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Artist's interpretation of the First Temple in Jerusalem built by Kind Solomon in approximately 832 BCE (Photo courtesy of Israel Truths - CC BY 4.0)

What could be more historically just! Jerusalem, documented by the Old Testament as becoming Israel's capital three thousand years ago after being captured by King David; where the Israelites, the forefathers of today's Israelis, later built the Holy Temple, now officially recognized in word and deed by the greatest democracy in the world - the United States of America. President Donald Trump has decreed an American embassy will be opened on May 14th, Israel's Independence Day. Jerusalem, whose very name is derived from the Hebrew word 'shalom' for peace, and has always been the heart and soul of the Jewish people ever since they were exiled from the city by the Roman conquerors in 70A.D. The same Roman Empire that even tried to sever the Jews unbreakable bond with Jerusalem changing the city's name to 'Aelia Capitolina' - 'the conquered city'. But they never succeeded, nor did the other persecutors of the Jews during the following twenty centuries of Jewish exile. Throughout the ages Jerusalem always remained at the heart of the Jewish soul: 

'If I forget thee, O' Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its cunning!'

And: 'God willing, next year in Jerusalem!'

And whatever one may think of US President Donald Trump, he has now rectified a grave historical injustice, for which he will be remembered in the annals of this most ancient people group that dates back an astonishing four thousand years,  and incredibly still practice the same religion and actually speaks the same Hebrew language, albeit with some alterations! How many 'nations' at the UN (or its Israel-bashing UNESCO) can say the same thing or question Israel's very right to exist as a Jewish state with its eternal capital, Jerusalem?

So much for the heart of the matter, so, on to international politics. The Palestinians are in an uproar, despite the fact that Trump has selected the site of the embassy to be opened in the neighborhood of Arnona, in the Jewish side of the capital. Meanwhile, the US embassy in Tel Aviv will continue to handle the more mundane administrative work. America's Ambassador David Friedmann will continue to reside in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya, for security reasons, traveling to Jerusalem daily. These steps highlight the fact that Washington has not ruled out the possibility of predominately eastern Arab Jerusalem also serving as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Trump has repeatedly clarified it is up to the Palestinians and the Israelis to determine final borders etc.

In fact, this is a fallback to the solution adopted by former president Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David David 2000. However eighteen years ago, Yasser Arafat rejected that solution then, as does current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today. This is a fact that sounds loud and clear above the current Palestinian clamour. The Palestinians could have had a separate state with east Jerusalem as their capital years ago - but the price would have been recognizing Israel as the Jewish state with its capital in Jerusalem. This, the Palestinians are not ready to do and this is why they are so outraged today - the opening of the official US embassy in Jerusalem is a monumental and historical recognition of the Jewish state of Israel and its link to its historical capital.

In 1993 the Oslo Accord was signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. Although not specifically stated, it envisaged the eventual establishment of a Palestine living peacefully alongside Israel. But since then it cannot be denied that Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak offered solid peace proposals for a Palestinian state with a capital in eastern Jerusalem. But Arafat, and now Mahmoud Abbas always turned their backs on these proposals. Why can't Abbas now agree that if he gets a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem he will accept the new Jewish capital in West Jerusalem as part of a two-state solution? Because he knows, like his predecessor Arafat once told American negotiator Dennis Ross, that if he did 'they would kill him when he returned to Ramallah!' Literally, not metaphorically.

This is not to say the situation is hopeless. Hopefully, Trump's decision to officially open America's embassy in Jerusalem means 'it's game over'. That if they want their Palestinian state they will have to compromise with Israel and recognize it as the eternal Jewish state. It also means the entire Palestinian campaign to delegitimize and boycott the Jewish state has ended in total failure. They would do better to follow the examples of Egypt and Jordan and seek to compromise and make peace with the Jewish state. Consider Gaza, where Hamas has plunged the population into poverty and misery by spending most of its foreign aid on digging attack tunnels into Israel and building arsenals of rockets to bombard the Jewish state.

IDF's 8200 cyber unit saves dozens of Australian air passengers

A whole planeload of Australian airline passengers and crew would not be alive today were it not for the IDF's hush-hush cyber unit known as 8200 or eight-two-hundred. It has now been released and confirmed by Australia, that the whiz kids at 8200 uncovered an Islamic State plot to blow up the airliner after it took off from Sydney. Several terror suspects were arrested.

So what is 8200? Very little is known about its operations, and those that do know are not talking - on pain of winding up in the slammer. What is general knowledge is that in the screening of Israeli high school students before their IDF recruitment, some super bright science scholars are selected for 8200. These 'brains' may be the ones who take university math courses while still in high school etc. Probably all will take the 'five-point math' high school course, which is the equivalent of at least first-year university math in the U.S., Canada etc. After completing their military service in 8200, many go on to high-tech careers in Israel and where else but Silicon Valley.

Bibi trying to bounce back...

There has probably never been a TV thriller like the revelations swirling around Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, and it's far from over. Bibi is now a subject of multiple police investigations.

  • Case file 1000 - acceptance of some one million shekels (over $250,000) in gifts in return for political favors for 'fat cats'. Israeli law strictly bars public officials from accepting gifts but Bibi contends that 'that's what friends are for' and he also gave gifts in return to his buddies. 
  • Case file 2000 - Bibi discussed with Arnon Moses, the publisher of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, a deal that would get him better press coverage in return for urging Sheldon Adelson to cut back copies of his freebie paper Yisrael Hayom. (This would result in Arnon Moses selling more of his own papers). In an amazing twist, Bibi urged one of his aides to tape the illicit conversations. However the aide, after being arrested for his own tax evasion, has turned state's witness and agreed to testify against Bibi. In addition, he turned over the tapes to the police! Bibi contends that he never intended to follow through on the deal and he had the discussions taped because he wanted to prove Arnon Moses was a crook!) 
  • Case File 3000 - this is probably the most damning case of all - Bibi's private lawyer, who is also his cousin, somehow wound up with negotiating the sale of new German subs that includes millions in commission fees. Moreover, Israel's former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has testified that he was left in the dark by Bibi and that more subs were requested than were needed. So far Bibi has contended that he was not involved nor did he know that his cousin and private lawyer was about to make a killing off the sub purchase. In this investigation, a key player has also turned state witness. 
  • Case File 4000 - While serving as PM, Bibi also took on the job as Minister of Communications, for some strange reason, that is coming clearer day by day. As such he is suspected of steps that enabled another pal to make hundreds of millions at the Bezek Tele-Communications conglomerate. In this case, as well, a close friend of Bib has also turned state witness reportedly to prevent serving several years behind bars. 

And if this were not enough, a close aide of Bibi has now been remanded in custody on suspicion of trying to bribe a judge. The judge has belatedly disclosed that when she was running for the exalted position of Attorney General, the aide approached her with the idea that Bibi would support her appointment if she agreed to drop charges against his wife Sarah. It gets better (or worse) - the judge did not follow up the patently illegal offer nor did she report it to the police. In any case, the candidate eventually selected was Bibi's cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit, who must now decide whether or not to prosecute his former boss and benefactor.

This, of course, raises several questions. Mandelblit has declared that his obviously close ties with the PM will not affect his decision on whether to prosecute Bibi. That remains to be seen. However, what is apparent is that the investigations are taking months and months and need to be expedited. After the initial investigations are concluded by the Israeli Police they are forwarded to the State Prosecutor for his recommendation on whether to prosecute. If so, the files go to the top of the pyramid, Attorney General Mandelblit for his final say. All this may take a whole year. Moreover, Bibi, as a public official, is entitled to a private hearing to try and refute all the charges before being indicted. This has sparked a growing wave of protest over what appears to be an intolerable amount of time to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to prosecute the PM.

Meanwhile, Bibi has adopted a 'business as usual ' approach contending he is the victim of a smear campaign by the opposition. His coalition partners, despite the mounting evidence, are standing behind him - none of them favor an early ballot instead of Election Day slated for November 2019.

Political Analyst David Essing


David Essing

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