UPDATES 8 am Israel time, Wednesday, September 11 2013:
*Yesterday, israelstreet reported on the discovery of an amazing gold treasure trove of Jewish artifacts just outside the southern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. The treasures included adornments for a Torah scroll, numerous gold pieces, a shofar, and a Torah. Shortly after this announcement was made, the Al-Aksa Foundation, closely allied to PLO head Mahmoud Abbas, issued this ludicrous statement:
“The Israel Antiquities Authority claim to have found a Jewish treasure in the Al-Aksa plaza is another attempt at the forgery of archaeological sites as well as Islamic and Arabic culture by the arms of the Israeli occupation. It is an act of conspiracy, and a lie which contradicts the truth and attempts to change the situation on the ground.”
*The last two days have seen innumerable “rock” and Molotov cocktail throwing incidents of terrorism throughout Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem. Here is a short list of places where such terrorism took place: Beit Rima, Tubas, Deir Istiya, Tapuach Junction, Zif Junction, Muntar area, Abu Dis, Jilazun, Hebron, Aboud Benjamin, the Dung Gate in Jerusalem, Alfe Menashe, Beit Haggai, and Karni Shomron.
*But lest we think that the situation is all bad, Israel has jumped from 14th place to 11th place on the list of the world’s “happiest countries” made by the Earth Institute of Columbia University–happier even than the U.S. (17), the U.K. (22), and France (25).
Yet on the face of things, life here is no picnic. Take a look at the following chart which shows that Israelis work some 250 more hours per year than the workers in G7 countries:
And it is not merely working long hours that causes everyone in this country to be tired and in a rush all the time, it is also the infamous, never-ending, fight against bureaucracy–which finds one standing in long lines at the Interior Ministry to get a passport, at the DMV to get a driver’s license, at the Kupat Holim to get health care. The list is endless. Another chart illustrating the point:
Israel may be the start up nation, but it is also the stand in line nation. But even if it is the work too hard, always in a rush, stand in line nation, it is happy at heart.
The Syrian crisis has ended, as your humble servant predicted when it began, with Barack Obama refusing to strike Syria. His cleverly staged speech last night to the American nation in which he asked the Congress to postpone a vote on authorizing his use of American military power was laughable. Obama knew full well, from the beginning, that such a vote would not pass.
That was precisely why he refused to use his own lobbying organization to support it and precisely why he dragged PM Netanyahu, AIPAC, and other Jewish organizations into lobbying for him. Not because he thought that these groups could make a difference in the vote, but because he knew he could tarnish their reputations.
And what about the “agreement” between the Syrians and the Russians concerning the chemical weapons? To begin with, there is no agreement yet. And even if one is fleshed out in the next week or so for presentation at the United Nations, it will will take months–even years–to implement.
There are more than 50 sites of chemical weapons repositories and factories all over Syria, some of them in government hands, some of them in rebel hands, some of them in Iranian hands–you get the picture. And let’s not forget that there is a full-scale war raging all around. Just how are these weapons supposed to be removed from where they are, taken to “holding areas”, and destroyed?
And all of this is assuming that the Russians and Syrians honestly want to carry through with such an “agreement”. And of course they do not. Bashar Assad has not changed overnight from a corrupt despot specializing in the massacre of the Syrian people to some sort of innocent peacemaker. Vladimir Putin is, well, Vladimir Putin–a man totally consumed with the re-establishment of Russian power and empire. In the end some chemical weapons may be destroyed, but thousands more will remain in hardened bunkers under Damascus, in Lebanon, in Iran, and wherever else Assad has stored them.
So where are we this morning? Hezbollah has come out of its holes in Lebanon and is beginning to filter back into Syria as are the Revolutionary Guards from Iran. The Syrian Army is back on the offensive slaughtering “the rebels” who are butchering everyone who stands in their way. Syrian refugees are are still trying to cross over into Jordan, and Israeli hospitals are still trying to care for some of the wounded being carried across the border into Israel.
The world has signed off on the Syrian War, and the killing, which never really stopped, has resumed in earnest.