Terrorism threatens both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The coming weeks will see whether Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be able to contain an escalating situation and roll back the violence, or whether the region will slide into a new and dangerous phase.
(December 13, 2018 / JNS) The succession of deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks in the West Bank in recent days is a painful reminder of a bigger truth, and that is that the security quiet that prevailed until recently was little more than an illusion.
The motivation of terrorists—whether backed by an organized armed faction or acting on their own—to attack Israelis remains high, and the relative quiet that existed was not for their lack of trying.
The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet intelligence service have thwarted a staggering number of attacks this year alone. A look at the official figures confirms the scale of the threat and highlights just how deceptive the so-called quiet really was.
According to Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, no fewer than 480 organized terror attempts based in the West Bank have been attempted (and prevented) this year. Those murder plots included 280 planned shootings, 76 attempted bombings, six suicide bombings and seven kidnappings. The intended Israeli targets were on both sides of the Green Line.
The number of unorganized attackers stopped in their tracks in 2018 is approximately 400, and their arrest has been made possible due in part to technological breakthroughs in the collection and analysis of big data.
The threat Hamas poses to Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been the glue that’s held together security coordination on the ground.
New technology in the service of national security has helped drastically reduce such attacks, which were frequent just a few years ago.
Hamas has been instrumental in attempting to destabilize the West Bank, both because this serves its jihadist siren call of violence against Israel and because it serves its goal of weakening its domestic foe, the Palestinian Authority, which it seeks to replace, just like it did in Gaza. Hamas believes that it is entitled to set the West Bank alight with violence, even as it keeps its home turf of Gaza in a state of ceasefire most of the time.
The threat Hamas poses to both Israel and to the P.A. has been the glue that has held together security coordination on the ground between Israeli and Palestinian forces. This glue has so far stuck, despite severe diplomatic clashes between the P.A. and Israel. The P.A. subtly recognizes that Israel’s anti-Hamas operations benefit it as much as it does Israelis.
Israel broke up more than 220 West Bank Hamas terrorist cells this year, including one cell that was ordered by Hamas’s military wing in Gaza to bomb crowded targets in the heart of Israeli cities in October. That cell was preparing bombs that were unprecedented in their quality of explosive materials, the Shin Bet investigation found.
In recent months, Israel quietly arrested hundreds of West Bank terror suspects, including students, and young men and women who were recruited into Hamas’s secret networks.
That has not stopped Hamas from trying, again and again, to turn the West Bank into a hotbed of terrorism. Israel’s preemptive capabilities have served as a silent, life-saving safety net around the clock.
Shifting the balance
Harrowingly, however, no safety net is fool-proof. It’s too soon to say whether Thursday’s deadly shooting attack on a bus stop near Ramallah was the result of organized terrorism or a local “initiative.”
Either way, the most immediate risk is that this shooting, as well as the attack that preceded it on Dec. 9, will provide the fuel to light a chain reaction in the form of copycat attacks. The first signs of this risk came in a car-ramming attack that injured a soldier just a few hours after Thursday’s incident.
Anticipating this trend, the Israel Defense Forces mobilized a number of back-up infantry battalions to the area, who will be tasked with both defending Israeli communities and assisting the offensive raids, and searches for the perpetrators.
In the past 24 hours, Israel’s Counter-Terrorist Unit conducted successful operations that resulted in the killing of the gunman behind the Barkan shooting attack and a gunman linked to the Dec. 9 Ofra Junction shooting.
Israel’s ability to catch up with the terrorists—no matter how hard they try to hide or embed themselves in challenging urban settings—reflects a world-leading counter-terrorism level that is unmatched and should not be taken for granted.
It also reflects the fact that Israel can send forces to operate anywhere in the West Bank, at any time—a reality that did not exist during the dark days of the Second Intifada some 15 years ago.
A dangerous period ahead
The commemoration of Hamas’s founding, which will be marked on Dec. 14, the risk of another Gaza escalation and the unending “bubbling up”’ of terror plots under the surface can all act as catalysts, accelerating a deterioration in the security situation in the coming days and weeks.
The IDF’s challenge in the West Bank is in some ways much more complex than its border-protection duties on the fronts with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. In the West Bank, the IDF protects some 400,000 Israeli civilians who live in the midst of around 2 million Palestinians, with no obvious separating border the two populations.
To pursue this enormously complex mission effectively, the military offers both carrots and sticks; both are aimed at preventing the situation from worsening.
The sticks come in the form of nightly security raids targeting terrorists, while carrots are offered to Palestinian noncombatants in the form of freedom of movement and increased economic opportunities to push them away from the calls to violence, which are issued by the armed Palestinian hardline factions and fill social media.
The IDF’s own experience and its analysis of past trends tell it that driving a wedge between Palestinian civilians and terrorists—and seeking to maintain a normal fabric of life for ordinary Palestinians who are not involved in terrorism—drives down the number of attacks and saves lives.
Yet this balancing act of attempting to isolate the terrorists from the civilians changed dramatically on Thursday, when the IDF encircled Ramallah and placed it under lockdown. Placing a city that is the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority under such restrictions reflects the severity of the latest attack, and the Israeli military’s urgency in placing its hands on the perpetrators.
Such a development could also act as a reminder to the wider Palestinian public, according to which, Israel can employ more disruptive sticks. A return to the days of mass violence, as many realize, will likely result in significant harm to Palestinian freedom of movement and economic stability.
Ultimately, the terrorism that has reared its head threatens both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The coming weeks will see whether Israel and the P.A. will be able to contain the situation and roll back the violence, or whether the region will slide into a new and dangerous phase, a development that Hamas will be sure to celebrate and exploit.
NY Times invokes Martin Luther King Jr. to attack Israel
When a nation the size of New Jersey is surrounded by enemies and is the subject of incessant condemnation from the United Nations, it’s natural to assume thoughtful people will take a complete look at its circumstances before deciding which side of a contentious debate to support. This is why many Americans still choose to support the nation of Israel despite mainstream media’s efforts to frame it as evil.
Unfortunately, the debate is so complex, most Americans form their perspectives based on very limited data. Passions are so strong on both sides that it often comes down to which side’s message is loudest in the ears of those deciding who to support. The Israel-Palestine debate has been ongoing since the tiny nation was first formed and ramped up greatly following the attacks on Israel in 1967 that resulted in necessary expansion.
Today, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights are all considered “occupied” territories by a majority around the world, at least among those who are paying attention. Despite clear evidence that the very existence of Israel would be threatened if these lands were “returned” to the Palestinians, most of the world calls for the two-state solution as the path to peace.
On top of the disputed lands, the way that Israel maintains peace within its own lands is labeled as oppression against Palestinians living there. The core of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement’s message is that the Palestinian people are being persecuted. To support this premise, an activist at the NY Times is invoking Martin Luther King Jr and his opposition to the Vietnam War as the roadmap by which BDS activists should muster their own courage and build more support to fight the nation of Israel.
Reading King’s speech at Riverside more than 50 years later, I am left with little doubt that his teachings and message require us to speak out passionately against the human rights crisis in Israel-Palestine, despite the risks and despite the complexity of the issues. King argued, when speaking of Vietnam, that even “when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict,” we must not be mesmerized by uncertainty. “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”
To be clear, King was opposed to a war that resulted in the deaths of 1,350,000 people, which is nearly the same amount of Arabs living in Israel currently. King was opposed to a war in which no Americans were attacked prior to us getting involved. Israel is attacked regularly from multiple groups in and out of the nation who support the Palestinian movement. King was opposed to a war that took focus and resources away from his cause.
As he said, “We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”
To be fair, the author of the NY Times article, Michelle Alexander, was using his anti-war speech to demonstrate the courage King demonstrated in giving it as inspiration for the courage she feels BDS supporters need today. Had she left it there, then there wouldn’t be much of a need to respond. However, she continued in the article to speculate King may not have been happy with Israel back then. Worse, she implied that he could have been a supporter of the BDS movement today.
This opinion is beyond questionable. King’s motivations for not wanting to outwardly support Israel’s actions following the Six Day War were for the sake of his movement, not based on personal feelings on the matter. It made sense to not take a side in a debate in which many of his supporters of African or Middle Eastern descent may have objected.
It is becoming increasing common in the BDS movement to point solely towards the actions of the Israeli government while ignoring the reasons for these actions. They often talk about home being bulldozed, but they ignore the fact that punitive demolitions are a result of terrorist attacks. I am not in favor of these demolitions, but I would never hide the facts to support my claims. The BDS movement realizes calling out Israel for bulldozing Palestinian homes is most effective if the reasons are never mentioned.
As pro-BDS articles go, this one was strikingly coherent. This is a bigger problem than the unhinged hate articles we often see from BDS supporters. It’s easy to see how this one-sided portrayal in a publication as strong as the NY Times that invokes an icon like Martin Luther King Jr can garner support for the movement from those who would otherwise never consider it. The article is very careful to cut off cries of antisemitism and is written for rational thinkers rather than emotional feelers.
But therein lies the problem. It invokes King and his famous speech knowing full well few will actually read it. If they take the time to read or hear it, they’ll wonder what any of that has to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The NY Times is betting on the easy odds that nobody’s going to take the time.
None of the seven reasons King gives for opposing the Vietnam War could be applied to Israel, yet simply invoking the speech and insinuating he would have been a BDS supporter is a disingenuous attempt to equate his righteous activism to the BDS movement itself.
PolitiFact demonstrates pure partisanship declaring Trump’s physical barrier claims as “Mostly False”
Pulitzer Prize winning fact checking agency PolitiFact has been accused of leaning dozens if not hundreds of their fact checks to favor the Democratic perspective on most issues. In one of the most egregious examples of partisan hacking, they declared a statement made by President Trump during his televised address to the nation as “Mostly False.”
Here’s the statement: Senator Charles Schumer “repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president.”
This is undeniably 100% true. It’s demonstrable that Schumer and many Democrats have supported physical barriers along the border in the recent past. Their support for changed sharply once then-candidate Trump started talking about needing a border wall, so technically speaking that portion of President Trump’s statement wasn’t entirely true. He said their support changed after he was elected, but it started changing a few months after he first entered the race.
Here’s a graph from Cato Institute that shows support from Democrats at over 40% in October, 2015, when it still seemed far fetched that he would win the nomination, let alone the general election. From that point, it took a nose dive.
The portion of the PolitiFact article in which the author tries to justify the “Mostly False” rating attempts to distinguish between the differences in security barriers proposed by the President and accepted by Democrats in the past.
Schumer, along with tens of other Democrats including former President Barack Obama, voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized building a fence along about 700 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico. That’s the majority of the barrier in place today along the southern border.
However, the fence was mocked as a “nothing wall” by Trump in the past and was far less ambitious, both politically and physically, than the wall Trump wants to build now.
This logical gymnastics is farcical when we read the statement that is allegedly “Mostly False.” The President did not suggest nor has he ever believed the Democrats supported the type of wall he’s requesting. That’s why he was very specific in stating Schumer and the Democrats “repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past” instead of saying they supported his wall. This is important because for a fact-checker, the details are important.
They have repeatedly judged against conservatives for the tiniest nuance in their statements to attack. But when the statement is properly worded, as the President’s was, this fact checker decided to dig into intent rather than fact checking the statement itself. He penalized the statement as being false because he reconstructed what the President said as meaning something different. This is convenient selective inference on their part. But they’re completely unbiased. Just ask them.
When even the “trusted” fact checkers are willing to abandon ethics and call an obviously true statement false for the sake of political expediency, it’s no wonder so many Americans are frustrated with the entire mainstream media mechanism.
This is why we humbly request you support us with a donation so we can try to counterbalance the horrid leftism present in mainstream media.
Best-selling 2020 Ford Explorer keeps distancing itself from the competition
When a vehicle has dominated its class for years, it’s standard operating procedure to keep doing what works while making incremental changes to keep fans coming back for more. Ford’s intentions of eliminating most of their passenger cars from their lineup changes the calculus. This is why the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer made big changes as well as added two new styles to the family.
The Limiting Hybrid and ST versions of the Explorer will give it the flagship options that it’s star SUV needs in order to attract the masses flocking to the midsize SUV segment. But the 2020 model didn’t just add versions. They redesigned the entire vehicle, including switching it from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive, a platform shift that will also improve the popular 4×4 variation.
“Changing the Explorer to rear-wheel drive was a really big deal,” said Ford Motor Company’s Executive Vice President Jim Farley. “It allows our designers to deliver those beautiful proportions, give that athletic stance for Explorer, and helped our engineers to do so much more. The best towing capacity we’ve ever had. Off-road ability you hear about. On top of all that, it gave the customer more room.”
With 5,600 lb for towing, it’s more than older Explorers. More importantly, it’s more than their competitors in the segment.
But Ford will need more than a couple of new versions of the Explorer and more towing power if they intend to make a strong move in the segment. Despite the segment growing 11% last year, Explorer’s sales numbers declined 3.5%. It’s still on top, but the contradicting directions on sales numbers was a clear indicator they needed to make big changes.
The hybrid model will obviously attract a completely different type of buyer, but it’s with the new ST that Ford hopes to impress those who are moving from performance sedans or even sports cars to the midsize SUV market. The new 2020 Ford Explorer ST trim is basically a performance package. It’s the most powerful Explorer Ford has ever built with a 3.0L, twin-turbocharged V6 with 400 hp and 415 ft-lb of torque. We’ll confirm our expectations when we’re able to actually drive it, but based on the numbers we’ve seen, this is going to be an extremely fun SUV to take on the road.
The biggest changes over the previous generation are on the inside. Technology has been an unavoidable push by every automaker as they attempt to keep up with the rapidly improving available options. Today’s cars are smart cars. We’re seeing the transition in a way that’s extremely similar to what happened between smartphones and feature phones. If your vehicle doesn’t have a touchscreen infotainment system and safety assistance features, it’s old.
Ford clearly took this to heart with their most connected and functional technology suite ever in the new Explorer. It has two option touchscreens with similar capabilities to a smartphone. With connection options to Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, there is no shortage of ways the drive and passengers can interact with the outside world.
Safety features are dramatically improved with braking assist moving forward or backwards, lane assist that knows when the vehicle is towing, and cameras on all sides to keep full awareness.
“In the insider, there are thousands of thoughtful touches,” Farley said. “A second row seat that a child can activate and move forward with one hand, cup-holders that double as juice box holders. It’s an SUV for families that is so smart in a way that we couldn’t even imagine years ago. Speaking to Alexa to unlock your car, start the ignition. The vehicle can even read speed limiting signs and actually react to them to save you a ticket.”
With all of this, the price tag is only expected to go up $400 from the previous generation.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett said, “If there’s a heart and soul of Ford Motor Company, it’s this vehicle.” We’ll see if midsize SUV buyers agree when the 2020 Ford Explorer goes on sale this spring.
As a side note, Micah Muzio, managing editor for video at KBB, is the most entertaining car review guy on YouTube.
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