Tisha B’Av (translated as the Ninth of Av) is the day in the Hebrew calendar where many tragedies have befallen us.  The First and Second Temples were both destroyed on this day – the First Temple by the Babylonians while the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans.  On Tisha B’Av 135CE the Bar Kochba revolt was crushed at the Battle of Betar. On Tisha B’Av in 1290 the Edict of Expulsion was issued demanding that all Jews leave England.  On Tisha B’Av in 1492 the Alhambra Decree was issued expelling the Jews from Spain.  So many tragedies on this one day and even now, two-thousand years later though we have renewed the land of Israel and govern over Jerusalem we are still incomplete.

Today our separation is enforced by the Waqf which retained authority over the Temple Mount after the Six-Day War at the suggestion of then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.  And today the Waqf uses every means and effort, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, to undermine Israel’s rightful claim to the Temple Mount and the rights of Jews to visit there – whether they pray or not.

Yet it’s not enough that the Waqf, supported by the Palestinian Authority, does everything it can to negate and erase any claim or archaeological trace of Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.  Today they now are working to extend their authority to the Western Wall (what they call the “Al-Buraq Wall”).  In October of 2015 the Palestinian Authority tried to get UNESCO to declare the Western Wall plaza an official Muslim holy site.  That effort was criticized widely by western organizations.  In April of 2016, UNESCO’s executive council passed a resolution that referred to the Western Wall plaza only by its Arabic name (“Al-Buraq”) and relegated the Hebrew terms to quotations after the term “Al-Buraq Plaza thereby placing a stake in the ground proclaiming UNESCO’s illegitimate position.

In July 2017 three Israeli Arabs from Umm Al-Fahm used weapons smuggled into the Al-Aqsa mosque to attack and kill two Israeli border policemen of Druze heritage.  In response the Israeli government closed the Temple Mount to Muslim prayer for several days before reopening the Mount with enhanced security through the use of metal detectors at the gates to the Mount and security cameras.  After a standoff between the Waqf and the government the security measures came down and the status quo prior to the murder of the two Israeli border policemen returned.

Now the Waqf as well as the Palestinian Authority and their supporters among Israeli Arabs are setting their sights on the Western Wall plaza again.  After the metal detectors came down, the Palestinians rejoiced and celebrated.  Israeli MK Taleb Abu Arar (Joint List) declared that “Jews have no rights at al-Aqsa Mosque,” and “some people are trying to re-write history in order to strengthen their mistaken claim to legitimacy over al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as to the occupied al-Buraq Wall (the Western Wall), which Muslims demand to be returned to our sovereignty [Emphasis Added].”

Now, on Tisha B’Av 2017 the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, WAFA, claimed that thousands of settlers “raided the courtyard of the Al-Buraq Wall, the Western Wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and organized events, prayers and ceremonies on the occasion of the so-called 9th of Av”  (the Al-Aqsa Foundation did something similar in 2012 when thousands of Jews went to the Western Wall Plaza as Yom Kippur approached that year). In addition the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi decried the visit of over 1000 Jews to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av 2017 by claiming that “the number of extremists who stormed Al-Aqsa today stands at a record number that has not been recorded since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967.”

These efforts are not new.  It was Yasser Arafat who pushed the concept of Temple Denial to new heights when he used it as an excuse to scuttle the Camp David peace talks in 2000.  The Palestinians have for years been exclaiming the false narrative that Jews have no connection to the Land of Israel, to Jerusalem and that if the Temples existed at all then they were somewhere either near Bethlehem or in Shechem. Combined with the increasing political machinations of the Palestinians through the United Nations and its sub-organizations the Palestinians are making a full effort to deny our Jewish history, our Jewish heritage, our Jewish connections to Israel and our Jewish connections and rights to Jerusalem.  The goal of their effort is to paint the picture that the Jewish claim to Jerusalem is a fabrication when, in fact, recent archaeological evidence continues to strengthen our claim to not just Jerusalem but to Israel as a whole.  The Jewish claim to Israel, Jerusalem, and Israel as whole is historical and without doubt.  The Palestinians desire to wash away our connections to these places is ridiculous at best and, at worst, scurrilous.

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If you’re going to make a policy then you need to provide the documentation and the framework by which people can be compliant to that policy.

I’m an Israeli citizen…and I’m proud of that.  I’m proud that my son is serving in the IDF in an elite unit and that my daughters have expressed their desire to do likewise.  This story starts when my younger daughter and I went to the consular section of the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C. to register her as an Israeli citizen.  By law, you’re supposed to register a child born to an Israeli parent (I’m Israeli…my wife isn’t – though we’re both Jewish) within 30 days of the birth.  Well…suffice it to say I didn’t know about that until recently and it’s been 14 some-odd years since my younger daughter’s birth.

Anyway – back to the story…we went to the consular section of the embassy to register her as an Israeli citizen and to apply for her Israeli passport.  There was an earlier visit the same week where we were told that the birth certificate which we brought needs an apostille (it’s a document that should accompany official documentation like birth certificates based on a treaty that a whole bunch of countries signed on to – if you’re really interested in the nitty-gritty details, see here).  I got the apostille for the birth certificate and, confident that I had everything we needed to get the paperwork done, we went back to the embassy.  We get to the embassy early (first in line) and go inside.

While reviewing the paperwork the consulate staff member asks me “Do you have the confirmation from the hospital?”

I look at her a bit dumbfounded and ask “What?”

She then repeats the question: “Do you have the confirmation from the hospital that your daughter was born there and that she is indeed your child?”

I still not quite sure I understand her.  I replied “Isn’t that what the birth certificate is for?”

To which she replies “Yes, but we also require confirmation from the hospital or the doctor that your wife actually gave birth and that this is the child of that birth.”

Ok – I’m still not quite grokking what she’s saying…I mean, why doesn’t the birth certificate suffice in that regard?  She continues by saying that people might come with the appropriate documentation (birth certificate, passports, forms, etc.) and the child is not actually their child but is actually the child of someone else.

I’m still not sure why the birth certificate isn’t sufficient.  It has my daughter’s name, my name, my wife’s name – isn’t that sufficient?  No…apparently not to the Israeli government.  Now, in their infinite bureaucratic wisdom, they also want confirmation from the hospital or my wife’s doctor (in this case the OB/GYN) to provide additional documentation attesting to the fact that my wife actually did give birth and that the child is actually our offspring.  As the embassy’s website states, they now require (emphasis added):

The original birth certificate, verified with an apostille stamp in countries that are signatories to the 1961 Hague Convention, or presentation of a certificate verified by the relevant authority in that country, as well as documentation from the hospital or maternity ward that the mother in fact gave birth and that the said child is in fact her offspring.

Given that this occurred 14 years ago – I’m guessing that the hospital may not be so helpful in getting this documentation to me and I can only hope that the doctor is still alive and actually remembers this specific birth.  Also, what format should said documentation take?  A letter?  A form to be filled out? If it’s a form, what relevant information is necessary?

What we have here is a failure to create a working policy (see how I slid in my Cool-Hand Luke reference 🙂 ).  Given that I work as an Information Security Manager for a large organization (a very large organization) I am well familiar with the idea of creating a policy and all of the supporting materials that need to go along with it: a framework for compliance (that’s called governance), exceptions, documentation…small things like that.

What has happened here, though, is that the someone, somewhere in the Israeli government, has created a policy but failed to provide the governance framework or the documentation that should go along with that policy.  In other words, this was probably a knee-jerk reaction to a specific issue and the policy formulated but nothing more than that.  This is a case of a policy that has no details regarding compliance.  If you’re going to do that then you should expect this kind of failure.

Now, admittedly, I could easily be a corner case.  I mean, yes, I waited 14 years before trying to register her with the Interior Ministry.  But, to be fair, I did this very thing two years ago for my older daughter – back when this policy was not in place – with nary a problem.  Sometime in the past two years the Israeli government decided that Israeli citizens registering children for citizenship without actually having given birth to those children was a serious enough problem that they needed to enact this policy.  And that they enacted this globally.  I could understand if they had chosen to enact this policy in Russia, Eastern European countries, and third-world countries, but they chose to do so even here in the United States where I would suspect this problem doesn’t really occur that often.

So, now, to meet the requirements of a policy that I think is a) pretty stupid and b) so badly implemented because there are no governance controls around it, I am calling the hospital records office and trying to get them to understand what I need.  My wife is calling her OB/GYN and trying to get them to understand what we need.  Hopefully one of us will succeed and our daughter will be able to claim her Israeli citizenship.

ISIS: Inside the Army of TerrorISIS: Inside the Army of Terror by Michael Weiss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this to be an excellent book – even though I am very much a novice in this particular field and know little of the details on the topic. The authors were extraordinarily well researched and the writing was clear. The complexity of the tapestry of individuals and groups that are fighting for power and control of Syria, Iraq and the wider Middle East is astounding.

The book does a great job in providing the origins of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (al-Sham is the Arabic word for the Levant and given that its name is actually that it has finally made sense to me why the Obama administration kept calling it ISIL versus Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). The origins pre-date the second Gulf War but really take a massive injection of energy with the existence of one man: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi…a Jordanian low-level thug who turned to religion at the prodding of his mother who hoped it would keep him out of trouble. It was Zarqawi (a name I had heard and knew about since the early days of the second Gulf War when he became the source of agitation against American troops and efforts to rebuild Iraq) who helped drive the effort to start a sectarian civil war among the Iraqi nationals. The catalyst for a lot of this though was the American blundering into Iraq and to a great extent getting rid of the structures that Saddam Hussein had in place to control things. Iraq – according to Weiss and Hasan – was pretty much ruled like a mafia state by Hussein. He gave specific tribes what essentially amounted to monopolies in certain areas and to certain resources and they then pledged allegiance to him. Additionally, he kept the Shias in check – albeit brutally. By eliminating all that and then trying to stand up a democracy – a concept that didn’t fit with the tribal mentality that Hussein leveraged to his advantage we essentially “broke” the Iraqi model.

In so doing we opened a Pandora’s box of issues and suppressed hatreds that continue to plague the region till today. On top of that Iran – seeing an opening – has played the US for fools by encouraging the Iraqi Shia and supplying them with money and armaments.

On the other side – in Syria – the collapse of the al-Assad regime has been just disastrous. When the Arab Spring began to sweep through the Middle East Assad did what he knew he had to do in order to maintain power (how could he not do what he did – he saw the results of what happened in Libya). He also was involved in sending terrorists to Iraq to try and destabilize the American efforts there – all the while claiming that he was fighting terrorism. When things spun out of control and the Free Syrian Army – along with a large number of other rebel groups including the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front – began to take him to town the inevitable intervention of the Russians was the only thing that saved him.

The Russians – as much as they claim to be there to help Assad against ISIS are actually spending the majority of their time bombing Syrian rebel groups and even Syrian civilians and then claiming that ISIS is the one doing it. This is an old tactic that the Soviets used so well in WWII – when they got close to Warsaw towards the end of the war the Free Polish Army rose up against the Germans thinking that the Soviet Army would help them. The Soviet forces stopped short of Warsaw, waited for the Germans to brutally suppress and destroy the Free Polish Army and then rolled in after it was all done. The Russians are pretty much trying to do the same thing here. Given how ISIS and the anti-Assad rebel factions hate each other – the Russians are letting them fight it out (while also attacking the rebels as well) with the idea that once they’ve expended their resources on each other then the Russians and the Syrians will go in and clean up the mess and re-establish Assad’s control over all of Syria.

The book covers so much more than just what I’ve mentioned above – I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m eagerly waiting to see the next edition of this book (this edition was published in early 2016) as the events are still quickly unfolding over there and the authors definitely have excellent insights into what is happening. I highly recommend this book – even if you’re a neophyte like me on this specific topic – it is an excellent resource and gets you up to speed very quickly on these things.

View all my reviews

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