Sunday, 10 November 2019

Ahead of the Trump peace plan, some hard truths.

To any dispassionate observer of the Middle East, it is crystal clear that a so-called “Two-State Solution” between a once-complaint, democratic, Israel and the violent, rejectionist, two-headed Palestinian hydra is impossible.
Those who say there is no other sensible solution to this intractable problem between Arab and Jew have not been paying attention, or have rejected, numerous sensible alternatives that have been offered by various Israeli sources.
Soon we will witness the long-awaited proposals from the Trump Administration which will be seen as extensions to the “Two-State” failure.
Although most Israelis quietly hope that progress can be made, there is a singular lack of expectation.
This has nothing to do with Israeli rejection. On the contrary, history shows us that Israel proposes while Palestinians dismiss peace offers.
As a result, there is today a clear-eyed Israeli awareness that Palestinians are decades away from being pragmatic peacemakers, if at all. Fault lies with the absolute failure of the international community to address the problem of the Arab rejectionism of Israel on any piece of land, and the communities’ total failure to take any steps that would reform the duplicitous Palestinian leadership into genuine and practical peace partners.
This should have been done as a condition of their massive funding to the corrupt and wasteful administrations both in Ramallah and in Gaza.
No more pressure on Israel to make dangerous concessions to an adversary overtly or covertly determined to do away with Israel, piece by piece if necessary.
We went that route in the past. We will not be fooled a second time.
Accepting a Palestine means going to bed with Mahmoud Abbas and waking up in the morning with Hamas.
No thanks.
Arab nations could have persuaded the divided heads of a broken Palestinian political system to accept the presence of, and to work with, Israel for the betterment of their own people, but they didn’t.
Why didn’t they?
They failed to address the need to convince their own people that Israel will always be a part of the Middle East and accept that reality.  In truth, they couldn’t.
The fact is, they are afraid of their own people. And their own people hate Jews.
This is perpetuated by the incitement of their religious leaders and political hotheads that rant against Jews, particularly those Jews living in their midst – the Israelis.
This has made Arab rulers impotent, unwilling to go against the will of their people whose very core is filled with a basic anti-Semitic hatred of Jews.
This is the brutal honest truth of the Middle East. It has been that way for over a hundred years, and nothing has been done to put out this fire.
This, and this alone, is why peace is not possible between Israel and the Palestinians.

Barry Shaw, International Public Diplomacy Director, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
See my book ‘Fighting Hamas. BDS and Anti-Semitism.’

Monday, 28 October 2019

I talk with Genie Milgrom, a lady with an extraordinary life story, in this video from The View from Israel. (click on the link below) Her story is typical of thousands of people and is known to us who are engaged in the tale you are about to hear.
I was once asked where the next great wave of Aliyah to Israel is going to come from. Aliyah is the wave of Jews who find shelter and new lives in the Jewish state. My answer is the Secret Jews.The Secret Jews are those Jews who do not yet know they are Jewish.They are the inheritors of those who escaped from, or survived, the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions.This was a tragic time in Jewish history when the Catholic Church went in search of Jews to convert them or to kill them.It was a Holocaust on a global scale as the church reached into Central and South America in pursuit of the Jews.As you will hear briefly in this video, this is the reason I initiated the Knesset Caucus for the Anusim (the Jews of Spain and Portugal).With the development of the internet and social media, thousands of people in the far reaches of our world are questioning strange family customs and are discovering their roots date back to a distant Jewish connection in Europe.Some want to renew their Judaism, and that is not an easy thing to do. Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism is not a very welcoming religion.For those who do want to return to their Jewish roots but live in locations where there are no Jews for hundreds or thousands of miles, Israel, the Jewish state, is the one place they can feel truly at home. But we have problems in Israel with our Interior Ministry and the Rabbinut failing to ease the way back into the fold for the Anusim Jews, as you will in Genie's personal tale.And those who discover their Jewish heritage, but prefer to remain in their adopted faith, may look with a more sympathy on Israel existing in a threatening and anti-Semitic neighborhood.Genie has written a number of books taken from her life experience, including 'My Fifteen GrandMothers.'If any of you want to know more about your Anusim roots, send me a private message and I will redirect you to where you can receive help.Enjoy this fascinating video! Barry Shaw, Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Palestinian predators. My interview with Kay Wilson.

KAY WILSON is the miraculous survivor of a brutal Palestinian terror attack.
Kay is the voice of thousands of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror whose voices are silent.
Why do so many Palestinian predators go out in the dead of night, or hide during the day, to hunt for vulnerable victims.
What drives them like animals in search of prey? What primitive instinct obsesses them?
In this video you will see and hear the reason they go hunting for blood directly from the mouth of one of the killers. It’s a craving for Jewish blood. He says clearly, simply, it was Jews he wanted to kill. Not Israelis. Jews!
One of the shocking things that came out of my interview with Kay was that, just as powerful animals kills their defenseless prey they do so for a need, without emotion. Her killers exhibited the same dispassionate lack of emotion as they stabbed and hacked Kay’s defenseless body, and killed her friend.
The tragedy of this deadly desire to kill Jews was that Kay’s murdered friend, Kristine, wasn’t Jewish. Kristne was an American Christian.
And it turns out that these predators had killed before – for the same reason.
This is the ultimate corroboration of the theme of my book ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’ That is it Jew hatred that drives every aspect of the Palestinian cause from the Palestinian themselves, to BDS and anti-Israel hostility on too many campuses in the West, and back to Kay’s attackers.
The video takes you through Kay’s trauma, both during and after her dramatic meeting with terror, and how she is putting her life together with important and positive causes which she wants you to share.
See the video and read Kay’s book, The Rage Less Traveled.
Barry Shaw,
Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy,
Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Israel Intelligence Briefing, Al-Bukamal. Iranian military base in Syria.

Much has been said and written about the Turkish incursion into northern Syria and their attacks against the Kurds. But, for Israel, another location is important.
Al-Bukamal is located on the Iraqi/Syrian border. It has been the target of recent Israeli airstrikes. Al-Bukamal is also the site of a key crossing between Syria and Iraq which allows it to become an important hub for Iranian weapons transportation to Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
In the early days of the Iranian and Iraqi militias' control of the town of Al-Bukamal, the means of communication between them were wireless radios. After a few months of controlling the Syrian/Iraqi border town of al-Bukamal, assassinations increased in the area, which affected a number Iranian militias. The targeting of Iranian militia vehicles and their movements by cells opposing the militias were detected by the frequency used by the wireless radios.
Due to this detection, the Iranian militias issued orders not to speak on radios except when it was an emergency. After a few months, Iranian militias secured cellular lines from the company Zain Iraq through its members in the Popular Mobilization Forces.
About two months ago, Iranian militias set up a reinforced communication network for Zain Iraq on Jabal al-Baghouz on the Iraqi side of the border to gain greater coverage in al-Bukamal and its countryside. To obtain a line of communication, it requires personal identification and sometimes permission from militia commanders.
Few leaders of the Iranian militias have satellite telephones. Some members of the security branches of the Syrian regime in the city of al-Bukamal use Syrian lines, and there are some important figures from the Iranian militias in addition to the Iraqi line have another Syrian line to communicate with the Office of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Damascus.
Several phone number belonging to Iranian officers and advisors stationed in al-Bukamal and Deir Ezzor were intercepted and published.
1.) Iranian Officer
Name: Miqdad
Phone Number: 0958476786 (Syrian number)
2.) Iranian Officer
Name: Mahda
Phone number: 0934841962 (Syrian number)
3.) Iranian military advisor in Deir Ezzor (Iranian number - Whatsapp)
Name: Moses
Phone number: 09353764200 (Iranian number - Whatsapp)
4.) Iranian military adviser in Deir Ezzor
Name: Yasser
Phone number: 09369164407 (Iranian number - Whatsapp)
The publication of these names and numbers have thrown the iranian military into a spin.
But that will be the least of their worries. Israel is closely watching the construction of the Iranian base at Al-Bukamal and will destroy it in due course.

Barry Shaw,
Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
(Courtesy ISI and GroundBrief)

Monday, 7 October 2019

Demi Lovato was in awe of Israel. Then she went home.

Demi Lovato was in awe of Israel.
At the end of her trip she tweeted, "There is something magical about Israel. I have never felt such a sense of spirituality or connection to God - something I've been missing for a few years now."
She went on, "I have never felt more renewed in my life. This trip has been so important for my well-being, my heart, and my soul. Thank you for having me, Israel."
And then she returned to America, fell into the hands of BDS, and went wobbly, apologizing if she offended anyone by her remarks.
Her mother, Dianna, however, stepped into the breach.
"Praying at the Western Wall with my daughter in the Old City of Jerusalen was the highlight of my trip to Israel. I will never forget that day or that trip as we celebrated life and Christianity as we learned about the Jewish faith while listening to the Muslim call to prayer."
Dianna went on, "There was no fighting, no judgment, no cruel words...only love. And I will undoubtedly, unapologetically, go again one day."
While daughter Demi's short attention span may have put her connection to God, her spirituality, her well-being, her soul, in the hands of BDS (God help her!), her mother is keeping the faith.

Barry Shaw,
International Public Diplomacy Director,
Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

The Democrats Pursuit of Trump. What next when Impeachment fails.

The writing is on the wall.

How long has Impeach Trump syndrome been going on?
Would you believe even before Donald Trump was elected President?
President Obama appointed Evelyn Farkas to the Defense Department specializing, coincidentally, on Obama’s Ukraine policy. Except, nothing in Deep State is a coincidence.
As the end of the Obama era was approaching, Farkas was an enthusiastic “Hillary for President” devotee.
In 2016, she was a foreign policy advisor to Hillary Clinton.
Two weeks before the election, Farkas appeared on a panel in which she said, “We have a strong system of checks and balances. If Donald Trump were elected I believe he would be impeached pretty quickly, or somebody else would have to take over government. And I am not even joking.”
That is deeply troubling. What checks and balances does the Deep State have that would ensure the impeachment of a president they don’t want?
This was spoken by someone in the know, at top level, two weeks before an election? What was going on in the Obama Administration behind the scenes?
Obama promised to “fundamentally change America” as part of his pre-election pledge. What exactly did he mean by “fundamentally change America.” Was weaponizing the intelligence agencies against a political opponent part of that policy?
We are beginning to discover that this may be true.
Russian Collusion. Impeach Trump. Stormy Daniels. Impeach Trump. Michael Cohen. Impeach Trump. Obstruction. Impeach Trump. Ukraine. Impeach Trump. All tried. All failed.  
The hunt for the removal of this President from office appears to be religiously pagan in its ferocity. Is there a Star Chamber trying to pervert the will of the people?
My question is where do the Democrats and their Deep State actors go in their dogged attempt to remove Trump once impeachment utterly fails?
Traitor! Russian agent! Racist! White supremacist! Hitler! Stalin! Who would not want to remove such a tyrant?
We now have investigations into the top level of the FBI and Department of Justice following the collapse of a fraudulent Russian collusion allegation against a political opponent. With the Democrats declaring open war to “oppose” and “resist” there is no bipartisanship in America anymore. Only revolt.
Democracy collapses when this happens. It’s the start of civil war and we see signs of an ominous political army in the black-clad storm troopers of Antifa. They claim to be anti-fascists, but they are the fascist street fighters of the radical Democrats.
Where is all this leading when impeachment fails?
The fevered thirst for power can often taste like blood.
The writing is on the wall.
I have never seen such a toxic political atmosphere as that whipped up by the Democrats and their Hate-Trump supporters, since the dangerous days in Israel that led to the assassination of a national leader, Yitzhak Rabin, by an anonymous young man with a handgun.
Rabin was called a traitor, a Nazi. Just like Trump today.
His assassin was so benign-looking that the police allowed him to get too close to the Israeli Prime Minister. Yigal Amir shot him in the back, three times.
Israel never had the violent street and campus gangs that America has in the Antifa anarchists and radical Marxists who are allowed to send people to hospital in the name of free speech because their victims voice must not be tolerated. Conservative voices of people like Asian-American blogger, Andy Ngo, can be rushed to hospital with brain injuries because he is wrongly perceived to be a “racist” and a “white supremacist.”
This is the crazy intolerant mindset that has taken over the Democrats and it is leading somewhere even darker and more dangerous. Assassination as a last resort, when all else fails.
God forbid this should happen to the American president, but Trump Derangement Syndrome is heading irrevocably in that direction. People are getting the hate and violence message from all directions.
The inciters are many. From Maxine Waters who incites the mob to confront and get in the faces of their opponents. From Adam Schiff and the “concrete evidence” he has of Russian collusion, but cannot produce. From the radical left forcing Nancy Pelosi to declare absolute grounds for impeachment when she hadn’t seen any evidence. From the biased mainstream media calling out the President for unsubstantiated heinous crimes 24/7. 
When New York Times editor, Dean Baquet, announced a new editorial tactic to change their failed Trump-Russia coverage to Trump-racist policy, he told the world that his rag no longer delivers news. It delivers anti-Trump indoctrination.
When a leading member of the Fourth Estate admit his organ pumps out propaganda it no longer a newspaper. It is Pravda.
The toxic political environment in America is entirely and deliberately being stoked by the Democrats and their institutional supporters.
When radical campus professors incite young impressionable minds into Marxism, education becomes dogma. It is the closing of the academic mind in America.
In Hollywood, pampered stars, looking for an added moment of media attention, poison the minds of many with talk of violence.  Madonna calls for blowing up the White House. De Nero wants to punch Trump in the face. Depp reminds us that an actor killed a President. 
Kathy Griffin holds up the bloody severed head of Donald Trump. 
Imagine the brainwashing effect this has on an addled committed mind determined to take the law into his own hand to save the world.
The person that pulls the trigger will claim to be inspired to save the country from a tyrant. He will quote Democrat incitement against the president as his motivation.  The country demanded it, he will claim.
When that awful day comes, it will be too late for them to turn back.  They can never be wrong. They will continue to blame the fate of the President on the victim himself.  The country will be riven in two, each side blaming the other for a tragedy that could have been prevented by bipartisanship.
The scar of a civil war will rumble on for generations. And it would have begun by an unrelenting opposition that divided America.
Such is the depth of Democratic derangement.
For God’s sake! For the sake of America and the world, will you Democrats step back from the brink, before it is too late?

Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Does anyone tell the truth anymore?

As an outsider, I have been witnessing the weaponizing of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the United States to try and fraudulently win an election, and then attempt to stage a political coup against a duly elected president.
Begun under the Obama Administration, we have seen the CIA (under John Brennan), the National Security apparatus (under James Clapper), the FBI (under James Comey), the Department of Justice (under Loretta Lynch), bring a fraudulent dossier to the secret government FISA court, for permission to engage in espionage against, conduct illegal unmaskings of American citizens, spy on anyone connected with, their political rival, and set the top level personnel in the FBI and DOJ on a prolonged campaign to indict a sitting president on the fake charge of Russian Collusion, a charge, it transpires, that they themselves were guilt of.
Does anyone tell the truth anymore?
In America, the 2020 Presidential campaign is already underway. The Democrats are pretending they are running a progressive campaign when in truth they are hell bent on transforming America into a Socialist state. In truth, they are running a campaign built on hate, racism and division. The stench of Socialism is in the air and, if we listen to Bernie Sanders and some of the new Democratic faces, Socialism is only a temporary pause on the road to full-blown Marxism.  
Does anyone tell the truth anymore in America?
Marxism doesn’t start in Congress. It starts with the radical brainwashing of impressionable young minds on campus. US campuses have become Marxist factories of lies, churning out the next generation of indoctrinated opinion and influence makers and future lawmakers. From campus they go via community organizing to State elections to Congress. That is the path chosen by those who present themselves as “the attractive new face of progressivism.” They win over the hearts and minds of the young, but they are anything but progressive or liberal. They are intolerant radicals promoting big government control over every aspect of citizens lives based on an economy that will ruin the country.
They have the narrative buttoned down. Speak truth to their lies and you are branded as a racist, white supremacist, a toxic male. Any insult will do to shut you up.
Does anyone tell the truth any more on the left of American politics?
Next time, when new smiling faces appears to replace the old school Democratic incumbent, beware of progressives bearing gifts. They are hiding inside the Trojan Horse of a Marxist ideology being wheeled into the heart of American political power.
Evidence of that appeared in the form of Ilhan Omar, she of the “Benjamin” insult, she of the “May Allah protect you from an evil Israel that is hypnotizing the world,” she of the smiling face when talking about “Some people did something” on 9/11. She, whose family got rich working for a genocidal Marxist dictator in Somalia back in the day when she lived a protected life in Mogadishu. That was until the people rose up to depose Siad Barre and entered the capital. That is when her protected family had to escape at 4 am in the middle of the night to catch a special flight to Kenya. By the way, she did not live in a dusty refugee camp. She lived comfortably in a residential district of Mombasa until her family engineered their entry into the United States and where she continued to live with a false name. Her family name is Nur Elmi, not Omar. That name was adopted from the sponsoring family already living in America.
When will Ilhan Omar begin to tell the truth? She had lied about everything in her life. Her false marriages including a legal one to her gay brother, Ahmed Elmi of London. Her tax and student loan frauds, her destruction of evidence and her perjury. I even have evidence that she lied when she had a private meeting with the corrupt President of Somalia in December 2016 about the identity of the man she travelled with to this meeting.
This failure to tell the truth is not confined to the United States. America is a few years behind Europe on several issues. An open border policy is one of them.
Open borders were fine when it was confined to open travel for citizens living within the European Union but it began to collapse when that included the free movement of terrorists from one European capital to another.
European leaders lied to their people about what the result of unbridled and incompatible mass immigration would do to their countries. They lied on purpose. Cynically, they saw a mass of future voters rather than a massive headache that will irrevocably change the face of their countries and their continent.  So they told their people to welcome the stranger in the spirit of “multi-multiculturalism” and to celebrate diversity.   The only problem was that a hardcore of the migrants from the Middle East and North Africa didn’t know how to assimilate and didn’t want to integrate. They wanted to keep their cultural norms and to live in their own isolated communities, simply carrying on as they had done in the lands of their birth. Simply put, they did not leave the Middle East, they brought the Middle East with them into Europe.
Part of their baggage were behavior patterns never before experienced by the refined Europeans. So of course they were alarmed at the gang rapes of German and Swedish women and English girls and by the authorities who tried to keep the identities of the perpetrators secret. In England, they even arrested and imprisoned one protester who insisted it was his civil duty to warn the population who were perpetrating these crimes and why it was being kept hidden from them.
No. European authorities don’t tell the truth anymore. Omission - keeping the facts and the truth from the indigenous population- is pernicious in too many European countries.
Try this statistic. Demographically, the indigenous Swede will be a minority in their own country within their lifetime. It amazes me how a dependency population – Sweden practices a free market socialism – keep voting for a government that is turning off the lights in their own country and, like hand-fed lambs, they take the free handouts and remain silent.
Don’t they realize they are sleepwalking to their own demise?
I am writing this in my own country – Israel. Has the media in your country ever told the truth about Israel? Have you really been given the truth about our life experience and the hostile environment we face on a daily basis? Part of that environment calls itself Palestinian.
Are you not aware that every time Palestinian Hamas or Islamic Jihad fire a barrage of rockets into our civilian areas it barely gets more than a cursory mention? But, when Israel is forced to respond in our defense to put an end to the violence, we are accused of acting inhumanely, disproportionately, that the missile fire was our fault because Palestinians live in such ghastly conditions.
Does anyone tell the truth anymore?
Did you ever hear about the oppression under which a deeply divided Palestinian leadership abuse their own people?  Was that ever covered in your national media? I think not.
Human Rights Watch recently reported that the oh so decent Palestinian Authority were detaining hundreds of Arabs protesting against their corrupt dictatorship in detention camps in Jericho where at least twenty-eight peaceful protesters have been tortured? Or that both the PA and Hamas are founded on deeply anti-Semitic ideologies that includes rewarding the killing of Jews?  Is it any wonder that Israel does what it has to do to defend itself?
Does anyone tell the truth anymore?
Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019



Detractors of Israel like to jump on the figure of $3.8 Billion (2019) that the United States gives to Israel for its military defense.
What they do not take into consideration are three important factors that make the US-Israel defense relationship truly unique.
1.      The $3.8 Billion defense budget that the United States is giving Israel in 2019 is split between $3.3 Billion which is conditional on Israel spending 100% of that figure on US-manufactured military hardware. In other words, this is budget that goes entirely on the US-based military industry. The remaining $5 Billion is allocated for missile defense systems such as the American built (with Israeli technology) Iron Dome and Patriot missile defense systems. In other words, a joint venture of sorts between the United States and Israel.
2.      It is important to look beyond the simple figure of $3.8 Billion and not treat it as if it is a one-way transaction to Israel’s exclusive benefit. Nothing can be further from the truth. The United States gains massively by a few hundred percent rate of return for the initial investment by having Israel as a battle-tested laboratory for the US defense industry and the Armed Forces products.
      This is achieved through a list of modifications and upgrades to some of the most sophisticated US military equipment and systems that the US would never get from any other source save for their own military which does not have the same geographic intimacy of an enemy so close that it calls for split second responses against all forms of military attacks experienced exclusively by Israel on a weekly, even daily, basis. 
The feedback from Israel’s use of US-supplied hardware saves many years and huge costs in American R&D. Through tried and trusted Israeli military usage, the end product improves and enhances the US defense industries competitiveness in the global market, making US military hardware even more attractive to global buyers. It increases US exports and expands the American domestic employment base.
      Israel provides the US with unique and vital military intelligence, saving US lives, both military and civilian. 
      Israeli intelligence improves the US war on terror and undermines the position of US enemies and adversaries.
3.      Perhaps the greatest cost saving to the US, both in terms of blood and treasure, gained by its relationship with Israel, is the fact that Israel is an extension of America without the United States requiring to place “boots on the ground” and the vast savings that come from not having US troops deployed in Israel.
      Unlike other Middle East and European allies of the United States, Israel does not require American troops to physically defend our country or to be stationed here. This alone saves the United States many billions of dollars as can be seen in the following examples.
As opposed to Israel’s annual military aid grant of $3.8 Billion, the United States spends $4.89 Billion in Afghanistan. 74% of that figure is on military aid in keeping their solders there.
The United States has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. The annual boots on the ground cost is an estimated $7 Billion with a further $1.1 Billion spent on what is called non-military personnel.
In peaceful Japan the figure is even higher with 50,000 American troops stationed there. The annual cost is given at $12 Billion with a further $2 Billion spent on non-military personnel.
These figures only cover the cost of maintaining troops and supporting personnel in foreign countries. They do not include the additional costs of the military hardware, equipment, construction, and operating systems used in these countries.
These figures dwarf the annual figure that America gives its greatest ally, Israel. The US investment and return on investment in new product development andr vital intelligence is minimal compared to the benefits that Israel provides the United States.
If we add Europe to the equation, there are 55,000 American troops stationed in three European countries alone – Germany 35,000, Italy 12,000, Britain 8000. There are US troops in many other European countries.
It is estimated that the average cost per annum of stationing military personnel abroad is between $10,000 - $40,000 per person.  That does not include infrastructure costs, etc.
In Europe, NATO pays 33% of the cost, an estimated $2.5 Billion. This puts the US contribution to its military personnel in Europe at a minimum of $5 Billion annually. This alone is 30% more than Israel receives annually.
President Trump is trying to get NATO cover even more of this cost, thereby reducing the cost to the American taxpayer.
The Pentagon pegged the cost of the US presence in Germany, Japan and South Korea in 2019 to be $21 Billion. This figure includes military pay, operational spending, military construction.
Compare that $21 Billion, which is spent in the three named countries, to Israel’s $3.8 Billion, which is returned to the United States in full to an expanded US military industry, and one easily see the massive benefit that America gains by having battle-tested Israel as their main and trusted partner.
As a     As a final shot at budget comparisons, The United States spent an estimated $81 Billion in 2018,
to protect foreign countries oil supplies. Now compare that to the $3.8 Billion that the US gives Israel to use and test its military hardware. It’s chickenfeed.

The      The United States gains far more from US aid to Israel than any other country on earth.

Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.              

The Israeli Election and Liberman's Pivotal Conditions.

The Israeli Election and Liberman’s Pivotal Conditions.
The Israeli elections on September 2019 proved one thing. Not only is Israel the only democracy in the Middle East, it is also a global democracy on steroids.
The elections results showed the benefits but mainly the faults of a multi-party electoral system.
The race started with 31 hopeful parties. At the end of the voting process Israel was left with nine political parties winning seats in the 22nd Knesset.
Israel has to change the law by lifting the electoral threshold for allocated seats in a future Knesset from the current low bar of 3.25% to 5%.
The outcome of a very tight race left the Israeli version of the Siamese twins able to form a narrow majority government but shackled from doing so by pre-conditions set by Benny Ganz, the leader of the Blue & White party, who said he would never sit in a joint government with a leader facing criminal charges, referring to the corruption charges faced by Likud leader and perennial Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Unless Ganz climbs down from his moral tree Israel is frozen in a stand-off and could, potentially be facing its third election in under a year.
President Reuven Rivlin said he would not allow this to happen, but he has no constitutional role in deciding the outcome.
The spoiler in the game is the blunt Russian, Avigdor Liberman. He’s the tough guy who is calling the shots having positioned himself as a centrist party winning nine decisive seats. This has enabled him to be the pivotal figure in the race to power.
Liberman picked up lots of votes from disaffected Bibi voters who sought refuse in Liberman’s party, unable to bring themselves to vote for Ganz’s party with the left-wing Yair Lapid toted to become a rotational prime minister in a Blue & White government.
Without Liberman, Likud is unable to form a right-wing government. Insufficient mandates of the small right-wing and religious parties prevent the option of a coalition without Liberman, and Liberman has issues with the religious bloc. No right wing-religious deal is possible without the heavy Liberman climbing down from his political tree.
Ganz is unable to form a center-left coalition even with the Arab party without Liberman because Liberman has said he will not sit in any government with the current Arab politicians, most of whom he sees as anti-Israel antagonists and not part of the Israeli consensus.
With the final votes not yet in Liberman faced the press the morning after election night to itemize his conditions for joining a 73-seat unity government with the Likud and Blue & White.
Liberman is pushing for a more secular society in Israel. He insisted that the recruitment law, which requires every citizen to serve in the IDF, must apply to the orthodox religious community in which most of the young men spend their years studying in yeshivot (religious education institutes) instead of serving in the army.
He also insisted that all Israelis, including the ultra-orthodox who have their own strictly religious education, must go through the general state education system. The religious students can, insisted Liberman, continue their religious studies after a day of regular education where they will learn worldly subjects like mathematics, geography, languages, etc.
Liberman’s final condition hit at the strictures placed on regular Israelis by religious political parties of the past. He insisted that public transport be allowed to operate on the Sabbath. The religious parties look on this as a desecration of the Jewish holy day of the week. Regular Israelis look on the absence of public transportation on Saturdays as a forced imposition. Saturday is the only free day of the week for working Israelis. Lack of public transport on a Saturday severely restricts many Israelis from visiting family, or simply enjoy traveling to wherever they want on their one day of leisure.
The problem with Liberman for the two main parties is that they never know what new imposition the heavy Russian will lay on them next. Liberman destroyed a previous Netanyahu-coalition because he was unhappy by the way the Prime Minister handled Hamas in Gaza. He thought Netanyahu was too kid-gloved in not responding hard enough against Hamas after one of their rocket bombardments on Israeli civilians. 
The Likud and Blue & White have the ability of forming a narrow two-party coalition of 64 seats, if only Ganz can climb down from his tree. He insisted that he would never share a government with Netanyahu facing impending charges.
Then we come to the tricky ego-charged question of who will be Israel’s next Prime Minister. Ganz or Netanyahu.
The process demands that the leaders of every party elected to the next Knesset will recommend to the president which leader they prefer to be prime minister. Of the nine parties, four will choose Netanyahu, four will choose Ganz, and no one knows what Liberman will whisper in Rivlin's ear. This is where President Reuven Rivlin has to transform himself into King Solomon. He has to knock heads together and impose a solution dividing up the electoral baby.

It may hurt some egos and upset part of the Israeli electorate, but it’s better than Israel facing a third election in less than a year.

Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Israelis can reclaim their land at the ballot box.

On September 10, Benjamin Netanyahu pulled off one of his famous political masterstrokes when he made a dramatic announcement one week before a contentious national election in which it looked far from certain that he would hold onto his record-breaking office as Israel’s Prime Minister.
The polls were showing a tight race between his Likud Party and the Blue & White Party with neither showing the electoral ability for form a coalition government.
The master tactician had to find a way to break the Gordian knot by applying his version of Dale Carnegie’s famous book. How to win voters and influence people.
With the aid of maps to highlight his statement, Netanyahu told the Israeli public if you want Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea you have to vote for me and give me a mandate big enough to form a coalition government to immediately carry out this commission.
In one fell swoop he looked into the television camera and tested every voter, “It’s up to you!”
The second election in 2019, and possibly not the last in a long chain of elections, became one in which the elector, every Israeli citizen, was given the choice of having a sovereign Israel paced in their hand.
And how did Israelis react?
From the response I have been received, very cynically.
There are those who have told me that they don’t trust him, that he could have made this commitment and taken steps to enact sovereignty during his many years in office, but he didn’t. That is was just an election ploy to get people to vote for him but then he would make excuses to delay his plan to annex important parts of Israel into full sovereignty. That was the level if disenchantment being felt in Israel heading to the polling stations.
A number of people reminded me that Benny Ganz, head of Blue & White, had also pledged to include the Jordan Valley in any peace deal, so what was different with Bibi’s promise, they insisted, rather than asked.
Some on the left said it was a typical Bibi move to win over voters from the far right party, but was it a right wing tactic?
Benjamin Netanyahu was simply echoing a left wing Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin, who declared, in his final speech in the Knesset on 5 October 1995, that “The borders of the State of Israel…will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.” Rabin was not called a “right wing hawk.” At this moment in history he was being hailed as Israel’s greatest peacemaker. He went on the make this declaration, “The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley in the broadest sense of that term.”
In essence, Netanyahu was saying nothing new. It was already out there stated, noted, and agree by everyone in the international community, except the Palestinian leadership.
A lot of people abroad were perplexed when Bibi spoke about the Dead Sea area. They included many who have stayed at the Dead Sea during their visits to Israel. Almost all of them have driven from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea resorts. They had all assumed that the Dead Sea was an integral part of Israel. They were shocked to discover that it is still considered as “disputed territory,” or as Israel’s opponents would say, “occupied Palestinian land.”
The Israel deniers are ignorant or ignore the history of Qumran where the Jewish Essenes from the Second Temple period lived and wrote the famous Dead Sea Scrolls about the battle between the Sons of Light over the Sons of Darkness, an enigma for today’s battles.
Such a battle was brutally, tragically, heroically, symbolically, played out on the heights of Masada, a once magnificent desert palace and fortress built by the Jewish King Herod, at which the last Jewish resistance to Roman conquest and destruction was played out until its dramatic conclusion.
In the year 73 CE, when all hope was lost, the last surviving Jews, just under a thousands in number, pledged and carried out a communal mass suicide rather than be slaughtered or carried into slavery by the foreign invaders.
The historical shock of this epic event left its impact in the soul of the Jewish people. “Masada Shall Not Fall Again!” has become the battle cry for the Sons of Light.
Thus has been the fate of the Jewish Sons of Light at the hands of the Sons of Darkness for the two millennium of Jewish history since the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the fall of Masada in Israel’s Dead Sea region.
This is the way that Israeli Jews, and the majority of Jews globally, see the world today. Too many Sons of Darkness desire nothing more than extinguish the Jewish Sons of Light.
It cannot be denied that it is Israel, and only Israel, in a very dark Middle East that shines the light of freedom, democracy, progress, human rights, and Tikun Olam - Heal the World- and none does that better than Israel.
Yet sadly, tragically, as predicted in the Dead Sea Scrolls, we too often have to fight to prevent that light from being extinguished, surrounded as we are by Sons of Darkness.
Hence the importance of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to the people of Israel.
In a few days, Israelis have the opportunity to declare “Masada Will Not Fall Again!” as they head out to vote.
It remains to be seen if Israelis are ready to take up that challenge by taking the fate of our country into our own hands at the ballet box.
Barry Shaw, International Public Diplomacy Director, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. Author of ‘Israel reclaiming the Narrative.’