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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘muqata’

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.

The Wrong Time to Dance

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Last week marked the usual emotional roller coaster that is Israel every year at this time. Yom HaShoah, remembering the heroes and martyrs of the Holocaust, followed by Yom HaZikaron, honoring our fallen heroes (and martyrs to Arab terrorism), followed by Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, the miracle that was and still is the birth of the State of Israel, after and within all of the chaos. Someone said to me yesterday that the most moving videos on Israeli television happen on Yom HaZikaron, due to the incredible power of the events and people we remember. What follows is a very sensitive struggle with the emotional train wreck of memory and current events by a dear friend of mine. There are only questions…

Yehuda was rummaging through a box of toys in the corner of the room when he suddenly paused and called out, “Harmonica! Kochava’s harmonica!”

Kochava Even-Haim, z"l

Kochava – Yehuda’s nursery school teacher, who had taught him, and adored him, for two years in a row. She was murdered by terrorists within hours of greeting us at a back-to-school night at the beginning of what was to be Yehuda’s third year in her warm embrace, an embrace that evaporated in a spray of bullets. Though she has been gone a year and a half, Yehuda, now almost eight years old, still refers to her often.

“Yehuda, did Kochava play the harmonica?” But Yehuda did not answer me; he was already running over to the window, harmonica in hand, and he began pleading to the clouds, “Hashem! Give me back my Kochava! I want her! I want to play with her! Why did she die? Send her back to me from the sky!”

The pure and raw prayer of a mentally disabled child. The pure and raw emotion of a soul unable to comprehend the hatred that leads to murder, but masterfully gifted in absorbing and offering love.

Yehuda and his mother, Jennie, at Yehuda's siddur party

A few weeks later, I finished a work meeting in Jerusalem, and was relieved that due to careful advanced planning, I would be free for the next thirty minutes. I had set aside that time before and after the Yom Hazikaron siren for undistracted private moments of reflection. Yom Hazikaron has become more and more personally meaningful in the five years since we made aliya. Fallen soldiers and terror victims are no longer a list of anonymous names, but are now my neighbor’s brother, my colleague’s uncle, my son’s nursery school teacher. And with a draft letter for my eldest son already sitting in the house, Yom Hazikaron is also a sobering reminder that I too, am about to be drafted, into that elite unit of Israeli mothers who are proud by day and sleepless by night.

I spent the fifteen minutes before the siren in front of the computer, watching interviews with parents, and siblings, and girlfriends of soldiers who died in military training accidents. The interviews were broadcast as the familiar notes of Yom Hazikaron’s mournful songs played in the background, a holiday soundtrack so uniquely Israeli.

11 a.m.: As the siren blared, softly at first, and then strengthening in its haunting blast, my tears were already falling. I moved closer to the window, ten flights up from the street below, to watch the cars pull over to the side of the road, and the pedestrians stop midstep, as all joined in a united moment of silence and prayer. In those opening seconds of the siren, my thoughts were focused on Kochava, and on the bereft parents interviewed online, and on my son’s draft notice. I thought about those parents’ acceptance of their tragedy, their talk about finding meaning in moving forward, and in living life as a memorial to the goodness of their sons. My eyes moved from the still cars below to the apartment building under construction across the street. Standing at my tenth floor perch, I was able to see directly into the open window of a room in which three Arab workers hovered over a large piece of metal. I heard myself gasp as the siren hit its loudest pitch, for at that moment, the workers dropped their tools, and in the room high above the street below, began to dance together. And laugh. And dance some more. And as the tears of the Israelis on the street below flowed, these workers danced. I desperately wanted to believe that their dancing was in no way connected to the wailing siren, but the timing of their smiling nods at each other as the siren blasted was painful to observe from my hidden vantage point, which at that moment felt so very far away from those workers, who were in fact just a few feet away from me. My vision was blurred by my own hot tears as my mind jumped to the parents of the fallen soldiers, and then jumped again to Yehuda crying out with his harmonica for Kochava, and then jumped again, as our thoughts do without our control, to the image of a triumphant Palestinian gleefully waving his bloodied hands out the window to the rowdy crowds on the street below, hands bloodied as he and his friends savagely murdered two Israeli soldiers who had taken a wrong turn in Ramallah over ten years ago.

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.

Courage Under Fire

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Numerous people sent me a blog post which has been reverberating around the internet — its title translated into English; “One who believes isn’t afraid” The article is about a trip to a wedding last night in Southern Israel, and how the wedding took place, under Gazan rocket fire.

….the scene was just as it would be at any other wedding in Israel.

Except for the part during the chuppah when they had to stop for a few minutes because the Iron Dome was intercepting a rocket, and the huge WHOOOSHH sound made it impossible to hear the ketubah. Except for when, before the toasts, the brother of the Chatan read out a list of “what to do if” scenarios and explained where all the closest shelters were. Except for the part where the Code Red alarm sounded twice during dancing, and half the wedding party vanished.

The author then contemplates the “fear factor” versus the “importance of being at the wedding, and not letting the terrorists win.” I suggest you read her article to get a better understanding of what we’re going through here, and why we continue living here even under seemingly insane conditions. Blog post is here — “They call me Shev

I can easily connect to her post, since on a personal level I made aliya/moved to Israel on the eve of the First Iraq War, when Iraqi scud missiles pummeled the country, and American “Patriot” anti-missile batteries attempted to keep Israel safer.

I moved here fully knowing that Israel was about to be at war, yet couldn’t fathom being anywhere else.

Years later under the current conditions, I still can’t imagine living anywhere else.

My oldest son is currently studying in his pre-IDF yeshiva in Southern Israel, and he has less than 10 seconds to get to bomb shelter from the time a siren goes off. Yet he had absolutely no qualms about going back to his yeshiva this Sunday, knowing full well that Southern Israel was under attack. Eyes wide open, he is fully aware of his surroundings, yet cannot imagine NOT being anywhere else.

Now is not the time to run away, it is the time for the country to stand strong — not simply to send a message to the Palestinian terrorists who want us to run away, but for ourselves and to remind us why we’re here. Standing strong and together reenforces our conviction that this IS our country, our land, our national homeland — where we belong as a nation.

And we’re not leaving.

 

Fauxtography: UN Employee Wages Media War Against Israel

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Since Friday afternoon, Israel has been targeted by over 150 rockets from Gaza. The Iron Dome anti-rocket system has been working well at about a 90% hit-rate, which has kept serious rocket strikes to a minimum.

The Palestinians have been waging the war through their most effective weapon they have — lying, and using the media to spread their lies. Fake Imagery is one of their fortes.

So…Palestinians have been using this photo everywhere on facebook and twitter to accuse Israel of “war atrocities”

The photo is from 2006, and the girl died in an accident!

So who started the campaign to smear Israel? Honest Reporting has the scoop:

Our guest post from the IDF revealed how a photo, allegedly depicting the results of Israeli air strikes in Gaza in recent days, have been proven false.

The offending photo was originally tweeted by Khulood Badawi.

Khulood Badawi happens to work for the OCHA – the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs where, according to a UN Contact List, she works as an Information and Media Coordinator.

A Google search reveals that Badawi has a history of activism in a range of pro-Palestinian non-governmental organizations, some of them radical and politicized. While this background may not in itself disqualify her from a career with the UN, it is absolutely unacceptable that a UN employee working specifically on dissemination of information to the media and public tweets malicious and false information to libel Israel.

Read it all at Honest Reporting.

More examples of Palestinian Fauxtography at the IDF Spokesman’s Blog.

PS: Want full time war coverage? Let me know in the comments…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/fauxtography-un-employee-wages-media-war-against-israel/2012/03/12/

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