December 31, 2020

Never Again

 The Israeli Air Force now has two fully combat-ready squadrons of Lockheed Martin F-35 Adir fifth generation stealth fighter jets, 20 aircraft in all.




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November 15, 2020

Yankel Plitnick 1923 - 2020

If it were possible for someone to choose the time they’d like to leave this world at a ripe old age, and be taken for burial in the land they loved, Yankel Plitnick might well have chosen this weekend of parshat Chayei Sarah. 

Because in better times he would have flown to Israel last Thursday to join the tens of thousands who come annually to liberated Chevron to stand at the very spot that the Torah reading of the week describes.

Instead dear Yankel z’l passed away in London on Thursday afternoon at the age of 97.  He leaves behind a legacy of charitable endowments across Israel which helped build schools, orphanages and community centres from Netanya to Zichron Yaakov, and Yokneam to Kiryat Arba.

Brought up in England, the son of Liverpool’s chief rabbi, his mother hailed from the esteemed Landinsky family which had roots in the Yeshiva of the Chafetz Chaim in Radin and branches in the founding of the English yeshiva town of Gateshead.

Yankel became a successful businessman and, after the 1973 war, became a staunch supporter of Jewish settlement in Judea & Samaria. He later partnered Bet El founder ‘Ketzaleh’ Katz in the formation of Gush Emunim and the financing of Arutz Sheva’s pirate radio ship in the late ‘80s.

At that time, Israel’s Left-wing establishment had all three major Hebrew newspapers in their hands, as well as the two main television channels and almost all of the radio stations. The only dissenting voice for the Right and the promotion of ‘greater Israel’ was being broadcast from the ‘MV Eretz Hatzvi’ anchored just outside Israel’s territorial waters. From such choppy beginnings Arutz Sheva grew into the formidable media presence it is today.

Yankel lived and worked all his life in England, using his business success to provide support to local causes as well as promoting the ideology of Jabotinsky and Begin in pro-Israel activism and advocacy in the UK. Although never married with children of his own, Yankel built up an extended family of many hundreds of young people through his founding and leadership of the Hendon Adath youth minyan near his home in northwest London. To them he was their ‘Uncle Yankel’ - now sorely missed but with many fond memories.

Yankel is survived by his sister in Lakewood and will be laid to rest today, Sunday,in Beit Shemesh. 

יהי זכרו ברוך 


Yankel greets the legendary Rabbi Moshe Levinger, builder of Chevron.


[This article first appeared in Arutz Sheva]

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November 08, 2020

My Love for Trump

I enjoyed watching Trump’s rallies in the closing days of the election campaign. The huge crowd sizes and overflows were amazing as was the enthusiasm which was booming. Amid the raucous chants of “USA” and “Lock Them Up” there was one unusual chorus I’d never heard before – least of all in politics.

"We love you!” they roared. Again, and again.

Well I guess I do too.

And it’s not just for all the bountiful gifts Trump has bestowed on our people and our Jewish state. From the Jerusalem embassy and Golan sovereignty to stifling the antisemitism at the UN, defunding UNRWA and holding Iran’s feet to the fire. More than that, I loved him simply as a kindred spirit.

Just think of how Trump came on the scene. As soon as he declared his candidacy he was demonized from all sides, right and left, as some sort of creature from the depths. I recall one conservative podcaster referring to him as ‘some kind of lizard’.

Once elected with a wide margin his presidency was promptly delegitimized, with hordes of protesters marching under the banner of “Not my president!” for months on end.

And then came the two impeachments over Russia and Ukraine. After 2 years and 40 million dollars of the Muller enquiry (staffed exclusively by Clinton supporters) it was found that there was no Trump collusion with Russia. Instead we learned that the whole Russia hoax was started by Clinton based on a fake Russian dossier to deflect attention from her own email scandal. Then as to Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine, it was found the only real story with Ukraine was Hunter Biden’s million dollar payoffs by corrupt Burisma and Joe Biden’s televised leverage of a billion dollars of US aid to get a Ukrainian prosecutor off his son’s back.
So it turns out, everything the Democrats accused Trump of, and falsely, they were actually doing themselves. Russia collusion to spy on the Tump campaign and abuse of Vice-Presidential privilege to hide Ukrainian corruption. Those are double standards by any measure.

These three elements: Demonization, Delegitimization and Double standards happen to be the 3D test of antisemitism as defined by former Russian dissident Anatoly Sharansky.

And there lies my kinship to Donald Trump.

Israel is today the World’s Jew. The Yid among nations. The one so many European leaders still wish had never come into existence, to mess up their lucrative deals with oil-rich sheikhdoms. The place they call ‘that shitty little country’. The one that is singled out at the UN for more punishment than all the despotic and rights-abusing members combined. Between the UN and EU, all 3D boxes are checked.

As the son of an Auschwitz survivor whose parents were gassed and incinerated on arrival, it hurts me every day that despite all that happened, the Jewish state is still the one country that is not welcomed in the family of nations – truly a nation that dwells alone.
Which is why I empathise with any victim of 3D – like Donald Trump. Truly a kindred spirit.

How ironic that in less than four years he made such stunning progress bringing together Arabs and Jews. And how sad that the Saudi icing on the cake will now melt away with new American empowerment of Iran.

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October 27, 2020

Trump Derangement Syndrome

 A very dear friend of mine - an American-born and educated rabbi, youth leader and teacher living in Jerusalem - doesn't like Trump. His Facebook posts boil over with contempt for this president to the extent that I have latterly replied to them with laughing emojis, because I can see 4 more years of suffering ahead. His latest post referred to the presidential debate issue of 500 migrant children unable to be reunited with their parents and said this made voting for Trump contrary to Halacha (Jewish law).

I felt I had to respond this time with more than emojis, and this was my reply: 

I do laugh at the degree to which TDS can affect even the most sane and educated people. The idea that voting for Trump should be against the Halacha is truly deranged. That it should be about 500 migrant kids separated from their parents when voting Biden means empowering the continuing aborting of millions of babies at or close to term (or beyond in Va.)? Not in my book.

I could happily argue the rights and wrongs of Trump with you, but to be totally fair I need to declare my biases. I love Israel and care deeply about its security and its place in that dangerous region. So I will try to disregard that Trump has been undeniably the best US president for Israel since its founding; that unlike all past presidents, he kept his word about moving the embassy to Jerusalem; that he recognised Jewish sovereignty over the Golan and deep-sixed the notion of our ever returning to the 1967 ‘Auschwitz borders’.

I will also disregard that he tore up Obama’s nefarious Iran deal, defunded the PLO & UNRWA and had his UN ambassador put a stop to hateful censures of Israel and also withdraw from its nefarious Human Rights Council, chaired by the world’s biggest abusers. And, of course, I will have to pretend that those stunning peace agreements between Israel and four Arab states just didn’t happen nor that Saudi Arabia is about to join the club.

So, what am I left with that’s beyond my biases?

Well, I do grant you - and all victims of TDS - that Trump is nothing nearly as clean-cut and polished as Obama. It takes a slick politician to throw Israel under a bus at the UN during his final month in office.

Yes, I do grant you that Trump is the unwashed outsider, loud, crass, macho, overbearing … you choose … and is perhaps the antithesis of your typical politician. But then again, unlike most politicians I have seen and heard in my lifetime, he has been the ONLY one to keep his election promises. All of them!

In fact I can’t think of a single 2016 promise of his that he hasn’t kept. In truth he has actually OVER-delivered – such as freeing Biden’s black prisoners through criminal justice reform, and taking 7 million people off food stamps and 10 million off welfare, with the lowest minority unemployment rates in US history. All these are authentic government numbers. Surely you trust the Deep State?

But it seems academics hate Trump most of all. I don’t think they can stand the idea of a loudmouth businessman who never went to Yale or Harvard sullying the White House with his poor manners, trophy wife and Jewish grandchildren.

This makes the Dems the true bigots in this four-year tantrum.

Happily, ordinary honest, family-loving and hard-working Americans are a lot smarter than the media, academia and big tech give them credit for.

Which is why Trump will be re-elected by a wide margin.

Which is why I use those laughing emojis.

Four more years!


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September 15, 2020

Israel, UAE & Bahrain - 15 September 2020

Today’s peace ceremony at the White House showed as much about the greatness of Donald Trump as it did the moral bankruptcy of the media that censored it from their newsfeeds.

Watching Netanyahu at the subsequent press conference brought to mind this 2009 picture:
Obama’s face of seething enmity that never had a chance of achieving a fraction of the progress that has been demonstrated today in a region and struggle that has defied virtually every world leader to grapple with for over seven decades.
Imagine what Netanyahu must have felt after that meeting 11 years ago? Having to endure 4 years under a newly elected US president who made his first priority a visit to Cairo to apologise for America and to make sure that the Muslim Brotherhood was allowed to attend his speech, and helped it overthrow Mubarak in Egypt.
Netanyahu critics on the Left will for once unite with critics on the Right in debunking the notion that this was the first non-land for peace deal. They will say that Netanyahu gave away sovereignty.

The truth is that our people always had sovereignty and always will over the land of Israel, by our divine title deed and by our strength as the most powerful force in the region. The moment the Jordan Valley ever becomes an active front line, our forces shall have it – within the space of a day, or more likely an hour or
two.
What’s more important is the trust and prosperity that can be built on this historic day, to end the gulf states’ enrichment of corrupt leaders like Abbas and Haniyeh and allow the Palestinian street to rise up, overthrow them and usher in a better future for their children and ours.



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September 06, 2020

Covid and the Courts

As Israel faces a second lockdown amid spiking Covid infections, it is utterly disgraceful that the packed protests are allowed to continue nightly outside Netanyahu's office and home in Jerusalem.

Anyone who knows Bibi will tell you that even if the mob were three or four times the size, it would not intimidate him into leaving office. He knows who is funding and fuelling this campaign and will never cave in to it.

But what's more important is the flagrant abuse of Covid rules. Thousands of people packed into a tight area, mostly unmasked and literally spitting the most hysterical abuse is a clear public health violation.

And yet left-wing judges continue to ignore the pleas of local residents to order a stop and allow them to get their children to sleep at night. The right to demonstrate and freedom of speech are deemed more important than the health and wellbeing of law abiding citizens who believe in the democratic process.

Compare this to the right wing Jewish protests against the Oslo Accords nearly 30 years ago. Judges of the same stripe were quick to clamp down, ruling that the right to demonstrate was "not absolute" and needed to be balanced with the right to privacy of the prime minister, his family and neighbors.

One rule for Rabin and another for Netanyahu.

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August 09, 2020

Bury the Auschwitz Borders

 

This week marks the 15th anniversary of Israel’s forcible expulsion of 8,000 Jews from their homes in 25 farming and agricultural communities they had lovingly built in the Gaza strip with the active support of previous governments. Those thriving settlements had provided jobs and a decent living to thousands of Gaza Arabs and were a model of the kind of coexistence that can never be created by American roadmaps or forced by European boycotts and divestment.

By the end of August 2005, no house, synagogue or schoolhouse was left standing – even the dead were removed from their graves. The only structures left intact were 3,000 greenhouses which Israeli leftists hoped would be taken over by the Arabs to build their new state. They encouraged American Jewish donors to pay fourteen million dollars to buy up these greenhouses only to see them quickly looted and converted to arms and missile production for a new Iranian proxy front against the Jewish state. A front that has ignited three wars and left southern Israel under continuous rocket attack for the past 15 years.

Over the centuries Jews had become used to being expelled from their homes and host countries. But for this to happen in their own homeland and by the hand of their own brothers and sisters in uniform was simply too much to bear. Many abandoned their religion and others left Israel for good. Those that remained were rehoused at a cost of 15 billion shekels and all too many of them are still costing the state dearly in terms of psychotherapy, whether from the uprooting in their infancy or the stress of incessant rocket fire.

And for what?  The so-called ‘disengagement’ was not forced on Israel by war or some edict from America, the EU or UN. It was a totally unilateral move by then prime minister Ariel Sharon in hopes that this would ease world pressure on ceding West Bank territory to a PLO state. The trouble is that you cannot keep throwing pieces of red meat to a lion in hopes that it will turn into a vegetarian. And the reality of the Arab world is that vacuums are never filled other than by terror groups. What happened to Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan will follow in any area carved out for a so-called Palestinian state. We saw how quickly Hamas threw out Abbas from Gaza. The same will happen to the West Bank if our leaders are ever so foolish as to volunteer more land for peace.

I do not blame the IDF for their role in evicting 8,000 Jews from their homes. The real villains are the media who branded peaceful protest as ‘insurrection’ and cheered on the judiciary which meted out Soviet-style punishment and administrative detention to Gush Katif supporters, many of them minors.

That same media turned a blind eye to the two corruption probes against the architect of the Gaza surrender, Ariel Sharon. As long as Sharon was giving away part of the homeland and empowering the building of a Palestinian state, the media and judiciary would protect him like an etrog – this being the exact wording of the senior journalist and commentator who instigated this perversion of his profession.

The multimillion-dollar bribery and corruption claims against Ariel Sharon 15 years ago make the indictments against Netanyahu over champagne, cigars and favourable press coverage look even more pathetic by comparison. Both prime ministers leading Likud governments - but only one doing the bidding of the Left. Only one protected by the media and judiciary.

Unfortunately lessons in Israel need to be learned the hard way. By cheering on the nightly demonstrators outside Netanyahu’s home, the media is again playing a dangerous game. They want to unseat a fairly elected prime minister and deny him the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. They are underestimating the strength of Jewish nationalism that bolstered the Likud vote in each of  last four elections, to its highest ever level this time.

Fifteen years ago the settlers had no such thing as social media to get their voices heard, organise larger protests and expose the treachery of the mainstream media and the ugliness of its enablers in the judiciary.

For all his swashbuckling warrior status, Sharon would probably not have withstood one tenth of the pressure that has been meted out to Netanyahu over these last few months, even without the scourge of Covid 19.  To repair the damage wrought by Sharon’s Faustian deal with the Left, Netanyahu should now act in the boldest way possible - by implementing Israeli sovereignty over the strategically vital Jordan Valley. What happens to the interior of the West Bank can be left for another day. But now is the time to finally bury the narrative of 1967 borders.

History will judge Netanyahu harshly if he fails to seize this opportunity. The uber-benevolent Donald Trump is in the White House. He has been starving the PA kleptocracy of terror funds as have other former benefactors even in the gulf. For decades Israel has been the lead story in media, no matter how trivial the issue. But now the world is mesmerised by Covid. Iran is on the ropes and no longer able to fund Hezbollah and Hamas. Syria is a basket case and Lebanon is now in meltdown.

So, if not now, when??

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July 07, 2020

Durban meets Mt. Rushmore


I have previously written about the uncanny parallels between the Left’s treatment of Israel and its treatment of Donald Trump.

Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky invented the ‘3D Test’ for differentiating legitimate criticism of Israel from antisemitism. There had to be Demonization, Delegitimization and the application of Double standards.

All three are used against Israel.

All three are used against Donald Trump.

When he announced his presidential run they demonized him as some kind of monster. When he was inaugurated they marched in their tens of thousands to delegitimize him as “not my president”. And for the past three and a half years the Left have not stopped applying double standards by projecting on Trump acts of dishonesty and misconduct of which Democrats are themselves guilty in spades.

Last weekend we saw a new parallel: Durban meets Mount Rushmore.

In one of his best speeches yet, President Trump stood beneath the iconic memorial to four presidents to extol the virtues of America, its achievements and its enormous potential as the land of freedom and opportunity. It was love of people and country – a call for patriotism in the face of those who trample the flag and kneel for the anthem.

The following day, virtually all the mainstream media wrote up the speech as ‘racist’.

This reminds me of the 2001 Durban conference, organized by our friends at UNESCO, which proposed that ‘Zionism equals Racism’.

Well, the folks who brought you Durban, are now saying Americanism equals Racism.

No wonder Trump is so empathetic to Israel.
They both see the world in 3D.

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June 17, 2020

Welcoming Tzipi

The Rt Hon Dominic Raab, MP
First Secretary of State & Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
16 June 2020
Dear First Secretary
Re: Israel’s Ambassador Designate
A campaign has recently been launched by a new group called “Naamod” which seeks to petition your office to reject the candidacy of Ms Tzipi Hotovely as Israel’s new ambassador to the UK.
Having been deeply involved with the Jewish community here for 6 decades I can say with confidence that this group and its supporters do not speak for the overwhelming majority of Jewish families in Britain.
A close look at the web links on Naamod’s petition site will reveal that most of the emotive positions and statements ascribed to her are either false or so out of context as to be deliberately misleading.
Instead, there are good reasons to enthusiastically welcome Ms Hotovely to the Court of St James. The child of refugees from the former Soviet Union, she is a source of pride to the immigrant community for her achievements in the law, media and politics.
Refreshingly she would be the first female ambassador appointed to this UK post. She is also the mother of three young children and brings family values to a role normally reserved for those with empty nests. She clearly would not have accepted her prime minister’s nomination without serious consideration of the upheaval of her husband’s job and the children’s schooling.
Ms Hotovely is also a woman of deep faith, for whom observance of the sabbath and festivals and turning the diplomatic residence into a kosher home is a special challenge which never troubled her mainly secular predecessors in this post.
Yes, the lady is a nationalist and a patriot who has defended Jewish history from the numerous attempts at its erasure, latterly by UNESCO. And when some may label her a ‘right-winger’ what that really means is that she is a realist. Someone who recognises that the real ‘occupation’ is by terror groups and leaders for whom corruption is a way of life and their people are simply pawns.
Like every other Israeli, Ms Hotovely lives and works daily alongside Arabs who make up 20% of Israel’s population. She would like to see the same harmony in the West Bank where Jewish settlers occupying just 3 percent of the territory provide good jobs and vital benefits to over 100,000 Arabs and their families.
All ambassadors have to be representative of the governments that send them. In this case Ms Hotovely has been sent by the new Netanyahu/Gantz coalition – one of the largest in Israel’s history. More significantly Mr Gantz has agreed that Ms Hotovely shall remain in post after he takes over as prime minister in 18 months’ time. This is therefore no extremist choice.
I hope you will therefore take the protestations of Naamod and their ilk with a pinch of salt, and extend a warm welcome to one of the youngest emissaries to the Court of St James – a woman of valour, of family values and deep faith.
Yours sincerely,
Zalmi Unsdorfer
Chairman, Likud-Herut UK
By Email: dominic.raab.mp@parliament.uk

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May 23, 2020

Annexation: We Dare Not Fail

In his imperious and widely-condemned putdown of Israel on its 72nd independence day, Londoner Sir Mick Davis wrote: “…Palestinian dysfunction, corruption and intransigence were previously an obstacle for Israel to overcome, not a set of values to emulate”.
That inane statement came to mind on Yom Yerushalayim during a Zoom conference I was chairing with special guest Ambassador Dore Gold.We were talking about how there was no plan to take back Jerusalem at the start of the Six Day War. The Jordanians were supposed to stay out of the war and only started shelling the Jewish suburbs of West Jerusalem after Egypt’s president Nasser lied to King Hussein about heavy Israeli losses. Under fire and on a strong legal footing of self-defence, Israel seized the opportunity which in little more than a day led to the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to our people.
Another important opportunity seized was in 1973 when General Ariel Sharon went rogue and launched his unit over the Suez Canal to encircle the Egyptian Third Army and bring the Yom Kippur War to a swift end.
The annals of IDF campaigns are replete with stories of improvisation, seizing opportunities in the field and striking while the iron is hot.
The Trump peace plan is today’s opportunity. And we dare not let it pass.
Just as our children today cannot conceive of a Jewish world without Jerusalem and the Kotel, future generations will blame today’s leaders for not seizing the once-in-a-lifetime gifts of President Donald Trump in securing the Jordan Valley and reasserting Jewish sovereignty over our tribal heartlands of Judea and Samaria.
Israel’s most eloquent foreign minister was Abba Eban who famously referred to the 1967 ceasefire lines as ‘Auschwitz Borders’. He also authored that famous line: the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Which is why Mick Davis’s statement came to mind.
If there is even a grain of substance in his suggestion that Israelis are emulating the Palestinians – please let it not be the missing of opportunities.

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April 30, 2020

I won't take the Mick


(In response to Sir Mick Davis’ opinion piece in the London Jewish News)


Tevye the milkman sang it best: “When you’re rich they think you really know!

So, what do you really know Mick? Are you some political scientist or professor of economics that qualifies you to trash the political and economic system of Israel?  No, you are just a guy with a boatload of money and 3 establishment letters in front of your name.

The trouble with the rich and famous is that they crave attention and acceptance by the establishment. That’s not so easy for Jewish A-listers as no amount of money and philanthropy can fully endear them to the chattering classes. The only thing that seems to work is bad-mouthing Israel. There’s nothing anti-Semites like more than the rantings of a self-hating Jew. You only have to look at the leadership of Labour’s toxic Momentum group.

But among Jews you are, sadly, in plenty of company. In claiming that Israel’s leaders are ‘violating our values’ you imply that they are emulating the ‘dysfunction, corruption and intransigence’ of the Palestinians. That’s a line that could have been written by Noam Chomsky. You say that annexation (of the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements under the Trump peace plan) is an existential threat to Israel. That could have been written by George Soros.

As so you go on, trashing Israel’s governance, its political system, its OECD ranking and even questioning the state of ‘Jewish peoplehood’ - it really ends up as dumb as a piece of Trudeau. 

In fact the whole piece smacks of the same social-climbing and career-advancement used by all too many Jews in media and academia, always at the expense of their homeland. Say something bad about your people and get yourself noticed, awarded or acclaimed. Every upward move for you people is a piton hammered into the heart of Israel.

You talk about ‘the country of Ben Gurion’ and then mock the ‘hyper proportional’ political system he crafted. But I guess any system that elects Netanyahu is, for you, broken. Instead you totally ignore the achievements of Israel’s most popular and longest-serving prime minister who has energised and enriched Israel by almost every metric since opening it up to free market principles. Despite being surrounded by mortal enemies, Israel is consistently at the top of global rankings in everything from the happiness index to the handling of Covid-19. Yes, there is a larger gap between rich and poor, but did you ever consider that might have something to do with the meteoric rise of tech billionaires which is unmatched by any other country? Don’t blame Israelis for their own ingenuity.

And finally you talk of ‘Diaspora Zionism’ when you are simply an armchair Zionist with a bigger mouth and wallet than most. While you are yachting off Barbados, Jewish children cower in the bunkers of Sderot. But they will grow up to be better Jews than you. And they won’t need your money or your advice.

April 28, 2020

We Never Got To 72 By Saying Dayenu


It started over a century ago with the ‘Uganda Plan’ brought by Herzl to the Sixth Zionist Congress which in 1903 voted overwhelmingly to consider a British plan to create a Jewish homeland in East Africa.

The plan failed and with it the health of Herzl who died in the following year. But this didn’t stop the noted Jewish author Israel Zangwill and other leftists from rallying this ‘Zionism without Zion’ cause for another twenty years. 

It was dubbed ‘Territorial Zionism’ and one of its leading lights happened to be a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. I mention this because I suspect that, like so many of today’s deputies, he was simply looking for honours from the British government which had dreamed up this scheme, clearly to please the rulers of Arabia.
For these progressive Jews a homeland without Zion would have been Dayenu; good enough.

And so it continued with their ‘enlightened’ heirs and successors. Good enough to accept the British gifting half of our mandated homeland to Abdullah of Jordan. Good enough to maintain the status quo without that ’terrorist’ Menachem Begin upsetting the British and forcing them to leave.

For these people the Old City of Jerusalem wasn’t that important, and the State could do just fine without any parts of the ‘West Bank’ and it was perfectly safe to evacuate South Lebanon and the Golan. Give us peace within the 1967 ‘borders’ and Dayenu, it was good enough.

Which brings us to the present day, when the most benevolent presidency of the United States wants to give us the sovereignty we want and the eastern border security that is so vital to our survival. True to form, the Zangwills of today are lobbying against the Trump Plan.

I have often remarked that hindsight has shown us that the Almighty has consistently been protecting Israel from the folly of its own leaders. Just think of how much we came so close to losing by the stroke of a pen.

Israel cannot keep relying on miracles. It must seize every opportunity with both hands as there are rarely second chances. Almost certainly there will be no second Trumps.

Happy birthday Israel. 
And never blow out the candles.

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