Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Battle of the Rails


In the recent Kerry plan, the ARC project, sponsored by the famous American organization RAND, was approved. This project links Palestinian cities by train between the cities of the Gaza Strip and Hebron and Jenin (90 minutes between its first and last stop).

This project hopes to reshape the Palestinian space to suit the Zionist settlement. The project is a practical solution for the existence of a Palestinian state without removing the settlements in the West Bank. It transfers Palestinian transportation away from the visual field of the settlers and fosters the false feeling of the Palestinian state and its independence.



It is worth mentioning that Rawabi is within the scope of this project! This Palestinian Authority is considered to be the job of protecting the security and preventing any action against the occupation, in order to impose its sovereignty and definition of it, while the settlers do not violate its prestige.

That "ARC Project"? (ARC = Access to the Region's Core)

Creating a successful independent Palestinian state poses a wide range of political, economic, social, and environmental challenges. Since 2002, a multidisciplinary team of experts from the RAND Corporation has been working with Palestinians, Israelis, and the international community to develop an in-depth and comprehensive nation-building plan to address these challenges and facilitate the state's success.

And

An exploration of options for strengthening the physical infrastructure for a new Palestinian state, this study builds on analyses that RAND conducted between 2002 and 2004 to identify the requirements for a successful Palestinian state. That work, Building a Successful Palestinian State, surveyed a broad array of political, economic, social, resource, and environmental challenges that a new Palestinian state would face. This study, The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State, examined a range of approaches to siting and constructing the backbone of infrastructure that all states need, in the context of a large and rapidly growing Palestinian population. The research team develop a detailed vision for a modern, high-speed transportation infrastructure, referred to as the Arc. This transportation backbone accommodates substantial population growth in Palestine by linking current urban centers to new neighborhoods via new linear transportation arteries that support both commercial and residential development. The Arc avoids the environmental costs and economic inefficiencies of unplanned, unregulated urban development that might otherwise accompany Palestine's rapid population growth. Constructing the key elements of the Arc will require very substantial investment of economic resources. It will also employ substantial numbers of Palestinian construction workers. It seems plausible that key aspects of the Arc design can be pursued, with great benefit, even before an independent Palestinian state is established.

As for railways, in 2012 we read:

Israel Railways has prepared a major plan for providing train service throughout the West Bank to serve both Israelis and Palestinians. The plan, prepared at the request of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, calls for establishing 11 new rail lines, according to a map that Haaretz has obtained. 


And last November we read

Plans to expand Jerusalem’s light rail will connect Israel’s capital with three West Bank settlements, including the city of Ma’aleh Adumim...Transportation Minister Israel Katz said the issue was equity for all Israel’s citizens.

“Those who live in Gush Etzion, in Binyamin, in Ma’aleh Adumim, in Beit Shemesh and in Mevaseret [Zion], must receive transportation services,” Katz said.  Although there are those who say “an artificial barrier” must be placed between those who live on one side of the Green Line and the other, he said, “We, of course, do not accept this.”  
The Transportation Ministry provided The Jerusalem Post with a map of the new lines, which show five extensions.


In addition to Ma’aleh Adumim, the train will reach the settlements of Givat Ze’ev and Geva Binyamin [Adam], both of which also are just outside of Jerusalem.

In February this year, we learned:

The Israeli government has launched a new five-year plan to upgrade the transportation infrastructure in the West Bank to the tune of NIS 5 billion ($1.3 billion).
The project, led by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, will include excavating new tunnels, expending main highways, road resurfacing, paving interchanges, new access roads and bypasses, and creating easier access to the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem metropolitan areas via light rail and special public transit lanes...
The plan also includes a light rail that would connect the settlement of Ariel and the Samaria region to the Greater Tel Aviv metropolitan area. The light rail will go from Ariel towards Rosh HaAyin and Petah Tikvah.

I guess it'll be a battle of the rails.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Writing Fiction

A local-oriented detective novel, first published in 1987, is out in Kindle.

"Bullets of Palestine".



Kaplan is not pro-Judea and Samaria.

Summary:

Two agents. Two opposing sides.

Israeli Agent Shai is dispatched to eliminate a terrorist threat. To succeed in his mission Shai must win the trust of Palestinian Agent Ramzy who will help him gain access to the infamous and dangerous Abu Nidal.

Shai is under orders to kill Ramzy when the mission ends. Instead, they forge a friendship that transcends the hatreds of their heritage. Loyalties are tested. Will they capture Abu Nidal or betray each other? In a conflict where both sides dehumanize each other, two extremely human men, are caught in the cross-hairs of the larger war.

"Shai is under orders to kill Ramzy when the mission ends"

Of course. Really now, the Arab would never think to kill the Israeli, would he?

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Satirical Piece on Uri Blau

After Blau published this piece,

Exclusive Firebrand Anti-leftist Group, Which Slams Foreign Funding of Israeli NGOs, Received Over $1M From U.S. Donors
Majority of funding in 2015 to Im Tirtzu, a frequent and outspoken critic of Israeli human rights organizations, came from two U.S. groups close to Netanyahu and the GOP
which is BS as the money is not from foreign governments like all the leftist NGOs and there is no comparison, I was sent this satirical piece:

Seeking to rebuild his reputation after a conviction for leaking classified information, Uri Blau has set out on a courageous mission to show how right wing political groups in Israel are in fact foreign political agents. This bold moves comes as the investigation into possible collusion between President Trumps campaign team and the Russian Government, and the possibility this may have undermined democracy by impacting the US election, continues to make headlines across the world. Blau has has made a bold effort to borrow from reporting on the US scandal littering his piece with references to the GOP. 

Blau's creative article shows how leading American Jews with right of center views play leading roles in supporting both right of center American causes and in supporting right of center Israeli causes. He even reveals that Israel's Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, who heads a right of center party is close to people heading the American friends of his party. This will no doubt come as a shocking revelation to many, Blau has made an extraordinary contribution to journalism in exposing these connection. He should share any journalism prizes for this contribution with the source, revealed in his article, who gave him that critical breakthrough by suggesting he use the Google Search Engine to find the answers to his questions. 

Unfortunately neither the comparison to the alleged involvement of the Russian state in influencing the US election, nor the comparison to the very real direct foreign government funding of political NGOs in Israel and their efforts to influence Israeli domestic politics compares well to the situation Blau discovered at the right of center Israeli NGO Im Tirtzu. For a start, the majority of Im Tirtzu's funding came from Israelis. Compare this to... (insert content). For another things, the foreign funding Im Tirtzu received came not from governments but from individual charitable donations. 

What Blau's article titled "Exclusive Firebrand Anti-leftist Group, Which Slams Foreign Funding of Israeli NGOs, Received Over $1M From U.S. Donors" actually exposes is the fact that Jewish community leaders in the US support Israel. Just as left of center community leaders in the United States run left of center groups and raise funds for left of center Israeli NGOs, so do right of center groups run right of center groups and collect money for right of center Israeli NGOS. What it fails to highlight is that these donations on the right, coming from individuals, are a boost to civil society in Israel and not the hijacking of civil society that has occurred in response to payments from foreign governments who have through their funding taken control of the activities of much of the left of civil society. 

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Monday, June 19, 2017

A Muslim Report with Good News

An impressive 40+ page report is out.  I found it published at Al-Quds City and its theme is that the Haram Al-Sharif is in danger and its Muslim protection is 'collapsing'.



And a part of that 'collapse' is a reduced number of worshipers.

Translating the abstract informs us that:

On the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Al-Aqsa Mosque, this study presents a historical reading of the development of the elements threatening the identity of the mosque...the study identified four basic elements: the first turning the nature of the political elite [of Israel] to the right, and the rise of the temple groups - the mission to build the temple in the place of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the entire area - to seize the parliamentary and government influence until it reached a quarter of seats Netanyahu's fourth government, The Jewish religious rules that forbade the entry of Jews to the mosque [altered]...so that more than 50% of the Jews of the state follow the references advocating the entry of Jews to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the third was changing the American position from a position conforming to international law sees the mosque occupied land as not disputed. The fourth of which is the excavation of archeological sites and points of archaeological excavation to an integrated tourist city under the mosque that steals its underground space and tells a false story about its history of three million visitors annually. And the expansion of changes in the perimeter of the mosque from the demolition and removal of Arab and Islamic landmarks in 1967, to the establishment of facilities and landmarks of Judaic change the identity of the perimeter of the mosque number eight. The reading concludes in this direction that the self-imposed and international restraints of the Zionists towards the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque are eroding to the point of melting, which explains the new attack to change its identity.
...

The study concluded that Al-Aqsa Mosque was the epicenter of the conflict for which the last three popular confrontations were launched over the past three decades. This trend is continuing, and with the assessment of the reflection of these tours on the mosque, the status of the mosque was steadily declining...The third element was the Jordanian Endowments Department of the mosque, which is acquired to preserve its Islamic identity and the regularity of the presence of departments that represent it, but it tends to reduce its ceilings in successive after each round new pressures on them. 


The fourth element is the repeated international condemnation of any attack on the identity of the mosque as null and void, both in 1968 and 1969 after it was burned or after the decision to annex Jerusalem in 1980 or after the massacre of al-Aqsa in 1990 or after the tunnel award in 1996 or after Sharon's invasion of al-Aqsa in 2000. The Arab countries did not take the issue of al-Aqsa to the decision-making bodies of the United Nations - the General Assembly and the Security Council - and not only once, but only to keep the debate within UNESCO, which is a specialized executive body of the United Nations, The fourth ring of its own troops have stopped worshiping there.


The study pointed out that the two trends observed in the same outcome towards the further Judaization of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the threat of its Islamic identity, and that the heart of this historical process can not be done between day and night and has no direct solutions. The first is to stop the reduction of losses and prolong the life of the conflict by trying to monitor its future battles and to fight each one until the end despite the realization of the possibility of losing, and the second is to try to change the environment to reduce the risks and restore the tugs and elements of force against them...


Finally, some good news.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Why Isn't He Causing an 'Explosion'


Jibril Rajoub, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority, has said that the Western Wall should remain under Israeli sovereignty.

“We understand that the wall he [U.S. President Donald Trump] visited is sacred to the Jews and ultimately it has to remain under Jewish sovereignty,” Rajoub said on Channel 2’s "Meet the Press."

"There is no argument over this. Obviously, it’s a holy place for Jews," he added.

Rajoub linked sovereignty over the Western Wall to sovereignty over the Temple Mount. “The Temple Mount is ours, not yours, and I think you should stop talking as if it’s yours. That’s the status quo since 1967, as established by [Israeli general] Moshe Dayan, and we both have to strive for that. If you want to create an explosion just say ‘it’s ours, it’s ours,’” he said.

Just a moment.

How come when he says "The Temple Mount is ours", the reaction is he is not creating an explosion?

______________

UPDATE

On Saturday, Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub gave an interview in Hebrew to Israeli TV Channel 2. Rajoub stated that Palestinians understand that the Western Wall is "holy for the Jews," and that it should be "under Jewish sovereignty... We have no argument with that."
 However, addressing Palestinians in Arabic, Rajoub denies having made this statement. Rather, he claims to have said that the site should be "under Jewish religious supervision," and wrote explicitly on his personal Facebook page: "I did not mention the word sovereignty or Israel." He also accused Israeli TV of editing out parts of the interview with him.




Thursday, June 01, 2017

Jordan's Piece of Paper and What to Do with It

Jordan's official Petra News agency reports:


The Ministry of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs handed the Israeli Embassy in Amman a memo to protest allowing Jewish extremists into the Al Aqsa Mosque/Haram Al Sharif under the protection of the Israeli police.  The Jordanian government asked the Israeli government in the memo to immediately put an end to such acts of aggression and provocation and respect the Jordanian role in caring for Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem 


Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel recognizes Jordan’s role as custodian of Muslim and Christian shrines in the city, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 war.  The ministry said that such acts inflame the feelings of Muslims around the world, violate Article 9 of the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel and are not in line with Israeli’s legal obligations, as the occupying power, in accordance with international law.


The memo said that such actions harm relations between the two countries and undermine efforts to reduce tension and preserve the status quo in the Al Aqsa Mosque/ Haram Al Sharif.

Article 9?

"Custodian"?

The text:

PLACES OF HISTORICAL AND RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE
Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.

I hope the Embassy staff told the messenger just what to do with that piece of paper the memo was written on.





Monday, May 29, 2017

Book Review: Three Weeks and Six Days Memoir

The 28th of Iyar
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman
Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 176 pgs.




As Atlanta's Rabbi Emanuel Feldman was winding down his sabbatical year from Congregation Beth Jacob as a lecturer at Israel's Bar-Ilan University at the end of the 1966-1967 academic year, residing in Bnei Brak with his wife and four children, the events that would lead to the Six Days War were being wound up.  The journal he kept of those few weeks, first published in 1968, has been reissued and presents us with a gem of an insight into the events of that time.

This is not a diplomatic history; nor an analysis of the military moves and neither is it a sociological commentary.  It is a daily ordinary record of what Rabbi Feldman's life was.  And because of its simplicity in being a reflection of what an "ordinary citizen" was going through, it is a book that succeeds.

His students leave classes for reserve duty. His brother who has made aliyah attempts to convince him to leave. The conversations in synagogues and the broadcasts from the radio are all laid out as they happened with almost no post-production hindsight. It is as it happened.

Being the result of a Rabbi's pen, the book resonates, of course, with the religiously observant public. Virtually all the personalities whose voices, to varying extents, we hear, are all from the non-secular world.  This is limiting, in one aspect, but is unique in another for as far as I can recollect, the concerns, thoughts and actions of this 15% of Israel's populace at the time is largely missing.  The religious Zionist voice was also censored out of the famous "The Seventh Day" compilation of reflections on the war by the combat soldiers who liberated the Old City and fought the Arab armies on three fronts. And his living in Bnei Brak also allows us a peek at the ultra-Orthodox community.

What I did find interesting was that while Feldman reports the contents of radio broadcasts and what he hears in the streets and the synagogues, his reminisces contain very little of the politics at the time. And to the extent that there is such discussions of politics it appears to be quite shallow.

It is claimed that the National Unity Government coalition formed on June 1, the Thursday before the war, was a result of a groundswell of public opinion increasingly becoming quite unsatisfied with Prime Minister Levy Eshkol's leadership. There is passing mention of the intra-political tensions but I found little in the book to confirm the view that Eshkol yielded to the need to shore up public confidence in a firm way. 

The name Menachem Begin doesn’t appear. Was Feldman unaware of the significance of his cooption to the government and his coming in from the political wilderness? Was it not seen to be important? Was the event not reflected in the news he was hearing? As this is a second edition, he could have added a more complete and reflective chapter to deal with this and other issues.

Many pages are devoted to a tisch on the Shabbat at the Vishnitz Chassidic court as well as elucidations of Zoharic texts supposedly connected to the period than other histories but this certainly reflects the religious audience for whom the book is intended foremost as well as Feldman’s own milieu.

On the other hand, the book serves to inform us what was actually known and discussed by the man-in-the-street. Rumors from the political establishment, the army, international news and more abound in its pages. As such, it serves as a genuine resonator of what was the atmosphere within his sphere of contacts and that is an important contribution to the history of those three weeks and six days.

One linguistic comment: on page 27, I would have employed the word "pharmacy" instead of drugstore which, as an American, I would understand to also include a snack shop, especially malteds. 

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