BDS morons choke on that.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Palestinians Must Earn a Two State Solution

by Alan M. Dershowitz  February 17, 2017

(I don't want to get involved in discussion of the rights and/or wrongs of the new President of America; the is not for me to judge, However in the area where I am affected, it does seem to me the Trump has leveled the playing field a bit in terms of the conflict with the Palestinians instead of adopting the approach of the earlier administration of blaming Israel for everything. Negotiating means give and take; not one side giving and the other taking.)

President Trump raised eyebrows when he mentioned the possibility of a one state solution. The context was ambiguous and no one can know for sure what message he was intending to convey. One possibility is that he was telling the Palestinian leadership that if they want a two state solution, they have to do something. They have to come to the negotiating table with the Israelis and make the kinds of painful sacrifices that will be required from both sides for a peaceful resolution to be achieved.

Put most directly, the Palestinians must earn the right to a state. They are not simply entitled to statehood, especially since their leaders missed so many opportunities over the years to secure a state. As Abba Eban once put it: "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

It began back in the 1930s, when Great Britain established the Peale Commission which was tasked to recommend a solution to the conflict between Arabs and Jews in mandatory Palestine. It recommended a two state solution with a tiny noncontiguous Jewish state alongside a large Arab state. The Jewish leadership reluctantly accepted this sliver of a state; the Palestinian leadership rejected the deal, saying they wanted there to be no Jewish state more than they wanted a state of their own.

In 1947, the United Nations partitioned mandatory Palestine into two areas: one for a Jewish state; the other for an Arab state. The Jews declared statehood on 1948; all the surrounding Arab countries joined the local Arab population in attacking the new state of Israel and killing one percent of its citizens, but Israel survived.

In 1967, Egypt and Syria were planning to attack and destroy Israel, but Israel preempted and won a decisive victory, capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Sinai. Israel offered to return captured areas in exchange for peace, but the Arabs met with Palestinian leaders in Khartoum and issued their three infamous "no's": no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation.

In 2000-2001 and again in 2008, Israel made generous peace offers that would have established a demilitarized Palestinian state, but these offers were not accepted. And for the past several years, the current Israeli government has offered to sit down and negotiate a two state solution with no pre-conditions-- not even advanced recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The Palestinian leadership has refused to negotiate.

President Trump may be telling them that if they want a state they have to show up at the negotiating table and bargain for it. No one is going to hand it to them on a silver platter in the way that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon handed over the Gaza strip in 2005, only to see it turned into a launching pad for terror rockets and terror tunnels. Israel must get something in return: namely real peace and a permanent end to the conflict.

The Palestinians haven't negotiated in good faith. They haven't accepted generous offers. They haven't made realistic counter proposals. They haven't offered sacrifices to match those offered by the Israelis.
Now President Trump is telling them that they are not going to get a state by going to the United Nations, the European Union or the international criminal court. They aren't going to get a state as a result of the BDS or other anti-Israel movements. They will only get a state if they sit down and negotiate in good faith with the Israelis.

The Obama Administration applied pressures only to the Israeli side, not to the Palestinians. The time has come – indeed it is long past – for the United States to tell the Palestinians in no uncertain terms that they must negotiate with Israel if they want a Palestinian state, and they must agree to end the conflict, permanently and unequivocally. Otherwise, the status quo will continue, and there will be only one state, and that state will be Israel.

The Palestinians are not going to win the lottery without buying a ticket.


Clive Lipchin  February 19, 2017

At international water conferences, Israeli participants always make a point of claiming Israel is the world leader in wastewater treatment and reuse, and indeed this is true. Israel treats over 90% of its sewage and reclaims 80% of it for reuse in agriculture. Only Singapore and Spain come close to this achievement. I too make this claim when I attend such conferences, but I also point out that all of Israel’s water sources are transboundary. All of Israel’s rivers that drain into the Mediterranean Sea originate upstream in the West Bank and most of these rivers are heavily polluted.

The reason for the pollution is that unlike Israel, wastewater treatment and reuse in the West Bank is only a fraction of that in Israel. Lacking wastewater and sewage infrastructure Palestinian and Israeli settlement communities drain their sewage untreated into open cesspits or directly into the environment. The result is that the sewage flows into the regions’ rivers and streams, blighting the landscape, posing public health risks and most importantly contaminating the precious groundwater resources that Israelis and Palestinians both use for drinking. Indeed, the most serious environmental hazard in the West Bank is untreated wastewater, but sewage does not recognize borders and this untreated sewage is as much a problem for Israel as it is for the communities in the West Bank.

According to a recent report from Israel’s Civil Administration, the body responsible for environmental management in the West Bank, 82.5% of Palestinian sewage is disposed of into the environment, an amount of around 60 mcm/year. In Israeli settlements the amount of untreated sewage discharged into the environment is around 12% or around 2.5 mcm/year.

The reasons for this large disparity in wastewater management between Israel and the West Bank is a complex mix of politics, financing and capacity. Many plans for the implementation of centralized wastewater treatment facilities to service Palestinian towns and cities get mired in disagreements on whether or not to connect Israeli settlements to such infrastructure and an arduous process of permitting and approvals, according to the Joint Water Committee that was set up under the Oslo II accords to manage such projects. However, many Palestinian communities are off grid, meaning they do not have access to a sewer network and without a network they cannot connect to centralized wastewater treatment facilities. The result is that sewage is disposed of into cesspits or directly into the environment.

The Arava Institute’s Center for Transboundary Water Management, together with Palestinian partners, is promoting a decentralized response to wastewater management in these off-grid communities where sewage (black water) is disposed of in sealed septic tanks and greywater from the kitchen and bathrooms is treated and then reused for localized agriculture. This onsite approach to wastewater management both reduces the flow of untreated sewage into the environment, helping to reduce the flow into the transboundary streams and rivers, and provides an additional source of water for irrigation for these agrarian communities.

The decentralized approach is just one way by which, working together, Israelis and Palestinians can help to reduce untreated wastewater discharges into our shared environment. However this kind of approach is not enough. Ultimately, agreements need to be forged between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on transboundary wastewater treatment that will replace the unilateral response undertaken so far by Israel, where it treats the sewage downstream as soon as it crosses the Green Line but charges the Palestinians for doing so. This creates tension between the parties as Israel claims the Palestinians are not doing enough to treat their sewage and the Palestinians charge Israel that they are paying for sewage treatment downstream but do not get any benefits of the treated sewage for use in agriculture upstream.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Settlements - Know the Facts

With thanks to Arlene Kushner for this informtion
With Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled to meet with President Trump in a few days time, it is expected that the “settlements” will be one of their subjects of conversation. And so, it is a certainty that we are going to be encountering a good deal of media disinformation about the rights of Palestinian Arabs to a state.
Here are a few salient facts to help set the record straight:
The call by the PLO for a state that would extend from Jordan’s border to the 1949 armistice line is constructed out of thin air and flies in the face of historical and legal realities.
• The 1949 Armistice line has no legal standing at present. There is no way in which it can be said to be the western “border” of a Palestinian state.
• There is a doctrine of customary international law known as Uti Possidetis Juris. It states that emerging states presumptively inherit their pre-independence administrative boundaries. This means Israel has the borders of the Mandate, which immediately preceded it. That border is along Jordan on the east and includes Judea and Samaria as part of Israel.
The Oslo Accords (II) put no restriction on Israeli building in Area C (which is where all Israeli building is done). The Accords stated that the issue of “settlements” would be resolved in final negotiations.
• The Oslo Accords, which in any event have been materially breached by the Palestinian Arabs, speak about “a permanent status” agreement to be arrived at via bilateral negotiations. The Accords say nothing about a full and sovereign Palestinian state to be established in Judea and Samaria.
It is certainly theoretically possible that Israel, in honest negotiations with the PLO, might opt to grant the Palestinian Arabs a self-governing autonomy in a defined area within Judea and Samaria – a region to which Israel has solid claim.
At present, even this is not a viable alternative, not remotely a possibility, given the belligerence, the maximalist demands, and the fostering of terrorism of the PLO.
For more detailed information:

UK Funding for Anti-Israel NGOs

I wonder if British taxpayers really know where their taxes are going. And I further wonder what the UK reaction would be if Israeli money was being used to support Scottish indepence or other objectives not in line with U government policy.

Millions of shekels are provided by the UK government to a number of highly politicized NGOs - some of the funding is directly granted by government agencies, and other amounts are channelled indirectly by humanitarian aid groups, ostensibly for humanitarian purposes.

For example, Breaking the Silence has been receiving funds originating with the British government, via aid organizations, as follows (information taken from submissions to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits):
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor who gathered this information from public sources, , commented: "For many years, the UK, like other European governments, has streamed money to groups that polarize Israeli society, and for campaigns exploiting false allegations of 'war crimes'. The UK has recently been scandalized by such incendiary claims against its own soldiers, and British leaders will understand that funding similar NGO campaigns against Israelis is immoral." 

We Can’t Let Radical Islam Take Over The World

Based on article by Lior Akerman  Feb 9, 2017  

All Muslims are terrorists.’ “Islam will destroy the world.” “All the Muslims want to kill us.” What are we to make of these political slogans? Is every person who calls out Allahu akbar intending to kill people? Let’s take a step back and learn some facts.

Around the year 600 CE, the prophet Muhammad began spreading the principles of Islam among pagans living in the Arabian Peninsula, but left the Jews and Christians alone since they were considered Ahle-kitab, (people of the book), who believed in one god. The Koran praises the Jews, calling them God’s first choice, and the second chapter, verse 21-22, even says the Land of Israel was given to the Jewish people and that the Jews must never leave the land. Of course, you’ll never hear any ISIS or Hamas leader quoting this verse.

In its early days, Islam suffered from a number of internal conflicts, but the main rift took place in 632 CE when Muhammad died without having appointed a successor, and two groups split over whether its next leader should be chosen democratically, or Muhammad’s relatives should rule.

The Shi’ites believed that Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali was chosen by Allah to rule, whereas the Sunnis believed Muhammad’s friend and adviser Abu Bakr was the Muslims’ rightful caliph. Following the Sunnis’ victory, the Shi’ites split off and settled in northern Saudi Arabia and what is today Iran and Iraq. The hatred between these two groups has become even more extreme than their hatred of the Jews; a great example of this is the long-standing war between Hezbollah and ISIS.

The common denominator between these radical Muslim groups is their desire to establish a religious Islamic caliphate throughout the Middle East. From their point of view, all the countries in the region are the enemy – Jews and Muslims alike (but the Muslims first and foremost). ISIS claims it has branches all across the Middle East and Africa, whose goal is to overthrow existing regimes and establish a caliphate in their place.

But we should stick to the facts. At its height, ISIS numbered over 25,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, plus thousands more in Boko Haram in Africa and in Islamic State groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to current estimates, Hamas has 15,000 to 20,000 fighters in its ranks, as well as tens of thousands of supporters.

In the Shia camp, Hezbollah has about 35,000 regular and reserves fighters and has a circle of support made up by tens of thousands of volunteers. If we add up all these figures, we end up with hundreds of thousands of radical Muslim terrorists who operate throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, plus quite a large number of supporters.

There are more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Yet, less than 0.01% of them are actively involved in terrorism, and a little less than 0.1% of them support terrorist organizations.

And according to all data available, a maximum of 10% of Muslims support the religious struggle to obliterate all other religions and install an Islamic caliphate throughout the entire planet.

So how did we arrive at the point where people all around the world are impacted so greatly and live in such fear? The surprising answer to this question lies in the West, where people support democratic and pluralistic regimes. In universal justice and laws, in freedom and human rights. Islamic terrorists don’t care about any of these ideals, and when Western leaders display weakness, are fearful of using military might, and obey strict international laws regarding military actions and punishing terrorists, this only serves to encourage terrorist organizations.

They are only concerned about their own survival, and not about the future of the world. In this fashion, ISIS has operated unhindered for years now. Boko Haram has murdered tens of thousands of people in Africa without anyone batting an eye. And this is how Hamas has remained in power all these years despite its reign of terror. And thus the Western world sits powerless in the face of these terrorist organizations.

This situation is not irreversible, but it does require a change in mindset and an internalization of the reality, especially among EU countries. There needs to be cooperation by world leaders if we are to take back control from this relatively small number of terrorists who are wreaking havoc on civilians the world over.

Making a successful change would involve:-
-                   - imposing emergency regulations in Western countries,
-                   - carrying out legislative changes that would enable security and intelligence                                  forces to do their jobs properly.

-        Western militaries must engage in action without fearing legal restrictions. Intelligence gathering agencies must share intel and carry out preventive actions that would neutralize terrorist cells. All of this activity must be backed by international law enforcement agencies.  

We must understand that we will not survive unless we follow the proverb “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Since we live in a jungle, we must begin behaving like the savage tribes that live there. Otherwise, we will soon find ourselves turning into fodder for these murderous tribes.

It’s clear that Islam as a religion is not the problem, but only terrorists and leaders who are acting in the name of Islam. This threat has not taken over the world yet, but if we ignore what’s happening in front of our eyes and let more and more countries around the world crumple under radical Islam’s influence, the situation will continue to worsen significantly. We can’t let that happen.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Palestinian Cause Is No Longer The Arabs' Primary Concern

Well, after two week's of moving home and unpacking, life is getting back to normal. So I can start  posting again.

From a MEMRI recent report:   Saudi Journalist: The Palestinians' Reliance On Armed Resistance Is Political Suicide; The Palestinian Cause Is No Longer The Arabs' Primary Concern

In his January 2, 2017 column in the official Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, titled "The Palestinians Have No [Choice] But Peace," journalist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh criticized Palestinian factions that advocate armed resistance, such as Hamas and radical left-wing factions, on the grounds that relying on such resistance and rejecting the option of peace is political suicide. He called on these factions to realize that the two-state solution is the only option that is feasible and is backed by most of the world's countries – especially given the existing circumstances, with the U.S. Congress expressing pro-Israel positions, and the Arab world, preoccupied with more pressing crises, no longer intensely concerned with the Palestinian cause. A stubborn insistence on armed resistance will only end up hurting the Palestinians themselves, he concluded.

Aal Al-Sheikh's column sparked diverse responses on Twitter, some supporting his opinion and others opposing it. The following are excerpts from his column, and a sampling of the reactions.

a) Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh: Only Political Ignoramuses Advocate Armed Resistance; The Two-State Solution Is The Only Feasible Option.

b) A user named 'Omar Abu Bakr tweeted: "Reasonable words, especially the claim that Arab attention has been diverted away from the Palestinian cause due to the Arabs' domestic problems and their opposition to the Iranian infiltration [of Arab countries]."

c) A Saudi called Al-Hussein Muti' wrote: "The main [message] of this article is that Hamas must openly declare its agreement to the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and forget the slogan 'from the river to the sea.'"

Escape Rooms of Israel

Escape rooms are physical adventure games in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape. Set in a variety of fictional locations, the games are popular as team building exercises.