Wednesday, October 30, 2019

On Jewish Infighting, 1943

On December 1, 1943,  a Congressional committee meeting was held on a resolution that would extend help for Jews suffering Nazi extermination by setting up an actual government unit to do that.

Dr. Stephen Wise, in his testimony sought to belittle the group that was behind the resolution and said:

The several handfuls in the group, of which you have spoken [The Emergency Committee], are not any part of the American Jewish Conference, because it is not authorized by anyone. It represents no one but a handful, a very small number of Jews and a number of Christians, who might become interested in and won over to this cause. ...

Congressman Will Rogers Jr. responded, saying

We are fighting a war for our life. . . And it is to be regretted that one little group is always accusing another group of Jews of trying to grab something before the war is over


Rabbi Wise...emerges quite poorly from the new research, not because of his suppression of the Riegner telegram but because of his record during the two years to follow (1943–44). Scholarly studies of the Bergson Group, Jewish student activists, and the Orthodox rescue group known as the Va’ad ha-Hatzala have revealed that Wise was almost fanatical in his efforts to stymie dissidents and protect President Roosevelt from Jewish criticism. The time and energy Wise and his colleagues devoted to attacking Bergson and other activists could have been used so much more productively had they focused on rescue instead of worrying about the competition.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Before UNRWA There Was UNRRA

Many people are disturbed and upset that Israel, and others, are severely criticizing UNRWA for politicization as well as inefficiency. See here and here and here.

Well, before UNRWA there was an UNRRA and here's a incident:

In September 1945 Morgan became the Chief of Operations for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Germany...However he became frustrated with the inefficiency of the United Nations organisation.

Events in the British–Zionist conflict in the British Mandate for Palestine made Morgan feel conflicted between his role in assisting Jewish refugees at UNRRA, whom he regarded as special victims of the Nazis for being persecuted solely for their race, and supporting British policy as a British Army officer. In January 1946 he created an uproar by claiming at a press conference that there was a secret Zionist organisation that was attempting to facilitate an "exodus" of Jewish people from Europe to a new state in Palestine with Soviet encouragement. Morgan stated that he had witnessed an "exodus of Jews from Poland on Russian trains on a regular route from Lodz to Berlin. All of them were well dressed, well fed, healthy and had pockets bulging with money. All of them told the same monotonous story of threats, pogroms, and atrocities in Poland as a reason for their leaving" . He later wrote:

I had been able to piece together a reasonably comprehensive picture of the way in which the UNRRA set up was being most skilfully used to promote what was nothing less than a Zionist campaign of aggression in Palestine. In defiance of the prohibition by the British Mandatory power, reluctant as ever to employ decisive means, the admirably organised Zionist command was employing any and every means of forcing immigration into the country irrespective of the hardship and sufferings of the immigrants, few of whom seemed to have spontaneous enthusiasm for the Zionist cause. The whole project evidently had Russian connivance, if not actual support, since its success would conduce to the elimination of British authority in a vital area of the Middle East.

One reporter quoted Morgan as remarking that "the Jews seem to have organised a plan enabling them to become a world power- a weak force numerically, but one which will have a generating power for getting what they want".

...Morgan's statements caused a furore in the press, which portrayed them as anti-Semitic and distasteful. However, Morgan's comments were factual, based on military intelligence. It was reported at the time in Time magazine that: "Observers here [in Berlin] ... are positive of [Morgan's] sincerity, and know he had no intention of feeding the fires of anti-Semitic propaganda." Archibald MacLeish, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, stated that when the press had finished with Sir Frederick, "..the sum total effect was a lie and a disastrous and evil lie. This brings up the question of journalistic standards. In a world as closely integrated as this one is, the question must be asked: what is the standard of truth in journalism? When the journalist is dealing with an inflammatory subject and so reports it that verbally his story is true, but the overall effect is false, are the standards of truth satisfied?"

With his military background, Morgan was appalled at the corruption, inefficiency and political diversion of UNRRA. A member of his staff said that "to serve such an outfit is degradation beyond description. In fact, [Morgan wrote], to have been rejected for such service I have always felt to have been a high honour."

I see a clear parallel but the hypocrisy of today's defenders of UNRWA is quite clear.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Kissinger Tells a Joke

Found here, p. 458, in a discussion of the Arab boycott and a problem that developed in getting up contracts with Saudi businesses to tighten or U.S.-Saudi relations

Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting

Washington, February 26, 1975, 8 a.m. 

MR. ROBINSON: We have the Saudi Arabian Commission meeting starting here in a few minutes. We have run into a problem. The problem is developing over the exclusion of Jews from any of these contractual arrangements. We are going to have to try to work it out. And I think there are solutions. But it is going to create— 

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Like what? Like Faisal converting? That way he can also go to Jerusalem...
...SECRETARY KISSINGER: Get that word around, will you, McCloskey. We are against discrimination on the grounds of race and religion. 

MR. ROBINSON: It is going to be a problem.

Of course, as Kissinger should have known, and Sadat's 1977 visit later proved it, there was no problem with the King visiting Jerusalem.

There is, however, still is a problem with Jews visiting Mecca, not to mention the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.



Two pages later, we read:

Congressman Waxman, who was not a member of the House Foreign Armed Forces Committee, got onto the Committee’s tour of the Middle East apparently solely to raise the question of visas for Jews. He asked King Faisal why Jews were not permitted freely into the Kingdom and the King asked why they would want to come. Most Jews, said the King, support Israel.

When Zionism Was Zionism for All

August 1937:

The Twentieth Zionist Congress solemnly reaffirms the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and its inalienable right to its homeland.

The Congress takes note of the findings of the Palestine Royal Commission with regard to the following fundamental matters : first, that the primary purpose of the Mandate, as expressed in its preamble and in its articles, is to promote the establishment of the Jewish National Home; secondly, that the field in which the Jewish National Home was to be established was understood, at the time of the Balfour Declaration, to be the whole of historic Palestine, including Trans-Jordan; thirdly, that inherent in the Balfour Declaration was the possibility of the evolution of Palestine into a Jewish State; fourthly, that Jewish settlement in Palestine has conferred substantial benefits on the Arab population and has been to the economic advantage of the Arabs as a whole.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Angola - as a Jewish Homeland


Did you know that

In 1912 there was an attempt at establishing a Jewish homeland in Angola, and while it failed, Angola would draw a reasonable amount of Jewish settlers as an effect of the persecution of Jews in Portugal since the 1500s. 

That was related to

the attempts in 1907–1913 by the Jewish Territorial Organization to set up an autonomous Jewish entity in West Africa. The Territorialists laid down three criteria for the choice of a territory: (1) A tract of land that must be large enough in size to allow for the absorption of mass Jewish migration. (2) A fertile territory that could provide a livelihood for the Jews who went there. (3) A sparsely populated territory so that no ethnic tensions would be created between the Jews settling there and the local residents. One likely territory was Angola, which at the beginning of the twentieth century was under the protection of the Portuguese government. The plan failed.

In 1934, reports surfaced about a proposal but it was seemingly unidentified.

The following, though, floored me.  A communication from the United States Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, Kennedy, dated  January 14, 1939 in the name of President Franklin Roosevelt.


The President has asked me to transmit the following message of guidance from him to you:

“...The fact must be faced that there exists in Central and Eastern Europe a racial and religious group of some seven million persons for whom the economic and social future is exceedingly dark. While the Intergovernmental Committee has wisely treated the German refugee problem as being one of involuntary emigration regardless of race, creed or political belief, it must be frankly recognized that the larger Eastern European problem is basically a Jewish problem. Acute as the German problem is, it is, I fear, only a precursor of what may be expected if the larger problem is not met before it reaches an acute stage, and indications are rapidly increasing that such a stage may be reached in the near future. The increasing seriousness of the problem may shortly make the political difficulties involved in finding a solution appear trivial in comparison.

“I do not believe that the migration of seven million persons from their present homes and their resettlement in other parts of the world is either possible or essential to a solution of the problem. I do believe that the organized emigration from Eastern Europe over a period of years of young persons at the age at which they enter actively into economic competition, and at which they may be expected to marry, is not beyond the bounds of possibility...

“I am convinced that the solution of the problem in Germany and throughout Eastern Europe requires the creation of a new Jewish homeland capable of absorbing substantially unlimited Jewish immigration. Even if the political difficulties could be overcome, it is doubtful whether Palestine could absorb and maintain the necessary influx of population, and consideration has accordingly been given to other possible parts of the world.

...“Of the less developed areas of the world, Africa appears to offer the greatest hope of future development and the satisfactory maintenance of a greatly increased population. Of the areas in Africa suitable for large-scale white colonization, Angola appears to offer by far the most favorable physical, climatic and economic opportunities.

“You may recall that creation of a Jewish homeland in Angola was actively considered in 1912 and 1913 and that a Jewish Colonization Bill concerning Angola was passed unanimously by the Portuguese Chamber of Deputies in 1912. The fact that nothing further came of the project is attributable to various causes, including lack of sufficient organization and the outbreak of the World War, but it does not appear that any question as to the suitability of the area was involved.

“I believe that the actual problem of Jewish refugees from Germany and the threatened problem of involuntary Jewish emigration from other European countries requires an early and determined effort to create a supplemental homeland for that people. I should appreciate your opinion, after you have discussed the matter in the strictest confidence with Lord Winterton and the Prime Minister, as to the practicability of creating it in Angola along the following lines:

“Dr. Salazar has on various occasions stated that Portugal would never consider the transfer, by sale or otherwise, of any part of its colonial empire to any other Power. By the creation of a Jewish homeland in Angola, however, it would not become a part of any other colonial empire but rather an autonomous and perhaps eventually independent State. Portugal would not become the victim of the imperialism of any other Power but could, if it desired, make an immeasurable contribution to the cause of humanity and of European stability and peace.

“Portugal would naturally be entitled to just compensation for the area...Creation of a new Jewish homeland in Angola would undoubtedly increase both the prosperity of the present inhabitants of the colony and its trade with Portugal.

“The successful carrying out of such an undertaking would make Dr. Salazar one of the greatest figures in the history of his country and of our times.

...“I cannot emphasize too strongly the importance which I attach to the creation of a supplemental Jewish homeland as a step essential to the solution of the Jewish problem or my belief that Angola offers the most favorable facilities for its creation.”

You won't believe this but I came across this after reading something Menachem Begin published in 1945 about the Winterton mentioned.

On Winterton, who headed Britain's delegation to the 1938 Evian Conference:

Winterton informed the Jewish representatives attending the Conference that they would not be considered as active participants in the meeting. Arthur Ruppin of the Jewish Agency for Palestine described Winterton as “a notorious opponent of Zionism and a friend of the Arabs.” Ruppin noted that Winterton received the Jewish representatives “exceedingly coldly” and was dismissive of their opinions regarding the issue of Jewish migration from Central and Eastern Europe. The meeting, lasting only fifteen minutes, was a “slap on the face” and Winterton emphasized that it “was not a conference…but anintergovernmental committee’s consultation [with] his intention being to make it clear tous that in fact we had no business to be here at all.”  MP Miss Eleanor Rathbone, duringa House of Commons debate, also referred to the “pro-Arab sympathies of the Chancellorof the Duchy of Lancaster.” 

 Winterton served as Chairman of the Unofficial Committee to Defend Arab Interests in the House of Commons and was a friend of Iraqi Foreign Minister Nuri Said. Winterton believed (along with others) in the necessity of Jews remaining a minority group, limited to forty percent of the total population, within Palestine coupled with a strict limitation or outright banning of land sales to Jews. Such a process, it was hoped, would allay Muslim fears, put an end to the Arab Revolt and pave the way for selfgovernment. 
A reporter for Life magazine offered a critical opinion of the Conference. “Diplomatic gatherings are notable for their inhuman superiority to reality” and the current assembly is no exception. Lord Winterton’s “hypocritical maunderings widened the eyes even of the other delegates.”

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tear Gas in the Shiloh Valley (Updated Again + Three Aerial Photos)

This is the eastern section of the Shiloh Valley, the light north-west line at the right of the picture being the Allon Road:

The green encircled area, in Area B, is where a new construction project is planned and where earthworks have already begun, promoted by Tabo Company.

This project represents a real security theat to several small communities such as Avichai and Adei Ad.

Here are some illustration of the short distances between the various sites: (and see Dec. 16 update below)

a) one kilometer from Adei Ad

b) also one kilometer to Avichai

c) almost 2 kilometers to Shevut Rachel

And to illustrate the height difference, here are some screen snaps from an Arab news program I downloaded:

a) Amichai

b) Shiloh

c) Achiyah and Amichai and encircled is a Jewish protest encampment

There was a violent demo by Arabs today which they defined as a protest of
the expansion of the outpost "Adi Ad" on the lands of the towns of "Turmus'ayya, Abu Falah, al-Mughayer."
Just backwards (an Arabic-language report from Sept. 22).

A pic

Were Jewish residents involved.

No, they were just observing.

More visuals here.

Will try to keep you updated.

P.S. In Hebrew (in the meantime).



TABO, the Arab construction company, sees all of Israel as Palestine:

and at their Facebook account, that post reads:

On Immortal Earth day.. March 30

Share with us your native town in Palestine..

More of the political, on April 17, 2018:

في يوم الأسير الفلسطيني .. الحرية لكل أسرانا البواسل في السجون الاسرائيلية

On the day of Palestinian prisoner.. Freedom for all brave Palestinians in Israeli prisons

Another one is here.

More, illustrating the company's ideological and political puposes, and of wiping Israel off the face of the map

في يوم الأرض ..

تملك أرض في بلادك .. وحافظ على ميراث أجدادك..
On Earth day..

Own land in your country.. and preserve the inheritance of your grandparents..

Here's a view of Shiloh from Turmos Aya

and a view from the new construction site at the south-east corner of Shiloh Valley



This Palestinian Came From Canada With a Dream – Israeli Settlers and the Army Came Together to Thwart It
Khaled Al Sabawi had a vision — developing affordable building lots in the West Bank to Palestinians. But sales stopped almost completely due to settlers’ harassment and the pressure they put on the army

Dec 09, 2019 1:03 AM

The Israeli army officer extended his hand to Khaled Al Sabawi and said with a smile, “Sabawi or Wasabi?”

Sabawi, a 36-year-old Palestinian-Canadian entrepreneur, immediately knew that the man standing opposite him, Lt. Col. Elad Goren, had done his homework. He had clearly read the blog in which Sabawi described the border control officer at Ben-Gurion International Airport who had trouble reading his name and had confused it with the spicy Japanese condiment.

The meeting with Goren, who heads Israel’s District Coordination and Liaison Office for the Ramallah area of the West Bank, took place on July 4 at the headquarters of the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank, built on Palestinian land of El Bireh. The pair weren’t meeting to discuss Sabawi’s great passion – the startup he founded in Canada, that encourages people from around the world to develop and write their own screenplays, by means of competitions.

Sabawi, who studied both engineering and screen writing, plans to make money from the venture, but he’s in no hurry. For now, he’s enjoying arranging online meetings between young scriptwriters of every background and nationality and encouraging them to “tell a story.”

Nor did another of Sabawi’s initiatives come up in the conversation with the Israeli – an anti-smoking campaign within the Palestinian enclaves.

“Unfortunately, I discovered that my colleagues in the business sector wouldn’t sign a petition against smoking because they have shares in the companies that import cigarettes,” he told Haaretz. “Evil is when you take advantage of someone’s vulnerability,” he quipped.


What had brought Sabawi to the Civil Administration office was his position as CEO and vice chairman of a real estate firm founded by his father. More precisely, he was there to discuss several acts of vandalism that the company suffered on land it had bought in the West Bank Palestinian village of Turmusaya, northeast of Ramallah, a few days after infrastructure work began on June 12.

At the time of the July meeting at the Civil Administration, the vandalism was still relatively minor. Twice, the red pennants that surveyors had placed on the land to mark its perimeters and internal boundaries had been removed. “The people of Israel lives” was spray-painted in Hebrew on a rock, along with a Star of David.

Later in July, as Sabawi’s meetings with other Israeli officials continued – including talks with the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Ghassan Alian, and the head of the army’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan – the vandalism intensified and grew in frequency.

There were daily incursions onto the company’s private property. Armed Israeli civilians intimidated workers and a contractor, even forcing them off the site several times.

The tires of a surveying vehicle were punctured. Its windshield was also broken and expensive equipment was stolen from it. Israelis also erected tents and trailer homes (later removed) on the site. Demonstrations and prayers were held there. And newly laid asphalt on a road was broken up in several places. Yet not a single suspect was apprehended, arrested or put on trial.

The offer of an army post

At a meeting on July 29, Padan suggested to Sabawi that the army put a watchtower in the middle of his property. Sabawi, who had previously heard the idea from other Civil Administration officials, replied that it would drive buyers away.

“I told them ‘You can’t just put a military outpost in the middle of private property before you’ve proven that there’s a security threat. And you can’t prove that there is. And if there is – it isn’t coming from us.’”

Why did the unknown perpetrators begin their harassment? On July 2, an article on the Ynet news website reported that residents in the area of the settlement of Shiloh and smaller associated settlements had decided that Sabawi was building a “Palestinian town” nearby, and that the Civil Administration had approved the plan because it was told the work was being done to lay the groundwork for agricultural paths.

Among the smaller settlements associated with Shiloh north of Ramallah, there are a number of unauthorized outposts that have a documented history of violence against Palestinian residents of the area. It was through the use of such violence that they gradually took over a large portion of the space between the Palestinian villages.

In his Ynet article, Elisha Ben Kimon reported that the settlers had sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking that the work be stopped. The settlers claimed that the construction was “leading to real harm to the personal security of every one of the Israelis who lives in the Shiloh bloc communities, particularly Amichai,” a reference to a new settlement established for residents evicted from the outpost of Amona.

At the time, it was also reported that the army was studying the matter.

The pressure worked

The pressure, threats and damage bore fruit. The work on Sabawi’s company’s land was halted during the fall Jewish holidays in October. It was then resumed on the understanding that it would be conducted only within the plot itself and only on weekends. On October 27, the contractor and his staff sought to continue to lay the asphalt for roads within the plot, but they were prevented from doing so by armed Israelis.

Rather than evicting the Israelis, soldiers ordered the contractor and his Palestinian workers to leave. Col. Yonatan Steinberg, who since August has been the commander of the Binyamin Regional Brigade, instructed the Civil Administration to instruct Sabawi to stop the work on his land until further notice.

As a result, the contractor has been unable to pour concrete for sidewalks along the roads.

“Padan told me that our hill is higher than the Amihai settlement, and that’s what presents the security risk,” Sabawi told Haaretz. “But it is [the settlers] who pose the only security risk. They attacked us. They threatened us. They came here armed.”

When it comes to the Ynet report, it should be noted that the Civil Administration has no authority to approve or withhold approval for work at the site – because it is in Area B – according to the artificial division of the West Bank agreed to in the Oslo Accords, which was to have come to an end in 1999.

The Palestinian Authority has administrative and planning responsibility in Area B while Israel maintains security responsibility. But Israeli responsibility for security has not led Israeli law enforcement authorities to prevent the continued acts of vandalism.

In addition, the intelligence gathered by the settlers, and which was the basis of their SOS to Netanyahu at such an early stage, was faulty. No new Palestinian town is to be built there. What Sabawi’s company is doing here, on the land of Turmusaya and in four other areas in the central West Bank is preparing for sale building lots that in the future might become residential neighborhoods.

Every day of delay in the work inflicts financial losses on Sabawi’s company. Sabawi said the value of his company’s shares on the Palestinian stock exchange have fallen and that its third quarter 2019 profits have shrunk by about 50 percent compared to the equivalent quarter last year.

Petition to the High Court

Sabawi turned to Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard for help. After Padan and Alian had not responded to a warning letter, he filed an urgent petition at the end of November with Israel’s High Court of Justice in a bid to require the authorities to allow the continuation of the work and prevent sabotage.

If a Palestinian caused damage to Israeli construction work, the developer would not have had to resort to filing a High Court petition, Sfard commented. The authorities would have immediately intervened, arresting the suspects and putting them on trial in military court.

Supreme Court Justice Alex Stein did not view the petition as an urgent case, however, and gave the state a month to respond, rejecting an additional request to shorten the period.

When Haaretz asked the army spokesman’s office if the case was not an example of a surrender to settler violence, the office said it would respond in court.

The company responsible for the project, Union Construction and Investment, was founded by Sabawi’s father, Mohamed Al Sabawi. The founding of the company reflected the hope that wealthy Palestinians had in the 1990s, when the Oslo Accords were signed. The hope was reinforced by senior officials in Western countries who called on entrepreneurs to investment in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, develop, make a profit and thus support the peace process.

Expelled from Salameh

Mohamed Al Sabawi was a child when Israeli officers expelled him and his family from the village of Salameh, east of Jaffa, to Gaza in 1948. At the time, the Sabawi family had a deed proving its ownership of 200 dunams (50 acres) of the village’s total area of 6,782 dunams. The loss of the land encouraged Sabawi Sr. to think bigger.

He moved from Gaza to Kuwait, where he joined the staff of an insurance company. He then started his own commercial and marketing businesses, completed a Ph.D. in risk management, married a woman from Gaza whom he had met in Cairo and all this without being a citizen of any country. Rather than a national passport, he had a laissez-passer document.

The family decided to seek a more secure future by immigrating to Canada when Khaled was 3. The first thing they did when they received Canadian citizenship, in the early 1990s, was to visit their ancestral homeland and mourn what they had lost. They also decided to jump on the bandwagon of construction and rehabilitation in the 1967 occupied territory, and were not oblivious to the promise of financial profits.

Mohamed Al Sabawi set up an insurance company in Gaza, followed by a construction firm. Since the mid 1990s he has been entering his place of birth (historical Palestine) with an Israeli visa.

His energetic son Khaled, who was 25 at the time, dreamed about green construction that would use underground geothermal energy to maintain comfortable building temperatures in both winter and summer. Due to Israeli movement restrictions, the company that he founded for the venture moved to Jordan. There, however, as a result of bureaucracy and the drop in the price of oil, there was increasingly less demand for his relatively expensive product. The company now exists only on paper.

Shift in focus to West Bank land business

Khaled then shifted his focus to another business idea that his father had come up with: offering affordable building lots in the West Bank to middle-class Palestinians – interest-free over a five-year period.

The land Sabawi buys and sells is only in Area A and Area B of the West Bank, where the Oslo Accords endowed the Palestinian authorities with administrative and planning authorities. Sabawi’s company does not operate in Area C, which constitutes 62 percent of the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem, and where Israel maintains full administrative and planning authority. It is very unlikely that Israeli authorities would grant a Palestinian a permit to install even a single metal rod.

The project is named TABO Palestine, Tabo referring to the process of land deed registry. The company looks for land in the West Bank that is available for sale. Company representatives then seek out the many heirs to each plot to secure their agreement to sell and to ensure that no forgery is involved.

In the rare instances in which the land is already registered in the Palestinian land registry – as is the case in Turmusaya – the attention then shifts to preparing a master plan for the area in cooperation with the local councils, paving roads to and within the site and connecting the site to the electricity grid. The company cannot connect the sites to the water infrastructure, because this requires Israeli approval, which if granted is only after many years of tedious negotiations.

A bureaucratic obstacle course

In the many cases in which ownership of the land is not recorded in the land registry (because Israel froze in 1967 the registry process that had started earlier by British and Jordanian authorities), the company and its lawyers do so after having purchased the stock. This involves a bureaucratic obstacle course via nine Palestinian Authority ministries and departments, where efficiency is wanting.

The centralized purchase of land and its division into smaller plots for sale streamlines the process and protects the purchaser from the risk of forgery or the need to bear the expense of stringing electricity lines or paving an access road. In its eight years in business, the TABO project has purchased and prepared 1,500 dunams of land for resale to individuals. The buyers can then build their own homes at their own pace and in the style of their preference.

So far, however, only 15 houses – including the company’s model homes – have actually been built, on four plots, Sabawi told Haaretz. For the buyers, their investment has mainly been for the future. The project in Turmusaya is 150 dunams in area and is divided into 94 individual lots.

In June, about a quarter of them were sold within two weeks at about $60,000 each on average. Further away from Ramallah, prices are about half that.

Sales nearly at a standstill

But the sales have stopped almost completely in the past four months due to the settlers’ harassment and the pressure they put on the army. There has also been an attempt on social media to present the master plan as Israeli – and to call on Jews to buy lots there. In addition to the ruse itself, it could create suspicions among Palestinians that Sabawi bought the land from Palestinians on false pretenses – to sell it to settlers.

Nevertheless, potential buyers are still showing some interest. On Wednesday, a resident of the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem came for a second visit, a day after his first. This time he came with his wife and daughter. On the prior visit, two youngsters, their earlocks long and curly, blocked his path to the site. But he wasn’t deterred.

He works for the Israeli company SodaStream at its factory at Lehavim in the northern Negev. He has regular contact with Israelis and has dreamed of a weekend house in a beautiful landscape. “But first I have to pay off the cost of the lot over the next five years,” he noted.

On Wednesday morning, Sabawi looked pensive and absorbed in thought. He was standing on the land that he had purchased at the beginning of the year, gazing at the olive groves surrounding it and at the terraces and plowed fields. It looks like Tuscany, he remarked.

Palestine “is a test case,” he said. “It tests your resourcefulness, your Zen abilities, but at the same time, it’s really interesting. It is easy to practice zen on an isolated mountain, but real Zen is in the eye of a hurricane, with chaos all around.”

Sabawi resorted to his Zen from the beginning, as his father’s right-hand man – when in 2009 he ran into problems in receiving an Israeli visa to stay in the West Bank and to enter Israel. It also came in handy when he was forced to face the Palestinian Authority’s institutional foot dragging and laxity. Criticism from Sabawi and his father led to open friction with senior Palestinian officials – and the Palestinian land authority’s refusal to register his company’s ownership to the land that it purchased. The authority only relented following a ruling by the Palestinian high court of justice on a petition filed by Sabawi.

Surprisingly, Sabawi remarked, “Sometimes I’m 99.9 percent Canadian.” For example, when the burning of trash in Palestinian cities and villages upsets him, and when he shows zero tolerance for corruption. He is especially Canadian in his expectation that Israeli law enforcement authorities will do their duty and protect his workers and his project from harm


UPDATE (December 16, 2019)

Three aerial photographs of the site (credit: Ido)


Monday, October 14, 2019

Gaza Hot Spots in Israel

From the research of Yoav Tepper, as published in Makor Rishon:

The results of rocket, mortar and missile fire from the Gaza Strip in to Israel.