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April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘U.S. State Department’

The Passion of the Olive Trees*: Settlers Pelt US Diplomatic Personnel in the West Bank

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

{Originally posted on author’s website, LIBERTY UNYIELDING}

Some of the basic things America is losing with the onset of the Obama administration are sanity and common sense in our diplomatic representation abroad.

An unfortunate example of this decline occurred on Friday, when some of our own “Jerusalem consulate personnel” were reportedly attacked by Israeli “settlers” throwing stones, during a visit by the Americans to the site of an alleged “settler attack” on the olive trees of a Palestinian Arab grower in the West Bank.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said no one was hurt and the American security team had not drawn their weapons. Earlier reports had indicated that American security staff had done so; settlers were quoted saying the security personnel had drawn an M-16 and a pistol.

“We can confirm a vehicle from the Consulate General was pelted with stones and confronted by a group of armed settlers today in the West Bank, near the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya,” he said.

“Our personnel were in the area looking into reports that settlers had uprooted some 5,000 olive tree saplings in that area in recent days,” he said, adding that the visit had been cancelled after the attack.

Now, hold it right there.  We can certainly question the wisdom of roaming foreign territory, making independent inquiries into criminal allegations about property damage.  We can question what exactly gives us a charter to do that (especially without having coordinated the visit with the local authorities first.  See more here).

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Palestinian Arab woman, overcome by the pruning of olive trees.

But even before getting to that question, we have to question the wisdom of “investigating” one of these recurring, unsubstantiated allegations about settlers attacking Palestinian olive trees.  Researching the matter reveals that the “information theme” about it is a big racket.

For one thing, there is never the slightest evidence that Israeli settlers did anything to the trees.  It would take days of work to achieve the effects offered as “evidence” by the complaining Arabs:  lopped-off old-growth branches, great piles of newer-growth branches, piles of burned branches, trunks cut back to a state of near-pristine nudity.  The allegations about uprooted saplings – always “hundreds” or “thousands” of them – are not accompanied by affecting photos, as the allegations of attacks on more mature trees are.  But uprooting thousands of saplings would also take days of work. Yet Israeli settlers are never caught on camera attacking olive trees.  This is logically impossible.  It’s impossible for settler posses to raid olive groves, wreaking havoc that would take them days of dedicated work to accomplish, and never be caught in the act.
Palestinian Arabs inspect piles of olive tree prunings left by vandals in Qaryut, Oct 2013.

Palestinian Arabs inspect piles of olive tree prunings left by vandals in Qaryut, Oct 2013.

But we have more to go on than that.  It turns out that the “damage” we see in the photos of olive trees “attacked by settlers” is identical to the effects of olive-tree husbandry as practiced by olive growers around the world.

Start with this University of California manual on pruning olive trees, published in 1966.  The images alone convey the sometimes-startling visuals that go with maintaining producing olive trees.  Not everything that needs to be done looks “kind” to the tree.  Some of it looks pretty drastic, and may be done with big machines.  If you’ve ever driven along California State Highway 99 during pruning season, you’ve seen the results with your own eyes.  You could well be tempted to think, “Man, those Israeli settlers really get around.”

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(Pic#1) Normally pruned olive trees in the center. Image from a grower in Italy at http://notesfromatuscanolivegrove.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/pruning-the-olive-trees-before-and-after/

The pruning pile grows as the Italian grower takes us through the pruning process. (Notes from a Tuscan Olive Grove; see link at photo above.)

(Pic#2) The pruning pile grows as the Italian grower takes us through the pruning process. (Notes from a Tuscan Olive Grove; see link at photo above.)

 

Another Tuscan grower’s image of a pruning pile and well-pruned trees. His caption for this photo reads: “things are starting to look good.” Image from http://www.mapitout-tuscany.com/2013/03/olive-tree-pruning-in-italy-photo-guide.html

(Pic 3) Another Tuscan grower’s image of a pruning pile and well-pruned trees. His caption for this photo reads: “things are starting to look good.”

 

But it’s not all mere pruning, as we think of pruning; i.e., as a selective process that leaves the tree basically intact.  Often, olive growers are preparing their trees for top-grafting: the process of grafting new-growth cuttings onto old-growth branches.

An Italian grower cuts off limbs to prepare an olive tree for top-grafting. Image from http://www.joe-ray.com/motherland/archive/2007/03/ Read more at http://libertyunyielding.com/2015/01/04/passion-olive-trees-settlers-pelt-u-s-diplomatic-personnel-west-bank-video/#sGoOoAeTfE4tsLTX.99

An Italian grower cuts off limbs to prepare an olive tree for top-grafting.

The Italian grower makes an incision for the graft. Read more at http://libertyunyielding.com/2015/01/04/passion-olive-trees-settlers-pelt-u-s-diplomatic-personnel-west-bank-video/#sGoOoAeTfE4tsLTX.99

The Italian grower makes an incision for the graft.

Olive-T6

A grower demonstrates a completed top-graft on an olive tree.

This is the process that requires cutting the main branches back to a state of dramatic-looking nudity.  During preparation, the main branches receive clean perpendicular cross-cuts, right across the branch – exactly as seen in many of the images of Arab growers’ olive trees supposedly “attacked by settlers.”

Olive-Arab

A Palestinian Arab poses with his olive tree, vandalized with remarkable precision to be ready for top-grafting

Burned piles of branches?  It’s an ordinary part of pruning.  But when the big main branches are cut off for top-grafting, the wood can go to the thriving olive-wood industry, which has a long-celebrated artisan foothold in the West Bank, but also produces numerous wood products, from flooring to kitchen implements to paper, wherever olive trees are cultivated around the Mediterranean (e.g., Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain).  A search on “olive wood industry” will verify this to your satisfaction.

Olive-Burn

A Tuscan grower photographs his pruning fire in a series of images demonstrating the process for pruning olive trees. Image from www.mapitout-tuscany.com/2013/03/olive-tree-pruning-in-italy-photo-guide.html

Other bloggers have pointed out some of this in the last decade (see here and here, for example).  In 2012, the Blaze provided a video taken by Israeli settlers, which the settlers say shows the Arabs themselves making the cuts on their olive trees that then yielded the photos of “damage.”

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An Israeli bulldozer uproots olive trees in Beit Jala in Mar 2010.

 

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Another view of the Israeli bulldozers uprooting olive trees in Beit Jala in Mar 2010

 In terms of logic, this supposition is clearly more credible than the hypothesis that Israeli settlers can do silently and invisibly what the Israeli government has to do by deploying teams of workers to operate big machines in a noisy and detectable manner.

One final note.  As discussed in the Blaze story (as well as here, more recently), anti-Israel activists – i.e., foreign NGO workers – reportedly take part in the false-flag “attacks” on the West Bank olive trees.  These are the organizations that later spread the allegations about settler attacks.

This brings us full circle to the original story about the incident on Friday involving personnel from the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.  What are our people doing, skulking around the West Bank as if the U.S. State Department is a radical-left NGO?  Beyond the stupidity of the political theater, there is the sordid possibility that some questionable damage claims are made just to get monetary compensation.  And the Obama State Department doesn’t even demand video evidence, at a minimum, before it goes off ambulance-chasing.

* The title invokes the theme “The Passion of the Toys” proposed (with sardonic intent) by blogger Slublog in August 2006.  He compared a series of emotive images posted in the mainstream media, of seemingly unaffected children’s toys lying in the rubble of sites damaged by Israel’s 2006 operation against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

 

 

Indyk Joined Israeli-Palestinian Negotiating Session, State Dept. Admits

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Martin Indyk, the U.S. envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks has attended a negotiating session, the U.S. State Department said.

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams reportedly will meet on Tuesday; they met Saturday in Jerusalem. The Palestinians had said last week that Indyk had not attended any of the sessions.

“Israeli and Palestinian delegations have been meeting continuously since final status negotiations resumed on July 29,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday in a statement, according to Israeli media reports.

“The negotiations have been serious, and U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk and his team have been fully briefed on the bilateral talks and also participated in a bilateral negotiating session,” the statement said. “As we have said in the past, we are not planning to read out the details of these meetings.”

The peace talks have been under a nearly total media blackout, reportedly at the request of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, since their resumption.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday told his Fatah party officials that the Palestinians are negotiating with Israel for a state on the pre-1967 lines with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, which he called a “red line,” Israel Radio reported.

Abbas also said the Palestinian Authority agreed not to seek statehood from and membership in international organizations in exchange for the release of 104 prisoners held in Israeli jails. He said negotiators will ask for the release of about 250 other prisoners as well.

Fatah official Nabil Shaath told the Palestinian Maan news agency on Monday that the peace talks have not made any progress, and that the Israeli side has not presented any new suggestions or proposals. He said the PA could turn to international organizations if negotiations do not bear fruit.

One session of the talks reportedly was postponed last week following the deaths of three Palestinians during clashes with Israeli troops in the Qalandiya refugee camp. The State Department denied there had been any change in the negotiation schedule because of the incident.

US Issues Urgent Travel Warning in Yemen

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

If there still are Americans who think that it is worth risking their lives to visit Yemen, the State Dept. popped their illusions Tuesday with an urgent warning to get out of the country ASAP.

“The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart immediately,” it stated in a travel warning posted Tuesday morning. The warning noted “the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest.”

The State Dept. ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the country.

“Demonstrations continue to take place in various parts of the country and may quickly escalate and turn violent.” The advisory added, “Terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens… and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests…. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Yemen.“

Palestinian Authority Terrorists Roll Out Red Carpet for Kerry

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian Authority terrorist late Wednesday night after he and another terrorist firebombed an IDF checkpoint they were manning in a “pillbox” watch tower in Samaria.

The two terrorists attacked the IDF post, near the Jewish community of Einav, and soldiers shot back, killing one of the terrorists. The second terrorist was lightly wounded and was treated at a PA hospital in Tulkarm, approximately 10 miles east of Netanya.

The attack, a major escalation in Palestinian Authority terror, followed a long day of riots, firebomb and rock-throwing attacks on soldiers and motorists, especially on the north-south highway connecting Jerusalem with Kiryat Arab-Hevron. One soldier was slightly wounded by a rock and several cars sustained damage.

Tension and violence have grown since the death on Tuesday of jailed Palestinian Authority terrorist Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who was suffering from throat cancer that had quickly spread and became terminal. The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of “murdering” him by not treating him properly and immediately set the stage for an escalation in terror by shutting down schools before noon on Wednesday as a sign of mourning.

Grieving for “martyrs” usually is accompanied by comforting them with riots, rock throwing at Jews, launching rockets on civilians in southern Israel and – Wednesday night – firebombing one of those “degrading” IDF checkpoints where soldiers are on the lookout for terrorists ready to blow up Israelis in urban centers.

The terrorists who threw a firebomb at the IDF at Einav and was killed was a high-school age student, identified as Amar Nasar.

More of the same is expected on Thursday, when Hamdiyeh, who was convicted and jailed for planning a suicide bombing, will be buried in Hevron.

The escalation of terror is the “welcome mat” for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when he visits Ramallah and Jerusalem next week.

Hours before the Palestinian Authority terrorist attack on the IDF checkpoint, U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland told reporters at the daily briefing, with a straight face, that “nobody wants to see violence of any kind, either by demonstrators or by security services in response to peaceful demonstration.”

It is not quite clear what “peaceful demonstration” she was talking about since virtually all of them are accompanied by firebombing and rock-throwing, the latter which Haaretz’s Amira Hass wrote on Wednesday is the “right and duty” of PA Arabs trying to get rid of the “foreign occupier.”

Kerry will be talking about Turkey and Syria as well as his beloved “peace process,” which, unlike Israel, is all the Palestinian Authority is interested in.

One of Nuland’s choice comments in her briefing with reporters on Wednesday was a reference to “the remarks that the President made when he was on his trip, that both sides are going to have to help create an environment for peace.”

The question of what creates an environment of peace was not lost on reporters covering the State Dept. but was a bit too much for Nuland to handle.

One journalist, referring to Kassam rocket fire on Sderot Wednesday morning, asked, “Exchange of fire has resumed between Hamas and Israel. Do you think that November ceasefire has gone?”

Nuland acted as if the rocket attacks never happened, saying, “I’ve seen these reports. I’m not in a position to evaluate them one way or the other. But as you know, we considered that November ceasefire to be absolutely fundamental for everybody involved. So we’ll have to see what happens now.”

What has happened since she finished her media briefing was more rock and firebomb attacks on civilians and soldiers.

The Palestinian Authority strategy for years has been to win concessions from Israel piece by piece to create situation in Judea and Samaria similar to that in Gush Katif before the 2005 expulsion. The idea it to make life so unbearable for Jews that the IDF has no choice but to defend them – and that means killing the enemy – or surrendering the land and moving the checkpoints back to the “Auschwitz borders,” the term used by former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Abba Eban to describe the 1949 Temporary Armistice Lines that existed until the Six-Day War in 1967.

If the Palestinian Authority can get to that point, it would take only one or two missiles on Tel Aviv to push the checkpoints back to the Mediterranean Sea.

Thomas Friedman Labels Obama’s Visit a ‘Tourist Trip’

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

President Barack Obama will be visiting Israel as a tourist with nothing much to do in the way of diplomacy, according to Thomas Friedman, The New York Times resident know-it-all on Israel.

Friedman has been trying to run Israel for years until he gave up last year when he belatedly realized, for the wrong reasons, that the “peace process” has become a dead issue.

In his op-ed article Wednesday, he stated, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from a necessity to a hobby for American diplomats. Like any hobby — building model airplanes or knitting sweaters — some days you work on it, some days you don’t.

“Obama could be the first sitting American president to visit Israel as a tourist.”

He cited three reasons: The reduced dependency of the United States on Arab oil, which means there is no fear of an Arab oil embargo over the issue of Palestine; the overshadowing regional problems, such as the instability in Egypt and Syria; and what he says are the two major obstacles to peace with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Jewish settlers.

Friedman has always hated settlers, whom he once termed terrorists and Israel’s answer to Hizbullah.

He could have stopped there and be done with it and go back to telling Obama how to run the country, but Friedman never misses an opportunity to show he knows more about Israel than anyone else, especially those living in Israel.

He raised the favorite State Dept. and Peace Now illusion that if those awful settlers continue to live in Judea and Samaria, Israel will be ruling “2.5 million Palestinians with a colonial-like administration that can only undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy and delegitimize Israel in the world community,”

That attitude reflects the simplicity of American foreign policy, which is that the rest of the world outside the United States is black and white and that there are always two and only two possibilities. One is to accept American thinking and the other is to beat the path to catastrophe.

The fact is that the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and in Gaza before Hamas came along, have enjoyed a quasi-independent life for 46 years, without Israel “ruling” them and without a desire to become ruled by another Arab regime. They suffered malign neglect under the Jordanian occupation, and “occupation” is the only word to describe its usurping authority after the Arab world failed to annihilate Israel in 1948.

After the Six-Day War in 1967 war, the Arabs enjoyed an unprecedented period of growth and prosperity until Yasser Arafat, born in Egypt, came along. He built a terrorist infrastructure that not only killed and wounded thousands of Israelis but also blew up co-existence between Israel and Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

But Friedman, like the State Dept., sees the Middle East, and the world, through American glasses.

He asks Israel “as a friend, I just want to know one thing: What is your long-term strategy? Do you even have one?”

Of course, Israel does not have one and does not need one. It leaves that to the Arab world, whose long-term strategy of destroying Israel through diplomatic means, if not through war and terror, is fading into oblivion, somewhat like Thomas Friedman’s self-assumed mandate to rule Israel and the Middle East.

As for Obama’s visit, Friedman forgot to mention one small issue that will be discussed with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but the Iranian nuclear threat apparently is not as dangerous as settlers.

Courage? The State Department?

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

America has been pursuing a policy ever since 9/11 to honor what it perceives as moderate Muslims.

This policy, at present failed, would make sense if such moderate Muslims were pro Western freedoms, pro peace with Israel, anti Sharia, or would stand up to Islamic jihad. Regrettably, Muslims and former Muslims who do stand up to Islamism have been ignored; those embraced by the West are almost always anti-American and anti-Jew, and even make excuses for jihad and terrorism.

The most recent instance is Samira Ibrahim, an Egyptian national, nominated — and then withdrawn — by the U.S. State Department for its prestigious “International Women of Courage Award.” In its pursuit to appease Muslims, regardless of ideology, the U.S. ignored Ibrahim’s extreme hatred of the U.S. and Israel, and her celebration of 9/11 and terrorism. Yes, Ibrahim was courageous for filing a lawsuit against the Egyptian military for undergoing a virginity test, but that so called courage should be viewed in the right context.

After the revolution, Egypt was extremely embarrassed by an international uproar over the virginity test of about 21 young women who were demonstrating in Tahrir Square. That came in the wake of the brutal sexual assault of the CBS reporter Lara Logan. Egyptian government officials, many of whom are consumed with appearing democratic and civilized before the West, initially denied the story but then admitted it. That embarrassment was what encouraged some female victims to file a lawsuit, which the government allowed them to win in order to save face and prove to the West it had achieved a democracy after the revolution. Ms. Ibrahim was somewhat courageous for winning a lawsuit against the Egyptian military; however, that lawsuit should never have risen to the level of becoming an icon to be honored by the U.S .State Department. Officials in the State Department, thinking no one was looking into her background, perhaps including them, ignored who Ms. Ibrahim really was.

Ms. Ibrahim’s views are no breakthroughs of courage against the real problems of the Muslim world: her head covering remains a symbol of her defense of Sharia. She has never demonstrated against the forced virginity checks that occur daily in Egypt at almost all weddings to make sure the bride is a virgin. As a child in Egypt, I attended weddings where the bride’s virginity blood was on display on a white handkerchief while guns were shot to celebrate the blessed event proving the family’s pride in their daughter’s virginity. Neither did Ibrahim lead a movement in Egypt against female genital mutilation or the Egyptian marriage contract, which asks the bride to sign a paper before the marriage stating she is a virgin.

There is also no feminist movement in Egypt lead by Ibrahim, against the barbaric honor killings of girls found not to be virgins; that is perhaps because all are either dead or have undergone reconstructive virginity surgery, a popular procedure for girls who must save their necks.

While many Muslims today are starting to speak against the brutality of Sharia laws which cause “virginity tests” in the first place, Ibrahim never speaks ill of Sharia, or condemns its laws against women and non-Muslims. Ibrahim is, however, a very vocal anti-American, who celebrated the anniversary of 9/11 as well as violence and terror against Israelis. What courage is it if the majority of Egyptians shares her feelings? What courage did our State Department think it was celebrating?

After failing to receive the Award, Ibrahim blamed the Zionist lobby in America; her “logic” is popular in Egypt, where people blame all ills on Jews. It is a sad fact that Ibrahim’s views actually do represent the majority of the so-called moderate Muslims everywhere. Such moderate Muslims, who are demonstrating today against the Morsi government, are no less anti-American than the radicals. As a matter of fact many of them wish to resume hostilities against Israel and believe that Morsi caved to the American pressure; they are now accusing him of being a puppet of the U.S. just like his predecessor. The sad truth is that most so-called “moderate” Muslims could be as anti-American and anti-Semitic as Al Qaeda. That is why the U.S. should be vastly more cautious and realistic in taking sides at all in the Middle East.

The Samira Ibrahim Affair

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

This isn’t a big story, but it has some interesting aspects.

In observance of International Women’s Day today, Michelle Obama and John Kerry will be recognizing 9 International Women of  Courage, including — posthumously — the anonymous victim of the infamous Delhi rape.

There were to be ten honorees, but one of them, Samira Ibrahim of Egypt was caught sending several vicious tweets, one calling the terrorist bombing of a bus full of Israelis in Bulgaria “sweet news,” one quoting Hitler approvingly, and even one celebrating the anniversary of 9/11. When the State Department put her award on hold, she at first (unconvincingly) claimed her account had been hacked, but then said “I refuse to apologize to the Zionist lobby in America regarding my previous anti-Zionist statements under pressure from American government therefore they withdrew the award.”

Despite hating Jews and the United States, Ibrahim certainly was courageous. She was originally picked because she sued the Egyptian government when they performed a degrading “virginity test” on her after she was arrested for protesting in Tahrir Square, and forced them to end the “tests.” And of course, she is not  afraid of the “Zionist lobby” either.

If we include Ibrahim, five out of the initially ten women selected are Muslims, possibly illustrating the importance the State Department attaches to establishing good relations with the people who, more than anyone else in the world, want to kill Jews and Americans.

But it is not surprising that — especially in Egypt — they had a hard time finding someone who did not share the common prejudices.

Let’s understand that Egypt, which has rendered itself almost entirely free of Jews (it’s estimated that there were less than 100 in 2004), is nevertheless a nation obsessed with hatred of Jews.

When non-Jewish journalist Lara Logan was swarmed and sexually attacked in Tahrir Square in 2011, the crowd shouted “Jew!” They also decorated pictures of Hosni Mubarak with the star of David. Egyptian T.V. often casts Jews as villains, and recently presented a series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hitler’s Mein Kampf, in Arabic, is a bestseller in Egyptian bookstores (I mentioned that one of Ibrahim’s tweets quoted Hitler).

It isn’t just Egypt. They would have had a hard time in the “advanced” nation of Turkey, too:

A study by Turkey’s Hrant Dink Foundation has found that Jews have become the main object of hate speech in the country, followed by Armenians, Christians, and Greeks.

I bet it would have been much easier to find a courageous Israeli woman, perhaps one who lives in the southern part of Israel and who has been subjected to rocket bombardments day after day and year after year, who doesn’t hate Arabs, Egyptians or Turks. But that wouldn’t help the message, which is that the U.S. is a friend to the oppressed; and by definition an Israeli can’t be oppressed, she can only be an oppressor.

One more interesting connection: The New York Times blogger Robert Mackey, known for his anti-Zionist take, asked Samuel Tadros, who originally broke the Ibrahim story, whether he was a Coptic Christian and if this could have influenced his reporting.

The mind boggles. If a Coptic academic sees and translates a Jew-hating or anti-American tweet, is his reporting thereof invalid? Is everything now ethnically relative?

Visit Fresno Zionism.

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