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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Reality’

Kerry’s Bitter Alternative Reality

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

For those who thought that the Obama administration would fade away quietly in its last weeks in office without a parting shot at Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry has a message: They’re not done yet. Yesterday, while speaking at the Saban Forum at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Kerry let loose with a harangue that put all the blame for the lack of Middle East peace on Israel. He gave the Palestinian Authority and its undemocratic leader, Mahmoud Abbas, a pass for their refusal to negotiate seriously. He concentrated his fire on Prime Minister Netanyahu and other members of his government for “ignoring all our warnings about settlements” and dooming the prospects for a two-state solution. More than that, Kerry specifically hinted that the door was still open for a U.S. initiative at the United Nations Security Council before Donald Trump is sworn into office, which would undermine Israel’s negotiating position and possibly brand it as an international outlaw.

Kerry’s rant indicated that, despite last week’s AP report that the president already determined it would be a mistake to attack Israel in this fashion during this lame-duck period, many administration officials are, as Haaretz reported, still desperately trying to persuade him to the contrary. Clearly, Kerry is one of those doing so. His Saban remarks, which came almost immediately after speech by Netanyahu at the same conference, is a sign that his campaign against Israel is far from over. The secretary of state is right that a great many members of Netanyahu’s Likud Party and some of his Cabinet ministers are strong supporters of the settlement movement. It’s equally true that, while Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed his support for a two-state solution and demonstrated his willingness to talk with Abbas, most of his government and a clear majority of Israeli voters have given it up as a viable policy for the foreseeable future. That is not because most Israelis don’t want peace. They do, but, unlike Kerry and the rest of the Obama administration, they are not in denial about the Palestinians.

Kerry bizarrely referred to Abbas as “committed to non-violence” even though the Palestinian leader has continued to send mixed signals about how committed he is to peace. Abbas has made some diplomatic gestures, but he continues to laud terrorists as heroes and martyrs, pays these killers and their families pensions, and allows his official media to spread hate against Jews and Israelis. Sometimes he evens joins in himself, as when he helped foment the “stabbing intifada” by spreading canards about Israel plotting to harm the Temple Mount mosques. Most important, Abbas refused to negotiate seriously with Netanyahu even when the prime minister offered to give up most of the West Bank. Nor has he recognized the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn, a sign that he doesn’t really intend to end the century-old war against Zionism that has become an inextricable part of Palestinian national identity.

To Kerry, none of that matters because of the settlements. The secretary refuses to understand that building a few more houses in existing communities doesn’t mean that Israel wouldn’t or couldn’t give up territory if Abbas were ever to take yes for an answer. He ignores the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly refused to accept Israeli offers of statehood. The focus on settlements is a flimsy Palestinian excuse for not making peace–not the substantive obstacle Kerry falsely claims it to be.

Kerry was also right when he said the Arab states wouldn’t make formal peace with Israel without an agreement with the Palestinians. But Netanyahu’s assertion that the Arabs are far more worried about an Iran that has been empowered and appeased by Obama and Kerry than they are about the Palestinians is also correct. Formal relations may have to wait, but, despite Kerry’s warnings, Israel’s diplomatic position is not as weak as he claims.

From Obama’s first moments in office, his administration has been committed to the idea that more “daylight” between Israel and the United States would provide a path to peace. Eight years of ginned up fights with Netanyahu and tilting the diplomatic playing field in their direction has only encouraged the Palestinians to be more intransigent. More daylight has been an abysmal failure, and, in characteristic fashion, Kerry would rather double down on this disaster than admit he’s been wrong.

Stabbing Israel in the back at the UN won’t bring peace any closer either, but Kerry prefers to leave the State Department with a gesture that would damage Israel and hamstring his successor rather than simply go home. It can only be hoped that Obama will listen to the better angels of his nature and to those who tell him that acting in this manner will only provoke President-elect Trump to embrace Israel even more closely rather than Kerry’s bitter and foolish advice.


Jonathan S. Tobin

Elbit Reveals Virtual Reality Trainer for Emergency Scenarios

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Elbit Systems has showcased its Emergency Scenarios Virtual Reality Trainer (ESVRT) at the Tel Aviv HLS & Cyber 2016 this week. The new VR-based simulation trainer provides a realistic 3D virtual environment for training Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) to deal with a range of emergency scenarios, including ballistic missiles falling on an urban area, earthquake and disaster response, and search and rescue operations.

The ESVRT features virtual reality goggles, allowing visitors to experience virtually emergency scenarios as if they were part of an emergency response team and respond to challenging situations involving search and rescue of injured persons. Visitors will also be able to take part in the wearer’s experience, which will be projected on screens at the booth.

An important addition to the Company’s simulation training portfolio for home front forces, the new VR trainer further enhances simulation training capabilities and meets the evolving preparedness needs of military and civilian forces in emergency situations. The new system joins the Incident Command Team Training System (ICTTS) used for combined training of Israel’s home front command and ground force commanders in preparation for current and future security-related incidents, emergencies and threats. Elbit Systems has recently expanded ICTTS’ simulation capacities to allow addition of civil administration and municipality forces, who play a major role in emergency preparedness and decision-making.

The ICTTS simulator prepares designated emergency response teams and their headquarters for carrying out emergency operation plans in accordance with the municipality’s particular infrastructure and assets. The total training session is eight hours long, during which the participating trainees, including the mayor, carry out two major emergency scenarios as well as a range of related minor situations.

At the end of each training program, trainees are presented with a video-based reconstruction of events that includes the virtually generated threats that were operated in the different target areas, as well as the major challenges faced by the emergency forces and their responses. The reconstruction part of training consists of a presentation of sound recordings and video data collected from communications systems, and computer-generated animation of trainees’ responses to threats, including a comparison between perceived and actual operational conditions in the municipality.

Elbit Systems’ trainers provide advanced After Action Report (AAR) capabilities that allow trainees to evaluate, learn from and significantly improve their readiness for actual events.


The Fictive Reality Grows

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Several weeks go we spoke of “UNESCO’s Fictive Reality” in connection with that UN agency’s having issued a Palestinian-prompted resolution that treated Jerusalem as a purely Muslim municipality. It’s as if Jewish and Christian connections to the city never existed.

There is now news of a slightly different Palestinian tack in cleansing any Jewish connection to something palpably Jewish: The Palestinian Authority is reportedly preparing to demand that UNESCO pass a resolution calling on Israel to turn over the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Palestinians.

Of course the very texts of the scrolls confirm a fundamental historical Jewish connection to the land. But the Palestinians claim that since they were first found on land now considered over the “Green Line,” the Palestinians are the “owners” and entitled to them.

Their argument is somewhat convoluted and will doubtless be fleshed out when the Palestinians make their formal application to UNESCO. It seems clear, however, that the Palestinians are bent on using their instant majority at the UN and its popular agencies to manufacture a version of reality more supportive of their political narrative than the actual historical record.

Editorial Board

UNESCO’s Fictive Reality

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Against the backdrop of the clear historical record, the recent UNESCO resolution treating Jerusalem as a purely Muslim municipality with no meaningful ties to either Judaism or Christianity seems plainly delusional.

To even contemplate a factual demonstration proving otherwise would bespeak a profound level of Jewish national insecurity. But the issue must be addressed.

The UNESCO resolution took to describing the holy sites of the Old City of Jerusalem exclusively by their Muslim names and proceeded to characterize Israel and Jews as interlopers whose mere presence constitute “provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity” of the area.

There is much more here than meets the eye. For one thing, in the context of the widely anticipated post-election push by the Obama administration to support Arab efforts to have the Security Council prescribe Israel’s borders with the Palestinians, the UNESCO gambit may well be a trial balloon. Thus, while UNESCO is powerless to enforce its decisions and the Security Council is all powerful in enforcing its own, the Palestinian cause would benefit mightily should the image of a Jerusalem stripped of its Jewish past continue to gain traction.

For another, the UNESCO resolution seems of a piece with the tendency of third world countries, of which the majority of UNESCO members are, to try to make their voices heard through the General Assembly, which also has a large third world majority. Although the spread of nuclear weapons threatens to introduce a new military calculus, these nations have largely been fourth- and fifth-rate military powers and in any event the General Assembly has no enforcement powers. Seen in this light, erasing any Jewish connection to Jerusalem may be more part of a wish list than anything else. Even so, it is frightening that they believe they can legislate historical reality.

And we note that the Palestinian National Charter, posted on the website of the Palestinian Authority’s United Nations delegation, maintains that “the claims of historic and spiritual ties between Jews and Palestine are not in agreement with the facts of history or with the true basis of sound statehood.”

Indeed, at the Camp David summit in 2000, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat insisted to President Bill Clinton, reportedly to Mr. Clinton’s absolute incredulity, that there had never been a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, something Mr. Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, has claimed ever since.

Perhaps critics of Israel should look right there for the reasons Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have gone nowhere.

Editorial Board

BULLETPROOF – Ignoring Reality Won’t Bring Peace! [audio]

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Many people may be nice, but some of them are foolish when it comes to making peace. You can’t make peace with an entity that doesn’t want peace.

On this show, Ari slams it out of the ball park with his logic, facts, and common sense, as opposed to wishful thinking and an imagined reality. BULLETPROOF 06Oct2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

Denying Reality Will Get Us Killed

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s eponymous website, Phyllis Chesler}

President Obama could not bring himself to utter the word “Muslim” (not even “radical Islamist”) in connection with the worst mass shooting murder in American history–one inspired by ISIS, one claimed by ISIS–an attack committed by a home-grown, lone wolf, Muslim-American citizen, whose parents came here from Afghanistan.

Obama focused on the “handgun” issue, on gun violence, as did other members of his administration. Yet, the Orlando shooter was a security guard who had the legal right to pack and carry. He was an armed guard. Think about that for a minute. And he carefully planned this mass murder. Months ago, he became enraged when he saw two gay men kissing in Miami; weeks ago, he tried to purchase high grade military body armor.

Although the FBI had him on their radar, no one monitored his actions. One wonders why.

The LGBT Bar (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender Legal Association of New York) could not immediately bring themselves to say the dreaded “M” word either.

This denial of reality is literally killing us.

Do gay Westerners not know that Sharia law–Muslim law–views homosexuals and apostasy (leaving Islam) as capital crimes? Do they not know that ISIS has been throwing suspected homosexuals off the roofs of very tall buildings? Do they know that Israel is the only country in the Muslim Middle East that grants asylum to gay Muslims, beginning with Arabs in the disputed territories, who are in flight from being honor killed?

I understand that politically correct and culturally “sensitive” Westerners do not want to assign collective blame or judge people up in terms of religion, ethnicity, and race. This is a noble endeavor–but at this moment it may also be suicidal.

This attack may help elect Donald Trump to the Presidency–that’s if Hillary refuses to use the “M” word too. She’s in a difficult situation since she is counting on Obama’s support and no matter what happens–the Boston bombing, for example–Obama will not attribute it to murderous actions on the part of Muslims–Muslims who, in his view, are actually “anti-Islam.”

That’s precisely what Hamid Karzai, the former President of Afghanistan. said on Sunday. Karzai said that Omar Siddiqui Mateen, was “anti-Islam.” He said that Afghanistan was doing very well, that the Taliban were not a problem, they are actually “fighting ISIS,” that America should continue “helping” his country. Karzai insisted that life was peaceful, even good in Afghanistan.

Has the world really gone completely mad? Do we believe our own lies? Have we all gone “Afghan?”

Phyllis Chesler

When Reality Hits You in the Face

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah}

I have always thought that Charedim should be subject to the draft in Israel in exactly the same way all other Jews in Israel are. I have written extensively on this subject. I feel very strongly about this. Perhaps even stronger than many to my left who would be satisfied with Charedim fulfilling their military obligations through national service.

For me it’s about whose blood is redder. The answer is everybody’s blood is red. If a secular or Dati Jew is subject to be put in harm’s way, so too should a Charedi Jew. What motivates me is the image of an Israeli mother mourning the death of a son killed in combat. A mission he was given because he was drafted  into the army and was deemed best suited for combat by his superiors.

Now it’s true that most soldiers in Israel are not given combat missions. But it is also true that anyone in theory is subject to it… thus subject to the possibility of being killed in action. Why should only Charedi mothers be exempt from this possibility? No one wants to die. And not every soldier put into combat wants to be there. But that is what defending one’s country is all about.

That said there can be exceptions made in any category. Secular, Dati, or Charedi. As far as Charedim are concerned we need Torah scholars whose life’s blood is Torah.  They should be exempt as a vital function of Israel’s existence no less than a secular Jew’s job or area of study is vital to Israel’s existence. Unless Israel’s army converts to an all volunteer one and the draft is abolished, no one group – Charedim included – should be exempt as a class. That said, everyone’s religious needs should be accommodated. In the case of Charedim, their units should be modeled on Nachal Charedi.

This is the reality of Israel. And this is the reality that Israeli hero and ZAKA founder, Yehuda Meshi Zahav saw when he came around to this type of thinking. As an article in the Jerusalem Post (republished in VIN) reports – this 11th generation Israeli Charedi Jew who was firmly in the Eida HaChardis camp has now joined ‘the enemy’. Which to the Eida HaCharedis is the Israeli government, its founders and leaders.  He used to participate in all of their protests against the government. From VIN:

Once upon a time, Zahav was the operations officer of the Eda Haredit extremist haredi group. He led demonstrations against Sabbath desecration, burnt Israeli flags, fasted and wore mourning clothes on Israel Independence Day, illegally removed dead bodies from the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute to prevent autopsies from being performed and put mice into the pathologists’ rooms, and sneaked onto archeological sites in order to prevent archeological excavations.

Why did he ‘switch sides’? Well he didn’t – really. He just decided that there are no sides. He explains:

The change in Zahav began on July 6, 1989, when a terrorist blew up a bus on the 405 route from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It happened on a road in front of the Telz-Stone yeshiva (Jewish religious seminary) in Neva Ilan. Zahav and his friends wanted to see what was happening, “and then, when the dismembered bodies were laid out before my eyes, when the sirens were echoing among the smoky fragments of the bus, when the bloodstained clothes were scattered over the area, when entire families were broken and erased in an instant, I realized that the quarrels between us were meaningless. The type of skullcap you wear and the kind of clothes you wear pale in comparison with the real war we’re faced with. The Arab enemy doesn’t distinguish between the blood of a haredi, a secular person, and someone who’s modern Orthodox. We’re all connected. There’s no right or left. Everyone’s pain is the same. That was the moment when I crossed the lines…

He has paid a heavy price for his ‘rebellion’:

His grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Sheinberger, the mythological leader of the Eda Haredit and a fanatical opponent of the founding of Israel, refused to speak with Zahav for the last four years of his life.

Not only does he see all blood as being red, he agrees with the idea that Charedim should be educated in secular subjects. And he considers Yesh Atid founder, Yair Lapid, a friend. Which is yet another reason he seen as a traitor since Lapid has been deemed the devil incarnate by virtually the entire Charedi world.

Well, in my book, we need more ‘traitors’ like Meshi Zahav. He had a wake-up call that the leadership of the Eida and their sympathizers have not had.

With Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, on the horizon, the Eida types and their sympathizers will surely condemn it as they have in the past. Even those Charedim that will not actively protest it, will at best ignore it… and in some cases speak out against it. They will bolster their arguments with every possible wrong ever committed by anyone ever connected with Zionism… showing just how evil these people really were – and still are. They will point to all the past religious leaders that that condemned the state as a Godless entity whose purpose was – and still is – to destroy Judaism. I have even heard some of these people comparing the government of Israel to the Nazi regime in Germany!

But with few exceptions (and there are exceptions) those – both past and present – who condemn the State were no doubt not personally subject to the Holocaust – nor seen what Meshi Zahav has. They were not there.

They did not experience firsthand what it means to be freed from a concentration camp only to end up in a DP camp with no country wanting to let you in. When Israel became a state, the doors opened up to these survivors. The vast majority of them understand what was given to them and are grateful for Israel’s existence. They have been given a second chance at life and in most cases have done well.

I am reminded of one Chasidic Rebbe who lived through the Holocaust and suffered its indignities. When he was in a Nazi concentration camp, he was required to sweep the streets there. He promised that if he survived and was able to immigrate to Israel he would do the same thing.  He kept his promise and every Yom Ha’atzmaut he went outside to sweep the streets. He understood what Israel did for him. And expressed his gratitude publicly. It would be nice if it didn’t have to take experiencing horrors of one kind or another for this kind of transformation to take place.


Harry Maryles

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/when-reality-hits-you-in-the-face/2016/05/23/

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