No apartheid in Israel

New African Perspectives on Israel and the Palestinians (Africans for Peace)
Reprinted from Daily Alert
  • Zenobia Ravji: As a Kenyan, I saw how the voices of Africans were exploited by the widespread and false comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa. The unfortunate circumstances and struggles of the Palestinian people are largely perpetuated by their own leaders, whose political strategy determines that the worse things are for Palestinians on the ground, the more convincing their case against Israel. These are the same leaders who compare the Palestinian people’s situation to apartheid South Africa, robbing South Africans of their history and cheapening it, in order to gain sympathy and financing from the international community.
  • Lesiba Bapela: As a social justice activist from South Africa, I was part of a group that went to Israel in January 2016. We saw that in the West Bank, the Palestinians were more hardline. They don’t believe in a two-state coexistence. They want to govern themselves according to Islamic law, and they don’t believe in Israelis having their own territories. However, on the Israeli side, I heard talk of cooperation. The Israelis have been inviting the Palestinians to create peaceful coexistence. But the Palestinian Authority has this all-or-nothing mentality and doesn’t truly believe in a two-state solution. There is nothing in this conflict that I can associate with apartheid. This is a religious conflict.
  • Nkululeko Nkosi: The comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa has been around for more than 50 years. Its originators were not black South Africans or even Palestinians, but the Soviet Union. But apartheid was about race, not religion or nationality. Unlike black people in apartheid South Africa, Arabs in Israel are entitled to vote in national elections, elect their own representatives, and have their interests represented in political deliberations. In 2015, the predominantly Arab party, the Joint List, won 15 parliamentary seats. This party is one of the harshest critics of the Israeli government. The point here is that Israeli policy and law allow dissent and opposition without instilling fear of banishment or imprisonment.
  • Tshediso Mangope: As a black South African and member of the ANC, I reject both the analysis that Israel practices apartheid and the demand that Israel should be dismantled and replaced with a single state of Palestine. After actually visiting Israel, my views on BDS have changed drastically. I am no longer involved in the BDS movement and don’t believe it to be a legitimate cause. The insistence of the Arab world on denying Jewish people, the indigenous people of Israel, the right to sovereign existence is a main reason this conflict has lasted for so long. There is no self-respecting, sober intellectual who will argue that returning to your ancestral homeland from whence you were displaced makes you a settler.
  • Klaas Mokgomole: In 2013, I was one of the BDS protestors who disrupted a piano recital which featured an Israeli pianist at the University of Witwatersrand. But I came to understand that the analogy of apartheid in Israel was an abuse of the memory of apartheid. South Africans involved in BDS need to be given the opportunity to understand that this is a conflict in which both sides have legitimate rights. As a former BDS activist, I encourage those involved in BDS to not blindly believe everything the movement says – because if you accept their propaganda uncritically, you are not contributing to peace, but to further needless bloodshed.
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Civilian deaths in Mosul

Mosul, Gaza and the world’s hypocrisy

Op-ed: ISIS learned from Hamas how to use civilian populations as human shields. While hundreds of civilians have been killed in US-led airstrikes in Iraq, there have been absolutely no protests and no claims of ‘war crimes.’ Those are reserved for one country only—Israel.

Hundreds of women and children were killed in west Mosul last week. The Americans bombed the area, as part of their cooperation with the Iraqi army against the Islamic State. The tragedy did not make the headlines. Claims of “war crimes” were nowhere to be found either. Neither was something more moderate like claims of “a disproportional response.” There were no protests whatsoever. The hostile sentiments, like the condemnatory headlines, are reserved for only one country in the world—Israel.


The United Nations issued condemnations—not against those who bombed the area, but against the use of civilians as a “human shield.” The New York Times, which constantly condemned Israel during Operation Protective Edge, argued mostly with Trump: “Taken together, the surge of reported civilian deaths raised questions about whether once-strict rules of engagement meant to minimize civilian casualties were being relaxed under the Trump administration.”


One might have assumed that since 2003, or maybe only from 2008, the strict rules of engagement had led to minimum civilian casualties. Well, the figures show that 268,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq since the war began there in 2003. There is no proof that former President Barack Obama reduced the number of casualties. The use of drones, for example, was 10 times higher during the Obama era than during the George W. Bush era.


Destruction in Mosul after US-led airstrikes. No condemnations, no protests (Photo: AP)

Destruction in Mosul after US-led airstrikes. No condemnations, no protests (Photo: AP)


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey has admitted in the past that in an effort to reduce the number of civilian casualties, he sends his officers to Israel, which “went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties” in Gaza. That did nothing to lower the level of hostility towards Israel. Neither did the guidelines issued for Hamas militants, ordering them to operate from within a civilian population in order to increase the number of innocent casualties, so as to increase the pressure on Israel.


It’s clear that from a comparative perspective, the number of civilian deaths caused by Israel is much lower. Hamas spokespeople, even more than ISIS fighters, have repeatedly boasted that they use civilians—mainly women and children—as a human shield. ISIS learned from Hamas, hoping that the same international pressure exerted on Israel would be exerted on the coalition forces as well. The organization’s fighters were stationed on the roofs of bombed buildings. The mission was accomplished. Hundreds of civilians were killed.


I am writing this because we are already hearing the sounds of the drums of war in the background: there has been a rise in the number of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, Hamas has elected a militant leader, Yahya Sanwar, and like all jihad organizations, it is investing in the industry of death—in tunnels and rockets rather than in the strip’s reconstruction. As soon as the conflict begins, the global response will be the exact same response as in the previous rounds. The protests will be against Israel, not against Hamas.


That doesn’t mean that there is nothing we can do. There is. Israel should initiate a dramatic, far-reaching proposal to end the blockade on the strip. The formula should be reconstruction in exchange for demilitarization. If Hamas says yes, Israel will benefit. If Hamas says no, Israel will gain important diplomatic leverage.


Israel is neither the US nor NATO. Israel is not treated like the rest of the Western states. As soon as the first reports about civilian casualties emerge, international pressure will begin, including demonstrations, protests and condemnation articles. Forgiveness and restrain in such situations are reserved for every other army, but not for Israel. And we should admit that the international protest, which turns Israel into a criminal, affects tactical and strategic decisions during the fighting.

An Israeli initiative won’t eliminate the anti-Israel hypocrisy, but it will help Israel deal with the traps prepared by Hamas in order to increase the number of civilian casualties. Israel is preparing for the next conflict. The preparations should focus on diplomacy too.


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Palestinians lost international significance

The Palestinian “Internationalization” Strategy: End of the Road?

INSS Insight No. 907, March 21, 2017
When the Netanyahu government replaced the Olmert government and Barack Obama assumed the United States presidency, the Palestinians adopted an “internationalization strategy.” This choice reflected the Palestinian skepticism about the possibility of bridging the gaps with Israel and the hope that the international community would accept their tripartite demand: (1) establishment of a Palestinian state (2) on the basis of the 1967 borders (3) with East Jerusalem as its capital. The consolidation of the new administration in the United States, the unease among the Israeli public with the existing situation in the Palestinian context, and the room for maneuver in this context available to the Israeli leadership create a unique opportunity to fashion a new Israeli policy for dealing with the conflict with the Palestinians, and for coordinating this policy with the United States. This strategy should rest on the neutralization of the Palestinian internationalization strategy and incentives to the Palestinians to return to direct negotiations with Israel in order to achieve a settlement on the basis of a two nation-state solution.
Some eight years ago, when the Netanyahu government replaced the Olmert government and Barack Obama assumed the United States presidency, the Palestinians adopted an “internationalization strategy.” This choice reflected the Palestinian skepticism about the possibility of bridging the gaps with Israel (including with Olmert’s far reaching proposals) and the hope that the international community would accept their tripartite demand: (1) establishment of a Palestinian state (2) on the basis of the 1967 borders (3) with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians hoped to achieve this without having to contribute the minimum demanded by Israel for achievement of an agreement: committing to an end of conflict and finality of claims; waiving the right of return; and agreeing to security arrangements that to some extent would limit their sovereignty. The Palestinians pursued measures to prompt the international community to establish a Palestinian state as per the outline they wanted, but without negotiations with Israel and without the concessions necessary in order to achieve an agreement through negotiations.

Then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (l) with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Ramallah, June 28, 2016. Photo: Abbas Momani / AFP

The Palestinian internationalization strategy was bolstered by a public relations effort to implant the Palestinian narrative of the reasons for the conflict and the “just way of solving it,” and to saddle Israel with responsibility for the political deadlock. This was joined by general efforts to delegitimize Israel. This strategy, which focuses on a persistent systematic, effort to blacken Israel in international institutions, undermine its legitimacy, and deny the historic national connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, has scored several notable achievements in recent years.

During the Obama administration, Israeli and Palestinian leaders did not return to direct talks, despite the temporary freeze on Israeli construction in the West Bank that President Obama succeeded in imposing on the Israeli government; despite the mediation efforts of the President’s special envoy, former Senator George Mitchell; and despite the mediation efforts of King Abdullah of Jordan. One of the prominent achievements by the Palestinian national movement was the 2012 UN General Assembly resolution defining Palestine as a “non-member observer state.”
Furthermore, the Palestinians succeeded in entrenching within the US administration the belief that Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank was the main obstacle to an agreement. In this sense President Obama’s Cairo University speech of May 2009 was a convenient point of departure. Two subsequent extremely important diplomatic achievements were the administration’s decision to abstain in the December 23, 2016 UN Security Council vote, which passed Resolution 2334 establishing that the 1967 borders were the basis for negotiations (in contrast to Resolution 242, which requires an Israel withdrawal from “territories” occupied in 1967), and the speech given by John Kerry at the conclusion of his tenure as Secretary of State, which he chose to devote to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
The confidence gained by the Palestinians with their political and diplomatic achievements over the years was reflected in the threats against the Trump administration should it carry out the President’s campaign pledge to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem. Senior Palestinian officials threatened the administration that they would “make its life miserable” in UN institutions, and that the entire Middle East would explode in a wave of violence. PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat even threatened to cancel recognition of Israel, and to give the keys to the Palestinian Authority to Israel. Overall, it appears that the Palestinians are having difficulty in internalizing two major changes that have made their internationalization strategy much less relevant: the Trump administration is not committed to the Palestinians to the same degree as was the Obama administration, and the Israeli narrative is closer to the outlook of the current administration than the Palestinian narrative.
In addition, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become less important in the Arab world and in the international community. Indeed, for several years the Palestinian issue has not led the agenda of Arab leaders, who are preoccupied by acute problems in their respective states and the region at large that have far reaching geopolitical consequences. The fact that Israel is a source of stability and an ally in the struggle against Iran on the one hand and against the Islamic State on the other, combined with the weakening of US support for regimes in the region, particularly Egypt and Saudi Arabia, has altered their prioritization of the conflict. Furthermore, the challenges encountered by the major powers in dealing with other disputes and conflicts in the Middle East, led by the civil war in Syria, instability in Yemen and Iraq, the strengthening of Hezbollah, and the increased influence of Iran and Russia in the Middle East, also currently undermine the effectiveness of the Palestinian strategy. Ten million Syrian refugees, a humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and instability in Iraq and Libya have shunted the Palestinian issue to the region’s political sidelines.
Israel’s interest is that the United States, and not the international community, which has accepted the Palestinian narrative practically in toto, should lead the international effort to address regional issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It is therefore important for Israel to coordinate an official response on the Palestinian question with the US administration, while changing the rules of the game that the Palestinians have managed to impose in recent years. There is likely to be a greater and more concrete ability of the United States to spearhead this issue now, thanks to a more resolute policy by the new President, the joint recognition of priorities, and the joint formulation of a relevant strategy.
With the consolidation of the new administration in the White House, which appears to be open to new ideas, Israel therefore has an opportunity, in coordination with this administration, to reshape the range of possibilities concerning the Palestinian issue as an element in a broad regional strategy. The Trump administration has already declared that the Israeli-Palestinian issue should be returned to the negotiating table in the framework of a bilateral dialogue, and that it does not accept unilateral anti-Israeli dictates at the UN or in the Quartet. The administration does not favor continued construction in the settlements or Israeli annexation of territory in the West Bank, but at the same time, it does not accept the Palestinian argument that Israel and the settlements are the obstacle to peace.
Israel’s interest requires coordination and understanding with the United States on what are truly significant challenges in the region: Iranian subversion and terrorism, the conflict in Syria, the need to strengthen Egypt and Jordan as stabilizing elements, and the failed states in the region, which can potentially cause instability and undermine regional security, including in the international system (particularly in Europe). The Israeli-Palestinian issue should thus be assigned a lower priority than it received during the Obama administration, with a joint Israeli-American effort to persuade the Palestinians of the futility of the internationalization strategy.
The new priority assigned to the conflict and the efforts to reach a settlement are not designed to strengthen the status quo – on the contrary. Paradoxically, the Palestinian internationalization strategy, the Palestinian refusal to advance to the second stage of the Roadmap, i.e., temporary borders for the future Palestinian state, and the all or nothing position of the two sides on the core issues have prevented progress toward a solution to the conflict. Making it unmistakably clear to the Palestinians that they must return to the negotiating process and mutual give and take, and also accept transitional and interim arrangements as preferable alternatives to the status quo will engender greater potential for progress than during the Obama administration.
As an initial sign to the Palestinians that the rules of the game have changed, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is in order. An American retreat from this pledge, even if in a flexible and creative format, as a result of the Palestinian threat aimed at preventing this measure, will weaken the American stature, and become an incentive for the Palestinians to adhere to a strategy of bypassing Israel and evading direct negotiations. Initial signs interpreted by the Palestinians as an American retreat from this promise have already led senior Palestinian figures to announce their intention to continue to target Israel in the international theater and promote a Security Council resolution on the illegality of the settlements, this time under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, even though it is clear that this time the US will veto it. It is therefore important for the United States to uphold the promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, while underscoring that its location in the western part of the city on territory not subject to dispute, which will remain under Israeli sovereignty in any settlement, is a sovereign American decision, and does not indicate a retreat by the United States from its traditional position about determining the future of East Jerusalem through negotiations between the parties.
The consolidation of the new administration in the United States, the unease among the Israeli public with the existing situation in the Palestinian context, and the room for maneuver in this context available to the Israeli leadership create a unique opportunity to fashion a new Israeli policy for dealing with the conflict with the Palestinians, and for coordinating this policy with the United States. This strategy should rest on the neutralization of the Palestinian internationalization strategy and incentives to the Palestinians to return to direct negotiations with Israel in order to achieve a settlement on the basis of a two nation-state solution. These must be accompanied by three principal requirements: a specific time framework for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table; a Palestinian commitment to an orderly and responsible process of state building (institutions, economy, a monopoly of force, enforcement of law and order), in order to ensure that the Palestinian state that arises will be a functional and not a failed state; and an end to incitement and monetary support for terrorists imprisoned in Israel and for the families of terrorists who were killed.
It is important that the United States clarify that if the Palestinians prefer to continue their effort to isolate Israel in the international theater, instead of returning to direct negotiations during the allotted period, it will back independent measures by Israel for determining its border in accordance with Israel’s strategic interests, while preserving the possibility of future implementation of a negotiated two nation-state solution. In this way, Israel can prepare for disengage from the Palestinians, while retaining the settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley and the possibility of security operations throughout the West Bank. At the same time, territorial contiguity for the Palestinian entity and the undisturbed movement from the northern to the southern West Bank should be promoted and permitted. In addition, the international community and Israel will take action to develop the Palestinian infrastructure and economy, including through allocation of parts of Area C for these defined purposes.
Findings from a public opinion survey on national security matters conducted recently by the Institute for National Security Studies indicate that the majority of the Israeli public opposes a continuation of the existing situation or annexation of territory. Only 10 percent support annexation of all of Judea and Samaria, and 17 percent favor the continuation of the existing situation. Sixty-one percent of the public favor a settlement, be it a permanent agreement or an interim agreement in advance of a permanent agreement. As the Israeli public wants a change, the Israeli leadership has the flexibility and room for maneuver in this matter. Coordination with the United States under the special circumstances created will make it possible to disarm the Palestinian threats and the Palestinian internationalization strategy, assign the Palestinian issue a more balanced position on the regional and global agenda, and shape a more suitable security and strategic situation for Israel as a Jewish and democratic, secure, and just state.
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Living with antisemitism in America

Ron Jager

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 Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today, Ron is a strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.

Living with Anti-Semitism in America

American Jews and the Jewish organizations that represent them have demanded, in thundering pleas, that President Trump take action and end the current tsunami of anti-Semitic attacks on the American Jewish community. This is just and reasonable. Expecting political leadership not to abdicate their responsibility and at best act as conflict managers only allows a problem to fester and proliferate. Political leaders act to change a situation, leading a nation to a better place, allowing the people to feel secure and not under threat. This is a natural expectation that any normal public can expect of their national leadership.

Despite anti-Semitic acts being a relatively common occurrence way before the presidential campaign, since President Trump’s election, these ripples of anti-Semitic hatred have blossomed into a giant wave. American Jews have become consumed with trepidation and are beginning to realize that they have every right to stand up and demand that the president take action and end this vile anti-Semitism. Local television channels in the United States are flooded with footage of small children holding the hands of adults walking next to them and trying to catch up with them. The adults, meanwhile, are seen trying to get the little ones to walk a bit faster without making them panic. From North Carolina to Maryland, from Alabama to Rhode Island, thousands of children have been evacuated from Jewish community centers and schools, as if it is happening everywhere.

Yet this very same American Jewish leadership, who in recent weeks have been banging on the walls of the White House demanding that the current wave of anti-Semitism be stopped immediately, have for the latter part of the past quarter of a century demanded that the Israeli public, and the Israeli political leadership, continue with business as usual, despite the incessant Palestinian Arab incitement and blatant anti-Semitism in Israel.

Palestinian Arab anti-Semitism has long been recognized as the Arab world’s prominent vehicle for the hatred of the Jews. From academics teaching that Judaism permits murder and rape of non-Jews to religious leaders teaching that Islam demands the extermination of Jews, Palestinian anti-Semitism is a compelling force driving hatred and terror. The Palestinian Authority depicts Jews as the archetypal force of evil throughout history. Jews are said to be responsible for all the world’s problems: wars, financial crises, even the spreading of AIDS. Palestinians have long claimed to receptive ears that Jews are a danger to humanity.

Palestinian incitement to murder Jews has always been a natural outgrowth of anti-Semitic incitement rampant in Palestinian society, expressed at all levels without hesitation and without sanction. In Palestinian society, no one is ever held accountable for anti-Semitic incitement. This has never prevented American Jewish leaders from meeting with and supporting the Palestinian people and their leaders.

When Jews attack Jews, and when Jews deny the State of Israel the basic right of self-defense afforded to all nations of the world, thereby making it OK to express hatred of Israel, then they are invoking hatred toward themselves and hatred towards the Jews of America. Over the years, since the heyday of the Oslo agreement, American Jews, liberal Jews, have bent over backward supporting the case of the Palestinian Arabs, while here in Israel, the Palestinians have made anti-Semitism and incitement the backbone of the Palestinian education syllabus from kindergarten and up. Is it any wonder that the world has gotten used to the hatred of Jews and a culture of unabated anti-Semitism?

In America, the irony of all this is that over the past eight years of the Obama presidency, the administration opened the gates and encouraged millions of Muslims to flood into America. As with the Palestinians, anti-Semitism is rife in the Arab world, with over 80 percent of the Muslim public holding strongly anti-Semitic views. Yet this anti-Semitism, harbored by a large portion of Muslims, has never stopped these same Jewish organizations, these liberal Jews, from being at the front lines of demonstrations or political action when President Trump attempted to stop this unrestricted refuge admission into America. These Jews never ever expressed any concern that supporting this continuing addition of anti-Semitic Muslims to American society would create a breeding ground for the kind of anti-Semitism that the American Jewish community is experiencing today. American liberal Jews have become infatuated with doing “Tikkun Olam” and paving the way for flooding America with Muslim anti-Semites while ignoring the potential problems of admitting an untold number of immigrants from Muslim countries where extreme anti-Semitic sentiments are mundane and unrestricted.

All this will not end well. With no tradition of assimilation or integration into Western societies, Europe being the best example of this, the restive Muslim minorities that have entered America by the millions over the past eight years will only grow louder, and the level of anti-Semitism will get much worse before it gets better. The myth of multiculturalism, propagated wholeheartedly by the American Jewish liberal community, will implode as the volume of anti-Semitism becomes louder and more brazen. The American melting pot, a symbol of America for the millions and millions of immigrants over the past century, will cease to exist, leaving these anti-Semitic and anti-American Muslim minorities to reproduce, in America, the anti-Semitic and cultural squalor they claim to have wanted to flee.


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Esther is relevant today

The Biblical story of Esther and the immoral society

March 8, 2017

The holiday of Purim, which celebrates God’s salvation of the Jewish people from the annihilation scheme of the evil Haman, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther, is a mere few days away. While the narrative is thousands of years old and depicts occurrences in ancient Persia, the story’s relevance to contemporary society at large is striking, for it describes the eventual results of an absence of divine moral norms.

This concept was elucidated by the illustrious 20th century rabbinic scholar, Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who taught thousands of students at Yeshiva University’s affiliated rabbinical school over the course of nearly half a century.

Rabbi Soloveitchik explained, based on a careful reading of the Book of Esther, that the locus of its narrative – the Persian capital of Shushan – was the seat of an orgiastic society, drunken with unbounded enjoyment and self-gratification. Hence does the text of the Book of Esther give exceptional attention to the ornate furnishings of the king’s palace, the detailed cosmetics regimen of the women, the eunuchs of the king’s harem, and so forth, so as to portray Shushan as the apex of indulgence in pleasure and hedone. Such a society, devoid of divine morality and steeped in blind and limitless self-gratification, is most vulnerable for takeover by amoral totalitarianism.

To quote Rabbi Soloveitchik’s lesson on this theme:

“The hedonic society is, more or less, a democratic Western society, in pursuit of pleasure and happiness. That society’s world philosophy and outlook can be broken into a number of component parts. This democratic society is in pursuit of pleasure, insists on minimum government interference in private life, resents controls, demands unrestricted freedom in matters which do not affect the community, particularly, matters of sexual morality, hates discipline imposed from above, not even by teachers, is opposed to any constriction…

“There is also another society. There is another path which human beings take in order to escape from the finiteness awareness and in order to engage in self-defeat, not only in an allusion but simply in a delusion. The second path, along which frightened man runs in his wild flight from finiteness and death, leads in the opposite direction… Man, traveling along the second path, tries to calm the fear of finiteness through a big lie, through convincing himself that he is more than man. This is done by intentionally magnifying, a hundred-fold, and exaggerating and lying about human ability and power to solve both scientific and metaphysical problems of humanity, and by painting, in iridescent colors, the eschatological age which should be brought about by man alone, through his wisdom and creative efforts.

“Then something happens… By idolizing man and setting him up as a deity, it inevitably leads to the formation of idolatrous cults, from time to time, like the cult of Stalin… Society, mankind, humanity is idolized, defined and set up as the omnipotent deity… The idol is the class, not the individual… In the name of some man-made doctrine or code, they appeal for sacrifices… Arrogant man becomes a tyrant, and the arrogant society which he establishes turns into a tyrannical society.

“As a rule, orgiastic society eventually succumbs to a tyrannical, arrogant society… Orgiastic man overemphasizes the importance of freedom. He simply lacks the courage, the vision, to have the power of anticipation. He lacks the predictive element in history. He does not experience history, since he just lives for the present. Little by little, his power is eroded, and he is replaced by the irrational (tyrannical) man…

“Man cannot, and must not, legislate the moral norm. Man should be ready to either accept morality from God, or give up any attempt to lead a moral life. Imposition of a secular, finite and relative code upon society is in vain and is worthless. In my opinion, that is exactly what the original sin consisted of. Adam tried to impose and legislate norms of good and bad. He brought disaster upon himself and mankind. Irrational man does that with arrogance and ends up with the law of immorality…

“A society that lacks a divine moral code cannot endure. The empty, meaningless void that is created by pliable and disposable communal norms gives entry to totalitarianism, be it Marxism, communism or fascism.”

I fear to ponder what would have eventually happened with American society, originally structured by a strong sense of Biblical values, had the Democratic party won the recent elections. The Democrats’ rejection of any sense of divine morality and their basic embrace of unbridled permissiveness portended the eventual collapse of American society and a severing of its historical connection to Biblical values. When such values are replaced with trends of self-gratification and the breaking down of all semblance of dignified social order, one must worry. When the Biblical concepts of marriage, gender and even honesty are banished in favor of a contrived right to totally redefine and overturn these truths, society is in major trouble.

Rabbi Soloveitchik addressed these issues very clearly, explaining during a 1974 public lecture in Boston:

“A philosophy of [homo]sexualism is being preached throughout the Western world, to such an extent that a certain rabbi came to me and said, “How can we defend ourselves against it?” I told him, take out a Bible and read the verse,“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman.” We are on the defensive, you understand. Why? And the same is true of abortion and so forth.

“I can never predict what modern society will come up with. Everything is possible. The most abnormal, obnoxious, repellent ideas may be introduced in the form of legislation to Congress. And now, since it is modern to be liberal, it’s quite in vogue to be heretical, so any law can be adopted. The Supreme Court in America is the most unpredictable body. Did you see, did you read carefully, the decision about abortion? (Roe vs. Wade)

“This is the meaning of the phrase in Genesis, “children of the flesh”. Children of the flesh are oversensitive to beauty, to unredeemed beauty. We ourselves cherish beauty, but redeemed beauty. Unredeemed, vulgar, coarse people. And simply what the children of the flesh preach is non-interference on the part of ethics and morality. This man wants to enjoy life, that’s all. Because actually the pagan way of life rests upon the idea of egocentric hedonism. The latter was declared by the pagans to be morally desirable. In other words, free man is expected to reject any restrictive norm interfering with his hedonic freedom. The permissive society is the pagan society, which heads toward disaster. The permissive society consists of the children of the flesh, who are obedient to the flesh and its biological pressures.

“The main sin of pagan society consists in its exploiting nature for the sake of man’s enjoyment without the latter accepting responsibility for the very act he enjoyed. In a word, hedonic society, the generation of the Great Flood, drove itself and the environment to annihilation. That is exactly what happens to the Western part of the world, the so-called “democratic world” or the “free world”.”

Rabbi Soloveitchik opposed liberal, hedonistic societal values, and he likewise was an outspoken opponent of communism. He voted for Eisenhower, despite the Democratic party’s all-out efforts to secure the Jewish vote, and he was a staunch supporter of the Vietnam War, viewing the spread of communism as the greatest evil.

There is another lesson of Purim: the defeat of lies and hypocrisy. Haman persuaded the king that his Jewish subjects were not loyal and hence should be done away with. Haman lacked any factual basis for this claim, and, to the contrary, the Jewish community of Persia was quite loyal to the government, as evidenced by various events in the Bible. The Talmud teaches that one must pray for the welfare of the government, and to this day, every synagogue recites a public prayer for the President during Saturday morning prayers. (I must admit that even though I, of course, always respond Amen to this prayer, it was quite a challenge to do so the past eight years, until January 20th of this year.) Haman perpetuated a great lie, and was a hypocrite par excellence.

And today, with so much fake news and totally baseless attacks on the president emanating from the liberal media, inspiring naive people to take to the streets in protest incessantly, the lesson of Purim that the truth must be sought and falsehood must be boldly dispelled needs to be taken to heart and acted upon.

The current hypocrisy of the American left knows no limits, as media and protesters selectively overlook liberal politicians’ numerous and outrageous statements and acts of prejudice, and are obsessed with fabricating implications of bias on the part of President Trump.

We must ask:

Where was the righteous indignation of these people and media organizations when it came to the racial overtones of an important election season communication by the campaign manager of Hillary Clinton?

Where was the righteous indignation of these people and media organizations when it came to the now former Vice President Biden calling then-candidate Obama “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy“?

Where was the righteous indignation of these people and media organizations when it came to Nevada’s Democratic Senator Harry Reid stating of then-candidate Obama that he was electable because of his light skin and “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted one“?

Where was the righteous indignation of these people and media organizations when it came to former President Clinton stating about then-candidate Obama, “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee”?

Where was the righteous indignation of these people and media organizations in reaction to top advisers to the Hillary Clinton ticket harboring and being associated with misogynistic and anti-Israel views?

Where was the righteous indignation of these people and media organizations in reaction to top-tier Democratic party and administration leadership making disparaging remarks about Indians ?

Where is the righteous indignation of these people and media organizations in reaction to Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison’s likely ascension to chair the DNC, in light of  Ellison’s support for Nation of Islam and other anti-American and anti-Semitic causes?

Purim instructs us not to fall for the Big Lie and to be ever so wary of efforts to strip society of divine moral values. I pray that the coming years represent a reversal of these trends and of the overall damage of the past eight years.

Avrohom Gordimer serves on the editorial board of Jewish Action magazine, is a staff writer for the Cross-Currents website, and is a frequent contributor to Israel National News and a host of other publications. He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Bar, and he is also a board member of Coalition for Jewish Values, (, a national organization that speaks on behalf of what are commonly known as Judeo-Christian ethics — the moral voice of the Torah. By day, he works as an account executive at a large Jewish organization based in Manhattan. The views expressed in the above article are solely those of the writer. Sent by the author, also on

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Women are equal in IDF

No limits

 Lt. Col. Oshrat Bachar is the deputy women’s affairs adviser to the IDF chief of staff.
Israel Hayom, March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day, which will be marked worldwide on Wednesday, March 8, is of paramount significance and impact to all women.

On this day, we should celebrate the growing presence of women in key positions, as well as stress the fact that, like many systems and organizations, the Israel Defense Forces has made a huge leap in integrating women into its ranks and promoting gender equality, and it does not seem to be slowing down.

The army is opening roles that were previously closed to women out of an essential need to maintain its strength and preserve its values. Even before Israeli independence and the establishment of the IDF, women were an integral part of the collective effort to defend the Jewish community.

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, said, “The army is the supreme symbol of duty, and as long as women are not equal to men in performing this duty, they have not yet obtained true equality.” I agree completely. The army places women in critical positions where they serve their country and fulfill their duties equally with men.

I am proud to see women wearing military uniforms, honored to serve their country, in the headquarters or in the field, in the air, at sea or on land, knowing they are inspirations and role models for other women, both inside and outside the army. There is no limit to what women can do or the places they can reach — and the growing number of women in regular service or active duty proves that every single day.

During my military service, I was considered a trailblazer in several areas and positions, some of which I performed as the first woman in the IDF’s history. I am proud to say that throughout this long journey, I have managed to maintain my femininity and have never attempted to emulate the men beside me, but instead have remained who I am — a woman and a fighter.

I believe that a woman should not fear remaining a woman, regardless of the role she performs. It is pivotal for her to maintain her character wherever she goes, because in the end, it is character and not gender that constitutes the deciding factor.

These days, the IDF is working on opening the fourth mixed-gender combat battalion, joining Caracal, Arayot Hayarden, and Bardelas. The demand for combat positions among female recruits is tremendous, and for that purpose, the army decided to establish new platforms for female combat soldiers and expand the contributions they can make.

This is reflected in the growing number of women in the mixed Homefront Command battalions patrolling in Judea and Samaria, in the Oketz K-9 special forces unit, and in the Air Defense Command, which is tasked with manning the missile defense batteries and protecting the people of Israel.

As a career soldier, a sense of pride and duty accompanies me each day. I call on you, dear women, those who already serve in the army and those who are awaiting conscription, who have a deep sense of calling mixed with a touch of fear — I am calling on you to believe. Believe in your way and in yourselves; believe that you are good and capable on your own merits. There is no doubt in my mind that you can make it big — it is up to you.

Lt. Col. Oshrat Bachar is the deputy women’s affairs adviser to the IDF chief of staff.

Posted in Middle East Report, Opinion, Recent Posts, Women's Health | Comments Off on Women are equal in IDF

Reducing surgery for breast cancer

Revolutionary Israeli device can eliminate need for follow-up breast cancer surgery

By Shoshanna Solomon, February 9, 2017, Times of Israel

Israel’s Dune Medical Devices has developed an instrument to help women with breast cancer avoid undergoing dreaded follow-up surgery to remove residual cancer cells after a tumor is removed. The device is already being used by surgeons on patients in more than 100 hospitals in the US and in Israeli medical centers.

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When women undergo lumpectomies to remove breast cancers, the cancerous tissue is then sent to labs to ensure that the margins surrounding the tumor are clear of cancerous cells, so that the patients are truly cancer-free. Unfortunately, statistics show that when lab results are released, after a process that can take several weeks, one in four women is asked to return for re-excision — secondary surgery — if the tumors tested reveal that the margins are not clear, indicating some cancer cells remain in the patient’s body.

“We have developed the only technology in the world that has a commercial product that allows surgeons in operating rooms, in real time, to check the margins of the tumor, identify cancerous tissue and decide on the spot if more tissue needs to be removed or not,” Gal Aharonowitz, general manager in charge of Israeli operations, told The Times of Israel in a phone interview.

Clinical trials show that the company’s MarginProbe device reduces the need for re-excision by 51 percent, if it is used during the initial procedure, Aharonowitz said. Commercial use of the product has shown a drop of as much as 80% in the need for repeat surgery, he said.

The device consists of a hand-held gadget — a single-use probe that looks like a large pen or ultrasound instrument — and a console. After the tumor is removed, while the patient is still on the operating table, the surgeon uses the probe to check the margins of the just-removed tissue. Sensors on the probe send signals to the tissue, and a signal, both visual and acoustic, gets reflected back, which is then classified as either positive, indicating there are still cancerous cells on the margins, or negative, giving the all-clear to close up the patient.

The radio-frequency spectroscopy technology used by the probe measures the electrical properties of the cells and can distinguish cancer cells from healthy ones within a second, said Aharonowitz.

The product got FDA approval at the end of 2012 and started marketing in the US in 2013. It has also received the necessary regulatory approvals from European authorities.

The company is now seeking to increase the use of the device in the US and in Israel, and to expand the applications of the technologies to other cancers, like prostate, lung and liver cancers, he said.

Dune Medical's MarginProbe reduces amount of follow up breast cancer surgery (Courtesy)

Dune Medical’s MarginProbe reduces amount of follow-up breast cancer surgery (Courtesy)

“We are already working on these new applications — more specifically on a smart biopsy device that will allow surgeons or radiologists to identify and take the right tissue sample out. We expect this to be available in the market in the near term,” Aharonowitz said. Dune received a 3 million euros grant through the EC Horizon 2020 award in 2016 to expedite development of the biopsy device, he said.

The product is being used by more than 100 hospitals in the US, including Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and UC Irvine Health in California, and 12 in Israel. It has been used commercially on some 10,000 patients, said Aharonowitz.

Dune Medical is in talks with the Israeli Health Ministry to get the probe recognized as standard care in Israel, a step that would allow hospitals to be reimbursed for its use. At the moment, said Ramit Harpaz, in charge of marketing the product in Israel for Dune, the lack of reimbursement is hindering the device’s adoption.

“None of the large hospitals use it, because it is not part of the standard of care,” she said. “We bring objectivity to procedures that were based mostly upon clinical judgment until now.” Hospitals that use the technology include Assuta Hospital in Ramat HaHayal, Tel Aviv, Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

Dune Medical Devices's Gal Aharonowitz (Courtesy)

Dune Medical Devices’s Gal Aharonowitz (Courtesy)

Use of each probe costs around $1,000 in the US, said Aharonowitz — significantly lower than the outlay incurred by insurers when a patient needs to undergo additional surgery, he said. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, re-excisions for lumpectomy procedures range in price from $9,000 to $16,000.

Dr. Tanir Allweis, a breast surgeon and medical director at the Sarah Markowitz Breast Health Center at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, has been using MarginProbe on some 100 patients a year and finds it “very, very user-friendly.”

Allweis, who also took part in Dune Medical’s clinical trials for the product, says it has reduced her re-excision rates by some 50%.

“A conservative approach,” the cost, and some hesitancy regarding the false positives the instrument sometimes gives — requiring surgeons to remove further tissue from the patient even when pathological results later show it was actually clear — could be preventing more widespread adoption of the gadget, she said.

“But false positives are a small price to pay for the improvement in the re-operation rate,” she said. “The trade-off is worth it.”

Illustrative photo of doctors in an operating room at a hospital in Jerusalem. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Illustrative photo of doctors in an operating room at a hospital in Jerusalem. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

According to US nonprofit, about one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2017 some 255,180 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US. About 40,610 women in the US are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989.

Dr. Alice Police, a breast cancer surgeon at UC Irvine Health, does about 300 surgeries a year and has been a surgeon for about 26 years. She participated in Dune’s US clinical trial.

“I think it is the biggest advancement in breast cancer surgery in a generation,” she said in a video testimonial on the company’s website. “When we have to tell a patient that they need a second surgery because the margins aren’t clear from the first surgery, it is just devastating for the patient psychologically.”

Using the probe at the time of the surgery gives immediate reassurance to the surgeon and is “very simple and easy to use,” Police said.

Dune Medical Devices was founded by Dr. Dan Hashimshony, a physicist, in 2002 and has been funded by VCs and private investors.

Dune Medical Devices founder Dan Hashimshony (Courtesy)

Dune Medical Devices founder Dan Hashimshony (Courtesy)

“I like to carry around a list of difficult questions that are worth solving and the margins issue was one of them. It took a while, but we did it,” Hashimshony said in a phone interview. “The next challenge for Dune will be to bring to the market a generic version of the product that will work in almost every solid tumor removal procedure.”

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Hamas prepares to attack Israel

Hamas Prepares for the Next Round of War

Yoni Ben Menachem, February 6, 2017

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

Vol. 17, No. 4

  • Hamas has never for a moment given up its strategy of destroying Israel. Although the military balance of power is in Israel’s favor, Hamas is constantly improving its capabilities and building its military preparedness for the next round.
  • The key question is who will deliver the preemptive strike in the next conflict. Will Israel surprise Hamas and destroy the tunnels before it can use them, or will Hamas surprise Israel and succeed to move its fighters through the tunnels into Israeli territory?
  • At this moment Hamas has no interest in a military clash with Israel. The movement has indeed rehabilitated the military capabilities targeted in the last war but not the thousands of homes that were destroyed.
  • A serious struggle is being waged over Khaled Mashal’s position as chairman of Hamas’ Political Bureau. The military wing of Hamas, supported by Iran, backs Yahye Sinwar, the commander of the military wing, and Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar against the candidates favored by Qatar and Turkey.
  • The quiet on the Gaza border with Israel is temporary and deceptive. Both sides are intensively engaged in drawing lessons from Operation Protective Edge and preparing for the next round of warfare.

The semblance of quiet in the Gaza Strip is misleading. Lately the “drizzle” of rockets launched at Israel by the so-called “rebellious organizations” has declined, apparently because the Hamas security mechanism has carried out a wave of arrests among the Salafi, jihadist, pro-Islamic State organizations. These arrests were aimed at placating Egypt. They do not, however, reflect Hamas’ change of intentions toward Israel.

In the town of Rafah on February 2, 2017, the Hamas military wing held a large military ceremony in which a monument was unveiled in memory of the Tunisian engineer Muhammad al-Zouari, a drone specialist who worked for Hamas. On top of the monument was a model of an Ababil drone.

A monument dedicated to Zouari in Gaza with an Ababil drone on top.

A monument dedicated to Zouari in Gaza with an Ababil drone on top.

Hamas claims that Zouari was assassinated by Israeli Mossad agents near his home in Tunisia because he had made a great technological contribution to the anti-Israeli struggle. Hamas credited him with developing unmanned aircraft as well as a small, remotely-controlled submarine.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman of Hamas’ military wing, praised Zouari’s work for Hamas and disclosed that he had often visited Gaza. What he said regarding Israel during the ceremony is worthy of note: “The Palestinian problem is not merely a geographic problem or an internal political struggle between a people and an occupier; it is instead a problem of the Islamic world and an existential, historical, and cultural struggle.”1

Hamas poster.

Zouari at work. Hamas poster.

Hamas has never for a moment given up its strategy of destroying Israel. Although the military balance of power is in Israel’s favor, Hamas is constantly improving its capabilities and building its military preparedness for the next round. It aims to inflict painful strategic blows on Israel in various ways:  short- and long-range rocket fire, attack tunnels, booby-trapped drones, naval commando forces infiltrated into Israeli territory, and even cyber warfare and hacking into IDF soldiers’ computers and telephones.

In early February 2017, Hamas media outlets extensively quoted Israeli leaked media reports on the failures of Operation Protective Edge, which are expected to be revealed in the Israeli state comptroller’s report. Hamas commentators claimed that these failures reflected the Israeli political echelon’s helplessness and confusion during Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, and said it was actually Hamas that won the campaign.2

Hamas’ psychological warfare is likely to continue after the comptroller’s report is published in full.

Hamas Has Recovered Militarily

Senior Israeli security officials confirmed in late January 2017, that Hamas has fully rehabilitated its military capabilities that were damaged in Operation Protective Edge and has even improved some of them, namely in the areas of rocket and mortar fire and tunnel construction.3

Currently, Hamas has several thousand rockets aimed at Israel and dozens of attack tunnels. These tunnels are intended to infiltrate its gunmen into the Gaza-belt area for murder and kidnapping attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. The Hamas military wing continues to work round the clock on manufacturing rockets and digging tunnels.

This is a race against time. Israel has launched a major project to build a large wall deep in the ground around Gaza. The aim is to counteract the tunnel phenomenon while also developing advanced technological methods for detecting tunnels.

The key question is who will deliver the preemptive strike in the next conflict. Will Israel surprise Hamas and destroy the tunnels before it can use them, or will Hamas surprise Israel and succeed to move its fighters through the tunnels into Israeli territory?

When Will the Next Military Conflict Occur?

A wave of demonstrations swept Gaza on January 9, 2017. Residents were protesting the electricity shortage crisis, and Hamas security forces were forced to fire in the air to block the protestors. Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, has not been able to solve the electricity shortage.

The residents are suffering through the harsh winter with only three hours of electricity per day.

The anger expressed at the Hamas regime certainly could have led it to deflect the blame toward Israel and instigate a military escalation. Hamas would thereby have sought to divert gazes from its responsibility for Gaza’s dire situation.

The crisis was temporarily averted when Turkey intervened and agreed to send fuel to Gaza, with Qatar providing financial aid for purchasing fuel for Gaza’s power station.

This is a time bomb that, if not finally resolved, could reemerge and explode – in Israel’s face as well.

The electricity crisis is only one aspect of the fragile situation in Gaza with its explosive potential.

The results of a poll published this week in the territories, conducted by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) of Ramallah,4 reveal that 71 percent of Gaza’s residents think their economic situation has deteriorated in 2016 compared to 2015, and 55 percent also see a worsening of their security situation.

At this moment Hamas has no interest in a military clash with Israel. The movement has indeed rehabilitated the military capabilities targeted in the last war but not the thousands of homes that were destroyed, and the rebuilding continues.

Map of Hamas’ tunnel system in 2014.

Map of Hamas’ tunnel system in 2014. (IDF Spokesman)

Meanwhile, the movement’s leadership has been opening a new page with Egypt. The aim is to bring about an easing of the blockade on Gaza with a series of measures, particularly the opening of the Rafah crossing and even its conversion into a commercial crossing.

In early February 2017, a Hamas security delegation is expected in Egypt to discuss new security understandings with the heads of Egyptian intelligence. The understandings pertain to safeguarding Gaza’s border with Egypt and to the war against the Islamic State branch in northern Sinai. If the talks succeed, the blockade on the Egyptian side of Gaza will be eased substantially. This is something Hamas wants very much. The pressure by the Gaza residents will then diminish, and Gaza will have a small, regular opening to the Arab world without having to be dependent on Israel or the Palestinian Authority.

At the same time, the movement’s leadership has been busy with internal elections. The first stage ended with the election of a new Hamas leadership to represent the security prisoners in Israel.

Internal Political Tensions Emerging

Beneath the surface, a serious struggle is being waged over Khaled Mashal’s position as chairman of the Political Bureau.

The military wing of Hamas, which is supported by Iran, backs Yahye Sinwar, in effect the commander of the military wing, and Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar against the candidates favored by Qatar and Turkey, Ismail Haniyeh and Mousa Abu Marzouk.

Al Zahar in the center

Al Zahar (center) during the October 2012 Gaza war.

Recently the tensions between these two camps grew when the Turkish deputy prime minister condemned the truck terror attack by Fadi al-Kanbar at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem, which killed four IDF soldiers.

The military wing was enraged when the Hamas leadership in Qatar remained silent about Turkey’s condemnation.

This internal tension should not be underestimated. It, too, could lead to a violent eruption between the camps and an escalation against Israel.

Meanwhile, there have also been preliminary contacts through mediators, on a prisoner-exchange deal between Israel and Hamas in which Israelis would be returned, and Hamas security prisoners would be released. Specifically, this would involve returning the bodies of the missing IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, along with Avraham Mengistu of Ashkelon and a Bedouin Israeli, Hisham al-Said, who have been held captive in Gaza since 2014 and 2015 respectively.

In return for the four, Hamas is demanding the release of thousands of terrorists in a deal that, it claims, must be larger than the Shalit deal of 2011.

A military conflict between Hamas and Israel at this time would likely disrupt the talks on a prisoner-exchange deal. With such a deal, Hamas would hope to win glory and sympathy in the Palestinian street.

As noted, the quiet on the Gaza border with Israel is temporary and deceptive. Both sides are intensively engaged in drawing lessons from Operation Protective Edge and preparing for the next round of warfare.

Military logic calls for a surprise move and a preemptive strike by Israel against Hamas’ newly built tunnels and rocket stockpiles. For the time being, though, it appears that Israel’s political echelon wants to continue the status quo.

Hamas’ intentions are very hard to assess. The power struggles within the movement, its relations with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, and the economic situation in Gaza are variable factors that could lead the Hamas leadership to initiate a military move against Israel at any given moment if it serves the leadership’s interests. Hamas is now prepared for such a move from a military standpoint.

The bottom line is that the Israeli political echelon still has not reached a decision on the future of the Gaza Strip.

Does Israel want to oust the Hamas government? Who would rule Gaza in its stead? Does Israel want to reconquer the entire strip and reinstate the military government, or is it seeking a long-term truce that would see the easing of the blockade, the opening of a seaport with Israeli supervision, and the admission of thousands of workers into Israel?

So long as there is no Israeli decision on these matters, the status quo will continue, and Israel will react to Hamas’ moves instead of being the party that initiates moves, with all that this entails from a military standpoint.

* * *


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