Sunday, December 28, 2014

Israel's 2015 Knesset Elections -- Our Own House of Cards Moment

It is way too early to hazard a guess as to which party will be asked to lead the next Israeli government.

Right now, though, Israelis are experiencing a House of Cards moment.

What I can't figure out is who our Frank Underwood or Francis Urquhart is. I wonder if we should, perhaps, be thinking along the lines of a Claire Underwood or Elizabeth Urquhart.

Just as the marriage of convenience between Avigdor Lieberman and Benjamin Netanyahu shattered and Lieberman positioned his Yisrael Beiteinu Party as a potential coalition partner to the ideologically malleable Labor Party (starring former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni as... herself) police began arresting or interrogating one top official of Yisrael Beiteinu after another.

More than a dozen party pols and hangers-on have been questioned (some arrested) by police as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation.

No one who follows Israeli politics imagines that Lieberman is a paragon of ethical behavior.

Still, were one suspicious, one might say someone waited until Lieberman was no longer of any use to them politically before allowing police investigators to go public with their suspicions of wrong doing – graft, nepotism, and patronage that crosses the line into breach of trust – even in Israeli political culture. 

You might say that, but I could not possibly comment.

It's worth recalling that Netanyahu held Lieberman's foreign ministry portfolio open while the Yisrael Beiteinu chief was enduring the long culmination of an even longer investigation into charges of corruption. 

But that was when Yisrael Beiteinu and Likud were talking about a formal merger.

Now, public money often winds up serving political or parochial interests in Israel. That's because the political system is broken and is hyper-pluralistic.

Whenever a politician or party is targeted in a corruption probe the natural questions arise: why now? And, cui bono?  

Quite justifiably, Lieberman is asking just that: how is it possible that when it comes to my party there are never elections without police investigations?

Lieberman had purportedly been making plans to jettison several principled politicians who lent his party a less sectarian (read Russian) and more hawkish tone – Yair Shamir, Uzi Landau, and Shlomo Aharonovitch.

Some of Yisrael Beiteinu's base will dig in their heels in the conviction that "Russians" are being picked on by the entrenched Israeli establishment. Other voters will take a pox on your house attitude and move on to Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu Party, I imagine.

Meantime, Israel's tendentious press – led by the anti-Netanyahu tabloid Yediot Aharanot and Channel 2 -- is trying to connect Netanyahu to the Lieberman scandal. Barking up a wrong tree, there; but part of their unrelenting efforts to channel votes away from Netanyahu toward anybody but him.

Bottom line: there are no heroes, no princes, no shinning lights in Israeli electoral politics.

We have a fundamentally broken political system. No constituency representation. No individual accountability to voters. A low threshold to all fringe parties a disproportionate influence.

No politicians stands out as deserving of support – though some are less bad than others.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Primer on Israeli Politics: What You Ought to Know About Israeli Knesset Elections 2014 Even if it Makes You Sad

When are new Israeli Elections Scheduled?
Snap elections are scheduled for March 17.

Is it too early to predict who will form the next government?
Yes. But if elections were held today, I'd wager the "Labor Party" would form the next government. All Israeli governments since 1948 have been cobbled together. No party has ever won a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

Why put Labor Party in quotation marks?
Because it is running with the Tzipi Livni Party on a unified list. And political economy are not big on their agenda.

What happened to Benjamin Netanyahu's popularity?
Good question. All the polls showed him leading Labor Party Leader Isaac Herzog by a considerable point spread. But his popularity has lately been sliding. Suddenly, voters seem to be suffering from Bibi- fatigue.

Any reasons in particular?
Well, he's been in office since 2009. Netanyahu has a track record of being unable to keep the people near him loyal.  His biggest political rivals are people who once were close to him including Avigdor Lieberman to Naftali Bennett.
He's not a guy who generates loyalty and he's always ready to stab a follower in the back.

What else?
He's been inept in managing the cabinet – look at what happened during the summer 2014 Gaza War. An embarrassment of anarchy.
He's been especially bad at managing the relationship with the White House.

But what can Netanyahu have done? Barack Obama is predisposed against Israel.
True. True. In the sense that he has no particular empathy for the Zionist cause.
But for Obama it became personal because Netanyahu is so close to Sheldon Adelson and Adelson was a mega contributor to Mitt Romney. What's more, Netanyahu sent Ron Dermer to be his U.S. ambassador and Dermer was seen to be especially anti-Obama and pro-Romney. 

It's not a good idea to get in a spat with a president already predisposed to siding with the Arabs.

How does this impact on U.S. policy?
The U.S. might not use its veto in the Security Council to protect Israel in a very important vote that could happen any month now…
The Palestinian Arabs (Fatah and Hamas) want the EU and the U.S. at the UN to set a date for when Israel must pull back to the 1949 Armistice Lines … to end what they call the "occupation."
In other words, the Arabs get too have the first installment on Yasser Arafat's phased-plan for Israel's destruction without even having to bargain for it; handed to them on a silver platter. 
I'm not suggesting Romney would not have done the same at the UN – only that by showing open contempt for Obama, Netanyahu didn't help matters. If the U.S. turns against us in the Security Council, we're in trouble. Big trouble.

Ah, but Netanyahu is strong on security…
Oh, Gimme a break! Netanyahu is responsible for the Shalit prisoner exchange. The worst security mistake Israel made on the Palestinian front since Oslo in 1993…

But that's what Israelis wanted….
Yes. But the prime minister is supposed to lead the country. He led from behind.

Anyway, so what?
So the Oct. 2011 exchange  of 1,027 terrorists with blood on their hands was a tipping point. The following year Arab attacks in Judea and Samaria went from 320 to 578.
Attacks in Jerusalem increased significantly to 282 in 2012 from 191 in 2011.
Since Arab "non-violent" protests often involve the throwing of Molotov cocktails and stones the security situation deteriorated. Enemy gangs also used explosives and firearms more than they had in the recent past.
Hamas began intensifying its bombardment of Israel from Gaza and readying tunnels for new kidnappings of soldiers and civilians.
Netanyahu's Operation Pillar of Fire in November 2012 proved inconclusive. 

But the terrorists all signed forms promising not to engage in terrorism
Ahah. Nevertheless, many of the released terrorists some of them operating out of Turkey resumed their old roles or are mentoring  the current generation of Palestinian gunmen. 

2012 wasn't terrible...but 2013 was particularly violent: IDF soldiers killed; civilians attacked.

The third intifada was underway even before we realized it  – albeit on a low-flame.

Then in June 2014 Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel, were kidnapped and murdered by a gang with Hamas connections.  

The barbaric retaliatory murder by a group of Jewish low-lifes of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair, who lived in a northern Jerusalem suburb, located near the Jerusalem light rail, added fuel to an already volatile situation.

Next, Netanyahu allowed the summer war in Gaza to drag on for 50 days and the neither-here-neither-there outcome further undermined Israeli deterrence.

So much for Netanyahu's security credentials. 

But the cabinet of 2011 voted for the Shalit deal
True. All but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Uzi Landau, and then-Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon

A leader sometimes has to make concessions...
Fine. But get something in return. When Netanyahu throws in the towel he does so in a way that still leaves us appearing intransigent and we get no points for our troubles. This was true on the settlement-building moratorium and on the 74 prisoners Israel released to "help Abu Mazen" return to the negotiating table.

Yeah, but look at how Netanyahu handled the Iranian nuclear threat.
Exactly, I rest my case.
To be fair, that threat was the responsibility of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert more than Netanyahu. They dropped the ball. But all Bibi's bluffing didn't help Israeli deterrence and it antagonized Obama further. Did anyone really expect the U.S. to go to war with Iran?

So hope rests with Tzipi Livni and Herzog?
Let me be delicate. Livni is a vacillating politician branded by her husband, PR executive Naftali Spitzer. She's way out of her depth.
Herzog like Livni can ride on his pedigree. But he redirected Labor back to the sour, dishonest position on settlements and returned to that fusty mantra that Mahmoud Abbas is a viable peace partner. Shelly Yachimovich had tried to de-emphasize all such nonsense when she led the party but got the boot.  Now, under one roof you've got Herzog, Amir Peretz, and Livni. They might  throw in Shaul Mofaz who let himself be outsmarted by Netanyahu and bears an understandable grudge.

Ah, so Israel's hopes rest with the Orthodox parties…
Yeah, right. The Jewish Home Party, formerly the National Religious Party is a mish mash of interests and rightist factions. Not clear today they'll hold together. Part of the party has made a fetish of defending the settling of hilltops in Judea and Samaria -- making a mockery of centralized Zionist authority.

The party's position on church and state can be deemed enlightened only when transposed against the positions of the ultra-Orthodox haredi parties. There's no Family Court in Israel. It's all controlled by the religious courts. 

Party leader Bennett fancies himself a military genius and clashed with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon during the Gaza war. His main strength: he's got very good English and is a plain talker on security issues.

You're not a fan of the Agudah and Shas ultra-Orthodox parties either…
I favor a separation of State and Synagogue. I respect the haredi parties for advocating for their constituencies. But I oppose the insularity they espouse, and their Tammany Hall style, as unhealthy for the Jewish body politic.

OK. So that leaves Yair Lapid
I always felt Lapid was a flash in the pan and I still do. Israelis always look for "third parties" to save them. And they're invariably disappointed. So what do they do? They await yet another third party…

Lapid talks out of both sides of his mouth on security. He's a suave TV personality and highly accessible tabloid writer. But he was a fool to allow himself to be saddled with Treasury by Netanyahu. Not clear what he is for except being against the haredim.

What, or who, does that leave you with?
Not much.
So by a process of elimination—if Moshe Kahlon (the ex-Likud minister), Lieberman, and Lapid manage to form a unified bloc, I'll hold my nose and maybe go with them – feeling I have little choice. There is time until March to re-think whether Netanyahu is, in the last and final analysis, the lesser of all bad choices.

Any forecast at this early stage?
If I had to predict an outcome today—though the situation is fluid – I'd wager Herzog and his lot will form the next government.
And that the next leader of Likud – if Netanyahu loses big -- will be Moshe Feiglin. He's a man of honor. But alas, his goals are theocratic.
In other words, Likud will become the tea party; "Labor" the Republican establishment. I say that because even Labor will quickly become despised by the Europeans and Obama when they balk at making suicidal and unilateral concessions to the Palestinians…which I'd like to think Herzog and Livni would do when push comes to shove.

Why is the Netanyahu camp so angry at Lieberman?
Both men have few principles. Liebermann is willing to enter a government with just about anybody…he'd go with Labor if the price is right.

All this sounds so dispiriting...

Yep. The only way to begin to set things right is to reform the political system – I'm talking constitutional and electoral reform. And I'm not holding my breath.... 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Violence in Jerusalem - Some Snap Judgements About Causes and Enablers

In Armon Hanatziv, a few blocks from where I live, and where my Conservative synagogue is located in "occupied east Jerusalem," dozens of Palestinian Arabs have blocked one of the roads. They've stoned a municipal bus and are hurling rocks, firebombs, and firecracker clusters at the police.
Anti-Zionists and local Arabs call Armon Hanatziv a "settlement neighborhood" because it is beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.

Of course, to the Arabs any place Jews live is a "settlement" and all Jews are "settlers."

Our "original sin" is coming back to Eretz Israel.

Interestingly, the Arabs of metro-Jerusalem and specifically those of Jabel Mukaber in southeast Jerusalem which abuts Armon Hanatziv have no compunctions about reaping the benefits of the "occupation."

The parents of the stone throwers get a stipend from the Israeli government until they are 18 – just for being born. Their families get full national health insurance.

Their neighborhoods are neglected relative to the Jewish neighborhood because the Arabs refuse to vote in municipal elections – they could if they wanted to—so they have no say over how the budget is allocated.

Fortunately for them, the current mayor especially is interested in providing service to the Arab sector and has built schools and community centers to serve the Arabs of Jerusalem. Not enough but still noteworthy.

Now, it is said that the majority of the Arabs of Jerusalem and Israel in general want to live in peace and that the violence is the work of rabble-rousers.

I'd like to believe that.

But the young rabble-rousers, and the older Jerusalem Arabs who use their autos to run over passengers waiting at light rail stations, and the Arabs like Udai & Ghassan Abu Jamal of Jabel Mukaber who enter synagogues with butchery in their hearts..

And the Arabs of the Triangle in the Galilee that have taken to rioting…

And the Arab Knesset members who incite against this country

They are creating an atmosphere of fear. Yes, I know that's what they want.

The animated cartoons now going viral in Arab social media – some in Hebrew so we get the message – that celebrate this fear and warn is that every Arab is a potential "shahid" are having their intended effect.

And that in the long run ain't good for the Arabs or for the Jews.

You would think that looking around and seeing the upheaval in Syria, and in the former Lebanon (Hezbollah-stan), in Iraq, Sinai, North Africa, Hamas-occupied Gaza, and elsewhere that the Palestinian Arabs (those who are Jerusalem residents, those who are citizens of this country, and even those in Judea and Samaria who are under our "occupation") would be counting their blessings that the Jews are their biggest worry.

But the virus that is sweeping through Ebola-like the Muslim and Arab world has infected (or, more accurately, re- infected) the Arabs of Palestine.

Arabs work side by side with Jews in Jerusalem. Arab doctors serve Jewish patients and Jewish nurses treat Arab patients.

Now, with a sick new intensity, the mobilized Arab polity is putting this modes vivendi at risk like never before.

The top story on Israel Radio's 1 pm broadcast this afternoon is about Israeli leaders led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denouncing a decision by the mayor of Ashkelon to bar Arab workers from construction projects inside the city's kindergartens for fear the Arab workers might want to hurt the children.

Netanyahu said there was no place for such a policy in Israel.

The mayor, Itamar Shimoni, ordered the municipality's 40 kindergartens close to construction sites where Arabs work to have armed guards.

Shimoni said his only concern is the safety of the children. Given that attacking Jewish soft targets is being encouraged in Arab media and social media, I can't say that his fears are unfounded.

Can you?

The commissioner for equal opportunity employment, Tziyona Koenig, told the mayor his steps are probably illegal and has instructed him to desist. If he doesn't he could find himself in court.

And the head of the Ashkelon Parent's Committee Avivit Simani called the policy  a "populist ploy."

Maybe it is. I don't know.

This and that cabinet minister — including the most right wing minister in the government-- have attacked the mayor for a "racist" and "immoral" and "illegal" decision.

I think we should tune in again in a month or so before judging the mayor.

If the latest installment of the 100 year Arab uprising against a Jewish presence anywhere in Palestine takes off, my hunch is more and more Arabs will find themselves out of work.

The Palestinian Arab capacity not to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity is unblemished.

Every decision as a polity they have made in favor of belligerency and intransigence and violence has left them worse off.

It will take time, but we Israelis will figure out how to limit the damage of the latest "intifada" just like we dealt with every intifada for the past 100 years of our Long War.

Yes the world is more against us than ever.

The Europeans are treating Israel the way they treated the Jews of Europe. Israel is the "Jew" of countries.

The Europeans weep crocodile tears when Jews are slaughtered at prayer. And in the next breath ask: "But why do you build 'settlements' in Jerusalem that rile the Arabs? Why do you do such job discrimination like that Ashkelon mayor? Why do you visit the Temple Mount when you know this riles the Arabs? Why…'"

No one disputes the right of the Jews to defend themselves… in theory.
In practice, anything they do do is considered illegal under international law.
And a twisted hard-hearted international law is applied disproportionately (a word the Euros like) to the Jews of Israel.

Let me wrap up with some snap judgments about how we got to where we are: I trace the current upsurge in Arab violence in large part to the following factors:

1.   Foremost: The release by Netanyahu of 1,027 hardened terrorists in the Gilad Shalit deal of October 2011. Making this catastrophic decision even worse -- his subsequent three-part release of more Palestinian terrorists to entice Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table – at the behest of the Obama administration.
2.   Relentless Arab incitement – in the total absence of countervailing messages – against Israel (an Israel within any boundaries) by Muslim clergy, in PLO and Hamas-controlled media, and in Arab social media. The message is that Jews are not human. They are interlopers. Their presence in the Land of Israel is an insult to Islam.
3.   The war within Islam that is sweeping the Middle East. It is also carrying off the Palestinian Arabs.
4.   The conspiratorial mindset and tendency toward tyranny so terribly rampant in Arab politics. The latest example, an Arab bus driver (who works for the Jewish Egged company) hangs himself and the Palestinians are certain that the Jews killed him. Never mind that a group of pathologists including Palestinians signed off that it was a suicide.
5.  Exercising rights & ignoring wisdom. In the environment I just described, Jewish messianic twits bent on rebuilding the Temple Version 3.0 have been ostentatiously tripping up to the Temple Mount playing into Arab conspiracy theories.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Understand What The New York Times Calls a 'Leaderless' Palestinian Arab Revolt

Two catalysts appear to be driving the latest "leaderless" Palestinian uprising against Israel. 

First, popular fears among Palestinian Arabs that Israeli authorities will permit Jews to pray on the Temple Mount or Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem's Old City. 

Second, say Israeli authorities, are relentless messages in official Palestinian media outlets supervised by Mahmoud Abbas calling for the destruction of Israel.

Add to the mix calls by senior Fatah figures (Abbas is the head of Fatah) like Marwan Barghouti for a return to "armed resistance" and the differences between Fatah and Hamas evaporate. 

Convinced Muslim shrines are in imminent danger individual Palestinians like 18-year-old Sawsan Abu Hashieh have heeded calls to defend the Muslim holy place. On Monday he stabbed and killed an off-duty soldier near a busy Tel Aviv train station. Hashieh's Facebook page showed him holding a sign that read: "We are people who love death while our enemies love life," the New York Times reported.

Some history. Israel's then defense minister Moshe Dayan ceded day-to-day oversight of the mount, where Sunni Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven in 632, to Islamic religious authorities days after capturing the compound from Jordan in the 1967 war. 

In victory magnanimity and all that. 

Successive Israeli governments have maintained a policy prohibiting Jewish worship on the mount— though allowing tourists to visit— so as not to inflame Muslim sensibilities, as Shmuel Rosner explains in the Times.

The Palestinian street has taken to heart the desires of a small group of Jewish fanatics and messianics who want to construct a third temple at the site where the two temples of Bible times once stood.

The Palestinian media has played up the "threat" whipping up the street into the current violent frenzy.

Warning that Israelis would face a "devastating religious war" Abbas told a memorial rally in memory of Yasser Arafat that he will not permit the Jews to "contaminate" the mount, according to the Times. "Keep the settlers and the extremists away from al-Aksa and our holy places." He went on to say that "No one will accept that Jerusalem is the capital of anything but the state of Palestine," according to the Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reiterated that he does not intend to change the status quo and accused Abbas of purposefully "inflaming" the situation, according to the New York Times.

Israeli experts maintain that steady drumbeating by Palestinian leaders and Muslim clergy that Jews are an alien presence in the Middle East helps stoke the violence, The Jerusalem Post reported. 

Arab social media is also feeding the uprising with songs and cartoons calling on Palestinians to use vehicles to "Run Over the Settler," according to the Times. Official Palestinian media inculcates the idea that all Israelis are settlers and all of Palestine is occupied.

I don't want to suggest that Netanyahu handled the increasing messianic traffic to the Mount well. 

The job of messianic fanatics is to create apocalyptic conflict. They believe God will intercede, save the Jews from the wrath of 1.6 billion Muslims allowing them to get down to animal sacrifice. 

Abbas and other Arab leaders are using the ravings of the Jewish fanatics as a pretext. By inflaming the situation they hope to get the U.S. to agree to a Security Council resolution that would give Israel a deadline for a withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice Lines.

Given that John Kerry thinks peace was at hand "and then poof" some Israeli added a toilet to his apartment in "occupied east Jerusalem" and given that a senior U.S. official close to Obama thinks Netanyahu is a chickenshit - the prospect of a U.S. betrayal of Israel at the UN can't be ruled out.

The Arabs can almost smell Washington's capitulation. They see Obama capitulating to Teheran on Iranian nuclear weapons and say: "What about us?"

Once the Palestinians force Israel back to the old armistice lines (what is euphemistically termed the 1967 boundaries) finishing Israel off will be the next step. 

What's Israel gonna do when "Palestine" in adjoining Israel by inches mortars Ben-Gurion Airport while Hamas in Gaza launches rockets and Hezbollah in Lebanon unleashes formerly Syrian missiles? 

What's Israel gonna do? Drop an atom bomb?

More likely it will come under EU and US pressure not to react disproportionately.  

This scenario is precisely what Arafat had in his diabolical mind when he spoke of the destruction of Israel is phases. It's what the 1993 Oslo Accords were supposed to have delivered (from the Arab viewpoint) before Hamas mucked things up with their suicide bombing campaign in the Yitzhak Rabin years.
So here we are.

Israeli authorities have been struggling to come up with an answer to the seemingly random violence which has taken six Israeli lives in the last month. 

"Someone gets up in the morning, goes out of the mosque at noon, and says, 'Today I will kill some Israelis' – no organization behind it, he doesn't have to prepare himself, he can take the knife from his kitchen," said Yaakov Amidror, an Israeli security analyst. "There is no stage where intelligence can intervene and stop it," the Times reported.

As for deterrence: The terrorists may "love" death but they don't want their families to be homeless.

Netanyahu has procrastinated -- he should have ordered the attorney general to cut through the red tape and deliver swift house demolitions for the families of the terrorists.

He should never have allowed the prisoner releases. 

Ever since the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and the release of 1,027 terrorists with blood on their hands (are there any other kind?) the enemy has been emboldened. 

Netanyahu could have at least refused more prisoner releases intended to entice Abbas to the negotiating table. But he didn't because he was under heavy pressure from President Barack Obama.

Prisoners are released at the end of a conflict (in appropriate cases) not during it.

Back to deterrence. What to do now?

Netanyahu could reimpose the security checkpoints removed up and down Judea and Samaria to appease the EU and the Obama administration.

Netanyahu could stop payments to the Palestinian Authority. 

He could end cooperation with the PA. 

Netanyahu could forbid Palestinians from working in Israel. 

If Hamas in Gaza acts up he could genuine blockade the Strip -- not provide electricity, medicine, and building materials.

He could invite any Israeli Arab who wants to renounce their citizenship to please do so. That opens up lots of possibilities.

He could hold Jerusalem and Israeli Arab parents financially responsible for the violence their underage young people commit.

He could put some of the most troublesome Jewish fanatics under house arrest.

At that's just for starters.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Third Intifada Myth

It's very easy to get fixated on the events of the day.

They sweep over us and overwhelm our senses. Rocks. Car terror. 

The Palestinian Arab Supreme Monitoring Committee has declared a one-day strike against the Jewish sector of Israel. No school. No shops.

These are Arab citizens of Israel we're talking about. But their leaders despise Israel no less than the Palestinian Arab leaders of Gaza and Judea and Samaria (the west bank).

The troubles in Kafr Kana (in the general vicinity of Haifa) set off the latest crisis. It began Friday into Saturday when police shot Kheir a-Din Hamdan who had attacked their cruiser van while it was on routine duty in Kafr Kana.

Hamdan tried to break the windows of the van and to stab the cops. He had a knife. It was dark. It was late. But there were Israelis to threaten and kill.

Maybe the cops could have shot him in the feet rather than in the upper part of his body since when they got out of the cruiser Hamdan began backing away. 

In response to Hamdan's demise the local Arabs rioted. Maybe because they feel Hamdan has a right to stab Jewish police. Or because, anyway, he didn't what's the big deal?

The Arabs say that if Hamdan had been a Jew the police would have allowed him to stab them. Yeah. Right. I invite any Jew (particularlyAmerican and European) to test that theory -- if they believe it.

“The police executed Hamdan in cold blood, without having any reason," is what the leaders of the Arabs sector in Israel are saying.

Up and down Israel – including here in Jerusalem – the Arabs are rioting. They have 100 reasons to riot.  1000 reasons. 

Certainly Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah thugs have encouraged it. And Hamas has encouraged it. In fact, no Arab voice has discouraged it.

Think about that: No Arab voice has discouraged it violence.

Not all Arabs, of course are rioting. Most went to work. Most could not go to school. 

So there is an unquestionable sense of tension all over. The Arabs are mobilized and feeling frustrated: They Jews just won't go away.

"Our" "Israeli" Arabs are impacted by the militancy and irrational nuttiness sweeping the "neighborhood." 

They are susceptible to conspiracy theories even on the best of days.  

They are convinced that the Jews will rebuild their Temple and dislocate them from the Temple Mount – which is the 3rd holiest place in Islam.

I'm glad to see more Israeli leaders and holy men including one of the Orthodox chief rabbis urging Jews not to visit the Temple mount for now. 

The status quo was that Jews could visit the Mount but not pray there because it "offends" the Arabs. 

Lately some messianic Jews craving Temple Version 3.0 want to have another go. They don't care if it inflames 1.6 billion Muslims. They hear God's voice telling them it doesn't matter.

Our messianics have little support among the general population, or among the Orthodox population, and have zero support from the Israeli authorities. 

But they hear God's voice. Or they listen to rabbis who hear it. Whatever.

But their ravings play into the hands of the Arab fanatics. I guess fanatics feed off each other.

Meanwhile, having nothing to do with the Temple Mount the Arabs in Syria, the Arabs in Iraq, the Arabs in north Africa, the Arabs in Lebanon, the Muslims just about everywhere are aggrieved and killing each other. 

In Pakistan. In Somalia. In Afghanistan.  

None of that will go away even if God forbid the Palestinian Arabs manage to get rid of Israel -- or if old ayotallah Ali Khamenei's wet dream comes true and the Jewish state is nuked...

The Muslims still will not stop the war of civilizations. The war of civilizations that manifests mostly within Islam itself.

So it is not clever for Jews to unite them against Israel by making an issue of the Temple Mount at a time when the entire Islamic civilization is already awash in fanaticism and blood-letting.

Here's the bottom line: There is no 3rd intifada.

And truth be told there was no second or first intifada.

It's one big long intifada.

The Muslim Arabs opposed Israel's existence since the beginning of the Zionist enterprise.  Before there were "settlements" and the "occupation."
It's just one long continuing intifada with interruptions for Hudnas and double-dealings and tactical arrangements like Oslo in 1993.

Islam in its 21st century incarnation is not a civilization that believes in getting along with other civilizations; in live and let live.

Whatever the particular issue or crisis or cause of any given day — the fundamental problem for the Muslim Arabs is that they reject the idea of sharing any part of the vast Middle East with non-Muslims. 

And, increasingly, they are unwilling to share any part of Europe with non Muslims either. Hence the plot against the Queen in Londonstan.

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