Arlene from Israel: Normal?

We are now past the holiday season and I would like to say that we’re back to “normal,” but I’m no longer sure what that means.  Actually, I’m not quite sure there is such a thing these days.

Credit: jwmag

But, having just come from the holidays, I can deliver good news of the most important sort.  The world situation was horrendous as Sukkot began.  The killings in Syria, the high tension between the US and Russia.  And there we were, beginning the commandment to live in a sukkah for a week.  Eat in the sukkah.  If you are very observant, sleep in the sukkah.  The sukkah is a fragile structure – a hut with decorations.  And the lesson it teaches is that we put our trust in the Almighty.


Credit: sdm

And then, on Monday here in Israel, and Tuesday elsewhere, we celebrated Simchat Torah.  This is a rejoicing in the Torah as we end the annual cycle of reading with the last section of Devarim (Deuteronomy) and begin again with the first section of Breishit (Genesis).

And we sing: She is a tree of life to those who hold fast to her.  What other people reveres and treasures the sacred word as we do?  This is our strength.

We dance with the Torah.


The presidential election draws close, and so I want to continue to provide my readers with pertinent information on the candidates.  I implore you to vote on the issues that matter to America.  Here, a look at Hillary’s position on illegal immigrants:

”Describing those who wish to enforce immigration law as ‘obstructionists’



mindset is

‘fundamentally un-American,’

Clinton vows to

‘introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship’

within her first 100 days in office.

“My dream,

she said in a 2013 speech to a Brazilian bank,

‘is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.’

Stating that

‘we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer’

of immigration laws, Clinton pledges to ‘go even further’ than the two executive orders by which President Obama protected millions of illegal aliens from deportation in 2012 and 2014—even though Obama himself had previously said, on more than 20 occasions, that such executive orders would cross the boundaries of legitimate presidential authority.

”Clinton supports the ‘sanctuary’ policies that bar police officers and other public-sector employees in some 340 U.S. cities from notifying the federal government about the presence of illegal aliens in their communities. Though sanctuary policies have turned many U.S. cities into very dangerous places, Clinton explains that without such arrangements, ‘people from the immigrant community … may not talk’ to police who are trying to solve crimes there because ‘they think you’re also going to be enforcing the immigration laws.’

”As Xochitl Hinojosa, a Clinton presidential campaign director, puts it: ‘Hillary Clinton believes that sanctuary cities can help further public safety, and she has defended those policies going back years.’

Open borders?  Sanctuary cities?

Trump is opposed to all that Clinton proposes, as described here.  He promotes stringent immigration policies and vehemently rejects the notion of sanctuary cities for illegal aliens.


What’s going on with the battle for Mosul – the second largest city in Iraq and the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq – is horrendous.

Credit: i.alalam

Innocent civilians are paying with their lives as many tens of thousands of troops from the Kurdish Peshmerga (the toughest fighters), the Iraqi army, and various Sunni tribal forces close in on the ISIS stronghold, according to some reports, more quickly than had been expected.  They have been bolstered by coalition forces, including American special force “advisers,” who are in some instances embedded with the Peshmerga troops.  I’ve picked up varying reports as to whether any are actually involved in combat at this point.

But ISIS members will never surrender quietly.  They are lashing out indiscriminately with incredible venom.  Suicide squads have been sent from Syria to operate in Iraq, and there are reports of civilian suffocation because ISIS is using poison gas. Many residents of the area are fleeing for fear of being used as human shields.


Mosul presumably will be taken in due course, in spite of the fight ISIS is putting up.  Troops are moving in against them slowly now but steadily.  This will be heralded as a victory for the West and forces of moderation, and in one sense it certainly will be.  Not only will will the fighters of ISIS have lost a base of operations, they will have lost territory, which is essential to their ideology.  They call themselves Islamic State, and their goal is to acquire more and more land for a caliphate.

However, there is a very serious qualification to be noted here:

The territory of ISIS in Iraq will have been reclaimed, but to some considerable degree its fighters will have fled, rather than being captured or taken out.  What this means is an ISIS “diaspora,” with these dedicated radical ideologues, these battle-hardened fighters, who are beneath moral concerns and respect for life, fleeing into a variety of other places, most notably but not exclusively in Europe.  Things may soon be a bit better in Iraq, but they are about to get worse elsewhere.

We are looking at some who will flee as undocumented refugees and others who will travel with fake passports.

“Several former Islamic State militants have been arrested in Jordan over the last week yielding information indicating IS fighters fleeing Iraq and Syria may have traveled abroad on fake European passports, an Arab intelligence official told Breitbart Jerusalem…

“…the Syrian-Turkish border remains the jihadists’ favorite escape route…a passport counterfeit industry is still underway in Turkey…

“…one of the detainees, an Egyptian, was caught carrying a large sum of money, which prompted the authorities to believe that the fugitives are planning to build terror infrastructure in other countries, and that many of them still hold on to their pledge of allegiance to IS.” (Emphasis added)


What exacerbates the situation is that roughly 2,500 of those fighting with ISIS are jihadists who were originally from Europe and some of whom will now return to their countries of origin.  Presumably, they have documentation and I am seriously dubious as to the capacity of European security to track them effectively, never mind nab them.

“The EU has been urged to prepare for returning jihadists if the so-called Islamic State (IS) is driven out of its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul.

“Security Commissioner Sir Julian King said even a small number of militants would pose ‘a serious threat that we must prepare ourselves for.’”

It only takes one militant to unleash a “lone wolf” terror attack, and if they are planning infrastructure, there will be coordinated efforts.  Hey! they may lose their base for a caliphate in Iraq, but that does not prevent them for hoping to one day take over France or Belgium and establish a caliphate there. (I joke not.)


Sigh…  UNESCO is at it again.

The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization passed a resolution on Wednesday that, in referring to holy sites in Jerusalem only by Arabic names, denied the historic Jewish connection to these places, including Har Habayit.  It further called for the Old City to remain on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites that are in danger – charging Israel with destroying archeological artifacts. (A charge of bitter irony considering what the Arabs have done on the Mount.)

Said Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon,

“The absurdity continues, and UNESCO has adopted yet another ridiculous decision that is completely disconnected from reality.

“UNESCO embarrassed itself by marching to the tune of the Palestinian pipers. All attempts to deny our heritage, distort history and disconnect the Jewish people from our capital and our homeland are doomed to fail.”

This is true.  And this vote carries no legal weight.


The victory for us here was in how narrowly the resolution passed.

Credit: Israel-actualities
Credit: Israel-actualities

The PA and Jordan had drafted and promoted the resolution, but as they are not members, it was brought before the Committee for a vote by Tunisia and Lebanon.  The sponsors of the resolution had hoped for a consensus approval by the 21 members of the Committee, and, expecting this, submitted a softer version of the text.  But in the end Tanzania and Croatia requested a secret ballot. When the votes were counted, ten had voted for the resolution, two – Tanzania and the Philippines – were opposed and eight sustained.  Jamaica was not present.  Only the Muslim states on the Committee plus Cuba and Vietnam voted for.

A bit of diplomatic fancy footwork by Israel brought about this result.  Said Israel’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-HaCohen (pictured),

“Credit for this is due the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.” 

He also thanked Tanzania and Croatia for stepping forward.

Shama-HaCohen has now been recalled by the prime minister for consultations on what steps to take next.  Netanyahu called the resolution “theater of the absurd.”


A word here about abstentions in these votes.  In this instance, the abstentions were valuable because they brought about a moral victory and prevented a consensus vote.  In fact, according to the JPost today, UNESCO director general Irina Bokova (who is no fan of the resolution) said the decision would not be implemented unless it was unanimous.

In other instances, abstentions (“count me out here”) are a very tepid way of allegedly supporting Israel – it’s a case of “supporting” Israel by not voting against her.  And yet sometimes there may be a kind of political victory inherent in these votes.

I have in mind most particularly Mexico, with regard to the earlier UNESCO Executive Committee vote on a similar resolution, which passed by 24-6.  Mexico had voted for the resolution and then encountered fury from the Mexican Jewish population.  At first the government said it would call for a re-vote so that it could cast a vote of abstention, but then was convinced not to do this because of political complications.

None-the-less, Mexico let it be known that it’s “real” vote was the abstention. Mexico’s foreign ministry posted a message on its website saying this new vote was in recognition of the undeniable Jewish heritage that existed in eastern Jerusalem.

Obviously, they were aware of the Jewish heritage even when they voted for the resolution.  This demonstrates so perfectly how politicized this all is.  Shama-HaCohen praised the fact that Mexico had taken a step away from its automatic support of the Palestinian Arab position.

So we’re moving in the right direction and becoming less isolated diplomatically. Good news. One step at a time.


What has been troublesome to many of us is the relative silence of Christian leaders, and notably the pope.  The Arab position that denies a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount also challenges the Christian position.  Christian history is founded on Jewish history, and, in fact, it is written in Christian scripture (the gospels of Matthew and John, I believe) that Jesus threw the money changers out of the Temple.  The Temple referred to is the Jewish Temple.  So where were the voices of Christian indignation?

Dry Bones, in “Replacement Theology,” was absolutely on the mark with regard to this:

Dry Bones BDS, rewriting history, Temple Mount, Western Wall,Israel, Jewish History,Israeli history,Temple,Palestinians, Egypt, UNESCO, boycott,


Appeals had been made to Pope Francis to intervene in the situation.  Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein wrote him a letter requesting that he use his

“best offices to prevent the recurrence of developments such as this.”

Yesterday, in the course of a speech on migration, the pope said,

“God promised the Holy Land to the people of Israel.”

Ayub Kara, Israeli Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation, was at the Vatican for a meeting with the pope that had been scheduled on another matter.  After the pope spoke, Kara thanked him for his words.  He then told reporters that he believed the pontiff’s words were sending a direct message to UNESCO.

But I am sorry, it does not cut it for me. This felt more like a papal abstention – saying something that would be pleasing to Israel, while avoiding overt critique of UNESCO (and its anti-Israel majority).  There was no direct statement on the long Jewish presence in the land – he actually spoke only about the Jews leaving Egypt and getting to the land –or about the fact that two Jewish Temples had been built on the Mount.


Another sigh…

Next year, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration: the letter that British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour of Britain sent to Lord Rothschild stating that:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

This Declaration formed the basis for subsequent resolutions on the Mandate for Palestine that are founded in international law, established at Sam Remo in 1920 and and then unanimously at the League of Nations, in 1922.

The PLO, led by Mahmoud Abbas, has now announced intention to make much of this for a year – beginning this November 2, and culminating November 2, 2017.  They want to have activities worldwide to bring attention to the “crime” Britain committed “against the Palestinian people,” and force Britain to atone.  I am certain they will endear themselves greatly to Theresa Kay, Prime Minister of the UK.


Enough said for now. I mention it because of the PLO announcement. In due course I will have a great deal to say.

Here, I hasten to clarify that references to “Palestine” in the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate are to a geographic area with ancient Jewish ties, and have nothing whatsoever to do with Palestinian Arabs.  In fact, before the founding of modern Israel, Jews in this area were called Palestinians.


And the great irony of the PLO marking 2017 as an anniversary year, is that it also marks 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of Judea and Samaria.  Will have a great deal to say about this, as well!!


Let’s end with this unusual good news piece with a decidedly different tone –

“Israeli Cows Are Taking Over the World,”

from The Tower Magazine:

Credit: exithub

In brief (emphasis added):

“Israel’s high-tech expertise is being applied to milk and cheese. Dairy farmers from India to Italy are learning how to increase their yields by traveling to kibbutzim [Israeli agricultural cooperatives]…

“Israeli milk cows…are a growing attraction for visitors as Israel’s dairy industry has emerged as one of the most efficient and productive in the world. Despite limited rainfall and high summer temperatures, Israel has the highest national average of milk production per cow. And amid the fast-growing global demand for dairy products, especially in the developing world, there is increasing interest in how Israel gets so much milk out of each cow and the technology it uses to do so.

“’Happy cows give a lot of milk. People from around the world are coming here, and they see that it’s terribly hot, but that the cows are happy,’ said Ofier Langer, a former executive at several Israeli high-tech companies who established the Israeli Dairy School six years ago. The school organizes seminars and tours of farms and other facilities. ‘We have a lot of ways to teach the world’s farmers how to make their cows happy,’ he says.”

What have got here is yet another example of Israeli technological skill combined with Israel as a light unto the nations, as we teach others and help to feed the world.

I sort of like the idea of happy cows, as well.


Reflecting on my introductory good news item: Tov Lehodot Lashem – It’s good to give thanks to the Almighty.  The opening words of Psalm 92.  With Rabbi Lazer Brody and Shlomo Katz.



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


“We Have Legal Grounds” –




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