Thursday, 25 August 2016

Barry Chamish (OBM) & Me

There is a saying that a man holding a hammer is looking for a nail.

I was saddened to hear that Barry Chamish died this week, at 64.

I had a brief encounter with Barry probably around 1999, shortly after the publication of Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin? (1998).

I admired Barry's courage in publicising his detailed theories about the Rabin murder, at a time when the left wing purge and harassment of the right wing was in its hey-day.

I invited Barry to my home in the still-young Ramat Beit Shemesh, and held a parlour meeting for the public to hear his presentation.

We (literally) had a packed house with (I guess) nearly 100 people crammed into my salon.

Barry arrived extremely late.

This was in the days before cellphone were ubiquitous, and so we only heard the reason for his mysterious delay after Barry arrived, flustered and upset, at our house.

Barry had arrived by taxi, which he ordered after dumping his car at a gas station somewhere on the Route 38.

The reason he had dumped his (rather old) car, was that his axle had split in two. This was potentially extremely dangerous and Barry considered himself lucky to have escaped from the incident alive.  

Barry joined the dots of this massive mechanical failure of his car, and told us his axle had clearly been tampered with that 'someone' had attempted to kill him.

After this dramatic introduction, and a stiff drink to calm him, Barry proceeded with his fascinating presentation of Who Murdered Rabin, with video of the assassination and his own frame-by-frame commentary.

I have no idea if there had been an assassination attempt on Barry Chamish's life that night, or if his car had simply suffered an unfortunate mechanical failure.

However, it says a lot about the man, and about his work, that there was credible ambiguity.

Barry sought out such ambiguities, and read them as conspiracies and devious plots. Not just about
Rabin, but about UFO's and broader Israeli and Middle East politics.

He was a man holding a hammer, looking for nails.

In the case of Rabin, I think Barry was close to the mark, if not spot on.

I am not the only one who suspects that the official narrative of that tragic night of Rabin's murder, is false.

Over 40% of Israeli apparently believe likewise.

And this includes Rabin's family, such as Dalia who I heard in an Army Radio interview this past November (the time of the Rabin memorial) state how she has unanswered fundamental questions about the official version of events, which she knows to be untrue.

Note; Dalia Rabin was Deputy Defense Minister under Arik Sharon - and had access to information way beyond a regular person's security clearance. She also was a personal witness, together with her mother, in the immediate aftermath of the assassination...

After Barry left our home, we remained in contact for a few years, and I even gave him some assistance with aspects of his Rabin investigation - I introduced Barry to the alleged 'real assassin' of Yitzhak Rabin, who was then residing in Netanya.

In the years which followed, Barry became emotionally broken, feeling his work was unappreciated, and he left Israel to return to the USA. He remarried there, I believe to a non-Jewish woman.

Although it would be natural to speculate "Who Murdered Barry Chamish?" - I frankly do not think he presented a serious enough risk to the establishment he despised so much, that "they" would launch a mission to kill him.

But, who knows?

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Under the Radar in China

Chabad regularly astound me with their remarkable mission to provide Jewish services absolutely wherever Jews may be present on the globe.

I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting Chabad in China recently, during a business trip.

The rabbi there explained how they operate - in a grey area, under the radar.

On the one hand, China's constitution upholds freedom of religion.

On the other hand, there are just five religious organizations which are officially recognised; these are (see Wikipedia)  the Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Three-Self Patriotic Movement (ie Protestantism) and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

Judaism, with a tiny minority following in this vast country, understandably, is off the list of five.

Therefore, by the letter of the law, any Jewish organized religious activity is officially banned.

This is why the Chabad locations are outwardly discrete - no signage, banners, outsized Chanukiot, nothing...Just another villa on the row.

The unofficial deal with the authorities is that Chabad solely provide services to foreigners. There is no missionising to Chinese nationals.

As long as Chabad keep to this rule, the authorities do not interfere.

On occasion, they receive interested approaches by Chinese nationals, and they politely turn them away.

In still-communist China, you can't be too careful.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

End of Cheap Made In China?

Me in Shanghai, with a backdrop of some of the world's tallest buildings
I spent the past week in China, traveling for business in Shanghai and Chongqing.

It is my second visit, the previous being about a year ago.

Both times I was struck by the counter-intuitional lack of bargains available in the shops in China.

The first visit, I came with a wish-list of gadgets requested by members of my family.

I returned with some not-cheap phones, tablets, bluetooth speakers etc.

The bill was not dissimilar to what one might pay after some bargain-hunting in Israel and on the internet.  Furthermore, there were problems using this equipment in Hebrew and in Israel.

This time, I didn't take a shopping list.

Indeed a Chabad Rabbi in Shanghai told me that he doesn't buy anything anymore in China - but rather stocks-up on everything he needs on his occasional visits to the USA. He told me that, even if the goods are made in China, their quality and price will be better in the USA.

Further investigation and observation showed that the cost of Chinese labour is increasing, as the salaries and standard of living increases. New fancy cars clog the city streets, apartments in sought-after locations are among the most expensive in the world, and therefore goods produced in China are no longer particularly cheap.

Apparently the main sources of textiles and low-cost clothes are no longer China, but developing countries like Indonesia. Other manufacturing will also flow out of China also.

The trend is similar to the in and then out-flow of manufacturing to Jaspan, and to Hong Kong several decades ago.

The exceptions are likely to be electronics manufacturing, where the capital invested in China will anchor much of the production to this country also in the medium term.

As the economy further develops, China will need to carve itself out a reputation and capability for quality, not necessarily the cheap quantity, of development and productions.

"Made in China" will then read rather like "Made in Germany" does today.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


I have recently returned from a trip to visit my family in England.

They are still all a-chatter about Brexit, and the consequences.

Following Britain's lead, I propose that Netanyahu also calls a referendum in Israel.

The question should be:

Should Israel remain in the Middle East? 

Otherwise known at MExit.

If MExit carries the day, as I'm confident it will, Israel will remove itself from our current nightmare neighbors of Lebanon, Syria (RIP), Jordan, Egypt, and Gaza.

Quite where we, or our current neighbors, will relocate, will be thrashed out following a MExit majority.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Four Children Died in Israel This Year - Forgotten in the Car - Get This Gadgtet

Yet another baby died yesterday in an oven-hot car.

This time it was the baby's grandmother; a social worker. Totally regular, level minded lady. No different from me and you. Simply forgot.

According to Israel's child safety organization (I heard the interview on the radio this morning), these incidents tend to happen when people break their routine. In the case of the grandmother, she wasn't used to routinely picking up and dropping off this baby. It is natural and powerful that our minds go into auto-pilot, which is usually fine. But not when there's an added non-routine factor - in this case a baby on your back seat.

There is potentially life-saving gadget is available in Beit Shemesh from Keren Yosef and also from Yad Sarah throughout Israel.

See the attached video.

There are also apps, tips (like leaving your cellphone on the baby's seat) and gadgets (pressure cushion activated etc).

The time to act is NOW, rather than simply returning to each of our routines.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Hilarious speech by Ugandan President at Israel Entebbe Raid commemorati...

The above video is the highlights/lowlights of President Museveni, Ugandan President's madcap speech during the 40th Anniversary ceremony at Entebbe Airport, in the presence of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The full rambling and unique speech is here, for those with patience (25 mins) and an enduring sense of the absurd:

Friday, 8 July 2016

Israel's Soft Opponents Evaporating

Israel has 'hard' enemies who spare no resources to attack Israel physically, and in any other way. These include Hamas, The Palestinian Authority, Iran, and most Arab States (aside from Egypt and Jordan)., and the BDS Movement.

Israel also has soft opponents - who habitually and unfairly criticise and undermine Israel's actions, within a context of respectability.
These 'soft opponents' include the UN, EU, Barak Obama, and much of the world's press.

The EU launched it's latest offensive on Israel in their Middle East Peace Initiative, on 3rd June, following and supporting France's own initiative, and assembled 28 foreign ministers, but not Israel, to give their backing to an International Conference. This conference is highly likely to be anti-Israeli from-birth and is looking to impose a 'settlement' on Israel. This initiative has been strongly criticised by the Israeli Government.

Another soft opponent of Israel is Tony Blair, who was officially the Quartet (UN, EU, USA and Russia) emissary to the Middle East.

In the past couple of weeks, both of these 'soft opponents' have been effectively neutralised.

The British mega-surprise Brexit vote, just a week following their Foreign Ministers' meeting about the Middle East, has thrown the EU into disarray - and they surely now have bigger and more immediate issues to focus their attention than their Middle East Conference.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair has been the subject of a major report about Britain's conduct of the Iraq War, 13 years ago. Blair has been totally blasted by the report, which highlights his incompetence and duplicity in commencing the war, the war itself and the total lack of preparation for post-war Iraq.

In the report, Tony Blair's war initiative is held responsible for much of the turmoil and bloodshed in Iraq ever since and in the establishment and success of ISIS.

The cost has been literally millions of lives, uncountable wounded and disruption on a catastrophic scale.

Exit Blair.

As for soft-opponent Obama - his scheduled departure from the world stage is coming up in a few months.

Not so fond farewell from Israel.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Our Disgust - Their Tools of Trade

It is impossible for Jews, or indeed any other civilised humans, to fathom the evil of (literally) millions of Arabs, and to understand the moral blindness of the hundreds of millions who support them.

Israelis are reeling from the murders last week of 12 year old Hallel Arielasleep  in her bed at her home in Kiryat Arba, and the car-shooting murder of Rabbi Michael Marc, head of Otniel Hesder Yeshiva, and father of 10 kids.

The stabbing terrorist's mother is reported to have praised the depraved and horrific actions of her son.

“My son is a hero…My son died as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Praise God, he is united with the martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. God willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine.”

The Palestinian Authority, the "legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people",  put out a statement of condolences to the family of...the terrorist.

I find it impossible to begin to understand how anyone could respond to such brutal and savage behaviour by supporting it.

I believe the answer is that the Palestinians have always, from their pogroms on Jews in 1929, through the inception of the PLO in the 1960's, in the terror attacks on civil aircraft, and on Israeli civilians wherever they may be found, viewed slaughter of innocents as the essence of their "struggle" they are engaged in.

Electing to pursue barbarism is a strategic step long since taken by the Palestinians and their representatives. Whatever dissonances or human conscience they may have faced, has long since been silenced.

For those who may view the PA as 'moderate', know that the last Palestinian elections resulted in a Hamas majority, in the West Bank, of 70%. (That's why the PLO cancelled the election results, and have since ruled solely by dictatorship). Hamas itself, who still publicly espouse and pursue terror and barbarism, have literally millions of rabid supporters in the Palestinian 'moderate' street.

The PA can not genuinely view or denounce the grisly and savage murder of innocent fathers, mothers and children as illegitimate and amoral, as doing so would undermine and contradict their chosen national strategy and narrative for close on a century.

As for those who support them, such as the EU and every Arab state in the world, their failure to call-out this national strategy, and turn their backs on the PA-generated terror (at least) by cutting billion dollar funding and political support, is a chilling moral blindness, at the very highest levels of supposed civilisation.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My Take on Turkey-Israel

Between the years 2005 until 2011 I visited Turkey extensively, averaging five or six times each year. I developed close friendships and happy customers there throughout that period.

This came crashing down with the Marmara incident in 2010, and then the UN Report in 2011 (which largely absolved Israel) which ironically was the last straw for the Turks.

My main customers were issued an anti-Israeli directive by their government, and I was officially persona non-grata.

From my perspective, the Marmara protest fleet (flotilla) was a deliberate provocation against Israel, directly supported by the Government of Turkey. Their pretense that this was a humanitarian aid mission was a thinly veiled charade.

It was a political protest. It was planned to spotlight the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, subject Israel to international political pressure, and thereby politically further the cause of Hamas.

However, the flotilla was not a terror or military attack on Israel. The protest ships were just that.

The Israeli response to the Marmara provocation was, frankly, a 'fashla' (mess-up) at the operative level.

Yes, the thugs on the ship were violent and armed themselves with make-shift clubs and knives.

However, from their perspective they were defending their protest ship from combat naval boats & helicopter-borne fully armed (and protected) elite naval "seals".

Stopping this civilian protest ship from entering Israel's territorial waters by Israel's armed forces, if properly carried out, should not have cost 9 civilian lives.

The cost of this operational fashla for Israel has been six years of deep-freeze relations with our erstwhile political friend, economic partner and military ally.

In the meantime, the political, military and economic landscape has changes, both for Israel and for Turkey.

Both Israel and Turkey are (even) more isolated politically than in 2010. Turkey in particular has fallen out with almost everyone imaginable - most recently Russia.

The regional defense needs are even worse than 2010 - particularly with the implosion of Syria and the new ISIS conquests and threat on Turkey's southern border and Israel's Northern border.

Economically, the gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean are potentially macro-economic game-changer for the whole region. The need for this is particularly acute for the Turks, given the loss of Russia as their strategic energy supplier.

The times is ripe for both Ankara and Jerusalem to finally patch up this dispute and move forward.

From what has been released about the Agreement now being formally ratified in both countries, it appears to be a reasonable balance between Turkey backing down on its quest to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, while requiring Israel to pay out financially and symbolically for its operational 'fashla'.  

Of course, Israel wants more, such as the return of the two Israelis being held in Gaza, and the bodies of the two fallen Israeli soldiers. But the bottom line is that it is not reasonable to demand from Turkey something which is not under their control. The hostages and bodies are held by Hamas in Gaza, not by Erdogan in Turkey. The Turks can exert influence, which can only help, and this, Netanyahu has stated, they have agreed to do.

I hope this Agreement will be an important step in building a much better future between Israel and Turkey than the past six years of the freeze, and may even, with time, lead to rebuilding the previous mutual trust and burgeoning regional relations.