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photo by Rhonda Spivak

Editor's Report: Re: PM Harper's Upcoming Trip to Israel

by Rhonda Spivak, January 8, 2014

The Winnipeg Jewish Review is scheduled to be reporting from Jerusalem at the David Citadel Hotel, and the Beit Agron Press Building down the street throughout PM Stephen Harper's first trip to Israel. We will be having more than one reporter present and hope to conduct a press briefing for the Winnipeg contingent at some point during the event. We will also invite all of the Winnipeg contingent for a photo opportunity and ask members of the contingent to give their thoughts about the trip for an article that will run as one of our feature stories.

(It so happens the Editor's timing was right on this one. I booked a trip several months ago and am scheduled to arrive in Israel following a few days in Munich before the PM's conference.Our WJR special correspondents have offices in Jerusalem.)




For starters, PM Harper's contingent will be staying at the David Citadel Hotel, which is located in the rebuilt Mamilla neighborhood across from the Old City. But, it's certainly not a location you ever would have wanted to stay in between 1948 and the 1967 Six Day War, since you would have been shot at constantly as it was at the frontline of hostilities between Israel and Jordan. Many of the buildings in Mamilla were destroyed or badly damaged and a concrete wall bisected the neighborhood, separating the warring sides. Plans for redevelopment of Mamilla were drawn up after the Six Day War, but didn’t occur until 1994.


Significantly, this is the Hotel where Secretary of State John Kerry has been conducting intensive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and a well-placed source in Jerusalem confirms that it's no accident that PM Harper is set to come to Jerusalem while Kerry and team are likely to be on the scene. Netanyahu has asked him to be there in order to help him brace against the mounting pressure that Kerry will be placing on Netanyahu to make concessions.




If you haven't been reading the news from Israel daily, you may not have heard that recently Israeli security forces arrested 14 members of an Islamic Jihad terror cell based in Bethlehem (which is under the Palestinian territory, but is not far from Jerusalem, albeit on the other side of the Israeli security barrier). This cell was responsible for the December 22 bus bombing in Bat Yam, south of Tel-Aviv, which would have killed numerous people were it not for the fact the bus driver noticed the bomb on a seat of the bus, and ordered everyone out miraculously in time before the bus exploded.


During the arrest of the cell, a rather huge 20 kg bomb was found in the Bethlehem home of one of the terrorists. The intended target of that bomb was to be a location in Tel Aviv. Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem is funded and supported by Iran, and could not function without the tacit approval of the Palestinian Authority. This is the same PA that this month was found to store explosive Cemtex and weapons in its embassy in Prague. In a strange twist of fate,the explosives killed the PA ambassador himself  what I would call a " work accident."


Among the leaders of the  Bethlehem cell was a terrorist that had been released from Israeli custody. Another of the leaders of the terror cell was taking a Palestinian police commanders course in Jericho (Note that the PA police are being trained by the United States)

Netanyahu addressed the fact that one of the suspects was in officer training with the Palestinian police noting  "this is further proof of Palestinian Authority's personnel's direct involvement with terror."


It's worth noting the timing of the December 22 bombing--had it been successful , then the funerals of Jewish victims would have coincided with Christmas, the date marking Jesus's birth. Also, of significance is that Mahmoud Abbas was delivering a Christmas message to Bethlehem Christians on Dec 23 claiming that Jesus was a Palestinian (just a little historical revisionism there!). The good news is that as one commentator has written the fact that Abbas embraced the protagonist of the New Testament, "implies that he also accepts the story of what is told there, namely there was a [Jewish] Temple, there were Jewish priests, the inhabitants of the land had Hebrew names, they spoke Hebrew and Aramaic and they upheld Jewish commandments. As if that weren't enough, the New Testament teaches us that Jesus was one of the descendants of King David, whose existence -- and, by extension, his status as a king in Jerusalem -- is also de facto recognized by Abbas." (although no doubt Abbas would deny that)


Also of note is that the Israeli Police on Wednesday Jan 8 found a weapons cache in the Palestinian village of Abu Dis near Jerusalem . An armed explosive device and a 84mm rifle with 100 bullets were among the weapons found. (Jerusalem Post). What's important to understand about Abu Dis is that in 2000 the construction of a Parliament Buildingvto possibly house the Palestinian Legislative Council was started, but never finished. Abu Dis was captured by Israel in 1967 but  under Oslo 2 in 1995 it passed to the civil jurisdiction of the PA but is still subject to Israeli security control. Israel has tried to pre-destine Abu Dis as a substitute capital for East Jerusalem, although the PA has rejected this .It is now on the other side of the security fence.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.