Peter Myers Digest – Israel

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(1) Ehud Barak acknowledged Israel’s nuclear weapon arsenal via Twitter — then deleted the tweet
(2) Netanyahu hasn’t given up: Israel’s Judicial Coup-in-Waiting
(3) Ben-Gvir’s wife is a Temple Mount activist. Rabbis demand Passover sacrifice on Temple Mount during Ramadan
(4) The Temple of Herod (the Second Temple) was not on the site called “Temple Mount”
(5) Israel demolished over 12,300 Palestinian homes since 1967

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(1) Ehud Barak acknowledged Israel’s nuclear weapon arsenal via Twitter — then deleted the tweet

Oops! Deleted Tweet By Israel’s Former PM Disclosed Nuke Arsenal

By Tyler Durden

SATURDAY, APR 08, 2023 – 01:20 AM

In a major faux pax in US-Israeli relations, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak acknowledged the existence of the country’s nuclear weapon arsenal via Twitter — then deleted the tweet, presumably after realizing he’d violated the long-standing US-Israeli practice of pretending that arsenal doesn’t exist.

Barak’s Tuesday tweet addressed growing worries about the growing presence of ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious factions in Israel’s government. Finance minister Bezalel Smotrich and his Religious Zionism party, for example, openly aspire to turn Israel into a theocracy.

Barak wrote:

“In conversations between Israelis and Western diplomatic officials, there are deep concerns raised of the possibility that if the coup in Israel succeeds, a messianic dictatorship — that possesses nuclear weapons and fanatically wishes for a confrontation with Islam centered on the Temple Mount — will be established in the heart of the Middle East.”

Thanks in part to a former nuclear technician’s 1986 revelations, Israel is widely known to have a nuclear arsenal, with one estimate sizing it at 90 warheads. However, it’s never joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It’s just one of only five countries in the world that haven’t done so, along with North Korea, India, Pakistan and South Sudan.

Whether intentional or not, Ehud Barak just committed an act of negligence of stratospheric proportions. He ought to be indicted immediately.

— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) April 4, 2023

That combination of facts means every dollar of US aid to Israel breaks American law. As Brian McGlinchey explains at Stark Realities:

“U.S. aid to Israel [is] illegal under the Symington Amendment of 1976, which bars economic and military assistance to countries that acquire nuclear reprocessing technology without submitting to international safeguards and inspections.”

Israel has never officially acknowledged its nuclear power, and the United States government caters to Israel’s policy of so-called “nuclear ambiguity.” However, there have been several occasions where US documents or officials have acknowledged the fact, typically either under pointed questioning or in communications they thought would be kept secret.

For example, in a 2015 email to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that was published by Wikileaks, an assistant secretary of state said, “What Israeli military leaders really worry about—but cannot talk about—is losing their nuclear monopoly.”

Only rarely does the Washington press corps confront US officials about their ongoing conspiracy to break American law where billions of dollars of annual aid to Israel are concerned. Journalist Sam Husseini is a welcome and repeat exception to that sad pattern. In February, he treated us to this grilling of State Department spokesman Ned Price:

(2) Netanyahu hasn’t given up: Israel’s Judicial Coup-in-Waiting

Israel’s Judicial Coup-in-Waiting

Apr 4, 2023


Escalating public protests and mounting international pressure have forced Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to pause his judicial overhaul. But while opposition and coalition members are trying to work out a compromise, Netanyahu and his extremist partners are mobilizing for the next round.

TEL AVIV – Within three months, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has managed to turn his best-ever electoral showing into Israel’s worst nightmare. Twelve consecutive weeks of growing protests have forced Netanyahu to pause his judicial revolution and call on opposition leaders to negotiate a compromise at President Isaac Herzog’s residence. But while the protests have staved off a constitutional crisis, Netanyahu’s decision amounts to a reprieve until the Knesset’s summer session begins, not a retreat.

Netanyahu’s coalition has persisted in advancing its plan to weaken the judiciary, despite escalating street protests and a growing stream of warnings from business leaders, economists, and tech entrepreneurs. Even foreign heads of state, including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and French President Emmanuel Macron, have expressed concerns. In a rare public rebuke, US President Joe Biden warned Netanyahu that he “cannot continue down this road.”

Yet Netanyahu vowed to press ahead. By the end of the Knesset’s winter session in late March, the coalition was poised to pass two major amendments to the country’s Basic Laws that would have given the executive branch exorbitant powers. One amendment aimed to provide the coalition with complete control over the appointment of judges, including Supreme Court justices, removing the only check on the executive branch that exists within the Israeli system. The other measure would have abolished judicial review of Basic Laws, enabling the coalition to curtail civil and human rights with a simple majority.

At the same time, the coalition has rushed through more than 150 radical bills serving the interests of ultra-religious and far-right parties, as well as those of Netanyahu and his family. Most notably, the Knesset passed an amendment to a Basic Law that would make it almost impossible for lawmakers to declare a sitting prime minister unfit for office. Officially, Netanyahu is barred from dealing with the judicial overhaul because it could affect his ongoing trial for bribery and corruption.

In a landmark decision two years ago, the Israeli Supreme Court allowed Netanyahu to assume the role of prime minister after he declared he would refrain from any interference that might put him in a conflict of interest. Until the end of March, Netanyahu did refrain from intervening, although he clearly supported the far-reaching reforms sought by his ministers and coalition partners. Immediately after the Knesset passed the bill preventing his removal, however, Netanyahu seemingly decided he was no longer bound by his earlier promise.

In late March, his Minister of Defense, retired Major General Yoav Gallant, warned Netanyahu that the turmoil incited by the government was polarizing the traditionally apolitical Israel Defense Forces. A growing number of former high-ranking IDF officers and combat pilots declared that they would stop volunteering for active service, Gallant cautioned, jeopardizing national security.

Netanyahu convinced Gallant not to go public with his warning. Instead, the prime minister held a press conference and declared that he would “enter the event” and take charge of the overhaul (a move that his own attorney general later said was illegal).

The following week, after Gallant held his own press conference to call for the legislation to be paused, Netanyahu sacked him. An hour later, hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in the largest spontaneous protest the country has ever seen. Within a few hours, Israel’s major universities and colleges announced a strike. The largest labor union, the Histadrut, declared a general strike, shutting down the airports and seaports. As the country spun out of control, Netanyahu and his coalition partners agreed to the pause Gallant sought.

But National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of the far-right Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”) party, conditioned his support for the delay on the creation of a “national guard” under his command. Ben-Gvir has repeatedly criticized the restraint shown toward the pro-democracy protesters and has pushed the police to use more force. While Netanyahu bought himself some time, public trust in his leadership has dropped to a record low. For the first time in over a decade, Netanyahu finished second in polls asking, “Who is most qualified to be prime minister?” National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz, widely viewed as the “adult in the room,” was first.

In April, Israel will celebrate Passover and Independence Day, two holidays that usually bring Israelis together. But the past few weeks have torn the country apart. While politicians and legal experts are trying to work out a compromise, the opposition has good reasons to mistrust Netanyahu. Although Netanyahu himself called for a timeout, he did not scale back or cancel the overhaul. In fact, the coalition has placed a loaded gun on the table by advancing the two most critical amendments to the point that it could enact them within 24 hours. Moreover, while Netanyahu has not confirmed Gallant’s dismissal with a formal letter, he has not reversed it either.

By keeping his defense minister in limbo, Netanyahu may hope to keep internal opposition on a tight leash. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s extremist partners are unlikely to back away from the parts of the overhaul that would cripple the Supreme Court and give the executive branch unfettered power. The far right is already using the timeout to mobilize pro-coup supporters in preparation for the next round. …

(3) Ben-Gvir’s wife is a Temple Mount activist. Rabbis demand Passover sacrifice on Temple Mount during Ramadan

Rabbis ask Netanyahu to allow Passover sacrifice on Temple Mount during Ramadan
Jerusalem police is vigilant, as Temple Mount activists are urging Jews to offer biblical Passover sacrifice at the holy site.

Rina Bassist
March 31, 2023

Fifteen rabbis have asked Israeli government on Thursday to ascend Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif next Wednesday, when the Jewish holiday of Passover begins, a move that could exacerbate tensions in Jerusalem during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The rabbis have put a request to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Thursday to ascend to the Temple Mount and for Jews to be allowed to offer the Passover, the way it was practiced in biblical times.

Over the years, a majority of rabbis has ruled that Jews are not allowed to ascend the Temple Mount site, since purification rituals cannot be performed in times when the temple is destroyed. Most rabbis also object to reviving biblical sacrifices of lambs or goats. Still, far-right religious activists have registered a clear trend in recent years of an increase in the number of Jews ascending the Temple Mount compound.

The request by the rabbis to enable Passover sacrifice is not new. Temple Mount activists have been making similar demands frequently in recent years, mostly ahead of the major Jewish traditional holidays. Israeli police is monitoring for such attempts regularly. Ten people were detained by police in 2016, on their way to offer the Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount. A well-known far-right activist who purchased a young goat was arrested last year for intending to take it to the site as a Passover sacrifice.

The movement “Back to the Mountain,” which preaches for Israel to take over control of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif complex from the hands of the Muslim Waqf authorities, offered on Thursday prizes for Jews who would try sneaking a lamb into the holy site. A person detained by police trying to get into the complex with a lamb would receive a prize if 1,200 Israeli shekels ($330), a person arrested inside the complex with a lamb would be awarded 2,500 shekels ($690) and a person succeeding to offer a lamb or a young goat on Temple Mount would get 20,000 shekels ($5,500).

The calls for a Passover sacrifice come on the backdrop of especially high tensions in Jerusalem this year, as Ramadan and Passover overlap. Traditionally, Jerusalem police limits the entry to the site for Jews during Ramadan in order to minimize frictions, especially in the last 10 days of the holy Muslim month. The fact that Ben-Gvir, who had called over the years for Jews to ascend Temple Mount, is currently responsible for Israel’s police, seems to aggravate the already volatile situation. Ben-Gvir’s wife is a known Temple Mount activist.

In parallel, measures were put into place last week to enable Muslims from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to enter Israel in order to pray at the Muslim holy sites and to celebrate Ramadan with family members living in Israel. A report by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday around noon said that more than 100,000 Palestinians entered Israel, most of them heading to Haram al-Sharif for the Ramadan prayers, twice the number compared with last Friday. Still, the IDF decided Friday morning to close all West Bank and Gaza crossing points on the first and last days of Passover.

(4) The Temple of Herod (the Second Temple) was not on the site called “Temple Mount”

by Peter Myers, April 8, 2023

Re item 3: There is good evidence that the Temple of Herod (the Second Temple) was not on the site called “Temple Mount”. The building on that site was Antonia Fortress, which housed Roman Legions (5,000 soldiers, needed to keep the rebellious Jews in line).

The Antonia overlooked the Temple, and there were two bridges down to it, along which soldiers could pass.

This means that the Third Temple can be built—on the original site—without harming Al Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock.

References: The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, by Ernest L. Martin

and The Jerusalem Temple Mount Myth, by Marilyn Sams.

Also the writings of George Wesley Buchanan on that topic, e.g. In Search of King Solomon’s Temple. (5) Israel demolished over 12,300 Palestinian homes since 1967

Rights group: Israel demolished over 12,300 Palestinian homes since 1967

Rights group: Israel demolished over 12,300 Palestinian homes since 1967

March 31, 2023 at 3:47 pm | Published in: Israel, Middle East, News, Palestine

March 31, 2023 at 3:47 pm

Israel has demolished more than 12,350 Palestinian homes and uprooted more than two million olive trees in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1967, a Palestinian rights group said yesterday.

The Israeli demolitions have also affected Arab villages inside Israel, where the Israeli authorities have demolished the Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb 214 times, the Land Research Centre in Jerusalem said.

According to the report, Israel has uprooted more than two million perennial olive trees.

This comes a day after the Palestinian Wall and Settlements Commission revealed that 1,220 demolition notices had been distributed to Palestinians by occupation forces in 2022.