It’s a little surreal sitting here in a coffee shop in the centre of Jerusalem witnessing the ever changing political landscape and evolving events.
The streets are definitely fuller than they were a week ago and Israelis are getting out to restaurants again, taking advantage of the beautiful weather.
Not to be too flippant – but there are a few, just a few, positives during the “situation”.
– You have to argue less with taxi drivers about putting on the meter
– The drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem via Route 443 (which traverses a part of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria) is quicker and with less traffic as more people are sticking to Route 1
– Friends and relatives who greeted me critically in June with “when are you coming to live in Israel?”, are now saying “thanks for coming” and “thanks for showing us we are not alone”
Our participants on programmes are fine and in good spirits.
Last night I bumped into a group from Hineni who had just returned from Poland and were getting their meat fix at New Deli (cardiologists please don’t worry, I was only walking past, well this time………..) and tomorrow I will be going to Kiryat Ye’arim to spend a couple of hours before Shabbat with the IBC group.
As usual when in Israel one tries to combine Jewish communal “business” with pleasure and time is always too short.
But here are some observations on the fly.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Netanyahu gave one of his best speeches in recent memory when he addressed the World Zionist Congress which concluded today.
He dealt with ten lies that are being told about the current situation.
Unfortunately, as often happens to Netanyahu, he made one gaffe which has obliterated everything else that he said and it was this overstep that has united both Jews and non-Jews alike against him – and pushed everything else he spoke about at the Congress, deep into the background.
There is no doubt that the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini was a NAZI and German NAZI ally.
That is not in contention.
What is, is the misspoke way that Netanyahu seemingly diminished the leadership role and ultimate responsibility of Hitler and the German NAZI’s for the Shoah.
He tried to clarify this later, but of course the damage was done.
In the Middle East, ironies abound, and who walks into this controversy but the Palestinian Authority – on the side of Holocaust survivors!
Not only have Jewish experts come out to criticise Bibi, but they are now joined by no less than Saab Erekat.
Erekat’s boss, Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, is famous for having done an academic study denying the Holocaust ever took place.
Now Erekat has issued a press release stating that Prime Minister Netanyahu was insulting Holocaust survivors by denying German culpability “for the genocide of 6 million Jews”.
Well I guess that means that Erekat et al no longer deny the Holocaust.
That’s sort of maybe some type of backhanded win I think.
Returning to that speech, Prime Minister Netanyahu put paid to the lies that are inciting the current terrorism.
He yet again committed his government to continuing the status quo on the Temple Mount, something that Israel agreed to in 1967 and has not changed in all of those years.
But when he came to debunking the settlement myth – the canard put out in the public arena initially by Secretary John Kerry that settlement growth was one of the reasons for the terrorist activity – Netanyahu said something that we all know to be true, but which to the best of my knowledge he has never stated publically before.
He said very clearly and with statistics to back up his position, that he was the lowest builder of new settlement apartments.
Moreover he emphasised that he had built less new settlement apartments on average each year than either each of Barak, Sharon or Olmert.
You would think from his opponents that the opposite is happening and that Netanyahu is overseeing large bursts of settlement growth.
Simply not true.
Now some people will still not believe the facts.
But just as everyone jumped on Bibi for his Mufti/NAZI comments, the silence on his settlement claims has been deafening.
No-one is challenging this claim.
Because it’s true.
And it behooves those in our community who continue to peddle the myth of Bibi the builder, to desist. Such claims are untrue and only assist Israel’s enemies to divert attention from the real core issue – Palestinian unwillingness to accept a Jewish State of any size.
Yes these words are oft said, but clearly for some, not often enough.
Palestinian unwillingness to share any part of the Jewish Homeland with the Jews is the only core issue.
All the rest are diversions.
Just as in these last few weeks, when yet again, the Palestinians decided to talk of the Temple Mount or the settlements or whatever else to take the spotlight away from their own intransigence.
A question everyone seems to want to discuss is whether or not this is the 3rd Intifada.
I am not sure that giving it a name will make much difference, but it is important to understand the differences between what is happening now, to date, and the 2nd Intifada.
The 2nd Intifada went from 2000 to 2005 and followed the Camp David process.
The major similarity between then and now is exactly that in order to avoid a diplomatic solution that would require compromise on the part of the Palestinians, they turned up the heat.
But there the similarity ends.
The 2nd Intifada was planned, coordinated and overseen by Arafat.
This time whilst there is central coordinated incitement, there is no central coordinated operational terrorist action or top down operational orders.
The 2nd Intifada was extremely violent with a very high Israeli civilian death toll, many multiples of the current situation.
And with mass and multiple large demonstrations inside and outside the Green Line.
This time there are no real mass demonstrations at all with the Palestinian Authority working to keep the demonstrations down, the attacks themselves are low tech and sporadic and the terrorists are mainly from East Jerusalem – the area where both Israeli oversight ability and the Palestinian Authority’s weight are weakest.
Social media turns murderers into heroes and the world wants to focus on the victim’s response to terror rather than the terrorist’s act.
And so the Palestinians once again bring suffering to both Jew and Arab.
Israelis are facing each new challenge better and better.
There is a positive spirit and determination you can feel in the air.
They are carrying on with their lives and deserve all of the support we can give them.
And the people of Israel will prevail.
Am Yisrael Chai!
Dr Ron Weiser AM.
Hon Life President ZC of NSW.
ZFA Public Affairs Chairman.