Arlene from Israel: Facing Forward

It has been my practice every year, as January first approaches, to speak about the fact that for me the New Year is Rosh Hashana, a time of reflection and prayer.  All the secular new year means to me, I would write, is that I must change the date I put on my checks.  And, while I almost never write checks anymore, this still pertains to putting the correct year at the top of my postings.

But every year, as well, I have most sincerely wished my readers a Happy New Year, and put up an illustration that is somehow celebratory, in recognition of how New Year’s Eve is customarily observed by many.  Champagne glasses. Bright sparklers.

Yet in this posting you will see no illustrations of celebration.  This year is different. Of course I wish one and all a good year ahead.  But right now, in my heart of hearts, I feel revelry is not appropriate. At all. For the world is in crisis.

A Rosh Hashana model seems so much more fitting: Don’t we need to reflect on what needs to be done to move this world of ours to a more peaceful and humane place – a place where evil is defeated?

And should we not pray for the strength and wisdom required to go forward?

May I write a year from now uplifted by the good that will have transpired in the course of 2016.


Be assured, I am not suggesting there is nothing to celebrate. For of course there is, always! Touching various bases:

“Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a molecule known as NT157 which targets metastatic human melanoma and colon cancer.  The molecule has been licensed to Israeli startup TyrNovo for medical trials.”


Credit: invest-in-albania

The Prime Ministers of Israel and Albania signed a joint declaration of friendship in honor of 25th years of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.  Other documents signed included a medical research cooperation agreement between hospitals.”



Credit: israelhayom

“Israel is to open a diplomatic-level mission to the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi, its first openly established representative office in the United Arab Emirates.  Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold (on left below) visited Abu Dhabi earlier in December, the first time an Israeli government official of his diplomatic rank has publicly made the trip.”

This is not, I hasten to note, a full diplomatic mission and Israel and the UAE still do not have diplomatic relations. But, as one Israeli official noted, “It is half a step out the door.”  One more sign of a changing situation, being achieved incrementally.


Credit: madpatriots

“Dudu Shevy was paralyzed in a car accident 12 years ago.  Thanks to Amit Goffer, founder of Israel’s ReWalk, Dudu surprised his family by walking down the aisle to his bride wearing a ReWalk exoskeleton loaned to him for his wedding day.”

Shevy, who is an IDF vet, had three months of secretive training by the Defense Ministry in order to pull off the surprise.


We are dealing with a crisis in our diplomatic relationship with Brazil. This is a situation that has broad and serious implications.

The current Israeli ambassador to Brazil, Raed Mansour, completed his term of office and returned to Jerusalem last week, and Dani Dayan, who had been chosen by Prime Minister Netanyahu to be the next ambassador, was prepared to replace him.

Dani Dayan
Credit: Flash 90

Dayan was an excellent choice: A native of Argentina, he knows Latin America well.  What is more, Brazil is a rapidly growing market for Israeli goods and Dayan has experience as an entrepreneur.

But politics reared its head in an unexpected and severely problematic fashion: Three former Israeli ambassadors, all with a distinctly left-wing tilt – and all working for EU associated NGOs – lobbied Brazil, in a most inappropriate action, to reject Dayan because of his association with “the settlements”: Dayan had served as head of the Yesha Council, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  By many, he is seen as the public face of the “settlements” – the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.  Argued the former ambassadors, accepting Dayan would be tantamount to acknowledging Israel’s right to be present in Judea and Samaria.

Thus did the BDS movement – normally associated with boycotting of goods from and academia in Judea and Samaria – intrude itself into a diplomatic matter.  Dayan himself has said that this is not just about him, and whether he is accepted in Brasilia, but where all those diplomats who live in or are associated with Judea and Samaria will be deemed “not kosher.”

This simply is not a situation that Israel can accept.  Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has let Brazil know that someone else will not be appointed.  It will be Dayan or no one.  Attempts at settling the matter quietly were unsuccessful and the issue has been made public.

See Caroline Glick on this, below, with more to follow shortly regarding the transparency of NGOs.


German journalist Jurgen Todenhöfer (shown with ISIS fighters), is the only Western journalist ever allowed access to the terrorists where they are located. He risked his life in moving with them in Iraq and Syria for 10 days, and has now done an interview with the the Jewish News in the UK.

 ISIS, he declared (emphasis added) is

“preparing the largest religious cleansing in history…The only country ISIS fears is Israel. They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them

“They think they can defeat US and UK ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies, but they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists

“…they are scared of the Israelis, and told me the Israeli army is the real danger. We can’t defeat them with our current strategy.”

Let this be so!  This is very relevant to the current situation ( see following).


An offshoot of ISIS known as Shuhda al-Yarmouk – the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade – has taken over wide swaths of territory in the Syrian Golan Heights from the al Nusra Front. Estimated at about 600 fighters, they are situated about 15 kilometers (just over nine miles) from Israel.  Because they are in possession of a significant quantity of weapons, the IDF considers them to be a genuine threat.

Thus are appropriate precautions being set in place: security has been enhanced, concrete blocks have been put up at the fence (to prevent a truck with explosives from crashing through), more armored units have been brought to the area.


Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

Additionally, a new elite Commando Brigade  – Brigade Oz – has been established.  It is headed by Col. David Zini (pictured), a veteran of the most distinguished Sayeret Matkal special forces unit.

This  new brigade will combine some of the army’s most specialized units — Egoz, Rimon, Maglan and Duvdevan – for greater efficiency.


The terror?  It continues unabated:

On Saturday, an Arab rammed his car into troops manning the Hawara checkpoint south of Shechem (Nablus) and was shot deal.  One solider was lightly wounded.

The knife used in the stabbing attack in Jerusalem (Photo: Police spokeswoman)
Credit: police spokeswoman

On Sunday, a terrorist stabbed a soldier  near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station; the soldier was lightly wounded and the terrorist was grabbed by security.  You see here the knife the terrorist used.

Later that same day, again at Hawara, Arabs attempted to stab soldiers who were checking their papers.  One soldier was lightly wounded; the terrorists were shot dead.


Ganedi Kofman
Credit: Jewish yishuv of Hevron


Sadly, yesterday we learned of the passing of Ganedi Kofman, the much-loved gardener of Hevron, who had been so badly stabbed but hung on for weeks.


Today there has been a car ramming that lightly injured one soldier; the terrorist was shot.


Before leaving the subject of terrorism, there are two items I want to bring to your attention in order to provide perspective (with emphasis added):

”With Palestinians committing stabbing attacks against Israelis almost daily, the PA and Fatah have chosen to glorify and promote the ‘blood’ and Martyrdom motifs.

“The Facebook page of official spokesman of the PA Security Forces Adnan Al-Damiri, posted a message from Fatah Shabiba youth movement to children that the way to succeed in ‘revolution’ against Israel is to ‘water it with blood’:

“Teach your children to love the land
“Teach them that we live a life of suffering
Teach them that there is a seed in the ground
If they water it with blood, a revolution will flower

”Teach them that Fatah is the eternal revolution
”That the ‘Storm’
“Is the blade of the intifada

”And that the Shabiba are the knights of the rocks.”

Once again, my friends, I must ask that you save this and broadcast it widely.  People must know.


Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Dr. Ofer Merin, Director of the Trauma Unit at Shaare Tzedek Hospital says that the wounds suffered by terror victims are not random.

“The terrorists know where to strike,”

he declared at a conference on emergency medicine.

“Three weeks ago, a casualty who is still hospitalized was brought to us with four stab wounds: one in the lungs, one in the upper atrium, one in the right ventricle and one in the neck. It’s as if someone read the manual, and then the casualty came in with two punctures in the heart. You learn from that, that they know where to strike.”

 Questions are raised, then, about whether attacks are truly “lone wolf” as has been claimed.”


There is more, my friends.  More that is painful, and difficult and confusing.  It will wait until my first posts of 2016.


But let us end this last post of 2015 with something lighthearted: a story about an ostrich ambling down a street in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo causing quite a good-natured stir, with people taking selfies with the bird.

Credit: Shlomi Hazut

The bird – approximately one to two years old – had been bought illegally as a chick from an Arab marketplace near Tel Aviv, and was being raised in its owner’s home in Jerusalem when it escaped.

Said Dr. Asaf Brill of the Jerusalem Municipality Veterinary Service:

“We experience fleeing animals like parrots and iguanas, but these are animals people usually raise.  The ostrich is a wild, dangerous and endangered bird. It can reach the weight of many hundreds of pounds – a kick from it can kill a man.”

A Jerusalem Municipality spokesperson said that,

“Out of a deep concern for her well-being, the municipal authority has coordinated her transfer to the Biblical Zoo, where she will receive the dedicated care of the professional staff.”


Bashana Ha-ba’a” is an Israeli folksong commonly associated with Rosh Hashana.  “You will yet see, you will yet see,” goes the refrain, “how good it will be next year.”

I found this old video of the song that somehow seems right for us now in all its unpolished eagerness.  Children are our hope, after all.


© 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.


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


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