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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 11, 5770, 7/22/2010

      Is The US Helping or Hindering Peace?

      Let's take a different look at the American role in the negotiating of peace between Israel and Arabs: local, near and far. Peace is not only a Road Map or Proximity Talks. It isn't only Jimmy Carter or George Mitchell.

      To my mind, the United States, foremost, has to project into the process elements that can sustain it for generations after any treaty or arrangement is signed or agreed upon. And those are the concepts of individual freedom and personal liberties as well as democracy and a liberal outlook, as much as possible on life.

      It has to make peace seem a better proposition than anything else. At the present, that isn't the case. I cannot properly view how the Arabs see this, so I won't even guess but I am sure they feel they have quite legitimate concerns than are being disregarded.

      As for me, well, we see a series of domino pieces: Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iran, etc. We see borders, then Jerusalem, then the "right of return". Nothing ever seems to end. And my feeling is that with every withdrawal, territorial or position-wise, every backward step to some status quo ante, is not a strengthening but a weakening.

      Crude Arab propaganda continues. Anti-Jewish imagery is fomented. Denial of responsibility. Continuing terror and terror attempts. Lack of administrative maturity. No transparency in the PA's court system, financial system, etc. Human rights of Arabs trampled. EU and US Foreign Aid monies are stil embezzled. The list is long.

      This is the society, the social and political culture that is expected to maintain peace.

      So, what does the US do on this front?

      A lot, actually.

      On the front page of the US Jerusalem Consulate General site (and it updates), there's this list of Cultural and Educational Activities:

      1. US Consulate General Supports the Opening of the Al-Jib Museum in the West Bank

      US Consulate General Supports the Opening of the Al-Jib Museum in the West Bank
      On May 18, the West Bank community of Al-Jib inaugurated its first cultural heritage museum showcasing Palestinian artifacts and cultural arts. The museum and its gift shop was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation to the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange (PACE).

      2. Gaza Theater Group Presents American Classic Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”

      Gaza Theater Group Presents American Classic Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”
      “Basma” (Smile), a Gazan cultural arts organization, held its first performance of John Steinbeck’s classic story “The Pearl” on May 12 in Gaza. With a $20,000 grant from the Consulate General’s Public Affairs office, Basma translated Steinbeck’s work into classical Arabic and hired actors and a director to stage the play.
      American Corner Gaza Organizes Clean-up of Al-Azhar University Campus

      3. American Corner Gaza Organizes Clean-up of Al-Azhar University Campus
      As part of U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem’s April “Environmental Awareness Month,” and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the American Corner in Gaza (AC Gaza) organized a planting and clean-up campaign at Al-Azhar University.
      Yaa Samar! Dance Theater Brings American Modern Dance to Bethlehem

      4. Yaa Samar! Dance Theater Brings American Modern Dance to Bethlehem
      The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem hosted Yaa Samar! Dance Theater, an American modern dance ensemble, for a one-day engagement at the Bethlehem Peace Center on May 2, 2010. Led by Palestinian-American choreographer Samar Haddad King, Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre is a New York City-based contemporary dance company.

      5. Celebrating Women’s History Month with a Quiz Night Event in Ramallah
      Celebrating Women’s History Month with a Quiz Night Event in Ramallah
      In cooperation with Pal-Vision, a Palestinian NGO based in Jerusalem, US Consulate General Jerusalem organized a Quiz Night in honor of Women’s History Month at the Hamra Palace in Ramallah. The Quiz Night is part of a series of monthly events organized by Pal-Vision, made possible with a grant from the US Consulate to support thematic programming.

      And there's more:

      6. Nature knows best, don’t destroy it

      10 Palestinian students are on a 5-week exchange program in Humboldt, California, sponsored by the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem as part of the 2010 Study of the United States Institute for Student Leaders on Global Environmental Issues. Each week the group will share an environmental tip and photo.

      7. An-Najah Opens an American Studies Resource Center

      The Center, located in the “Old Library” on the University’s campus, is the culmination of months of cooperation between the Consulate General and the University
      And there's another section: Speakers & Specialists

      U.S. Speakers

      The Public Affairs Section hosts U.S. speakers who are experts in a variety of fields, including: governance/rule of law, civic education, youth issues, American Studies, culture/arts, women’s issues, human rights, democracy/elections, economic development, religion, foreign policy, information technology, and journalism. During their 2-3 day programs in the Palestinian Territories, U. S. speakers meet with their Palestinian counterparts and conduct workshops, seminars, and public lectures. In the event that a desired speaker is not able to travel, shorter programs can also be held via digital video conference (DVC) at venues in the Palestinian Territories.

      Cultural Specialists

      The cultural specialist program brings specialists in the arts and other areas to the Palestinian Territories for 2-6 weeks, working primarily with one group or organization on a specific project, such as producing an American play in a local language, giving master classes to a national theatre company, or classes in writing skills. Costs for the cultural specialist program are shared by the host institution.

      Academic Specialists

      The academic specialist program provides grants to enable Americans to consult with foreign educational institutions, professional groups or governmental organizations about a specific educational project or to conduct workshops and seminars for faculty or professional personnel. The academic specialist program is co-sponsored by a host institution in the Palestinian Territories.

      So, you may ask: what's your problem?

      Well, one problem is I am not sure all the above and more is truly working, is turning the Pals. around.

      But for sure I know that there are no Jews in those programs or no parallel seminars and activities for over 300,000 Yesha residents (and, if we go according to the Arab yardstick - and let's not forget that the State Department doesn't recognize Israel's claim to sovereignty not only over the new east Jerusalem neighborhoods but West Jerusalem as well) then we add another 200,000.

      Yes, the US supports a "Palestinian state" but I do not think that it supports population separation. That is, at the most, a final status issue but nevertheless, if there are Arabs in Israel, can the US really promote expulsion of all Jews? And in supporting these programs I found above, as exclusive for Arabs, that is the result: discrimination.

      One possible response could be that Jews even in Yesha can obtain separate but equal services in Israel. The Pals. can't. True, but the Arabs in Israel can obtain such services so why not Jews in Yesha?

      More importantly, though, the object is to have the two populations coexist and even maybe empathize with each other.

      So why not attempt know to bring them together now?

      Think, diplomats, think: if the goal is peace, get busy on it.

      If not, well, each to his own.

      Tammuz 17, 5770, 6/29/2010

      Join the Anti-Harvard Campaign

      I'm starting a campaign and it involves a big and prestigious academic institution.

      Harvard University.

      The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has extended an invitation to its members to travel to the Middle East with its official tour agency to "sustain your enthusiasm for learning and establish new friends among your peers."

      The tour that caught my eye is this one: "The Holy Land: Views on Israeli-Palestinian Relations".  It will take place between Oct 6-16, 2010 and Professor Everett Mendelsohn is the group mentor and leader.

      And this is what they will do:

      "Explore the archaeological and cultural heritage of Israel and Palestine, and engage in the political issues that they face. Visit Jerusalem with its unique interplay of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures and Ramallah, the political center of the Palestinian Authority. Then travel through the Jordan Valley to Tiberias, base for visits to ancient Capernaum and Beit She'an, a well preserved Roman and Byzantine city. Conclude in sophisticated and vibrant Tel Aviv. Meetings with distinguished Israeli and Palestinian notables in the political and diplomatic worlds will enhance this unique journey."

      If you are a Harvard grad, by the way, I guess the tour price won't set you back too much.  It starts from $7,795 per person, for only 10 days.

      But there's a problem.  Everett Mendelsohn, as Professor Emeritus of the History of Science at Harvard University, claims "he is committed to using his personal contacts to ensure we receive a balanced perspective on the history and current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations."

      Mendelsohn, though, is on the FFIPP-USA Advisory Board. FFIPP is:

      "an international network of academics and students that support a complete end to the illegal Israeli occupation of lands seized in the 1967 war and removal of all the settlements and the separation wall built on occupied land...It also very much an activist group.

      Among its goals is to support the call to sanction faculty and institutions, which clearly support the occupation... FFIPPI expresses its strong support for and encouragement of individuals in the Israeli and Palestinian academy whose actions against the occupation and in support of peace and justice have resulted in personal hardship. Notable cases include Israelis refusing IDF military service in the occupied territories... FFIPPI views the College of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank as a part of the machinery of Israeli occupation and calls upon academics worldwide to refuse to collaborate with it in any way."

      Do you think this tour is balanced?  Fair?  Pluralistic?  Democratic?  Heck, it isn't even academic.   Is that the Harvard tradition?

      At the very least, why not meet a revenant Jew residing in the area of his historic national homeland to present his view and narrative. Let the tour participants not be told, but hear the reality. Let them see the truth, learn of the totality of the conflict the local Arab residents have forced upon Israel and the world.

      Want to suggest me?

      Write them at haatravels@harvard.edu.

      Nisan 30, 5770, 4/14/2010

      Israel's Weak Response

      You've read this, yes?

      Israel's tourist office has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for using images of the Palestinian-run West Bank as part of a package tour for a holiday in Israel.  The advert for the Israeli Government Tourist Office (IGTO) boasted that one could "travel the entire length of Israel in six hours" and urged tourists to sign up for the trip.  But the images shown in the poster included the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock - the oldest Islamic building in the world, built in the 7th century - both of which are in East Jerusalem, part of the disputed Occupied Territories of the West Bank...The ASA said the advert breached truthfulness guidelines and ordered it not to be used again, adding: "We told the IGTO not to imply that places in the Occupied Territories were part of the State of Israel."

      ...The State of Israel Ministry of Tourism (SIMT) said that the advert provided "basic, accurate information to a prospective UK traveller who wanted to know what to expect in Israel".  It claimed that it was "entirely accurate to assert that a visitor to Israel could visit Jerusalem as part of a short visit", adding: "Had the ad omitted a reference to a visit to the city of Jerusalem, it would have been incorrect and potentially misleading."

      If I was Minister of Tourism, I would have responded differently.

      I would have stated simply that by "Israel" we mean the Land of Israel.

      And why not?

      Just like Jordanian tourism uses the term the "Holy Land", Israel can use "Israel", which includes Judea, Samaria and all of Jerusalem.

      Like here at Madaba:

      The trip south from Amman along the 5,000-year-old Kings Highway is one of the most memorable journeys in the Holy Land, passing through a string of ancient sites.

      And this site uses "Holy Land" as a replacement for Israel as "Israel" doesn't even appear.

      A little chutzpah wouldn't hurt.

      Nisan 25, 5770, 4/9/2010

      Today is Deir Yassin Day

      Today, Deir Yassin Day, April 9, falls on a Friday, just as it did in 1948.

      Deir Yassin was an Arab-populated village (it was mono-ethnic; no Jews allowed) that participated in anti-Jewish violence in 1920 including gun-running, in 1929 with attacks on nearby Jewish neighborhoods of Givat Shaul and Bet HaKerem, in 1936-1939, especially aiding terror attacks on the Tel-Aviv - Jerusalem highway and in April 1948, participated in sniping attacks on Bayit VeGan and Bet HaKerem, allowing Iraqi irregulars as well as Arab guerrillas to reside in the village.

      On the night of April 8 and into the day of April 9, militants, members of two Jewish anti-British occupation armed forces sought to rid the village of armed persons who were disrupting the peace, seeking to thwart a United Nations resolution and killing innocent civilians.

      An attempt was made to warn the villagers of the impending attack by use of a loudspeaker which largely failed due to an anti-tank trench that the attackers had not been aware of previously however many did flee towards another Arab village, Ein Karem.  During the attack, armed Arab disguised themselves in feminine attire.  In the ensuing battle, five members of the attacking force were killed and over 40 were injured, fully one-third of the force.

      In the street fighting and house-to-house combat, 120 Arabs at the most, and perhaps fewer, were killed.  Many, including women and children, were prevented from leaving their homes and so suffered fatal wounds.

      The news of the fall of the village developed into a wild rumor-mongering which caused thousands of Arabs, many not at all threatened, to flee.  This, ironically, facilitated future Jewish victories on the field of battle as they repelled Arab aggression.

      In a later BBC documentary, "The 50 Years War", Arab residents of the village admitted that claims that a massacre took place were highly exaggerated.

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