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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jameel’

US Betrayal Opens Great Opportunity for Israeli Saudi Alliance

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Here at the Muqata think tank, we’ve been analyzing the changes happening around us, and envisioning what a new Middle East could look like, or turn into, if given the chance—based on the real state of affairs in our region. Obviously, we’re looking to develop the best possible realistic scenario for Israel as can be, based on current parameters.

America’s betrayal of long time allies, and its shifting of alliances to the worst of the worst of the Islamic fundamentalist governments, has encouraged a sea change for the entire region.

After U.S. failure to turn Egypt into a fundamentalist Islamic state, it’s now turning to firmly prop up the Islamic Republic of Iran. The end result is that any hope for a popular uprising that would throw out the Ayatollahs is now lost.

A revitalized, aggressive, fundamentalist, and obviously nuclear Iran constitutes a clear and present danger to all the countries in the region, not just Israel.

The recent U.S. betrayal of its long time allies has taught Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf States the lesson of an exaggerated reliance on the world’s biggest super power.

America’s Middle East policy has always relied on the three legged stool of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. When America lost Iran, it tried to replace it with Iraq, then with Egypt, but each attempt resulted in unexpected consequences.

For the U.S., the Iran deal represents a much sought after return to an old and familiar Mid-East policy, never mind the fact that this time Iran and Turkey are very much Islamic, and have developed an imperialistic appetite that threaten their neighbors, most emphatically the Foggy Bottom stool’s third leg, Saudi Arabia, which isn’t buying any of it.

It’s no accident that there has been noise about the Saudis preparing to assist Israel in a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Gulf States, too, save for Bahrain, are in Israel’s corner, having had thriving business relations with Israel (and shhh, even Settlers) for years. They all view Iran as a radical menace and Israel as its stabilizing antidote.

At the Muqata think tank, we’ve come up with what could be a very realistic realignment, and a plan for a truly new Middle East (Tom Friedman, eat your heart out).

Saudi Arabia has money. Lots of money. Lots of oil too. And of course, lots of desert.

But they don’t have innovation, they don’t have technology, and they no longer enjoy that sense of security they used to have.

Israel has innovation. Israel has technology. Israel knows how to make deserts bloom. Israel has security. But Israel, while becoming energy independent, doesn’t have oil or money (on the Saudi scale), or the production capability to stand alone.

Actually, both states could use better production capabilities.

Both also have had the same reliance on the U.S. to supply them with military platforms.

It’s also no secret that Israel’s military technology and know-how is superior to that of the U.S., but the latter is making sure that the former not be allowed to compete with industries in the American military industrial complex.

And don’t get us started on Israel being forced to take the less than wonderful but shockingly expensive F-35.

Ask yourself, what would happen if Saudi Arabia were to change its buying habits?

Let’s say they decided to buy an Israeli designed advanced fighter jet. Let’s say Saudi Arabia invested in Israeli green tech, to make their deserts bloom.

Let’s say that Saudi Arabia made a new alliance with Israel, based on mutual defense and mutual interests.

It would require of the hyper conservative Saudis to do something brand new, something they wouldn’t have dreamed of doing only a five years ago, when their ambassador to the U.S. was considered an adjunct member of the Bush cabinet. But those days are gone, and the Saudis, perhaps more so than Israel, are fearing for their lives.

One could think of worse reasons than the will to live for cooperation between historic enemies.

If such a pact—which could be denied ad nauseam by both sides—were to happen, we would definitely see Egypt and Jordan joining in. Secretly (at first).

The new Middle East would include Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states, vs. Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Gaza.

Winners and Losers: Israel’s Historic Unity Government

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

A joint JoeSettler-Jameel post. 

Left behind in the wake of Netanyahu’s surprise unity maneuver are some serious winners and loser. There is no doubt that elections would have shaken things up, but this unity coalition shakes up things even more.

What Netanyahu managed to do today is of historic proportions and has some serious ramifications for many people on both a personal and national level. We present to you our list of winners and losers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Winner. Bibi would probably have done well in elections, but now he runs the largest unity government ever in the history of Israel, giving him a support base not even Ben-Gurion could have dreamed of.  

 

Shaul Mofaz: Winner. Mofaz made a fool out of himself when he jumped ship to Kadima, but after sitting it out on the back benches behind Tzipi Livni on the back benched, he’s manages to come out on top and resuscitate the essentially dead Kadima party.

 

Kadima Party: Winner Until yesterday they were completely irrelevant and simply dead in the water; the largest individual party in the Knesset was forced to face the fact that they might as well not even have been voted into office. Now they have a seat at the table, and perhaps some influence too.

 

Tzipi Livni: Loser She could have been in the government 3 years ago, 2 years ago, and even 1 year ago. This could have been her and not Mofaz. At the end of the day, Kadima was kept in failure and disgrace because of her. Now it’s obvious to all.

 

Likud Party: Winner The Likud as a party is more powerful than ever.

 

Likud MKs: Losers For the most part, their individual influence and power has been diluted. Perhaps significantly.

 

Labor: Losers They were positioned to be the second largest party. Who knows what will be in a year and a half. They may be in for an even bigger shock in the opposition (see Ahmed Tibi below).  

 

Shelly Yachimovitch: Black eye Labor lost, but Shelly only got a black eye out of this. Perhaps she’ll lead the Tel Aviv summer block party, if it happens.  

 

Yisrael Beiteinu: Winner/Loser Yisrael Beiteinu didn’t really want elections, so this is good for them. The downside, their influence has been diluted, perhaps almost completely. One of the goals of this unity coalition is to implement a good replacement for the Tal law. It may happen. Yisrael Beiteinu may even get part of the credit for it, so they can at least bask in the reflected glory.  

 

Avigdor Lieberman: Loser Lieberman will keep his job, avoid elections, and get the opportunity to try to pass more laws he wants. But on the downside, the investigation(s) against him will now continue, and his influence has been severely diminished. We’ll see if he can make a comeback out of this.  

 

Ahmed Tibi: Winner What does Ahmed Tibi have to do with this? It’s simple math. Depending on a few factors, there will be only around 26 MKs in the opposition. The Arab have the largest number of opposition members compared to Labor, Meretz (and maybe Ichud Leumi). Ahmed Tibi is poised to be the new head of the opposition.  

 

Meretz: Losers Outside, irrelevant, no following, and not going to be opposition leader. Not even the Tel Aviv summer block party will be able to help them.  

 

Aryeh Deri: Loser No explanation needed.

 

Shas: Winners See Aryeh Deri above.  

 

Yair Lapid: Loser No explanation needed, but we’ll give one anyway. Sure he can go back to TV and perhaps try again next year, but he really lost his opportunity, even as his followers lost their enthusiasm for him the longer he stayed in the race.

 

President Obama: Loser Obama is a partisan president, while Bibi is the leader of the largest national unity coalition in the history of Israel. Netanyahu has the support of most of the country behind him for whatever he may need to do. Obama may have hoped he’d be facing a weaker Bibi after November, there’s no chance of that now.  

 

Dagan, Diskin, etc.: Losers Netanyahu and Barak are messianists, and irrational? Well, then add Mofaz too, and 80% of the Knesset. Now the former security chiefs sound like sore losers.  

 

Ehud Barak: Winner He still has a job.

 

Yuval Zellner: Winner Yuval Who? We asked the same thing. Zellner just replaced Livni in the Knesset. Until this morning, he was going to go down in history as one of the shortest serving MKs (who would never get a second chance at it either). Now he gets a chance to serve.  

The Rabbi Who Made Beit She’an Part of Israel

Friday, April 20th, 2012

The borders of Israel are today under dispute, but that was also true 700 years ago.

When Estori Ha-Parchi (Ishtori Haparchi), a Spanish-French scholar, came to Israel around 1313, he was shocked to discover that some Jews did not consider places like Ramla and Beit She’an to be in Israel.

Ramla was called ‘Gat’ by the Jews since it was assumed to be the site of the Philistine city of Gath. The city was also called ‘Falastin’ in Arabic, because it was the capital of the ‘Falastin’ province, which was the name the Arab conquerors gave to the Byzantine province of ‘Palaestina Prima’.

How could it be, Estori Ha-Parchi asked, that these towns aren’t in Israel? When we walk from Tiberias to Shechem, both of which are in Israel, we pass through Beit She’an. Are we really expected to believe that when we get to Beit She’an we need to pass through a border crossing?!?

“It’s only to horses and camels that you need to explain that Beit She’an is in the Land of Israel … But what can I do? We now have recent arrivals, who are considered scholars, and who convince the women and ignoramuses not to live there, and say that it’s not the Land of Israel at all, but rather abroad … and so I had to explain it at length, to revive the hearts of the contrite ones.”

Estori Ha-Parchi writes that he would have kept silent if it would have just been a dispute on the details of Halachot in the different regions. But to say that whole towns and villages were outside Israel? He couldn’t accept that.

Estori Ha-Parchi believed that the land was intrinsically holy, and that nothing that we or anybody else did could change that. He did not want Jews to forfeit parts of our land out of ignorance and apathy. And so he decided to set the record straight by writing a book about the land and its Halachas: ‘Kaftor Va’Perach’ (available on the excellent HebrewBooks site)

(Estori Haparchi explaining how he identified Shiloh. Played by Avichai Shiloh, Poyke Theater)

Becoming the first Jewish researcher of Israel, Estori Ha-Parchi spent seven years walking the land: two years in the Galilee, and five years for the rest of the land, both the West and East banks.

His book, which deals with the laws of the Land, goes into a lot of scientific research: geography, botany, history, astronomy and numismatics. At one point he compares geography to astronomy: just as everybody sees the stars and many don’t know which are which, so it is with the towns of Israel. He, of course, preferred the former, and he explains that having spent so many years walking the land, he can now identify places.

In identifying places mentioned in Jewish sources, he realized that the towns and villages retained their original Hebrew name in Arabic. At his time this was a new idea, and he spends some time in his book proving this point. Some of the towns identified in the 19th century were previously identified by Estori Ha-Parchi, such as Modiin, Usha, Eshtaol and Betar.

Estori Ha-Parchi didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk by moving to Beit Shean. At the time Bet She’an was a small town. The town was a station on the Mamaluk ‘pony express’, which passed there twice a week, and a center of sugar cane production. The Jewish community was led by Rabbi Matityah, whom Estori Ha-Parchi admired and consulted with.

Estori Ha-Parchi quickly became Beit She’an’s first PR spokesperson. It is a blessed land, he wrote in his book’s introduction: filled with springs and streams and much happiness. The land was very productive, the entrance to the Garden of Eden.

His efforts were successful to the point that his opponents acknowledged that Beit She’an was indeed part of Israel. As Estori Ha-Parchi writes: “After a long time those people came here (ie, Beit Shean) and admitted they were wrong.”

(First printing of Kaftor Va-Perach)

One of the amazing things about Estori Ha-Parchi, is that we almost didn’t know about him. For more than 200 years after “Kaftor Va’Perach” was written, it was forgotten. In the 16th century, a manuscript of the book was discovered in Egypt. This manuscript, the only surviving one known today, was printed for the first time in 1549. The book again had to wait for history to rediscover it. It was reprinted only 300 years later, in 1852, in Berlin, and by then scholars realized its significance and importance.

Had the book been lost, we would have never known about Estori Ha-Parchi and his research, nor about the Jewish communities of Beit She’an and other towns around Israel in the 14th century.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/the-rabbi-who-made-beit-shean-part-of-israel/2012/04/20/

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