Why is Trump Pushing Peace when War Seems more Likely?

With Russia supporting  a Syrian-Hezbollah-Iranian attack on rebel positions in Daraa, putting them in striking position of northern Israel and Gaza continuing to heat up, literally, the USA has placed extra emphasis on its alliance with Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following in yesterday’s cabinet meeting:

“Over the weekend I had two important meetings with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt. We discussed the diplomatic process and regional issues, and there was special focus on the situation in Gaza. I must say that there was absolute support for our positions and our actions to ensure the security of the State of Israel and its citizens in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, which was expressed publicly by the American administration’s envoys. The issue also came up of how it might be possible to resolve the humanitarian problem in Gaza without strengthening Hamas. These matters are clear – first of all how to ensure security and how to prevent a broader flare-up, if it is at all possible. I expressed great appreciation for President Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo and of course for Ambassador Haley for the continual and strong support at the UN, which is very impressive.”

Given the tension rising in the region it is hard to understand why President Trump is still placing an emphasis on Middle East Peace.  The President met with Jordan’s King Hussein yesterday at the White House while Kushner and Greenblatt were speaking with Netanyahu just days earlier. With the proverbial noose tightening around both countries, why is the administration focusing on something that seems so far away?

Jordan is Cornered, Will they Fold?

The administration’s peace plan is done and like the Palestinian Authority has hinted, they are not included.  President Trump’s style is to apply maximum pressure to the side who is most obstinant.  In this case, it is Jordan, or let’s say Jordan’s King.

The Hashemite’s rule over its population, which is 80% Palestinian is tenuous.  In fact he relies almost entirely on US and Israeli security to keep safe. Now the Saudis and Gulf States have decided to prop up Jordan’s economy. With years of playing both sides, President Trump has decided to call the king of Jordan out.

With Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria closing in and the Palestinians in Jordan threatening a real revolt, Trump has the leverage he needs to force Jordan to accept the USA’s peace plan. Of course, that would mean an end to the Palestinian Authority with Jordan taking responsibility for those residents in 40% of Judea and Samaria that identify as Palestinian.

President Trump wants to use the external pressures of Iranian hegemony to force Jordan to accept it real role as “Palestine.”

2 Palestines and One Greater Israel

The plan that has seemingly been accepted within the Trump Administration is the breaking apart of the Oslo Peace narrative of the last 25 years. With Gaza, essentially independent, it has become a defacto Palestine. It has a government and is in charge of its own security and yes, very contiguous. Jordan will take over responsibility for areas A and B in Judea and Samaria and retain their custodial rights over Islamic religious sites in Jerusalem.  Israel will annex area C.

This is the plan that appears to be on the table and this is precisely why Jordan is so nervous about it. King Hussein has refrained from giving any credence that he already rules over Palestine.  Afterall, it is his rule which is artificial and if he agrees to Trump’s plan without any security and economic guarantees he will be risking his own neck with nothing in return.

President’s Trump’s emphasis on pushing a peace plan at this time is part of his larger strategy in using the rising tensions of war to force those leaders to come to the table.

Mueller Indicts Manafort, Is a Soft Coup Underway?

Paul Manafort the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump and Manafort’s longtime business partner Rick Gates have been charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements.

To most experts, these indictments issued by Special Counselor Robert Mueller III are only the beginning.  Retired Gen. Flynn who served as the head of the NSC for a brief time in the beginning of Trump’s term is under active investigation as are other members of Trump’s campaign.

The real question is whether Mueller will go as far as investigating and indicting Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. who both met with Russian linked associates during the campaign. With Mueller on the roll, the investigation will be pushed ahead and risks entrapping Trump with the Nixonian decision to either let Mueller go the distance or fire him, which could bring about articles of impeachment by both Democrats and Republicans looking to take him down.

All of this of course appears to be a massive move by the Deep State to either pressure Trump to run the country according to their designs or face removal.  With Mueller making a political issue that much more divisive by only focusing on Trump when it has been proven that Hillary Clinton cavorted with the Russians during campaign, the special council risks tearing an already divided country apart.

Chaos, Russian Style

The investigation into Russian influence during the campaign appears to be Russian influenced itself.  Putin never had a winning horse in the race, but wanted to create the feeling he was involved in order to inflict doubt about the winner across the American public.  With Mueller’s probe continuing and both right and left at each other’s throats, Putin has begun to gain the upper hand against the USA by pushing its internal divisions to the extreme.  This has allowed Russia to take advantage of an administration that has been “under the proverbial gun” since the beginning.

For Putin, it doesn’t matter if Trump is removed or not, the mere fact that there is an investigation is enough to weaken America and allow Russia to assert control and influence over Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Why is the Trump Administration Taking it Easy on Israel’s “Settlements?”

The so-called “peace process” between Israel and the “Palestinians” living in Judea and Samaria has constant ups and downs with no real breakthroughs of substance.  This past week as Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt visited the region, reports have it that the two informed Mahmoud Abbas that there would be no settlement freeze.

With this message in hand, PA officials told the London-based Al-Hayat that Kushner said the following:

“It is impossible to talk about halting the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, or considering this as a condition for the resumption of negotiations, since the issue of this issue would bring down the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.” 

With only the Al-Hayat as a source, news media outlets began repeating this mantra.

The official White House response simply “this is nonsense.”

Putting off the propensity for news outlets to repeat unsourced stories, the important part here is that the Trump administration will not force Israel into a settlement freeze.

The Trump administration may have gone under a dramatic change when Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, but Trump himself has been shaped over the years by a circle of friend that are extremely pro-Israel. Furthermore, Trump is of the opinion that repeating past mistakes in the peace process will not only not bring peace, but could destabilize the region even more.

The Trump administration, despite the NSC now fully in the hands of globalists like H.R. McMaster, views Israel as a strategic puzzle piece in the Middle East. The last time there was a serious push by the USA for a two-state outcome was in 2007-2008 at the end of Olmert’s term.  Israel was at a vastly different point in its economic and geo-political situation.  The Israel of now, is considered an economic power house, having forged ties into the East and Africa.

With all the changes on the ground, along with Iran’s push towards hegemony across the Middle East, the US administration may want a comprehensive peace plan, but the contours of that plan will have nothing to do with the “Palestinians” in Judea and Samaria.

The Dahlan Plan Takes Flight

In July I wrote the following:

The plan that appears to be taking shape is that Dahlan will essentially become the defacto ruler of Gaza.  Supported by the UAE and Egypt he will lead a Gaza that is independent of Fatah and Ramallah. Without Gaza included in a future deal, the ability to annex Judea and Samaria, including all the area where Palestinian Arabs live appear to be doable. Once you subtract the population of Gaza from the total population of Palestinian Arabs West of the Jordan River, Israel will still have a comfortable 70/30 Jewish majority.

The nature of annexation is not clear, but the fact that it is Israel who is determining Area A housing solutions mean the ball has already dropped.  The question will only be if and when Dahlan takes over Gaza, will he be able to cut Hamas’ outsized control down to size or will the Islamist group prevent him from exerting real authority.

Although things can change, it is clear that the emerging plan that seems to be building behind the scenes between the Sunni alliance that is most interested in working with Israel is a permanent separation between Gaza and Judea and Samaria, which they call “the West Bank.”

Jared Kushner Promises Plan in Four Months

According to Israel HaYom Jared Kushner has promised to deliver a “peace-plan” to Mahmoud Abbas in the next three to four months. This has less to do with the US administration’s desire to build a comprehensive plan on the back of a former terrorist and Holocaust denier, than the need to keep things in check as the US continues to build a counterweight to Iran. This counterweight is being built on the backs of Israel and Saudi Arabia, with an emerging Kurdistan providing stability in Northern Iraq.

Back to Settlements

The vision within the Trump Administration and moderate Arab states is that a permanent settlement between Israel and the “Palestinians” can incorporate two opposing narratives.  With Gaza as a solidified political union backed by the UAE and Egypt, Judea and Samaria can be viewed by both Jews and Arabs as an extension of their “homeland.” This is why Trump himself has distanced himself from overt support of the “Two-State Solution” because the emerging solution is an acceptance that there will never be agreement on everything, but rather what needs to be built is long-term coexistence.

According to the San Remo conference of 1920, Jews have a right to settle anywhere within the boundaries of the Palestinian Mandate, which at that time reached not only from pre-1967 Israel but covered Judea and Samaria and present day Jordan as well.  What we could be seeing is the first attempt to get back to the idea of sovereignty and homeland.  With emerging realties and real threats to the Arab world from Iran, the idea of Jewish settlement throughout its historic homeland is becoming separated from the question of final sovereignty over the same piece of land.

By separating the two issues, creative decisions can be made in respect to a final outcome, which allows for the Jewish communities to thrive in Area C, while providing for the understanding that Palestinian Arabs live amongst them in Areas A and B.

Or Judea and Samria itself can be rolled into Israel.  Without Gaza, the population can be integrated and those not wanting to become part of the Israeli milieu can be paid to leave.

Whatever the outcome, the narrative has shifted away from Israel being an occupying power to one which has rights within its historic homeland.  That alone, makes the news trickling out from Kushner’s meetings relevant and important.



Losing and Winning the Temple Mount

Israel ceded the Temple Mount to terrorists last week. But with a clear goal, we can get it back in short order and keep it perpetually for the good of all humanity.

Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet caved in to the demands of the PLO and its partners in Hamas, the Islamic Movement, Jordan, Iran and Turkey by agreeing to remove metal detectors and other security screening equipment from the Temple Mount. The equipment was installed last month in response to Palestinian incitement and acts of jihadist violence against Israelis, including the murder of two policemen, at Judaism’s holiest site.

After polls showed 77% of Israelis felt he and his cabinet members capitulated to terrorism, Netanyahu issued a statement thanking US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump’s senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt for their help in resolving the crisis.

The underlying message of Netanyahu’s statement was that he and his ministers folded like a cheap suit to our enemies’ demands, effectively ceding Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount to our enemies because Kushner and Greenblatt pressured them to do so.

But then this week, a congressional intern did us the favor of surreptitiously recording and leaking remarks Kushner made on the issue in off-record remarks to interns at the White House. Kushner’s remarks, which came in response to a question about his role in mediating the Palestinian conflict with Israel, were fairly detailed.

Regarding the Temple Mount crisis, Kushner justified Israel’s decision to place metal detectors at the entrance of the Temple Mount. In his words, following the murder of the policemen by terrorists armed with guns smuggled onto the Mount, “putting up metal detectors on the Temple Mount… is not an irrational thing to do.”

Kushner also emphasized several times the central role that Palestinian incitement played in fomenting the violence on the Temple Mount. He drew the logical conclusion that the same incitement which fomented the violence on the Temple Mount led to the massacre of the Saloman family in their home in Halamish two weeks ago.

Unlike all previous US mediators, Kushner didn’t blame “both sides” for causing the violence. He placed the blame squarely on the Palestinians who incited and committed murder.

In speaking this way, Kushner made clear that he isn’t the type of person who will apply bone-breaking pressure on Israel to capitulate to the demands of terrorist murderers. Certainly Netanyahu and his ministers are strong enough to withstand whatever pressure Kushner and Greenblatt may have brought to bear on them last week.

Indeed, as one administration official put it, “The idea that the same Netanyahu who withstood eight years of unrelenting pressure from the Obama administration crumpled under pressure from Kushner and Greenblatt is simply ridiculous.”

So if it wasn’t American pressure that convinced Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and their colleagues in the security cabinet to crumple, why did they do it?

All of their instincts were pointing them down the opposite path.

From a security standpoint, you don’t need to be a genius to understand that you don’t respond to an enemy on offense by surrendering your defenses.

More generally, Netanyahu and his ministers all know that just as releasing terrorists from prison guarantees more dead Israelis, so capitulating to the demands of terrorists ensures more dead Israelis.

But if the decision was wrong from a security standpoint, it was downright crazy from a political perspective. Among the 77% of Israelis who said the decision amounted to capitulation were doubtlessly 100% of Likud and Yisrael Beytenu voters and 85% of Kulanu voters. (Bayit Yehudi voters at least knew their cabinet representatives, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, voted against the measure.)

According to the media, the cabinet was intimidated into surrendering by a doomsday scenario presented by the IDF and Shin Bet representatives at the cabinet meeting. Channel 2 reported that the IDF and Shin Bet warned the politicians that failure to capitulate would result in a security nightmare, whose details they laid out in a frightening PowerPoint slide.

The Palestinians would start a new terrorist war, they said.

Fatah’s Tanzim terrorists, who have been inactive in recent years, would renew their attacks, they warned.

The Palestinians would undermine Israel’s capacity to fight Hezbollah effectively in Lebanon, they insisted.

And finally, if Israel failed to capitulate, a “rare unity” of forces in the Islamic world stretching from Turkey to Iran would emerge, they hectored.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but all of these doomsday admonitions are debatable.

Take the issue of the “rare unity” from Iran to Turkey.

Since the Turks tried to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza seven years ago, unity has been the rule not the exception in Turkish-Iranian relations. Both supported the Muslim Brotherhood in the so-called Arab Spring. Both supported Hamas in its 2014 war against Israel from Gaza. And today, both support Qatar against the Saudi- and Egyptian-led bloc of Sunni Arab states.

As for the Sunni Arabs, last week, the Saudis took the stunning step of siding with Israel on the metal detectors. The Saudis noted supportively that they installed metal detectors in Mecca and Medina.

As to the rest of the scenarios the security chiefs raised, they may or may not be true. But what is certainly true is that it isn’t the job of the security community to tell Israel’s leaders they have no choice but to surrender to aggression. It is their duty to formulate plans for defeating the aggressors, period.

And incidentally, ahead of Tisha Be’av, which fell this year on Monday night/Tuesday, unlike the IDF and the Shin Bet, the police did just that. Whereas the Shin Bet wanted to prohibit Jews from visiting the Temple Mount on the day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the police recognized it was its job to enable Jews to visit.

Rather than join the Shin Bet in recommending that Jews be barred from visiting the Temple Mount, the police provided the requisite protection and enabled more than 1,200 Jews to visit the site without incident.

The fact that Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich provided security when Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman said it couldn’t be done makes it hard to avoid the impression that the warnings the IDF and Shin Bet chiefs issued the security cabinet last week stemmed less from professional considerations than from ideological or political agendas.

This impression is strengthened when last week’s horror scenarios are seen in the context of the security establishment’s long history of blocking the implementation of government policies it was its duty to facilitate.

For instance, in 2010 and 2012, the commanders of the IDF and the Mossad reportedly refused to carry out Netanyahu’s order to prepare their forces to strike Iran’s nuclear installations.

And then-Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon’s move to blame Netanyahu when the Palestinians unleashed a terrorist offensive in 1996 after Netanyahu’s first government opened a second entrance to the tunnels below the Western Wall is etched in collective memory.

But for all their institutional and personal drawbacks, there is a limit to the amount of blame you can place on Israel’s security leadership for the cabinet’s decision to surrender to terrorists last week. After all, while it is true the IDF and Shin Bet commanders crossed the line, Netanyahu and his ministers let them cross it.

If Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman wanted to, they could easily have blunted the security brass’s push for capitulation. They certainly could have publicly criticized them for their defeatism rather than insinuate that the Americans made them capitulate.

So why haven’t Netanyahu and Liberman called them to order? Why doesn’t Netanyahu – at a minimum – publicly criticize his generals for their insubordination and contrast their spinelessness with Alsheich’s professional competence and determination? 

The answer is discouraging. Netanyahu allows himself and his cabinet members to be bullied by his generals because he doesn’t have a policy for securing Israeli sovereignty and advancing Israel’s national interests at the Temple Mount. Without a positive goal, he is reduced to treading water with the hope of keeping a lid on Muslim jihadists. And so his “policy” of bowing to his politically subversive generals bears a disquieting resemblance to George Orwell’s quip, “The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.”

Perhaps the depressing aspect of all of this is that it isn’t hard to figure out what a reasonable, constructive policy would be for the Temple Mount.

As a liberal democracy, Israel has an interest, indeed a duty, to ensure that the holy site is open to all religions and that everyone has the right to freely worship on the Temple Mount. Given the fact that the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world for Jews, Israel has a vital interest in securing its sovereign control over the area.

To secure its sovereignty and advance its clear interest in facilitating religious freedom for all, Israel’s policy goal is straightforward. The government should enable all faiths to worship freely at the site.

To secure this end, the government should announce its goal and make a good-faith effort to involve all relevant groups and governments, including the Palestinian Authority, Christian authorities, Jewish authorities, the Jordanian regime and others in achieving it. The government should also state outright that if the Palestinians opt instead to incite and commit acts of violence and terrorism from the Temple Mount, Israel will secure its goal and enable Jews and Christians to worship at the holy site unilaterally.

To date, the Temple Mount has been the Palestinians’ ace in the hole. They recycle the blood libel that Jews are endangering al-Aksa every time they feel they are losing ground in their never-ending war against Israel. And Israel inevitably capitulates.

But if Israel announces its policy is to secure religious freedom for all on the Temple Mount and makes a good-faith effort to advance it in conjunction with the Palestinians and all other relevant groups, it will set the conditions for taking that ace away.

If after it begins good-faith efforts to collectively advance the liberal, democratic goal of ensuring religious freedom for all at the holy site, the Palestinians again turn to violence, then the Islamic world, or parts of it, will be in a position to blame them when Israel unilaterally enables Jews and Christians to pray on the Temple Mount parallel to Muslim worshipers.

If Netanyahu and his ministers make this their goal then the IDF and the Shin Bet won’t be able to intimidate them into capitulation next time around. Instead, the leaders of the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Foreign Ministry will all know their jobs and know that if they fail to perform they will be replaced.

Israel ceded the Temple Mount to terrorists last week. But with a clear goal, we can get it back in short order and keep it perpetually for the good of all humanity.

Originally Published in the Jersualem Post.

The PLO’s IDF Lobbyists

Not only did Abbas reject their demand, he reportedly accused the presidential envoys of working as Israeli agents.

Should the United States pay Palestinian terrorists? For the overwhelming majority of Americans and Israelis this is a rhetorical question.

The position of the American people was made clear – yet again – last week when US President Donald Trump’s senior envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt met with Palestinian Authority chairman and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and repeated Trump’s demand that the PA cut off the payments.

Not only did Abbas reject their demand, he reportedly accused the presidential envoys of working as Israeli agents.

Abbas’s treatment of Kushner and Greenblatt was in line with his refusal to even meet with US Ambassador David Friedman, reportedly because he doesn’t like Friedman’s views.

The most amazing aspect of Abbas’s contemptuous treatment of the Trump administration is that he abuses Trump and his senior advisers while demanding that Trump continue funding him in excess of half a billion dollars a year, and do so in contravention of the will of the Republican-controlled Congress.

Abbas’s meeting last week took place as the Taylor Force Act makes its way through Congress.

Named for Taylor Force, the West Point graduate and US army veteran who was murdered in March 2016 in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist, the Taylor Force Act will end US funding of the PA until it ends its payments to terrorists and their families – including the family of Force’s murderer Bashar Masalha.

The Taylor Force Act enjoys bipartisan majority support in both the House and the Senate. It is also supported by the Israeli government.

Given the stakes, what could possibly have possessed Abbas to believe he can get away with mistreating Trump and his envoys? Who does he think will save him from Congress and the White House? Enter Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS), stage left.

CIS is a consortium of 260 left-wing retired security brass. It formed just before the 2015 elections. CIS refuses to reveal its funding sources. Several of its most visible members worked with the Obama administration through the George Soros-funded Center for a New American Security.

Since its inception, CIS has effectively served as a PLO lobby. It supports Israeli land giveaways and insists that Israel can do without a defensible eastern border.

Last Wednesday CIS released a common-sense defying statement opposing the Taylor Force Act.

The generals mind-numbingly insisted the US must continue paying the terrorism-financing PA because Israel needs the help of the terrorism-incentivizing PA to fight the terrorists the PA incentivizes. If the US cuts off funding to the PA because it incentivizes terrorism, then the PA will refuse to cooperate with Israel in fighting the terrorism it incentivizes.

If you fail to follow this logic, well, you don’t have what it takes to be an Israeli general.

Moreover, if you fail to follow this logic, and you defy the position of Israel’s retired generals, then you may well endanger Israel.

After all, they know what’s best even better than the Israeli government because they are retired Israeli generals.

The CIS group would be bad enough for Israel on its own. But unfortunately, the radical politics of its members – and their anonymous funders – are all too resonant inside of the IDF itself.

And just as CIS members use the ranks they received in the past to undermine the powers of the government today, so the current crop of serving generals use their positions to advance policies that are contrary to the expressed position of the government.

This is nowhere more evident than in the behavior of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.

Until Israel formed the PLO-controlled PA in 1994, the Civil Administration was responsible for governing Judea and Samaria as the governing arm of the military government that Israel set up in the area after the Six Day War.

In 1996, Israel transferred all Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria to the PA. Since then, the Civil Administration has been responsible only for Area C where all Israeli communities are located and where between 100,000 and 200,000 Palestinians also live.

The question of what the ultimate disposition of Area C will be is the top issue on the national agenda today. The majority of government ministers and the majority of the public support applying Israeli law to all or parts of the area.

Yet while the government debates the issue and formulates policies to advance whatever policies it adopts on this issue, the Civil Administration has for the past several years been acting independently to undermine and constrain the government’s ability to make strategic decisions relating to Area C.

Among other things, the Civil Administration has been independently initiating Palestinian settlement projects in Area C that undermine Israel’s ability to govern the areas. By the same token, the Civil Administration has used its powers to scupper, delay and prevent Israeli construction projects in the area.

The story of the Civil Administration’s rogue policy making was catapulted to the headlines last week when Channel 2 reported that it was advancing a plan to massively expand the Palestinian city of Kalkilya into Area C. Among other things, the plan endangers Israeli communities whose territory abuts the expanded boundaries of Kalkilya advanced by the plan.

Channel 2 reported that the Netanyahu government’s security cabinet had given the Civil Administration a green light to begin construction.

The story caused a political outcry not only from Likud voters but from the security cabinet members themselves. Led by Minister Ze’ev Elkin, the Likud ministers insisted that they had been misled by the Civil Administration which deliberately hid the nature of the plan from them when it brought it to the cabinet for approval.

The ministers’ protests ring true because the Civil Administration has a history of acting in this manner.

In 2008 for instance, the Civil Administration initiated a building scheme in the Jordan Valley that would have taken land from Moshav Tomer to build Palestinian settlements.

The head of the local council complained to the government only to discover that the ministers had no idea what he was talking about. The Civil Administration had undertaken the plan, which undermined Israel’s control over a strategically vital area, without government knowledge or approval.

In contrast, and again against the wishes of the government, the Civil Administration has repeatedly acted to block Israeli construction in Area C. For instance, the IDF insists that no land deal between Israel and Palestinians is final until the IDF approves it. The policy harms Israeli construction in two ways.

First, it gives the Civil Administration the power – which it uses – to delay Israeli construction indefinitely.

Second, by forcing parties to land deals to come forward publicly, the Civil Administration intimidates Palestinian land sellers. They know that if their land deals with Israelis become public they will face execution by the PA.

Returning to Abbas for a moment, the PLO chief may have overplayed his hand by insulting Trump and his senior envoys. All the politicized retired and currently serving Israeli generals together cannot convince Trump to send US tax dollars to a terrorism supporting leader who trashes him and his senior officials. Consequently, there is every reason to believe that the Taylor Force Act will soon be signed into law and the US will end its financing of Palestinian terrorism.

But even if Washington cuts off funding to the PA, Israel is still left to deal with its radicalized generals who exploit their rank to undermine the government.

The best way to end this situation is for the government to shut down the Civil Administration and get the IDF out of the governing business in Judea and Samaria. So long as the government continues to empower unaccountable generals to administer civilian areas instead of its accountable, civilian bureaucracy, we will continue to be confronted with the surreal spectacle of Israeli generals lobbying for Palestinian terrorists.

If the government applies Israeli law to Area C, it can still negotiate with the PLO, just as it has negotiated about the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. But in the meantime, it will remove one of the most corrupting and corrosive forces preying on our generals and our democracy for the benefit of the Israeli and Palestinian residents of Area C alike and indeed for Israel as a whole.

Originally Publised in Jerusalem Post.

Jared Kushner is in Israel, Is Peace Actually Happening?

Jared Kushner landed in Israel just under 24 hours ago and after rushing to visit the grieving Malka family over their daughter’s murder on Shabbat he wasted no time going to visit Bibi Netanyahu.

The purpose of Kushner’s visit is to push Trump’s “ultimate deal” to broker Israel-Palestinian peace.  To casual observers it appears that there is really momentum towards a peace deal.

Perhaps there is, but let’s look at five reasons this could all be just a show or even more importantly a deal that has nothing to do with the Palestinians:

  • Trump agrees with Israel’s rights as the sovereign in Jerusalem, “Palestinians” will never agree to that.
  • Trump does not really care about “settlements,” “Palestinians” believe they must go.
  • Trump has opted for regional normalization first before any agreement on final status issues.
  • If Mahmoud Abbas, the “Palestinian” strongman agrees to any deal he will be killed by his own people.
  • Trump agrees that Israel should have full security control over Judea and Samaria.

Given the above list, peace does not seem likely anytime soon.  So what’s really going on?

Interim Deal and Normalization

Trump’s team is pushing normalization first and then an interim solution leaving out final status issues for the foreseeable future. This is essentially a rendition of Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Stability Plan. The interim deal will see some sort of non contiguous Palestinian State arise in Area A and B where they already have some sort of autonomy.  C will continued to be controlled by Israel.  “Settlements” will continue in two different capacities.  In the main blocks there will unrestrained building.  In the rest of the Jewish communities in Area C building will continue to allow for natural growth.

Furthermore, Israeli communities across Area C will be given the same political status as any other Israeli community.  This has already been established by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked earlier in the month.

So they would Abbas or the Sunni Arab world go for any of this?

Abbas doesn’t want a real deal for reasons mentioned above. He does want a long-term status quo with an upgrade for the territory he manages.

The Sunni world has never liked the Palestinians.  They have created a “cause” in order to push back on Israel.  Now they need Israel and they need the “cause” they created to quiet down.  The interim plan is the way for this to happen.

Look for Kushner to push the beginnings of an interim solution, a solution that will be so long-term it may just be permanent.



The PLO is the Siren that drowns US administrations.

US President Donald Trump is losing his focus. If he doesn’t get it back soon, he will fail to make America great again or safe again in the Middle East.

After holding out for a month, last week Trump indicated he is adopting his predecessors’ obsession with empowering the PLO .

This is a strategic error.

There are many actors and conflicts in the Middle East that challenge and threaten US national interests and US national security. Iran’s rise as a nuclear power and regional hegemon; the war in Syria; Turkey’s abandonment of the West; and Russia’s regional power play all pose major threats to US power, security and interests. The Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, Hamas and other Sunni jihadist movements all threaten the US, Europe and the US’s Sunni allies in the region in a manner that is strategically significant to America.

None of these issues, none of these actors and none of these threats are in any way related to or caused by the PLO and its interminable, European-supported hybrid terror and political war against Israel. None of these pressing concerns will be advanced by a US embrace of the PLO or a renewed obsession with empowering the PLO and its mafia-terrorist bosses.

To the contrary, all of these pressing concerns will be sidelined – and so made more pressing and dangerous – by a US reengagement with the PLO .

And yet, over the past week, Trump has indicated that the PLO is now his focus.

Last Friday, Trump spoke on the telephone with Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas is head of the PLO and the unelected dictator of the corrupt, terrorism-sponsoring, PLO -controlled Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.

According to media reports, Trump told Abbas – whose legal term in office ended eight years ago – that he views him as a legitimate leader. According to the official White House report of the conversation, Trump also reportedly told Abbas that he supports reaching a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Such a deal, to the extent it is ever reached, involves expanding PLO control over Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem at Israel’s expense.

Trump also invited Abbas for an official visit to Washington. And the day after they spoke, the Trump administration moved $250 million in US taxpayer dollars to Abbas’s police state where for the past 25 years, Abbas and his cronies have enriched themselves while feeding a steady diet of antisemitic, anti-American jihadist bile to their impoverished subjects.

To build up his credibility with the PLO , Trump put his electoral pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem on ice. The real estate mogul ordered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deny Jews the right to their property and their legal right to use state lands in Judea and Samaria.

And swift on the heels of that conversation with Abbas, Trump’s chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt was dispatched to Jerusalem to begin empowering the PLO at Israel’s expense.

According to media reports, Greenblatt intended to use his meeting Monday with Netanyahu was to reject Netanyahu’s commitment to build a new Israeli town in Samaria. Greenblatt was also reportedly intending to dictate the parameters for yet another round of negotiations with the PLO.

After meeting with Netanyahu, Greenblatt continued on to Ramallah to embrace Abbas.

Also during his stay, Greenblatt is scheduled to meet with IDF generals who are responsible for giving money and providing services to the PLO.

And Greenblatt doesn’t have the Palestinians to himself.

Following Trump’s conversation with Abbas, plans were suddenly afloat for Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump to visit Israel and spend an afternoon with Abbas in Ramallah.

If things develop as reported, then Trump is serious about embracing the PLO and intends to have his top advisers devote themselves to Abbas and his henchmen. If that is the case, then Trump is setting himself, his advisers, his daughter and the US up to fail and be humiliated.

The PLO is the Siren that drowns US administrations. It is to the PLO that America’s top envoys have eagerly flown, gotten hooked on the attention of the demented, anti-Israel press corps, and forgotten their purpose: to advance US national interests.

If Trump is serious about repeating this practice, then rather than repair the massive damage done to the US and the Middle East by his two predecessors, the 45th president will repeat their mistakes. Like them, he will leave office in a blaze of failure.

To understand why this is the case, three things must be clear.

First, the PLO will never make peace with Israel. There will never be a Palestinian state.

There will never be a peace or a Palestinian state because the PLO wants neither. This is the lesson of the past 25 years. Both Abbas and his predecessor Arafat rejected peace and statehood multiple times and opted instead to expand their terrorist and political war against Israel.

Why did they do that? Because they are interested in two things: personal enrichment – which they achieve by stealing donor funds and emptying the pockets of their own people; and weakening, with the goal of destroying Israel – which they achieve through their hybrid war of terrorism and political warfare.

The second thing that needs to be clear is that the Palestinians are irrelevant to the rest of the problems – the real problems that impact US interests – in the region. If anything, the Palestinians are pawns on the larger chessboard. America’s enemies use them to distract the Americans from the larger realities so that the US will not pay attention to the real game.

Iran will not be appeased or defeated if Trump empowers the PLO in its war against Israel and continues feeding PLO leaders’ insatiable appetite for other people’s money.

The Sunni jihadists will not beat their swords into plowshares if the US coerces Israel to cough up land to the PLO . To the contrary, they will be emboldened.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not move his forces out of Syria or stop giving nuclear technologies to Iran if the US turns the screws on Israel. Putin will come to the conclusion that Trump is either weak or stupid to damage Israel, the US’s most serious ally.

And of course, Israel will not be better off if Trump decides to push it back onto the peace train which has caused it nothing but harm for the past quarter century.

Trump’s election opened up the possibility, for the first time in decades, that the US would end its destructive obsession with the PLO. For three months, Israelis have been free for the first time to discuss seriously the possibilities of applying Israeli law to all or parts of Judea and Samaria. And a massive majority of Israelis support doing just that.

On the Palestinian side as well, Trump’s election empowered the people who have been living under the jackboot of Abbas and his cronies to think about the possibility of living at peace with Israel in a post-PLO era. Polling results indicate that they too are eager to move beyond the Palestinian statehood chimera.

But now, it appears that Trump has been convinced to embrace the PLO obsession. The same entrenched bureaucrats at the State Department and the same foreign policy establishment in Washington that brought the US nothing but failure in the Middle East for a generation appear to have captivated Trump’s foreign policy. They have convinced him it is better to devote his top advisers to repeating the mistakes of his predecessors than to devote his energies and theirs to fixing the mess that Obama and George W. Bush left him with. They have gotten him to believe that it is better to empower the PLO than develop coherent strategies and plans for dealing with the problems of the region that actually endanger US interests and imperil the security and safety of the American people.

Originally Published in the Jerusalem Post.

The Monumental Merit of Family Kushner

For several months now I have been wondering about the great merit of Jared Kushner to influence the heart of an incoming American Emperor.  And Donald Trump’s ascension to the Presidency is the stuff of legend.  Not an ordinary President is he.  This is not a post on what Jared may actually do in the role of one of Trump’s Chief confidantes, but it IS a post about Why.    And this blog, dedicated to discussing the End of Days, is all about Why and not just a series of events which hopefully will climax nine months from now during the Feast of Sukkot.  The story starts with with his grandfather, Holocaust survivor extraordinaire Yoseph Kushner.  Here is Jared in his own words describing why his father-in-law is not an anti-Semite and how his grandfather survived the Shoah.  His writing style is direct and to the point and full of intense detail.  But it is not here will you will find the essential reason for his great merit, but it is part of the story.

One might mention that once Yoseph Kushner moved to America after the Shoah, he rather quickly became very wealthy because of incredibly hard work and the same street smarts that helped his survive the Shoah.  He worked hard and most of his investments paid off.  Like Yosef in Egypt, Kushner was truly blessed by G-d in terms of his personal prosperity after his years of excruciating pain in the Shoah.  When he passed away in 1985, he bequeathed over 4000 rental properties in New Jersey to his sons Murray and Charles Kushner.  Charles Kushner, father of Jared, then built two Torah intensive, Land of Israel loving day schools in New Jersey, The Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, New Jersey and The Rae Kushner Yeshivah High School on the same campus.  Rae Kushner was Joseph Kushner’s wife who survived the Holocaust with him after escaping from the Lithuanian/ Belarus Ghetto  Novogroduk.  From this I learned that Yoseph Kushner was likely a Litvak which plays a part at the end of this story.  So we see here that Charles Kushner, the father of Jared, built Torah schools in New Jersey.  Yes he plea bargained and admitted guilt to a felony which landed him in jail, but as we see from a famous recent plea bargain here in Israel, a plea bargain is not necessarily a guarantee of real guilt,  I will simply leave it to G-d to know if Charles Kushner committed the crime for which he plead guilty.  If he did the crime, then he did the time.  I am leaving it at that.  Yet, it is not in the merit of these Torah schools that Jared has the ear of Caesar at this time.  There is something else, a missing ingredient.  Many great Jews built Torah in America.  Not all of the have the ear of Caesar at this pivotal point in world history.  Something else is going on.

And then I saw it.  For several months I have been wondering about which ArtScroll publication was proudly sponsored by the entire Kushner clan who descended from the righteous Yoseph Kushner who survived by digging a hole in the woods near the Belarus/ Lithuanian border during the Shoah.  I checked the Schottenstein Gemorrahs to no avail.  The Kushners are not in the long list of donors to ArtScroll’s Talmud project.  It was only this evening that a friend of mine from Dallas, Texas brought it up in a conversation with him.  (He wants to remain anonymous.)  We were discussing the spate of lashon hara going around about the Kushner’s taking a ride on Shabbat from the Inauguration which can be easily explained by Jared Kushner’s new post as Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy.  For a committed Zionist Jew to have that position, which wicked hatefilled Jew hater on the planet would NOT want to assassinate him at this critical time?  All of them would.  The Kushners simply can’t stay in hotels anymore and expect to not be a target.  Kushner by virtue of his new position is likely one of the most hated and targeted people on Planet Earth for assassination before Trump announces his first move in the Middle East.  If I were in Jared’s shoes (which I am not), I would thank HaShem for the very tight and scrupulous protection of the Secret Service who drove him home on Friday night.  He likely owes them his life which HaShem has placed in their hands.  All this lashon hara about what Jared and Ivanka have to do to live through this simply has to stop.  We are not in their shoes.  We are not the target of every evil Jew hater on the planet.  From this past Friday, they are their target.

So what is it that I saw?  I took out My ArtScroll Nusach Ashkenaz (Litwak) SUKKOT MACHZOR!  And there it was.  The entire Kushner clan was the sole sponsors of this machzor, the machzor in whose pages we read about the final chapters of GogUMagog at the end of the nine months of the 70 nations, at least, trying to gather against Yerushalayim!  They named the Sukkot Machzor: Machzor Beit Yosef in the merit of their father and grandfather Yoseph Kushner zt”l.  Think of the Torah they are responsible for spreading in this Machzor which are contained in its very pages.

From the Qabbalistic blessing that we say as we enter the Sukkah on the First night of Sukkot:

May it be your will, HaShem, my G-d and the G-d of my forefathers, that You cause Your Presence to reside among us; that you spread over us the Succah of your Peace — in the merit of the mitzvah of succah that we are fulfilling — to unify the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He, and His Presence, in fear and in love, to unify the Name Yud -Key with Vav- Key in perfect unity, in the name of all Israel; and to surround us with the aura of Your honor, holy and pure, spread over our heads from above like an eagle arousing its brood; and from there cause an abundant outpouring of life for Your servant (Hebrew first name) son of (Mother’s Hebrew name) Your handmaid.  And in the merit of my leaving my house to go out – and I will enthusiastically pursue the path of Your commandments.  — May this be reckoned for me as if I have wandered afar.  Cleanse me thoroughly from my iniquity, and from my sin purify me.  From the exalted Ushpizim guests, the guests of faithfulness, may Your ears hear abundant blessings.  (To the hungry and the thirsty, may You give their food and their unfailing supply of water.)  May You endow me with the privilege to dwell and to take refuge in the sheltering protection of Your wings — at the time of my departure from the world — to take refuge from the Stream of Fire and the fiery rain, when You rain coals upon the (heads of the) wicked.  May this mitzvah of succah that I perform be reckoned as if I had fulfilled it in all its details, implications and speifications, as well as all the mitzvos dependent on it.  May You seal (The Book of Life) for our benefit, and allow us the opportunity to dwell many days upon the Land, the Holy Land, in Your service and in Your reverence.  Blessed is HaShem forever, Amen and Amen.  

The emboldened verse is what happens at the End of the Nine months on Hoshana Rabbah for which the flimsy Sukkah which one enters on the 15th of Tishrei provides protection as it says in Psalm 27:

5.  For He concealeth me in His Succah in the day of evil; {N}
He hideth me in the covert of His tent; He lifteth me up upon a rock.
כִּי יִצְפְּנֵנִי, בְּסֻכֹּה–    בְּיוֹם רָעָה:
יַסְתִּרֵנִי, בְּסֵתֶר אָהֳלוֹ;    בְּצוּר, יְרוֹמְמֵנִי.

That Day of Evil is not really evil at all, but it is a day of supreme judgement on the wicked nations of the world, the Great and Awesome Day of HaShem, the Hoshana Rabbah at the end of the 9 months.

At the beginning of this Nusach Ashkenaz ArtScroll Machzor for Sukkot we see the Dedication/ Approbation page:

This Machzor is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Kushner .ע”ה   which can either mean (Servant of G-d or Upon him is HaShem’s peace) Reb Yosef ben Moshe HaLeivi ע”ה
October 5, 1985 (the 6th day of Sukkot 5746)

Surviving the horrors of the Holocaust, he came to a new land to build a glorious future.  Success never compromised his integrity; nor did it cloud his vision of raising a loving, loyal family, and building a community whose centerpiece would be Torah, its values and its institutions.

In glowing memory, he remains the model of the Jew whose character and prosperity, the themes of Succoth and Koheles (Ecclesiastes), are a means to help others.

Signed all the Kushner children and grandchildren and his wife Rae.
Under Seryl and Charles Kushner we find the names Dara, Jared, Nicole, and Joshua.

So now we know why Jared Kushner has been chosen for a time such as this.  May he succeed in G-d’s endeavor for him to fulfill this role for his immediate future to sanctify HaShem’s Holy Name during these final contractions of the pregnancy of GogUMagog!.  

Addendum:  Notice when Yoseph Kushner zt”l passed away on the 6th Day of Sukkot, the Day of the Ushpiz of Yoseph HaTzaddik, and the very day on the Eve of Hoshana Rabbah.   From the 2nd War of GogUMagog in the forests of Belarus to the 3rd War of GogUMagog in and around Yerushalayim is the passage of only one day….

Jared Kushner the Positive Force Behind Donald Trump’s Emerging Cabinet

After forcing Chris Christie and his cohorts out of the transition team, Trump son-in-law went to bat in getting Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus installed as Chief Strategic Adviser and White House Chief of Staff. It has become increasingly clear that President-Elect Donald Trump values his son-in-law’s opinion above all else.  The interesting thing about Jared Kushner, besides his being an Orthodox Jew (puts the anti-Semitic accusations on Trump to rest) is that he hides from the limelight whenever possible, preferring to advise from behind the scenes.  This attests to Kushner’s positive attribute of shying away from attention and focusing on putting his family first.

Although there has been some interesting picks early on, Jared Kushner’s influence may be what is behind the march towards unity in trying to bring Mitt Romney on-board as Secretary of State. If so, then Israel and its supporters will not only have a very friendly President, but his son-in-law who has his ear.