Midwives talk peace

Arab and Jewish midwifes find a common language

The original idea behind Midwives for Peace was that women had a special role to play in grassroots peace initiatives; ‘Pregnancy is the same wherever you are.’

By Judy Maltz , Haaretz, Sept. 12, 2014

BEIT JALA, West Bank – It’s been three months since this group of midwives last met, but considering the 50-day war in between, it seems more like ages.

Some have traveled far to get here, from kibbutzim near the Lebanese border and from the town of Jenin in the northern West Bank. A few are from Jerusalem (both the Jewish and Arab parts of the city), one comes from Tel Aviv and another from Ramallah. Situated just outside Bethlehem and a 10-minute drive from Jerusalem, Beit Jala is a convenient – and also relatively safe – meeting point for them all.

Typically, these gatherings are dedicated to shop talk – the usual debates about epidurals and episiotomies, natural childbirth and C-sections, breast vs. bottle, and home vs. hospital births. This time, they’ve decided to lift their usual ban on political discussions and focus on how they, as Israeli and Palestinian women, experienced the latest war in Gaza and what conclusions they’ve drawn.

Midwives for Peace, a grassroots non-profit that promotes dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian women, has been meeting every three months since it was first launched six years ago. But this week’s gathering had a different tone. “We’ve been through wars before, but none as big as this, and also, we know each other a lot better now – we’re friends already, which makes it even harder,” says Gomer (who asked that her full name not be published), the Israeli co-director of the group.

Suha (not her real name) is among the last to arrive for the meeting here at the Everest Hotel. Although she lives fairly close by, she had to take a few detours on the way to avoid the Israeli checkpoints, and that’s why she was delayed. “What happened to you? You seemed to have lost lots of weight,” remarks one of the Israeli midwives, after giving Suha a warm hug.

“I had a really bad summer,” responds the Palestinian, as she lights up a cigarette and joins the rest of her colleagues at the table. The last to arrive is Aisha, the Palestinian co-director, who’s brought along with her some gifts for the group – hand-made party favors. “My daughter has just gotten engaged,” she explains the occasion.

Continue reading

Posted in Health Sciences, Middle East Report, Monotheistic Religions, News Articles, Recent Posts, Women's Health | Comments Off

Arabs prefer conflict over peace

What if the Arabs had Chosen Peace Over War

Following the Six Day war, Israel liberated areas that Jordan prohibited Jews from entering. This included Jerusalem and the cave of Patriarchs in Hebron

By: @israel_shield

Jewish Press.com

Published: September 10th, 2014


Introduction Israel has just over six millions Jews and the Arab world around her has hundreds of millions of Arabs. Peace is in Israel’s best interest and that is why at no point in Israel’s history did she want, start or call for war.
Here Is What Happened! In 1947, the British were leaving and they handed the area over to the UN who offered a resolution to split the land between the Jews and Arabs (not the Palestinians).
REMEMBER: The British already promised the Jews a homeland in Palestine, including what is today known as Jordan. This is what the map of British Palestine looked like when Balfour promised it to the Jews in 1917.

In 1922 Abdullah came in from Mecca and occupied the area called Trans-Jordan (the other side of the Jordan river). Trans-Jordan made up over 70% of what was the British Mandate of Palestine.
The red part was the new Jordan country while the blue remained the British Mandate of Palestine. Never were any of these areas part of an Arab Palestine State, country or national land!
1. 1948 War Of Independence The in 1947, the British Mandate decided once again to carve what she promised to the Jews and offered a SECOND Arab State to sit along a Jewish State and this is what it would look like.

Continue reading

Posted in Education, Middle East Report, News Articles, Recent Posts | Comments Off

UNRWA should be investigated for supporting terror

The U.N.: Clueless or Complicit in Gaza?

Problems abound with the U.N. agency responsible for helping Palestinians.

By Claudia Rosett, National Review Online

September 4, 2014 4:00 AM

Outside a UNRWA-run school in Gaz.


If UNRWA officials did know that Hamas was building terror tunnels, but raised no public alarm — which they certainly did not — then that should be grounds for a major inquiry into UNRWA complicity with terrorists.

There’s also the question of whether UNRWA employs or directly supports members of Hamas. If so, that should block the agency from receiving money from the U.S., which is its longtime top donor — contributing $294 million in 2013. Officially, these days, UNRWA eschews hiring members of Hamas. But there may be some precious distinctions at work here.

Since 2005, UNRWA and the U.S. have had a formal partnership, via a “Framework for Cooperation,” in which UNRWA promises to comply with various requirements of “neutrality.” The aim is to avoid triggering a provision of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which forbids funding to UNRWA unless UNRWA takes “all possible measures” to ensure that no U.S. assistance goes to any refugee who has received “military training” as a member of the Palestine Liberation Army, or any other “guerrilla-type organization,” or who has “engaged in any act of terrorism.”

There are enough loopholes here to drive a Hamas cement truck through. In the most recent version of the U.S.-UNRWA partnership, signed last November, UNRWA promised to ensure “neutrality” of its facilities and staff, by conducting regular inspections and checking its staff against specific U.N. sanctions lists. But those U.N. sanctions lists are not that relevant to Gaza: They cover al-Qaeda and the Taliban, not Hamas (there is no U.N. sanctions list for Hamas).

Continue reading

Posted in Middle East Report, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off

Hamas still poses significant danger

Here’s what really happened in the Gaza war (according to the Israelis)

During the war, the nightmare of jihadis popping out of tunnels in the middle of a kibbutz drove Israeli public opinion that the war was necessary. There were 32 offensive tunnels dug with the intention of putting Hamas militants under the border fence. Fourteen of the tunnels reached the Israeli side.


By William Booth September 3 at 2:44 PM

The 50-day war in Gaza saw the deadliest violence in a decade, with Israel and Hamas both claiming victory. (Getty Images)

TEL AVIV — On a high floor of the Israeli defense ministry, a top intelligence officer sat down with a small group of foreign journalists Wednesday night to run through his slide show on the 50-day Gaza war — what surprised the Israelis about their enemy Hamas and what did not.

With the condition of anonymity, the Israeli general discussed casualty figures, tunnel architecture and rocket deployment for Hamas and other belligerents.

He presented himself as a grandfatherly wonk, a numbers guy. He conceded that intelligence is not an exact science.

Here is what he said:

Those rarely seen Hamas rocket launchers? Turns out they were buried.

Journalists who covered the war in Gaza have been panned by Israel supporters, including former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, for their failure to document Hamas militants firing rockets from civilian areas.

Critics have suggested that the reporters were cowards, dupes or intimated. Israel’s top military intelligence officer had another explanation: There was nothing to see.

“Most of the rocket launchers were underground,” he said.

Continue reading

Posted in Islam, Middle East Report, News Articles, Recent Posts | Comments Off

Israel to help Jordan with energy

Israel’s Leviathan Captures Another Gas Deal

With the latest accord to sell natural gas to Jordan, Israel is slowly but surely becoming a linchpin of the region’s energy supplies.

  • BY Keith Johnson
  • SEPTEMBER 3, 2014
  • Reprinted from Foreign Policy


Israel has found another nearby customer for its abundant offshore supply of natural gas, a sign that the region’s endless turmoil has not derailed energy development, even if Israel’s newfound riches have yet to prove the geopolitical balm many expected.

The energy firms operating the giant Leviathan field off the coast of Israel said Wednesday that they had reached a preliminary 15-year deal to pipe natural gas to Jordan’s electricity company. The nonbinding letter of intent comes on the heels of two similar deals to sell Israeli gas to Egypt, for use in that country’s liquefied natural gas, or LNG, export terminals. The Jordanian sale still requires regulatory approval in both countries, as well as final agreement on pricing, and is expected to close by the end of the year. It could be worth $15 billion.

For Israel, it enhances the viability of the Leviathan project, key to the country’s energy security, by providing an additional customer without the need to invest billions of dollars in a gas liquefaction plant to ship the fuel halfway around the world to Asia. The Jordanian deal would entail piping total of 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas over 15 years; the Leviathan field holds about 22 trillion cubic feet of gas. Noble Energy, a U.S. firm that is the lead operator of Leviathan, said it now has preliminary agreements representing about 60 percent of the field’s initial capacity.

For Jordan, the deal could be even more important. Leaders of Gulf states worry that the Islamic State’s rampage through Iraq and Syria could spill into neighboring Jordan. Regional allies are pouring money into Amman to bolster the kingdom’s chances of fending off the Sunni militants and keep its economy afloat. By providing a ready source of fuel for the power sector, the gas deal with Israel could help shore up energy-poor Jordan’s economy and, by extension, its political stability.

Continue reading

Posted in Business and Commerce, Climate Change, Middle East Report, News Articles, Recent Posts | Comments Off

West must recognize danger of Hamas

Connecting the Dots

“Many Western statesmen have expressed shock and horror at the so-called Islamic State’s reign of terror in Syria and Iraq, and at the same time failed to recognize the similarities between the Islamic State and Hamas.”

Western leaders fail to recognize the similarities between the Islamic State and Hamas.

by Michel Gurfinkiel
The Jerusalem Post
August 31, 2014



The summer of 2014 is probably the most appropriate moment to remember a 19th century maverick genius: Jan Gotlib Bloch, otherwise known as Jan Bogomil Bloch, Johan von Bloch, Ivan Stanislavovich Bloch or even, among his French readers and admirers, as Ivan de Bloch.

Born in Radom, then a city in Russian Poland, in 1836, educated in Berlin, Bloch made a fortune in the construction of railways in the Russian Empire. While he converted to Calvinism, clearly for social rather than spiritual reasons, he remained close to his former Jewish brethren, fought anti-Semitism, funded investigations on the Jewish contribution to Russian economic development, and supported nascent Zionism.

His greatest achievement was a six-volume book published in Paris – and in French – in 1898, some four years before his death: La Guerre de l’Avenir (“Future War,” translated into English as “Is War Now Impossible?”).

Drawing from the best available information on military and strategic affairs, and in particular on the rapid and global improvement of military technologies, Bloch warned that a major war between industrial countries in Europe would result in a stalemate on the ground, the entrenchment of large armies, enormous casualties, financial bankruptcy, the break up of social organization and finally revolution.

In other terms, he accurately predicted what was to take place from the chain reaction of August 1914 to the overthrow of the Russian, Austrian and German monarchies in 1917 and 1918, and the rise of Communism.

Bloch may thus be praised as one of the real founding fathers of geopolitics as we understand it today, the study of power relations between states, nations and other human groups. Much more so, one would venture to say, than Harold Mackinder, whose major concepts, “Heartland” and “World Island,” have always been as questionable as fashionable, or Karl Haushofer, who, for all his talent and insight, never took off from pan-Germanic fantasies about organically growing states and lebensraum.

What makes Bloch even more endearing is that he erred on a major point: he was convinced (or claimed to be convinced) that European leaders and statesmen would realize in time the dangers of a global war, and avert it.

One may accumulate information and knowledge without even being able to understand it: that was the failure of Bloch’s contemporaries, who did not grasp, as he did, that war’s modernization would change the very nature of war, and raise its cost to unbearable heights. One may also accumulate enough information and knowledge to perceive what the future’s broad outlines might be, and at the same time ignore (or feign to ignore) one particular factor – in Bloch’s case, that policy making does not rest on rational considerations only.

Continue reading

Posted in Islam, Middle East Report, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off

Big gains in Israeli tech


Israeli IPO’s World-Beating 73% Surge Leads August Rally

By Gabrielle Coppola – Aug 31, 2014

Mobileye NV (MBLY), the technology company that went public a month ago, led gains among U.S.-listed Israeli stocks in August as investors shrugged off concern that the seven-week Gaza conflict will weaken the economy.

Mobileye has surged 73 percent to $43.22 since listing in New York on July 31, the biggest rally among all companies globally that raised $500 million or more in the past three months. Caesarstone Sdot-Yam Ltd. (CSTE), the maker of quartz counter-tops, climbed 20 percent in August, the second-best performance on the Bloomberg Israel-U.S. Equity Index, which rose 4.8 percent.

While signs have emerged that the Gaza fighting is starting to curb output at some Israeli businesses, hurt tourism and cut into consumer spending, investors have shown little concern, instead bidding up stocks in line with gains being posted in the U.S. and other major global markets. The performance of Mobileye and Caesarstone, which has more than tripled since its 2012 listing, could help bolster demand for more Israeli initial public offerings, according to Josef Schuster, the founder of Chicago-based IPOX Schuster LLC.

“Momentum drives everything right now,” Schuster said by phone Aug. 28. “Mobileye and Caesarstone, if you held that, you made a lot of money.”

The Nasdaq Composite Index (CCMP) advanced 4.8 percent this month, while the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index gained 3.8 percent, breaking the 2,000 mark on Aug. 26, 27 and 29.

Investors are pouring money into equities on optimism the U.S. economy is strengthening and as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signaled policy makers may introduce an asset-buying plan to bolster growth amid slowing inflation.

Record IPO

Executives at Mobileye didn’t respond to a request for comment made after business hours in Israel.

Mobileye’s $1 billion IPO was the biggest in the U.S. by an Israeli company on record, part of a rush of deals last month. Six Israeli companies have gone public in the U.S. this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Eight more have offerings pending.

Continue reading

Posted in Business and Commerce, Middle East Report, Recent Posts, Science and Technology | Comments Off

Media is obsessed with Israel

An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth

Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion.

A former AP correspondent explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters

By Matti Friedman|August 26, 2014

The Israel Story

Is there anything left to say about Israel and Gaza? Newspapers this summer have been full of little else. Television viewers see heaps of rubble and plumes of smoke in their sleep. A representative article from a recent issue of The New Yorker described the summer’s events by dedicating one sentence each to the horrors in Nigeria and Ukraine, four sentences to the crazed génocidaires of ISIS, and the rest of the article—30 sentences—to Israel and Gaza.

When the hysteria abates, I believe the events in Gaza will not be remembered by the world as particularly important. People were killed, most of them Palestinians, including many unarmed innocents. I wish I could say the tragedy of their deaths, or the deaths of Israel’s soldiers, will change something, that they mark a turning point. But they don’t. This round was not the first in the Arab wars with Israel and will not be the last. The Israeli campaign was little different in its execution from any other waged by a Western army against a similar enemy in recent years, except for the more immediate nature of the threat to a country’s own population, and the greater exertions, however futile, to avoid civilian deaths.

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.

While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.

In this essay I will try to provide a few tools to make sense of the news from Israel. I acquired these tools as an insider: Between 2006 and the end of 2011 I was a reporter and editor in the Jerusalem bureau of the Associated Press, one of the world’s two biggest news providers. I have lived in Israel since 1995 and have been reporting on it since 1997.

This essay is not an exhaustive survey of the sins of the international media, a conservative polemic, or a defense of Israeli policies. (I am a believer in the importance of the “mainstream” media, a liberal, and a critic of many of my country’s policies.) It necessarily involves some generalizations. I will first outline the central tropes of the international media’s Israel story—a story on which there is surprisingly little variation among mainstream outlets, and one which is, as the word “story” suggests, a narrative construct that is largely fiction. I will then note the broader historical context of the way Israel has come to be discussed and explain why I believe it to be a matter of concern not only for people preoccupied with Jewish affairs. I will try to keep it brief.

How Important Is the Israel Story?

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted.

Continue reading

Posted in Judaism, Middle East Report, Monotheistic Religions, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off