An Ounce of Prevention

I was happy to read this article in the Times of Israel site, which states that the IDF and Shin Bet have conducted a wave of arrests of Arabs suspected of violence in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria).

The arrests have helped decrease the incidents of stone throwing and are also a preventative measure before Ramadan, which starts soon. The Israeli army always gives thousands of extra permits to Arabs living in Judea and Samaria to travel to Jerusalem during Ramadan, and the fast and extra “religious fervor” of the month always gives rise to violence against Jews.

Hopefully these measures will keep the quiet, while permitting those Arabs that just want to celebrate their holiday and visit family the chance to do so.

Personally I am very glad we have a car now. Traveling by tremping (hitchiking in Israeli slang) is always a bit nerve-wracking when the bus stops are full of Arab men going home early from work – especially near our yishuvim in Yehuda and Shomron. During Ramadan it is that much worse.

Faster Please

There will be a new air defense system to compliment the Iron Dome that Israel has deployed against the kassam and Grad rockets fired from Gaza. This system, sometimes called Magic Wand, is supposed to be ready for deployment within two years, and was unveiled at the Paris Air Show rcently.

This system will be very much needed if Hizballah decides to start firing rockets at us from Lebanon. The craziness in Syria has its affect in the other countries surrounding Israel – as this interesting analysis of last night’s rocket fire from Gaza points out.

I’m Not Holding My Breath

The news that “moderate” (who decides who is a moderate, anyway?) cleric Rouhani has won the presidential election in Iran is a good sign, but I am not holding my breath waiting for him to shut down Iran’s nuclear plants. Call me a pessimist, but I think that the real power in that country is held by the Ayatollah, and whatever he decides goes. If he had wanted to stop Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb it would have been stopped already.

I am sure the IDF isn’t putting away their plans just yet either. There have been newspaper reports that Netanyahu is spending the major part of his time dealing with the security threat from Iran and from Syria, and letting others squabble over economic issues in the Knesset (which is as it should be, in my opinion).

Tzipi Hotobeli Tells It Like It Is

Tzipi Hotobeli tells it like it is here when she stated that the latest terrorist attacks prove that the Arabs don’t want peace. Last night a terrorist shot at two people near Wadi Kelt – thank G-d they weren’t hurt. This is in addition to the murder earlier this week of Evyatar Borovsky as he was standing at a bus stop.

The other Tzipi in the Knesset, Tzipi Livni, of course takes another tack and completely ignores reality, when she says she is optimistic after talking with Senator John Kerry about negotiations with the Palestinians.

The blah blah blah doesn’t mean anything, but the bigwigs need to have their photo ops. The reality on the ground is what is important.

Got Him!

The Israeli Air Force is on its toes as usual. Earlier this afternoon it downed a drone sent from the north of the coast of Haifa. The navy is now looking for the wreckage.

It is interesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu was in a helicopter on his way up north at the time of the sighting of the drone, and they landed until the drone was destroyed.

It seems that the IDF is very alert, given the craziness going on in Syria.

This Could Have Been My Family

Arabs threw rocks at cars and trucks last evening, and caused a serious accident, where a mother and her daughters were hurt seriously – the two year old baby is fighting for her life. This happened about a five minute drive from my house (and I had been in the area just a few hours before it happened).

Terror takes many forms. When the IDF and the Shabak (Israeli security services) have good information they can prevent the terrrorist attacks, especially suicide bombers and attempted kidnapping. When the terrorists see that they are not being successful, they send out their lesser troops – the stone throwers. The media doesn’t even report incidents of stone throwing (unless of course the IDF, while protecting its citizens, reacts “disproportionately” and then they report it far and wide) but make no mistake – rocks can kill.

The situation always gets worse when a big-wig comes to visit Israel from America. The terrorists need to make sure “they are on the map” in order to impress the VIP. A visit from the president of the United States is a ripe time for them to get active.

This is Getting Really Old

Yair Lapid has been playing games again, and now insists that if his party does not get the Education ministry they will either sit in the opposition or go to new elections. He has also retracted and now insists on a smaller number of ministers.

Danny Danon has pointed out that it will be dangerous for Netanyahu to give in to Lapid now – which will set a precedent for the rest of his government. I tend to agree with Danon. Lapid needs to be cut down to size a bit, or he will continually threaten the coalition. The man I am really angry with of course is Bennett. I really don’t understand what he thinks he is gaining by giving Lapid his loyalty – the only issue that Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi agree on is drafting the charedim. Bennett is making a mistake in the long term.

In any case, Netanyahu only has a few more days to pull together a government, or Peres will have to offer it to someone else. I really hope he calls Lapid’s bluff.

Putting the Money Where His Mouth Is

After about five weeks of yada-yada-yada, the inevitable happened – Yair Lapid compromised on most of what he had requested, and a new Israeli government is about to be officially started.

The man with the big mouth, who arrogantly claimed that he was going to usher in a new era of politics, did what all politicians must do – he had to compromise. I have nothing against compromise, I think it is a positive aspect of working with people with different views. This is why I bristled every time I heard Lapid open his mouth and make claims that he was somehow going to be above “politics as usual”.

Lapid compromised on the following: There will be 25 ministers instead of the 18 he had requested (with a law being put into affect that the NEXT government has to have no more than 18 – how lame is that?). The induction age of religious men will be 22 and not 18 as he had wanted – which means that those who want to learn for a while before doing army service will be able to. The numbers of complete military exemptions will rise from his request of 400 to 2000.

In addition Lapid will be taking the Finance Ministry, probably the least popular ministry of them all – which to me is exquisitely ironic. No matter how he tries – someone will be disappointed in him, because he won’t be able to give out financial goodies to everyone. He will now actually have to balance a budget. In other words, actually take responsibility, instead of playing “armchair politician”. It will be even worse for him than anyone else in the new government, precisely because he promised to be so “different”. A lot of people are going to be angry at him, since he raised their expectations so high. I can’t wait until I hear him sputter, “but you have to be realistic…..”

I am happy about the other ministries also. Moshe Yaalon will finally be defense minister – something that in my opinion should have happened four years ago. Bennet as Labor and Trade minister sounds like a good fit. Education is still up for grabs – but the two likely candidates are both good (either Gidon Saar of Likud or Rav Shai Peron of Yesh Atid).

I was hoping that Tzipi Hotobeli would receive something – but it looks unlikely at this point.

The Israeli Flag on the Moon?

There is a non-profit organization in Israel called SpaceIL that wants to launch a spacecraft and land it on the moon. Part of the motivation to do this is the challenge itself, and part of the motivation is to stimulate a love for science in Israeli kids. The scientific innovations that come from this kind of research are also valuable.

I am not sure how successful they will be in the end, but if they improve science learning in Israeli schools this will be a major achievement. Compared to what I remember from my school days in the US (I know, ancient history….) the study of science here is nothing short of dismal. Elementary school kids are hardly exposed to science, which should be a fascinating subjet for them. The high school matriculation does not require a science course, so most students don’t learn it. I find this mind boggling in a country where technological advances in both the army and the hi-tech industry are so important.

Third Iron Dome System Operational in Northern Israel

The IDF has set up the third Iron Dome battery in the northern part of Israel.  The other two were set up within the past few weeks. This is a sign that Israel expects rocket fire coming from the north – either from Hizbollah in Lebanon or from either Assad or the rebels in Syria – or perhaps even both.

This comes in a addition to the anouncement that President Obama will (finally) come to visit Israel next month. He is coming supposedly to further peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians (good luck with that….) but I think he will be speaking more about the problems in Iran and Syria.

The fact that Ahmadinejad is visiting Egypt now – the first time an Iranian leader has done this in three decades – is a warning sign too. For those of you not familiar with history, the sliver of land called Israel has been in the middle of wars between the ruling powers around Egypt in the southwest and Syria in the northeast for centuries. The players change frequently but the fight for supremacy is the same. The fact tha Iran has backed Assad in Syria has made it in conflict with Egypt – but perhaps now that there is a new ruler in Egypt Iran wants to warm up relations.

In any case the IDF is making preparations for the next round.

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