Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
At an elevation of over 2,000 feet, the road to Ramat Trump or Trump Heights at times appears to be climbing into the sky. The Golan Heights with its scrub and brush, the vast Mediterranean vistas, nature reserves and artsy cottages, interrupted by secluded villages with more livestock than people, could easily be mistaken for some rural part of California. But occasionally there is the distant sound of artillery or the sonic booms of Israeli or Russian jets reminding everyone that this is a war zone.
On the other side of the wineries and ranches isn’t California, but a murderous struggle between Sunni and Shiite Islamic terrorists battling each other and themselves for control of Syria. Factions on the other side include Iran, Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. Ever since Trump won, the struggle has been dying down. ISIS has mostly been crushed. But the cows up here can’t count on the quiet.
The announcement that Israel would be naming a town after Trump, in appreciation of his recognition of the Golan Heights, was met with jeers and media cries that it would be an “illegal settlement”.
There’s plenty of history behind dismissing the notion of “illegal settlements” on land where Jews had lived for thousands of years. Ramat Trump will be under the authority of the Golan Regional Council based out of Katzrin, a Jewish village with an ancient synagogue dating back to at least the 4th century built by refugees fleeing the might of Rome, only for it and other small Jewish villages built on the Heights to encounter the Islamic invaders claiming the land not for the emperor, but for the caliph.
On the Syrian side, there are still jihadis hoping to invade and claim the land for another caliph.
The Democrats, activists and media hacks who condemned President Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights and who denounce Ramat Trump as an “Israeli settlement” haven’t explained what they want to see done with it. Do they want to turn it over to the Sunni or Shiite jihadists? To ISIS or to Iran?
The calm waters and scattered stones, the massive clouds slowly drifting across the sky and the breeze rich with the smell of growing things, belie the many battles that have been fought here.
And may be fought yet again.
After the next Israeli election, Trump Heights will slowly come into being near the community of Kela Alon named after the oaks that thrive here and which were referenced by the prophets in biblical times. A more recent landmark is Petroleum Road, the remnants of a pipeline which once ran from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon. The pipeline and the road have long since become defunct. One day archeologists will dig them up to unearth their secrets. But for now, Petroleum Road has another secret to tell.
On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of Judaism, Syria and Egypt launched a surprise attack on the Jewish State. Some of the bloodiest battles for survival were fought here as a handful of Israelis held out against overwhelming odds.
On Petroleum Road, Lieutenant Zvika Greengold, 21, with one tank, held off an entire Syrian armored division. Greengold, who had been born in a kibbutz named after the ghetto fighters, destroyed 60 tanks in 30 hours of fighting. His tank was knocked out, his uniform caught on fire, but he never gave up.
Highway 98, off Petroleum Road, leads to the Valley of Tears. That’s the memorial for the Israeli soldiers who fought and died when 175 Israeli tanks stood against 700 Syrian tanks. Highway 98 isn’t just a road. The location was one of the objectives of the battle that left hundreds of enemy tanks in ruins.
Such lopsided battles defined the struggle for the Heights with outnumbered and overwhelmed Israeli forces building temporary walls out of enemy armor while waiting and praying for reinforcements.
The bloody lessons of those days have settled the question of the Golan Heights for virtually all Israelis.
The commanding heights that allowed Israeli forces to survive, to win battles by holding the line and preventing superior enemy forces from breaking through gaps, cannot be surrendered at any price.
You might as well have asked the 300 Spartans to surrender the Hot Gates to the Persians as to demand that the Israelis turn over the Kuneitra Gap and its lava beds to Iran’s proxies in Syria.
It’s been a long time since 1973. Old heroes have gone to their resting place. But the war waits.
Aside from the visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ambassador Friedman to dedicate Ramat Trump, the area is quiet. The new community will rise out of an older community of Bruchim or Welcome. The symbolism is significant because when Bruchim village was pioneered back in the 90s, a furious Secretary of State James Baker had blasted Israel’s “provocative” actions in creating a “settlement”.
Three decades later, the few Soviet Jewish refugees who found welcome in these heights live quietly and provoke no one. Baker’s efforts at Israeli-Syrian peace talks not only failed, but were irrelevant. Syria, like much of the rest of the region, is not a country or a people, it’s a dictatorship welding together different peoples and tribes who would fight for dominance and independence any chance they get.
A deal with the Assad family is as hollow and meaningless as one signed with a drug cartel or Hamas.
President Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights disavows the fantasy foreign policy of both Bush administrations and of the Obama administration. Trump is a realist and how better to honor him than to recognize the reality on the ground. That’s the message that dedicating Trump Heights sends.
Israelis have brought American diplomats and politicians to the Golan Heights for generations to show them how vulnerable the country is. They all nodded their heads as if they understood. But none did.
Trump Heights is named after the only man in the White House who understood how important it is.
James Baker III had represented generations of the old Republican foreign establishment. His protégé, Condoleezza Rice had carried on his work under Bush II. But Baker’s closest equivalent in the Trump era, Rex Tillerson, another oil company man, was gone and replaced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo is a realist not given to fantasy diplomacy, ambitious regional solutions or wishful thinking.
The old Arabist anti-Israel alliances have fractured and some of the Sunni Muslim oil powers would rather that Israel hold the Golan Heights than that Iran add another strategic region to its empire.
Trump Heights will not be a booming hub of commerce and technology. The Golan Heights are remote and not suited for huge bustling crowds. With 110 housing units planned, Ramat Trump will probably have fewer residents than most Trump hotels. Traffic will be light. And likely limited to tourists and artists staying for a while in the nearby cottages of Matsok Orvim or the Cliff of Crows.
But the vistas and the history here are too overwhelming for big buildings and shopping malls.
The Israelis who live in Trump Heights will not be wealthy. They will have few luxuries. But they will be determined. All Israelis live in a war zone. But some do more than others. All Israelis live close to heaven. But some heights are closer than others. The unyielding patience of history has formed the rock and dust here. And some of that quiet determination has made its mark on the land and the people.
The Heights are crowded with thousands of years of history, with the sounds of falling shells and screaming men, but also with a vastness of sky and earth that open the human heart to wonder. There are strange megalithic monuments that have never been explained, unexpected springs bounding from the earth, and massive waterfalls. And in the air is that intangible taste of a timeless eternity.
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.