Dizengoff Circle, Tel Aviv
published at Times of Israel
Maybe I am too new to Israel to call Dizengoff my street, but I know parts of it well and yesterday I was about to go to Dizengoff Center, truthfully because I thought a movie might change a stressed mood. I almost got on the wrong bus, which I've done before, and then I would have walked over to Dizengoff at just about the time a terrorist was pulling out his rifle and firing into a pub and two cafes.
But I decided that before the markets closed for shabbat and before it started raining again, I'd get groceries. So I wasn't there. Most of Tel Aviv and even most of the people walking on Dizengoff were not there in the line of fire. But two young Israelis, Alon Bakal, age 26 and Shimon Ruimi, age 30, were murdered; eight others were injured and hospitalized; and many people were traumatized. Just the day before, Alon Bakal had sent his father a text: "I'm having fun; I love to live."
For on Friday afternoon, the streets and cafes of Tel Aviv are crowded with people enjoying life here.
When I got back home with my groceries, I saw on Channel 10 news what had happened, what has been happening in some part of Israel nearly every day for the past three months: a terrorist had attacked Israeli Jews for being. For existing.
As I watched the news on my computer, flipping among channels 10 and 2 and the English language Israeli news sites, I didn't feel afraid, though maybe I'll feel that later, as I walk to my ulpan every Sunday and Tuesday past the cafes that yesterday were riddled with bullets. And I didn't feel like I wanted to rush back to the US any more than I might on other days when I'm missing family and friends.
In fact, I felt like what I had been thinking about and worrying about that afternoon was so trivial it did not even matter what this particular day's obsessions were. I felt: I'm alive and safe and life is incredible.
And I wish for this front-line that is Israel to start being a place the rest of the world notices -- not, as has so often been the case, in order to blame it for defending itself; and not, as has so often been the case, to blame its victims of terror for the abuse heaped on them. And especially not to pretend that there are no connections of ideology linking the terror in Paris and San Bernardino and Tel Aviv. But to notice that what happens here is happening in Europe and America and for the same reasons.
In the US it is hard to follow Israeli news events, even though Israel is always in the news. If you watch CNN, you may think there is some possibility that this was a "criminal" rather than a terrorist attack. You may wonder how it is that, while still at large, the killer has an attorney who is being quoted in the New York Times. You may have missed the information that as soon as the killings were reported, the Hamas government of Gaza praised them.
You may even miss the fact that these "lone wolf" attackers are actually following a herd, one that supplies weapons, training, (in this case) a get-away, and most important, an agenda. Someone should tell Reuters News Service that, as far as we know, not a single perpetrator of a stabbing, or shooting, or car-ramming against Israelis has said he or she did this because peace talks are stalled or because there are settlements. The goal is to eliminate Israel.
But the good thing is that if you come to Israel tomorrow, what you'll see if you walk down Dizengoff Street is that the terrorists' goal has absolutely no chance of succeeding.
January 02, 2016
November 15, 2015
published at Times of Israel
President Hollande has closed the borders of France. Such a thing has not happened since World War II. The borders were sealed to make sure that none of the terrorists got away, although the police said Friday night that all of these terrorists had been killed.
The borders were also sealed and "checkpoints reinstated" because the President of France has decided to try to keep out other potential terrorists.
About one hundred and fifty people were murdered at six different Paris locations in France's worst experience of terror attacks. On Friday evening these people were sitting in cafes, watching a soccer match, attending a rock concert, or simply enjoying life in the beautiful city of Paris. In a split second their lives were destroyed by suicide bombers, grenade throwers, and by the gunfire of terrorists shouting "Allahu Akbar." Hundreds more in Paris are injured and of course thousands are traumatized.
President Obama, offering US support and sympathy, said that the terrorists must be "brought to justice." President Hollande managed to say "we know who they are" without saying who they are.
Paris's terror, like the terror of 9/11, the London tube bombings, the Mumbai attacks, and the ongoing nearly daily violence against Israelis, is part of a global war.
Yet, every time an Islamist terror attack occurs--except in Israel where it is acknowledged that Hamas, Hezbollah, and even "lone wolf" kids abusively raised to kill infidels, are perpetuating terror--there is reluctance to name the perpetrators, to acknowledge that their goal is to destroy, to murder, and ultimately to take over.
As the events unfolded no mainstream media site nor political leader (that I heard) used the term "Islamist terror" even though there was never any doubt that these were Islamist attacks. ISIS was all over social media praising the killings.
Now ISIS (Daesh) has claimed responsibility. President Hollande has announced "three days of national mourning" and said this:
"Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action...France will be merciless towards these barbarians from Daesh."
I hope that there is no call for "all sides" to quell the violence or for Hollande not to engage in rhetoric that will "inflame tensions."
And if the French do respond to the murder of innocents, I hope that the free world will help them (regardless of their various faults) rather than mistake them for the perpetrators.
October 20, 2015
published at Jews Down Under
Common words and phrases are losing their meaning in reference to the terror wave in Israel. These obfuscations often start with political leaders and then are spread by media. A good guide to whether you are getting an unbiased report will be to notice if key words still keep their common meanings, or if, instead, odd usage directs readers and viewers toward minimizing or even justifying terrorism against Israelis.
Light or moderate wounds: normally describes the level of injuries someone has sustained.
Referring to Israelis, now suggests that the danger was minimal.
Every day for the past two weeks, in some cases nearly every hour, Jewish Israelis have been the victims of stabbing or shooting attacks. Or of cars purposely rammed into people standing at bus stops.
Every one of these attacks is an attempted murder. This is true even when the victim manages to fight off the terrorist or stumbles away with only light or moderate wounds. All of the victims of terror who are injured and taken to hospitals are alive only because the terrorist failed at his or her goal of killing Jews.
The terms, "attempted murder" or "terrorist attack" do not seem to be applied to attempted murders and terrorist attacks by Palestinians against Jews.
Alleged: normally indicates some possibility that there was no attack or that the individual apprehended was not an attacker.
Regarding terror against Israelis, now indicates that what we are seeing did not happen.
Dozens of people witness these events, and often the perpetrator has explicitly stated his or her intention to murder Jews. Although Jews have in fact been attacked, and the perpetrator has been stopped in the act of attacking, the word, "alleged" is included apparently to raise doubt about what really occurred. The effort to suggest that no security response is needed shows up even when there is video that allows viewers (and reporters) to see the terrorist in action.
Executed: Normally means that someone was summarily killed.
Now describes an attacker who was wounded by Israeli security and is at this moment alive and being interviewed. Can also be used to suggest that live ammunition is inappropriate for use by Israeli security under any circumstances.
An Arab woman is shouting and wielding a knife at a bus station; she refuses to put down the knife after repeated requests by security who start clearing the area of civilians. She keeps the knife in her hand raised over her head and eventually an officer stops her by firing at her leg. She is rushed to an Israeli hospital and this is described as "an execution."
A young teen goes on a stabbing spree and is shot at in the process. He is rushed to the hospital where he is sitting up eating lunch and being interviewed. He says that he set out to kill Jews while Mahmoud Abbas gives a televised speech declaring that the boy was "executed."
Resulting deaths: Normally refers to the number of people who have been killed by terrorists.
Now does not distinguish between victims and their murderers.
Rumors: The common term for unsubstantiated claims.
Now presented as justification for any kind of terrorism against Israelis.
For months, the false rumor rumor has been spread by Palestinian leaders, Muslim Imams, and Palestinian Authority teachers, that Jews will be allowed to pray that the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Even the US State department said this and then had to issue a retraction. The "status quo" agreement the State of Israel made with Jordan in 1967 has never changed and isn't changing. News articles do not describe (or show curiosity about) this unusual arrangement but suggest that a rumor is simply a reason to take up guns or knives or cinder blocks and start trying to kill Israelis.
No one was harmed: Normally means that a harmful situation was diffused or stopped before anyone was hurt.
The now familiar, revised meaning suggests that attacks against Israelis are only harmful if a civilian is killed.
Long before the current round of Palestinian terror, the Hamas government of Gaza had been firing rockets into Israel. The press rarely mentions these rockets until there is an Israeli response. Every rocket fired into Israel is intended to harm civilians, and does harm them by terrorizing anyone in the area, by traumatizing families who have seconds to find a bomb shelter, as well as by injuring children and adults.
In the current terror wave, there is not even the 15 to 60 second siren warning. Only the sirens of ambulances.
October 12, 2015
published at Honest Reporting
A week into the ongoing wave of terror against Israeli Jews, it has become nearly impossible to learn -- from major news sources outside Israel -- what is going on in Israel.
The terror wave itself is becoming invisible. Many reports minimize the hundreds of attacks against Israelis. Some suggest that attempting to stop a terrorist should be seen as the same thing as being a terrorist; other coverage depicts any Israeli defensive measures in such a way these will appear to cause the violence.
In a recent CNN report, terror against Israelis has disappeared. A video captioned "spiral of violence grips the Middle East" tells of Palestinians throwing "rocks and marbles" against "tanks and tear gas." Israel's Prime Minister is described as "stern and contentious" in contrast to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who "doesn't want the situation to escalate."
Readers would never know that Abbas and Palestinian officials have been "waging an unprecedented campaign of incitement against Israel" in what Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh describes as "calls for murder."
An Associated Press story in US News and World Report purports to be a timeline of "latest developments in the ongoing tensions between Palestinians and Israelis" but these tensions usually turn out to be that a Palestinian was stopped after killing or trying to kill an Israeli. Like many other stories, this one leads with the "shooting and wounding" of a Palestinian and then mentions that the "motorist" was trying to run over people at a checkpoint.
Similarly, BBC writes "Israeli-Palestinian violence spreads over Gaza" which in itself is inaccurate since the Gaza government has taken credit for some of the attacks in Israel. These include what Hamas has praised as "the heroric terror attack," the murder of Eitam and Na'ama Henkin, a Tel Aviv University doctoral student and his wife who was a graphic designer, shot to death in their car in front of their four children.
The article claiming that "violence" is moving from Israel into Gaza has it backwards. Rockets have been fired in recent days from Gaza into Israel and violent rioters from Gaza attempted to cross into Israel. BBC's "analysis" piece describes a "sudden and sharp escalation of violence" equating attacks on civilians with the attempt to prevent such attacks.
And as the reporting on the terror wave disappears, the terrorists are provided with a more sympathetic treatment than the Israeli victims of terror.
August 30, 2015
The planned massacre of passengers on a train in France by a heavily armed Islamist terrorist is a horror too awful to think about. But thinking about it needs to happen.
What if something actually were learned from the quick, brave actions of three American 23-year-olds, a French-American dual citizen, and a grandfather from England who fought the terrorist with their bare hands and protected the lives of all the passengers and crew? What if celebrating the heroes were a step toward turning attention to terror vulnerabilities in Europe and also America?
What if honor for the heroes brought with it public demand for Western leaders to focus on stopping the continued plans of jihadists?
Reuters was still publishing stories with titles like "Train gunman dumbfounded by terrorist tag" when the three friends from Carmichael, California, Airman 1st Class, Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guardsman, Alek Skarlatos, and Sacramento State University student, Anthony Sadler were asked, "What do you think of the claim that it was a robbery attempt?"
The three had succeeded in disarming the terrorist, beating him unconscious, and tying him up.
"It doesn't take eight magazines to rob a train," Anthony Sadler said wisely.
As a recently retired Sacramento State professor, I paid special attention to the coverage of Anthony and his friends, and I think they have something to teach.
In Sacramento, they are hometown heroes. They are also, suddenly, world famous recipients of France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur medal. President Hollande said they have given the world a "lesson in courage."
Just before the Legion of Honor ceremony, the press asked the three young men what could be learned from their experience. Anthony answered: "I want the lesson to be learned that in times of terror to please do something -- don't just stand by and watch."
If "times of terror" unfold in our train car, we hope we are lucky enough to be surrounded by people with the instinctive, selfless reactions of Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler.
But we do know it can't be left up to college students and off-duty US military, no matter how brave, to save the day. Anthony's spontaneous response, "in times of terror...please do something -- don't just stand by and watch," should be heeded at the highest city and national levels.
For starters, Europe and the US might want to make a few adjustments. The attacker, Ayoub El-Khazzani simply walked onto the train with a bagful of weapons, box cutters, and ammunition. It doesn't seem that complicated to need to place one's bag on a conveyor and at the same time walk through a metal detector gate at the entrance to train stations. It works well in Israel.
Of course, in Israel there are other security measures as well, like personnel trained and equipped for emergency. And yet the atmosphere (not counting the rush hour crowds and general noise) is relaxed.
But on the Amsterdam-Paris train not only was security lacking, according to French actor, Jean-Hugues Anglade who was injured while breaking an emergency glass, when the terrorist appeared the train crew disappeared without so much as a warning to the passengers.
Along with no bag checks there were also no ID checks. El-Khazzani had already been identified as a terrorist by Spain, and Spanish officials had alerted the French. He was on watch lists in France, Spain, Belgium, and Germany, the same lists as the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo murders. Are these lists something officials "just stand by and watch"?
Amid the well-deserved praise for the actions of the heroes, the lessons learned should not be simply for passengers but for crews, not just for everyday citizens but for agencies and governmental leaders who are responsible for helping preserve our freedom to live lives that are anathema to jihadist inspired terrorists.
"I'm just a college student," said Anthony Sadler. "It's my last year of college. I came to see my friends on my first trip to Europe and we stopped a terrorist. It's kind of crazy."
An earlier version of this post appeared in AmericanThinker.
August 12, 2015
As of this May, 2,770 Palestinians had been killed since the start of the civil war in Syria. But when Palestinians there sought refuge in Palestinian controlled Gaza and the West Bank, PA President Mahmoud Abbas turned them down. He said, "It's better that they die in Syria than that they give up their right of return [to Israel]."
In Arab countries, Palestinians are subject to apartheid laws such as the ones in Lebanon that prevent them from working in many professions including medicine, law, engineering, and accounting. This stands in sharp contrast to Israel where all professions are open and Arab-Israelis are also Supreme Court justices and Knesset members.
While the Arab/Palestinian population in Israel is constantly growing, Palestinians have been and are being expelled from Arab countries in which they have lived for years.
In the 1990's, 200,000 Palestinians were forced to leave Kuwait.
In Iraq, only 6,000 out of 25,000 Palestinians are left. According to the head of the Palestinian League in Iraq, Thamer Meshainesh, militias routinely attack Palestinians as part of an organized plan to get them to leave the country.
Khaled Abu Toameh writes:
...when it comes to ethnic cleansing and torture of Palestinians in Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, the Palestinian leadership chooses to look the other way.
Similarly, the international media seems to have forgotten that there are tens of thousands of Palestinians living in various Arab countries. The only Palestinians that Western journalists know and care about are those living in the West Bank and Gaza strip.
Toameh's report this week, "The Secret Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians" is startling because media tell us so little about Palestinians in the Arab world.
If Israel can't be blamed, there seems to be no interest in what happens to Palestinians.
July 21, 2015
published at Honest Reporting
The substance of what’s wrong with the Iran deal (see here and here) can also be found in the uses and abuses of language surrounding the deal.
It is hard to reconcile that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran say, directly, that we should not expect them to change in any way, and yet, the US led team of negotiators seems to disregard the plain meaning of these leaders’ actions and words. It may not quite be George Orwell’s “doublethink” in 1984:
“To know and not to know…to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic…”
But it is certainly disturbing.
The Best Deal We Could Get
Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt realized that he could bypass the need for a 2/3 majority vote from Congress by referring to a treaty as something other than a treaty, presidents have at times called treaties “executive agreements.” The treaty with Iran goes by the name, the deal.
And though discussion might have centered on whether this was a good or bad treaty, calling it a “deal” has not only made it sound like a less than weighty agreement, it seems also to have obscured why we, that is, the West as represented by the US, EU and UK, were negotiating in the first place.
The point of “dealing” with Iran was to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons.
Lifting sanctions was to occur in order to stop Iran’s nuclear build up. Since the deal does not accomplish this, the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis, 77% of Americans, and Iranians (those who have left Iran and are free to voice their opinions) are against it.
It is not as if the US, UK, Germany and France actually need a deal with Iran. (Perhaps China and Russia are happy with the deal for economic reasons.) But the West and the Middle East do need Iran, the world’s biggest enabler of terrorism, not to add nuclear weapons to its arsenal.
If this really were the best deal that could be arranged, the logical alternative would be no deal – at least not yet.
Centrifuge and Subterfuge
The focus on making a deal--as opposed to influencing Iran’s behavior--has led to some weird obfuscation.
Even if there will be some slowing of Iran’s process for the next few years, the materials and machinery needed for making nuclear weapons are still in place. The promised “anytime-anywhere” inspections not only have disappeared, they’ve been replaced with an up to 24-day advance notice and, even more bizarre, with the requirement that the Iranians must receive specific explanation of the cause for the inspection.
US Undersecretary of State, Wendy Sherman said that calling for anytime-anywhere inspections was merely “rhetorical.”
The Not Moderate Republic
Everything other than the sanctions and the nuclear program was “off the table.” The deal lifts the sanctions and pretty much keeps the nuclear program. Human rights of Iranians were not discussed, not the beatings or killings of victims of rape, nor the hanging of gays, nor the lack of freedoms overall. Off the table, also, was discussion of the illegally imprisoned four Americans being held there.
Nor was Iran asked, in exchange for lifting the economic sanctions against it, to stop threatening Israel, to stop supporting terrorism by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad’s forces in Syria, or Hamas in Gaza. In fact, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenai announced, the day after the “deal” was completed, that this “victory” would change nothing about “policy toward the arrogant US” or their agenda, an agenda that uses very clear language.
Throughout the months of negotiations, Iranian leaders led chants of “death to America” and “death to Israel” and reiterated their goals of becoming the dominant force in the Middle East, as they believe is the destiny of the Islamist Republic of Iran.
Trying to account for agreement to this deal seems to require Orwell’s doublethink.