Thursday, 28 July 2016
I have recently returned from a trip to visit my family in England.
They are still all a-chatter about Brexit, and the consequences.
Following Britain's lead, I propose that Netanyahu also calls a referendum in Israel.
The question should be:
Should Israel remain in the Middle East?
Otherwise known at MExit.
If MExit carries the day, as I'm confident it will, Israel will remove itself from our current nightmare neighbors of Lebanon, Syria (RIP), Jordan, Egypt, and Gaza.
Quite where we, or our current neighbors, will relocate, will be thrashed out following a MExit majority.
Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Yet another baby died yesterday in an oven-hot car.
This time it was the baby's grandmother; a social worker. Totally regular, level minded lady. No different from me and you. Simply forgot.
According to Israel's child safety organization (I heard the interview on the radio this morning), these incidents tend to happen when people break their routine. In the case of the grandmother, she wasn't used to routinely picking up and dropping off this baby. It is natural and powerful that our minds go into auto-pilot, which is usually fine. But not when there's an added non-routine factor - in this case a baby on your back seat.
There is potentially life-saving gadget is available in Beit Shemesh from Keren Yosef and also from Yad Sarah throughout Israel.
See the attached video.
There are also apps, tips (like leaving your cellphone on the baby's seat) and gadgets (pressure cushion activated etc).
The time to act is NOW, rather than simply returning to each of our routines.
Sunday, 10 July 2016
The above video is the highlights/lowlights of President Museveni, Ugandan President's madcap speech during the 40th Anniversary ceremony at Entebbe Airport, in the presence of Benjamin Netanyahu.
The full rambling and unique speech is here, for those with patience (25 mins) and an enduring sense of the absurd:
Friday, 8 July 2016
Israel has 'hard' enemies who spare no resources to attack Israel physically, and in any other way. These include Hamas, The Palestinian Authority, Iran, and most Arab States (aside from Egypt and Jordan)., and the BDS Movement.
Israel also has soft opponents - who habitually and unfairly criticise and undermine Israel's actions, within a context of respectability.
These 'soft opponents' include the UN, EU, Barak Obama, and much of the world's press.
The EU launched it's latest offensive on Israel in their Middle East Peace Initiative, on 3rd June, following and supporting France's own initiative, and assembled 28 foreign ministers, but not Israel, to give their backing to an International Conference. This conference is highly likely to be anti-Israeli from-birth and is looking to impose a 'settlement' on Israel. This initiative has been strongly criticised by the Israeli Government.
Another soft opponent of Israel is Tony Blair, who was officially the Quartet (UN, EU, USA and Russia) emissary to the Middle East.
In the past couple of weeks, both of these 'soft opponents' have been effectively neutralised.
The British mega-surprise Brexit vote, just a week following their Foreign Ministers' meeting about the Middle East, has thrown the EU into disarray - and they surely now have bigger and more immediate issues to focus their attention than their Middle East Conference.
Meanwhile, Tony Blair has been the subject of a major report about Britain's conduct of the Iraq War, 13 years ago. Blair has been totally blasted by the report, which highlights his incompetence and duplicity in commencing the war, the war itself and the total lack of preparation for post-war Iraq.
In the report, Tony Blair's war initiative is held responsible for much of the turmoil and bloodshed in Iraq ever since and in the establishment and success of ISIS.
The cost has been literally millions of lives, uncountable wounded and disruption on a catastrophic scale.
As for soft-opponent Obama - his scheduled departure from the world stage is coming up in a few months.
Not so fond farewell from Israel.
Sunday, 3 July 2016
It is impossible for Jews, or indeed any other civilised humans, to fathom the evil of (literally) millions of Arabs, and to understand the moral blindness of the hundreds of millions who support them.
Israelis are reeling from the murders last week of 12 year old Hallel Arielasleep in her bed at her home in Kiryat Arba, and the car-shooting murder of Rabbi Michael Marc, head of Otniel Hesder Yeshiva, and father of 10 kids.
The stabbing terrorist's mother is reported to have praised the depraved and horrific actions of her son.
“My son is a hero…My son died as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Praise God, he is united with the martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. God willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine.”
The Palestinian Authority, the "legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people", put out a statement of condolences to the family of...the terrorist.
I find it impossible to begin to understand how anyone could respond to such brutal and savage behaviour by supporting it.
I believe the answer is that the Palestinians have always, from their pogroms on Jews in 1929, through the inception of the PLO in the 1960's, in the terror attacks on civil aircraft, and on Israeli civilians wherever they may be found, viewed slaughter of innocents as the essence of their "struggle" they are engaged in.
Electing to pursue barbarism is a strategic step long since taken by the Palestinians and their representatives. Whatever dissonances or human conscience they may have faced, has long since been silenced.
For those who may view the PA as 'moderate', know that the last Palestinian elections resulted in a Hamas majority, in the West Bank, of 70%. (That's why the PLO cancelled the election results, and have since ruled solely by dictatorship). Hamas itself, who still publicly espouse and pursue terror and barbarism, have literally millions of rabid supporters in the Palestinian 'moderate' street.
The PA can not genuinely view or denounce the grisly and savage murder of innocent fathers, mothers and children as illegitimate and amoral, as doing so would undermine and contradict their chosen national strategy and narrative for close on a century.
As for those who support them, such as the EU and every Arab state in the world, their failure to call-out this national strategy, and turn their backs on the PA-generated terror (at least) by cutting billion dollar funding and political support, is a chilling moral blindness, at the very highest levels of supposed civilisation.
Tuesday, 28 June 2016
Between the years 2005 until 2011 I visited Turkey extensively, averaging five or six times each year. I developed close friendships and happy customers there throughout that period.
This came crashing down with the Marmara incident in 2010, and then the UN Report in 2011 (which largely absolved Israel) which ironically was the last straw for the Turks.
My main customers were issued an anti-Israeli directive by their government, and I was officially persona non-grata.
From my perspective, the Marmara protest fleet (flotilla) was a deliberate provocation against Israel, directly supported by the Government of Turkey. Their pretense that this was a humanitarian aid mission was a thinly veiled charade.
It was a political protest. It was planned to spotlight the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, subject Israel to international political pressure, and thereby politically further the cause of Hamas.
However, the flotilla was not a terror or military attack on Israel. The protest ships were just that.
The Israeli response to the Marmara provocation was, frankly, a 'fashla' (mess-up) at the operative level.
Yes, the thugs on the ship were violent and armed themselves with make-shift clubs and knives.
However, from their perspective they were defending their protest ship from combat naval boats & helicopter-borne fully armed (and protected) elite naval "seals".
Stopping this civilian protest ship from entering Israel's territorial waters by Israel's armed forces, if properly carried out, should not have cost 9 civilian lives.
The cost of this operational fashla for Israel has been six years of deep-freeze relations with our erstwhile political friend, economic partner and military ally.
In the meantime, the political, military and economic landscape has changes, both for Israel and for Turkey.
Both Israel and Turkey are (even) more isolated politically than in 2010. Turkey in particular has fallen out with almost everyone imaginable - most recently Russia.
The regional defense needs are even worse than 2010 - particularly with the implosion of Syria and the new ISIS conquests and threat on Turkey's southern border and Israel's Northern border.
Economically, the gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean are potentially macro-economic game-changer for the whole region. The need for this is particularly acute for the Turks, given the loss of Russia as their strategic energy supplier.
The times is ripe for both Ankara and Jerusalem to finally patch up this dispute and move forward.
From what has been released about the Agreement now being formally ratified in both countries, it appears to be a reasonable balance between Turkey backing down on its quest to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, while requiring Israel to pay out financially and symbolically for its operational 'fashla'.
Of course, Israel wants more, such as the return of the two Israelis being held in Gaza, and the bodies of the two fallen Israeli soldiers. But the bottom line is that it is not reasonable to demand from Turkey something which is not under their control. The hostages and bodies are held by Hamas in Gaza, not by Erdogan in Turkey. The Turks can exert influence, which can only help, and this, Netanyahu has stated, they have agreed to do.
I hope this Agreement will be an important step in building a much better future between Israel and Turkey than the past six years of the freeze, and may even, with time, lead to rebuilding the previous mutual trust and burgeoning regional relations.
Friday, 3 June 2016
Frankly, I found those Kahane crowd scenes- both the cheerers and the jeerers - ugly & repulsive.
I saw Rabbi Meir Kahane on a couple of occasions in Jerusalem when I was an impressionable student discovering 'real' Judaism and, while I saw value in the books of his I read, I was extremely uncomfortable with his speeches and politics, and the raw emotions he evoked in his supporters and opponents.
There has been much water under the bridge, both nationally and personally, since those early 1980's scenarios.
Rabbi Meir Kahane's assassination in 1990 and of his son & daughter in law Rav Binyamin Zeev and Talya Kahane in 2000 (by the PLO Force 17, near Ofra) were almost fatal blows also to Kahane's ideas and legacy.
Fringe politicians, such as Michael Ben-Ari and Baruch Marzel have attempted to resurrect a Kahanist presence in the Kenesset, standing in many elections, and with only one success in 2009.
In August 2015, Rabbi Meir Kahane's grandson Meir Ettinger, was arrested and has been held since under 'administrative detention", only being released this week, after 10 months in prison.
Ettinger has been a "Hilltop Youth" activist and writes a blog.
During his time in detention, no charges were brought, and the authorities even acknowledged that he is not a suspect in any crimes.
Even his eventual release this week was under severe restrictions:
Under administrative orders, Ettinger will not be allowed to enter the regions of Judea and Samaria for a whole year and will also be forbidden from entering Jerusalem for six months. He will be under house arrest every night for the next three months and has been given a list of 92 people with whom he is not allowed to have contact. (YNet News).
This does look like systematic harassment by the authorities of a young man who may have undesirable political opinions (depending where you are on the political spectrum) - but has apparently committed no crimes.
Sounds more like the Soviet Union or North Korea, than the thriving democratic State of Israel.
Shame on the Shabak and the misused Justice System.
Friday, 27 May 2016
This week I googled "flights to Frankfurt" and suddenly I am getting adverts popping up on unrelated websites and communications, about flights, hotels, hire cars etc in Frankfurt.
This blog rarely gets theological, so let's try it out.
One of the challenges for God fearing Jews is to endeavour to comprehend the scope and scale of God.
It seems frankly incredible that God is on the one hand the Creator of the World, and yet knows all about and even controls our lives (the only thing we apparently control is our own "fear of Heaven": "everything is the hands of Heaven, except fear of Heaven"), for the billions of people on earth, and even the workings of an ant.
Indeed this is the crux of the Theism vs Deism dispute, a hot topic in the 17th and 18th Centuries, promoted in the writings of Voltaire.
Voltaire held that God is the Creator of the world, and set natural law in motion, but is not involved in the days to day running of our affairs. Voltaire used the analogy of God being like a watchmaker, who engineers and creates the watch, which then runs without further intervention by the watchmaker. Newton referred to God as "the primordial architect".
It appears to me that recent advances in technology can lend insight into God's ability to not "just" create the world and the laws of nature, but also to know so much about so many people, and to influence everyone's actions.
Edward Snowdon's leaks about the National Security Agency have given the world a glimpse of the US Government's monitoring capabilities.
Eavesdropping on national leaders, such as Angela Merkel and Benjamin Netenhayu, is the headline stuff. The narrative is that the NSA can (and probably is) monitoring everyone who is linked-up to 21st Century communications. In the days of the internet and smart phone, every click by every person can or is being monitored.
To understand how God can be aware of the day to day activities of billions of humans, is getting less challenging. Just imagine God as a super-NSA.
But whereas this helps understand the scale and scope of Gods awareness of the activities of His creations, it does not help understand His influence/control of everything (aside from our "fear of Heaven").
Now let's turn to Google.
Like the NSA, Google has vast 'knowledge' of my communications, habits, interests, activities, friends, business...indeed, every aspect of my life. And yours.
Google has turned this NSA-scale knowledge into a business.
The business model is based on selling advertising, promoting services and products.
Advertisers want to sell to people who want to buy. That's why Google's algorithms picked up on my interest in flying to Frankfurt, and linked that up with their google-ads (which reach far further than Google's own sites, and are embedded in many other internet sites), to show me services and products about Frankfurt (unsolicited).
But advertisers, even more than selling to people who already want to buy their product (a flight ticket to Frankfurt), also want to influence potential customers to buy their product when they previously planned to do something else.
Knowledge + access links up to buying-influence.
"You are interested in flying to Frankfurt, David, perhaps I can interest you in our down-town Frankfurt Hotel? Or a rental car? Or another trip, perhaps to Paris?"
However, such Influencing does not yet become controlling. I can still decide not to let the influence make my decision for me. "Sorry, robot, I'll find my own hotel in Frankfurt (using, umm, Google), and I have no plans to go to Paris, so forget it, robot.".
It's a short step to a robot responding, "I really think you should reconsider going to Paris. After all, your mother Ann Morris from Harrogate, has just googled "holiday in Paris", and is currently writing you an gmail to suggest you come too."
The capability is there. Some code writer in Menlo Park, just needs to do it.
So, consider God as a super-Google, combining vast & current knowledge about each and every one of us, fully networked, with an ability to influence our day to day decisions.
God has also, apparently, chosen to influence us, even in a 'controlling' way, but not to fully control us, enabling us to exercise our own judgement and retaining our ability to say No Thanks.
(I hope Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google will take note).
Thursday, 19 May 2016
Here are some of the latest photos, with a 'focus' on portraits.
|Hold Hands for the Ride!|
|Tamar plays with the sunhat, mid-ride|
|Three Delicious Granddaughters - Shulamit, Netta and Tamar Gilad|
|Shulamit gets comfortable on Ariel's shoulders during a tiyul|
|Sibs on a Hay-Stack|
|The "artist" - spotlighted in a shaft of sunshine at Beit Guvrin Caves|
Sunday, 15 May 2016
This is a particularly sharp satire.
Sweden, the hosts of last night's Eurovision are perhaps the most extreme case of left wing liberalism, resulting in a moral blindness on the Middle East & Israel, best exemplified by their foot-in-mouth Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
Abbu, being a play on Abba, Sweden's greatest Eurovision and pop-music success ever.
The four severed heads are those of that famous four Abba members.
The song references the Muslim mass-migration/invasion of Europe, encouraged by Sweden, the terrorist murders in the Paris Hyper-Kascher food market and Islamic homophobia.
And a catchy tune to boot. (Better IMHO than most of the real Eurovision songs).