Arlene from Israel – Tracking

First a correction. The information I had cited from Israel National News, regarding President Rivlin receiving an award from NIF turned out to be inaccurate. He is, rather, to receive an award from the Jewish-Arab center for cooperation, Givat Haviva.

Givat Haviva – a recipient of NIF funds – was founded by the far left, secular Hashomer Hatzair movement. To the best of my knowledge, it does not promote BDS, criminalization of IDF soldiers, or other similar abominations. It fosters a vision of “shared human values,” which puts emphasis on a democratic and secular rather than a Jewish Israel.

(With thanks to Moshe D. for calling this correction to my attention.) See more below about BDS and NIF.


We continue to see tensions between various government persons regarding their assigned positions and confusion as to who has precisely what responsibility. All of this is regrettable and counterproductive. Much of the problem is the result of lack of clarity about ministries, which are invented, done away with, reinstated, and redefined according to political need.

Thus, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has now expressed great dissatisfaction with the appointment of Ze’ev Elkin as Minister of Jerusalem Affairs; he says that Netanyahu had promised him that he would have responsibilities that will now be undertaken by Elkin. (The Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, although it had existed previously, was not a defined ministry in this particular government until Netanyahu saw fit to assign Elkin to this post when other responsibilities were removed from his jurisdiction and given to Gilad Erdan.)
Elkin has responded by expressing the hope that he and Barkat will be able to work cooperatively for the good of Jerusalem.

In a similar vein, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has disparaged Erdan’s role (presumably as Public Diplomacy Minister), as it undercuts her responsibilities.

And Benny Begin is refusing to cooperate by resigning so that Erdan can become a minister without exceeding the limit on Likud ministers that had been agreed up.


A trail of smoke from rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel was seen above Gaza City. credit: BBC

In response to the rocket barrage (five Grads) – launched from Gaza – that hit Gan Yavne near Ashkelon last night, the IDF this morning attacked four targets in Gaza. This sort of immediate response is routine policy. Four direct hits on terrorist infrastructure were confirmed. However, as Avi Issacharoff (below) writes, by design the sites hit were vacant and no one was hurt. This was apparently because Israel wished to deliver a message, not take life in an action that would promote an escalation. The attack, of course, was accompanied by a stern statement about Israel being prepared to do whatever is necessary – and should push come to shove, Israel indeed would be prepared to take meaningful action.

Now, according to media reports, Egypt is asking Israel to hold fire. (And apparently Hamas has written a similar letter.) Arab sources say Hamas security forces have arrested several members of the armed wing of Islam Jihad. It was said to be an internal struggle within IJ that prompted the rocket-launching.


An alternate version of what happened: Dan Diker of Voice of Israel says this was a show of force between rival terrorist gangs with Islamic Jihad attempting to show up Hamas.


It is highly likely that Hamas has no appetite for starting with Israel again right now; they haven’t even begun to recover from the war waged last summer. However, says Issacharoff, for a variety of reasons, Hamas leadership is not adverse to sporadic launching of rockets on Israel. Among those reasons is a desire to demonstrate that it is not collaborating with Jerusalem, and to provide just a hint of a warning to Israel. While, says Issacharoff (and I believe he is correct), Israel, for her part, prefers a chastened Hamas in charge in Gaza rather than having to cope with the terrorist chaos that would ensue if Hamas were taken out, or alternatively, with the burden of retaking all of Gaza.


As to BDS:

Just weeks ago, in a stunning decision, Israel’s High Court ruled that the Finance Minister can

“impose fines and withhold funding from Israeli NGOs calling for boycotts of businesses in all or parts of Israel.”

Power was also granted to file lawsuits against these NGOs.

As Ronn Torossian wrote at the time:

”Petitioners in court today who sought permission of boycotts of Israel were New Israel Fund (NIF) sponsored organizations, including Gush Shalom, Adalah — the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)…

”One wonders how the NIF can claim they do not support BDS when they go to Israel’s Supreme Court — with American Jewish donor money — and try to cancel the law forbidding boycotts of the State of Israel.

“The NIF’s website and annual report proclaim that NIF will ‘not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from [West Bank] settlements.’”


The battle against BDS has been gaining traction in another way as well, as states in the US have begun advancing opposition. First, was Tennessee, which on April 21st passed a resolution condemning boycotts. A month later, both houses of the Illinois legislature unanimously passed anti-boycott legislation.

Now there is a push for Congress to do the same.


French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has just told the French parliament that France would not sign an agreement with Iran unless inspections are permitted at all sites, including military sites.

Last week Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled out inspections at military sites.

But Yukiya Amano, the head of the UN’s IAEA said yesterday that Iran had agreed to “snap inspections,” including at military sites as part of the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) . Amano says Iran would have to allow inspections according to the Protocol and that months would be needed to assess the military aspects of the situation. (Remember that Iran has declined to provide the IAEA with baseline information.)

On the other hand, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was not so: “some” access to sites would be permitted, but not military sites. In fact, just days ago, Iran demanded 24 day notice before any inspections – their definition of “snap inspections.” As Fabius commented then:

“in 24 days a lot of things can disappear.”


Always the lack of clarity, the hedging, the shifting of position. And now there is talk that the June 30 deadline for a deal may be extended – buying Iran further time to advance its agenda.

This is a very bad scene because the notion that it is possible to genuinely negotiate in good faith with Iran is flawed at its core. The Iranians are running rings around the P5 + 1 team. But the one thing Obama wants to avoid is the appearance that this great diplomatic venture of his has failed abysmally. For some time now it has struck me as rather incredible that it is France that is hewing to the toughest line.


Oh joy. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini today called on Israel and the PA to resume peace talks immediately. Why? Because the current situation on the ground is “not sustainable.”

She apparently knows this because we hit targets in Gaza.

Without any kind of political process, without any horizon, we cannot expect anything but more violence to come again,” she said.


My question, then, is this: Is Mogherini genuinely a dimwit, or is she pretending? Does she not know that Hamas in Gaza would not be party to a “peace process,” were Israel to re-establish one with the PA? I guess she does know, because she called upon Israel and the PA, not Hamas, to come to the table.

So let me rephrase this: Why would she think that Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza would stop attacking Israel and become good neighbors if peace were made with the PA? That the existence of a “Palestinian state” on part of the land would mollify them?

Allow me to cite a few phrases from the Hamas Charter (with emphasis added):

– Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.

– Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts.

– The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.

– The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders.

– The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up.

– Nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the religious creed. Nothing in nationalism is more significant or deeper than in the case when an enemy should tread Moslem land.

– Leaving the circle of struggle with Zionism is high treason, and cursed be he who does that.

Clearly, Hamas has to grapple with realities on the ground and decide when or if to launch serious attacks against Israel. But we should never make the mistake of thinking because Hamas is reticent to start up now means it opts for “peace,” or would be satisfied with sharing Palestine with the Jewish people. Moghirini’s “horizon” is not Hamas’s horizon.


A week from today, on Wednesday, June 3, Unity Day will be marked. Mayor Nir Barkat, working with the parents of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel – who were kidnapped and killed by terrorists last year – have designated the day as a time for honoring the memory of the boys by bringing people together.


A joint message from the parents read:

“Jews from around the world came together to support [the boys’] families by searching, praying, and just reaching out. The sense of unity reached its peak 17 days later as the three boys were found and ultimately laid to rest side by side.

“Now, one year later, the families of the boys are asking the Jewish people to come together again. Together with, Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem and Gesher [an organization that promotes understanding between secular and religious Jews], we will honor the teens’ memory by joining in ‘Unity Day’ to bring back that sense of togetherness and hope.”

You may remember the incredible unity of those days. Now we need such feeling more than ever. As Barkat has written:

“The Jerusalem Unity Prize [which will be awarded that day] and Unity Day serve to memorialize the three boys by strengthening the common bonds that exist within our Jewish people and encourage greater tolerance and mutual respect between all sectors of our greater community.” (Emphasis added),7340,L-4660758,00.html


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. Contact:

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


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