Jordanians were jumping in joy Friday morning, when they heard their team had just won its first official Olympic medal ever, and it is gold to boot. The winner was a 20-year-old business student named Ahmad Abu Ghaush, who took the gold in the 65 kg Taekwondo event, after beating Russia’s Alexey Denisenko 10-6 in the Rio Olympics.
The Abu Ghaush family immigrated to Jordan from the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghaush, located on the main highway to Jerusalem.
The Korean martial art Taekwondo was developed in the 1940s and 1950s by martial artists who incorporated elements of Karate and Chinese martial arts. Since 2000, taekwondo has been one of only two Asian martial arts (along with judo) that are included in the Olympic Games.
A Royal Court statement Friday said His Majesty King Abdullah called the champion after the game to express his “happiness with the distinguished sports achievement, congratulating Abu Ghaush for the historic victory that raised the name of Jordan high in the Olympic games.” Also, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein called to congratulate the champion. And Her Majesty Queen Rania “took to social media to share with Jordanians her joy for the achievement.”
The gold winner also received congratulatory calls from HRH Prince Feisal, president of the Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC), HRH Prince Hassan, president of the Higher Council for Self-Defense Sports and HRH Prince Rashid, president of the Jordanian Taekwondo Federation.
“I can’t believe it,” Abu Ghaush told the JOC News Service. “I dedicate this medal to His Majesty King Abdullah II and all the people of Jordan. This is for you.”
At the local council of Abu Ghaush they were also delighted to hear about the great achievement of their wayward cousin. “He brought great honor to the family, to his parents, and to himself, and it makes us very happy,” council head Issa Jaber told Israel Channel 2 News. “We hope someone living in Abu Ghaush today will reach a similar achievement.”
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
Thousands of marchers from all across Israel participated in the 22nd annual walk around the walls of the old city of Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av night, Saturday, organized by Women in Green. This year the walk, which began following the traditional reading of the scroll of Lamentations at the Independence Park in downtown Jerusalem, was focused on Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. The marchers circled the ancient walls carrying Israeli flags, accompanied by police.
The march was concluded with a rally that began with a rousing speech by Women in Green co-founders Yehudit Katsover and Nadia matar. Katsover asked why did the 9th of Av become the time of the year when so many calamities took place in the history of the Jewish nation (the destruction of two temples, the fall of the city of Beitar to the Romans, the expulsion from Spain, the expulsion from the Gaza Strip). She pointed to the fact that the sin of the spies, the first event that established Tisha B’Av as a day of mourning for the ages, was the sin of fear of going out to conquer the promised land. The spies convinced the nation that we couldn’t do it.
9 B’Av Jerusalem march 2016 organizers Yehudit Katsover and Nadia matar / Photo credit: Gershon Elinson
“We can’t do it! The state of mind of ‘I can’t do it’ is the cause of defeat. That’s the root of the destruction,” Katsover said. “Tisha B’Av is here to remind us to mourn the things we could have done but didn’t … because of our fear. We don’t build in Judea and Samaria because we’re afraid of pressure from the dwarf Obama. We fail to save [the community set for demolition] Amona because the Supreme Court is afraid of the world. We don’t impose sovereignty because we fear the demographics. We don’t carry out this march in the direction of the Temple Mount because we fear the Arabs and the deteriorating State of Jordan.”
“If we allow our subjective fears to dictate our objective reality, we’ll keep falling time and again,” Katsover declared. “This is the root of our destruction. The first time this approach was introduced was on Tisha B’Av and since then, each year, we cry over the fact that we failed to trust ourselves.” And she announced, “On this Tisha B’Av we’ll decide that we can do. We can and we will. We will not permit the baseless tears to stop us.”
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich / Photo credit: Gershon Elinson
Dov Kalmanovich, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, the first Israeli victim of the First Intifada (the skin of his face and a large part of his body were burned away by a Molotov cocktail that was hurled at his car on December 9, 1987), said the way to bolster Israel sovereignty across the Land of Israel was through unrelenting construction. He said liberation didn’t end with the conquering of the city, that’s where it started — and the rest is all about building the city. “With your support we’ll cry out for a sovereign Jerusalem,” but this sovereignty must be borne by physical building, Kalmanovich told the marchers.
Former MK Aryeh Eldad / Photo credit: Gershon Elinson
Former MK Aryeh Eldad told the audience about his late father, MK Israel Eldad, who each year on Tisha B’Av would visit the Israel Museum, stand in front of the statue of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who suppressed the Bar Kokhva rebellion (132 – 135 CE) and tell him, “So, what do you say? Where are you and where are we now?”
“On the surface he appeared to be right,” Eldad said about his father. “The Roman Empire disappeared and we are here, a sovereign nation returning to its homeland after destruction and catastrophe the likes of which history has not known. But it isn’t that simple.”
“The curse of Hadrian is still hovering above us,” Eldad continued. “After he destroyed Beitar and hundreds of other communities, and massacred half a million Jews, he was not satisfied, and sought to revise history and erase the memory of Israel. This is why he rename Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina (after Jupiter Capitolinus, the same god who eventually lent a derivation of his name to Capitol Hill). And he changed the name of the province of Judea to the province of Syria-Palestine.”
“This curse of Palestine has been chasing us to this day,” Eldad said. “If we want to return to the mountain, we must erase the name Palestine from Eretz Israel.”
The crowd responded with soaring applause.
Other speakers included Rina Ariel, mother of 13-year-old Halel Yaffa Ariel hy”d who was murdered in her bed a few weeks ago by an Arab terrorist; former Russian dissident Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich; and Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan.
MK Yehuda Glick / Photo credit: Gershon Elinson
The last speaker at the rally was MK Yehuda Glick, whose name and personal history have become intertwined with the story of Jewish efforts to return to the Temple Mount. “For two thousand years we’ve kept the commandment of ‘Bitterly she will weep at night’ (Lamentations 1:2), but no more! We stop crying and start doing! The fathers of the Zionist movement have taught us the diaspora is not only the punishment but the sin, too. Zion is the holy Mt. Zion, and Zionism took that name because it wanted to return to Zion, to the Temple Mount, and you,” he turned to the audience, “are part of the return to Zion, to the Temple Mount.”
Pointing out that when he began ascending to the Temple Mount only about a hundred Jews a year would go there, but in the past year some 20 thousand have come.
“Since the day fifty years ago, when God gave us, through the IDF, the land of our fathers, the Golan, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and we said that Temple Mount is in our hands (the famous victory cry of Paratroopers commander Gen. Motta Gur, June 7, 1967), it really has been in our hands,” Glick said. “Temple Mount is holy, not the status quo,” he continued, crying, “Eicha-How [the Hebrew title of the Book of lamentations] is a scream. How can there be such and absurd reality in which we cannot pray in this place? How can it be that the global center of ‘Nation will not take up sword against nation’ fall in the hands of people who sanctify the sword? How can we give more and more power to the Waqf?”
Glick, whose first few months in office have been marked by liberal and tolerant statements that puzzle the media, concluded decidedly, “We must make clear that all the talk about the chance for a Palestinian State is finished. We will proceed in imposing Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, and anyone wishing to live in peace is welcome, and if they don’t we’ll use harsh measure against them.”
“We are now a nation of building in the daytime, not a nation of weeping at night,” Glick concluded.
The rally then erupted in three calls of “Higia z’man ribonut” (the time for sovereignty is now) and proceeded to the Kotel Plaza to sit down and say Lamentations.
Jordan Valley (TPS) – The Israel Police and IDF Spokesperson announced on Wednesday that security forces thwarted a large arms smuggling attempt last night and apprehended two Palestinian Authority smugglers.
“Not only did the successful operation prevent a large quantity of weapons from reaching the hands of criminal and terrorists, it also permanently severed that smuggling route and prevented any future attempts,” stated a Northern District Police spokesperson.
The intelligence about the smuggling operation was acquired after an undercover investigation was conducted by the Israel Police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
According to the police, the two Arab suspects, residents of Jericho, operated an arms smuggling route that ran from Jordan to Judea and Samaria through the Jordan Valley. They worked as security guards at a plantation south of the Israeli city of Beit She’an and used the proximity of the plantations to the Israel-Jordan border fence to operate the smuggling route.
“An IDF light-infantry brigade with the help of the Shin Bet and the Israel Police seized 20 nine- millimeter handguns, five M-16 assault rifles, various parts for automatic weapons, and optical equipment,” stated an IDF spokesperson.
According to the police spokesperson, the two suspects also attempted to smuggle ammunition, laser and telescopic sights for rifles, and various parts used by illegal weapons manufacturers in Judea and Samaria to make Carl Gustav sub-machine guns.
A Gaza citizen infiltrated through Israel’s southern border Tuesday night, near Jewish communities in the Gaza Belt area.
He was spotted by Israeli military forces heading towards a location in the Eshkol Regional Council district.
The forces took him into custody and transferred the suspect to security personnel for questioning. His identity is not known, and his motives for leaving the Hamas-ruled region and entering Israel were not clear.
The Jordanian then tried to force the driver out of the car but failed when the woman fought back. He ultimately gave up and tried the same strategy with another vehicle that stopped to help, but failed again and then fled the scene. A third car arrived and called police.
A guard at Kibbutz Degania Bet later saw the man wandering around, but when he ignored a directive to stop, the guard shot and disabled him. He was later arrested by Israel Police. IDF officials subsequently identified the Jordanian as a “mentally ill individual.”
Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.
UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.
Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.
Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”
The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.
But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.
In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.
“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”
Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”
The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”
And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”
Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.
A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.
It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.
Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.