Beyond the Cusp

November 1, 2015

The Family that is Israel

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Friday was a special day as we had family come and visit us making the long trek from southern Israel almost to the northern border where the train tracks end and go no further. We had a slow lunch enjoying good company and pleasant conversation enabled by somewhat relaxed service as the place was crowded and the kitchen was probably a place of ordered confusion. But the leisurely service mostly passed notice as we were lost in conversation with my cousin playing the role of translator since she is fluent in a number of languages, or at least in Hebrew and English, which was all that was required. We also took a strolling paced walk to the shuk and they got some fruits and such for their Shabbat and then had to make the trip home so as to arrive before sunset. This visit made me all the more aware of family and the warmth and closeness one can feel when in their company. There is a serenity mixed with enthusiasm and excitement making for a cacophony of emotions which blend making even diametric opposite coexist in a smooth and yielding blend satisfying the soul. This completeness felt from the all too short, as such pleasantries are always too short, time we were enjoying being together also leaves a lingering warmth and joy that makes one aware of other such relations some of which opens one’s eyes to things which otherwise are missed or simply taken for granted.


The next Morning, Shabbat morning, I started my trip, a short walk for most but a strenuous traversal which requires a few rest stops at spots now memorized as suitable, to attend services at the synagogue where my Torah Shiur Rabbi presides and leads the Shabbat service after the initial prayers have been chanted and leading to and performing the reading of the Torah and Haftorah. As my wanderings take me past a few other synagogues and there are other worshippers whose paths cross, we often wish one another a polite, and oft friendly, “Shabbat Shalom” and almost always dotted with a warm smile and a brightened countenance from the exchange. But this was but my initial realization that my view may have changed and become brighter, more optimistic and hopeful. The realization and recognition of this transition came upon my arrival slightly before services were to start as I require that I leave some extra time just in case my strolling pace is less efficient than normal, not to imply my walking speed approaches normal. This cemented the realization that in Israel we really are a family just as Torah teaches.


The Synagogue I attend may be graced with a Rabbi who speaks both Hebrew and English but for the large part the congregation speaks only Hebrew. Still, despite our language differences the other congregants treat me with warmth and friendship which came home more today as I was sensitized to see and realize the acceptance which has greeted me honestly from the first service I did partake of a Shabbat morning services there. This got me to thinking and realizing the many people who have become like friends at the various stores where we shop. In every store there are those who have taken the initiative to befriend us and make our lives so much easier and, better yet, warmer. Without these friends our lives would be more difficult, not impossible, but more difficult and far more cold. The difficulty would be overcome with technology, cellphone translation software and the fact that money honestly makes people desire to understand you and for more so in a town with mostly smaller family run stores. But even technology has its limits and life would be far less enjoyable without these wonderful people. Yes, there have been exceptions but even some, if not most, of these more difficult people have come around with time and their realization that we have made Aliyah and truly are here to stay. These people have become our extended family. These people we meet in our weekly ritual of shopping are but one family but there are others.


There have been developed groups within the Anglo communities which provide social, religious and study groups which add much to enrich the lives of us from the Anglosphere who have made Aliyah to our little corner of Israel. There are Torah study groups, social events around the Jewish holidays, expeditions to the near countless historic and religious sites which exist throughout Israel and other events which are simply for entertainment such as game nights. Much of this is possible as there are a fair number of Anglos who are retired or work via telecommuting thus giving them the time to shift work around events. But the reality is that despite many of us coming from many completely different backgrounds, completely disparate locations both within the separate nations as well as around the globe as the tentacles of the British Empire reaches into the farthest corners of the planet. The camaraderie is unlike anything I have ever experienced even in other Jewish communities. Probably the closest to the trust, cooperation, acceptance and mutual respect I have found in Israel was the camaraderie in my infantry platoon in the military and even there it was not as universal nor was it as close as the feelings and friendships I have found here. The mutual relations amongst our Anglo community are, as one might expect, made all the more obvious by the brightening of each other’s faces when we run into one another in unexpected meetings during our daily travels. The same bright eyed and extra bounce in their step is evident with those who have befriended my wife and I in the locations where we stop and despite the claim that most Israelis do not know how to treat people, customers, the many people we have met have gone to great extents to provide any and all assistance we have ever needed. But it goes further as even when we run into a problem in a store while shopping and there is no one we know to assist, often out of the blue a customer steps up, often a stranger and other times somebody we barely know, such as somebody we have interacted with during other completely unconnected matters, will step forward and take as long as required to make sure that every and anything required has been done to take care of whatever the problem or requirement you needed. Sometimes this even has the effect of the store or wherever you are, going the extra step and finding what it is you requested even after initially believing they had none in stock, a very surprising but not actually all that unusual case, just was not the reputation of the particular instance we recently experienced.


The ultimate test of a society is how they react when a person appears distressed, especially somebody they do not know and likely may not have even ever crossed paths. Suffering, as I do from a disability which often limits my ability to walk distances which are embarrassingly short on my worst days that I often end up sitting on low walls or the benches at bus stops and around town, of which there are numerous as this is a resort location, and I am usually breathing rather hard and sweat rather profusely partially from physical exertion and additionally likely due to the cocktail mix of medications physicians assure us are required for our betterment as they will place our blood tests and other medical tests within their preferred ranges. Needless to say, I make quite a site at times when I am out and around and more often than I may be completely comfortable though I am very appreciative and would probably be more ill at ease if things were the opposite and everybody just passed a person in distress by without any concerns sufficient to stop and offer to help. These good citizens will even seek the assist from another to work as a translator just to make sure you are not in need of medical or other assistance. This would have been a real rarity before I made Aliyah as my limitations are far from something new and I had sufficient opportunities to test the situation before reaching Israel.


Many of you are probably wondering if I have lost my mind or is there something towards which I am working and you would be correct. As many of us have been reading here there has been a steadily increasing levels of violence with stabbings, vehicular assaults, rock attacks, Temple Mount rioting replete with assaults on the police and some shootings as well. Further, there have been calls from Hamas for Arabs to start using poison on their knives as well as to start utilizing homicidal suicide bombings. The idea behind the terror assaults, the rocket attacks and every other form of attacks against Israeli citizens and the IDF are intended to accomplish two things, first to chase the Jews out and destroy Israel or second to murder every Jews thus destroying Israel. There is absolutely no desire to actually form an Arab nation called Palestine unless it replaces Israel after which Fatah and Hamas allied with Islamic Jihad will fight to see who gets to rule on their state founded on the corpses of the six-million plus Jews living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Interestingly enough it often appears that the Europeans and the United States State Department and others from all over the globe, as indicated when the General Assembly voted to accord an Arab state of Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations with one-hundred-thirty-eight in favor and nine against which were Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States and with forty-one nations abstaining. One-hundred-thirty-eight nations decided to recognize an Arab state which has refused to accept any offer for a state from the initial offer in 1948 to have the lands divided evenly between Israel and an Arab state, and again including a series of times during the last weeks of the Clinton Administration while President Willian Jefferson Clinton worked with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offering over ninety percent of Judea and Samaria with the remainder covered through land swaps as well as all of Eastern Jerusalem including all of the Old City and the Temple Mount even to include the Western Wall and the plaza before it where Jews currently pray as close as possible to the location of the Holy First and Second Temples on the Temple Mount. Then there was the nineteen years when the lands were occupied by Jordan in Judea and Samaria and Egypt in Gaza when there was no desires, claims, votes at the United Nations or calls about occupation over the presence of Jordan and Egypt in the lands now being recognized by the United Nations as an independent nation with overwhelming accordance.


The reason which will stop the aims of Fatah, PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PLO plus additionally Iran and the Islamic State who have also expressed their desire to destroy the Jewish State of Israel, or the Zionist Entity if one listens to their propaganda, is this family feelings between the majority of Israelis and particularly within the religious Zionist community which has been and continues to gain new adherents every day. Even in Israel there are those in the political classes who are attempting to take whatever they can to prevent the eventual surge in the religious Zionist camp from coming to the forefront and take control of the Knesset and the office of Prime Minister. What has been holding these groups back have been efforts to subvert their rising power in the right wing parties, a conflict here in Israel which might come close to the same resurgence in the United States of religious right in the Republican Party. It is just with the political zoo of parties in Israel such subversion is sometimes accomplished by some being driven by the old party power structures while others are lost through the foolish rivalries within this community which in too many cases are due to differences too insignificant for many to even understand. But politics are the same across the world and often make little sense to the average person but apparently are humongous in the political realms. Politics aside, in the real world within Israel, as best as I have been able to discern, there is an attitude which bodes well for the future and the taking on the challenges no matter what the world might try to throw our way. It took close to two-thousand years for the Jewish People to return to our ancient homeland making Israel the first nation to return into existence from exile twice (thrice if the four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt) and one of the few peoples to keep their original language and genetic integrity while in such an extended existence spread over as many differing nations as was the case of the Jewish People. This was extremely well worded in a recent article we read where it was simply stated,


“Israel, rooted in the Jewish people as an Abrahamic people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal religion, the first of the Abrahamic religions. In a word, the Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language – Hebrew – and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel, as it did 3,500 years ago.”


The central congealing, central, and treasured truth which held these numerous communities was Torah. Torah cemented our history. Torah preserved our language (even if many of us have yet to remaster our ancient language, the language from where the first two letters, Aleph and Bet gave the English language the word ‘alphabet’). Torah retained our laws. Torah safeguarded our covenant with Hashem reminding us of our special responsibility to work the lands of Eretz Yisroel. Torah gave us hope during the darkest hours. Torah also challenged us through the ages to be better people despite the events which were often collapsing around us. Torah taught us the importance of reading and study. And Torah steeled us to remember our roots in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Exodus with Moses and the entirety of our history and some of the wisest and most sagely rules and advice on life, relations and virtually any situation we might encounter in life. It was the Ten Commandments and the rules establishing moral codes establishing the basis for Judeo-Christian society and the teachings of Psalms and Proverbs which filled out the basis for conscience and morality when most of the world still worshipped idols sacrificing children and others before great stone edifices.



Ten Commandments Arranged in Hebrew Reading from Right to Left with English Translations Underneath the Hebrew

Ten Commandments
Arranged in Hebrew
Reading from Right to Left
with English Translations
Underneath the Hebrew


Much of the basis for a just society was everything opposed by the Nazis as evidenced in this song sung by the Hitler Youth;

“We are the joyous Hitler youth
We do not need any Christian virtue
Our leader is our savior
The Pope and Rabbi shall be gone
We want to be pagans once again.”

That about says it all and many in the Arab Palestinian leadership and the leaders in Iran and other Arab and Muslim nations, terror groups, Islamic religious organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the anti-Semites, anti-Israel and anti-Zionists such as the leaders and members of the Islamic State all share an admiration for Hitler’s and the Nazis’ stand on exterminating the Jews with a special note for perhaps one of the main influences to inculcate these thoughts and concepts into Islamic and especially Arab Palestinian thought was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Hussein, the man who mentored Yasser Arafat and had a great deal of influence on Mahmoud Abbas who all dream of causing another Shoah, another Holocaust while a number which includes some of the Iranian leaders, other Arab and Muslim leaders both political and religious, as well as some like Mahmoud Abbas whose doctoral thesis revolved around a version of Holocaust denial. A few final thoughts which need telling, the Arab Palestinians are being fed lies about their state being denied them by the Jews in Israel as it is their leadership which will only accept replacing a destroyed Israel and placing their nation on the corpses of six-million plus Jews and the people, especially those being forced to remain in refugee camps are all being denied basic human rights by the Arabs who refuse to assist their brethren as they would hurt and impose hardship on generation after generation in the hope these refugees descendants will be permitted to flood Israel and vote their subjugation of all the Israeli Jews when they elect the leader who will surrender the lands to the Arab Palestinian state ending any two state solution making all the land between the Jordan River and the Sea one Arab nation and the Jews in Israel stand ready to enforce their idea which is summed up in a single concept, “Never Again!” As we actually are a family whose tree dates back to Abraham and Sarah over four thousand years ago, and yes such things matter and they matter to our family greatly.


Beyond the Cusp


July 1, 2015

When Our Traditions All Fall and Fail Us

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Shared traditions and agreement on common goals are the glue which holds societies together. Without these familiar items as the glue there is no need to fear threats from without as the society eventually will tear itself apart from the inside. You want a current example of such a society all one need do is look to the Middle East and pick a nation which is crumbling and intertwined in a destructive civil conflict and you have your example. Syria is all too obvious as Bashir al-Assad had a view of his Alawite minority should be defended by the Druze militias acting as his personal army and all the aid he needed from Iran in arms and even soldiers as things began to go wrong. Bashir al-Assad’s father held the nation together with the glue of fear of his wrath while the son is nowhere near the fearsome leader imbuing strength and competence like his father and before one knew it he was challenged and failed. When an iron fist and the fear of it visiting your little corner of the world is all your nation has holding it together, then you better be ready to use it and use it without mercy or else you are doomed. Such nations are destined to fail from the outset as sooner or later one falls victim to the el-Duce syndrome where the people revolt against your leadership as soon as your power comes into question even if it was your alliance with one megalomaniac that collapses and the next thing you know you are strung up in the town square for a week or so. When the Soviet Union began its surprisingly rapid crumbling from the inside, a friend asked if this was real and if it was, what would be the sign to look for that would signal it was irreversible. As for if it was real, let us say I was as in shock as the next person. As for the sign signaling this truly was the end, that was the easy part so that is what I tackled using that to hedge my answer on belief. I simply told him that I would believe this was the end when Nicolae Ceaușescu fell in Rumania, and sure enough he was the last of the leaders to fall and he fell almost as hard as the European Axis leaders at the end of World War II. The other modern day examples of such failures are Saddam Hussein’s Iraq where the three main societies within have each gone their own way whether by choice, the Kurds in the north, by default, the Shia who hold the power of the governance now, and those who lost outright, the Sunni who are now caught between two enslavers, the Shia government of Iraq and the murderous hordes that are ISIS and they have nowhere to turn as neither the Kurds nor the Shia have any love left for them as they were seen as the cruel oppressors who benefitted from Saddam Hussein’s rule and are now collecting the payment for his sins. Libya is the final example where without a strong leader or the perception of such the entire society reverted back to tribal divisions and will remain each tribe to themselves against the other tribes forming and breaking alliances as it fits them without any possibility of reinstituting a central government which has reach more than twelve blocks in any direction from central Tripoli. There are even those who blame the collapse of the Roman Empire on their failure to incorporate Roman culture, rules and societal structures on those they had conquered at the fringes of their empire which eventually led to the downfall which is a concept with a share of its validity.


If such failure of the Roman Empire came from the fraying at its edges of the application of a singular set of societal norms, then we are today witnessing the death throes of the United States as their common heritage and societal norms are currently under assault in the courts where laws are being fortified in defiance of the traditional culture ripping things apart in such a manner as to make the separate, even disparate, parts of the society unglued from each other which may lead to the collapse of that society. The latest and possibly second most destructive tear just was handed down by the Supreme Court with their universal acceptance of same-sex marriage as the law of the land. The real culprit which will eventually topple the United States and potentially all of Western society is multiculturalism which stands that one must honor all others and their customs and no universal set of shared standards can be allowed to stand unassailable by the many and varied lesser cultures within the society. There was a time not that long ago where gun ownership was near universal in the United States and now in most of the major cities gun ownership is not only shunned but illegal which has led to rampant crime as now the criminals do not need a firearm to make them equal to any victim they choose as all they need is two other fellow miscreants to forcibly take anybody’s money by force of numbers, though there are those who prefer not sharing who simply use a weapon, not even necessarily a gun. Then there are those cultures which are forced into remission and made to hide their identity or to regress into enclaves where their numbers provide protection. The day is coming and coming rapidly to the United States shores and is awash over Europe which is pushing the Jews out of society despite the Jews having mostly adopted what was sold to them as the societal norms. The Jews have been consistently seen to be on the leading edge of every trend which came along and was considered enlightened. They were among those marching for civil rights for blacks in the fifties and sixties and have remained supporters of equality of the races through to the current times. They have been at the forefront of the march for gay acceptance and even same-sex marriage. Now that the Jews are the ones being shunned from the college campuses, and trust that which enthralls the masses in the colleges today will be the mainstays of the society ten to twenty years hence; there are already signs that there is sufficient an undercurrent in American subcultures which already hold anti-Semitic feelings which are now slowly emerging from what many would claim were the same centers from which Jew hatreds grew in Europe in the rise of the Nazis. One of the things people seem to forget was the rise of the Nazis had two epicenters and the college campuses were just as important if not more so than the reemergence amongst the rest of the areas blamed for this resurgence of Jew hatred as the ideological leaders more often came from the ivory halls of academia which was also one of the first places that the Jews were banned, from either attending or teaching in the universities. How much longer before such purges strike Western nations’ colleges and universities. It already happens on many campuses for a period every year during the heights of Israel Apartheid Week or during pro-Palestinian celebrations which have started to resemble the pogroms of Russia and the Inquisitions and other cleansings in Europe where the Jews were singled out for exclusion from the society often simply by their being expelled with only the possessions they had packed in a suitcase or two readied ahead of the pitchforks and angry mobs wielding them and other times by simply removing them permanently often burning them at the stake and other methods the crown would demand during their frenzied assault on the other, the Jew.


When that befalls western culture once again it will have started in the exact same place but with a slightly different target, the unfitness of the unborn. The undertaking has traditionally been referred to as Eugenics Movement. The idea of eugenics reaches back at least as far as Plato who called for the formation of a guardian race of selective breeding of those who were of superior mind and body, the mating of the cream of humanity to produce a master race. Sound familiar? Francis Galton, the half-cousin Charles Darwin, had taken his relative’s work on evolution and the survival of the fittest and applied it to be used within the human populations to breed the perfect human being and for the removal of those who were inferior. He coined the word Eugenics and eventually it became a course of study in the universities leading to a movement started around a core of its most ardent and adamant proponents and the rest is history. What is less well known is that the forefront of the Eugenics movement formed in the United States and its acceptance was so universal that it was from the United States that the most strident proponents of eugenics emerged. Such names at the front in founding the eugenics movement in their day and up to today are the poet Carl Sandburg, the aviator Charles Lindbergh, the mother of Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger, the Perfect Human Society and an interesting proponent in current times, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel who was instrumental in the drafting of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare. People might be shocked to be informed that Planned Parenthood has not always been the equal provider of alternatives for those who either desire preventive methods to avoid pregnancies or alternatives to carrying, their terms to birth of the child, a fetal mass to its conclusive child bearing as it would cause the mother undue mental stresses and interfere directly with their pursuits in life, it originally was used to sterilize those seen as unfit to have children thus forcing a eugenics program which was, as it is today, centered in minority neighborhoods. Providing you desire to seek the reality that is Planned Parenthood all one need to do is to research Margaret Sanger and her relationship with what we would today refer to as black genocide, it is not a pretty picture. There comes now another eugenics styled movement and this time the target will be traditions, the very traditions which were the glue of Western culture and society for the last two millennia.


The scissors that cut the pages into confetti will be forged by multiculturalism where no culture is to be preferred because we are blinding ourselves to such observations and the axe which will sever the binding making the job of the scissors even easier will be the axe taken to the Judeo-Christian culture and in particular to cut the binding of that book which professes that there are such things as good and evil, there is such a concept as right and wrong, that a life lived with proper restraints is life to be pursued, the book that once graced nearly every house and every hotel room across the United States and now a book scorned as old, out of fashion and obsolete, but the Bible is that book which we could learn where our new follies will lead, they will lead to the same place they have always led, ruination and the destruction of all that made the Western World strong. Choosing to lose ourselves in a culture of any culture of the moment is the culture we desire to raise up, but we cannot raise up debauchery and the damnation of human life as equal to the pursuit of a good life spent rejoicing in the gift that life provides and not seeking some manner of faith which demands of us surrender or die, such is a choice without a choice. We need return to our former ideals which permit those whose cultures differ to continue such practice in their private times and spaces such as their homes and houses of worship, but also we demanded they accept our cultural rules when in public. The Western culture allowed for certain irregularities such as special religious clothing being worn in public and even providing areas for prayer permitting such did not interfere with the performance of one’s job and was committed off the clock and on the individual’s own time as the whole cannot be forced to pay them for their private time spent praying and not producing things of mutual gain as that is what working at a job is, producing things for mutual gains, a cooperative effort and a central pillar of our traditional society.


Schools were a place where we learned about our mutual culture and were able to master those basic tenets which supported the society, and where we learned how to think and not so much exactly what to think though guidelines were imposed and what was out of bounds was ingrained. We even learned to cooperate through sports where we also learned the easy joys of winning and even more importantly how to cope with losing and thus with failure. The best amongst us learned that failure was not the end but rather a stop where we reassessed our priorities and assumptions making changes where we found things in error or lacking altogether and then proceeded on towards our ultimate goal. Further we learned, were we that fortunate, lucky even, that failures come in the thousands and that success comes only to those willing to fail and fail repeatedly and learning from each failure where we diverted from our goals and how to get back on track. Are there ideas whose failure is guaranteed and where one can never fully achieve the goal? Yes. We can never make a machine which is 100% efficient as in all things there is that degree of wasted effort, effort which does not contribute to the completion and realization of the goal. In a machine that goal is the product such as a generator making electricity; we use water, steam, explosive fuels all to drive the generator to make electricity but there are losses to friction and pushing the generator against the resistive magnetic forces induced in the coils which does not directly produce the electricity but which must be overcome. The same is true in life. Sleep is something our bodies must submit to or we will eventually collapse and possibly die. Still, it is sometimes in our dreams that the spark bursts forth solving some vexing problem which assists the project to completion. Such is an exception and even that spark was not the only dream we enjoyed or endured, and there were the periods of sleep which were used as a dedicated means of repairing and preparing the body for the next day. Another item which obviously diverts us from achieving goals but may be necessary in order to reach our goals are the failures along the way. Lessor peoples will allow failures to prevent them from trying and just surrender to their failures. That is not an intricate part of our society until recently when we found ways of rewarding those who become mired in failure.


Another casualty in our modern society is the loosening of the moral structure. In the lives of the vast majority of the population, and to a limited extent to all of the population not restricted to an asylum (do we even have asylums any longer to care for the elderly and the comatose?) as we all wear clothing though some wear far less than others; we all eat and sleep as nature insists on these; and we all live and let live because if large segments of the society, and it need not be more than ten to twenty percent of a society, take to being belligerent and resorting to murdering those who they fear or refuse to submit; then the society will fracture and it will soon become a free-for-all with every faction against the rest; see Libya, Syria or Iraq for current examples. What many do not realize is this is rapidly becoming the definition of Western culture. The society of the Western World has become unmoored and without an anchor with which to tie off and provide immovability, permanence and the Western World has rapidly been cranking the centerboard retrieving it from below the boat allowing the winds to blow us as they may while our ability to steer the boat has failed without the centerboard. That centerboard was western Judeo-Christian ethics and the anchor was the ideal of hard work will produce and provide for one and one’s family and charity would take care of the few who for reasons often beyond their control are unable to find a place within our society. We did not used to change our society such that everybody’s quirks or the beliefs of those coming to our shores being used as a cudgel with which to beat and force us to alter our religious and social structures which we have held dear fashioning our societal norms around and have worked just fine for us and is tried and true. Therein lies the current problem, we in the West have doubted our own culture while allowing another culture whose adherents have little doubt that it is superior to all the Western World has ever known and that the Western World must be cowed and beaten into submission, and that is termed our surrendering to Allah. Do not mistake Allah for the same as G0d in our Judeo-Christian society as Hashem does not demand surrender but instead reason, trust and faith. The easiest manner to present a difference is to look at the lineage of belief. In Judeo-Christian ethics the line of faith flows through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while Islam and Allah follow the lineage of belief through Abraham, Ishmael and Mohammad. Perhaps this is as good a place to stop before I get into deeper troubles and this is way more sufficient amount to chew of for one day. With any luck I’ll get into this stranger side of my reasoning after a decent period of rest. Thank you all for reading this far and may your life be blessed only with those failings which aid you in your journeys and make you a stronger and better you, even if others spend some time confused at what you are trying to say, and boy have I spent time on that bus.


Beyond the Cusp


May 31, 2015

Please Name With Whom Israel is to Negotiate?

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Israel is consistently demanded upon to negotiate an end to the occupation and allow for an Arab Palestinian nation to be defined with the borders to be established along the 1949 Armistice lines with mutually agreed upon exchanges of lands. The question is with whom should Israel negotiate? Mahmoud Abbas refuses to sit with any Israeli delegations approved by the governing coalition though he gladly meets with members of the opposition who hold little power or with anti-Israel and anti-Zionist Jewish NGOs mostly from the United States, Europe and some from within Israel who are mostly if not completely subsidized by European NGOs or even the European Union or individual European national governments. These sit downs often are held in Ramallah and with a large map of what Mahmoud Abbas demands are the actual borders of Palestine which depicts all of Israel including the beaches of Tel Aviv and Nahariya with not even the slimmest segment of Israel left standing. One might inquire as to how Mahmoud Abbas plans on determining the government for anything which results in becoming the Arab state. Will he finally hold elections which would appear to be a normal result of the forming of a new nation? But Abbas has refused to hold elections totally skipping the scheduled 2009 election cycle out of fears that he would be voted from office. He is now in the tenth year of a four year term, which many would probably claim is very telling as to his actual legitimate power. Abbas has declared himself, for all intents and purposes, President for life, and that might not be too much longer should he actually agree to borders and the founding of the state he claims to desire above life itself, which very well might be the price he could pay. Israel would not have anything to do with his sudden demise as there are those from within Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS and even his own Fatah Party, PLO and Palestinian Authority who would permanently remove him from office. It is interesting that Mahmoud Abbas holds those final three leading posts plus now signs documents as President of Palestine. The world has never known a man with so many titles who wields so little power and controls perhaps the few blocks of his fortified office complex. The one truism which should be made known, especially to the Europeans and United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry, is that Mahmoud Abbas is a man whose power ranges from the tip of his right hand to the tip of his left hand whenever he stands with his arms extended, and that is the largest area he can claim to control. Abbas is in no position to sign anything which would have any meaning ten minutes after it was signed, if it stood that long.


What makes matters even worse is that the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the other two main power brokers for the time being, have all abdicated their positions to Mahmoud Abbas officially despite retaining every ounce of control they held before the unification of the Arab Palestinian leadership. They claim they are still waiting for the promised elections, the elections which Abbas will never hold unless he has guarantees that he will retain his position whether deserved or not. Do not be too terribly surprised if President Obama with the backing of the European Union and European governments give Abbas a promise that he will be the only person permitted to run for President of any country if he would only reach an agreement and that write in votes will not be considered valid and still he would fear losing. Abbas, with good reason, has become a quivering mass of righteous paranoia which is fully justified after the executions carried out by Hamas at the end of Operation Protective Edge were largely actions utilized on without actual charges or trial simply going from arrest to execution with great efficiency ridding Gaza of numerous opponents and especially members of Fatah or other entities which might have loyalty to Abbas. Mahmoud Abbas got another dose of reality when a diplomatic team was dispatched to Gaza with the intended assignment to gather the name of the Hamas employees who had yet to be included on the paymaster’s roles and thus had not been receiving their paychecks and were less than thrilled over this situation but the team felt so under threat that they cut short their five day assignment after less than twenty-four hours and they never took a step out of their highly guarded hotel suite except to beat a hasty retreat to Ramallah without getting a single name of those Hamas employees. This might seem senseless that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would prevent the Arab Palestinian Authority to garner the names of their own people so they could be included on the payrolls and receive their wages but the reality is Hamas and Islamic Jihad are pushing for the Arab Palestinian Authority to collapse so they can pick up the pieces and be able to force the Europeans to deal through them and thus remove them from any terrorist roles and grant them political power and acceptance as the new chiefs for Israel to reach compromises and eventually reach a peace agreement. This would not be a huge step for most of Europe’s governments and political bodies and NGOs have, unofficially if not outright, removed Hamas from their terror roles and some even Islamic Jihad while the United Nations is set to recognize and legitimize the Palestinian Rights Center (PRC) which is a front group through which Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood operate and granting them full NGO status and all the legitimization which goes along with such. An extensive report on the PRC the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center released concludes that the group is closely affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood as well that several of its members are terrorists who have fled to Great Britain. Such recognition would confer “full access to UN facilities and participation in debates in New York, Geneva, and Vienna, and, perhaps most significantly, global legitimacy,” as well as all other benefits which are granted with being awarded “official UN badges.”


Before one starts to believe that things could not become even more bleak, there are a number of other developments which are peeking just over the horizon. Perhaps the more sinister and having the most dire long range ramifications is the threat to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Imagine a threat to Hamas and Islamic Jihad making the identical claim of being weak willed and not faithful or sufficiently devout in their manner and representation of Allah and having diverted from the true path. This challenge has been made by the only groups who might be believable when accusing Hamas and Islamic Jihad of temerity in purpose and inadequate devotion to the cause of Sharia and furthering Islam, ISIS. We have all likely seen reports which claim that ISIS has made inroads in the Sinai Peninsula and were taking control of much of the area closest to the Israeli border and ignored the fact that such positioning also brought ISIS close to the Egyptian border with Gaza and the heart of Hamas and Islamic Jihad power bases. This places ISIS in the perfect position to infiltrate Gaza in small numbers which would fairly soon become sufficient numbers to cause Hamas and Islamic Jihad great amounts of difficulty if not topple them both absorbing those who showed sufficient zeal for the ISIS cause while dispatching the leadership and others found wanting in spirit or purity mostly be depositing their bodies and heads separately. This might place Israel directly in the ISIS crosshairs or perhaps this would simply be the first stage to taking over the entirety of the Arab Palestinian cause and also making inroads to supplant the Arab Palestinian Authority including Mahmoud Abbas and also finding all of Fatah and PLO members to be wanting in their devotion and dedication to Sharia and Allah as these groups are nationalist secular or mildly Islamic and nowhere near the levels of self-proclaimed devotion and purity of spirit shown by ISIS, by their own proclamations, of course.


Such a turn of events would place Israel in a heavily compromised position, or that is what one would believe. What needs to remain in our consideration of the likelihood that ISIS would take control in Ramallah and replace Fatah, the PLO and the Arab Palestinian Authority are forgetting that the IDF and Shin-Bet operate an advanced and capable intelligence gathering network which was evident when preventing a Hamas coup through a general uprising such that in the confusion they could readily replace Mahmoud Abbas by whatever means were required and replacing the entirety of Fatah and the PLO from the upper echelons of the Arab Palestinian Authority. One could rightfully assume that any inroads made by ISIS would also cross the paths of the Israeli intelligence gathering infrastructure and their moves would be carefully monitored until the most critical moment and just before they struck their targets they would find themselves being welcomed to the Israel direct information gathering committee which operates from places unmentioned where discreet methods are employed to extract and glean any pertinent and necessary information which might have ramifications for Israel. ISIS taking the place of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza would not be in the better interests of Israel but there would appear to be little which could be done unless the Egyptians cared to assist in preventing such an event. The problem with this is that Egypt has just as much distaste for Hamas as it does ISIS and thus they may not care which evil takes its place in Gaza. All would come down to what the value of the people in Gaza had as far as Egypt is concerned. Where one might not see the connection immediately, allow us to give a hint on the one overriding reason which may give Egypt reason to act; there are numerous families who have Egyptian backgrounds and originated in Egypt and have large and numerous extended families who remain in Egypt and we all know how important clan ties can be, especially when members of one’s tribal group or even more severe, one’s relative from their clan faces an existential threat such as ISIS, the pressure placed on the government because of such ties could be overwhelming and Egyptian President Sisi may see the situation as an unavoidable necessity to intervene. The next question is whether President Sisi might request, through back channels and discreetly of course, for any assistance and intelligence Israel might desire to provide, especially to further the two nations’ unofficial relations and to have a card to play in the future. The truth is that it would be a dangerous development to have ISIS take a foothold anywhere in the region and their presence in the Sinai Peninsula must be unnerving for President Sisi and a concern for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Sometimes necessity makes for the strangest bedfellows and this is even more the case in the Middle East. Who would believe that Turkey and Saudi Arabia would be working together in Syria while at the same time as Saudi Arabia is working with Egypt in Yemen and Egypt with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States would be working with a silent partner in Israel against Iran who is working with Iraq, southern Iraq, Syria, less and less of Syria daily, and Hezballah in Lebanon as well as securing a naval port for the Russians with an assist likely to be provided by Hezballah. Iran will also need to protect as much of the Alawite areas as necessary which will require transferring some of the IRGC assisting against ISIS in Iraq and station them to fight ISIS in the areas Iran deems of military value, such as the roads from Damascus into the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon where Hezballah keeps many of its rockets stored.


Hezballah brings us to the final subject. This coming week, and even if this is a secret presently it will be fully evidenced as the week unfolds, Israel is running a full participation, country-wide defense in case of war scenario. This will include Israelis entering their shelters as if under rocket attack and every other contingency. The common prospect behind this according to some postulations is to ready the public for a potential conflict with Hamas and Islamic Jihad this summer. Close but no cigar. The real threat will be Hezballah who will need to make large points with the Lebanese after placing them in peril of attack by ISIS. The reasoning goes beyond just satiating the Lebanese hunger for another war with Israel as the last one proved to be so much fun, but Hezballah also will need to make headlines across the Western World which will supercede any news off of the front pages as Iran takes whatever steps are required in Syria to get Assad out and to solidify those areas which Iran considers vital for their desire which include an operative airport in Damascus through which to supply Hezballah, a safe port for the Russians to utilize in the Mediterranean Sea which is Latakia, Syria. And finally they also would desire to retain some of the natural resources such as mining operations and also have a staging area with direct access to the Golan Heights for wither Hezballah to utilize for an assault on Israel or for the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or Pasdaran Persian: سپاه پاسداران انقلاب اسلامی) to have a launch facility to strike Israel or even to assault the Golan Heights. This all means that Iran will require another Hezballah war with Israel to divert attentions from their actions, which will be ruthless and potentially cataclysmic as well as to divert attention from the Iranian dash to produce a number of nuclear warheads and the final preparations for their launch at select targets. Thus Iran will require approximately six to ten weeks of conflict. With the known supplies of rockets and a fair number of larger missiles provided by Iran, Hezballah would be capable of launching over a thousand rockets daily for the entire six weeks and approximately eight-hundred rockets launched daily for ten weeks. Should any higher quantity be required they would need to utilize any Syrian rockets remaining under Iranian control or for Iran to provide a fair number of additional rockets which is why Iran requires the Damascus airport as they are unable to resupply Hezballah through Beirut probably because the Bekaa Valley lies along the Syrian border and the Alawite areas, how convenient. This leaves one with a serious question, what will be the Israeli reaction to a war with Hezballah. As Hamas has also threatened a confrontation this summer with Israel, it is entirely plausible that Israel will desire to keep any confrontation from escalating and to decisively end the conflict leaving little doubt as to who won. Thus any confrontation between Israel and Hezballah will result in Israel striking hard and fast swallowing up the lands south of the Litany River and then sweeping up the eastern banks of the Litani River through the heart of the Bekaa Valley taking out the training grounds, provisions, reserves and bases Hezballah has throughout that region. Any violence from Hamas should also be responded to with great prejudice and force of arms with nothing held back. With the growing challenges and rising threats throughout the areas of the Middle East, Northern Africa and the Horn of Africa, it is starting to appear that the whole area has lost their minds, possibly the whole world even. Then there is the continuing threat with Russia menacingly eying the old regions of her power before the fall of the Soviet Union and China literally building new islands and placing oil rigs and military airbases and other facilities in the South China Sea in order to widen her area of control and claim islands which are also claimed by her neighbors but China is the eight-hundred pound gorilla who can basically do whatever she desires unless the United States takes a stand against her, and that is seeming less and less a possibility as the islands grow. Furthermore, most of Europe is also looking at civil unrest in the near future as the growing immigrant population feels stronger and denied an equal opportunity to get a job and live an equal life. Add that they also desire to start a religious war forcing their religion on those they views as a people who have forsaken religion. Then there is violence threatening to break out full force both on the United States college campuses during the anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic and anti-America demonstrations and potentially within many cities possibly escalating and spilling throughout the city, especially if the police are restrained and ill–equipped as was the case in Baltimore and has had continuing ramifications, especially in western Baltimore where the police have basically been chased from the streets. Similar situations are possible throughout the country, especially in the twelve largest cities. One would be hard pressed to find an area on the globe where there are no threats.


Even Kathmandu is still recovering from the series of earthquakes which struck there not that long ago. Will Shangri-La be next? Just because it is mythical might not except even Shangri-La from the ravages of societies gone mad. Maybe only the quiet places in our minds where we can concentrate on the peace and love in our hearts can the world be healed as we heal one soul at a time. But with the Churches, Synagogues, Temples and other religious houses all nearly empty even on the holiest of days, what hope will the world have against true and fanatical believers, especially those who cannot be tempted with baubles and glitter that shines at us in every store window beckoning us to worship consumerism. The hectic pace of modern life with so little time that one simply must collapse for those brief moments between the scheduled meeting, workout, night-school, and the children’s activities. Who has time for anything more? But unless we take the time to refresh our consciences and recharge our moral compasses society will continue spinning further and further out of control. What is it we seek with our frenetic paced lives; do we even know any more? Listen to the quiet little voice in the back recesses of your mind, it is still there, trust me. It will tell you secrets that you once knew but soon got squeezed from your life. I know the crippling schedule for those working two jobs, both full-time. The requirement that you take some time to recharge yourself does not disappear just because, it remains and eventually it will come screaming to the fore and demand you stop and take a deep breath. Sigh in from the mouth and let it out so slowly from the nostrils that you barely tickle the air. Again only deeper and with a more measured exhale. This is the easiest way to slow your pace and make you see reason. After you have done this at the end of each day or at lunch or whenever you can schedule your take a breath for sanity, then that voice can finally be heard and its message is simple, you know not every answer. Sure the news and science and everything you read tells how there is so little left that science does not know that is the lie told to make you forget. The little voice remembers and knows the bliss one can feel when we know that there is reason and value in life. Whatever manner of faith you are comfortable in, that is possibly just the recharging you need. It is just once or twice a week unless you desire more once you return and feel the encompassing warmth, love, acceptance, understanding and all those emotions and assurances which were missing in your life, there is a place where they can be found. We all want the world to be a better place but we seem lost in figuring out how. All each of us can do is our own part. Own, a strange word as it is in this case where it has so much meaning. There is our own part; the part assigned us even if that assignment comes from within us. There is the part in the world we own, we are responsible for and we get to structure it just how we desire others to know our part. Part from the business of life and take a moment with which we part from the fast paced caffeinated life and take a lemonade break on a hot day and you can part from the world and just enjoy the moment. We can take part in displaying that we have found the answer and then you can play the part which you know is what is really important. But the most important part is when you realize that the only real thing you can do to repair society and the world is make your little area, your part clean, warm and with its own sparkle and once you have done your part, then you can invite others to slow down and remember that they too can have a part in the world which they can be proud of and eventually the individual parts reach a point where they can change one small part of the world and from there who knows what they can part, maybe the Red Sea and again we can cross and be received. Just remember that the more we learn about the world the more we often realize how little we know, it is as if each answer spawns ten questions, and that’s what keeps scientists employed.


Beyond the Cusp


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