It’s the day after Yom Ha’atzmaut, and still my mind will not let go. My sadness is deeper this year — that there is so much legitimate cause for cynicism and discontent with the Israeli government, and consequently so much cynicism and discontent in circles that I have considered staunchly Zionist. Yet pondering this has strengthened my own vision and my own certainty — that the problems with the government call out for immediate and thorough repair (tikun, in Hebrew), but that the failings of the state in no way abrogate the incredible value of the state or our obligation to treasure her and see that she is strong.
I think I have been clear about this, throughout my postings, but feel the need to state it upfront here: My laments about the current political and security conditions in the country constitute an attempt to improve the situation. My devotion to the State of Israel is solid and I am proud to call myself an Israeli. I go to the Beit Knesset (synagogue) on Yom Ha’atzmaut to sing Hallel precisely because I believe we have received a gift from Heaven and the Almighty is to be praised for this gift.
I call on everyone, whether here in Israel or outside of Israel, who has considered him/herself to be part of the Zionist venture in any respect to hold fast now. We are forbidden to despair. And equally, I believe, are we forbidden to turn away, even in spirit.
Two pieces have come to my attention that I would like to share.
The first is by Michael Freund, who, in "A Broom and a Flag," tells the story of Rabbi Avraham Yaakov, who had been the Rebbe of Sadigora and later came to Israel, where it was noticed that this pious rabbi was particularly joyous on Yom Ha’atzmaut. When he was asked why, he explained thus: He was in Vienna when the Nazis entered, and to humiliate the Jewish community, they gave him — a learned rebbe — a broom and ordered him to sweet the streets. While working, he looked to Heaven and said, "Master of the Universe, may I yet merit to sweep the streets of the Land of Israel." Then the Nazis gave him a large flag and forced him to raise it over a building. This time he intoned, "Master of the Universe, may I yet merit to raise the flag of Israel over a high place in the Land of Israel." When he came to Israel after the war, he was determined to fulfill his vision. And so, on Yom Ha’atzmaut, he rose very early, and went out and swept the street, and then raised an Israeli flag over his building.
"So the next time you find yourself down in the dumps, reading the newspapers and wondering about this country and its leadership – think back to the Rebbe of Sadigora, with a broom in one hand, a flag in the other, and a heart full of gratitude to G-d for the miracle that is the modern State of Israel."
To which I say, Amen.
Then there is an article, "On Spirit and Sacrifice," by JP Editorial Page Editor Saul Singer. Says Singer, "Contrary to popular belief, Zionism is not dead." He then proceeds to describe a situation that is best referred to here as "more good news about Israel." Saul’s brother, Alex, made aliyah from the US after his college graduation, and subsequently was killed in Lebanon, 20 years ago. While in the army, he wrote to an American friend: "There are many things about this country which I truly hate. … But because I see this place as my home, I don’t pile the cons on one side and the pros on the other, and decide whether it is ‘worth’ staying here. Home is home and it will take more than irritations to force me to leave. I want to make this place better." Saul expresses a desire to be able to show Alex projects that are going on now: "They recall his spirit, are worthy of his sacrifice, and would make him still feel at home."
And now back to my several descriptions of a situation that is less than lovely:
The news of the hour is that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss today informed the attorney-general that Olmert may be guilty of criminal behavior because of his part in certain financial dealings. The alleged criminal behavior involves conflict of interest during the time that he was minister of commerce and industry and Uriel Messer — Olmert’s close friend, former partner and personal lawyer — represented a company seeking funds from the ministry’s investment center. According to a report just released by Lindenstrauss, Olmert — instead of disqualifying himself — sat in on meetings and pushed for a decision that was preferential, involving the sum of $10 million.
I’d like, for once, to see one of these charges — this is hardly the first — followed through with at least an indictment.
MK Aryeh Eldad (NU) is calling for a criminal investigation; MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) says there is no choice for Olmert except to suspend himself until this issue is resolved. The Knesset State Control Committee will be meeting to discuss the matter.
A gag order has, until now, been in place regarding the court investigation of matters involving former (recently resigned) MK Azmi Bishara. That order has now been partially lifted and it seems that he is suspected of transferring information to Hezbollah during the war last summer. Well then, of course he would not choose to be in the country at this time. MKs are looking into ways of preventing him from receiving his Knesset pension; there are rumors that he hopes to settle in Syria.
Said Bishara to al-Jazeera:
"This is not a matter of my personal conduct. This is an attempt to make our opinions a security offense or treason, as they call it, or other Israeli terms that we do not recognize. We have clear political opinions, one of my opinions was postponing their (Israel’s) aggression during the first week of the war, and clarifying the plot on Lebanon – and this is a position that angered them. It joined other previous positions that made us a ‘problem’ for the Zionist establishment."
He is, you see, a misunderstood man. Helping Israel’s enemy during the war isn’t treason, it’s just a matter of his having a right to his own opinions.
Of a piece with Bishara’s statement is this from Maan, an official PA news agency:
"The Palestinian Prime Minister’s office has denied reports in the Israeli media of the existence of tunnels for smuggling sophisticated weapons to the Palestinian territories and the presence of Iranians in the Gaza Strip.
"The office said in a statement that these claims are part of the Israeli policy of finding excuses to practice aggressive policies on the Palestinian people."
Don’t you love it?
In Rome, where Abbas met with the Italian prime minister, he declared that the barrage of rockets that hit Israel yesterday was a "one-time violation of the truce."
Right now the Palestinians are more than a bit afraid of "aggression" that may come their way in Gaza.
The IDF plans to ask Olmert to approve a pinpoint operation inside of Gaza aimed at Hamas terrorist chiefs and infrastructure.
According to some analyst
s, while he is waiting for release of the Winograd report on his conduct of the Lebanon war, Olmert feels constrained with regard to ordering a major attack in Gaza — although I frankly see no evidence that he would be predisposed in any event.
Head of the IDF Southern Command, Gen. Yoav Galant, states that he believes a major operation is inevitable because of Hamas’s on-going attacks and military build-up. A man with forthright courage, in my opinion, he would rather see this sooner than later. According to a piece in today’s Haaretz, preparation for an operation is going on right now on an extremely significant scale.
Israel, however, is much more likely to act after a terrorist attack that has been successful. It provides justification, goes the political thinking; if an attempt is unsuccessful, it’s as if nothing happened and we run the risk of looking like the aggressor. I have long mourned this mind-set, which, in essence, waits for some Jews to die before we take the action that will prevent more from dying. I pray for the day when we will have leaders with enough national self-esteem, enough sense of being in the right, that they are willing to take pre-emptive actions to save Jewish lives.
Things are going along as smoothly as ever within the PA unity gov’t. After only five weeks in office, PA Interior Minister Hani Kawassmeh attempted to resign yesterday; Haniyeh has now gotten him to agree to wait until next week.
Kawassmeh’s alleged complaint is that his security plan, which would restore law and order, was being thwarted by key members of Fatah, notably Abu Shabak and Muhammad Dahlan. Hamas officials said that Shabak had given instructions to the security forces to ignore Kawassmen’s orders. But Fatah officials denied this, saying that Kawassmeh’s resignation was in protest because he didn’t think the PA security forces should be involved in stopping Kassam launchings. One official thought it a "ploy" to blame Fatah for the chaos.
It’s only a matter of time…
This posting can be found at: https://arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/4/25/april-25-2007-confirmation.html