Tag Archives: Palestinians

Will the bombs and bullets start flying in Israel?

Donald J. Trump well just might have doomed any immediate prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The president of the United States apparently is about to make good on his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This is an extremely big deal, dear reader. Here’s why.

Palestinians contend that Jerusalem belongs to them. So does Israel. Trump has aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

I want to stipulate that I happen to sympathize with Netanyahu’s hard line against the Palestinian terrorists who keep lobbing bombs at Israeli neighborhoods. The so-called “two-state solution,” which involves the creation of an independent Palestinian state, remains a distant dream for peacemakers in the region.

The U.S. president’s decision to place the embassy in Jerusalem is likely to make that dream more distant than ever.

And for what reason? Because his pal Bibi Netanyahu wants him to do it.

It’s unclear to me why the president would choose to provoke the Palestinians with this ostensibly simple gesture. Trump is likely to find out — maybe in short order — how seemingly simple actions can provoke intensely complicated responses.

Obama, Netanyahu part company with bitterness

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu occasionally used to say kind things about each other, despite their differences over how to find peace with the Palestinians.

I am guessing the niceties are finished.

The United States has broken with decades of diplomatic tradition by declining to veto a United Nations resolution condemning Israel over the settlements it is building in occupied territory that once belonged to Palestinians.

Netanyahu is furious and has said so openly and has condemned the U.N. and the United States over what he perceives is a slap at Israel.

This is tough for me to say, given my longstanding support of our president, but Netanyahu has reason to be angry.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/netanyahu-blasts-un-obama-over-west-bank-settlements-resolution/ar-BBxvBpL?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

The settlements are part of Israel’s effort to strengthen the buffer between its territory and that which it took during the Six-Day War of 1967, a brief conflict that was started by its Arab neighbors. Israel managed to finish it quickly by dispatching forces from Jordan, Egypt and Syria. In the process, it took over land known as the West Bank, which cuts through Jerusalem.

I have had the high honor to see that part of the world up close and I totally understand the Israelis’ concern about future violent outbreaks.

Netanyahu took particular umbrage at the language within the resolution. As the Washington Post reported: “’The resolution is distorted. It states that the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall are occupied, which is absurd,’ said Netanyahu, referring to holy Jewish sites that sit within the Old City in East Jerusalem.”

The Jewish quarter sits within the walled city inside Jerusalem. To suggest that it, along with the Western Wall, are “occupied” is ridiculous on its face.

As an aside, I sought for weeks to obtain an interview with Netanyahu before embarking on a month-long tour of Israel in May-June 2009. I wasn’t able to get one with the prime minister. Had I been able to sit down with him, I would have asked him about the settlements and sought to get a deeper look at the Israeli perspective into why they feel the need to build them in the first place.

Netanyahu now looks forward to working with Donald J. Trump, who will succeed Obama as president in January. My hope is that Trump can find a way to persuade Netanyahu that there must be a pathway toward a permanent peace with the Palestinians, even with the settlements.

I continue to support the so-called “two-state solution,” which would allow a sovereign Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel. The Palestinians, though, need to do a lot more to put down the militant objections within their own ranks to Israel’s own existence.

Perhaps the most ironic aspect of this serious breach between the United States and Israel is that it is happening as Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas. Think of it: Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is walled off from the rest of Jerusalem and the prospects for that wall ever coming down appear dimmer than ever.

It is my belief that President Obama has made the bigger mistake in declining to object to this U.N. resolution. In doing so, he has alienated our nation’s most trusted ally in a region where we need all the alliances we can muster.

How do you bring Dead Sea back to life?

dead-sea-sinkholes-1024x576

This story caught my eye, not because it surprised me, but because it portends potential tragedy for one of the world’s great treasures.

And I’ve had the high honor and pleasure of seeing it up close.

I refer to the Dead Sea, a small inland lake at the mouth of the Jordan River between Israel and Jordan.

I got to swim in the Dead Sea in May and June 2009. Take it from me: You haven’t lived until you’ve taken a dip in water that is 10 times saltier than the ocean, and which contains natural oil that prevents your skin from wrinkling up the way it does in normal salt or fresh water.

Public TV’s NOVA documentary series is going to look at the future of the Dead Sea, which according to the producers of the program isn’t looking too great … at the moment!

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/earth/dead-sea-dying/

According to NOVA: “The lake has a storied place in history. The biblical Sodom and Gomorrah reportedly overlooked its shores, while King David allegedly sought relaxation there in 1000 BCE. A few paces away, on the mountain top of Masada, Herod the Great built palaces, and in 73 CE, a thousand Jewish zealots chose death in their fortress over surrender to the Romans. Centuries later, Byzantine monks lived in monasteries overlooking its shores, and Crusaders built their castles.”

That was then. The future looks bleak.

The lake levels are receding. We were told that while we swam in the Israeli side of the water.

The culprits are dams, as NOVA reports: “But since the 1960s, the sea has had a more troubled history. That’s when Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel started building dams and diverting the rivers for drinking, irrigation, and industrial use, the same waters that have been feeding the Dead Sea for millennia.”

The lake has lost about 112 feet in depth; its volume has dropped about 30 percent.

What to do? It’s interesting to me, as NOVA points out, that a joint Israeli-Palestinian environmental group is seeking to call serious attention to the danger of continued depletion of the Dead Sea.

Does the world allow this treasure to disappear? Does it continue to stand by while its water evaporates?

Perish the thought. Perish even the hint of a thought that the world could allow such an international tragedy to occur.

john

OK, I’m biased. I’m one of those who has enjoyed the water. I’ve slathered myself in that mystery mud the Israelis and Jordanians tell you has restorative qualities. You smear it all over your body, let it dry and then wash it off with fresh water.

I can’t say it made me look younger, but I felt great just being able to say I did it.

Check out the story attached to this blog post. It provides tremendous detail about the ancient history associated with the Dead Sea and the myriad problems that threaten this holy body of water.

The Dead Sea must not die!

Bibi's no nut, but he needs to rethink some things

Benjamin Netanyahu has won another extension as Israeli prime minister.

His Likud Party won more seats in the Knesset than any other party, but it still lacks an outright majority. So Bibi’s going to have to compromise here and there if he hopes to govern his country.

Contrary to what you might have gathered from a couple of recent posts about Bibi’s campaign, I actually feel a bit of sympathy for the tough line he takes in governing Israel.

Netanyahu is an Israeli army veteran. He’s seen the enemy up close. His brother was killed in that daring 1976 hostage rescue mission in Uganda. So, Bibi’s heart has been broken by violence.

I still believe he made a mistake in coming to the United States to speak to Congress without first consulting with President Obama. The snub — by him and by House Speaker John Boehner, who invited him — has damaged U.S.-Israel relations. But let’s get one thing straight: The nations remain critical allies.

All that said, his victory now enables Netanyahu to work with Obama to repair the damage. I trust he’ll do so. He talked while in this country about the special relationship the countries have had for the past six decades.

He campaigned hard in the waning days of the campaign by declaring an end to Palestinian settlements. That, too, was a mistake. Perhaps he can rethink that ban, given that the Palestinians are seeking to build a home of their own.

It’s good to understand, though, how Netanyahu views security in his country. It’s the single most vital issue with which he must deal.

The Hamas terrorists who govern Gaza have been lobbing missiles into Israel periodically since, oh, for as long as missiles have existed. Israel must be allowed to defend itself and to use whatever force it has to put down the attacks. To that end, Netanyahu is unafraid and I happen to applaud his courage in fighting Hamas.

The bigger picture, though, requires Netanyahu to understand that his country comprises citizens of widely diverse views. Not every Israeli shares his world view. I told you recently about a couple in Haifa who oppose Likud’s hard line and rest assured, there are others just like them.

Israel enjoys a special place in our network of allies. It deserves that special place and some special treatment. Benjamin Netanyahu, educated in this country — and able to speak to Americans like an American — isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

 

Israel feels terrorists' wrath yet again

Someone needs to explain to me in elementary terms why terrorists deserve any semblance of civil treatment.

Four worshipers at a Jerusalem synagogue were murdered early today by a couple of terrorists. Israeli police shot them to death at the scene of the carnage they left behind.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/18/world/meast/jerusalem-violence/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Three of the victims were American-Israelis, one was a British-Israeli. They were worshiping in peace when two Palestinian cousins wielding axes and knives began slashing them to death.

And who do you suppose has endorsed this vicious act?

Among others was Hamas, the terrorists who run the so-called government in Gaza, the place that keeps originating attacks on Israelis civilians.

Does this make any sense to anyone?

The terrorists complain about Israeli settlements in territory captured by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. So rather than talk to the Israeli government, they choose to bomb innocent victims, shoot them dead in the street or, in the case of the attack today in Jerusalem, slash them to death in a horrific attack.

Israeli officials vow to respond with all necessary force to put down this latest round of violence.

How in the world can one justify this? How in the same world can one criticize a nation for trying to protect its citizens from this kind of barbarism?