Monday, December 4, 2023

In the midst of the Gaza nightmare, a light flickers, then dies

This was published as a Viewpoint in the CT Mirror on Monday, December 4, 2023. It is an updated version of an op-ed published a week earlier in the Waterbury Republican-American.

In the midst of the Gaza nightmare, a light flickers, then dies

by Alan Stein, Ph.D.

On Friday morning, Nov. 24, I watched live as 13 Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza were released seven weeks after being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists.

They were the first of four groups to be released during a four-day pause in the war Hamas started on Oct. 7, with an agreement that it could be extended an additional day for every 10 hostages Hamas released, up to five more days. Ultimately it lasted just a week, punctuated each day by drama orchestrated by Hamas. It ended with Hamas crossing too many red lines, refusing to release a group of hostages as agreed and firing 45 rockets when the ceasefire was still in effect.

The deal was a double-edged sword.

On the plus side, a handful of hostages were freed each day.

On the minus side, three terrorists were released for each freed hostage, large amounts of "aid" was sent into Gaza knowing much would stolen by Hamas and used to rearm, lengthen the war and kill more people.

Israel also agreed to stop its aerial surveillance of southern Gaza, by aircraft, drones and balloons, and also stop its surveillance of northern Gaza for six hours each day. One does not need much imagination to figure out why Hamas made that demand: to give it the opportunity to move the hostages around, eliminating the value of any intelligence about their location Israel might have gained from the hostages who got released and making further rescue far more difficult. And, each day, the pressure increased on Israel to agree to another "permanent" ceasefire that would again let Hamas survive, rearm, and perform more atrocities.

Although efforts continue to be made to forge a new hostages-for-terrorists agreement, I think a new agreement is unlikely in the near future. Hamas will be trying for an even more one-sided deal, while Israel will be trying to make sure Hamas can't again violate it with impunity. Israel also can't keep stopping, restarting and dragging out a war while hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens remain displaced (Hamas doesn't care about its citizens) and its economy is stalled because so many workers are on reserve duty.

On that first day, I watched as some children were released with their mothers while their fathers were still being held hostage. Some are now orphans traumatized by seeing their parents slaughtered in front of them; some have just one parent because Hamas murdered their other parent on October 7. In several cases, in violation of the agreement, Hamas released children without their mother. Hila Rotem Shoshani, a 13-year-old girl, was released late that Saturday night - itself a violation of the agreement, since the hostages were supposed to be released around 4 p.m. - without her mother, Raaya. Hamas falsely claimed they did not know where her mother was, even though, as Hila told her relatives, they had been held together until two days earlier.

In a complicated procedure, Hamas gathered the hostages and brought them to International Red Cross ambulances on the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing into Egypt. The Red Cross brought them into Egypt and drove to the border with Israel, where they were transferred to the Israeli military and brought into Israel and then to Israeli hospitals.

That first transfer to the Rafah crossing into Egypt was delayed because the Red Cross needed to provide urgent care that couldn't wait for the short ambulance ride to the Rafah crossing. On November 24, 84-year-old Elma Avraham was hours from death when she was released. She'd been in good health when taken hostage, but needed medications that were withheld from her by Hamas. Upon her release, she had a weak pulse, low blood pressure, a body temperature in the 80's and had to be rushed by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center, where she fell into a coma.

The children were not immediately told whether their parents were alive or dead; that waited until they were in the care of trained professionals, and then only if it was known whether their parents were alive or dead.

Those traumatized children are the "lucky" ones.

They are not among those who were beheaded on Oct. 7, or burned alive, or had their limbs torn off so their Hamas torturers could enjoy watching them bleed to death.

Similar scenes, with cruel variations forced by Hamas, were repeated six more times. Each day relatives were still wondering whether their children, wives, sisters or mothers would be returned and in what condition. Hamas was required to provide a list each day of who would be released the next day. Each time, Hamas delayed providing the list, or provided one violating the agreed upon criteria. On the second day, hours after the transfer to the Red Cross was supposed to take place, Hamas still hadn't provided an acceptable list, at which point Israel announced that unless the hostages reached Israel by midnight - itself eight hours after they were supposed to be transferred to the Red Cross - it would resume the war. Hamas cruelly kept the suspense going for hours more, with the hostages reaching Israel just two minutes to midnight.

The only concession by Hamas in the agreement besides the release of some of the hostages it kidnapped in violation of international law was to permit the International Red Cross to visit the hostages, give them emergency medical care and give Israel a list of their names and conditions. This is all also required under international law. Not surprisingly, Hamas reneged on that commitment. When the pause was extended, Hamas again committed to allowing Red Cross access and again reneged.

The most problematic parts of the deal were the cease fire and its timing, coming when Israel was days away from clearing the terrorists from northern Gaza.

Pausing operations halted Israel's momentum and, as noted, predictably led to increased pressure on Israel to agree to a permanent cease fire, leaving Hamas intact and able to rebuild. The prime ministers of Belgium and Spain came to the Rafah crossing before any hostages crossed, bizarrely criticized Israel and called for a permanent cease fire while uttering neither a single word of criticism of Hamas nor welcome for the release of hostages.

The freed hostages have revealed some of the cruel treatment by their terrorist captors and accomplices.

When 12-year-old Eitan Yahalomi was dragged into Gaza, residents - often referred to as innocent civilians living in Gaza - beat him. Hamas forced him, at gunpoint, to watch videos of the atrocities they committed on 10/7.

Women were held in cages.

When 9-year-old Emily Hand was in captivity, she was conditioned to not speak above a whisper, so much so that upon her release her father could not hear what she said without putting his ear right next to her lips. Emily's mother had died from cancer when she was 2 years old and her stepmother was murdered on October 7.

Kfir Bibas was 9-months-old and in diapers when he was kidnapped, along with his 4-year-old brother Ariel, mother Shiri and father Yarden. At one time, Hamas has said it couldn't release him because it didn't know where he was. On November 28, Israeli officials revealed Hamas previously claimed it had given the entire family to another terror group. On November 29, Hamas claimed that Kfir, Ariel and Shiri had been killed by an Israeli airstrike. Three cruel assertions by Hamas, each contradicting the other two. If he's still alive, he's now 11 months old and has spent a fifth of his life underground without seeing a single ray of natural light.

Early on, Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed Hannah Katzi had been killed by an Israeli airstrike. She turned out to be alive, being among the first group of hostages released.

The cruelty extends to the ordinary, innocent "civilians" in Gaza for which so much "humanitarian aid" is being provided.

Roni Kriboy, released as a favor by Hamas to Vladimir Putin and the only adult male released, managed to escape when the building he was in collapsed. After spending four days trying to avoid recapture and find his way back to Israel, a group of ordinary Gaza civilians captured him and promptly brought him to Hamas.

One hostage was held for nearly 50 days by a teacher from UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, while another was held hostage by a physician!

When Hamas ended the ceasefire with its barrage of rockets on December 1, the terrorists were still holding nearly 140 hostages, underground, not knowing the fate of their children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents.

There can be no doubt but that we must stand with Israel and, for the good of Israel, for the good of America, for the good of the democratic world and for the good of the Gazans themselves, ensure Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah and allies can terrorize no more.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel. A version of this commentary was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on November 29, before Hamas ended the hostage-for-terrorists deal.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

A flickering light in the middle of a nightmare

 This was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on November 29, 2023. I have updated it with a few comments placed in parentheses.

A flickering light in the middle of a nightmare


I am writing this on Friday morning, Nov. 24, while watching live the apparent release of 13 Israeli women and children held hostage in Gaza for seven weeks after being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. They are the first of four groups scheduled to be released during a four day pause in the war Hamas started on Oct. 7. (There have now been seven groups released, each time with some drama orchestrated by Hamas, and efforts are being made to extend the pause even more. Each day it is extended is a double-edged sword, with more terrorists being released, more aid sent into Gaza to be stolen by Hamas and used to extend the war and kill more people, more pressure being exerted on Israel for a permanent ceasefire that would let Hamas survive, rearm, and perform more atrocities.)

Some children are being released with their mothers while their fathers are still being held hostage. Some children are now orphans who saw their parents slaughtered in front of them; some still have one or both parents still held hostage by Hamas, perhaps one parent murdered and the other held hostage. (In  several cases, in violation of the agreement, Hamas has released children without their mother. In at least one case, they claimed they didn't know where the mother was, but it was determined the mother and daughter had been held together until they were separated two days before the daughter's release, meaning the mother had been separated AFTER the ceasefire agreement.)

This first transfer to the Rafah crossing into Egypt was apparently delayed because when they were transferred to the Red Cross some were in such need of urgent care that it couldn’t wait for the short ambulance ride to the Rafah crossing. (In a later release, one elderly woman was released in critical condition because she wasn't given medication she needed to stay alive and lapsed into a coma soon after being hospitalized in Israel.)

At this moment, they have just passed the into Egypt and are receiving additional urgent care before being transferred Israel, where they will be evaluated and transferred to hospitals.

The children are not yet being told whether their parents are alive or dead; that will not happen until they are in the care of trained professionals, and then only if it is known whether their parents are alive or dead.

And they are the “lucky” ones.

They are not among those who were beheaded on Oct. 7, or burned alive, or had their limbs torn off so their Hamas torturers could enjoy watching them bleed to death.

They are in the first group, with the scene to be repeated on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, while their relatives are still living wondering whether their children will be returned and in what condition.

They are not among the nearly 200 innocents who will remain held hostage in Gaza, underground, not knowing the fate of their children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents.

If the lopsided deal doesn’t fall apart, 50 Israelis will be released over four days — along with a handful of Thai and Filipino citizens whose release was arranged separately through agreements between their governments and Hamas, but at a very heavy price even without the inevitable violations by Hamas, which started immediately. (Hamas has at least once attacked Israeli troops during the ceasefire and exploded at least two IEDs.)

All Israel was supposed to get according to the agreement was the release of 50 women and children and the International Red Cross being allowed to visit the remaining 190 or so hostages, give them emergency medical care and give Israel a list of their names and conditions. Not surprisingly, Hamas is not allowing that access to the International Red Cross. (When the ceasefire was extended, Hamas again committed to allowing Red Cross access and again reneged.)

Besides a temporary cease fire, which Hamas quickly violated with a volley of rocket fire for the first 15 minutes, Israel agreed to allow massive amounts of “humanitarian aid” into Gaza, including fuel. We can be sure much, if not most, of that “aid” will be stolen by Hamas and used to regroup, rearm and keep firing rockets at Israeli cities and towns, just as the massive terror tunnel complex used by Hamas was built using cement transferred to Gaza for humanitarian purposes.

Israel also agreed to stop its aerial surveillance, by aircraft, drones and balloons, of southern Gaza and also stop its surveillance of northern Gaza for six hours each day. One does not need much imagination to figure out why Hamas made that demand: it will give Hamas the opportunity to move the hostages around, eliminating the value of any intelligence about their location Israel might gain from the hostages who get released and making their rescue far more difficult.

Plus Israel will be releasing 150 terrorists, three terrorists for every innocent Israeli released. One of the terrorists to be released stabbed her next door neighbor; that Israeli woman survived but will now live in the fear that she try again, or go after her children. One must pray the Israeli security forces will keep a very close eye on all the released terrorists.

Perhaps the most problematic part of the deal is the cease fire and its timing, coming when Israel was days away from taking complete control of northern Gaza and being in a position to completely destroy the terror infrastructure there.

Pausing operations halts Israel’s momentum and will undoubtedly lead to pressure on Israel to agree to a permanent cease fire, leaving Hamas intact and able to rebuild. Already, the prime ministers of Belgium and Spain came to the Rafah crossing not to welcome today’s release of a handful of hostages but bizarrely to criticize Israel and call for a permanent cease fire.

There is also the provision that if Hamas releases more hostages, Israel will release 30 more terrorists and extend the cease fire another day for every ten additional hostages released by Hamas. As Yogi Berra observed, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future, but it would be surprising if Hamas didn’t decide to drag out the release of more terrorists in order to extend the cease fire and attempt to make irresistible the pressure on Israel to not destroy Hamas. (This has actually happened, with dramatics orchestrated by Hamas each time.)

We must stand with Israel and, for the good of Israel, for the good of America, for the good of the democratic world and for the good of the Gazans themselves, make sure Israel resists that pressure and help it put an end to the rule of Gaza by terror groups.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Massachusetts. He is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

More Information from Yale Zussman on the Eve of Thanksgiving

 Hi Folks,

With the announcement of a "pause" in the news this morning, it is becoming increasingly clear that the critical battlefield has moved from Gaza to global public opinion.  I present several items that will help you if you choose to become engaged in this front:
REVEALED: The U.S. Charitable Network That Subsidizes Hamas, and the Donors Behind It
by Sam Westrop
November 14, 2023
Outlines how entities presented as charities are actually structures that raise money to finance Hamas and similar Islamist groups.  
Ten Myths to be Busted about Israel's War Against Hamas
David M. Weinberg
Oct. 27, 2023
Guidance for addressing the Western domestic front of Hamas's, and generically the Islamist, war against Israel, and again generically, Western Civilization.
Jihadi Journalism
Richard Landes
Nov., 20203
Thoughtful and extensive assessment of the role Palestinian "journalists" play in promoting Hamas propaganda in the main-stream media.
Jewish students unimpressed with universities’ response to rising antisemitism
November 22, 2023
One of the principal fronts in the Islamist war against Western Civilization is on college campuses. Few university administrations have mustered the moral integrity to defend Jewish students against attacks, so, for now, the Islamists are winning. Please contact your college or university administration and tell them they have to get their act together on this.
No Surrender: Lacking Other Options, Israel Needs to Finish the Job
Jeff Robbins
Nov 23, 2023
Robbins rips apart the various "experts" who recognize that Hamas must be destroyed but insist that Israel not do what is necessary to achieve this end.
Let me close with:
Hamas delenda est, and 
Have a Happy Thanksgiving,

Monday, November 13, 2023

I have seen the faces of evil, and they’re smiling

I have seen the faces of evil, and they’re smiling


A version of this was published November 12, 2023 in the Waterbury Republican-American.

I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t want to accept it; my wife asked whether I was sure I wanted to go and told me to try not to throw up if I went; my daughter bluntly said, “Don’t go.”

The offer was to screen the footage compiled by Israel from GoPros worn by the terrorist perpetrators of the Oct. 7 Simchat Torah Massacre, videos from dashcams and cell phones of the terrorists, rescuers and victims and videos from drones.

It wasn’t something I wanted to see, but I owed it to the memory of the victims, those who were murdered, those who were maimed, those who were dragged into Gaza and are being held hostage there by Hamas.

So I went. Security was strict at the Israeli Consulate in Boston. We had to leave behind all electronics. We were to respect the privacy of the victims and not say or write anything that would reveal their identities or in any way compromise their privacy and dignity.

I sat in a room with the only five journalists who had accepted their invitations. Maybe those who declined had other commitments they couldn’t change; maybe they were too squeamish; maybe they didn’t want to see atrocities that would force them to question their biases and prejudices.

The others present were the executive director of Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council, and Israel’s Consul General and Assistant Consul General for New England.

Meron Reuben, the consul general, gave a brief introduction, but his most important remarks came after we viewed the video, when he noted it’s “very difficult for someone who lives in a tranquil neighborhood in Greater Boston to understand what went on.”

The 43-minute long video started. I saw. I cringed. I felt drops forming in my eyes.

Here’s a snippet of what we saw and heard.

Near the start, we saw evidence of the depravity and the cruelty of the terrorists, most apparently from Hamas but some from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and even from Fatah, the group led by Mahmoud Abbas, who’s supposed to be Israel’s “peace partner.”

The terrorists see an empty, parked ambulance. They shoot out the tires, lest Israeli medics later use the ambulance to bring mortally injured civilians to a hospital.

They see a lone dog in a field. No humans in sight. They shoot the dog. At least three times to make sure it’s dead.

We hear a recording of conversation between one of the terrorists and his parents. The call is made using a phone taken from one of the Israelis he murdered. He tells his father to be proud, that he’d killed ten Israelis with his bare hands. And now he’s going to find more Israelis to murder.

A phone call is made to a Hamas official in Gaza, who tells the terrorists to play with the heads on the ground. One of the terrorists then took a hoe and repeatedly struck a corpse on the ground in order to separate head from body while shouting Allahu Akbar. This was the one part where I looked away; I don’t know if he succeeded.

We saw a trail of blood in a video that must have been taken by one of the rescuers, since the trail continues from one room to another, getting bloodier and bloodier, until it reaches the spot where the murder must have been executed. Where did the terrorists drag the body? Did they add it to a collection in the kibbutz? Did they drag it to Gaza?

We saw hoards of burned and charred corpses. Some were without heads. We saw videos of bodies still aflame.

We heard another call, with the Hamas official in Gaza giving the order to “bring him” and “hang him” and “let the people play with his body.”

We see a body — maybe the same body, maybe a different body — being dragged out of a car in Gaza while a crowd, some terrorists, some ordinary civilians who are now being provided with “humanitarian aid,” joyously celebrates.

Most chilling was the similarity between the joy on the faces of Israelis as they sung and danced at Nova music festival just before Hamas turned it into a killing field and the joy on the faces of the terrorists as they reveled in glorious atrocities.

I have seen the faces of evil and, without the brutalized corpses of their victims scattered around them, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from ordinary teenagers.

Which brings me back to the observation made by Meron Reuben, that it’s difficult for someone living a normal life in a country like the United States to understand the nature of many in the Middle East, including enemies of the West. Since in Western democracies we would never behave the way they do, some imagine the terrorists must have horrendous grievances and blame the United States for 9/11 and Israel for 10/7.

This has led to decades of misguided policies that have strengthened the forces of evil and led to numerous wars, terror attacks and other disasters.

These horrors will continue until we stop fooling ourselves and recognize terrorists’ values are not our values. We must stay united with Israel and others who are on the front line of the war, not only for their survival, but for the survival of our values and our civilization.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Massachusetts. He is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Editors’ note: As a companion to this op-ed, we suggest readers view the 1956 film “Night and Fog,” available on several streaming services, which documents similar atrocities committed in Nazi Germany.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

What is Genocide?

 What is Genocide?

By Daniel Hart

What is genocide? Are the actions of Hamas against Israeli Jews genocidal? Is Israel, in its war against Hamas, actually committing a genocide of the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza? This may seem like a confusing scenario  and concept for many to understand but the answer should be very clear for any thoughtful person once they have been presented with the facts. 

First, what is Genocide? Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group. Let’s review past and present actions of the parties to this longtime conflict. 

Part I - Is Hamas (as well as other Palestinian Arab groups) committing genocide of Israel’s Jews? The short answer is YES. There is indisputable proof that Hamas and other Palestinian Arab groups have been waging a decades long genocide of Israel’s Jews. It’s not merely the events of October 7th, Black Shabbat. There is a long history of these terror groups murdering Jewish Israelis because they are Jewish. Hamas’s charter literally calls for the genocide of all of Israel’s Jews. 

Article 8 of Hamas’ charter, originally published in 1988, following the year it was founded states “Allah is Hamas’s goal, the Prophet is the model, the Qur’an its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” For those who aren’t aware, jihad is an Arabic word which literally means “striving” or “struggling” especially with a praiseworthy aim. It is most frequently associated with war and armed struggle against unbelievers (infidels, aka non-Muslims). 

Another article from its charter, Article 13, states that “one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders” and references a hadith (a statement or endorsement of Muhammad) which states that the Day of Judgment would not come until the Muslims fight and kill the Jews. And that “There is no negotiated settlement possible. Jihad is the only answer.” 

Hamas is obviously a sadistic genocidal antisemitic terror organization. The message in the Hamas charter comes from the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. This is not merely the individual words of Gazans. It is the stated national ambition of the government in power in Gaza. 

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on innocent civilian Israeli women, men and children are also acts of genocide. You might think that because these triple war crime rockets haven’t resulted in high Israeli casualty rates therefore couldn’t constitute genocide, however, Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide states acts committed with INTENT to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as 1. Killing members of the group; 2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; 3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, all constitute genocide. As the convention considers intention rather than success, the Palestinian Arabs are guilty of genocide against the people of Israel. 

And don’t think it’s just Hamas. It’s also the Palestinian Authority and all the other incorrigible Palestinian terror groups. 

The PA, for example, spends $400,000,000 per year to directly incentivize the terror murder of Jews. The more Jews the terrorists kill, the more money they and/or their families receive for life. (Don’t believe me? Google “Palestinian Martyr Fund”.)

As I have already clarified, the international crime of genocide does not require that you be successful in mass killings. It merely requires that you have only the purpose and intention of wiping out the people you are targeting and that you carry out even a single killing in furtherance of that purpose. The PA violates this every time a Palestinian terrorist murders a Jew. And Hamas has obviously violated the genocide convention in the case of each of the 1400 plus Israelis killed on October 7th, Black Shabbat. That’s 1400 individual acts of genocide alone!

Part II - Is Israel carrying out a genocide of the Palestinian Arabs? 

It’s easy to see why some very moral people believe this is true. They see Palestinian suffering and thoughtlessly accuse Israel of genocide without taking into consideration the international rules of war and the nature of the purpose of Israel carrying out defensive strikes against Hamas terrorists. But when one carefully examines the facts of the conflict and the justification for Israel’s retaliatory actions, it is obvious that those accusations are not based on reasonable judgement about the facts of history and present day events. 

Israel literally invented moral warfare and uses well thought out moral-as-possible responses to Palestinian terrorism. Israel even requires a judge advocate general be present during military operations who oversees retaliations against Hamas and PIJ terrorists, making sure that they are proportionate and therefore legal under international law. The judge advocate general has the power and authority to override a decision to attack a terrorist made even by the Israeli prime minister.

Israel’s precision strikes on Hamas and PIJ military targets in Gaza are a good example of Israel keeping civilian casualties to a minimum in carrying its mission to eliminate top Hamas and PIJ commanders and their terrorist network of Hamas and PIJ fighters and their support network. Those that are quick to criticize Israel for those strikes point to the high civilian casualty figures reported by the Gaza Health Ministry. But the Gaza Health Ministry is run by Hamas and clearly Hamas has a record of telling all-out lies about its casualty rates. It fails to point out casualties that result from Hamas and PIJ rockets falling short in Gaza (approximately 30% of all rockets they fire) and killing Palestinian Arab civilians. It also fails to properly discern between terrorist lives and civilian lives. It also fails to properly discern between adult and child casualties and consistently exaggerates the child casualty rates, as well as overall/total casualty figures. 

Also, Israel has no charter or laws that call for the deaths of any ethnic people. In fact, 20% of Israeli civilians are Arab. And under Israeli law, all Israeli civilians regardless of sex, religion, ethnicity have equal rights. Clearly Israel isn’t genociding 20% its own population. 

Some accuse Israel of genocide based on Israel’s strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. But these accusations simply don’t hold water. For example, the recent bombings of the so-called refugee camp in Gaza are also where Hamas has tremendous support and contributors and where Hamas terrorists reside. Israel bombed this camp knowing the value of the Hamas targets at the camp and killed Gaza’s Hamas leader in doing to. 

The targeting rule in international law says that you CAN target enemy combatants and also those that contribute to and support Hamas even if they are civilians. The refugee camp in Gaza is filled with both. 

Also under international law, the collateral damage rule is referred to as "proportionality" and says that you can target your enemy, in this case Hamas, a sadistic, genocidal terror organization, under the targeting rule even if there is collateral damage, and even extensive collateral damage to civilians so long as the collateral damage is not clearly excessive in relation to the military necessity. Obviously, the military necessity in this circumstance is HIGH. The necessity of Israel in this war is to destroy the sadistic, genocidal terror organization of Hamas that committed the atrocities on October 7th. Because Hamas committed these atrocities and is still committing war crimes by attacking Israeli civilians and by holding Israeli hostages and is still attempting to invade Israeli territory to carry out more attacks, it is essential that Israel carry out a successful attack on Hamas as quickly as possible. Collateral damage is obviously warranted in this scenario. 

The only conclusion from this analysis of the accusation of genocide will be crystal clear to almost everyone. Some people, however, have a deep seated hatred of Israel and regardless of the facts will continue to accuse Israel of genocide when Israel is genuinely acting in its own self defense and waging a war against the government and military forces in Gaza. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

Don't make the same mistake with Hamas yet again

Don't make the same mistake with Hamas yet again


A version of this op-ed was published in the Waterbury Republican-American on October 29, 2023.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the mistakes that enabled the Simchat Torah massacre by Hamas on Oct. 7. They were made by the United Nations, the European Union, a succession of American administrations, several Israeli governments, the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence.

One would think those entities - except for the United Nations - would be busy trying to learn from their mistakes in order to prevent a repetition, but many, including European countries and the Biden administration, appear unwilling to reflect on how they contributed to the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust while rushing to double down on the fatal mistake of repeatedly rescuing Hamas and sending "humanitarian assistance" unsurprisingly used by Hamas to prepare for their next brutal terror war.

Since Israel vacated Gaza in 2005, ending anything that could, justifiably or not, be called an "occupation," it has been bombarded by rockets and targeted by countless terror attacks, including mortar fire, cross-border incursions, cross-border terror tunnels planned to terminate under schools, and explosive-laden kites, balloons and condoms designed to be carried into Israel by the prevailing winds.

In 2006, 2008-9, 2012, 2014, 2021 and 2022, the terror attacks from Gaza caused so much death and destruction Israel was forced to take significant action.

Each time, Israel quickly came under heavy pressure from the international community to prematurely agree to a ceasefire before it could do to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad the sort of damage America worked to inflict on Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Each time, the United States was among those pressuring Israel into agreeing to measures supposedly designed to help innocent people in Gaza, the same people who elected Hamas.

Israel was always given assurance of ironclad safeguards to make sure the aid got to the people rather than Hamas, only to have an estimated 90% of the cement sent to Gaza for rebuilding homes, schools and hospitals taken by Hamas to build tunnels and murder schoolchildren. When Israel developed technology to discover the cross-border tunnels and destroy them, Hamas used the cement to build tunnels to protect its "fighters" within Gaza; undoubtedly, many of the hostages it took have been taken to those tunnels as human shields.

Pipes sent to rebuild the water and sewer systems were instead cut up and used in the construction of rockets and rocket launchers.

Israel allowed the entry of thousands of Palestinian workers so they could earn money to feed their families, strengthen the economy in Gaza, and improve the lives of the people there, but many took advantage of their work permits and instead murdered Israeli civilians.

Hamas even attacked the crossings where goods were transferred into Gaza, killing the very workers bringing humanitarian assistance to Gaza!

Israeli leaders share blame primarily for repeatedly giving in. Had they not succumbed to the pressure, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad would have been far weaker and incapable of successfully carrying out the Simchat Torah Massacre. It is ironic that while Israel is so often criticized for being hard-line right wing, its most serious mistakes have been in being too soft and too willing to agree to dangerous "confidence building measures" in hopes the Palestinian Arabs would reciprocate.

There are many other ways in which Western democracies have unwittingly strengthened Hamas and other terror groups. At the top of the list is the way they have appeased and strengthened the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Much of the many billions of dollars released to the Iranian regime, against the advice of Israel, has gone to Iran's terror proxies and assisted Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Our naïve errors have not only gotten Israelis killed, but also gotten Ukrainians killed. Repeating those mistakes would reinvigorate Hamas.

The only real leverage we have over Hamas is the ability to prevent the transfer of food, fuel, water and electricity to Gaza so Hamas won't be able to continue to build and launch rockets. Hamas doesn't care about the welfare of the people they use as human shields, but they do care about (a) murdering others, especially Israeli Jews and (b) their personal bank accounts and welfare.

I have little confidence that if Hamas was forced to decide between (a) releasing all the hostages without further harm in return for receiving humanitarian assistance or (b) not releasing the hostages and letting everyone in Gaza suffer, they would choose (a), but giving them that choice is the only realistic possibility for saving the lives of the hostages.

Presently, most governments, including our own, are trying hard to avoid forcing Hamas to make that choice. During his solidarity visit to Israel, President Biden announced $100 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. Since then, at least one of the UNRWA warehouses storing "humanitarian assistance" slated to be distributed to "civilians" in Gaza was stormed and looted. Can anyone doubt a significant portion of those supplies aren't now in the tunnels under Gaza helping to sustain and strengthen Hamas terrorists?

For the sake of the hostages, and for our own long term safety, we need to insist there will be no pause and no goods of any kind will be transferred to Gaza until all the hostages are released without further harm. Everyone needs to stand firmly with Israel and help it destroy Hamas, after which Gaza will have to be "de-Hamasified," the way the allies de-Nazified Germany after World War II, and prepare for the even more crucial battles with Hezbollah and the head of the snake in Tehran.

May God provide our leaders with the wisdom needed to get us out of the situation which they helped create.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Massachusetts. He is President Emeritus of PRIMERConnecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Hamas' attack brings a moment of clarity

Hamas' attack brings a moment of clarity


A version was published in the Waterbury Republican-American (Connecticut) on October 15, 2023.

We have just experienced a watershed moment, a day when it became crystal clear to everyone who understands the difference between good and evil that Israel is in an unavoidable fight against forces of evil.

Since my retirement from the University of Connecticut after teaching there for 37 years, my wife and I have been living in Israel each winter.

This year, we had plane reservations to leave for Israel on Sunday, Oct. 8, the day of Simchat Torah, when Jews finish our annual reading of the Torah and start over again with Genesis, one of the most joyous days of the year.

In Israel, Simchat Torah is celebrated a day earlier, simultaneously with Shmini Atzeret. This year that fell on Shabbat, so it was a triple Holy Day and expected to be triply joyous.

Except. Palestinian Arabs traditionally plan terror attacks designed to ruin Jewish holidays.

This year, they outdid themselves with a massive terror attack instantly compared to 9/11. I remember exactly where I was when I heard about 9/11, driving home from the tennis courts at Chase Park in Waterbury, Connecticut. I remember exactly where I was when I heard President Kennedy was shot, browsing in the Paperbound Book Store on 164th Street in Flushing, Queens before immediately riding my bike back home. And I'll always remember where I was when I heard about Hamas' 10/7 attack, waking up in our condo in Natick, Massachusetts and realizing I wasn't going to be able to fly to Israel the next day.

As more details have emerged, and more bodies are found - as I write this the total passed 1,300 - the horror has only increased. The current fatality count, on an absolute basis, is not quite half of that inflicted on us by Al Qaeda on 9/11. But our population in the United States is roughly 37 times that of tiny Israel. Hamas also fired roughly 3,500 rockets at Israeli cities and towns and took an estimated 150 hostages, dragging them into Gaza where they have been tortured, raped and even paraded around the streets naked while the "ordinary" people in Gaza celebrated. These hostages are almost all ordinary civilians, including babies, children, and elderly women, even an ill 97-year-old woman with dementia who doesn't realize she's a hostage. Some are Americans, as are at least 25 of those murdered. Now many have been moved to the bases used by terrorists, being used as human shields.

To visualize the effect on Israeli society, imagine that on 9/11 Al Qaeda had murdered over 48,000 people, launched more than 125,000 rockets at American cities and towns, and taken more than 3,500 Americans hostage and brought them to Afghanistan. All in one day.

Imagine how much more traumatic 9/11 would have been for us if it had been on that scale!

Just as there were many heroes responding to 9/11, there have been many heroes in Israel. One of them happens to be a relative of mine. I'll call him Chaim. (Not his real name, to avoid possible security repercussions. Chaim is appropriate, since Chaim means life and he saved many lives.) I never knew about Chaim until being sent the following story about him by another, close cousin of mine living in southern Israel.

Chaim lives on a kibbutz in what's called the "Gaza envelope" and he is part of a 15-man "standby class." Early morning last Saturday, 30 terrorists attempted to infiltrate. Miraculously, despite the terrorists having attacked with the element of surprise and being twice the number of the standby squad, those heroes fought for five hours and managed to "neutralize" 10 of the terrorists before the rest fled and army finally arrived, saving the lives of every single member of the kibbutz. Three members of the squad were injured, with Chaim taking two bullets in his leg after about two hours but continuing to fight until the end. Tragically, the terrorists managed to murder 16 foreign workers, wounding 4 more and as I write this 4 more are missing, most likely being held hostage in Gaza.

No such miracle occurred at a nearby kibbutz, where Hamas terrorists slaughtered more than 100 of their 1000 members!

My cousin's story was accompanied by a picture of his wife - once a child refugee forced to flee Tunisia - smiling together with Chaim in the hospital he was brought to be treated for his wounds, the very hospital where she worked as a physical therapist for decades and helped many other terror victims recover from injuries!

A moment of clarity. As a citizen of both, I am proud that America and Israel share more of the same values than any other countries in the world. They also share the same enemies.

As Israelis were shocked by 9/11, shared America's pain and even built the only 9/11 memorial outside the United States, Americans are sharing Israel's pain from the Simchat Torah massacre. As Palestinian Arabs danced on the roofs of Ramallah in celebration of 9/11. their children have been dancing in Ramallah in celebration of the Simchat Torah massacre.

Ronald Reagan provided clarity when he referred to the Soviet Union as the "evil empire."

After the fall of the Soviet Union, George Bush provided clarity when he dubbed Iran, Iraq and North Korea the "axis of evil."

This week, Hamas provided clarity by showing that it and Iran's other terror proxies are part of the axis of evil.

Ronald Reagan provided another moment of clarity when he revealed his strategy for the Cold War: "We win, they lose."

Our strategy today must again be "We win, they lose."

Israel is on the front line in this battle and we must stand strongly together as it battles to make sure good wins and evil loses.

In Hebrew, "Am Yisrael Chai" means the Israeli people live.

Together with Israel, we must make sure "Am Artzot HaBrit Chai," the American people live.

May God bless Israel and may God bless the United States of America.

Alan Stein, Ph.D., was formerly a long time resident of Waterbury. He and his wife Marsha currently split their time between Netanya in Israel and Natick, Massachusetts. He is President Emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting) and the founder of PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Hamas Massacre

The Hamas Massacre

By Roger B. Baskin

On Saturday October 7, 2023, the terrorist group Hamas engaged in one of the most sadistic atrocities in world history.  The atrocities included: murdering babies and decapitating their heads; burning elderly people alive, raping women and parading them naked in the street with their crotch bleeding from the rape, raping and killing women and placing their bodies on the street celebrating their murder,  beheading soldiers,  killing parents in front of their children, killing children in front of their parents; taking babies and the elderly as hostages.

One would think that the barbarism of Hamas would be met with universal condemnation.  Sadly that was not the case.  MSNBC in their coverage became the voice of terrorism. MSNBC referred to Hamas as fighters and refused to call them terrorists.   MSNBC made every attempt to justify the actions of  Hamas.  Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL was so outraged, he went on MSNBC two days later and decried the MSNBC coverage and asked whether the MSNBC script had been written by Hamas.  The New York Post accused MSNBC of running “interference for Hamas”. The MSNBC coverage was so egregious that MSNBC lost 33% of its prime time audience during and after the massacre.  At the same time the CNN and Fox News audiences surged. 

MSNBC was not the only bad actor in the United States.  Student groups at Harvard, Columbia, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU and other elite universities released statements blaming Israel for the barbaric attacks by Hamas.  The reaction to these students was swift.  Alumni demanded that the universities denounce these statements and reveal the names of the students who signed the public letters supporting the Hamas massacre.  What  employers would want to hire people with those values? A prominent law firm rescinded a job offer to Ryna Workman, a law student at Columbia  who wrote “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life”.   Other employers followed rescinding job offers to those who support wanton brutality.  

The tactics of MSNBC and the students who defended Hamas are well known to students of anti-Semitism.  The tactics of dehumanization and blaming the Jews for extreme acts of anti-Semitism goes back to the ancient days in Greece and Rome.  Extreme elements of the left and the right agree on only one thing:  their hatred of Jews.  The left wing Communists of the Soviet Union engaged in pogroms against Jews, which is exactly what the Hamas attack was. The right wing Nazis sent Jews to concentration camps.  

The Hamas charter is not of peaceful co-existence with Israel. The Hamas charter is to destroy Israel and kill all Jews on earth.  The Hamas massacre had nothing to do with bringing peace to the Middle East.  Hamas has opposed all peace efforts between Israel and Arab states.  One motivation of this attack might be to stop a peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Anti-Semitism is often thought to be an extreme right wing phenomena.  However extreme left wing anti-Semitism is just as pernicious as right wing anti-Semitism. Extreme left wing anti-Semitism was on full display on MSNBC and college campuses. 

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Yale Zussman's Latest Recommendations

Hi Folks,
It's been a while since my last package, but with the approach of the Jewish New Year, I thought this would be a good time to send my latest set of recommendations:
The Biden Administration's Secret Capitulation to Iran's Regime
by Majid Rafizadeh 
June 17, 2023
My comment: Biden is repeating the errors Obama made in 2015, which raises the question of what Obama's actual goal was:  It matters a great deal whether Obama was pursuing a halt to Iran's nuclear weapons program -- we now know he didn't succeed on this -- and was willing to pay a financial price to get there, or whether providing money to Iran was the actual objective and nominal limitations on one of its weapons programs, however important, was just a smokescreen to protect him from a charge of treason.
Ehud Barak agreed to give up part of Temple Mount, Old City
Jun 19, 2023

Details of the Camp David discussions in 2000.
Palestinian state -- consistent with US interests?
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
July 5, 2023
The dilemma faced by the Palestinians is that their "nation" was established to serve as a pawn in the Muslim war against the Jews. That war has failed, and with the onset of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Islamist wave among Sunnis, Muslim countries have re-evaluated the concept of a war against the Jews, leaving the Palestinians to "twist slowly in the wind." They could escape their fate by acknowledging that the war against the Jews has failed, but if they admit that, they lose whatever leverage they have had with the their Muslim brethren and acknowledge that their narrative is a lie. Ettinger addresses the consequences for the US of buying into that narrative.
Iran's Mullahs Escalating Aggression in Latin America, Middle East
by Majid Rafizadeh
July 22, 2023
Iran seeks to become a major arms exporter enabling "bad actors" everywhere to increase their aggression. Meanwhile, Biden threatens Israel for seeking to stop Iran's activities.  See the first item, above.
Iran’s Ayatollas poke the US in the eye
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
July 26, 2023
Outlines the Iranian threat in Latin America, including a threat to close, or destroy (by rendering the locks inoperative), the Panama Canal by the end of 2023. Two questions: Does anyone in either Washington or Tehran recognizes that doing so is a casus belli; it's essentially what Egypt did in 1967 to set off the Six Day War? Will the Biden Administration respond, and if so, how? 
Refuse-to-serve: Biased Israeli media is not reporting the full story - opinion
The Jerusalem Post
JULY 21, 2023
As Weinberg tells it, the real story of reservist refusal to serve due to the judicial reform is biased media coverage. Refusal announcements get wide coverage, denunciation of those refusals gets close to none. If this sounds familiar, it is because Americans have faced the same problem since Obama maneuvered our media into serving as a "Ministry of Truth" for him.
The 1993 Oslo Accord dismissed the writing on the wall
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
September 6, 2023
Ettinger itemizes the clues that the Oslo process would lead to disaster, and how Shimon Perez deluded himself into thinking that the basic issues in the conflict could be ignored.
I note that the Oslo Accords were a triumph for an approach to foreign policy that ignores ideological and theological dimensions in favor of what are termed "real" factors. If the Palestinians were interested in resolving their "real" problems, like a bad economy, poor governance, and perpetual refugee status, they would seek to replace the permanent UNRWA with a short-term agency that undertook to resettle them and address their other "real" problems.  In this effort, Israel would be an interested and important factor.  Instead, the Palestinian cause remains dedicated to three theological concepts: Preserving the notion that no territory can be removed from the Muslim waqf, reinstating the dhimma so Muslims can continue to treat Jews and others as third-class "citizens," and validating Islamic supersessionism.  Jewish success in winning a state for themselves by force of arms violates all three.  Without addressing these beliefs, there is likely no progress to be made in the conflict.
Let me close by  wishing my Jewish readers a Shanah Tovah U'Mtukah, a Good and Sweet New Year.


Thursday, August 24, 2023

An unprecedented look inside one of Jerusalem’s holiest—and most controversial—landmarks interchanges myths and facts

The following letter was sent to the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Features Editor of National Geographic after it published an article that presented known history as questionable and Palestinian Arab lies as truth.

This is not the first time National Geographic has dishonored its pages by publishing lies about Israel. Since National Geographic no longer publishes letters, it is being posted here and we encourage you to share it.

Dear Mr. Lump and Mr. Gwin:

Andrew Lawler's article "An unprecedented look inside one of Jerusalem’s holiest—and most controversial—landmarks" is far from unprecedented, especially in the way it treats Arab and Muslim myths as if they were truths and treats verified Jewish history as if they were myths

For example, there is no question that the two Jewish Temples were built on the Temple Mount, but there is no evidence that Muhammad ever visited Jerusalem; indeed, it is highly unlikely he ever came anywhere close to Jerusalem.

The Dome of the Rock is not "Islam's third most sacred site." It has importance to Sunni Muslims, but has no religious significance to Shiite Muslims. And even its importance to Sunni Muslims is built on the lie, created out of whole cloth when the Sunnis were not allowed in Mecca and Medina, that Muhammad made a night journey there on the back of Buraq.

Similar inversions of myths and facts, truths and lies, exist in almost every paragraph in the article, and every bit of Palestinian propaganda is treated as the gospel truth while the article questions documented truths coming from Israelis.

For example, Lawler writes police "stormed" the Al-Aqsa Mosque twice during Ramadan and then casts doubt on what he calls police claims rioters barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and were armed with fireworks. Yet there is indisputable photographic and video evidence that the denigrated "claims" of the Israeli police were absolutely true.

Lawler wrote about seven gates providing access into the Temple Mount, which he incorrectly called the "Al Aqsa compound." Actually, there are ten gates. He incorrectly wrote "Israeli security tightly controls every entry point." I personally found that out in 1980 when I was wandering around the Old City and noticed an open gate to the Temple Mount and started walking through it. I was rudely stopped by a Jordanian guard - and note this was long before the peace treaty with Jordan - who told me the gate was closed and I couldn't enter. I quickly found out that was a lie, as several Arabs walked through the gate and weren't stopped.

Lawler fails to note that Arabs and Muslims have unfettered 24/7 access through all those gates, while Jews are only allowed to enter the Temple Mount through a single gate and only a few hours a day a few days a week. He also fails to mention this discrimination, along with the discrimination against Jewish prayer on their holiest site is a violation of the peace treaty with Jordan, which calls for free access for all to their religions sites.

It's not unusual these days to see articles about Israel or the Palestinian Arabs filled with errors and misrepresentations and this was far from the first time such an article appeared in National Geographic. So I can't say I was surprised by Lawler's article. But that doesn't make it any more acceptable.

National Geographic owes its readers a slew of corrections and a heartfelt apology.


Alan Stein

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Now that reasonableness has passed, let's get reasonable

I submitted this to the Jerusalem Post, but it hasn't been published, so I'm posting it in a few different places. I'm hoping to inject some sanity into the debate - I'm using that term loosely - over judicial reform in Israel. Please feel free to share it in whatever form you can.

Now that reasonableness has passed, let's get reasonable

Alan Stein

Spoiler alert: The implementation of the new Basic Law limiting the use of the reasonableness standard needs to be delayed to give the next government, chosen after the next election (hopefully, we'll just need one election next time), a chance to have its say.

As a dual citizen living in both Israel and the United States, while not being an attorney I believe I have an understanding about the judicial reform controversy that escapes most Israelis and most Americans, including American Jews.
Had the initial protests actually been purely about the initial judicial reform proposals, I might have joined them. Although judicial reform is clearly needed, as has been recognized in the past by most of those now leading the increasingly hysterical opposition to the current efforts, the original proposals contained some provisions I felt unwise. However, it was clear from the beginning that the protests had more to do with trying to undo the results of the election than the proposals. The protests were and remain, in effect, Israel's version of the massive anti-Trump demonstrations in the United States in 2016 and 2017 surrounding Donald Trump's election and inauguration and the pro-Trump rally in the Capitol on January 6, 2021 trying to overturn his loss in the 2020 election. Unfortunately, the Israeli protests have been far more sustained, far more disruptive, have already done tremendous damage and threaten to do far more. They have already done far more damage than any provisions of the original proposals could have done.
Many have said that Netanyahu and only Netanyahu could have ended the unrest. Others have said that about Lapid, Saar, Barak and Olmert. They're all both right and wrong.
Netanyahu might have been able prevent the disaster at the start, had he not been constrained by the attorney general from getting involved. (This, itself, provides a good case for the need for reform!) Or if he had shown more courage and ignored the attorney general before things got totally out of hand.
The opposition could also have prevented the disaster by addressing their followers and speaking honestly, putting the good of the country ahead of their hatred of Netanyahu, who has been prime minister for so long and has such a talent for alienating people, including close associates, and ahead of their goal of forcing the collapse of the coalition.
They could have. Netanyahu could have. The coalition members really pushing the judicial overhaul could have.
None of them did. They all acted irresponsibly. They all acted unreasonably. They all share responsible for the damage that has been done.
Now, we have one small portion of the package enacted into law. From the reports I've read, it's not much different from what was almost agreed upon in the negotiations under the auspices of the president.
The protests have gotten more disruptive and more damaging and coalition members are saying they will be pushing ahead with more of the changes.
If either side wins a complete victory, it will be a total disaster for Israel.
I have some recommendations.
First and most important, immediately pass a slight modification to the legislation just enacted, specifying that it will not go into effect until month (or some other "reasonable" period) after the next election is held and a new government is formed. A similar provision should be included with any additional modifications of Basic Laws.
No longer could any claim they were fighting the reforms to preserve democracy. They would not affect either the current coalition or Netanyahu's legal cases and whatever government is elected next time could quickly put an end to any changes it opposed on principle rather than as part of a strategy to bring down the coalition.
With the atmosphere, if not the summer heat, hopefully cooler, resume the talks hosted by President Herzog, but this time participate in good faith, honestly try to reach agreement so that we can move forward, concentrate on healing the schisms that have been exacerbated the last few months and deal with the basic problems we all share.
And then, we need to deal with one of the basic (pun intended) problems that has emerged in both Israel and the United States: governments implementing fundamental changes opposed by large portions or even majorities of the population.
For example:
In the United States, a fundamental change in the system of health care was legislated using parliamentary tricks despite being opposed by the majority of the voters. A treaty (the JCPOA or Iran "deal") was implemented, despite the opposition of most of the people and most of Congress, using the subterfuge of pretending it wasn't a treaty. (And now a new treaty has apparently been negotiated and it's planned to completely bypass Congress by pretending it's not even a deal.) Supreme Court justices used to require a 2/3 approval of the Senate and approval was rarely controversial; recently, appointments and approvals have become highly partisan, some appointments have been prevented by the expedient of refusing to vote and the so-called "nuclear option" was implemented and controversial appointments have been approved with a bare majority.
In Israel, the Oslo Accords were approved over the opposition of roughly half the country, as was the Gaza disengagement. Basic Laws have been swiftly amended for purely political convenience and now a Basic Law has been enacted not just without a consensus, but over bitter opposition.
Many have said the current events demonstrate our need for an Israeli Constitution. I agree, but I doubt we'd be able to get an agreement now without further tearing the country apart. However, we can work towards one by making Basic Laws really basic in the following way:
Start with something like the following Basic Law: A Basic Law shall be enacted upon the approval of a 2/3 vote of the entire Knesset.
Given that we have a unicameral legislature, perhaps it would be better to require the approval of two consecutive Knessets, or a second vote a reasonable period, perhaps a year, after the first vote. But a Basic Law should require overwhelming approval and should not be able to be enacted without giving people time to consider it.
As for existing Basic Laws, let them retain that status for a reasonable (there's that word again) period, say five years. If they are reapproved using the new conditions during that period, they would retain the status of Basic Laws; if they are not reapproved, they could still be laws but not Basic Laws.
After another five years or so, we could compile those now meaningful Basic Laws together and approve them as a Constitution.
In the meantime, let's have some courage and statesmanship from our political leaders rather than cowardice and partisanship.

Alan Stein is a dual citizen of Israel, living in Netanya, and the United States, living in Massachusetts. He is an active advocate for Israel, founder of PRIMER-Israel and PRIMER-Massachusetts and president emeritus of PRIMER-Connecticut and was CAMERA's Letter Writer of the Year in 2015. In 2009, his op-ed giving advice to Barack Obama was published on the day of Obama's inauguration. Upon making aliyah in 2014, his op-ed giving advice to Benjamin Netanyahu was published. Stein believes it is unfortunate that neither Obama nor Bibi was wise enough to take his advice. He hopes history does not repeat with the advice he's giving in this op-ed.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

This Year's Annual Ramadan Terror Spree

A variation of this was sent out as a PRIMER-Israel alert. There are three PRIMER groups, in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Israel. Check out their websites and consider getting on their alerts lists.

PRIMER-Connecticut    PRIMER-Massachusetts    PRIMER-Israel

While we mourn our victims, both murdered and injured, of this year’s Ramadan terror spree, and while our soldiers and police act to protect us all from the additional attacks we know are planned or will be planned, those of us who fight with our keyboards need to do our part to prevent Iran, the Palestinian Authority, the PLO, Fatah, Hamas, Hezbollah and the other terror groups from also getting a propaganda victory.

Almost all the reporting has been typically biased, using loaded language, terminology defined by Israel’s enemies, misinformation, disinformation and outright false information while often omitting important context. It’s up to us to do our best to provide it.

We will include some of our own thoughts below, but urge you to read the emails you get from so many other sources with more resources and also check their websites and write letters and social media posts to give the facts and your unique perspective as an Israeli living here in Israel.

Among the resources we recommend (forgive us for leaving out so many; we’ll just list a handful of our favorites):

For examples of media bias:

CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis)


For fairly up-to-date information:

JNS (Jewish News Syndicate)

JTA (Jewish Telegraph Agency)

Jerusalem Post

Times of Israel

i24 News

Thoughts and observations:

• I heard this expressed on i24 News. I have not been able to find the video to watch again, so my recollection may not be exact.

The question came up regarding why the Muslim “worshippers” barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday night, arming themselves with the stones and fireworks, when they are generally allowed to stay overnight during the last ten days of Ramadan anyway.

The reason explained was that since the first Seder was Wednesday night, they knew many Jews would be visiting the Temple Mount on Wednesday, so it was a golden opportunity to attack a lot of Jews with the stones and fireworks.

It was also noted that the rockets started flying from Gaza as soon as videos of the confrontations with the Israeli police were posted on social media and this was not a coincidence. This was planned, almost certainly masterminded by Iran. The rockets were prepared in advance and people were ready in the mosque to take videos and post them as soon as the confrontations started, while the terrorists in Gaza were prepped and ready to launch the rockets as soon as those videos were posted.

My interpretation - this wasn’t clear from what I remember on i24 - was that Iran and its terrorists in the mosque were prepared for two possibilities:

The first: What happened. The police, knowing they were preparing to attack Jews on the Temple Mount with the stones and fireworks they had smuggled into the mosque, would enter the mosque to prevent the attacks, in which case they would start attacking the police, take videos, quickly edit them to make Israel look bad to the world, post them on social media and immediately launch rockets.

The second: The police wouldn’t enter the mosque, in which case they would attack Jews on the Temple Mount Wednesday morning, take videos, post them with the message they were protecting Al-Aqsa from the Jews, and immediately launch rockets.

• The media almost always describes Al-Aqsa as the third holiest site for Muslims. However, it’s only holy for Sunni Muslims; it has no significance for Shiite Muslims. Moti Kedar has also explained (there are many sources, both articles and videos) how the source of its holiness was a fraud and that the “Al Aqsa” mentioned just once in the Koran was actually in what’s now Saudi Arabia, not far from Mecca and Medina. (See, for one example out of many, “Why and When was the Myth of al-Aqsa Created?”)

• Media bias can be simultaneously blatant and subtle. Here’s one example taken from today’s Hartford Courant. (I used to live in Connecticut and keep an eye on that paper.)

The Hartford Courant published an Associated Press article on Friday’s murder of Maya and Rina Dee. (As I write this, their mother remains in critical condition.) The article was accompanied by a large photo of a seriously damaged automobile. But, although there are many photos available of the car ambushed by the terrorists, the photo accompanying the article wasn’t of that; rather, it was of a car in Gaza allegedly damaged by Israeli airstrikes. The text of the article similarly changed the focus from the fatal terror attack to Israel’s responses to all the terror attacks and was written in a way as to create sympathy for the terrorists.

• How holy can “worshippers” believe Al-Aqsa is if they use it as a weapons arsenal (storing stones and fireworks) and use it as a base from which to attack Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount?

• Although I personally think it’s rather meshuga to consider sacrificing a goat today, on the Temple Mount or anywhere else, there’s absolutely no reason for Arabs or Muslims to get upset about the possibility unless they’re animal activists and/or vegetarians. That they make an issue of the desire of some to do it on the Temple Mount - especially since they know the Israeli officials will not let them carry it out - is just another example of them looking for pretexts to launch attacks.

• There is invariably an uptick in terror attacks during Ramadan. There are also almost always serious attempts to perpetuate bloody terror attacks during Jewish holidays. It would thus have been astounding if the Palestinian Arabs didn’t do everything in their power this year, with Pesach being celebrated during Ramadan, to make sure Ramadan did not pass quietly.

Please check the newspapers you are familiar with, along with the examples provided by CAMERA, HonestReporting and other sources, and fight back with your keyboard.