Arlene from Israel: Confusion? And Far Worse

One great thing Israel has going for her is the political cartoon work of Ya’akov Kirschen, who has been doing “Dry Bones” for over 40 years now.   At present, he is developing an online Bones Academy to train an army of cartoonists in the art of Computer Based Messaging – using cartoons to bring the news to a public that is being misled by a biased anti Israel media.

With on-line training with the Academy, you will learn:

  • formats, tactics and strategies
  • how to turn issues into cartoons
  • how to create punchlines

Interested? Want to help?  See:


A positive sign of changing times:

Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on February 11, 2016 (Courtesy)
credit: Courtesy

Last Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi hosted 36 American Jewish leaders, representing a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in Cairo. A major focus of their two-hour discussion was Egypt’s close security cooperation with Israel.  The participants in the meeting are not talking about the content of the discussion, but have described Sissi’s statements as “positive.”  (See following)

credit; ndtv

According to one report of the meeting, al-Sisi described Netanyahu as:

“a leader who possesses great powers, which assist him not only to lead his country, but can also advance the region and the entire world.”

The amazing quote was provided Sunday by Zvika Klein, a reporter for Makor Rishon, on his Twitter feed.

Asked by a commenter if the quote is an authentic one, Klein replied in the positive.


Addressing the same Conference of Presidents, Prime Minister Netanyahu, seeking more openness from Arab countries with regard to Israel, said:

“Major Arab countries are changing their view of Israel … they don’t see Israel anymore as their enemy, but they see Israel as their ally, especially in the battle against militant Islam with its two fountainheads.  Now, this is something that is forging new ties, many of them discreet, some of them open. And I think there too we can expect and should expect and should ask to see a change.”

The prime minister then addressed changes in Israel’s relationship with non-Arab countries as well (emphasis added):

“On the one hand, there was an ongoing multinational hostility toward Israel at the UN, ICC, and EU, together with what he termed an ‘obsession’ with Israel in international forums.

“On the other hand, he said, countries like China, India, Russia and Japan were warming their ties to Israel because of their concern with militant Islam and the terrorism it produces and to benefit from Israeli operational experience and intelligence in fighting terror as well as Israeli technologies, such as cyber security, improved water management and desalination, agriculture and biotechnology. ‘We need these countries who are coming to us to change their votes in international forums,’ he said.”

The message here is that, while things seem very grim sometimes, there is hope on the horizon as well, for the whole dynamic of international relations is changing.  And Israel is at the forefront of so much that is positive.


This is good news in my estimation, as well (emphasis added):

“Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) on Thursday during a visit to Switzerland told reporters that the rapprochement talks with Turkey are unlikely to succeed, because Ankara is refusing to address Israel’s demand that it stop supporting the Hamas terrorist organization.

“Speaking even as a new round of normalization talks began in Geneva on Thursday, Ya’alon said, ‘I’m not sure that we’ll reach an agreement.’

’The Turks need to agree to our conditions so that we can get over the obstacles and reach a political agreement,’ he said. ‘Turkey is hosting senior Hamas officials in Istanbul, and we are not ready to accept that.  The Turks support Hamas generally through the Muslim Brotherhood and that must be discussed.’”

It’s good news whenever we stand strong for ourselves.  May it continue here.  There are commentators who believe Turkey is very hungry for an agreement with Israel because so many of its other relationships have soured.  We need to continue to watch this…


And here’s something to make all Israelis proud:  A social experiment that showed Israeli kindness and integrity:

“A social experiment conducted in Israel recently showed Israelis unanimously helping a man who was posing as blind and appearing to have mistaken a large shekel bill for a small one.

“A video of the experiment, posted on Facebook by pro-Israel group StandWithUs, shows the man posing as a blind student asking strangers to break a 20-shekel bill, which was actually a 100 shekel note. In the footage, every single person he stopped on the street — including some who approached to ask if he needed help — pointed out that the bill he was holding was, in fact, a 100 shekel bill. One man even gave him an additional 20 shekels.”


But oh, it’s not all good news, folks.  In many respects it’s actually pretty dire.  And yes, while there is an unending supply of confusion, there is also a great deal that is maliced, rather than confused.

There are two major bases I want to touch upon today – subjects that I believe you should be aware of.

The first deals with US Customs regulations.  Recently, as many of you may be aware, US Customs ostensibly reissued guidelines that were said to have been in effect since 1995.  The guidelines were with regard to

“country of origin marking requirements for goods that are manufactured in the West Bank” (that is, Judea and Samaria):

“…goods produced in the West Bank…shall be marked as originating from ‘West Bank’… It is not acceptable to mark the aforementioned goods with the words ‘Israel,’ ‘Made in Israel,’ ‘Occupied Territories-Israel,’ or any variation thereof..”

There was broad scale assurance that this was merely a reissuing of the same guidelines that were released in 1995; this was the claim of State Department spokesman Mark Toner on January 23.  And there was an assessment by many that it was less destructive than the EU guidelines, as it did not distinguish between goods manufactured by Jews and Arabs in the “West Bank” (that is, in Judaea and Samaria).

Even if this were the case, there were questions to be asked: Why would a re-issue of the guidelines be necessary, rather than simply a decision to enforce those guidelines that presumably had been frequently ignored. And how does this decision to re-issue dovetail with the political climate generated by the EU decision on labeling?


Credit: thepoliticus
As many of you may also be aware, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), pictured, has introduced S. 2474, the Fair Treatment for Israel in Product Labeling Act, which would rescind the Obama Administration’s recent policy directive ​and permit the use of the terms “Israel,” “Product of Israel,” or “Made in Israel,” as additional country-of-origin markings for products made in the Judea and Samaria.

Both Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) have co-sponsored this bill, which seeks to set right an insidiously problematic directive from the Obama administration.  And it should be supported!


But this is not exactly the end of the story.  My co-chair for Legal Grounds, Jeff Daube, and I, independently delving into the issue, have come to the conclusion that the original intent of the directive has been subverted.

When the text of the original directive and an earlier explanatory guideline, issued on April 6, and March 28, 1995 respectively, are examined, what appears to be the case is that there was a very specific intent at work that differs considerably from what is broadly understood today:

The 1995 directive was issued at the time of the Oslo Accords, which had created a new interim self-governing Palestinian Council. The Accords granted this Council the authority to independently conduct certain of its affairs, including financial matters such as import and export.  Thus proper labeling of goods coming from the areas governed by the Palestinian Council was necessary.  The decision was made to label these products as from the “West Bank” rather than utilizing a term such as “Palestine,” which would have had political connotations.

Article II of the March 28 guideline stated that: it “applied only to goods produced in the areas for which arrangements are being established for Palestinian interim self-government.”

Article IV of the same guidelines stated

“Jurisdiction of the [Palestinian] Council will cover West Bank and Gaza strip territory except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations:  Jerusalem, settlements, military locations, and Israelis.”

This article explicitly excluded Israeli controlled areas.

Call the current claims by the State Department a hijacking of the original guidelines, or subversion, as you like. But they are dishonest at their core, serving the purposes of the Obama administration.

You might want to see this article on the subject:


And then we have an horrendous situation regarding Israel’s acquisition of F-35 aircraft.  Procurement by Israel of these aircraft has been hailed as providing a significant military edge to Israel.  And yet it turns out that there are enormous problems.

Aaron Lerner of IMRA first sounded the alarm last Wednesday (emphasis added):

“All F-35 aircraft operating across the world will have to update their mission data files and their Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS) profiles before and after every sortie.

“And they will do this by communicating with a computer located in the United States.

“The Americans are certainly smart enough to figure out ways to manipulate this arrangement in order to ground Israeli F-35s if the U.S. considers such action as serving vital American interests.”


Credit: popularmechanics

Israel placed its first order of 19 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in 2010.  The first two of these stealth, supersonic multi-role planes built by Lockheed Martin are due to arrive later this year, and the rest of that order is scheduled for delivery within two years.

Caroline Glick, in her column on Friday, tells us (emphasis added):

“Last October, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon asked US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to provide Israel with a new squadron of F-15s that Israel would outfit with its own electronics systems. Carter reportedly rejected that request as well as one for bunker buster bombs.

“Carter instead insisted that Israel use the supplemental aid to purchase more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, US-made missile defense systems, and the Osprey V-22 helicopter, which Ya’alon didn’t want.

The fact that the administration wants Israel to buy more F-35s instead of F-15s is alarming both for what it tells us about America’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge against Iran and for what it tells us about the F-35, which is set to become the IAF’s next generation combat fighter

“By all accounts, the F-35 is an impressive next generation fighter. But at the same time, as Aaron Lerner from IMRA…noted this week, the F-35 suffers from one major weakness that arguably cancels out all of its advantages. That weakness is the F-35’s operational dependence on software laboratories and logistics support computers located in the US.

“As reported last November, ‘All F-35 aircraft operating across the world will have to update their mission data files and their Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS) profiles before and after every sortie, to ensure that on-board systems are programmed with the latest available operational data and that ALIS is kept permanently informed of each aircraft’s technical status and maintenance requirements.

“‘ALIS can, and has, prevented aircraft taking off because of an incomplete data file,’ the report revealed.

“This technical limitation on the F-35s constitutes a critical weakness from Israel’s perspective for two reasons. First, as the Defense-Aerospace article points out, the need to constantly update the ALIS in the US means that the F-35 must be connected to the Internet in order to work. All Internet connections are maintained via fiber optic underwater cables.

“Defense-Aerospace cited an article published last October in reporting that those cables are ‘surprisingly vulnerable’ to attack.

“According to Nicole Starosielski, a media expert from New York University, all Internet communications go through a mere 200 underwater cables that are ‘concentrated in very few areas. The cables end up getting funneled through these narrow pressure points all around the globe,’ she said.


“…the fear is that an ‘ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.’

Given the F-35’s dependence on the Internet, such an attack, while directed at the US itself, would also ground the IAF’s main combat fighter.

“The second reason the F-35’s continuous dependence on a US-based logistics system is a critical weakness is that it would be irresponsible of Israel to trust that the US will not abuse its power to undermine and block IAF operations.

“This brings us back to the Pentagon’s insistence that Israel purchase only F-35s and missile defense systems. By giving Israel no option other than purchasing more F-35s, which the Americans control – to the point of being able to ground – even after they are deployed by the IAF, and defensive systems jointly developed with the US and built in the US, the Americans are hollowing out Israel’s ability to operate independently.”


Glick notes that Israel is on the verge of finalizing $3 billion in arms deals with India.  Her proposal – which seems from my perspective one worthy of serious consideration – is that Netanyahu should end Israel’s military dependence on the US by offering Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi an opportunity to jointly develop a next generation fighter plane based on the Lavi.


A couple of explanatory notes:

Much of the military funding provided by the US to Israel must be funneled back to the US via the purchase of military equipment.  This generates a bind for Israel.

I picked up the following from a back issue of The Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs:

“Matti Peled, former Israeli major general and Knesset member [deceased 1995], told Zunes that he and most Israeli generals believe this aid is ‘little more than an American subsidy to U.S. arms manufacturers,’ considering that the majority of military aid to Israel is used to buy weapons from the U.S. Moreover, arms to Israel create more demand for weaponry in Arab states. According to Zunes, ‘the Israelis announced back in 1991 that they supported the idea of a freeze in Middle East arms transfers, yet it was the United States that rejected it.
This background clarifies Glick’s description of the US Secretary of Defense telling the Israeli Defense Minister what he should purchase with “supplemental funds.”


As to the Lavi, which Glick referred to: it was a fighter plane being developed by Israel Aircraft Industries in the 1980s that was to be the mainstay of the Israeli air force. There was much controversy surrounding it because of the enormous cost to Israel, and the pressure being brought to bear by the US to discontinue it, as it competed with American jets in the export market. It was discontinued in 1987, to the great dismay of many – most notably Moshe Arens.  Two prototypes (one pictured below) were preserved. Following cancellation, Israel purchased 90 F-16s from the US.

It is possible to see now, in retrospect, how important it is for Israel to maintain military independence.  No one, back in 1987 could have anticipated the problems that would be generated by reliance on US military equipment.


The US and Israel have been signing military aid packages for 10 year periods, with the current one expiring in 2018.  Negotiations have been on-going for the arrangements that would go into effect after the expiration of the current package.  There is word, however, that Netanyahu is thinking of waiting until Obama’s predecessor comes in before finalizing the new deal.  The package being offered is generous but has some significant draw-backs.


So that you are up-to-date:

A post script from Aaron Lerner with regard to what he wrote the other day about the US computers controlling Israel’s F-35s, which I cited above.

He said that there were those who were contacting him,

“asserting that there is no problem as the IAF will be able to figure out a way to bypass the requirement of a USA interface before each take off.

“I checked with both a senior Israeli defense affairs reporter as well as one of the top Israeli experts on the IAF (who had written numerous books on the IAF and writes in both the popular press and in professional journals).

“They say that while in theory after investing many years in the effort it may be possible for a team to ‘crack’ the system that in the ‘best’ of circumstances any country that receives the F-35 will be subject to a USA ‘veto’ for years.


One final word on the issue here:

When Israel first considered purchase of F-35s in 2009, the IAF requested permission to install our own technology on the planes. The US refused.

The issues were not precisely the same as they are today – for example – Israel was concerned that the US would sell the F-35s with the same technology to enemy states. But yet…


I have not mentioned terrorist attacks for a bit, but do not imagine that this is because they have ceased (it should only be!).  Consider:

Yesterday, at the Damascus Gate, two Palestinian Arab terrorists opened fire with guns on Border Police officers.  One of the terrorists was a PA policeman. Both terrorists were killed; no Israelis were hurt.

Yesterday afternoon, a female terrorist attempted to stab a Border Police officer near the Machpela in Hevron; she was critically wounded before she could inflict damage.

Late on Shabbat, four Border Police were lightly wounded when terrorists rammed a car into them, at a junction near Ma’ale Adumim.

There is more, but you get the idea.


There is a feeling (I certainly feel it) that in certain quarters the usual culprits – US, EU, UN, etc. – seem to be coming at us with great vigor with regard to pushing us to negotiate for a “two-state solution.” Nut cases, one and all, but dangerous nutcases.  This subject requires a separate posting, with serious analysis, which will probably follow next.


See here a video of Gazelle Valley, Jerusalem’s new nature preserve in the heart of the city.

Following this video is another short one explaining how local residents fought development of the property the park was situated on, and helped to preserve it as a natural treasure.


And following this theme, I close with John Denver, singing ‘’”Sunshine on my shoulders.”


 © 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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