This Week In Israel - Aug 25, 2009
 A conservative Commentary on events in israel
A bit About

Hello Everybody,

Welcome to This Week in Israel. Occasionally we like to provide our new readers with some basics for this column, as well as some background on ourselves and our perspectives.

First of all, we write from a conservative, Christian worldview. I am a Christian Zionist. In other words, I believe that Israel has a right to its land. All of it as given to Abraham.

Having said that, I hastily add that I am a realist. I know it isn’t going to happen politically. In fact, if one looks at Israel’s boundaries, they have changed every since Joshua crossed the Jordan River. That is just the way things work in a world that had dynamic political, military and social governments, be they kings or Presidents.

I am also Jewish on my mother’s side of the family, as was her mother before her. That gives me some sway inside Israel, where we live when we are not in America for visits, to work on publishing novels or other works.

We spread ourselves pretty thin, doing the work the Lord has directed us to fulfill, but it is a joyful task, entailing lots of activities, for which we have been prepared. We believe that thinking outside the box of “that’s the way it’s always been done before” is not only wise, but allows God to get into our dreams and goals and activities.

I tell people that I believe in the fundamentals of our faith, but don’t have rabies about it. In other words, since God is not a burglar of the will, why should I get angry at others who decide they have a free will also?

8/25/2009 - Palin; Cheney; Bibi; Avi and Us

This column is a mix of American social, political and cultural commentary side by side with the same areas of Israel. The first reason for that is simple: we believe the two nations pull in harness. What affects the USA will have ripple effects in Israel and vice versa. The second reason is because those things interest me, and I am the writer. It’s my firm belief that lots of our readers are interested in these things based on their feedback.

Of course, something I write or say on the radio will sooner or later incense you. It’s bound to happen. It happens in marriages, at work, church and everywhere people exchange ideas. All we ask is that you grant us the freedom of expression here, as you have it there.

If you don’t like something, send us an email. I promise I will respond, time allowing, and we can discuss it. I am unapologetic about my positions, my lop-sided attitudes and the like. But I also am open to change some of them if you have a good enough argument.

READING TIPS: We usually begin with news and ideas about the US. Then we go to the Middle East. And we may begin with some humor, a poke in the eye to some hypocrite, or other nonsense. As we progress the subjects become more serious, and we finish with “Moore’s Musings.” That is where I share something that is on my mind at that moment. It may be philosophical, on world events, or even about the Christian faith and its place in life. Whatever, we do work hard at being fair, just and educational. Oh, yes, and we try to have some fun. Sometimes at our expense, more likely at somebody else’s. Well, it’s true. We aren’t stuffy. Don’t care much for arrogant flakes or cry babies. (I’m surprised at how often both those reside in the same bodies.)

So we hope you have some fun, learn something and will come back again and again to see what’s up with


We watched the Beck show mornings in Israel when he was hammering away at ACORN. From the information we have seen and been able to glean on our own, this is another MAFIA.

That the President meets with these guys, protects them to no end, and the Congress continues to enrich them only casts further clouds on our government.

ACORN Director Pleads Guilty

Last Updated: Fri, 08/21/2009 - 5:07pm

A high-ranking official at the taxpayer-funded leftist group that conducts fraudulent voter registration drives has pleaded guilty to conspiracy for organizing a scheme that illegally paid workers to register new voters.

As a Nevada field director for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Christopher Edwards paid canvassers—many of them “lazy crack heads”—to register new voters for the 2008 presidential election. He also set illegal quotas of at least 20 voters a day for canvassers to keep their job and offered an additional $5 for registering 21 or more.…

ACORN’s well documented history of fraud and corruption led to an overdue congressional investigation that determined the community group is a criminal enterprise. A lengthy report recently published by the House Committee on Government Reform reveals that ACORN has repeatedly and deliberately engaged in systematic fraud and that the group hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.

Incredibly, the radical leftist organization with offices around the nation continues to receive massive amounts of U.S. taxpayer dollars for its various community programs. Earlier this year ACORN got a multibillion-dollar infusion—for “neighborhood stabilization activities”—from the monstrous economic recovery bill that was supposed to create new jobs and offer an immediate tax relief to stimulate the ailing economy.



It amuses me how the “state run media” hyperventilates about Sarah Palin. They hate her, revile, mock and lie about her to no end.

Who is Sarah Palin? She’s a country girl who worked hard to get elected to the highest office in her state of Alaska. She is a populist, pretty, articulate, funny, and very conservative. Oh, and worst of all, she is a Christian who practices conservative religion.

Any one of these could get her in trouble with the socialist media in America, but she has them all and they have gone berserk in their goal of trashing her.

FOR THE RECORD, I’m not a Palin groupie. I liked her speeches at the convention, I like it that the media is hyped about her, and I wish her well. When compared to the Obama crowd I like her even more.

She scored on the “death panels” that the Dems said didn’t exist and then said they had removed them from the legislation. Now that’s a great accomplishment in itself!

Now King Obie is mad at her too.

The following piece is worth all the time it takes you to read it, especially when you note that it occurred on the Bloomberg website!


Obama Snares Palin, Media in Wide Blame-Game Net

Commentary by Caroline Baum

And so it is with President Barack Obama, who tripped on his sprint to the health-care-reform finish line. Voters, it seems, want to understand a little more about what ObamaCare will mean for them, what it will do to the doctor-patient relationship, and what it will cost future generations in higher taxes and, yes, rationed supply.

Rather than examine the public’s concerns, the plans’ inconsistencies or the sheer irresponsibility of trying to ram something this big and complicated through Congress without a small-scale trial, the Obama administration is pointing fingers. Lots of them. Most of the targets are just plain silly.

1. Conservative groups

When liberal activists, including trade unions, Acorn and, protested against anything and everything President George W. Bush said or did, it was called grassroots democracy.

When conservative groups encourage supporters to attend town hall meetings and make their sentiments known to their congressmen, it’s un-American, disruptive and the work of right- wing extremists.

Madame Hypocrite

Where was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, when President George W. Bush was being compared to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis? She was a “fan of disrupters” in those days, as she told anti-war protesters at a January 2006 town hall meeting in San Francisco. Pelosi only developed a thin skin (too much plastic surgery?) when the Democrats took control of the executive and legislative branches of government.

The effort to blame right-wing groups is transparent. If my feedback on a recent column is indicative of the political persuasion and demographic distribution of the protesters, these are ordinary Americans energized by the debate, frustrated at not having a voice and motivated to exercise their right of free speech. Attempts to smear opponents and shut down debate are, well, un-American.

2. Insurance Companies

Garnering support for health-insurance reform by demonizing insurance companies is a cheap shot, albeit one that resonates with the public. After all, these are the faceless bureaucrats who deny or pay claims in a seemingly arbitrary manner and refuse or cancel coverage if you cost them too much money.

Stubborn Facts

Facts are stubborn things, this White House is quick to remind us. And in this case, the facts don’t support the vilification.

If insurance companies were gouging the public, the evidence would show up in one of two places, according to Graef Crystal, a compensation expert in Santa Rosa, California, and occasional Bloomberg News columnist: excessive executive pay or excessive returns to shareholders.

His analysis of five major health insurers shows just the opposite: below-market pay and below-market shareholder returns.

“There’s no case here for undue enrichment of shareholders” or over-compensating CEOs, Crystal finds.

Health care needs a major overhaul, but that’s no reason to make scapegoats out of insurance companies.

3. The Media

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard Obama point the finger at the media at his town hall meeting last week in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Fishing Expedition

The president, defending the White House’s fishing expedition for “fishy” e-mails on health-insurance reform (suspended this week by popular demand), blamed the media for “distorting what’s taken place.”

Is this the same media that was in the pocket for candidate Obama and waltzed us through the honeymoon? If Bush had been as reliant on his teleprompter as Obama, or said “Cinco de Cuatro” when he meant “Cuatro de Mayo,” the press would have been all over him for being inept.

Sorry, Mr. President, you have no idea what it means for the media to distort what’s taken place. The long-gone Bush administration is getting more negative press than you are.

4. Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin, the recently retired governor of Alaska, 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and Democrat’s favorite whipping boy (or girl), created a stir with a reference to death panels on Facebook. Palin said she didn’t want her parents or Down-Syndrome baby to “have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide” what kind of medical care should be allocated to these less productive members of society.

Blame the Democrats

This is the same Sarah Palin whose foreign policy experience was summed up during the campaign by her ability “to see Russia from land here in Alaska.” This is the same Sarah Palin credited with changing the terms of the debate? C’mon. That’s too laughable to address.

Besides, there’s a kernel of truth in what she said. Like all goods and services, medical care is a scarce resource that must be rationed. The only question is how: by the market (price) or by government mandate.

If government is doing the rationing, what exactly will bureaucrats use to determine who gets what care and who doesn’t?

Opposition to fast-track health-insurance reform is coming from Obama’s own party. Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota and one of six Finance Committee members involved in bipartisan negotiations, said on Fox News Sunday that the goal is to “get this right,” not meet some “specific timetable.”

He said the Senate lacks enough votes to pass a bill with a public option. “To continue to chase that rabbit, I think, is just a wasted effort.”

There’s always room for one more -- the Democrats -- on Obama’s blame-game list.

(Caroline Baum, author of “Just What I Said,” is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)


A winning Smile?

A Winning Smile?


By Sarah Palin

Today's Wall Street Journal contains some puzzling news for all Americans who are impacted by high energy prices and who share the goal of moving us toward energy independence.

For years, states rich with an abundance of oil and natural gas have been begging Washington, DC politicians for the right to develop their own natural resources on federal lands and off shore. Such development would mean good paying jobs here in the United States (with health benefits) and the resulting royalties and taxes would provide money for federal coffers that would potentially off-set the need for higher income taxes, reduce the federal debt and deficits, or even help fund a trillion dollar health care plan if one were so inclined to support such a plan.

So why is it that during these tough times, when we have great needs at home, the Obama White House is prepared to send more than two billion of your hard-earned tax dollars to Brazil so that the nation's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, can drill off shore and create jobs developing its own resources? That's all Americans want; but such rational energy development has been continually thwarted by rabid environmentalists, faceless bureaucrats and a seemingly endless parade of lawsuits aimed at shutting down new energy projects.

I'll speak for the talent I have personally witnessed on the oil fields in Alaska when I say no other country in the world has a stronger workforce than America, no other country in the world has better safety standards than America, and no other country in the world has stricter environmental standards than America. Come to Alaska to witness how oil and gas can be developed simultaneously with the preservation of our eco-system. America has the resources. We deserve the opportunity to develop our resources no less than the Brazilians. Millions of Americans know it is true: "Drill, baby, drill." Alaska is proof you can drill and develop, and preserve nature, with its magnificent caribou herds passing by the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), completely unaffected. One has to wonder if Obama is playing politics and perhaps refusing a "win" for some states just to play to the left with our money.

The new Gulf of Mexico lease sales tomorrow sound promising and perhaps will move some states in the right direction, but we all know that the extreme environmentalists who serve to block progress elsewhere, including in Alaska, continue to block opportunities. These environmentalists are putting our nation in peril and forcing us to rely on unstable and hostile foreign countries. Mr. Obama can stop the extreme tactics and exert proper government authority to encourage resource development and create jobs and health benefits in the U.S.; instead, he chooses to use American dollars in Brazil that will help to pay the salaries and benefits for Brazilians to drill for resources when the need and desire is great in America.

Buy American is a wonderful slogan, but you can't say in one breath that you want to strengthen our economy and stimulate it, and then in another ship our much-needed dollars to a nation desperate to drill while depriving us of the same opportunity.
- Sarah Palin




Charlie Cook: Dem situation has 'slipped completely out of control'

Charlie Cook, one ofthe best political handicappers in the business, sent out aspecial update to Cook Political Report subscribers Thursday that should send shivers down Democratic spines.

Reviewing recent polling and the 2010 election landscape, Cook can envision a scenario in which Democratic House losses could exceed 20 seats.

"These data confirm anecdotal evidence, and our own view, that the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and Congressional Democrats. Today, The Cook Political Report’s Congressional election model, based on individual races, is pointing toward a net Democratic loss of between six and 12 seats, but our sense, factoring in macro-political dynamics is that this is far too low," he wrote.

"Many veteran Congressional election watchers, including Democratic ones, report an eerie sense of déjà vu, with a consensus forming that the chances of Democratic losses going higher than 20 seats is just as good as the chances of Democratic losses going lower than 20 seats."

Cook scrupulously avoided any mention that Democratic control of the House is in jeopardy but, notinga new Gallup poll showing Congress’ job disapproval at 70 percent among independents,concluded that the post-recess environment could feel considerably different than when Congress left in August.

"We believe it would be a mistake to underestimate the impact that this mood will have on Members of Congress of both parties when they return to Washington in September, if it persists through the end of the Congressional recess." (


AUGUST 24, 2009, 11:27 P.M. ET

Saving the Obama Presidency

Obama needs to move to the right.

On this day in 1994, Bill Clinton's presidency was saved.

It didn't look that way at the time. After threatening to keep Congress in session until a health-care bill was passed, then Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell gave up and let members return home for their recess. The legislative push for universal health care never recovered, and scarcely 11 weeks later Republicans led by Newt Gingrich woke up to find that they had just won control of both houses of Congress.

Mr. Clinton's presidency, however, did recover. And though the Republican revolution in Congress would ultimately run aground, in retrospect we can see two important legacies: It helped usher in a new era of prosperity for the American people, and in the process helped Mr. Clinton save his presidency.

Today the lesson that President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress take from that 1994 defeat is that they need to avoid Mr. Clinton's "mistakes." Avoiding mistakes, however, is not a winning strategy. A far more productive strategy would be to embrace Mr. Clinton's success, which was freeing himself from his party's left and returning to the centrist themes he had campaigned on.

No doubt that would be a bitter pill for Mr. Obama, given how he has made health care his signature issue. Still, a wiser West Wing ought to have seen this train wreck coming. For months polls have shown a huge gap between the popularity of the president and the unpopularity of his policies. Sooner or later, one of these had to give.

Associated Press

Mr. Obama's bet was that his personal popularity would be enough to push his agenda through. Perhaps that would have been possible before the $787 billion economic stimulus package, the $410 billion omnibus bill that funds the government, the House-approved cap-and-trade bill, and so forth. But these big-ticket spending bills have helped define what the president means by "hope" and "change," and it is through this prism that the American public now views his health-care proposals.

Public skepticism increased when the Congressional Budget Office issued findings contradicting Mr. Obama's claims that his health-care reform would lower costs. And the more Americans have learned about the specifics, the more they dislike the plans. The president understands that he loses when he talks about substantive issues, which is why he's been fudging on the public option. He may not understand that he is closing the gap between his unpopular policies and his personal popularity in the worst way a president can: by reducing his own credibility.

Back in 1994, Mr. Clinton faced pretty much the same problem. Though he too had won the White House promising to be a new kind of Democrat, his first two years had a distinctly liberal tenor: battling over gays in the military, promoting a new energy tax, turning a promised middle-class tax cut into a huge tax hike, and trying to push through universal health care. Though he continues to deny GOP contributions to his success, after his 1994 health-care defeat, Mr. Clinton did what all smart pols do: He appropriated the most appealing parts of his opponents' agenda.

The result was a new Bill Clinton, embracing everything from deregulation and welfare reform to the Defense of Marriage Act. In his 1996 State of the Union, he even struck a Reaganite chord by announcing that "the era of Big Government is over." From this newly held center, Mr. Clinton advanced his presidency and pushed, both successfully and unfairly, to demonize Mr. Gingrich. Mostly he got away with it.

In his book "The Pact," historian Steven M. Gillon puts it this way: "Ironically, Gingrich's revolution may have saved the Clinton presidency by freeing him from the control of his party's more liberal base in Congress, giving him the opportunity to return to the moderate message that helped him win election in the first place.

"It was Gingrich who changed the language of American politics and forced Clinton to play the game on his turf," he writes. "But it was Clinton who ultimately got the credit and emerged as the decade's most popular leader."

Even in the midst of a Republican resurgence, Mr. Clinton would go on from the defeat to become the first Democrat since FDR to be elected to two terms. By contrast, Mr. Obama's handling of the health-care debate—making villains out of cable television and insurance companies, questioning the motives of those who disagree, imposing artificial deadlines—suggests a rigidity typically associated with a lack of executive experience and responsibility.

At the moment, Mr. Obama plainly remains wedded to the view that the 1994 failure to get a health-care bill through Congress marked a catastrophe for the Clinton presidency rather than its liberation. On Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said his boss was "quite comfortable" with the idea that sticking to his agenda may well mean "he only lives in this house" for one term. Sounds like a man who appreciates the limits of a president's personal popularity. (




Rahm Emmanuel’s filthy mouth has been joked about by the President in a national press conference. Apparently Obie doesn’t mind the trash talk as long as Rahm keeps beating on Congress to do his bidding.

But others within the administration (regime?) are, as we have long known, dismayed that the United States has a spy agency to try to protect us from the likes of the Nazis, Communists, Al Qaeda and Taliban and Hezbollah, as well as others too numerous to mention.

They lump our guys right in there with the above groups. They, and the President want to give the inmates of Guantanamo basic Miranda rights!

Rich Lowery of National Review Online wrote an excellent column this week on “Poor Leon Paneta.” The Director of the CIA has had to write – count ‘em – six letters to the CIA faithful, trying to encourage them in the face of their President’s administration trying to crush them for doing their job. What job?

Read Dick Cheney’s statement below:


Cheney Statement on CIA Documents/Investigation

Former Vice President Dick Cheney gave The Weekly Standard a statement Monday night about the CIA documents and the coming Justice Department investigation.

The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda. This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002. The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States. The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. President Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security. (Weekly Standard blurb)



The only man convicted of taking part in the Lockerbie airplane bombing was released this week because he has “terminal prostate cancer.”

I really don’t care if this cretin died in prison! He murdered 270 innocent people. Now he’s free, at home in Libya, greeted as a national hero by the terminally nuts Gadhafi.

Then the news broke that British PM Gordon Brown may have had the terrorist freed to get a sweetheart deal for Libya’s oil.

If that is true, it only confirms that there is no limit to the sinfulness of many world leaders today.


For many years, few Christian tourists visited the City of David. No, I’m not talking about modern Jerusalem, or the Old City. Those are not the “real” City of David.

Stand on the Southern Steps outside the Temple Mount with your back to the wall on the south side and look straight ahead. That little downhill-sloping area across the street from the Old City walls, where the buses all park is the real City of David.

The area has seen a tremendous amount of labor, spiffing up, and promotion in the past few years. Now there are catwalks, clean areas, refreshment areas, and great areas for archeology fans. This is one great place!

We have reported over the past year or so on the numerous discoveries in the digs here.

Now there has been a Roman building found.

A Large, Magnificent Roman Building, c. 1,800 Years Old, was Exposed in the City of David in the Israel Antiquities Authority Excavations at the 'Givati Car Park', in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park

A spacious edifice from the Roman period (third century CE) – apparently a mansion that belonged to a wealthy individual – was recently exposed in the excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the 'Givati Car Park' at the City of David, in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park. The excavations are being conducted at the site on behalf of the IAA and in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, and are underwritten by the ‘Ir David Foundation.

According to Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, the excavation director on behalf of the IAA, together with Yana Tchekhanovets, “Although we do not have the complete dimensions of the structure, we can cautiously estimate that the building covered an area of approximately 1,000 square meters. In the center of it was a large open courtyard surrounded by columns. Galleries were spread out between the rows of columns and the rooms that flanked the courtyard. The wings of the building rose to a height of two stories and were covered with tile roofs”.

A large quantity of fresco fragments was discovered in the collapsed ruins from which the excavators deduced that some of the walls of the rooms were treated with plaster and decorated with colorful paintings. The painted designs that adorned the plastered walls consisted mostly of geometric and floral motifs. Its architectural richness, plan and particularly the artifacts that were discovered among its ruins bear witness to the unequivocal Roman character of the building.

The most outstanding of these finds are a marble figurine in the image of a boxer and a gold earring inlaid with precious stones. (Look at back issues of TWI for photos of the earring - EDM)

The building, which was constructed during the third century CE, was shaken by a tremor in the fourth century, the results of which are clearly apparently in the excavation area:the walls of the rooms caved-in and their stone collapse, which was piled high, covered the walls of the bottom floor, some of which still stand to a considerable height. Architectural elements such as columns and capitals, as well as mosaics and the large amount of fresco fragments that were used in the rooms of the second story were discovered inside the collapsed ruins. The coins that were discovered among the collapse and on the floors indicated the building’s ruins should be dated to circa 360 CE. It seems that what we have here is archaeological evidence of the results of the earthquake that struck our region in 363 CE.

Dr. Ben-Ami adds, “We know of no other buildings from the Roman period that were discovered in Israel which have a similar plan to that of the building from the City of David. The closest contemporary parallels to this structure are located in sites of the second-fourth century CE that were excavated in Syria. Edifices such as these are “urban mansions” from the Roman period that were discovered in Antioch, Apamea and Palmyra. If this parallel is correct, then in spite of its size and opulence, it seems that this building was used originally as a private residence”.

The exposure of the Roman building in the City of David is a significant contribution to our understanding of the extent of the construction in the Roman city in the third-fourth centuries CE. It constitutes extremely important archaeological evidence regarding the growth of the settlement at the end of the Roman period into the southern precincts of the city, and it shows that the prevailing supposition among scholars according to which the City of David hill remained outside the area of Roman settlement at the time of the Aelia Capitolina is no longer valid. (Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)


No, it’s not Manhattan. It is Israel. The killings range from a gang hanging a man who obviously didn’t like mixed race groups to a father dismembering his wife and daughter.

Not long ago three boys stabbed an old lady in Jerusalem to see how it would feel. And the list continues to grow.

This is especially sad in a city where one of our single, friends who is a 35 year old lady used to jog alone after 11:30 at night in safety.

Since the first of August, 13 murders have been reported.

There are conferences where “experts” have presented the means of police being accountable for their job to local mayors. Currently Israel has a national police force, whose primary duties are giving tickets to people who use their cell phones while driving and trying to catch terrorists.

It is so common in Israel that the police won’t even bother to come to a break in (as we can personally testify) that the respect for cops is lower than for politicians.

In Florida the word is that if there’s water standing, then there could also be an alligator there. In Israel if there’s a cop, then he’s probably crooked. That’s the general opinion. That is sad, because not all are bad. Still, that is the rep they have.

Something had better be done, though. This rage and killing has to stop.


Those words no doubt sound stupid. (BTW, Obama’s favorite movie is “The Godfather.”)

In Israel, the United Nations reportedly had the Palestinians write the report on Gaza. I for one was not stunned. Our inside sources at the UN tell us that the whole organization is controlled by Arabs. Their money buys lots of cooperation. There are indeed some wonderful folks who work there, but by and large, it is a very corrupt, anti-American and anti-Israel outfit.

From my perspective, I think it should be disbanded.



Want to know more about last weeks suicide bombing? Yaakov Katz provides one that is worth reading.


Security and Defense: Smoke screen?

Aug. 20, 2009

The first documented case of Hamas assistance to global jihad organizations in Israel was in 1998 A year before that, Nabil Ukal, a nondescript 27-year-old resident of the Jabalya refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, decided to travel to Pakistan for religious instruction. After several months there, Ukal was recruited by al-Qaida, and in February 1998 he traveled to Afghanistan to undergo military training at one of the terror group's bases.

After completing his training three months later, Ukal returned to Gaza and paid a visit to Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the wheelchair-bound Hamas spiritual leader. Ukal told him about his training and how he had been sent back to Gaza by al-Qaida to set up the Palestinian branch of the global terror group. Yassin gave Ukal a blessing, an envelope filled with $5,000 and sent him on his way.

Ukal became known as al-Qaida's representative in Israel. A month before his arrest in June 2000, he received a distinguished visitor from England at his home in Gaza - Richard Reid, a.k.a. the "shoe bomber." Since Ukal's capture, the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) have captured numerous Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs suspected of maintaining ties with al-Qaida and global jihad terror networks that have planned terror attacks on Israeli targets.

The clashes last weekend in Rafah between Hamas and the Jund Ansar Allah (Soldiers of the Partisans of God), a Gaza-based group thought to be ideologically affiliated with al-Qaida, demonstrate that the threat against Israel may be worse than initially assumed.

As the smoke cleared, 24 people lay dead, including Jund Ansar Allah's spiritual leader Sheikh Abdul Latif Abu Mousa. The fighting began after Mousa, a popular cleric, gave a sermon at a mosque in Rafah named for Ibn Taymiyyah, a famous 13th-century Muslim scholar whose writings are used by al-Qaida to justify jihad.

In the presence of armed and masked gunmen, Mousa declared the establishment of an Islamic emirate in direct challenge to the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip, which he accused of being too moderate and moving toward the West.

Mousa, 49, was a doctor by training and used to work for the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry. In recent years he had served as the imam at the Ibn Taymiyyah Mosque, as well as a spiritual leader for several terror groups aligned with al-Qaida, including Jund Ansar Allah and the Army of Islam, which was behind the 2007 abduction of BBC reporter Alan Johnston.

Another Palestinian killed during the clashes was Fuad Hassan Mahmoud Banat, also known as Abu Abdullah al-Suri, the official military leader of Jund Ansar Allah. Banat, 45, was born and raised in Syria, and was a former senior Hamas operative. He left Hamas after claiming the group had become too moderate. He was also one of the masterminds of a major terror attack that was thwarted by the IDF in June when 10 gunmen and explosives-laden horses tried infiltrating near Nahal Oz.

In addition to Jund Ansar Allah, several other groups in Gaza are believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida. There is the Dughmush clan's Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), Jahafil al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad (The Unification and Jihad Legions), which began operating in 2008, the al-Qaida in Palestine organization and Jaish al-Umma (Army of the Nation).

Hamas has been known to cooperate with some of these groups from time to time. One example was the June 2006 abduction of Gilad Schalit, which was carried out jointly by Hamas and the Army of Islam. After the Johnston abduction by the Dughmush clan, the ties grew tenuous. In the summer of 2008 though, Hamas and the Army of Islam established a joint committee to maintain a stable relationship and resolve disputes.

The relations are once again tense after clashes erupted between the two groups just days after Hamas's crackdown on Jund Ansar Allah. The gunfights took place in southern Gaza City, a known Dughmush stronghold.

DESPITE THE tension, Hamas knows how to use these different groups to its advantage. While it has almost completely stopped its attacks against Israel since Operation Cast Lead, it has activated some of these groups as proxies to continue launching attacks while it focuses on its rehabilitation and the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks with Fatah.

In Israel, the crackdown is interpreted as Hamas's way of exerting its power throughout Gaza and declaring that it is the sole authority. Hamas knew of the existence of Jund Ansar Allah immediately following its establishment, but decided to attack only after its authority was openly challenged. Had it not been challenged, Hamas likely would have gone on tolerating the group's existence.

On the other hand, the attack is part of Hamas's response to the Sixth Fatah Conference in Bethlehem last week, and the decisions the movement made against Hamas. This was demonstrated by Hamas's allegations that Fatah supplied Jund Ansar Allah with the weapons it used during last Friday's clashes.

According to Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior researcher at the Institute for Counterterrorism in Herzliya, Hamas's rise to power was the catalyst for the subsequent rise of these different al-Qaida-affiliated groups. A lecturer on modern terrorism and guerrilla warfare at the National Defense College, Karmon is writing an academic paper arguing that without the support of a state or regime, al-Qaida-affiliated groups cannot develop and flourish.

"This was the case in Afghanistan in the 1980s and under the Taliban in the 1990s, as well as in Sudan between 1991 and 1995," he explains. "Other attempts in Iraq and Egypt, where al-Qaida did not have the support of the local regime, failed."

He says al-Qaida has not succeeded in setting up cells or connecting with preexisting terror groups in the West Bank, which is controlled by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

"The significance," Karmon says, "is that while Hamas may occasionally crack down on al-Qaida-like groups, it also supports them."

For Israel, this is a point of concern. The IDF already finds itself surrounded by al-Qaida and global jihad groups in Jordan, Lebanon and the Sinai Peninsula. These groups have been behind attacks in those countries and against Israeli and Western tourist spots.

The growing presence of al-Qaida in Gaza is significant for another reason: These groups usually like to carry out large-scale 9/11-like attacks, and not just launch Kassam rockets.



This week Prime Minister Netanyahu met with US Mideast envoy George Mitchell in London.

(BY THE WAY, WHERE IS HILLARY?!?!?! Isn’t she Secretary of State. Perhaps Obama thinks that since she’s a secretary she should hide out somewhere taking dictation.)

Anyway, Netanyahu turned the tables on Mitchell and by remote control on Obama and the evil Emanuel.

“Make Saudi Arabia do a few things, then we’ll talk,” was Bibi’s message in so many words. Read on:


PM wants US to pressure Saudis on normalization

In meeting with US Mideast envoy George Mitchell in London, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ask US pressure Saudi Arabia, Arab states to normalize ties with Israel as condition for possible settlement freeze
Roni Sofer

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask US Mideast Envoy George Mitchell to pressure the Saudis into opening diplomatic channels and opening its skies to Israel as a leading condition towards normalization of ties between Israel and Arab states.

If this is done, the Israeli government will be able to reach an agreement on freezing construction in settlements according to American demands.

Wednesday morning Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Senator Mitchell in London. The Americans have insisted on their demand to have settlements construction frozen, but are also talking with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders in order to achieve normalization steps that will promote negotiations with Israel.

Netanyahu believes that despite certain progress in talks held last week in Washington by his envoys Yitzhak Molco and Mike Herzog, in fact the conditions allowing for Israel to be asked to completely freeze settlements were yet to be created.

"There has been no breakthrough," a source from the prime minister's entourage said, adding there may be a need for further talks, possibly with US President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu believes that if settlement freeze is to be implemented, the Americans must provide in exchange normalization steps. Since Qatar and Bahrain have already expressed willingness to reexamine renewing diplomatic ties with Israel, the prime ministers believes this will serve as a lead for Saudi Arabia, that has been spearheading the Arab initiative.

The prime minister believes that the Saudis, as well as other Arab countries in the Middle East, should undertake the responsibility of opening talks with the Palestinians around the time of the United Nations' General Assembly taking place in New York on September 22.

Netanyahu is of the opinion that the most significant move the Saudis could make at this point is to open a diplomatic channel with Israel. In addition, he expects them to open their airspace to Israeli flights to the East. He also expects the Saudi leadership, like the rest of the Arab leaders, need to take steps to prepare their people for what he calls a big change.

Netanyahu reportedly also expects the Saudi leaders to support the regional peace process being led by President Obama by becoming full partners with Egypt and Jordan. Netanyahu largely sees the Saudi initiative as a welcome change. He sees the initiative also as a precondition, and not as an inclusive, final script for peace in the Middle East.

In the meantime, Jerusalem is continuing its preparations for kick-starting the peace process by concentrating efforts at the UN General Assembly in New York. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are expected to join Prime Minister Netanyahu on his trip there.

Israel hopes that at this juncture, during which many heads of state, including Arab states, a first meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu will be possible under Obama's patronage. Such a meeting would serve to ignite a renewed dialogue with the Palestinians and would take place in parallel with US efforts to achieve normalization between Israel and the Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia. (

(Listen to our radio broadcast this week for commentary on this article.)




It’s Caroline Glick’s trademark. She skins just about everyone sooner or later. I began reading her work years ago. She’s smart, slick, and knows what she’s talking about. It is her assessments and conclusions that we sometimes part company over, but we agree more often than we disagree.

Here’s her latest on a variety of subjects, and it’s worth reading.


Column One: Netanyahu's perilous statecraft

Aug. 20, 2009

This week we discovered that we have been deceived. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's principled rejection of US President Barack Obama's bigoted demand that Israel bar Jews from building new homes and expanding existing ones in Judea and Samaria does not reflect his actual policy.

Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias let the cat out of the bag.

Attias said that the government has been barring Jews from building in the areas since it took office four months ago, in the hopes that by preemptively capitulating to US demands, the US will treat Israel better.

And that's not all. Today Netanyahu is reportedly working in earnest to reach a deal with the Obama administration that would formalize the government's effective construction ban through 2010. Netanyahu is set to finalize such a deal at his meeting with Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell in London on Wednesday.


Unfortunately, far from treating Israel better as a result of Netanyahu's willingness to capitulate on the fundamental right of Jews to live and build homes in the land of Israel, the Obama administration is planning to pocket Israel's concession and then up the ante. Administration officials have stated that their next move will be to set a date for a new international Middle East peace conference that Obama will chair. There, Israel will be isolated and relentlessly attacked as the US, the Arabs, the Europeans, the UN and the Russians all gang up on our representatives and demand that Israel accept the so-called "Arab peace plan."


That deceptively named plan, which Obama has all but adopted as his own, involves Israel committing national suicide in exchange for nothing. The Arab plan - formerly the "Saudi Plan," and before that, the Tom Friedman "stick it to Israel 'peace' plan" - calls for Israel to retreat to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and expel hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. It also involves Israel agreeing to cease being a Jewish state by accepting millions of foreign, hostile Arabs as citizens within its truncated borders.

The day an Israeli government accepts the plan - which again will form the basis of the Obama "peace conference" - is the day that the State of Israel signs its own death warrant.

Then there is the other Obama plan in the works. Obama also intends to host an international summit on nuclear security in March 2010. Arab states are already pushing for Israel's nuclear program to be placed on the agenda.

Together with Obama administration officials' calls for Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - which would compel Israel to relinquish its purported nuclear arsenal - and their stated interest in having Israel sign the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty - which would arguably force Israel to allow international inspections of its nuclear facility in Dimona - Obama's planned nuclear conclave will place Israel in an untenable position.

Recognizing the Obama administration's inherent and unprecedented hostility to Israel, Netanyahu sought to deflect its pressure by giving his speech at Bar-Ilan University in June. There he gave his conditional acceptance of Obama's most cherished foreign policy goal - the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel's heartland.

Netanyahu's conditions - that the Arabs generally and the Palestinians specifically recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state; that they relinquish their demand that Israel accept millions of hostile Arabs as citizens under the so-called "right of return"; that the Palestinian state be a "demilitarized" state; and that Arab states normalize their relations with Israel were supposed to put a monkey wrench in Obama's policy of pressuring Israel.

Since it is obvious that the Arabs do not accept these eminently reasonable conditions, Netanyahu presumed that Obama would be forced to stand down.

What the prime minister failed to take into consideration was the notion that Obama and the Arabs would not act in good faith - that they would pretend to accept at least some of his demands in order to force him to accept all of their's, and so keep US pressure relentlessly focused on Israel.

Unfortunately, this is precisely what has happened.

Ahead of Obama's meeting on Tuesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that Obama has accepted Netanyahu's call for a demilitarized Palestinian state. Although Netanyahu is touting Obama's new position as evidence of his own diplomatic prowess, the fact is that Obama's new position is both disingenuous and meaningless.

Obama's supposed support for a demilitarized Palestinian state is mendacious on two counts. First, Palestinian society is already one of the most militarized societies in the world. According to the World Bank, 43 percent of wages paid by the Palestinian Authority go to Palestinian militias. Since Obama has never called for any fundamental reordering of Palestinian society or for a reform of the PA's budgetary priorities, it is obvious that he doesn't have a problem with a militarized Palestinian state. [unfair conclusion – EDM]

The second reason his statements in support of a demilitarized Palestinian state are not credible is because one of the central pillars of the Obama administration's Palestinian policy is its involvement in training of the Fatah-led Palestinian army. US Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton is overseeing the training of this army in Jordan and pressuring Israel to expand its deployment in Judea and Samaria. [absolutely true!-EDM]

The US claims that the forces it is training will be responsible for counter-terror operations and regular police work, and therefore, it is wrong to say that Dayton is raising a Palestinian army. But even if this is true today, there is no reason not to assume that these forces will form the backbone of a future Palestinian army. After all, the Palestinian militias trained by the CIA in the 1990s were trained in counter-terror tactics. This then enabled them to serve as the commanders of the Palestinian terror apparatus from 2000 until 2004, when Israel finally defeated them. It is the uncertainty about these forces that renders Obama's statement meaningless.


And that gets to the heart of the problem with Netanyahu's conditional support for Palestinian statehood. Far from deflecting pressure on Israel to make further concessions, it trapped Israel into a position that serves none of its vital interests.

For Israel to secure its long-term vital national interests vis-a-vis the Palestinians, it doesn't need for the US and the Palestinians to declare they agree to a demilitarized state or for a Palestinian leader to announce that he recognizes Israel's right to exist or even agrees that Israel doesn't have to commit national suicide by accepting millions of Arab immigrants. For Israel to secure its national interests, Palestinian society needs to be fundamentally reorganized.

As we saw at the Fatah conclave in Bethlehem last week, even if Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas were to accept Netanyahu's conditions, he wouldn't be speaking for anyone but himself. Fatah's conclave - like Hamas's terror state in Gaza - gave Israel every reason to believe that the Palestinians will continue their war against Israel after pocketing their state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. There is no Palestinian leader with any following that accepts Israel. Consequently, negotiating the establishment of a Palestinian state before Palestinian society is fundamentally changed is a recipe for disaster.

Furthermore, even if Netanyahu is right to seek an agreement with Mitchell next week, he showed poor negotiating skill by preemptively freezing Jewish construction. Domestically, Netanyahu has lost credibility now that the public knows that he misled it. And by preemptively capitulating, the prime minister showed Obama that he is not a serious opponent. Why should Obama take Netanyahu's positions seriously if Netanyahu abandons before them before Obama even begins to seriously challenge him?

Beyond the damage Netanyahu's actions have inflicted on his domestic and international credibility is the damage they have caused to Netanyahu's ability to refocus US attention and resolve where it belongs.

As the prime minister has repeatedly stated, the Palestinian issue is a side issue.

The greatest impediment to Middle East peace and the greatest threat to international security today is Iran's nuclear weapons program. A nuclear-armed Iran will all but guarantee that the region will at best be plagued by continuous war, and at worst be destroyed in a nuclear conflagration.

Netanyahu had hoped that his conditional support for Palestinian statehood, and his current willingness to bar Jews from building homes in Judea and Samaria would neutralize US pressure on Israel and facilitate his efforts to convince Obama to recognize and deal rationally with the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program. But as Ambassador Michael Oren made clear on Sunday, the opposite has occurred.

In an interview with CNN, Oren said that Israel is "far from even contemplating" a military strike against the Islamic republic's nuclear installations. He also said, "The government of Israel has supported President Obama in his approach to Iran, initially the engagement, the outreach to Iran." [no sensible person would expect Oren to announce a strike-EDM]

From this it appears that Israel has not only made no headway in convincing the administration to take Iran seriously. It appears that Jerusalem has joined the administration in accepting a nuclear-armed Iran.

It is possible that Oren purposely misrepresented Israel's position. But this too would be a disturbing turn of events. Israel gains nothing from lying. Oren's statement neutralizes domestic pressure on the administration to get serious about Iran. And if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear installations in the coming months, Oren's statement will undoubtedly be used by Israel's detractors to attack the government.


Some critics of Netanyahu from the Right like Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman claim that it may well be time to begin bringing down Netanyahu's government. They are wrong. We have been down this road before. In 1992, the Right brought down Yitzhak Shamir's government and brought the Rabin-Peres government to power and Yassir Arafat to the gates of Jerusalem. In 1999, the Right brought down the first Netanyahu government and gave Israel Camp David and the Palestinian terror war.

There is another way. It is being forged by the likes of Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon on the one hand and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on the other.

Ya'alon argues that not capitulating to American pressure is a viable policy option for Israel. There is no reason to reach an agreement with Mitchell on the administration's bigoted demand that Jews not build in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. If the US wants to have a fight with Israel, a fight against American anti-Jewish discrimination is not a bad one for Israel to have.

Ya'alon's argument was borne out by Huckabee's visit this week to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Huckabee's trip showed that the administration is not operating in a policy vacuum. There is plenty of strong American support for an Israeli government that would stand up to the administration on the Palestinian issue and Iran alike.

Netanyahu's policies have taken a wrong turn. But Netanyahu is not Tzipi Livni or Ehud Olmert. He is neither an ideologue nor an opportunist. He understands why what he is doing is wrong. He just needs to be convinced that he has another option. servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418663524&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull


Arabs Need to Talk to the Israelis

By Shaikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa
Originally publishedJuly 16 in The Washington Post:

We need fresh thinking if the Arab Peace Initiative is to have the impact it deserves on the crisis that needlessly impoverishes Palestinians and endangers Israel's security.

This crisis is not a zero-sum game. For one side to win, the other does not have to lose.

The peace dividend for the entire Middle East is potentially immense. So why have we not gotten anywhere?

Our biggest mistake has been to assume that you can simply switch peace on like a light bulb. The reality is that peace is a process, contingent on a good idea but also requiring a great deal of campaigning -- patiently and repeatedly targeting all relevant parties. This is where we as Arabs have not done enough to communicate directly with the people of Israel.

An Israeli might be forgiven for thinking that every Muslim voice is raised in hatred, because that is usually the only one he hears. Just as an Arab might be forgiven for thinking every Israeli wants the destruction of every Palestinian.

Essentially, we have not done a good enough job of demonstrating to Israelis how our initiative can form part of a peace between equals in a troubled land holy to three great faiths. Others have been less reticent, recognizing that our success would threaten their vested interest in keeping Palestinians and Israelis at each other's throats. They want victims to stay victims so they can be manipulated as proxies in a wider game for power. The rest of us -- the overwhelming majority -- have the opposite interest.

It is in our interest to speak up now for two reasons. First, we will all be safer once we drain the pool of antipathy in which hatemongers from both sides swim.

Second, peace will bring prosperity. Already, the six oil and gas nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council have grown into a powerful trillion-dollar market. Removing the ongoing threat of death and destruction would open the road to an era of enterprise, partnership and development on an even greater scale for the region at large.

That is the glittering prize for resolving the dilemma of justice for Palestine without injustice to Israel. Effectively, this is the meta-issue that defines and distorts the self-image of Arabs and diverts too much of our energies away from the political and economic development the region needs.

The wasted years of deadlock have conditioned Israelis to take on a fortress mentality that automatically casts all Palestinians as the enemy -- and not as the ordinary, decent human beings they are.

Speaking out matters, but it is not enough. Our governments and all stakeholders also must be ready to carry out practical measures to help ease the day-to-day hardship of Palestinian lives.

The two communities in the Holy Land are not fated to be enemies. What can unite them tomorrow is potentially bigger than what divides them today.

Both sides need help from their friends, in the form of constructive engagement, to reach a just settlement.

What we don't need is the continued reflexive rejection of any initiative that seeks to melt the ice. Consider the response so far to the Arab peace plan, pioneered by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. This initiative is a genuine effort to normalize relations between the entire Arab region and Israel, in return for Israel's withdrawal from occupied territory and a fair resolution of the plight of the Palestinians, far too many of whom live in refugee camps in deplorable conditions.

We must stop the small-minded waiting game in which each side refuses to budge until the other side makes the first move. We've got to be bigger than that. All sides need to take simultaneous, good-faith action if peace is to have a chance. A real, lasting peace requires comprehensive engagement and reconciliation at the human level. This will happen only if we address and settle the core issues dividing the Arab and the Israeli peoples, the first being the question of Palestine and occupied Arab lands. The fact that this has not yet happened helps to explain why the Jordanian and Egyptian peace accords with Israel are cold. They have not been comprehensive.

We should move toward real peace now by consulting and educating our people and by reaching out to the Israeli public to highlight the benefits of a genuine peace.

To be effective, we must acknowledge that, like people everywhere, the average Israeli's primary window on the world is his or her local and national media. Our job, therefore, is to tell our story more directly to the Israeli people by getting the message out to their media, a message reflecting the hopes of the Arab mainstream that confirms peace as a strategic option and advocates the Arab Peace Initiative as a means to this end. Some conciliatory voices in reply from Israel would help speed the process.

Some Arabs, simplistically equating communication with normalization, may think we are moving too fast toward normalization. But we all know that dialogue must be enhanced for genuine progress. We all, together, need to take the first crucial step to lay the groundwork to effectively achieve peace. So we must all invest more in communication.

Once we achieve peace, trade will follow. We can then create a "virtuous circle," because trade will create its own momentum. By putting real money into people's hands and giving them real power over their lives, trade will help ensure the durability of peace. The day-to-day experience would move minds and gradually build a relationship of trust and mutual interest, without which long-term peacemaking is impossible.

When stability pays, conflict becomes too costly. We must do more, now, to achieve peace.

The writer is crown prince of Bahrain.

(Courtesy of The Israel Project)



Today (25th) the Palestinian PM (and perhaps most hated man in the West Bank by the Arabs there) announced that the PA intends to establish a de-facto state within the next two years, despite failing peace talks.

EXCUSE ME! I thought that was what Arafat was supposed to have done in 1993 courtesy of the Oslo Accords.

They set up the Palestinian Authority to run the West Bank Arab areas, provided over 30,000 terrorists (oh, excuse me) er… ah… security men to keep order, a long list of government officers just like a real government, and BIG BANK ACCOUNTS FULL OF WESTERN MONEY.

Then, the story is told that Arafat began looting the till. He strong armed businessmen first for a slice of their pie, then in many cases took the whole thing.

And now Fayed tells us that they are going to establish a de-facto nation. Right. First he’s going to have to bulldoze the corrupt government the PA is, and has always been.

That, by the way, should get him murdered, if history teaches us anything.

We hope the Palestinians do get honest, hard working, decent leadership. It would be wonderful. But we don’t expect it. Stay tuned.


Actually I once was thin and muscular. Then I learned how to hold a knife and fork. But this is about a soldier who saves lives.

Avi Moyal

One Tough Guy

Fighting fit

Aug. 19, 2009

The turning point, as Col. Avi Moyal calls it, was on August 14, 2006, the day the cease-fire went into effect, ending the month-long Second Lebanon War with Hizbullah.

The IDF began to pull out of Lebanon and officers from Ground Forces Command were ready, deployed along the border with questionnaires for soldiers and commanders to assess their level of fitness during their operations against Hizbullah.

That is when the stories began to emerge. First came reports of small squads that had difficulty climbing the steep Lebanese hills, then a story of a company commander who had to return to Israel after his troops got muscle cramps trying to climb a crucial mountain to gain access to the Hizbullah-stronghold of Bint Jbail.

After hundreds of interviews and questionnaires, the conclusion was clear: IDF combat troops were in bad shape to the point that they had difficulty fighting against an enemy like Hizbullah.

The immediate lesson in the IDF was to appoint an officer in charge of combat fitness. Until then, the officer in charge of combat fitness also served as commander of a brigade. Combat fitness was always the second priority. The man chosen for the job was Col. Avi Moyal, who in the past three years has revolutionized the IDF in terms of fitness. Moyal - who served for 20 years as the fitness instructor for the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) - has carried out this revolution from a small office inside the Wingate Institute near Netanya, together with a tiny staff.

His energy seems to be endless and over the past two years he has established spinning classes for the General Staff on the roof of the Kirya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv, jogging groups for senior officers on the Tel Aviv beachfront and lectures at faraway bases. He has also increased the IDF's participation in local marathons and also in some races around the world.

IN THE IDF he is called "Israel's Fitness Trainer." The name is not an exaggeration. When Ehud Olmert was prime minister, Moyal used to work out with him twice a week at Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) headquarters in Jerusalem. Now, he spends two mornings a week training Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. He was also the fitness trainer for the national soccer team and was rumored at one point to be a candidate to become its next head coach.

The first step after the Lebanon war was to create an official fitness scale for all combat units - basically a list of what commanders are allowed to do with their soldiers and at what stage of their training.

All training regimens need to be approved by Moyal and his team of fitness trainers.

"Soldiers are built in a long and slow process," a senior Ground Forces Command officer explains. "We can't draft a soldier today and tomorrow expect him to run 80 kilometers. This takes time."

Under this new scale, GFC completely changed the concept of long hikes. Until the 2006 war, infantry units used to take 80- and 90-kilometer treks during basic training. Now the length has been cut almost in half and instead the soldiers are carrying heavier loads - sometimes up to half their body weight - on their backs.

"We found soldiers who couldn't carry their necessary equipment into Lebanon," the officer says. "What we realized is that the soldiers didn't have problems walking the distance; it was the loads."

At the same time, Moyal took soldiers from almost every IDF unit and trained them to be fitness instructors. Last week, the largest course ever - of 82 instructors - graduated, bringing the total up to close to 500.

"These are regular combat soldiers who in addition to being fighters are also fitness trainers," the senior officer says. "Just like there are medics who are fighters, now there are trainers who are fighters."

DURING OPERATION Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip earlier this year, Moyal heard from commanders about intelligence that Hamas was planning to kidnap soldiers. He immediately drove to the border with a team of combat instructors and trained commanders and soldiers how to fend off a kidnapper.

One of the skills taught was how to fight off kidnappers not just with an assault rifle, but also when the soldier's ammunition runs out or when he is attacked from behind and by surprise.

Another course he is hoping to soon establish is a mandatory self-defense course for all female soldiers.

Moyal has already discussed the idea with Brig.-Gen. Gila Klifi-Amir, the General Staff's adviser on women's affairs, and the two are hoping to secure a budget for the program. Under the plan, all female recruits will participate in a week-long self-defense course to provide them with the skills to fend off potential attackers, rapists and kidnappers.

"This course will be aimed at providing the female soldiers with self-confidence to travel around the country in the framework of their military service as many of them need to," explains the senior officer.

After all the above, though, what Moyal really takes pride in is his flagship program called "Healthy Lifestyle in the IDF" under which soldiers in 25 units across the country were chosen to be tested for fat levels in their blood. The units found to be "overweight" received visits from civilian chefs who taught their cooks how to make healthy food, met weekly with dieticians, received detailed workout regimes and personal trainers and one-on-one talks with Moyal.

The results, the senior officer says, were astounding, and within the first six months, the weight levels in the units dropped by more than 30 percent. Despite the success, the program lost its budget. Moyal, however, did not give up and went straight to the General Staff before which he presented the results. The decision was to expand the program to 25 more units and to allocate a budget for the next three years.

MOYAL ALSO established several running groups. The first is made up of close to 400 career junior officers who meet every Friday on the Tel Aviv beachfront. The second group meets on Saturday and consists of officers with the rank of colonel and higher. The condition to join this group was that the officer had to bring his or her spouse.

"The purpose here is to change the culture," the officer says. "To do this we need to reach as many people as possible."

The culture change can be seen by the number of solders signing up for marathons over the past two years. In 2006, for example, 6,430 soldiers ran in marathons. In 2008, the number skyrocketed to close to 20,000. In 2007, nine soldiers ran in the Tiberias Marathon. This year, there were more than 150.

Moyal is also much more than just talk and he actually puts his feet where his mouth is, running with all of the groups he has set up. In addition, he runs almost daily with a different IDF unit. One day Givati, the next day Naval Commandos and a day later the elite Yahalom Engineering Corps unit.

What about you? Are you ready to run? servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418650204&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull



Imagine my frustration when I saw the headline below. “Israel won’t make Jordan Palestine.” That has been my plan (along with a few others, including according to rumor control, King Abdullah II).

Take the Palestinians in the West Bank. Give them all Jordanian citizenship (which some already have), turn the West Bank into a “protectorate” of Jordan, add Jordanian troops for security and policing, and let civilian Palestinians operate the local governments. That, to me, sounds like a plan!

But not everyone agrees with me, it seems. Wonder why? The following article has a few different twists, but it’s connected.

Israel 'won't make Jordan Palestine'

Aug. 12, 2009

A delegation of security officials secretly traveled to Jordan last week in an attempt to assuage concerns that Israel plans to transfer Palestinians from the West Bank to the Hashemite Kingdom, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The purpose of the visit was to ensure that strategic ties between the countries are not harmed.

The delegation was led by several officials from the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, who met with senior officials close to King Abdullah II.

The visit was scheduled as part of Israeli efforts to ease Jordanian concerns regarding a proposal National Union MK Arye Eldad made in the Knesset two months ago that Palestinians be given Jordanian citizenship.

At the time, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh summoned Israel's envoy to Amman, Ya'acov Reuven, and issued a strong protest "over a debate in the Knesset on a motion on a so-called two states for the two peoples on the two banks of the Jordan River."

Defense officials said this week that despite Israeli assurances that the Netanyahu government was not planning on evicting Palestinians to Jordan, Amman's anxiety was still high, likely an indication that "the Jordanians are still concerned that Israel is considering Jordan as an alternative for a Palestinian state," one official said. "The visit was aimed at assuaging those fears and ensuring that strategic relations between the countries stay on track."

Alarmed by rumors regarding a US-backed scheme to turn Jordan into a homeland for Palestinians, Abdullah is planning a series of steps to foil any attempt to resettle Palestinian refugees in the kingdom.

The rumors were triggered by talks about a plan to establish a decentralized government in Jordan, where local communities would enjoy some form of autonomy.

The Jordanian authorities' decision to revoke the citizenship of Palestinians in Jordan - who make up more than 70 percent of the kingdom's population - added fuel to the fire by giving substance to the rumors.

At least 40,000 Palestinians are believed to have lost their status as Jordanian citizens in recent months.

Jordanian Interior Minister Nayef al-Kadi explained that the decision to rescind the citizenship of Palestinians was taken to preempt ostensible schemes to transform the kingdom into a Palestinian state.

"Jordan is not Palestine just as Palestine is not Jordan," the minister said in defense of the measure. "We want to help the Palestinians return to their homeland."

In recent months, the kingdom has been awash in rumors about a US-Israeli plan to turn Jordan into a Palestinian state.

The rumors, which increased in light of the revocation of the Palestinians' Jordanian citizenship, prompted the monarch to pay a surprise visit to the headquarters of the Jordanian Armed Forces over the weekend.

Addressing the army commanders, Abdullah said the rumors were aimed at harming Jordan's national unity and stability.

He added that the rumors were being circulated by people "with suspicious agendas" and urged all Jordanians to confront this "disease."

The king said that Jordan's commitment to the right of return of Palestinian refugees is "constant and unchangeable."

"No power can impose a position on Jordan that contradicts its interests," he said. "I stress again and clearly that there is no power that can dictate to us anything that is against the interests of Jordan and Jordanians."

The king also told his army commanders that the US had never pressured Jordan to absorb Palestinian refugees.

The king did not say who was behind the rumors, but he added that the majority of those who were trying to harm unity were inside the kingdom. "This is shameful and religiously prohibited," he said.

Political analysts in Amman said the monarch was "extremely nervous" because of the growing rumors. They said that the king and others members of the royal family were convinced that the new government in Israel was quietly pushing for the idea of transforming Jordan into a homeland for the Palestinians.

One analyst said that the king was planning to form a new government that would be able to "confront the grave challenges" facing Jordan.

He said that the fact that the king visited the army headquarters without being accompanied by Prime Minister Nader Dahabi was a sign of his dissatisfaction with the performance of the present government with regards to the rumors.

"The king is taking the rumors too seriously," the analyst said. "He's probably justified in doing so because many Jordanians are beginning to believe in the conspiracy theory according to which the future Palestinian state will be established in our kingdom."

Jordanian newspaper columnist Yasser Abu Hilaleh expressed fear that Israel had already begun carrying out a policy of transfer against Palestinians living in the West Bank.

"Many Palestinians have also lost their rights after leaving the West Bank to study or for medical treatment and did not return home," he noted. "The essence of the problem is how to help the Palestinians stick to their lands."• servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418582807&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull



A Ciity We Love

Editor's Notes: Barkat's challenge
Aug. 20, 2009
The mayor's heart and head are in the right place. But the latest violence, some directed personally at him, is only one aspect of the immense struggle he faces to heal and revive Jerusalem.
My wife and I spent a considerable part of last summer traipsing from the offices of the Jerusalem Municipality to the nearby headquarters of the Education Ministry carrying a white plaster sculpture of a group of ballerinas in mid-dance.
Our daughter, the budding sculptress responsible for this elegant piece of work, sometimes accompanied us as we pursued what was made repeatedly clear was an utterly lost cause.
She had just completed sixth grade and our mission was to secure what should have been her unremarkable progression from elementary school to the junior high school of her choice, a Jerusalem arts school with a fine reputation. The school had accepted her, but the city and the ministry had not: A complex quota system was in place, affecting many schools in the city - a bureaucratic nightmare born of a cluster of unjust considerations for which no single body took responsibility. Among these was the fact that, for financial reasons, the city favored applicants to certain schools from outside Jerusalem (a bias circumvented by some parents who applied from false addresses). It also all but insisted that children who had studied at my daughter's elementary school continue through high school in the same educational framework.
Convinced that our daughter would flourish at the school that she had applied for and that had accepted her, and outraged by the reasons the authorities were advancing to prevent her from taking up her place, we made literally dozens of phone calls, sent numerous letters, met with officials in both bureaucracies, sought the assistance of people in the city's governing coalition and its opposition, prepared a folder of our pleadings and her paintings which we delivered to the education minister, refused to register her for any other school, and kept her at home for the first few days of the new school year. And despite a series of four increasingly terse official rejection letters, ultimately prevailed - presumably through sheer persistence.
This summer, parents are unlikely to find themselves in a similar predicament. Very soon after he took over as mayor, Nir Barkat, whose office was one of several that did its best to assist us a year ago, canceled the inequitable quota system.
If only all the challenges the city faces were as easily resolved.
THE CAPITAL of Israel - named for peace, and a symbol of elevated aspiration - is in real trouble at ground level.
Its very status has never won international recognition and, following the departures in recent years of El Salvador and Costa Rica, it now has not a single international embassy within its boundaries. At its recent conference in Bethlehem, meanwhile, the mainstream Fatah faction of the PLO appeared to lay claim not merely to Jerusalem territory to which Israel expanded its sovereignty after the 1967 war, but to the entire city.
Its center, once thriving, was battered and bloodied by the onslaught of suicide bombers and subsequently destroyed by the staggering ineptitude of the light rail project - the kind of undertaking that other cities have somehow managed to complete without inflicting endless years of blight upon their residents, but that has proved beyond the capacities of todays builders of Jerusalem. Seven years after the tender was awarded for a project that was always of dubious value, not least because of security considerations, downtown remains a dusty embarrassment, a logistical obstacle course and an economic ruin. The welcome success of the Mamilla shopping mall only underlines how much potential there is for a thriving city center, and how tragic is the self-inflicted damage the light rail has wrought.
The harmonious demographic mosaic so cherished by legendary former mayor Teddy Kollek is shattering. There is hardly any interaction between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, and precious little sense of genuine coexistence in the few neighborhoods, such as Abu Tor, where day-to-day interaction is unavoidable.
In Jewish Jerusalem, the process of haredization is ongoing - with fewer and fewer neighborhoods now comfortable for secular or even modern-Orthodox residents. And that process is unfortunately currently accompanied by our weekly doses of demonstrable intolerance by a minority of ultra-Orthodox extremists who are dismally sullying the image of the majority. The continuing violent opposition to the Shabbat opening of a parking lot at Jaffa Gate, emphatically outside ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, represents the unacceptable face of attempted religious coercion and is itself a betrayal of Judaism. Throwing stones, on the Sabbath or any other day; injuring policemen; wrecking street signs and garbage bins and other public property - none of this can be reconciled with the precepts of the religion whose values these extremists falsely claim to be defending.
This extremism reached its nadir a few days ago with a vicious attack on Barkat in his car - as the mayor left a meeting in the Ezrat Torah ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, ironically with a Holocaust-surviving Hassidic leader who sought city funding for institutions that commendably educate the Orthodox community on the Holocaust. Barkat had to be extracted from a stone-throwing melee by the police. It "looked like a lynching," an eyewitness told our reporter. "A few more minutes and they would have flipped the car over."
These scenes of confrontations, these demonstrations of fundamental intolerance, of course, make a cumulative impression on law-abiding residents across the city - as, indeed, the extremists intend them to - further encouraging the long-standing non-haredi exodus to surrounding locales like Mevaseret Zion, or more distant refuges like Modi'in and Tel Aviv.
And the outflow of non-haredi wage-earners, forced away also by sky high property prices, in turn plunges the city into ever-deeper economic grief.
BARKAT is to be commended for having served his term as opposition leader when defeated for the mayor's post by Uri Lupolianski in 2004, rather than packing in local politics and returning to his successful business career, before making his second, successful shot at the mayoralty.
And since taking office, he has taken mainstream positions on the status of the city, lobbies effectively for Jerusalem on trips abroad, and has been trying to find a way out of the light rail nightmare.
His handling of the parking lot dispute and of the vicious personal attack last week, are also to be commended. Depicted by some activists as having capitulated to ultra-Orthodox pressure over the issue of Shabbat parking at the Old City, Barkat had in fact initially, and properly, sought a compromise formula with the city's ultra-Orthodox council members, and believed that he had found one. When that arrangement failed, he found an alternative, and has stuck resolutely with it. His public declarations have been firm and measured, designed to encourage tolerance and common sense, not exacerbate tension.
Even his response to having his car attacked was similarly astute. He noted, correctly, that dangerous red lines were being crossed, but still took care to highlight that his condemnations were for the extremists, not the law-abiding mainstream.
What Barkat needs in this area, what Jerusalem needs, is similar firmness from the police and the courts - offenders must be found, and once found must be prosecuted, not simply let go with a mild warning and every incentive to return to violent street protest.
THE MAYOR won his shot at reversing some of Jerusalem's dire trends in large part because of internal rivalries within the ultra-Orthodox community, which did not turn out in sufficient numbers on local election day, last November, for its own candidate, Meir Porush.
But if he can't reverse the demographic trend, Barkat will likely be a one-term blip before the return of an ultra-Orthodox mayor to City Hall. And if he can't galvanize the dwindling non-Orthodox populace here - and they did not rally particularly strongly behind him last year - he'll certainly fail to win reelection.
Mild-mannered and generally understated, our mayor has made a reasonable start to his term at the helm of this intensely contested, complex city - and not only because parents won't have to follow our trail from City Hall to the Education Ministry and back to get their kids into school this summer. His head and his heart are plainly in the right place. But it's an uphill struggle to heal and revive Jerusalem. Nir Barkat deserves all the help, the protection and the support he can get.



My wife and I love Jerusalem. Add our names to an almost endless list. Some love it for it’s political value, of course, but even more love it for it’s history.

Jerusalem isn’t really all that charming. When the last mayor was in office it was littered and dirty, up until just before the elections. Then the streets got swept regularly, trash was picked up and even the curbs got a coat of paint. But that’s politics.

The place is crowded with traffic jammed at all but the hours between two AM and 6AM. Then you can drive down almost any street without worrying about buses taking a mirror with them or crazy people who learned to drive in Bangladesh taking out their frustrations on you. Taxi drivers, are for the most part, some of the more polite people on the streets. That doesn’t include the highways between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

There are slums as Mr. Gelman said a few weeks ago. And not just in East Jerusalem. And there are classicly beautiful districts such as those in Talpiot and Arnona and Katamon where Arab architecture thrives.

But the history is what grabs us. We love to walk in the city. Good thing with a $4000 used car going in Israel for about $15,000!! We don’t have a car, but we do have a parking slot that goes with our apartment.

We walk almost everywhere. To the grocery store, the shuq (open air market), the Old City, and downtown. It is crowded, noisy and interesting.

Not long ago we were headed downtown and I noticed a bomb-threat truck parked in the street. That brought us to an abrupt stop! Before I could really look around there was an announcement in Hebrew and nearly simultaneously an explosion just ahead of us. A suspect package had been left along the street so it was blown up to disarm anything that might have been a threat. So goes today’s Jerusalem.

We’ve learned the intricacies of the Old City’s streets, in all the Quarters. Lots of merchants who watch an endless parade of tourists now greet us instead of trying to peddle wares at us. All but one poor soul who apparently never looks anyone in the face and tries every time he sees us to sell like we are strangers.

The bullet pocks in the Zion Gate remind us that people bled and died to free the city from a regressive Jordanian grasp, and now the city is open to people of every religion, unlike before.

The new Mamilla Mall and Hotel speak of modernization in the city. A massive public square at City Hall entertains all kinds of activities from kids groups assembled from the entire world to veterans’ groups and brass bands.

As a journalist I get to go  atop City Hall where I can get great photos of the downtown area and the Mount of Olives.

It is an awesome place, for all the imminent dangers, congestion and pressure from the ultra-orthodox, many of whom feel they should be the only ones allowed here.

Most folks are accepting of us once they become familiar with our faces, visit for a while, and learn that we share their addiction to Jerusalem. As one man said, “Sure it’s a lousy place at times, but it is the only place on this earth I want to be!”

THANKS for your prayers, support and encouragement of us and our work. We appreciate you far more than you may know.

Ernie Moore

Shabbat Shalom

Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Psalm 25:22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Psalm 60:12 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.


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