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Bennett Ruda
Blogging About Israel
Blogging About Israel

Bennett's posts

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Yom Yerushalayim
+Yaakov Kirschen, Dry Bones

More Dry Bones: 

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Kvitel Tweet
Asher Schwartz, The Jewish Press

See more of Asher Schwartz's cartoons here:

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Trump Admin Declares Jerusalem Part of Israel in Major Policy Shift
After weeks of confused answers, Trump admin breaks from decades of U.S. policy to back Israel
+Adam Kredo, +Washington Free Beacon

The Trump administration declared the president is in "Jerusalem, Israel," on Monday for a series of meetings with Israeli officials, a proclamation that breaks with years of American policy refraining from stating that the city of Jerusalem is part of Israel.

Senior Trump administration officials had ignited a wave of controversy over the past several weeks when discussing Jerusalem, with some top officials refusing to say that the ancient city is part of Israel.

Decades of U.S. policy has refrained from formally labeling Jerusalem as part of Israel due to concerns this could negatively impact the Middle East peace process, in which Palestinian leaders have staked a claim to the city as their future capital.

Ahead of a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House, on its official website, provided a live stream of the event. Prior to its start, the White House included a frame stating, "President Trump gives remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu." The location provided was "Jerusalem, Israel." [below]

The statement appears to be part of an effort to normalize this language, which is widely backed by U.S. lawmakers and senior officials in the administration, sources said.

The State Department, which is disposed to address the issue with more caution, declined to comment on the latest declaration, instead referring a reporter to the White House. The White House did not provide comment on the matter by press time. Pro-Israel observers on Twitter and other social media immediately praised the declaration...

Continue reading:

Note: It remains to be seen if Trump will follow this up with an official statement

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Re-setting Israeli and American relations: The Trump visit
Carrie Hart, +The Times of Israel

...Middle East Analyst, Professor Eugene Kontorovich, briefed reporters earlier this week at the Jerusalem Press Club, giving his views on the Trump presidency, which he believes has already revealed a fundamentally different approach on US-Israel relations.

President Obama, for example, saw it as crucial in American foreign policy to create daylight between Israel and the US, but Kontorovich does not believe that policy yielded much fruit. In creating open conflicts and diplomatic rifts with Israel, Obama thought it would give America the credibility needed in the Arab world to secure some kind of diplomatic deal. Kontorovich disagrees: “That daylight process was actively implemented for eight years. And, I think we can all see the results eight years later. At the end of the Obama Administration, the US had less credibility than ever in the Arab world — nothing to do with relations with Israel.”

Upon his inauguration, Obama took to the Middle East process in a strong way, sending his Middle East negotiator to Israel in 2008. Then, immediately after coming into office, Obama called for a settlement freeze… a complete halt on any Israeli civilian population expansion in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), including specific areas of Jerusalem.

...So far, after five months as US president, the Trump approach has been profoundly different. While there have been high expectations of Trump by supporters of Israel, Kontorovich says, “It is easy to disappoint. But, it is important to point out the differences.”

Trump has spoken of his desire for a peace process and for peace negotiations. “The peace process that President Trump is talking about is of course entirely different from any peace process previously discussed.” Kontorovich points out that Trump has never mentioned the phrase two state solution or Palestinian state as part of his process. Nor, is there any further stipulation that a future Palestinian state should have its borders be determined by the extent of Jordanian and Egyptian conquest in 1949. “These were the two parameters that defined the peace process, at least for the past 16 years; at least since 2000. And, they are entirely absent from his equation. That’s truly important.”

Throughout the past 16 years, and particularly the past eight years, the working assumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, under US supervision, was that Israel must deliver the goods. And, if Israel does not give the Palestinians what they ask, it will be Israel who is blamed for insufficient concessions, rather than the Palestinians. That has been the basis of the previous peace process. This was damaging for Israel in the diplomatic arena.

“This notion that the onus is on Israel seems to be entirely absent from Trump’s vision of the peace process,” according to Kontorovich. This change of policy is unsatisfactory to the Palestinians because their calculation seems to have been that the peace process is something that will fail, and create more pressure on Israel for further concessions.

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Trump's Twitter Page Shows Kotel in Background

Twitter link:

Trump twitter page:

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Even hardened Israeli pundits called Ivanka "a member of our People” and applauded her for her quiet moment at the Western Wal
LAHAV HARKOV, +jerusalem post

US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka bared her Jewish neshama, or soul, on her visit to the Western Wall Monday.

...Then, when Ivanka visited the Western Wall, she had a genuine Jewish moment that seemed to even catch the Internet cynics off-guard.

The government’s live feed of the visit by the Trumps to the Western Wall had been turned off, because the president and his family wanted it to be kept private. But apparently, many live video streams from the Kotel that continue all the time – not just when a VIP visits – answer to a higher authority than the American Secret Service, because they caught it.

Likely unaware of being filmed, Ivanka touched the ancient stones and shed tears.

Like countless Jewish women who do so every day, she silently worshiped at the supporting wall of Judaism’s holiest site – since Jews are not allowed to pray at the actual holiest site, the Temple Mount, which was not on the Trump itinerary.

And while nothing will get all the detractors to come around, it seemed like Ivanka struck a chord. Even hardened Israeli pundits called her “Ivanka, a member of our people,” applauding her for the quiet moment.

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Hezbollah: Get to know our most complicated adversary
Hezbollah presents a unique threat to the IDF: a terror group on our border with the capabilities of a modern army
+Israel Defense Forces
Published on: February 13, 2017

In the early morning on this Lebanon border base, IDF soldiers wrapped in fleece jackets are already making their ways to breakfast, to their posts, to begin shifts, to end them. They enter and exit buildings fortified by concrete blocks from all sides. As they take their places and begin their days, a blinking light at the end of a long antenna, clearly visible on the other side of the border, reminds them that a stone’s throw away, Hezbollah operatives are doing the same.

For the last decade, the border has been quiet – a quiet that, in the past, has proven deceptive. In July 2006, during a period of relative calm, Hezbollah terrorists ended this lull by ambushing and kidnapping IDF soldiers on the border, starting the Second Lebanon War. Over the course of the month-long war, Hezbollah fired 3,978 missiles at Israel with the intent of killing as many civilians as possible. Entire Israeli communities were evacuated, and civilians spent hours in air raid shelters.

Knowing how quickly a Hezbollah strike can escalate into a massive and destructive war, the IDF constantly prepares to prevent and respond to attacks from the most complicated terror group on our northern border...

Continue reading: 

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Israeli Settlers Weren't Always So Religious—They Were Once Secular Hippies
The American Jews who moved to the West Bank thought they were living out the civil-rights dream, a new book argues
Emma Green, +The Atlantic

In the vast and complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one issue is particularly contentious: Jewish Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, territory Israel has held since the Six-Day War in 1967. As the 50th anniversary of that conflict approaches in June, it continues to complicate the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Donald Trump visits Israel this week, but ahead of his visit, an American diplomatic aide reportedly challenged Israel’s claim to the Western Wall, a holy site that has been contested since the 1967 conflict. Trump touted his support for Israel during the campaign, but has cooled on the settlements, telling an Israeli newspaper in February that they “don’t help the [peace] process.” On the other hand, Trump’s newly arrived U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has strongly supported the settlement movement, and members of his family helped found Bet El, one of the West Bank communities.

Friedman’s story is not an anomaly. According to new research by Sara Yael Hirschhorn, a lecturer at Oxford University, about 60,000 out of the 400,000 settlers currently living in the West Bank are American—roughly 15 percent. In a new book about this group, City on a Hilltop, Hirschhorn writes that the Americans who came to Israel in the 1960s and ’70s defy today’s common stereotypes about settlers. Instead of being ultra-religious and conservative, “these new arrivals were usually young, single, highly educated, upwardly mobile, and traditional but not necessarily Orthodox in their religious practice, voted for Democratic Party candidates, and were politically supportive of and active in … the civil-rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War struggle.”

Hirschhorn’s mission is to complicate the story of the Americans who settled across the Green Line, the demarcation of the pre-1967 Israeli borders named for the colorful ink used to draw it on maps. She tells many settlers’ stories, but opens with Malka Chaiken, born as Marilyn to a traditional Jewish family in Philadelphia in 1954. “Surely it is easier to frame Malka as a messianic fanatic than as a fully realized person,” Hirschhorn writes. “It is more comfortable to regard her as a political heretic and psychologically unhinged propagandist than as a peer who actually shares a similar background to many American Jews of her generation.”

I spoke with Hirschhorn about her research and its implications for the next generation of Jews in America. Our conversation has been edited for clarity and length...

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Trump Visits The Western Wall
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