“Today a nine-year-old Palestinian boy on a school trip to the West Bank’s only municipal zoo [in Qalqiliya] had his arm bitten off by a bear that he had apparently tried to feed. The UK’s Daily Mail reported that the animal had eaten the severed limb. The Palestinian Ministry of Local Governance has closed the zoo until further notice and has set up a committee to investigate the incident and deliver its findings within a week.... It was not immediately clear if any action was taken against the bear.” (The Times of Israel, April 25, 2017)
* * *Qalqiliya has been in the news over the past two weeks. Until then, had you asked me what I knew about that town of 50,000 under the Palestinian Authority, I would have said, “Isn’t that the place where they sneak across the border to Kfar Saba and steal bicycles and laundry?”
Then I heard that they’ve got a zoo as well, so I thought it could provide a human interest story – you know – a chance to say something positive. Yet as you can see from the tragic event described above, not every zoo is a safe place to take children.
Actually, the most recent news about Qalqiliya comes “closer to home,” literally. It seems that back in September of last year, two months before the U.S. presidential election – and presumably under pressure from Barack Obama, whose politically-correct female clone was expected to win – the Israeli government’s cabinet agreed in principle to transfer enough land to Qalqiliya from Jewish “Area C” of Judea and Samaria to enable the Arabs there to more than double the size of their town (via permission to build 14,000 homes).
As soon as the story was publicized, there was a public outcry, whereupon most of the cabinet denied being in favor of it, and Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed not to recall the details of that decision and also promised to reconvene the cabinet to consider the decision once more. With all the cabinet members now expressing their disapproval of the move, it can be assumed that it will not happen. Popular opinion in Israel is very much against it, and the government knows that.
Actually, what occurred is exactly what Netanyahu hoped would occur, in line with the following story: A poor Jew in Eastern Europe, known for his brilliance, was summoned to the landowner’s castle and given an ultimatum: “Teach my dog to talk or I will kill you.” The Jew demanded five years to complete the task, and an advance of 5,000 rubles, and his wishes were granted. Returning home with a smile on his face, his wife asked, “How can you be so calm?” He replied, “Five years is a long time! In that time, the landowner can die, the dog can die, or I can die, so what do I have to worry about? In the meantime, we’ve got 5,000 rubles.”
This is often Netanyahu’s approach, and it is usually successful, as it was here. Clinton lost the election, and now Netanyahu is being “forced” to do what he wanted to do anyhow – cancel the foolish decision.
Of course, a lot of things are still unclear as to Trump’s plans regarding Judea and Samaria. On the one hand, he seems to be going full speed ahead with his wish to “make a deal” between Israel and the Arabs. In fact, American ambassador to Israel David Friedman said, “We are working very hard on the peace process. Those who talk, don’t know, and those who know, don’t talk. I know, and am not going to talk.” He also seems to be discouraging Netanyahu from building in Judea and Samaria. (I will not address that last point publicly.)
But we’ve got to ask: Is he really? In other words, is Trump really “going full speed ahead” with the peace process? I think quite the opposite is the case. I think Donald Trump wants to make sure the dog “never learns to talk.” In order to sabotage the peace process even further, to make it even more impossible than it already is, and to guarantee failure, he chose the representatives he chose. David Friedman and negotiator Jason Greenblatt are both Orthodox Jews, as is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. These are exactly the men Trump wants as his representatives if he wants the peace process to fail. It’s called “Read my lips.”
Friedman was for a long time the head of “American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva,” and Donald Trump, himself, has donated many thousands of dollars to that yeshiva. Beit El is a settlement that is not on anyone’s list of “settlement blocks.” It is called an “isolated settlement,” even if Jacob dreamt of angels there. In other words, there isn’t the slightest chance of the Arabs agreeing to any deal that includes it. And there isn’t the slightest chance of their being willing to talk seriously to people who donate money to the Beit El Yeshiva. Trump knows all of this, and he is enjoying himself. The Arabs, for the first time in quite a while, are kind of nervous.
As far as Greenblatt, the chief negotiator, he and I have something in common. We both learned in Yeshivat Har Etzion, in Gush Etzion, under the late Rav Aharon Lichtenstein. With or without a kipa on his head, he’s a yeshiva bachur from a yeshiva over the Green Line. Whether he actually is a “settler” or not makes no difference. The Arabs view him as such.
I think that the fact that Trump would choose such people as his ambassador and negotiators sends the Arabs a clear message of his intentions. Nothing could be more degrading for the Arabs than to have to sit across the table from these men and be chastised and browbeaten by them about their support of terror.
My late father, Professor Arnold Blumberg, of blessed memory, wrote his doctoral dissertation, The Austro-Sardinian War of 1859, on how the heads of France and Sardinia schemed to create an independent Italy. To accomplish this, they tricked the Austrians into forfeiting land by insulting them. This predictably led the Austrians to attack, but France and Sardinia had already lined up defense allies from across Europe who would side with them if Austria attacked. Austria lost its land, and France and Sardinia took Austria’s land and used it to create today’s Modern Italy, which was their intention all along.
I think Trump is doing all he needs to do to provoke the Arabs into blinking and walking away from the table, as fast as possible. He has taken a page out of my father’s doctoral dissertation, without having read it.
I think that once the Arabs walk away, Trump will waste little time in letting Israel do what it wants. The pretense will be over, and he, Trump, will be off the hook vis-à-vis the politically-correct powers of the world. After all, did he not try to make peace?
Am I certain of all of this? Of course not, but it seems logical to me, and I hope I am right. We’re so used to cringing over the possibility of bad things happening, that if it looks as though good things might actually occur, we’re afraid to believe it. So keep praying – that never hurts – but I said what I think is the reality.
In this article I started with ungrateful bears that bite (and consume) the hand that feeds them. I continued with talking dogs. Let me conclude with my wish that the Jewish People, holy sheep if ever there were such, will be spared the spears and arrows of the 70 wolves, and will live to see the complete Redemption. Say Amen!