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      From the Hills of Efraim
      by Yisrael Medad
      This blog will be informative, highlight foibles, will be assertively contentious and funny and wryly satirical.
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      Yisrael Medad is a revenant resident of Shiloh, in the Hills of Efrayim north of Jerusalem.  He arrived in Israel with his wife, Batya, in 1970 and lived in the renewing Jewish Quarter, eventually moving to Shiloh in 1981. 

      Currently the Menachem Begin Center's Information Resource Director, he has previously been director of Israel's Media Watch, a Knesset aide to three Members of Knesset and a lecturer in Zionist History.  He assists the Yesha Council in it's contacts with the Foreign Media in a volunteer capacity, is active on behalf of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount and is involved in various Jewish and Zionist activist causes.  He contributes a Hebrew-language media column to Besheva and publishes op-eds in the Jerusalem Post and other periodicals.

      He also blogs at MyRightWord in English and, in Hebrew, at The Right Word.

      Av 21, 5768, 8/22/2008

      One Small Victory


      A while ago, I received a phone call from someone who explained that he was speaking on behalf of my bank.  He was offering me an additional credit card.  I explained to him that I didn't need one.  He insisted that I did.

      I told him that I am not that rich, I don't have expensive tastes, try to keep within my financial framework of what comes in - goes out (not that I am that successful but, heck, this is Israel.  I once heard that there is really on 359 NIS real money in the country and that everything else is post-dated checks).

      He tried again.  "It comes in handy when you travel to Europe," he ventured.

      "But I," I responded, "rarely fly to Europe."

      "It doesn't cost you anything," he went on, "the first two (or whatever, can't remember now) years are free."

      I then attempted to outwit him on  a pure financial basis.  "Sir," I said, "banks are in the business of making money.  That's their right and I don't begrudge them (okay, the expensive fees they charge really tick me off).  There is no way this is free."

      "Sir," the young man continued, "perhaps ask your wife?"

      Well, as my wife is the daughter of a CPA and is gened with accountacy expertise (and if we only had two million dollars I would let her play around), I said "okay, call me back inthree days after I speak with her."

      He called back three days later.  "No," was my reply, "we will not avail ourselves of your offer."

      He tried but I put him off.  "No is our answer."

      Some three weeks later, our personal account manager calls from the bank (who-ha).  "Can I interest you in our special offer on an extra credit card?" she asks.

      "No," I said, a bit forcefully. "I don't need it.  I don't want it. No."

      On Wednesday this week, at 1:30 PM, I receive a phone call.  "This is _____ from Bank ____. We invite you to come in and pick up your credit card and that of your wife."

      I saw red.  "I told you no.  I didn't want them.  Do you want me to sue your back for attempted extortion, stealing money, acting against my best interests and otherwise not listening to me?" I said, raising my force as I went along.

      "But, but..." she attempted.  "No buts," I cut in.  "I want to speak to the bank manager," I demanded.

      Now, this is like asking to speak to one of God's angels.  "Can I pass you over to the department manager?" she tried.

      "Listen", I said, five short decibels before shouting would be a better description of my tone and volume.  "I want to talk to the highest paid employee of your bank who is now physically present at the bank."

      Forty-five seconds later, the deputy bank manager, as he introduced himself, came on.  He profusely apologized and then asked for the details.  I gave them to him and added that not only did I consider his employees to be negligent and semi-criminal in their behavior but, I added, I felt myself acting on behalf of probably many thousands of clients who don't know how to say "no" in the first place, don't know how to refuse when the bank forces something on them and even more important, feel so useless in the face of the bank's dominance.

      "If this is how your marketing has been operating," I pushed him to the wall, "then I am very angry at your irresponsibility.  You may be causing people financial straits.  I am really considering taking legal action."

      We went on for another five minutes, he apologized yet again.  I accepted his apology and urged him to review the practices in this second credit card operation.

      This morning, the phone rang.  The deputy branch manager was on the line.  He informed me that a staff meeting had taken place.  Decisions had been taken and I had made a contribution to the bettering of the bank's method in this operation.  He then handed the phone to the bank employee (as opposed to the first fellow who was, I guess, an employee of a telemarketing firm) who also apologized.

      And then, just before hanging up, she asked me to come in and review the possibility of investing in a monetary fund of theirs.

      I won.  But so did she.

      Nevertheless, I do feel good.

      One small victory for me, one small victory for bank clients.



      Av 16, 5768, 8/17/2008

      I'm Of Several Minds About Georgia


      Yes, Georgia is on my mind, to paraphrase the song.

      As I noted at my personal blog, the first lesson that Israel should be conscious of (not that Israeli politicians are conscious of much) is that the Americans do not come to the aid of small allies with any great alacrity (and we knew that already from our experience with Henry "let them bleed a little" Kissinger during the Yom Kippur War).  Yielding on strategic depth and topography is just inviting a future disaster.

      While there are some who presume that this latest Georgia crisis should teach Israel a lesson in that South Ossetia, etc. are parallel to Judea and Samaria and that Israel should pull out and ignore the historical dispute despite, perhaps, fully justified rights to be in the territory - otherwise, there will be a Russia-like Arab attack, they miss the point.

      In the first instance, Judea and Samaria only came into Israel's possession in 1967.  And they did so, along with the Golan, Sinai and Gaza, as a result of an Arab attempt to once again try to eradicate Israel, an Israel that at the time was not an "occupying power" and had not constructed so-called "illegal settlements" (no Jewish town anywhere in Eretz-Yisrael can be 'illegal').  Ibn other words, the Arabs and their allies do not need an excuse like the Georgia situation to attack Israel and kill its Jews.  They've done that since before 1920, at which time they refined their murderous attacks on private Jews and moved over to collective violence. It is Israel's continued presence in Judea/Samaria that can assure that no irredentist or local nationalist violence break out that could endanger or destabilize the local situation.

      It could be said that what the Hezbollah experimented with and is probably planning right now, and by that I mean a try to wrest the Galillee away from Israel, is akin to what Russia is doing with Georgia.  If the Arab citizens of the North achieve what they have been battling for, the next stage is the creation of a South Ossetia situation (an by the way, Ossetians are an Iranian people, shades of Shiites in Lebanon [see the introduction to this book to understand that]), what Hitler יש"ו did with the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia.  I hope, though, that there are some people who recall that at the end of World War II, over 2 million Sudeten Germans were transferred out of where they had been living and most of them were summarily expelled.  History does sometimes repeat itself.

      I could, too, point out that Russia is already "pulling a Georgia" on Israel.  And then again, there are interesting aspects of the Georgia-Russia conflict, such as the use of passports to justify military intervention, that I have noticed.  My neighbor here in Shiloh, Ariel Sera, told me in schule this morning that at least one good thing has come out of the crisis: effectively, there is no more Quartet. I wonder what Tony Blair will be doing now.

      So, since Israel has a stake in Georgia - its Jews, defense contracts, oil, etc., - and needs to learn the geo-strategic lesson, we have been given yet another chance to improve our global position.  And that does include our just need to be in Judea and Samaria.  We need to build on that and to convince our allies that the policies they have tried to force on Israel can only work not only to our detriment but to their's as well.



      Av 7, 5768, 8/8/2008

      Yes, Miki, No More Gestures


      This, on the one hand, is not an easy piece for any Jew to write.  It deals with grief, in Hebrew, "shkhol"  שכול, which is a very touchy topic in Israel.  But, on the other hand, the thoughts need to be aired, for the decision taken last month to enter into an exchange with Hezbollah was one that was parlayed by the media in open forums and therefore it has to be dealt with similarly now.

      Miki Goldwasser, who comes from a right-of-center Zionist background in South Africa, published an opinion piece over at Ynet, entitled "No more gestures" and I read this there:-

      "I hope that our own people will make it clear to our prime minister that we cannot make any more gestures. No more. We too want gestures. For example, we want negotiations on Gilad Shalit’s release to be accelerated. For example, we want Gilad to be handed over to the Egyptians. For example, we want Gilad to be granted the basic humanitarian right of Red Cross visits. Don’t we deserve it? We have made plenty of gestures already. Sick Gazans receive medical treatment in Israel, and Israeli doctors have been saving lives in Gaza without asking whose children they are saving. The children of Hamas men have also been treated. Yet somehow we do not get any gestures."

      Her son, as we all know, was returned from Lebanon in a coffin.  A massive PR campaign was launched to convince the political echelon and the public that Israel's government had to give in to the Hezbollah demands, and to do so unequivocally.  This, despite that no gestures were forthcoming - or even demanded (?) from the other side.  There were strong rumors and even some newspaper reports long ago that the two kidnapped soldiers were no longer alive.  As late as June we were informed by the press that the outlines of the prisoner swap being brokered with Hezbollah seem to indicate the correctness of Israel's assessment that Regev and Goldwasser are dead.

      Ronen Bergman of Yedioth even informed Karnit already last year that her husband was probably dead.  An investigative journalist and author of several books, Bergman had disclosed that based on his investigations and interviews held with relevant key figures in the affair he had come to the conclusion that one of the soldiers was dead. During a meeting with Karnit he told her about his conclusion, but she did not want to know  (Hebrew write up from last May here)

      And yet, no one thought to demand that Israel be provided proof of their existence before giving in to the demands conveyed by the German negotiator.  Karnit raised this issue and the demand for the Red Cross to visit her husband and his comrade last September at the UN. But, despite no concrete evidence, they pressed for the deal to go forward.  Miki Goldwasser demanded a prisoner swap with Hezbollah even if that meant releasing Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar. Goldwasser told Haaretz that she cannot imagine the government or cabinet not approving a deal. In other words, for them, "gestures" were okay and fine.

      And now they are not?

      Many on the nationalist wing of Zionism, religious and less-than-observant, as well as personalities on the Left, were quite clear in their opposition to the deal and the heavy price that we were to pay and did eventually pay.  But at the time, that was of lesser importance to the Regev and Goldwasser families.  And quite understandably so.

      Nevertheless, the opponents of the deal asked the families to help all Israelis and Jews draw the line.  No more deals until all was clear.  No more deals until everything was negotiated.  No more deals of live Arabs for dead Jews.  Their support, as families on the line, would be of paramount moral importance.

      But they didn't want to listen then.  And now they want us to draw the line on the back of the Schalit family?

      I agree that a line needs to be drawn and I think, if I had to be the one, I could tell the Schalit family so.  However, for the life of me, I can't understand how Miki Goldwasser could publish what she did.  Perhaps I don't understand.

      On the eve of Tisha B'Av when we demand of ourselves "ahavat chinam" - causeless love, to compensate for the "sin'at chinam" - the causeless hatred, that was at the root of the Temples' destructions, we need to understand that it is of that very "ahavat chinam" that we must draw the line in connection with deals, if at all, with terrorists.  Releasing live terrorists endangers all our lives when these murderers return to kill or psychologically spur others to kill.  What have they to lose?  It endangers all IDF soldiers who are now fair game for continued kidnappings.

      No more gestures?  For sure.  And now, I suggest Miki retire from the scene.  This last gesture of hers was, indeed, causeless.



      Av 2, 5768, 8/3/2008

      I Support the "Right of Return". Yes, I Do


      I know, all my critics from the "fall-off-the-right-end-of-the-political-spectrum" will think that Medad has really flipped out now.  Supporting the "right of return"? 

      How could I do that?  Have I turned my back on a basic ideological and legal position of all Israel's governments, both right and left?  Have I lost my head?

      Well, I declare: I am a humanitarian and, as such, I support the Arab demand for the “right of return” of Pal. refugees to their homes.

      Yes, for sure.  I’m all for the right of return of these Arabs 

                                                                                                                    

      and these Arabs, too

                                                                                                                   

      to go right back to Gaza, all 188 of them.

      We should facilitate their return to Gaza immediately (and charge them for medical fees and their hospital treatment also).

      Of course, we could fool around a bit and claim that they arrived on the newest Nefesh B'Nefesh aliyah program but methinks that would be pulling your collective leg too hard.

      =============================================

      UPDATE

      Gee, maybe someone in power really does read this blog:

      The Israel Defense Forces has begun returning the dozens of Fatah members who escaped from Gaza on Saturday back to the Strip, despite an earlier agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that the men would be transferred to the West Bank. Security sources told Ynet on Sunday that 32 of the residents were returned to Gaza by the early morning hours. The rest will be sent back later in the day or on Monday.

      That was quick.

      SECOND UPDATE

      And here come the radical left, progressive, humanistics:

      The Association for Civil Rights in Israel on Sunday petitioned the High Court of Justice to order the defense ministry to halt the deportation of Fatah members who fled the Gaza Strip over the weekend. Deputy Supreme Court President Eliezer Rivlin has ordered Defense Minister Ehud Barak to respond to the petition by Monday afternoon. "The matter of the petition, by its nature, cannot be deferred," wrote ACRI attorney Oded Feller in the petition. "Continuing [the process of] returning the asylum-seekers to Gaza is liable to endanger their lives, well-being and freedom."

      If it's so dangerous in Gaza for these Fatah terrorists, why can't a nationalist group petition the Court to invade the area, eliminate terror that kills us and doesn't contribute to the health of the Fatah either and for once and all, get rid of Hamas?  Wouldn't that be nice for an Israeli court to do?  Really help out Jews, Arabs and all of mankind?



      Tammuz 28, 5768, 7/31/2008

      We Will Pursue Our Justice


      The State Department's attitude towards Israel, and to be specific, its presence in Judea and Samaria is so wrongheaded.  At a daily press briefing last Tuesday at the Department of State, spokesperson McCormack, in one of his responses, said of the meeting between Secretary Rice and Israel's Defense Minister Barak

      I can tell you what the intent and the thinking behind the meeting was – is that – to talk about issues related to the Roadmap, Roadmap implementation...also talk about what the Palestinians need to do.

      Did you notice that: also talk about what the Palestinians need to do.

      I most certainly agree.  As was published, there is

      an American-led mission, based in Jerusalem, that is trying to build new security forces on the West Bank that will support stabilization efforts by the Palestinian Authority’s president...The importance of this effort cannot be overstated: unless there are effective Palestinian security forces, Israel will never trust in a Palestinian state or be able to act on the quiet progress being made toward reaching a final settlement...As became all too clear on my visit to Israel, however, this American-led effort is being crippled by decisions within the State Department. The small mission, called the office of the United States Security Coordinator and under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, is effectively locked into a building in Jerusalem. While it’s a military mission, the State Department and the consulate in Jerusalem are in charge of Palestinian affairs and General Dayton’s advisory teams.

      I don't believe that the Americans can adequately train so-called "Palestinian polciemen" and thus, they cannot assure Israel's security. But more importantly, does any oversight mechanism - Congressional, Presidential or independent - exist that investigates the workings of this special mission, supported and managed by CIVPOL and referred to as a "Transformation Program". Is it successful? A failure? Is all in order? What specific problems exist?

      I wish I could speak with some of these people: Peter Liebert, Mike Thomas, Joe Schreiber, Gherdy Francis (who was an East Timor Site Manager, International Police Program, Dyncorp), Paul Richards, Dick Jones, Rick Trapp, Dave Butzer (who was former deputy chief of the Portland Police Bureau), Dan Mathis, Ben Roberts, Jesse Valdez, Louie Muniz, Holt Coleman, Tom Moselle, Jim Cavalucci, Mark French, Walt Redman among others and ask them about the Leadership and HQ staff course logistics course, the Advanced Police Tactics Course and the Police Support Ops course and other training directions.

      They, as well as diplomats at the American Consulate General, are directly responsible for my security, that of my family and friends all across Yesha and also Israel. And, if they truly think they can make sure that the PA's "policemen" can do a proper job, can I suggest they speed things up for, in case they are not aware, Hamas is threatening to take over the PA in Judea and Samaria.

      If they fail, they need know that the blame is not solely that of the State Department and their employers but they, too, share that blame. They are supposedly professionals and if they become aware that it their task is one that cannot be accomplished, then they too will face legal steps among others.

      Israel and its citizens are not far-away East Timor or Iraq or Kosovo. There are options open to us and we will be aggressive in our own pursuit of justice.



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