Weekend long read

At the Weekly Standard, Willy Stern has a long article about Israel, Hizballah and what the next conflict might look like.Weekend Read

“Hezbollah has a nasty collection of more than 130,000 rockets, missiles, and mortars aimed at Israel. This is a bigger arsenal than all NATO countries (except the United States) combined. Why, a reasonable person might wonder, does Hezbollah need an offensive arsenal bigger than that of all Western Europe?”

The same topic naturally came under discussion at the recent Annual Herzliya Conference and the address given by the IDF’s head of military intelligence was covered by the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel.

“Halevy put particular emphasis on the threat of Hezbollah in Lebanon, as Israel prepares to mark 10 years since the Second Lebanon War next month.

Hezbollah is believed to have an arsenal of more than 100,000 missiles and rockets, along with weapons systems “that they never had before,” Halevy said.

The intelligence chief wouldn’t say the next round of violence with the Iran-backed terror group would result in mass casualties among Israel’s civilian population, but came close.

“In the Yom Kippur War, we had one person killed on the home front from a Syrian missile. The situation in the next conflict will be completely different,” he said.”

Jonathan Spyer offers some sober reflections on the previous round of conflict between Israel and Hizballah.

“From the perspective of a decade later, however, much of the euphoria of Hizballah and the despair on parts of the Israeli side seem exaggerated.  The results of the war from an Israeli perspective in 2016 are mixed.

The border has indeed been quieter since 2006 than at any time since the late 1960s.  This fact in itself says more about Hizballah’s true assessment following the damage suffered in 2006 than any al-Akhbar editorial excitedly proclaiming divine victory.

And of course Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah himself told a Lebanese TV channel shortly after the war that had the movement known of the scale of the IDF response, Hizballah would have never have carried out the kidnappings which sparked the war.

At the same time, Resolution 1701, which was intended to keep the Shia Islamist movement north of the Litani has failed. Hizballah has built an extensive new infrastructure south of the river since 2006, under the noses of UNIFIL and often with the collusion of the Lebanese Armed Forces.  And Hizballah has vastly increased its rocket and missile capacity.”

At Fathom, Professor Richard Landes discusses anti-Zionism and the ‘global progressive Left’.

“At one point, a contributor to our panel on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement called that movement ‘anti-Semitic’. The panelist next to me almost jumped out of his skin. Apparently, he found that statement offensive. He was in the wrong room, among those with whom ‘good people’ do not speak.”

Read the whole article here

Weekend long read

On the occasion of the 100th birthday of Professor Bernard Lewis, Mosaic magazine carries an essay by Martin Kramer about the man and his work.Weekend Read

“As the year 1976 opened, the Middle East hardly seemed poised for a great transformation. The shah of Iran remained firmly seated on his peacock throne. Off in Iraqi exile, an elderly Iranian cleric named Ayatollah Khomeini nursed his grievances in obscurity. Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s confident president, had the country under his thumb; the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots languished in ineffectual opposition. In Saudi Arabia, a young man named Osama bin Laden finished his education in an elite high school, where he had worn a tie and blazer. Since the previous summer, Lebanon had been roiled by battles, according to Western reportage, between “leftists” and “rightists.” A key player there was the Palestine Liberation Organization under Yasir Arafat, darling of the international left and champion of a “democratic, secular state” in Palestine.

The role of Islam in politics? There wasn’t any to speak of.

Imagine, then, the surprise of the readers of Commentary magazine when the January issue landed in their mailboxes bearing these words on the bright yellow cover: “The Return of Islam.” The byline beneath that sensational headline did not belong to a roving journalist or a think-tank pundit but to Bernard Lewis, the eminent British historian of the Middle East, just recently transplanted to America. Thus did the West receive its very first warning that a new era was beginning in the Middle East—one that would produce a tide of revolution, assassination, and terrorism, conceived and executed explicitly in the name of Islam.”

At J-TV, Dr Qanta Ahmed talks about BDS and more with Dr Alan Mendoza.

Over at Tim Marshall’s website, Nehad Ismail brings some interesting impressions from his recent visit to Jerusalem.

“I had spoken to dozens of people, on average 5 or 6 a day. I spoke to street vendors, shop keepers, café owners, taxi drivers, academics, teachers, Beir Zeit university students, mothers, hotel receptionists, car salesmen, petrol station attendants, pancake makers, falafel fryers and even a medical doctor. […]

The most shocking revelation to me was most of the people I spoke to are not happy with the Ramallah administration of Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues.  Several people told me that the Palestinian Authority is corrupt and is run by merchants or business people not by nationalist statesmen.  In Arabic the words ‘merchant and businessman’ are interchangeable. They see Abbas as putting his family’s business interests above the national interests. They say he has compromised too much and has given too many concessions to Israel without getting anything tangible in return.”

At the Times of Israel, Avi Issacharoff has an interesting article titled “Deceiving Cairo and helping IS, Hamas sets Gaza on course for new troubles”.

“According to an abundance of Arab, Israeli and Palestinian sources, wounded members of Islamic State are still being brought into Gaza for medical treatment at almost the same rate as before the Hamas delegation’s visit to Cairo two months ago. Likewise, arms smuggling from the Gaza Strip to Sinai and vice versa continues, albeit at a reduced rate, supervised by members of Hamas’s military wing. Overall, in short, it is largely business as usual.” 

Yom HaZikaron

This evening the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism begins and Israel remembers and honours 23,447 casualties of war and terrorism.

The memorials erected to commemorate Sgt Avi Mizrahi and Captain Omri Tal are just a few hundred paces – and forty-six years – apart.


Sgt Avi (Avraham) Mizrahi from Jerusalem and Kibbutz Kfar Szold was on patrol near Nahal Meitzar in the south Golan Heights with the infantry squad he commanded on December 10th 1968 when he was killed during an encounter with terrorists. Aged 31 at the time of his death, Avi left his wife, son and one month-old daughter. He is buried in Kibbutz Kfar Szold in the Upper Galilee.


Captain Omri Tal, aged 22 from Yahud, was killed on July 31st 2014 during Operation Protective Edge. His armoured corps unit was in the Eshkol district near the border with the Gaza Strip when it was hit by Hamas mortar fire. Omri and four others were killed and sixteen soldiers were wounded in the attack. Survived by his parents and older brother, he is buried in Yahud. A recently established look-out point named in Omri’s memory overlooks the Sea of Galilee from the south Golan Heights.

May their memories be blessed.  

Yom HaShoah

יום הזכרון לשואה ולגבורה תשע”ו

“Even after they grow old in years and age…still they’ll be called the Tehran Children” – Natan Alterman.  

Like many Israeli children preparing for their Bar Mitzva, ours too researched family history for their ‘Roots’ project. Our eldest son’s project included childhood memories recounted by his grandmother’s elder brother Moshe.

Atlit camp

Atlit camp

“We were born in the town of Govorovo in Poland. When the Nazis invaded Poland, we ran away to stay with relatives who lived on the border with Russia. The Germans gave an order allowing passage of the border into Russia. Immediately they changed their minds and did not let us cross into Russia. As we were passing the Germans expelled us to the Russian side. We progressed to central Russia. My mother Bella was advised not to go deep into Russia because she wouldn’t be able to get out. We went down to White Russia. The Russians began rounding up people who did not have Russian ID and sent them to Siberia and Ural – us among them. At the same time the German attack on Russia began. After half a year in the Ural Mountains we were released and we travelled by train to Tashkent. In Samarkand we were gathered into groups. By way of Baku we travelled to Tehran for half a year. In Tehran a lot of the children died of typhoid and from lack of food. My sister Rachel was sick with typhoid in Tehran. From there we went out in a convoy with the British army and we arrived in Karachi and Bombay in India. We were given food there. From there we travelled to Alexandria and continued on a train via Gaza (where we scrambled for oranges) to Atlit. There was a reception there with chocolate and sweets. My sister and I were sent to a sanatorium in Haifa and later the children were sent to Kibbutzim and Moshavim. We arrived in Moshav Kfar Yehoshua. We were each taken in by a different family and we lived there for seven years until our parents came to fetch us…”

Moshe and Rachel – who was four years old when their long journey began in 1939 – are two of the 870 ‘Tehran Children’ who found refuge in Israel in 1943. Over two decades on since that ‘Roots’ project was completed, Savta Rachel now has two great-grandsons – and counting.  


BBC News changes headline on Hamas bus bomber claim

Two days after the April 18th terror attack on a bus in Jerusalem, the Sha’are Zedek Medical Center announced that one of the casualties evacuated to that hospital had died. Shortly after that announcement on the evening April 20th, Hamas issued a communication naming the dead man as the bomber and stating that he was one of its members.Abualouf tweet Jlem bus bomber

The BBC Gaza office’s Rushdi Abualouf noted the appearance of the Hamas announcement on Twitter and the next morning an article titled “Jerusalem bus blast: Hamas says member behind bombing” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

“The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas says one of its members was behind Monday’s bus bombing in Jerusalem.

Hamas issued a statement on Wednesday night following the death of a young Palestinian man who succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the attack.

Hamas and Palestinian officials named him as Abdul Hamid Abu Srour.”

The first three versions of that report inaccurately informed readers that:

“Israeli authorities have not yet confirmed whether they are treating the bombing – which injured another 20 people – as a terrorist attack.”

In fact, the Israeli police had confirmed that the explosion on the number 12 bus was a terror attack within hours of it having taken place.

The report also told BBC audiences that:

“The Palestinian health ministry identified him as Abdul Hamid Abu Srour, a 19-year-old from the Aida refugee camp outside Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.”

However, the Israeli Security Agency and the police stated that the terrorist actually lived in Beit Jala.

Some eight hours after the article’s original publication its headline was changed to read “Israel says Jerusalem bus bombing was Hamas suicide attack” and the Hamas announcement which was previously the report’s subject matter was curiously relegated to the third paragraph.follow up art bus bombing

“Israel says Monday’s bus bombing in Jerusalem, which wounded 20 people, was a suicide attack by a member of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

Police named the bomber as 19-year-old Abdul Hamid Abu Srour, from near Bethlehem, who died on Wednesday of the injuries he sustained in the attack.

Hamas has said Abu Srour was a member but has not claimed responsibility.”

Whilst technically that last sentence is accurate, BBC audiences were not provided with any analysis of the significance of Hamas’ chosen tactics – as explained by Avi Issacharoff:

“…the Hamas announcement that Abed al-Hamid Abu Srour, 19, from the al-Ayda refugee camp in the Bethlehem area, was “one of ours” fell short of a full claim of responsibility for the attack, which injured 20 other people. […]

None of the group’s senior officials rushed to proudly declare that Hamas was behind the attack, but it appears that every Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been made well aware via social media who is claiming credit, if not full responsibility. […]

The hesitant announcement by Hamas highlights the dilemma that has plagued its leadership since the attack took place three days ago: explicitly declare responsibility and glory in the ensuing credit but risk being dragged into a confrontation with Israel, or keep a safe distance away and try to cover up that the bomber was a member of the group.[…]

While there may not have been a direct command by the Hamas leadership to plant the bomb, the message being directed to Hamas operatives from the leadership in Gaza and abroad is clear: carry out as many attacks as possible, wherever you can, in order to perpetuate the “lone wolf intifada.””

Since the start last autumn of the surge in terror attacks, the BBC’s reporting has frequently failed to inform audiences of Hamas’ praise for attacks to which it was not necessarily connected, downplayed its involvement in others and under-reported its attempts to escalate the violence. That of course comes in addition to the long-standing absence of any serious BBC reporting on the topic of Hamas’ efforts to boost its profile in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem.

With its use of euphemistic language such as “the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas” and “Palestinian militants” this BBC report again fails to provide audiences with the information they need in order to be able to fully understand this particular “international issue”.

Related Articles:

BBC News reports Jerusalem bus bomb without using the word terror