April 13, 2011
Monday is erev Pesach -- seder is Monday night. As I do not know if I will be posting again before Pesach, I wanted to recognize it here.
Pesach is the quintessential holiday of freedom. A gift from the Almighty that was given to the Children of Israel, which we in turn have transmitted to the world (or that part of the world that has chosen to be affected by the message).
No human being may own or control another. Each of us, in the dignity of our humanity, has certain elemental freedoms. But with freedom comes responsibility. We are not granted license to simply do as we please.
For the Jewish people, there was a very clear progression, as we came out of Egypt and forged ourselves as a nation. For we were brought then to Sinai, to the Revelation and an awakening to our responsibility to the Almighty. And then to the Land, which is both a sacred legacy and an eternal bond.
To all those who will be celebrating Pesach, I wish a Chag Kasher V'Sameach.
I do not expect that I will be posting during the course of the week of Pesach.
Let me return here to a variety of issues that require attention. At least some touch upon the matters raised yesterday in my call for communication to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
It is with sadness that I report that the young boy who was hit in the head during the attack on the school bus last week has taken a turn for the worse. Doctors are calling his case "mortal": there is no sign of brain activity.
This puts into obscene context the report from Palestinian Media Watch regarding a comment made by PA prime minister Salam Fayyad's advisor, Omar Al-Ghoul, on PA TV on April 8:
"Israel is a country that was founded on aggression and colonialism, and it lives on the continuation of bloodshed, war and violence. The racist Israeli apartheid state is incapable of turning to peace and coexistence between nations... This aggression is currently focused on Gaza, under the pretext of a shell being fired at an Israeli bus. The [school] bus wasn't that badly damaged, but Israel wants to use the attack on the bus as an excuse for its latest war crime against our people." (Emphasis added)
Not only are these our putative "peace partners," Fayyad is regularly touted as the most moderate of all. What we're seeing here is a courting of Hamas: the decision having been made to go with Hamas rather than sit at the table with Israel.
During Cast Lead, 2008/9, Abbas discretely encouraged us to hit Hamas hard. But that was then, and this is now. Which fact it is high time the world recognized.
Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that Israel has discovered that the anti-tank missile that was used against the school bus -- a Kornet -- is manufactured only in Russia. Israeli officials believe the missile was sold by Russia to Syria, Russian denials to the contrary notwithstanding. Syria, it is assumed, permitted them to get into the hands of Hezbollah, which smuggled them into Gaza.
Israel has raised the issue with Russia several times regarding the sale of weaponry to Syria that has the potential to shift the balance of power in the area.
According to Reuters, the PA is asking Western nations for $5 billion over three years, in order to be able to launch a state.
A detailed plan, which includes funds for Gaza, will be presented to potential donors at a pledging conference in June. Fayyad, who has World Bank connections, is spearheading this effort.
The Haaretz report I wrote about yesterday referred to concerns about a "diplomatic tsunami" that would follow in the wake of a General Assembly resolution on a Palestinian state within the '67 (armistice) lines.
In point of fact, the result of such a General Assembly resolution -- which would be no more than a non-binding recommendation, without impact on international law -- would be considerably less than a "tsunami."
This entire issue is one that I will likely re-visit several times. Here, I share a significant article by Moshe Arens, "Israel must not succumb to false diplomatic alarms," which ran, also in Haaretz, yesterday. I have bolded significant portions of what he wrote.
"Israel must not succumb to false diplomatic alarms.
"The important thing is to stay calm, not press the panic button, and not listen to those familiar faces who reappear every now and then with a new-old initiative suggesting that Israel announce it is prepared to withdraw to the '67 borders.'
"...The more sensitive the system, the more likely it is to sound the alarm when there is nothing to actually be alarmed about. Israel has its own tsunami warning system - and it is none other than our defense minister [Ehud Barak], who has already sounded the alarm. (Emphasis added)
"According to him, Israel will be hit by a political tsunami in September. His warning bell is being echoed by many who demand the government launch a daring initiative before it is too late, before the tsunami hits us. But they have a pleasant surprise awaiting them: Israel will still be here in September...
"States have never been created by UN declarations and never will be. For those who have forgotten, Israel was not created by UN resolution 181 in November 1947 [which recommended partition of Palestine], but by David Ben-Gurion's declaration of Israeli independence on May 15, 1948 and by the IDF's ability to take and control the areas of the new state.
"A UN declaration, whether at the Security Council or the General Assembly, recognizing a Palestinian state within the borders of the April 1949 armistice lines with Jordan, with Jerusalem as its capital, will be no more effective than Security Council resolution 1701, which prohibited Hezbollah from military operations in southern Lebanon, or General Assembly resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism.
"And one other point must be made: What they call the 1967 borders are in fact the armistice lines that were agreed on with Jordan in April 1949, an agreement that was violated by Jordan in June 1967. There is nothing sacrosanct about these lines, while many things have changed in the intervening 62 years that cannot be wished away. (Emphasis added)
"The important thing is to stay calm...and to not make any hasty, half-baked statements under the illusion that they will appease those applying pressure on Israel. (Emphasis added)
At this point, their minds are made up. And such statements will only come to haunt us in the future when the time becomes ripe for proper negotiations with the Palestinians. Only when it is clear that the Israeli government is standing firm on its positions will the pressure on Israel be relaxed." (Emphasis added)
There are ways in which we are going to see -- are beginning to see -- what seems to be strengthened support for Israel coming from the Obama administration. But I caution here, and will continue to caution, that such support is tactical, as Obama has his eye on a second term. Should he achieve that second term, we'd begin seeing something very different.
A piece by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post -- "Is Obama abandoning diplomatic support for Israel?" -- provides evidence for this position.
Rubin writes that Obama is stepping carefully because his domestic situation does not permit him to go head to head with Israel. However, behind the scenes there is implicit encouragement by the Obama administration for a tough stance on Israel by European nations.
Citing an article in the Economist: "in private, European officials have told Israel that their pressure is choreographed with America." What makes this even more worrisome is that Dore Gold, who very recently testified before Congress on Israel's need for secure borders, expresses similar concerns.
This piece sounds an important alarm.
The Quartet has decided -- with encouragement from the US -- to postpone its upcoming meeting . A declaration regarding establishment of a Palestinian state within the '67 lines had been anticipated during that meeting, but the US sees this as not constructive at this juncture. (Rubin's article, above, addresses this issue.)
There is no indication that the Quartet has definitively abandoned this approach -- they're taking more of a "not now, and then we'll see" stance.
At the same time, Secretary of State Clinton has announced that the US will be pushing with a stronger hand to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How exciting -- to know that Obama and Clinton will be more involved. Last time he was "involved," he messed things up by pushing us for a full construction freeze. What will it be this time? "Active American leadership" is what she calls it.
Clinton says they are actually after a comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace.
Now? I ask. With all the unrest in the region? What planet is she from?
Please see this Washington Times article by Arnaud de Borchgrave: "The coming geopolitical upheaval."
"In Cairo, the latest conventional wisdom sees a groundswell of Islamist fundamentalism cloaked in moderate colors moving adroitly center stage. Following elections in the fall, the Muslim Brotherhood is expected to deliver about 40 percent of the vote, possibly even a majority. Either way, it will change the geopolitical calculus for the world’s major players.
"...Behind Cairo’s political stage, says one ranking Egyptian on a private visit to Washington, Iran’s mullahs and Egypt’s Brothers are unobtrusively sidling up.
Mohamed Badie, Brotherhood leader, said in a recent sermon, "Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslims’ real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded.
"Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States."
Title of the sermon: "The U.S. is Now Experiencing the Beginning of its End."
Let me end on a positive note:
Z Street is holding a conference, "Rethinking the End Game," on May 4, in Washington DC. An excellent organization, and the speakers will be of high quality. If you have an opportunity to participate, please consider it.
Information on the Conference:
For an article by Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Z Street president, and Asaf Romirowsky, Senior Fellow at Z Street, that explains the rationale behind the Conference, see here:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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