Israel must win this war

For its own security, Israel must finish the job it started in Gaza

Chicago Sun-Times

Editorials July 23, 2014

Palestinian families who fled their homes from east Khan Younis southern GazStrip ride car their way city Khan Younis Wednesday

Palestinian families who fled their homes from east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip ride on a car in their way to the city of Khan Younis on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Israeli troops battled Hamas militants on Wednesday near a southern Gaza Strip town as the top U.S. diplomat reported progress in efforts to broker a truce in a war that has so far killed hundreds of Palestinians and tens of Israelis. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali) ORG XMIT: GAZ112

For years, Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, imported tons of concrete into Gaza, material that could have been used to build desperately needed schools and houses.

But what did Hamas do? It sold out its own people, doing nothing to better their lives while secretly using all that concrete to reinforce dozens of tunnels from which to wage endless war. Hamas has used the tunnels to infiltrate Israel and hide weapons.

Now, in the continuation of a brutal war that began two weeks ago, the Israeli military is systematically finding and destroying those tunnels, and it is obligated to finish the job. Nothing short of this is likely to end, now and well into the future, a constant raining of Hamas missiles on Israel.

The roots and causes of the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict are a moral tangle, one in which Israel is by no means blameless. We believe that Israel, especially under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has shown little courage in trying to reach agreement on a two-state solution. We also believe that an alternative approach gaining traction in Israel — for Israel to unilaterally draw new permanent borders, post troops everywhere and declare the matter over — likely would settle nothing. But in this moment — in the here and now when Israel is confronted by an implacable foe that has rejected a ceasefire — we see only moral clarity: Israel must defend itself. What nation would do otherwise?

As of late Wednesday, more than 650 Palestinians, including more than 100 children, have been killed in the present conflict, and each death is a horror to contemplate. The image, in particular, of four Palestinian children at play being shot down on a Gaza beach will and should haunt Israelis forever. It is impossible to understand how an Israeli gunboat mistook four little boys for Hamas gunmen.

But let’s also understand this: Hamas uses children and all Gaza civilians as human shields. They set up shop with their weaponry among bakers and carpenters and clerks and housewives. They fire off missiles from the heart of intensely populated neighborhoods. Civilian deaths are inevitable in every war, but all the more so when the enemy treats every school, house and hospital as a combat bunker. They store their rockets there.

Hamas continues to fight because apparently it believes it has nothing to lose, even if the people of Gaza have much to lose. Hamas has lost its Syrian and Egyptian sponsors. Its popular support at home is weak. Unemployment in Gaza, debilitated by Israeli and Egyptian partial blockades, is around 50 percent. Hamas is isolated and failing and hoping to regain support by taking on Israel.

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Anger should be directed against Muslim jihadists

Muslim Double Standards Abound

by Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun
July 15, 2014

http://www.meforum.org/4756/muslim-double-standards-abound

 

If there is a God, he has some explaining to do.

On the one hand he tells us Muslims in the Qur’an that we are "the best of peoples, evolved for mankind", but then showers us with leaders who bring out the worst in the human soul.

If the murderous spree some of my fellow Muslims have embraced is not enough, their hypocrisy of playing the victim card makes the rest of the world cringe in anger, if not outrage.

As I write, Muslims around the world have taken to the streets and social media to protest Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, that has resulted in the deaths of nearly 200 Palestinians.

Undoubtedly the death of 200 Arabs, many of them civilian women and children, is tragic and worthy of condemnation.

However, just next door to Israel almost 200,000 Arabs have been killed by fellow Arabs in Syria, but that tragedy has triggered no public demonstrations of anger in Islamic capitals, let alone in Toronto.

Let us examine two military operations by two countries against what they describe as Islamic terrorists belonging to radical jihadi movements.

While Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is making the lead story around the world, few are aware of Pakistan’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb (Strike of Prophet Muhammad’s Sword) underway against the Taliban inside Pakistan.

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Proud to be Israeli

The kind of country we are – and proud of it

Print Edition

Photo by: REUTERS

 

By SHERWIN POMERANTZ
23/07/2014, Jerusalem Post

Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, 11,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza.

Among the many recent articles in the press about the ongoing war here, one item in particular caught my attention.
In a Jerusalem Post interview with residents of Gaza, 27-year-old Ahmed Mansour, wounded in the war, is quoted as saying from his hospital bed: “They even shelled people as they fled their houses. What kind of human beings could do that?” So for the benefit of Ahmed, let me tell you what kind of human beings we are, even though you will probably never see this piece.
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, 11,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza, and prior this week, only once, in 2012, did Israel respond by going into Gaza to try to eliminate the sources of those rockets. Ahmed, you would never see that level of restraint on the part of any country in the world whose sovereignty was being attacked by a neighbor, regardless of the complaints that neighbor had about the relationship between the two political entities. As a case in point, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula earlier this year after just days of angst and without being threatened militarily. So that’s the kind of country we are – a Jewish country with Jewish values and a desire not to inflict civilian casualties.
And when, from July 7 to July 17, 1,539 rockets were launched from Gaza, we still did not invade. Rather, we attempted to take out the sources of the rockets via aerial attack. But first, our military telephoned and texted the residents of Gaza who were within the target areas with warnings to leave.
Before the attacks themselves, we detonated a small charge on the roof of the targeted building to underscore the seriousness of the warning. It was only then that we attacked locations that your government was using as missile launching sites. So that’s the kind of country we are – a Jewish country with Jewish values and a desire not to inflict civilian casualties.
Last week we thought we saw light at the end of the tunnel – not the tunnels your government has built as a method of infiltration into Israel, but the tunnel of conflict. Through the efforts of the Egyptian government, the UN and others, a cease-fire proposal was put on the table which our government immediately accepted and your government rejected, calling it, in the words of one of your leaders, comfortably ensconced in the safety of Lebanon, “a joke.”
Had the cease-fire been accepted, you would not have been wounded and perhaps, just perhaps, we could have met together in Cairo and figured out a way to improve both our lives. We accepted the proposal because we value human life above all. So that’s the kind of country we are – a Jewish country with Jewish values and a desire not to inflict civilian casualties.

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Hamas must be destroyed

When the “Start-Up Nation” became the “Shoot-Down” Nation

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Ron Jager, July 21, 2014

www.ronjager.com

The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psycho education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel and is a strategic advisor to the office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Contact: medconf@netvision.net.il

Over the past few days as one goes about doing routine chores, it’s almost impossible not to notice something different in our national pace. Even though sirens shriek every once in a while there is a kind of quietness, a kind of tranquility that always seems to be present during war time. The streets and highways seem emptier, shopping malls seem half empty; coffee shops traditionally full at all times of the day giving us the feeling that in Israel no one really works stand idle. As for news reports and bulletins, the nation is glued to whatever media they feel comfortable with; cellphone, radio, TV, internet, social media, or even word of mouth. Mostly everyone has a son or family member in Gaza, or on his way to Gaza. When the half hour or hourly news bulletin are broadcasted you notice that everyone becomes stiff focusing on what’s being reported hoping and praying not to hear a name or military unit that was involved in combat and suffered losses. Surprisingly, the general atmosphere is far from grim and for most of us in Israel, we sincerely believe that the political leadership and the I.D.F. will succeed in defending the citizens of Israel. During times of war Israel is literally one large extended family and families stick together.

The other day, as I was walking down Even Gvirol Street in the heart of Tel-Aviv, the sirens went off alerting us all that the Hamas terror organization had fired a salvo of missiles on the City of Tel-Aviv. Within a matter of seconds, two “Iron Dome” anti-missile defense systems fired their rocket batteries intercepting in mid-air the missiles fired from Gaza causing them to explode way up in the sky. It’s an amazing sight, more so, it’s an amazing technological accomplishment for Israel, keeping in mind that there is no other similar system anywhere in the world. Its quite mind boggling to think that a determined, well-funded and anti-Semitic Islamic terror organization fires thousands of missiles at Israel over the past 14 days and inflict so few casualties. I wonder what must be going through the heads of the Hamas leadership who whole heartedly belief that Allah is on their side and its only a matter of time before, we Jews pack up and abandon ship. Historically, Jews generally do not abandon ship, but they have been pushed overboard. No longer.

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Israel is aggressive with its high tech

Israeli High Tech Gets Aggressive

Posted  by Adam Fisher (@adamrfisher)

Reprinted from Tech Crunch, July 5, 2014

 

Editor’s note: Adam Fisher is a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, where he manages the firm’s Herzliya office focused on investments in Israel and Europe.

Israel has always taken a disproportionate share of global media attention. This has long held true in international politics, where Israel would prefer a little less attention, but also in high tech where the media attention on startup success has often been overstated and anecdotal.

For the better part of a decade, Israeli venture returns have been disappointing, frustrating many who were once convinced they had found the next big thing. But more than a decade after the last bubble burst, the Israeli venture capital industry has steadily matured, reaching a turning point over the past year.

The return profile in Israeli high-tech investments is improving remarkably as entrepreneurs build stronger, more ambitious startups with eyes on a much bigger prize and a higher probability of success. The Israeli tech industry may not be advancing at the pace that impatient investors and reporters demand, but the last decade has also proven that Israeli high tech is far from a fleeting trend.

As a fund that has been investing in Israel since 1992, with a dedicated office there since 2007, we at Bessemer see a stark difference today versus what we found in the Israeli startup environment 10 years ago.

Heightened Ambition

Israeli entrepreneurs have always been ambitious, but the maturity of the Israeli entrepreneurial ecosystem now gives emerging companies a better chance to deliver on big dreams and therefore a better chance of raising money to pursue them. Today’s crop of entrepreneurs has grown up in the startup ecosystem and seen peers disappointed by selling too early or shutting down only a couple years after raking it in. This means not only more serial entrepreneurs, but more maturity and experience in the first 50 hires these startups make.

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Israel has reason to fear Arabs

These murders reawaken Israel’s deepest fears

For its citizens, the foundation of the Jewish state was meant to ensure their children would never again be taken away…Israelis were deeply insulted by foreign media organisations which seemed to be downplaying the kidnapping, or, by describing the teenagers as “three settlers”, to be putting them into a political context. To Israelis, this wasn’t just another round of violence in a never-ending cycle; it was a national tragedy and the epitome of an ageless struggle.

Funeral for Eyal Yifrach

‘To Israelis, this wasn’t just another round of violence in a never-ending cycle; it was a national tragedy and the epitome of an ageless struggle.’ Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA

In a small, close-knit society where family is everything, people are constantly glued to their mobile phones and trauma is an ever-present memory, the prospect of a child being kidnapped by Palestinians is an unspoken terror. And yes, a child in this context could also mean a 20-year-old soldier shouldering his rifle.

For Israelis, the nightmare of your son’s phone ringing, unanswered, wipes away all the self-confidence that citizens of the Jewish state have built for themselves. That fear burrows into a national psyche that defines what Israel is about for its Jewish majority – a country that was founded and its entire military force built up so that no Jewish child should ever be captured and spirited away again. No other political arguments or realities apply. As far as they are concerned, that is Israel’s core purpose.

That it is a technological superpower with one of the strongest militaries in the world doesn’t matter. And neither do the rights and wrongs of its conflict with the Palestinians, the vast imbalance between a sovereign state and an occupied population suffering multiple injustices and humiliations. For the 18 and a half days between the abduction of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach and the discovery of their bodies north of Hebron, nearly every Israeli parent set politics aside and put him or herself in the place of those three mothers and three fathers.

Nearly every Israeli child and teenager imagined being in that car racing away through the night. Somewhere in their minds was the thought that this was just one more chapter in the long history of Jewish victimhood and the Palestinians are just the latest embodiment of the Jews’ victimisers, as absurd as that may sound to an outsider.

Love or hate Israel, that is its core. You can’t begin to grasp its society without understanding this. Israelis were deeply insulted by foreign media organisations which seemed to be downplaying the kidnapping, or, by describing the teenagers as “three settlers”, to be putting them into a political context. To Israelis, this wasn’t just another round of violence in a never-ending cycle; it was a national tragedy and the epitome of an ageless struggle.

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Tolerance should replace savagery

After One Of Kidnapped Israeli Teens Phoned Police, They Were Ordered To Lower Heads, Then Shot By Hamas Terrorists

By Richard Behar, Forbes, July 1, 2014

Unthinkable. Unspeakable. Savage. Sadistic. Martyrs?

“They just released the tape of Gilad Shaar [one of the three Israeli schoolboys abducted and murdered by Hamas terrorists] as he called the police to report the kidnapping,” Shahar Azani, the Consul for Media Affairs at Israel’s Consulate General in New York, tells Forbes. “You hear him say ‘I was kidnapped’ and then a loud noise and shouts and then only the radio. You could hear the Hamas terrorists tell them to lower their heads and hands. They were probably shot there and then, and then buried hastily as they were sure the police was behind them after that call.”

As Israel mourns the three teenagers, one of whom is a dual American-Israeli citizen, the country’s air force is bombing dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip — retaliating against Hamas after locating the bodies of the victims near Hebron in the West Bank. Some Palestinian leaders are blaming the murders on a rogue branch of Hamas, but the two fugitive suspects named by Israel — Marwan Qawasmeh and Amar Abu Aisha — are reportedly Hamas members. “They are clearly Hamas with a history of affiliation,” explains Azani. “The way they work is through independent activity under guided ideology. Like Al-Qaeda — ‘seize the opportunity when you can.’ Only this time the whole thing flopped and turned on its head.”

Ten days ago, I wrote a story in Forbes, based on interviews I conducted with Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of 16-year-old Naftali Fraenkel (one of the teens killed in cold blood)— who he considered like a son. It was titled “Good vs Evil”, and was focused on how Yishai – a top executive at the Israel headquarters of Intel – was pioneering high-tech joint ventures with Palestinian entrepreneurs. “Rest in peace, my son,” the boy’s mother, Rachelle Fraenkel, said, standing before his flag-covered body. “We’ll learn to sing without you. We’ll always hear your voice inside.”

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Jews are the people of the book

Jews and the Written Word

Written expression enabled Jews to store the sacred not in mountains or lakes or the sky, which are not so easily transportable, or even in a temple (though they tried that more than once), but in scrolls that they could carry with them wherever they went or recreate in a new destination.

By Noah Manne

Reprinted from Huffington blog, July 1, 2014

It has been pointed out many times that all the civilizations that brought the Jews to the brink of annihilation have long since disappeared. The Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, to name the most famous of the Ancients. It is the Jews who survive as a people throughout these individual histories.

What has enabled Jews to sustain themselves against all odds? In his PBS series, The Story of the Jews, Simon Schama theorizes about a distinct, individual identity that was formed in a crucible of words. Unlike other cultures, such as the many different Native American cultures of North America, for whom all that was sacred was found in the land, and who were able to live for millennia in a particular place to express the sacred, the Jews, even before they made the transition from Judean and Israelite to Jew, were ejected from their place and forcibly conditioned to express all that was holy in words, not in anything related to location or rooted object. How fortunate the Jews somehow received a system of writing from (perhaps) the Phoenicians they were able to shape and make their own. Written expression enabled Jews to store the sacred not in mountains or lakes or the sky, which are not so easily transportable, or even in a temple (though they tried that more than once), but in scrolls that they could carry with them wherever they went or recreate in a new destination.

Jews have always been landless cosmopolites it seems, even from the time of their antecedents. They were certainly already a cosmopolitan people when they began the process of giving liturgical shape to their evolving religious beliefs. They had no reliable physical location to which they could return and stay for thousands of years and venerate and consecrate, in the same way Native Americans could return to this mountain or that butte, to this river or that lake. For Native Americans, the Holy lived in the mountain or the river and, so, the Holy was the mountain and the river. Before the European landed in North America, the indigenous people had been able to abide in their holy temple, which was the whole region in which they lived. There had been conflicts between tribes that had caused location shifts within a particular region, but the majority of the great, deracinating migrations did not occur until the colonizer came. Native Americans had been accustomed, for thousands of years, to expressing all things sacred by staying rooted to one spot, which was both the Great Spirit and the temple in which to worship it.

Jews never had the opportunity to develop a similar relationship with a sacred space and never got used to that symbiosis. From the beginning, Jews were compelled to go from place to place and to live in conditions that made it hard to sustain a form of worship. In exile, one does not have the luxury of carrying along worldly possessions, especially big, ungainly sacramental objects. All that Jews could take with them as they were driven from one place to another was words – the words on portable media in which resided all the stories and teachings and traditions and laws that form the way Jews engage with the world, as well as with the world greater than the temporal one. Ironically, that disadvantage has given the Jewish religion a better than even chance at surviving the ages. When the physical expressions of other religions were obliterated – either by the destruction of nations and great temples, or the theft of land, as in the case of Native Americans – it became impossible to worship. The loci of worship disappeared, and so, therefore, did the Holy that was once worshipped. Yet the Jews carried with them the Holy, which lived on in the written word, a more accurate and reliable form of transmission than an oral tradition. Wherever the Jews went, they could be inspired, taught, connected to their God. That unique historic circumstance has certainly played a part in the Jews maintaining a distinct identity and, figuratively (with Jews still residing throughout the world and not only in Israel), a Jewish nation. Pre-literate cultures, like Native Americans, might have had a different destiny had they received the gift of written expression before the brutality against them began (pace Sequoyah).

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