Trump pick for ambassador to Israel continues to fund settlement construction in the West Bank

US Politics
on 32 Comments

For years President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel had funneled millions of tax-exempt American dollars into a hardline West Bank settlement through a U.S. charity of which he is the director. Now newly-uncovered documents show his money will continue to pay for settlements in the future. 

A report out of Israel this week states that part of a pot of money raised by Trump’s nominee, David Friedman, was wired to an Israeli charity for upcoming construction in the settlement of Beit El, the very sort of construction that the White House condemned just last week.

“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace,” the White House said in a statement, “the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal.”

Indeed a very odd scenario is at play in which, if Friedman’s nomination is OK’d by Congress, he will go to work with a stake in a project his new boss has already labeled as a bad move with regard to U.S. interests.

Screenshot of a financial statement for the Israeli NGO Sukkat Ovadia showing a $650,000 (2,467,800 Shekels) donation from the American Friends of Beit El, a U.S.-based charity headed by President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. (File: Peace Now)

According to a financial statement obtained by Peace Now and independently reviewed by Mondoweiss, American Friends of Beit El, where Friedman serves as the director, transferred around $650,000 (2.47 million NIS) in 2015 to the Israeli non-government organization Sukkat Ovadia, the financier of the construction project in question.

Peace Now confirmed Friedman’s group gave previous donations to Sukkat Ovadia in 2013.

The Beit El project is a five-story building with 20 residential units. Israel’s Defense Minister announced the tender five days after Trump’s inauguration, as part of a wave of 2,500 new settlement units. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed the settlements, stating “we are building—and we will continue to build.”

At the time it was not disclosed where the settlements would be built in the West Bank. Peace Now discovered Beit El’s building was among those given permission, and questioned in their report yesterday if expansion there was “a gift to the U.S. ambassador-designate?”

More controversial is the legal status of the land where the Friedman settlements will be located.  Peace Now reported the site for the expansion is on land privately owned by Palestinians. Sukkat Ovadia once attempted to build a “learning center” in the same plot in 2014, but work was stopped as the site was deemed illegal by the Israeli government.

However, with the passing of the “legalization law” Monday, a landmark regulation that grants Israel sweeping authority to build on tracts in the West Bank for which settlers do not hold the titles, the settlement has new legal grounds to move forward under local rules.

Still, construction in the West Bank on lands where Palestinians can show property ownership is illegal according to every other nation and all international institutions in the world. 

“The plan instructs to demolish the part of the building that is on private [Palestinian-owned] land, retroactively legalizes the remainder of the structure, and allows for additional floors,” Peace Now said.

Advertisement for the American Friends of Beit El’s annual gala, featuring keynote speaker John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush, and hosted by David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel. (Image: “Friends of Bet El, Israel”/Facebook)

The sole purpose of American Friends of Beit El is to raise capital in the U.S. for protects in the settlement, including its religious school, residential units, a tourism center and a media outlet where Friedman has been a columnist. Copies of the organization’s 990 tax forms show the group sends around two million dollars per year overseas. Most of the money is collected through an annual “dressy” banquet. Last year’s event held in Manhattan was keynoted by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

The latest public tax records show in 2014 the organization spent $171,448 of its own money to host the annual fundraiser. 

Such a close monetary tie to a settlement has put Friedman at odds with progressive Jewish groups that now are seeking to muster a groundswell of opposition to the Senate confirmation.

Poster for campaign against David Friedman as ambassador to Israel, led by Jewish Voice for Peace

The date of Friedman’s confirmation hearing has not yet be scheduled, but leading the efforts to sandbag him, Jewish Voice for Peace launched a campaign to phone bank the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Friedman is not just a supporter of Israel’s illegal and immoral settlements, he is a leader in the settlement movement having spent years funneling money from the US to settlements,” the group’s website states.

The liberal Zionist lobby group J Street is also “vehemently opposed” to Friedman, writing he “lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials and has attacked fellow Jews and public figures with hateful accusations that are disqualifying for representing our country in any capacity.”

J Street’s conflict with Friedman runs deeper than a dispute over settlements. His acerbic online commentary has poured gasoline onto their differences: President Obama an “anti-Semite,” Israeli citizenship should be conditional upon “loyalty” to the government, and critics at J Street are “worse than kapos”—a term of harsh offense used for Jews who collaborated with Nazis while imprisoned in concentration camps. All those statements were penned in Friedman’s column for the settler media organization Arutz Sheva, a group he supports through American Friends of Beit El.

Moreover, in Israel Friedman has become a topic of two left-leaning demonstrations, with protesters at “Women’s March” events in Tel Aviv and Haifa on Jan. 21 calling for Trump to drop him.

Yet, it’s not all heckles for Friedman. 

He retains strong support among the political right in Israel. Settlers and the orthodox Jewish community in the U.S. too generally greeted his nomination with enthusiasm. A few have even jumped to his defense with liberal Jews. 

Two orthodox rabbis recently called for progressive Jewish organizations to approach Friedman with an open mind. One of the rabbis, Eli Weinstock, works at the congregation where First Daughter Ivanka Trump underwent conversion to Judaism, reported the Times of Israel.

The Forward’s Naomi Zeveloff captured scenes of Friedman supporters in a recent report where she visited Beit El and observed a girls school in the settlement bearing the name of Friedman’s father, Morris Friedman, who also was a benefactor to the settlement.

The senior Friedman was a friend of Yaakov “Katzele” Katz, one of the founders of the settlement in 1977, and the current director of Beit El’s institutions and businesses, including the news organization where David Friedman blogs. 

Katz is a long-standing public figure in pro-settler circles. He is a former member of Israel’s parliament and was the head of the far-right National Union party. In December, speaking to Israel’s Army Radio, as reported by the Washington Post, Katz revealed Trump gave $10,000 to Beit El in 2003 (a figure borne out by the American Friends of Beit El’s tax returns).

Katz indicated in the interview the president’s donation was at the behest of David Friedman. 

Similarly, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who serves on the board of his parents’ foundation, oversaw a gift of $58,500 from 2011 to 2013 to Beit El and its institutions, according to Kushner family foundation tax forms reviewed by Haaretz.

Before his nomination as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, Friedman was Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer on the Atlantic City casino deal. He has no expertise in the Middle East other than fundraising for a settlement. In the past he has spoken against self-determination for Palestinians, advocating instead for Israeli annexation of the occupied territory, excluding Gaza, for which he has no plan. In an interview with Haaretz, he explained his vision by citing discredited population data that grossly under-represented the number of Palestinians living in the West Bank. 

So where does this all go? If Friedman is confirmed as ambassador, in a few weeks he will be sitting in a house that he owns in Jerusalem. And ten miles away in the West Bank in Beit El, workers will lay a foundation for settler residences in flagrant contradiction to U.S. policy, with the tab covered by Ambassador Friedman.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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32 Responses

  1. John O
    February 10, 2017, 10:28 am

    Looks like conflicts of interest are compulsory in the 45 administration.

  2. HarryLaw
    February 10, 2017, 11:54 am

    Not only against US policy in Israel/Palestine but US Law
    The rule concerning the use of tax exempt entities as conduit organizations is clear, and states that “the code would be nullified if contributions inevitably committed to a foreign organization were held to be deductible solely because, in the course of transmittal to a foreign organization, they came to rest momentarily in a qualifying domestic organization” (Section 170(c)(2)(A)). That is exactly the case with American Friends of Ariel Inc., and hundreds of organizations like it, a fact which is abundantly clear upon review of their publicly available 990 tax forms.
    The raison d’etre of illegal Israeli settlements is rooted in institutionalized discrimination, and therefore technically violates IRS regulations on a daily basis in the same way that Bob Jones University violated those same regulations barring discrimination (Bob Jones University v United States). https://electronicintifada.net/content/how-us-charities-break-tax-laws-fund-israeli-settlements/10342
    see also https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/us-sued-over-tax-exempt-donations-illegal-israeli-settlements

    • just
      February 10, 2017, 7:25 pm

      Thanks, HarryLaw.

      This foot- dragging is almost as despicable as Friedman:

      “UN to Delay Release of ‘Blacklist’ of Businesses Linked to Israeli Settlements

      States that oppose the creation of the database could be pressuring the UN human rights agency to bury the report’s findings, activist suggests.

      A United Nations report on establishing a database of companies with business interests in Israeli settlements in the West Bank is set to be delayed until later this year, diplomats and activists said on Friday. 

      The UN human rights office had been due to present its first report on the politically charged issue at a session that opens on February 27, which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also due to address. 

      But the report is not ready and will be deferred for many months, at least until September, the sources said, adding that an announcement was expected on Monday. 

      “There is a need for more time, it is a very complex issue,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “You need to have a clear vision of how you list the companies, what is the exact criteria.” 

      The issue is sensitive because companies appearing in such a database could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at stepping up pressure on Israel over its West Bank settlements. Goods produced there include fruit, vegetables and wine. 

      Israel assailed the UN Human Rights Council last March for launching the initiative, calling the database a “blacklist” and accusing the 47-member state forum of behaving “obsessively” against Israel. 

      The council had voted in favor of creating the database after 32 states backed a proposal by Pakistan, while 15 abstained, including Britain, France and Germany.  …”

      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.771011?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

      It’s not at all “complex” nor are the “exact criteria” difficult to discern! Meanwhile, Fatou Bensouda is also sitting on her butt.

      I’m curious if these Ovadias are linked to Sukkat Ovadia:

      “Israeli racist chic comes to New York Fashion Week

      Israeli-born, Brooklyn-based brothers Shimon and Ariel Ovadia are bringing racist chic to the New York fashion scene with the fall collection of their menswear label Ovadia & Sons.

      The collection, presented during New York Fashion Week, was featured in Vogue, and The New York Times gave the twins a glowing write-up.

      But the fashion press failed to mention the disturbing symbolism their clothes display, all the more troubling in the context of the surge of Islamophobia and racism fueled by President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees, immigrants and travelers that targets Muslims.

      Glamorizing racism
      The fashion blog Hypebeast says the Ovadia brothers’ collection was “inspired by the Israeli army” and “draws inspiration from their father’s life abroad – both as a football player and as an Israeli army soldier – filled with modern motifs of military and sport.”

      The outfit pictured above caught my eye in particular as it appears to glamorize Israel’s violent anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim racism.

      The model is obviously wearing military pants – but look at his shirt too. It bears a close resemblance to the jersey of players for Beitar Jerusalem, the Israeli football club whose fans are notorious for their racism and rampages, habitually accompanied by chants of “Death to the Arabs.”

      This is no coincidence: the brothers’ father is Moshe Ovadia, a former Beitar player who immigrated to the US in the 1990s. …

      … It is grotesque that the symbols of this racist enterprise should be offered up as trendy fashion items.

      In other situations, The New York Times has been more sensitive to the political symbolism of fashion. For instance, it has reported more than once on a particular German clothing brand “popular among Germany’s far-right extremists, whose clothes have been banned from the country’s parliament building, and several German soccer stadiums.”

      It is no less troubling that anyone would seek to glamorize or find inspiration from the Israeli army, whose long, notorious and ongoing litany of crimes includes the killing of 11 children per day on average during its 51-day assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014.

      Among them were four boys playing football on the beach.”

      more @ https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-racist-chic-comes-new-york-fashion-week

      It seems a good ‘fit’…

  3. iResistDe4iAm
    February 10, 2017, 8:02 pm

    David Friedman doesn’t even pretend that his Israel Firstism is aligned with American interests.

    If Friedman is confirmed as US ambassador to Israel, he will probably be the first Trump appointee to be fired by Trump (in due course).

  4. just
    February 11, 2017, 5:39 am

    Speaking of ambassadors:

    “U.S. Blocks Former Palestinian Premier From Leading UN Mission to Libya

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres indicated that he would appoint Salam Fayyad as the next UN special representative to Libya.

    The United States on Friday blocked the appointment of the former Palestinian prime minister to lead the UN political mission in Libya, saying it was acting to support its ally Israel.

    U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley Friday said the Trump administration “was disappointed” to see that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had sent a letter to the Security Council indicating his intention to appoint Salam Fayyad, who served as the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007-2013, as the next UN special representative to Libya.

    “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said.

    Palestine is a non-member observer state at the United Nations and its independence has been recognized by 137 of the 193 UN member nations. But Haley said the United States doesn’t currently recognize a Palestinian state “or support the signal” Fayyad’s appointment would send within the United Nations.

    UN diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, said Fayyad is well-respected for his work in reforming the Palestinian Authority and spurring its economy and had the support of the 14 other Security Council members to succeed Martin Kobler in the Libya job.

    Despite opposition to Fayyad, Haley indicated that the Trump administration wants to see an end to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    “We encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution,” she said.
    Haley’s statement came ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, and was welcomed by Israelis.

    “This is the beginning of a new era at the U.N., an era where the U.S. stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish State,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said of the U.S. decision to block Fayyad’s appointment. “The new administration proved once again that it stands firmly alongside the state of Israel in the international arena and in the UN in particular.”

    The new U.S. ambassador made clear that “going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”…”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.771053?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Disgraceful.

    • HarryLaw
      February 11, 2017, 7:29 am

      just, this goes to prove once again that because the US [thanks to its veto] is above International Law for all time, the same also applies to its friend Israel.
      In the 1940’s the United States and Britain led efforts to replace a world of chaos and conflict with a new, rules based system. Roosevelt and Churchill built into the architecture of the United Nations the principal that the US and UK are above the rules for all time. They accorded themselves permanent seats on the Security Council, the only United Nations body with any authority, and gave themselves a veto on decisions of the Council. The result is that they can engage in aggression against other states, as and when they like, without fear of a slap on the wrist by the Council let alone being subject to economic sanctions or military action mandated by the Council. In theory all members are equal, but some members are more equal than others. http://www.david-morrison.org.uk/iraq/ags-legal-advice.pdf

      • Sibiriak
        February 11, 2017, 11:18 am

        Harry Law: …the principal that the US and UK are above the rules for all time
        ——————-

        I’m not sure why the US and UK are being singled out; all five veto-holding permanent members of the SC are equally “above the rules.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_veto_power#Origins_of_the_veto_provision

      • HarryLaw
        February 11, 2017, 11:52 am

        I would have thought it obvious that the other three veto wielding members had the same rights, and since this site is dedicated to solving the Israel/Palestinian problem, and the US and to a lesser extent the UK are the principal opponents of a just resolution of same based on International Law, my singling out of them, is, I think, legitimate.

      • just
        February 12, 2017, 5:38 pm

        Thank you, HarryLaw. You are spot- on!

        Did you see this?

        “UN Chief Offered Israeli Lawmaker Tzipi Livni a Senior Role

        Officials in UN believe offer to name Livni under-secretary-general is a deal: U.S. will go back on its block of ex-Palestinian premier’s UN job, in return Livni’s position will be okayed by Security Council.”

        More @ http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.771145

  5. HarryLaw
    February 11, 2017, 6:57 am

    just.. “Meanwhile, Fatou Bensouda is also sitting on her butt”. Could this be the reason? “U.S. President George Bush today signed into law the American Service members Protection Act of 2002, which is intended to intimidate countries that ratify the treaty for the International Criminal Court (ICC). The new law authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American OR CITIZEN OF AN -ALLIED COUNTRY being held by the court, which is located in The Hague. This provision, dubbed the “Hague invasion clause,” has caused a strong reaction from U.S. allies around the world, particularly in the Netherlands”. https://www.hrw.org/news/2002/08/03/us-hague-invasion-act-becomes-law
    Can you see Fatou and her staff holding out at her office in the Hague, Kalashnikov in hand repelling seal team 6?

  6. David Gerald Fincham
    February 11, 2017, 8:30 am

    Saying that the building of new settlements “may not be helpful” in bringing peace is not condemning them. It is a pathetically weak statement that gives a green light for Israel to continue its illegal behaviour.

  7. Elizabeth Block
    February 11, 2017, 10:03 am

    There’s a move in Canada to get rid of the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status. If it succeeds, the JNF would no longer be able to give tax receipts to its donors, and Canadian taxpayers would no longer be contributing to the Occupation.
    These US “charities” should be decertified as well.

  8. traintosiberia
    February 11, 2017, 10:05 am

    Abram the eternal warmonger fascist is fired before he’s hired by Trump company

    This is good news

  9. David Gerald Fincham
    February 11, 2017, 11:53 am

    The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has good news from the UK Parliament:

    Dear friends,

    Over the last two weeks, over 10,000 of you answered our urgent call and contacted your MP asking them to speak in the Parliamentary debate on illegal settlements. The pressure you put on your MPs made a big difference.

    “I have heard from my constituents, powerfully and loudly, about their concern about that practice and its effect on communities.” – Patrick Grady MP

    Yesterday, on Wednesday 9th February, our Parliament overwhelmingly supported a motion to reaffirm the illegality of Israel’s settlements. During the debate MPs from all parties condemned the latest Israeli government bill on settlements, its apartheid policies and called for a ban on settlement goods from entering the UK. 10,000 of you made a difference.

    “The settlements are the embodiment of occupation. Everything else that is wrong in the occupied territories flows from those settlements.” – Andy Slaughter MP

    We need to keep up the pressure.

    Although the debate reaffirmed the illegality of settlements, the government has yet to take the action needed to end UK complicity. The demand for a settlement ban calls for measures to prevent settlement goods reaching the UK and for companies and charities to be forbidden from funding settlements and the infrastructure of the occupation.

    With your support, we will keep the pressure up on the government until they stop talking about settlements as illegal and start treating them as such.

    Thank you for taking action – it makes a difference.

  10. James Canning
    February 11, 2017, 2:26 pm

    What a spectacle. An American lawyer, fostering sustained violations of international law by Israel, and funding in part is courtesy of the American taxpayers.

  11. Jackdaw
    February 12, 2017, 7:06 am

    “However, with the passing of the “legalization law” Monday, a landmark regulation that grants Israel sweeping authority to build on tracts in the West Bank for which settlers do not hold the titles,”

    A law which the Israeli Supreme Court General of Israel, Mendalblit has made it very clear that not only won’t he defend the law in the Supreme court but will actually argue against it .
    link to globes.co.il

    He prevously stated that “”כי החוק יהווה פגיעה אנושה ביסודות שלטון החוק כיוון שהחקיקה הזו תסדיר מצב שבית המשפט העליון כבר קבע שנחשב לפגיעה יסודית בחוק הקניין

  12. Kay24
    February 12, 2017, 4:06 pm

    What did Trump offer the Palestinians, no right to their stolen land? Jared will make sure they are offered the shorter end of the stick.

    “Netanyahu: I Told Trump Palestinians Won’t Budge, He Said They’ll Make Concessions
    Netanyahu tells ministers Trump pressed him on his intentions regarding the peace process two days after his inauguration. ‘Trump believes in a deal,’ the PM says, ‘We have to make every effort to avoid a confrontation with him
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.771285

  13. just
    February 12, 2017, 5:21 pm

    “From Sleepovers to Speaking Fees: NYT Profile Reveals Netanyahu’s Close Ties to the Kushners …

    As a member of a prominent American Jewish family, it is no surprise that U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner won’t be meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time when the Israeli leader arrives in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

    But an exhaustive profile of the Kushner-Netanyahu connection in Sunday’s New York Times reveals new details of the extent and depth of the acquaintance between the two men, who will sit in the Oval Office on February 15 to discuss peace in the Middle East.

    It turns out that Netanyahu spent the night in Kushner’s bed when he was a guest in the Kushner home on a trip to the United States before becoming prime minister. Jared, a teenager at the time, bunked in the basement for the night. The profile also recalled how, later, at age 17, Kushner listened to Netanyahu’s address the “March of the Living” at the Auschwitz-Birkenau crematorium in 1998, during his first stint as prime minister.

    The sleepover wasn’t the only time Netanyahu paid his respects to the Kushner clan. The article detailed a visit in which he “shared a tabbouleh lunch,” visited Jared Kushner’s father Charles at his office and played soccer at one of the Jewish day schools bearing the Kushner family name with Joshua Kushner, Jared’s younger brother.  

    Over the course of the campaign and through the transition, the woes of Charles Kushner were extensively reported – the feud between Kushner and his extended family regarding misuse of family company funds that led him to commit tax fraud, illegal contributions and suborning a witness. This landed him a two-year prison sentence, of which he served 14 months. What was less widely known, the Times revealed, was that when Murray Kushner, Charles’ brother, filed a suit against him, part of the misuse of funds included paying hundreds of thousands of speaking fees to Netanyahu.

    More evidence of a close Kushner-Netanyahu connection is the fact that Charles Kushner was placed highly on a leaked list of billionaires and millionaires – both Israelis and foreigners – Netanyahu compiled as potential donors in 2007. The names were organized into four categories as to who was most likely to contribute. Kushner was high on the list alongside names like Sheldon Adelson and Ron Lauder. Donald Trump also appeared on the list, but he, unlike Kushner, was ranked in the fourth category – the least likely to give.

    The profile scrutinized Jared’s deep “personal and religious” ties with Israel, his education at day schools where “the West Bank was often referred to by its biblical names, Judea and Samaria, a practice that emphasizes Jewish claims to the land” and his family’s donations to West Bank settlements. It contrasts his connection with Israel and Netanyahu with the fact that he has little familiarity with the wider Arab world and there is no evidence as to whether he has spent any time in Palestinian towns or cities. This has led to skepticism over his knowledge and impartiality as he tries to “craft a strategy to recruit Sunni Muslim countries that oppose Iran to help foster an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.”

    Palestinian leader Mustafa Bargouhti told the Times that “there is no indication” that Kushner “is interested in hearing from the other side.” ”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.771134?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    ~ and ~

    “On a rocky ridge over Ramallah, settlers put their faith in Trump

    On the eve of Netanyahu’s White House visit, an emboldened Israeli right wing sees a chance to build – and to renounce the two-state solution

    The posters hanging near the municipal buildings in the Jewish settlement of Beit El – in Hebrew “the House of God” – have a simple message: “Go in peace. Come back with sovereignty.”

    They are words aimed at a single individual, an instruction from the settlement movement to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for his visit to Washington on Wednesday to meet the US president, Donald Trump.

    The “sovereignty” demanded is Israel’s over the settlements of the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, regarded by most of the international community as illegal.

    In Beit El, as in the other Jewish settlements on the West Bank, there is a sense of mounting optimism that this time, and with this US president, the sentiment on the poster may be more than just hopeful words – that a new reality, sympathetic to their ambitions, may be rapidly emerging.

    Beit El, on a rocky ridge overlooking the offices and mosques on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Ramallah to the south, is a case in point. Last Sunday, Israel’s ministry of defence approved a permit for a residential block for a yeshiva – a religious school – linked to the American Friends of Beit El, a charity in which Trump’s ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, is heavily involved.

    The family of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, adviser and suggested envoy to the Middle East, has donated money to Yitzhar, one of the West Bank’s most hardline settlements, south of Nablus. The Trump administration – while saying it wants a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians – has suggested that settlements are not necessarily an impediment to that goal.

    Beit El’s symbolism for the settler movement is not only political. It is regarded as the site of Jacob’s stone, where the patriarch – according to biblical tradition – took a rock for a pillow and in his dream was promised the land of Israel. …”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/12/israel-settlers-put-their-faith-in-trump-netanyahu-visit-white-house

    It’s both surreal and tragically ominous. It’s now completely clear that Zionists never wanted peace nor justice. (though I’ve believed this forever…) Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge this is missing both their heart and brain. They are deliberately ignoring their five senses!

    Now for Gideon Levy:

    “Israel’s Masters of War Set Their Sights on Gaza – Again

    Gaza cries out, but the warmongers don’t listen. For them, the Strip is just an opportunity to advance their careers.

    “Come you masters of war, … I can see through your masks… You lie and deceive, a world war can be won, you want me to believe, but I see through your eyes, and I see through your brain. … You’ve thrown the worst fear that can ever be hurled, fear to bring children in to the world.” (From Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”)

    And look, they’re back, our masters of war. Here they come, those warmongers. They don’t pass up a single chance to grab a microphone and threaten to push toward another war. Yet no one asks them: Why? What for? The north is quiet, as is the south, relatively speaking.
    But it’s been two and a half years since the last war in Gaza and the Israeli DNA demands another round of bloodshed. And their current jobs –  construction minister or education minister – are also boring for those with a mind for it. Encouraging high school students to take advanced math or building new public housing is deadly dull. They need another war, after which they may get the positions they covet.

    The Gaza Strip is dying. Its inhabitants have just three years to live, according to a United Nations report that predicted that in 2020, Gaza will cease to be a place fit for human life. It has long ago become a cage unfit for life. But when they’re not shooting at Israel from Gaza, no one takes an interest in its fate. Hamas is holding its fire, but it’s enough for two rebel rockets to be fired to prompt 19 (!) Israeli aerial attacks and to extract all of our warmongers from their holes.

    Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant’s eyes lit up and the color seemed to return to his face when he talked about Gaza. “I believe we should be prepared by spring,” determines this master of war, who dreams of returning to Gaza and killing more, as he did so well in Operation Cast Lead eight year ago. Why in the spring? Don’t ask. There’s a reason you don’t know. Maybe it’s because Charles Aznavour sang about returning in the spring. …

    …The deterioration could be quick. Just another few declarations of war, another few disproportionate responses by the Israel Defense Forces for every cap gun or kite fired from Gaza and we’re there. Israel also pushed for the wars in Gaza in 2008 and 2014 more than Gaza did. Before you can say “cigars and champagne,” the IDF is in Gaza.

    And there is no one to yell “stop,” no one to say that those who don’t want war in Gaza should open it rather than destroy it a third, fourth and fifth time. But saying so requires courage, which is the quality most lacking among our masters of war, whom, as Dylan’s lyrics state, will never be forgiven.”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.771142

  14. Maghlawatan
    February 13, 2017, 4:46 am

    The settlers are banking on Trump. But Trump can’t change public opinion.

    NFL players are turning away

    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.771219

  15. HarryLaw
    February 13, 2017, 5:39 am

    It is becoming plain what the Israeli state has in store for Palestinians in the “Land of Israel”.
    Naftali Bennett calls for the annexation of area C and for areas A and B to be administered [with no sovereignty] by the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile.. “Israel’s firebrand minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman has said that all Palestinians should leave the entity and live in the territories administered by the Palestinian Authority.

    Speaking to Israel’s Channel 2 on Saturday, Lieberman said the Palestinians living in Israeli cities and towns should be made to go and live in the occupied West Bank under the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas.

    “With my blessing: You are Palestinians, you should go to Abu Mazen. You’ll be citizens of the Palestinian Authority. He’ll pay you unemployment benefits, health benefits, maternity benefits, hanging around benefits,” he said derogatorily, using a nickname for Abbas”. http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/02/12/510173/Israel-Lieberman-Palestinians-West-Bank-East-Jerusalem-Netanyahu-Iran-Trump
    Lieberman is talking expulsion while he himself lives in a settlement in the West Bank. You could not make this nonsense up.

  16. just
    February 13, 2017, 9:36 am

    “Germany’s Merkel Cancels Summit With Israel in Wake of Palestinian Land-grab Law

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to cancel a joint summit with Israel’s government, scheduled for May 10 in Jerusalem. The official reason her office gave the Prime Minister’s Office for the cancelation in the planned visit by Merkel and top officials was the German elections in September. But German and Israeli sources say there was another reason, albeit not the main one – her dissatisfaction at the Israel’s new law to expropriate private Palestinian lands, enacted in Knesset last week.

    An Israeli source who was in contact with the German Foreign Ministry and the chancellor’s office last week reported hearing massive anger over the law. The Israeli source, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, said he had heard from German officials that in response to the law’s enactment, the German government had launched a number of initiatives, both publically and in diplomatic channels, to express its dismay at the legislation.

    According to the source, one of those responses had to do with the Netanyahu-Merkel summit. Merkel’s initiated the summit between the German and Israeli government during Ehud Olmert’s term as prime minister. Since then they have been held almost annually, alternating between Berlin and Jerusalem, and including a meeting between the two premiers and between the ministers of the two governments, as well as a joint cabinet session. The purpose of the summits is to highlight the close relations between the two countries.
     
    A few days before the Knesset passed the so-called “Regularization Law,” the chancellor’s office confirmed the date for the Jerusalem summit for May 10 and 11. But only a few days after the law passed, Merkel’s national security adviser, Kristof Heusgen, contacted Netanyahu’s office again and informed them that the chancellor had decided to postpone the summit, due to preparations for the elections in Germany.

    However, the elections in Germany are scheduled for September 24, four and a half months after the original date for the summit. What the cancelation means that in an unusual occurrence, there will be no joint Israeli-German government summit this year. The Israeli source said he had heard from German officials that despite the election excuse, the real reason for the cancelation is the new law and Israel’s decision to build 6,000 housing units in the settlements. …”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.771426

    That’s more like it! Now on to sanctions and vibrant boycott and divestment.

  17. Ossinev
    February 13, 2017, 2:21 pm

    @just
    “But it’s been two and a half years since the last war in Gaza and the Israeli DNA demands another round of bloodshed”

    Agree 100% about the DNA. But the last Gaza Zioop wasn`t a war. It was a fairly straightforward turkey shoot. I think that when it comes to “war” the Israeli mindset and in fact Israeli capability is now restricted to war as in aerial turkey shoot . They have had a number of these aerial turkey shoots on the totally soft target which is Gaza.IMHO they no longer have the will or the balls or the capacity to take on hard targets any more because times have moved on since the heady hava nagila days of 1973 and massive retaliation and casualties would come their way as never before if they take on anything or anywhere outside of Gaza.Much better armed enemies with much better weaponry including much more sophisticated missiles and particularly in Hezbollah battle hardened combatants. No in order to satisfy the ingrained Zionist war lust and prove their Zionist”manhood” the only real option is poor old Gaza and its people and remote control bombardment (all 100% moral you understand and absolutely avoiding civilian casualties). The only question is just how long the world (exc the pet US ) would stand by and allow this barbarism to continue.

  18. xanadou
    February 14, 2017, 12:44 am

    Over 600 Rabbis and Cantors Sign Petition Opposing David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

    http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.771542

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