Arab political-incorrectness on the Palestinian issue

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
October 4, 2018, https://bit.ly/2Qzzmgj

While Iraq delivers staunchly pro-Palestinian talk, a 2017 Iraqi law has reversed Saddam Hussein’s pro-Palestinian policy, depriving Palestinians (including those born in Iraq) of free education, healthcare, travel documents and employment in state institutions.

While Jordan calls for sweeping Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, and while the Hashemite regime has absorbed over one million Syrian refugees, Amman stopped (since 2012) admitting Palestinian refugees from Syria. Furthermore, the significantly enhanced trilateral Jordan-US-Israel strategic cooperation has become a major artery of the Hashemite regime’s national and homeland security.

While Egypt urges Israel to satisfy Palestinian demands, Egypt-Israel strategic cooperation, especially (but not only) in the area of counter-terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza, has surged unprecedentedly.

While there is no progress on the Israel-Palestinian front, Saudi Arabia and all other pro-US Arab Gulf States have substantially expanded military and commercial cooperation with Israel. Riyadh has never considered the Palestinian issue a top geo-strategic priority – except its generous talk, but no walk – as demonstrated from 1979-1989 by its $1BN annual aid to the anti-Soviet Islamic campaign in Afghanistan, compared with $100MN annual aid to the PLO.  Also, while UNRWA highlighted a “$50MN landmark contribution by Saudi Arabia” on behalf of Palestinian refugees, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman put it in realistic perspective by purchasing a 440ft-long yacht for $588MN and a Leonardo da Vinci painting for $450MN.
Once again, Middle East reality defies Western conventional wisdom.

Moreover, contrary to Western conventional wisdom, Palestinians benefit much more from Western support than from the support extended – and usually avoided – by Arabs.
Arab leaders have always showered Palestinians with an abundance of positive talk, but never with positive walk, as highlighted in the aftermath of the 1948-49 Arab-Israel War, when Jordan and Egypt occupied Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza.  Rather than transferring these areas to Palestinian control, Jordan and Egypt aggressively squelched Palestinian political and educational activities there.

Furthermore, Arab regimes have not flexed their military or economic muscles during Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, such as the 1982 Israel-PLO war in Lebanon, the First and Second Intifada (1987-1992 and 2000-2005 respectively) and the three Israel-Hamas wars in Gaza (2009, 2012 and 2014).  In fact, notwithstanding their public rhetoric, most Arab policy-makers consider the Palestinians, in general, and Hamas, in particular, as clear and present threats to regional stability and their own regimes, and wish that Israel would deal with Palestinian terrorism more decisively.

In 2018, the Palestinian issue is relegated further down the scale of Arab priorities, against the backdrop of the intensifying lethal threats – to each pro-US Arab regime – posed by the imperialistic, megalomaniacal Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Sunni terrorist derivatives (e.g., ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas) and Erdogan’s Turkey. These threats, which have placed a sharp machete at the throat of every Arab regime, have been unrelated to the Palestinian issue.

In 2018, there have been hundreds of televised reports from Gaza, top-heavy on Israeli military response to Palestinian terrorists, who fly fire-kites and explosive-balloons into Israeli communities. However, there have been minimal reports on Arab solidarity with the Palestinians.  Arab regimes and the Arab Street have been preoccupied with the domestic and regional tectonic, destabilizing ripple effects of the Arab Tsunami (superficially addressed as the “Arab Spring”), which have been leveraged by Islamic Sunni terrorists, as well as by Iran’s Ayatollahs in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and the oil-rich and Shiite-populated Al-Hassa and Al-Qatif regions of Saudi Arabia.

The Arab preoccupation with do-or-die threats and challenges – not with the Palestinian issue – has been reflected in the non-realization of Arab financial assistance to the Palestinian cause, announced in bombastic forums, but has subsequently all but evaporated.

Most significantly, while the Palestinian/PLO track record has been replete with anti-Arab terrorism and anti-Arab subversion and the training of international terrorist organizations, Israel has been increasingly perceived – by the pro-US Arab countries – as the most effective life insurance agent in the region.  Hence, the unprecedented enhancement of their geo-strategic and economic cooperation with Israel.

Will Western policy-makers, academia and media learn proper lessons from past critical errors in assessing Middle East developments, or will they persist in repeating – rather than avoiding – past mistakes, which would entail severe financial and national security cost?!


No Arab demographic time bomb

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
Jewish Political Studies Review, Volume 29, Numbers 3-4, September 2018
Demographic reality defies conventional wisdom  
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Jewish State is not facing an Arab demographic time bomb; but, benefits from a robust Jewish demographic tailwind of births and net-immigration.For example, between 1995 and 2017, the number of Israeli Jewish births surged by 74%, from 80,400 to 140,000, while the number of Israeli Arab births grew by 19% during the same period – from 36,000 to 43,000 births.

Moreover, contrary to conventional wisdom, the trend of Israeli emigration has slowed down.  Thus, the number of Israelis staying abroad for over a year was expanded by 6,300 in 2016 (the lowest in ten years – a derivative of the growth of Israel’s economy), compared to 8,200 in 2015 and 14,200 additional emigrants in 1990. At the same time, Israel’s population surged from 4.8 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2018.

Since the end of the 19th century, the Jewish-Arab demographic balance has systematically defied the demographic establishment’s assessments and projections.

For instance, in March 1898, Shimon Dubnov, a leading Jewish historian and demographer, projected 500,000 Jews in the Land of Israel by 1998, defining Theodore Herzl’s Zionist vision as “a messianic wishful thinking.”  However, Herzl was the ultimate realist and Dubnov was off by 5.5 million Jews!

In October 1944, the founder of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), and the luminary of Israel’s demographic and statistical establishment, Prof. Roberto Bachi, projected 2.3 million Jews in Israel in 2001, a 34% minority. Bachi’s projection reflected the demographic establishment’s underwhelming assessment of Jewish fertility and immigration (Aliyah) and the overwhelming assessment of Arab fertility. In 2018, there are seven million Jews in Israel, a 65.5% majority in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), enjoying an effective demographic tailwind.

During the 1980s, the ICBS sustained its traditional, minimalist assessment of Aliyah, dismissing the potential of an Aliyah wave from the USSR. But, in defiance of the demographic and statistical establishments – and due to a most assertive, pro-active Aliyah policy by Prime Ministers Ben Gurion, Eshkol, Meir, Begin and Shamir – one million Soviet Jews immigrated to Israel.

In 2000, consistent with demographic political correctness, the ICBS projected a gradual decline of Jewish fertility rate from 2.6 births per woman to 2.4 in 2025.  However, by 2017, the Jewish fertility rate was bolstered to 3.16 births per woman and 76.5% of all Israeli births were Jewish, compared to 69% in 1995.

The Westernization of Arab demography

In 1969, Israel’s Arab fertility rate (nine births per woman) was six births higher than Israel’s Jewish fertility rate. However, that gap was erased by 2015 (3.11 births each), and in 2016/17 the Jewish fertility rate was higher than the Arab rate (3.16 births per woman and 3.3 when both Jewish spouses were Israeli-born). Moreover, the Arab fertility rate in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is 3 births per woman, compared to 5 in 2000.   In fact, in 2018, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is equal to Jordan’s, while exceeding the fertility rates in all Arab countries other than Yemen, Iraq and Egypt.

The rise of Jewish fertility reflects the enhanced optimism, patriotism, attachment to roots, communal responsibility and a substantial decline in the number of abortions.

Furthermore, while conventional wisdom assumes that the surge of Israel’s Jewish fertility rate was triggered by the Ultra-Orthodox community, reality documents a moderate decline of the Ultra-Orthodox fertility rate (due to the growing integration in the job-market and academia) – while a substantial increase of the fertility rate has been demonstrated by Israel’s secular sector, which is the largest sector of the population.
At the same time, the Westernization of Arab fertility (in Israel, Judea and Samaria and throughout the Middle East) is a derivative of the following phenomena:

*Intense urbanization has transformed the 70% rural Arab population in Judea and Samaria in 1967 to a 75% urban population in 2018;

*Most Arab women in Israel, Judea and Samaria have pursued dramatically enhanced education, increasingly completing high school and pursuing higher education;

*Rather than getting married at the age of 15 and beginning reproduction at 16 – as did their mothers and grandmothers – contemporary Arab women tend to delay and shorten that process;

*Arab women have improved their social status, seeking to advance their own careers, thus ending their reproductive period at the age of 45, rather than 55, resulting in less births;

*Rapidly declining teen-pregnancy;

*Rapidly expanding family-planning;

*Youthful male emigration, among Judea and Samaria Arabs, has widened the gap between the number of Arab males and females there;

*Arab women in Israel, Judea and Samaria, just like Arab women throughout the Arab World have substantially expanded the use of contraceptives.

According to a June, 2012 study by the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB), 72% of 15-49 year old Palestinian married women prefer to avoid pregnancy, trailing Morocco (78%), ahead of Jordan (71%) and Egypt (69%).  A growing number are using contraception, as family planning services have expanded in the Arab region.

Auditing, rather than echoing, the official Palestinian data

In contrast to the Israeli and global demographic establishment, this essay audits – rather than reverberate/amplify – the official data of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). The essay examines the records of the PCBS against the data published by the Palestinian Departments of Health, Education and Interior, the Palestinian Election Commission, The World Bank, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s Authority of International Passages, etc.

Unlike the demographic establishment, this essay does not indulge in projections, which are subjective by definition, impacted by a litany of unpredictable domestic and international social, economic and geo-political factors. Instead, this essay focuses only on well-documented and verifiable birth, death and migration data.

Since 2004, “The America-Israel Demographic Research Group” – consisting of three Americans and six Israelis, including this writer – has documented significant inaccuracies and misrepresentations by the PCBS, totaling over one million Arabs in Judea and Samaria and about half a million in Gaza.  For instance:

1. On February 26, 1998, upon completing the first Palestinian census, the Head of the PCBS, Hasan Abu-Libdeh, stated at a press conference: “We counted 325,000 persons living outside the Palestinian lands for more than one year.” The inclusion of such a contingency in a census is prohibited by international standards, until – and if – the overseas residents return for, at least, 90 days. Furthermore, such a contingency expands systematically through births (which exceed deaths).  This malpractice was confirmed by the 1998 website of the PCBS: “The de-facto approach was adopted with some exceptions: All Palestinians studying abroad irrespective of the study period…. Palestinians who live abroad for more than one year, and who have a usual place of residence in the Palestinian territories….”

It was further reaffirmed on October 14 2004, when the Palestinian Election Commission stated that 200,000 overseas residents – over the age of 18 – were on the roster of eligible voters. Since in October 2004, 18 was the median age, the number of overseas residents, included in the census, expanded to 400,000 persons. On October29, 2014, the Palestinian Undersecretary of the Interior, Hassan Ilwi, told the Ma’an News Agency: “Since 1995, we have registered about 100,000 children born abroad.”

2. A double-count of the 330,000 Jerusalem Arabs (whose number expands systematically due to births) has taken place since the 1997 Palestinian census, because they are included in the official count of both Israeli and the the Palestinian Authority.

3. Over 100,000 Arabs (mostly from Judea and Samaria) have been doubly-counted – by Israel and the Palestinian Authority – as a result of marrying Israeli Arabs, which accorded them an Israeli status (permanent residents or citizens). This contingency is, also, growing due to births.

4. A 32% inflated number of births was documented by a September 7, 2006 study by The World Bank.

5. Deaths have been under-reported as evidenced by the 2007 census, which included Arabs born in 1845…. Moreover, in 2009, the PCBS reported 1,900 deaths in Gaza, while claiming that 1,391 Arabs were killed during Operation Cast Lead…. A June 10, 1993 study by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (which stopped auditing the Palestinian numbers in 1996) echoed studies conducted during the Ottoman and British rule of the area, indicating: “If the Palestinian population registration is accurate, then Palestinian life expectancy is higher than life expectancy in the USA….”

6. A 280,000 net-emigration has been documented, since the 1997 Palestinian census, by Israel’s International Passages Authority, which controls all land, air and sea passages to/from Israel, Judea and Samaria (and Gaza until the “disengagement” of 2005), while the PCBS claims zero net-migration…. The 1950-1967 documentation by Jordan and Egypt reveals that net-emigration has been systematic in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, except for the 1993-95 Oslo-driven importation, by Israel, of some 100,000 Palestinians from terrorist camps in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, the Sudan and Lebanon. In recent years, the scope of net-emigration from Judea and Samaria has been 20,000 annually.

According to a 1946 document, compiled by Israel Trivus and submitted by David Ben Gurion to “The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry” (“No Arab majority in the Land of Israel“), should one accept the official British Mandate Statistics – which echoed the Arab numbers with no scrutiny (as is the current practice) – then Arab natural increase in the Land of Israel is the highest in human history, dramatically higher than customary in the Arab World.

The 2018 demographic reality

Contrary to political correctness, which has embraced demographic fatalism – repeatedly frustrated by reality – this essay has embraced due-diligence, documenting the reality of Jewish demographic momentum.

In 2018 – irrespective of the international norm to regurgitate official demographic numbers without due diligence – there are 1.85 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria (not 3 million as claimed by the PCBS), 1.6 million Israeli Muslim Arabs, 130,000 Israeli Druze, 130,000 Israeli Christian Arabs and seven million Jews – a 65.5% Jewish majority in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria, compared with a 9% Jewish minority in 1900 and a 39% minority in 1947.  While Arab demography has experienced powerful Westernization, Jewish demography has benefitted from a robust demographic tailwind of fertility and an annual net-immigration of 25,000-30,000 in recent years.

The latter has been the most critical engine of growth of the Jewish State, representing a core value of the Zionist idea: the Ingathering (Aliyah) to the Homeland. In 2018, there is a unique window of opportunity for another wave of Aliyah from France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Britain, additional European countries, Argentina, the USA, etc.  Such a wave would follow the waves, which have enriched the Jewish State, every 20 years, since 1882, provided that Jerusalem revives the pro-active Aliyah policy, which was implemented by all Prime Ministers until 1992, but replaced by a pro-active absorption policy since 1992.

In 2018, Israel is the only Western democracy and advanced economy, endowed with a relatively-high rate of fertility, which facilitates the sustained growth of the economy, as well as a potential expansion of the military ranks – if necessary – while boosting the level of national optimism.

Against the backdrop of the aforementioned demographic documentation, the suggestion that the Jewish State is facing an Arab demographic time bomb, is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.  Or both….


Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) guide for the perplexed, 2018

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel initiative”
Based on ancient Jewish sages, September 21, 2018, https://bit.ly/2QRtDDd
More on Sukkot and other Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J

1. US-Israel special ties are accentuated by Columbus Day (October 8, 2018), which is always celebrated around Sukkot (September 24-30, 2018). According to “Columbus Then and Now” (Miles Davidson, 1997, p. 268), Columbus landed in America on Friday afternoon, October 12, 1492, the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, in the Jewish year 5235, on the 7th day of Sukkot, Hosha’na’ Rabbah – a day of special universal deliverance and miracles. Hosha’ (הושע) is “deliverance” in Hebrew, Na’ (נא) is the Hebrew word for “please” and Rabbah (רבה) is “The Sublime.” The numerical value of Na’ in Hebrew is 51 (נ – 50, א – 1), which corresponds to the celebration of Hoshaa’na’ Rabbah on the 51st day following Moses’ ascension up to Mt. Sinai.

2. Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles named after the first stop during the Exodus from Egypt, the town of Sukkota (סכותה) – Exodus 13:20-22 and Numbers 33:3-5.
It commemorates the transition of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt to sovereignty in the Land of Israel; from nomadic life in the desert to permanence in the Promised Land; from oblivion to deliverance; and from the spiritual state-of-mind during the High Holidays to the mundane of the rest of the year. Sukkot aims at universal – not only Jewish – deliverance.

3. However, Sukkot is celebrated six month after Passover. According to the Jewish mystical Zohar (“Radiance” in Hebrew) – which was written by Rabbi Shimon bar-Yochai in the 2nd century and published by Moses de Leon in the 13th century – Sukkot commemorates the divine clouds of glory, which expressed the presence of God, sheltering the Jewish people throughout the Exodus until the return to the Land of Israel. The first appearance of the divine clouds of glory occurred in the first stop of the Exodus, Sukkota.

The holiday of Sukkot follows Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which reaffirm the faith in God’s moral and material supremacy. It is followed by the holiday of Simchat Torah – celebrated a day after Sukkot – which highlights the centrality of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) in Jewish life. The Sukkot holiday represents a human effort to be worthy of the presence and benefits of the divine clouds of glory.

4. The Hebrew root of Sukkot stands for the key characteristics of the relationship between the Jewish people, the Jewish Homeland and faith in God. The Hebrew word Sukkah (סכה) means “wholeness” and “totality” (סכ), the “shelter” of the tabernacle (סכך), “to anoint” (סוך), “divine curtain/shelter” (מסך) and “attentiveness” (סכת).

5. Sukkot, the 3rd major Jewish holiday. It follows Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – in the month of Tishrei, the holiest Jewish month. According to Judaism, 3 represents divine wisdom, stability, integration and peace. 3 is the total sum of the basic odd (1) and even (2) numbers. The 3rd day of the Creation was blessed twice; God appeared on Mt. Sinai 3 days after Moses’ ascension of the mountain; there are 3 parts to the Bible, 3 Patriarchs, 3 annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem, etc.

6. The Book of Ecclesiastes. The holiday of Sukkot is dedicated to the study of the Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon. It accentuates Solomon’s philosophy of the importance of humility, morality, patience, learning from past mistakes, commemoration and historical perspective, family, friendship, long-term thinking, proper timing, realism and knowledge. The Hebrew name of Ecclesiastes is Kohelet (קהלת), which is similar to the Biblical commandment to celebrate the community-oriented Sukkot holiday – Hakhel (הקהל), which means “to assemble,” as well as “public” (קהל) and “community” (קהילה). Solomon’s call for the realization of human fallibility, vulnerabilities and limitations is consistent with a central message of Sukkot: a seven day relocation from one’s permanent residence to the temporary, humble, wooden Sukkah (booth).

The five Biblical Scrolls are read on five Jewish holidays: the Song of Songs is read on Passover, the Scroll of Ruth on Pentecost, Ecclesiastes on Sukkot, the Scroll of Esther on Purim and the Scroll of Eikhah is read on the Ninth Day of Av.

7. Sukkot and the longest-serving US Senator, the late Robert Byrd (D-WV), who often quoted Biblical verses, in general, and Ecclesiastes, in particular. For example, on November 7, 2008, Senator Byrd announced his retirement from the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee: “’To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Those Biblical words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 express my feelings about this particular time in my life.”  On September 9, 1998, Senator Byrd made the following Senate floor remarks on the Lewinsky affair: “As the book of Ecclesiastes plainly tells us, ‘there is no new thing under the sun.’ Time seems to be turning backwards in its flight. And many of the mistakes that President Nixon made are being made all over again.”

More on Sukkot and other Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J

Yom Kippur guide for the perplexed, 2018

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
Based on ancient Jewish Sages, September 17, 2018, bit.ly/2MCHiLl 

More on Yom Kippur and other Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J

1.  The Yom Kippur-matchmaking connection. According to Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel, the 6th President of the Sanhedrin (the ancient Jewish Supreme Court of 71 Sages), during 50 CE – 70 CE, a direct descendant of King David and a great-grandson of Hillel the Elder: “Jews never had happier days than the 15th of the month of Av [the beginning of the grape harvest – Holiday of Love] and Yom Kippur [the end of the grape harvest]. On those days the daughters of Jerusalem would go out wearing white clothing… dance in the vineyards and say: ‘young man, lift up your eyes and see what you choose.  Do not seek beauty… [since] it is a woman that is God fearing that should be praised.’”Prof. Shalom Rosenberg, from the Hebrew University’s Department of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, suggests that the Yom Kippur-matchmaking connection attests to the centrality of marriage and family in Judaism.  While Yom Kippur focuses the attention of Jews to core values, the marriage institution – which is increasingly threatened by modernity – focuses the attention of human beings to the core cell of the human society, the value-based family.

Yom Kippur aims at bringing one closest to God, while marriage aims at bringing man and woman closest to one another.

Yom Kippur aims at coalescing the entire Jewish public – not just observant Jews – around critical values.  Hence the Hebrew word for “public” – צבור – which is an acronym for Righteous persons (צדיקים), Average persons (בינוניים) and Evil persons (ורשעים).

2. The Hebrew word Kippur, כיפור (atonement/repentance), is a derivative of the Biblical word Kaporetכפורת ,, the cover of the Holy Ark in the Sanctuary, and Kopher, כופר, the cover of Noah’s Ark and the Holy Altar in the Temple.  Yom Kippur resembles a spiritual cover (dome), which separates between the holy and the mundane, between spiritualism and materialism. The Kippah, כיפה (skullcap, yarmulke’), which covers one’s head during prayers, reflects a spiritual dome.  Yom Kippur is translated into “the day of Kippur.”

3. The substance of Yom Kippur is reflected through the Hebrew spelling of “fast” (צם and צום) – abstinence from food. צם and צום are the roots of the Hebrew words for “narrowed-down focus;” “concentration of attention;” “reduced consumption” (of food and material elements); miniaturization (צמצום) of one’s wrong-doing; enslavement of oneself (צמית) to an annual process of soul-searching and cleansing, but not to fellow human-beings; and eternal (צמיתות) faith in such values. The Hebrew/Biblical synonym for “fast” צם) and (צום is תענית, a derivative of the Hebrew words ענה and עני, which means to torture one’s body through soul-searching and fasting, to respond to spiritual needs, and to identify oneself with poverty during the cleansing process.

4. Yom Kippur, Judaism and #10. Yom Kippur is observed on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, whose astrological sign is Libra (♎), which symbolizes the key themes of Yom Kippur: scales, justice, balance, truth, symmetry, sensitivity and optimism. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus (Noga, נגה, in Hebrew, the name of my oldest granddaughter), which reflects divine light and love of other people.

Yom Kippur concludes ten days of genuine, heart-driven atonement, repentance and soul-searching – the holiest Jewish time – which begin on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishrei, commemorating the Creation. Ten has special significance in Judaism: God’s abbreviation is the 10th Hebrew letter (Yod – י); the ten attributes of God – Divine perfection – were highlighted during the Creation; the ten Commandments; the ten Plagues of Egypt; the ten reasons for blowing the Shofar; the 10% gift to God (tithe); the ten Martyrs (Jewish leaders), who were tortured/murdered by the Roman Empire; the ten generations between Adam and Noah and between Noah and Abraham; the ten divine Tests passed by Abraham (e.g., left his birth place to become a “stranger” in Canaan); the ten-person-quorum (Minyan in Hebrew), which is required for collective Jewish prayer;  etc.

5. Six main annual Jewish fasting days:

(a) The 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei is Yom Kippur, an annual day of repentance for one’s misconduct toward fellow human-beings – in order to minimize future missteps – the cleansing of one’s behavior, recognition of one’s fallibilities and forgiveness of fellow human-beings’ misconduct. Therefore, Yom Kippur is a day of hope, optimism and improved relations with one’s family, friends and community. It requires a deep level of personal, focused concentration through humility, soul-searching, thoughtfulness, magnanimity, accepting responsibility, consideration, compassion and faith, which are facilitated by avoiding food and most forms of luxury.

(b) The 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet commemorates the 589-586 BCE siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar;

(c) The 17th day of the month of Tammuz commemorates the 586 BCE and 69 CE breaching of Jerusalem’s walls by the Babylonian and Roman Empires, and the breaking of the Tablets by Moses upon confronting the Golden Calf lapse of faith;

(d) The 9th day of the month of Av commemorates the destruction of the first (586 BCE) and second (70 CE) Jewish Temples, by the Babylonian and Roman Empires respectively, the beginning of Jewish exiles, and the Ten Spies’ bankruptcy of faith;

(e) The 3rd day of the month of Tishrei commemorates the murder of the Jewish Governor of Jerusalem, Gedalyah Ben Achikam, by another Jew, Yishmael Ben Netanyah (586 BCE);

(f) The 13th day of the month of Adar is the Fast of Queen Esther – whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, which means righteousness – the day before the Purim holiday, commemorating Queen Esther’s three-day-fast prior to her appeal to the Persian King Ahasuerus to refrain from exterminating the Jews (around 480 BCE);

6.  The Shofar (the ritual ram’s horn). The Ten Days of Repentance are launched by the blowing of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. They are concluded on Yom Kippur by the blowing of the Shofar, which represents humility, determination, optimism and peace-through-strength (the ram).

The blowing of the Shofar is a reminder of the Binding of Isaac (which was averted by a ram) – the highest level of faith in God.  It is a reminder of the receipt of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which was accompanied by the first Biblical blowing of the Shofar (Exodus 19:17). It is, also, a reminder of the conquest of Jericho by Joshua, when the sound of seven Shofars brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down (Joshua 6:1-20; Paul Robson’s Joshua Fit De’ Battle of Jericho). In addition, it is a reminder of Gideon’s victory over the 135,000 strong Midianite military, which was achieved by 300 Jewish soldiers blowing 300 ram horns (Judges, Ch. 7).

The sound of the Shofar – which emanates from the heart, not from the mouth – aims at reaching God, while awakening people to repentance. The Hebrew/Biblical word Shofar – שופר – means to enhance and improve (שפר), top quality, glory, pleasure (שופרא) which are key messages of Yom Kippur.

More on Yom Kippur and additional Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J

US departure from conventional wisdom

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel initiative”
September 13, 2018, https://bit.ly/2p0VHYi

The evolution of President Trump’s stance on the Palestinian issue reflects extrication from conventional wisdom, which was embraced by his predecessors and the establishment of the State Department, academia and the media, while systematically crashed against the rocks of Middle East reality.In contrast to his predecessors, Trump and his advisors – National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Special Emissary Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman – have concluded that the bolstering of US national security, morality and common sense behooves the US to take a realistic – and not an artificially neutral – position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  Moral equivalence has not advanced national security.

The timing of the official release of President Trump’s policy – the eve of the September 11 memorial of the 3,000 fatalities and 6,000 injured – underlines the awareness that advancing national and homeland security mandates a clear differentiation between entities which combat terrorism systematically and effectively (e.g. the US and Israel), on the one hand, and those who produce, train, educate and incite terrorists (e.g. the Palestinian leadership, Iran’s Ayatollahs and other Islamic regimes), on the other hand.

Unlike his predecessor at the White House, Trump and his advisors realize that the restoration of the US’ posture of deterrence is a precondition to the enhancement of the US’ national and homeland security, requiring the fending off – and not succumbing to – pressure, threats and terrorism. Hence, the disavowal of the self-defeating 2015 Iran Deal, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State and the restructuring of US policy on the Palestinian issue.

In contrast to his predecessors and to European policy-makers, President Trump and his advisors are cognizant of the well-documented fact that the Palestinian issue has not been a core-cause of Middle East turbulence, nor a crown-jewel of Arab policy-makers (who shower the Palestinians with talk but not walk), nor a root-cause of Islamic terrorism and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The President is aware of the unprecedented commercial and security cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt, who have viewed the Palestinians as an unreliable, subversive, terroristic and junior league element in the Middle East.

Contrary to his predecessors – since the 1993 Israel-PLO Oslo Accord – Trump has concluded that a Palestinian state would add fuel – not water – to the Middle East fire; would be the straw that would break the back of the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan; would therefore transform Jordan into another major platform of Islamic terrorism, posing a lethal threat to its southern neighbor, Saudi Arabia and other pro-US regimes in the Arabian Peninsula. It could provide a tailwind to the anti-US Ayatollah’s imperial vision; would expand the Russian presence (ground, air and naval) in the eastern Mediterranean and western Middle East; and would therefore deal a severe blow to the US national and homeland security.

Departing from political-correctness, Trump has decided to abort the sham of UNRWA, which does not operate in accordance with the patterns of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).  While the 11,500 employees of the  UNHCR have resettled some 100 million refugees throughout the globe since the end of the Second World War, the 30,000 employees of UNRWA have artificially increased the number of Palestinian refugees from 320,000 at the end of the 1948/49 War to, supposedly, 5 million in 2018, sucking mega-billion of dollars, while intensifying hate-education and terrorism, which have doomed the pursuit of peace.

President Trump’s Palestinian policy also reflects recognition of Israel as a credible and systematic ally, constituting a most effective, a deterring outpost in an extremely critical and volatile region; thus, sparing the US the need to deploy additional ground, air and naval forces to the Middle East, Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, producing a unique rate-of-return – commercially and militarily – on the US’ annual investment in Israel.


Rosh Hashanah (New Year) guide for the perplexed, 2018

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
Based on ancient Jewish Sages, September 5, 2018, https://bit.ly/2NfMtFe More on Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J

1. Rosh Hashanah (“the beginning of the year” in Hebrew), the Jewish New Year (5,779), is celebrated on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei (תשרי).  Tishrei was a Babylonian term for launching the agricultural (creation) calendar, starting with the planting of seeds and the first rain.2. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the sixth day of Creation, when the first human-being (Adam) was created, highlighting the centrality of the soil – a metaphor for humility – in human life. Thus, the Hebrew word for a human-being is Adam (אדמ), which becomes the Hebrew spelling of “soil” (אדמה) when the Hebrew letter ה (an abbreviation of God, the Creator) is added.

In addition, the Hebrew word Adam (אדמ) contains the Hebrew word for blood (דמ), the liquid of life, and is the acronym of Biblical Abraham (אברהם), David (דוד) and Moses (משה), the three role models of humility.

3. The Hebrew word “Rosh” means “beginning,” “first,” “head,” “chief.” The Hebrew letters of Rosh (ראש) constitute the root of the Hebrew word for Genesis, pronounced “Be’re’sheet” (בראשית), which is the first/lead word in the Bible (Book of Genesis). Rosh Hashanah is celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which means beginning/Genesis in ancient Acadian. The Hebrew letters of Tishrei (תשרי) are also included in the spelling of Genesis (בראשית). The Hebrew spelling of Genesis (בראשית) consists of the first two letters in the Hebrew alphabet (אב), the middle letter (י) and the last three letters (רשת) – representing the complete/wholesome undertaking of the Creation. Just like the Creation, so should the New Year (and human actions) launch a thoughtful, long-term – not a hasty – wholesome process.
Rosh (ראש) is, also, the Hebrew acronym of “the will of our Father that is in heaven” (רצון אבינו שבשמים).

4. Rosh Hashanah is one of four Jewish New Years: (a) the anniversary of the Creation, the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar (5,779) and the seasons, the setting of the Sabbatical (7th) and Jubilee (50th) years, and the time for calculating the annual tithe (10%) on vegetable and grains. (b) The first day of the month of Nissan initiates the three Jewish pilgrimages/festivals (Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) and the measuring of the reign of ancient kings. (c) The first day of the month of Elul initiated the preparations for Rosh Hashanah and the New Year for animal tithes in ancient Israel. (d) The 15th day of the month of Shvat is the new year of the trees, which provide role-models for human-beings in humility, tenacity and growth.

5. Rosh Hashanah is announced, and celebrated – in a humble and determined manner – by the blowing of the Shofar (the ritual ram’s horn). It is a wakeup call morally, individually and collectively.  The Hebrew spelling of Shofar, שופר, is a derivative of the verb שפר, which means to enhance – an unending, uphill effort (sometimes, against all odds) for improvement.

6. The shofar is the epitome of peace-through-strength.  It is made from the horn of a ram, which is a peaceful animal equipped with strong horns to fend off predators. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for “ram,” איל, is 41 (א-1, י-10, ל-30), which is equal to the value of “mother” (אם, א-1, ם-40), who strongly protects her children. Rosh Hashanah prayers highlight motherhood, optimism and the pregnancies of Sarah, Rachel and Chana, who gave birth to Isaac, Joseph, Benjamin and Samuel, respectively. Noah – who led the rebirth of humanity/world – also features in Rosh Hashanah prayers.

7. Rosh Hashanah and the blowing of the Shofar….

*Constitute a moral wakeup-call, providing an expressway for prayers;

*Alert humanity to pending positive and negative significant developments (e.g., deliverance and attacks);

*Tumbled the walls of Jericho, and intensified Judge Gideon’s posture of deterrence during his war on the Midianites;

*Reaffirm the faith in God as the Creator, the supreme king (ancient kings were anointed to the sound of the Shofar) and judge (a day of judgment). An ancient expression of “In God we trust.”;

*Intensify the bonding of God and human beings;

*Commemorate the creation of the first human-being, Adam, on the sixth day of the Creation;

*Underline the annual judgment day, soul-searching and behavioral enhancement.

*Highlight the almost-sacrifice of Isaac – which was avoided by God’s angel and a ram (a paradigm shift away from human sacrifices!) – and the Biblical (Abrahamic) Covenant;

*Remind us that the three Jewish Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Prophet Samuel (the latter inspired Thomas Paine, the author of “Common Sense,” the cement of the American Revolution), were conceived/born during the month of Tishrei, “the month of the strong ones ” (Kings A, 8:2);

*Blasts of the Shofar – along with thunder and lightning – were heard when Moses (“the humblest of all human-beings”) received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, a unimpressive, relatively-undersized (humble) mountain;

* In ancient times, the Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10) was announced – every 50 years – by the blowing of the Shofar, ushering in deliverance from spiritual and physical slavery (release of slaves and land). The Jubilee was the role model of liberty for the early American Pilgrims and Founding Fathers. It inspired the anti-slavery Abolitionist movement in the USA. Jubilee – “Yovel” (יובל) in Hebrew – is a synonym for Shofar (the ram’s horn);

*Highlight the ingathering (Aliyah) of Jews to the Jewish Homeland;

*Emphasize optimism in the face of challenge and adversity.

8. Rosh Hashanah was conceived by Jewish sages, during the Second Temple period, referring to the Biblical “day of blowing the shofar” and “the day of commemorating the blowing of the shofar” (Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1-6). Commemoration is a central Jewish value – a prerequisite for national cohesion, survival, an enhanced future and abstention from past critical errors. On the other hand, forgetfulness spells ignorance, loss of critical values and lessons, and therefore the tendency to repeat past errors.

9.  Rosh Hashanah initiates the Ten Days of Repentance, which conclude on Yom Kippur (the Day of Repentance). It delivers a message that one should never underestimate one’s capabilities to enhance one’s fortunes, when guided by morality-driven tenacity/determination and faith.

10. It is customary to eat pomegranate seeds on Rosh Hashanah, accompanied by the following blessing: “May your benefits multiply like the seeds of the pomegranate.” The pomegranate is supposed to contain (at its prime) 613 seeds – the number of Jewish precepts, which regulate the Jewish way of life. The pomegranate – a prominent ornament of the Torah scrolls – represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning and wisdom.

May the New Year, 5779, be top heavy on health, modesty, humility, challenge and reward.

More on Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays: http://bit.ly/137Er6J


Has Israel advanced US interests?

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
www.TheEttingerReport.com, August 23, 2018

General Omar Bradley, the first Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, said in July, 1950, in the aftermath of Israel’s War of Independence: “The Israeli army would be the most effective force south of Turkey, which could be utilized for delaying action [extending the strategic hand of the USA]….” General Bradley’s assessment was rejected by the State Department and the Pentagon, which opposed the 1948 establishment of the Jewish State, contending that it would be decimated by the Arabs, a burden upon the US and probably an ally of the USSR.

Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan wrote in the Washington Post, on August 15, 1979: “The fall of [the Shah of] Iran has increased Israel’s value as perhaps the only remaining strategic asset in the region, on which the US can only rely….Only by full appreciation of the critical role the State of Israel plays in our strategic calculus can we build the foundation for thwarting Moscow’s designs on territories and resources vital to our security and our national wellbeing…. Israel is not a client but a very reliable friend…. American policy-makers downgrade Israel’s geopolitical importance as a stabilizing force, as a deterrent to radical hegemony and as military offset to the Soviet Union….”

In 2018, General Bradley’s and President Reagan’s assessments are vindicated, as the pro-US Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman, as well as Jordan and Egypt, seek further strategic ties with Israel.  They view Israel as a most effective ally in the face of lethal threats posed by the anti-US Ayatollahs, ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, irrespective of the unresolved Palestinian issue – which they never considered a crown jewel – and their fundamental reservations about the existence of an “infidel” Jewish State in “the abode of Islam.”

In 2018, Russia lends credence to General Bradley and President Reagan, recognizing Israel’s enhanced strategic posture, accepting Israel’s military operations against the rogue Ayatollahs and Hezbollah terrorists in Syria, which has been a Moscow satellite since the late 1960s.

Moscow recognizes the impact of the Israel’s posture of deterrence on the Washington-Moscow balance of power: the 1967 Six Day War terminated the lethal offensive by pro-USSR Egypt against Saudi Arabia and other pro-US oil-rich Arab countries; a 1970 Israeli military mobilization forced the rollback of the pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of the pro-US Jordan; the 1967 and 1973 Israeli military victories over Soviet-armed Egypt and Syria provided the US military with a rare study of Soviet military systems and Soviet battle tactics; the June 1982 (first ever!) destruction of 29 of the most advanced Soviet surface-to-air missile batteries and the downing of 83 Soviet MIGs employed by Syria, and sharing with the US innovative battle tactics and technology; the 1981 and 2007 Israeli destruction of the nuclear reactors in pro-Soviet Iraq and Syria, which spared the US a nuclear confrontation in 1991 and a much more traumatic Middle East; etc..

70 years since the reestablishment of the Jewish State, notwithstanding the minute size of its population and area, the Jewish State has emerged as a uniquely stable, democratic, reliable, creative and effective ally of the US in the Middle East and beyond, commercially, militarily, scientifically and technologically.

The potential of Israel’s strategic contribution to US military and commercial interests has been bolstered by the Israeli experience and state of mind, which are top heavy on patriotism, attachment to roots, collective responsibility, ingenuity and defiance of the jugged cutting edge of nature, militarily and commercially.

The transformation of US-Israel relations from a one-way-street to a mutually-beneficial two-way-street, has occurred despite the tactical, short-term US-Israel disagreements over the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue. The significant compatibility between the strategic, long-term regional and global challenges and threats facing both nations has transcended such disagreements.

In 2018, the US-Israel strategic compatibility is underlined by their national security orientation, allocating 3.6% and 4.7% of their budget, respectively, to defense, which is much more than any European country: Britain 2.1%, France 1.8%, Germany 1.1% and Italy 1.1%, etc..   

Moreover, in 2018, Israel’s Air Force features the US-developed and manufactured F-35 stealth combat plane, serving as a battle-tested laboratory for the US Air Force and manufacturer (Lockheed Martin), as it has been for the manufacturers of the F-15, F-16, missiles and missile launchers, tanks, armed personnel carriers and hundreds of additional US military systems. Israel has shared with the US lessons learned by Israeli pilots, who fly under a do-or-die state of mind, which has stretched the performance of the US-made aircraft beyond conventional standards.  Such lessons have enhanced the capabilities of the US Air Force and the quality of the next generation of the F-35, saving the manufacturer many years of research and development, enhancing the US competitiveness in the global market, increasing US exports and expanding US employment. In other words, the annual transfer of $3.8BN to Israel (which funds the acquisition of US military systems) is not “foreign aid” to – but a highly profitable investment in – Israel.

In 2018, in response to growing sophisticated online and offline threats posed by Arab/Islamic countries and beyond, Israel has become a leading developer/producer in the area of cyber-technology, second only to – and in close collaboration with – the US. Israel is the site of 15%-20% of the global venture capital raised by cybersecurity companies, aiming to defend critical infrastructures, while preempting rogue regimes. On January 30, 2018, General David Petraeus, former CIA Director, stated: “the [US-Israel] collaboration reaches new heights, far beyond what is being published in the media…. Our cooperation has harmed significantly Iran’s nuclear program….”

In 2018, Israel is the chief source of intelligence (for the US) on the volatile, tectonic Middle East (and beyond), which has been a highly-complex platform of global terrorism, inherent instability, unpredictability, tyranny, domestic and regional intra-Arab/Islamic violence and intolerance, tenuous and shifty regimes, and consequently tenuous and shifty policies and agreements.

In fact, the nature of the Middle East highlights Israel’s unique qualities as a systematic, democratic, effective, strategic ally of the US, whether led by right or left of center coalition governments.  The nature of the Middle East was demonstrated by the violent toppling of a series of pro-US Arab/Islamic regimes by anti-US elements.  For example, the 1952 toppling of Egypt’s King Farouk; the 1958 toppling of Iraq’s King Faisal; the 1969 toppling of Libya’s King Idris (Wheelus Air Base, in Libya, was the largest US military facility outside the US); the 1979 toppling of Iran’s Shah; the 2011 toppling of Egypt’s Mubarak; the 2014-15 toppling of Yemen’s Hadi; and it is not over yet….

The reference to Israel, as “the largest US aircraft carrier, deployed in a most critical region, with no Americans on board” – made by a former Supreme Commander of NATO and Secretary of State, the late General Alexander Haig – reverberates an assessment made in 1923 by the British Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, a top intelligence officer in the western region of the Middle East: “I’ve always considered the Land of Israel to be the key to the defense of the Middle East…. When a Jewish State will be established, Britain shall benefit from air force, naval and land bases…as well as Jewish fighting capabilities…which will secure its long-term regional interests…. Unlike the Arabs, Jews are reliable and do comply with agreements…. The British policy in the Middle East bets on the wrong horse, when appeasing the Arabs….”

Will Trump adhere to – or ignore – past experience?

Will Trump defy the State Department’s and “elite” media’s traditional quid-pro-quo (and self-defeating, artificial connection) between the enhancement of the mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation, on the one hand, and Israeli retreats from critical terrain, which would exacerbate regional instability, intensify threats to pro-US Arab regimes and undermine US national and homeland security?

Will Trump continue to expand US-Israel strategic cooperation, by focusing on the wider strategic context of the Middle East, or will he follow in the failed footsteps of Europe, which has largely sacrificed Middle East geo-strategic reality on the altar of oversimplification, quick-solution state-of-mind, appeasement and the misperceived role of the Palestinian issue?!

My new website: www.TheEttingerReport.com
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
August 30, 2018

Please visit my new website which encapsulates 40-year-long, research, diplomacy, writing, lectures, briefings and interviews in the areas of US-Israel cooperation, US-Israel pressure, Jewish-Arab demographics, the Palestinian issue – Arab priority? Iran, Islamic terrorism, Israel’s security requirements, Israel’s economy, Jewish holidays, etc..The game-changing, politically-incorrect, educational operation features weekly English/Hebrew articles and a comprehensive English/Hebrew brief video seminar on the Middle East and the US-Israel two-way-street.

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Thank you and Happy New Year (5,779), top heavy on health, challenge and gratification!


Yoram Ettinger, Jerusalem, Israel, “Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative,”

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