"The resignation of Sderot’s mayor constitutes a great victory for the Palestinian resistance. This is a political victory, a victory for morale, it adds to the humiliation we are heaping upon the Zionist army in the field. The man who threatened to wipe Beit Hanoun off the map and called upon the Israeli military to do just that was himself wiped off the Israeli public map today" crowed Muhammad Abd al-‘Al, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, yesterday, in a statement to YNet.
It’s painful, and hard to refute. And I hold the gov’t of Israel directly responsible.
Al-‘Al said the aim of the rockets was not so much to inflict physical harm as to destroy Israeli morale. He claims that the rockets that were fired yesterday are part of the new arsenal of weapons that has been acquired.
Responding to the situation, Russian billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak has now said he will invest 90 million shekels in fortifying homes in Sderot; secure rooms will be provided in 600 homes.
Gaydamak has been involved before in assistance to the people of Sderot, and there has been the likely well-founded observation that there is a bit that is politically self-serving in his generosity. But, at this point, so what, if he helps the people badly in need of assistance. What actually happened previously was that he served in some degree as a spur to the gov’t, embarrassing them into doing more. Hopefully this may happen again — a total of 1,200 homes need to be secured.
The US Congressional Research Service , which provides independent analysis to Congress, cites "reputable sources" with regard to the likelihood that North Korea may have given arms and possibly training to Hezbollah.
The Service refers to Paris Intelligence Online , a French Internet publication specializing in political and economic intelligence, which in September 2006 had published details of an extensive North Korean program to give arms and training to Hezbollah.
The program was initiated in the 1980s , when Hezbollah members traveled to North Korea for training; after 2000, North Koreans were dispatched to Lebanon to train Hezbollah members in the building of bunkers.
Paris Intelligence Online said this training "significantly improved Hezbollah’s ability to fight the Israelis" during the war last year.
Additionally the Congressional Research Service cited a report indicating that Mosad intelligence believes that "vital missile components" used by Hezbollah came from North Korea.
I offer here from international sources examples of the bias against Israel — the assumption that Israel is always responsible:
First, the World Bank. It has approved the PA economic reform plan that requires an infusion of $5.8 billion from 2008-2010. I wrote about this yesterday, explaining that the PA has promised economic reform for 13 years now, but has never delivered, instead refusing to staunch corruption or assume genuine fiscal responsibility. But does the World Bank address corruption, the issue of a bloated payroll, the hand-out mentality, etc. etc.? Not on your life.
What does the World Bank say? The money will not stem economic decline…unless Israel also eases Palestinian movement and trade.
Then there’s Tony Blair. Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday, he said that Israel faced a "nightmare" after pulling out of Gaza. He understands this better now than he did when he was British prime minister, and he realizes that Israel would hesitate to pull out of the West Bank now.
But does he follow by saying that we should sit tight while work is done to make the PA stronger from a security perspective? Of course not! He says in spite of our anxieties we should move towards pulling out anyway.
And there’s the EU, naturally . On Tuesday they issued a statement noting "with concern" Israeli plans for construction "in the Har Homa settlement [settlement??] in east Jerusalem. The EU considers that this initiative might undermine ongoing efforts in the search for peace…" Did you read an expression of concern about the launching of rockets at the civilians in Sderot undermining the search for peace? I sure didn’t.
There are few institutions more biased against Israel than the UN. Yesterday I wrote about the good feeling in the Israeli mission to the UN regarding the very first Israeli inspired resolution not involving the Holocaust or the Arab-Israel conflict to pass in that body, and pointed out that the Arabs — and in particular the PA mission — remained hostile.
But it turns out there’s more to be said on this matter: Richard Schifter, former deputy US representative in the UN Security Council, writing in the Post, has expressed the opinion that the UN has not become less anti-Israel, but rather that a good face is being put on matters by the Israeli mission, which has learned to better navigate the system.
Schifter’s litany of UN anti-Israel measures is blood-curdling:
"The UN General Assembly continues to pay more attention to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict than to any other country-specific issue. The world’s worst atrocities and humanitarian crises are ignored, but time is always available for Israel-bashing…the UN’s Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Practices filed a 27-page report castigating Israel and focusing special attention on the security barrier. ‘More than ever,’ the report claims, ‘it appeared to the Committee members that the construction of the separation wall violated every single human right of the Palestinians.’"
Perhaps most incredible: "The General Assembly also had before it a report from the secretary-general which purported to be evenhanded but was studded with comments slanted against Israel. Thus, Prime Minister Sharon’s ‘political courage’ and the PA’s ‘responsible behavior’ were lauded, but that was followed by the complaint that Israel had withdrawn from Gaza without demolishing the synagogues of Gush Katif. ‘The buildings were thus passed unexpectedly to the Palestinian Authority, which was not in a position to protect them,’ said the report."
"[Some] resolutions…continue to authorize an anti-Israel propaganda apparatus that flies the UN flag, is paid for by the UN, and operates worldwide. Leadership of this propaganda apparatus is vested in the Division for Palestinian Rights, located in the UN Secretariat.
"This UN-sponsored anti-Israel propaganda effort, which has encouraged the divestment and academic boycott campaigns, appears to have operated below the radar screen of many observers, perhaps even the government of Israel. Its detrimental effect on the peace process has, however, been fully recognized by the US."
In my last posting I quoted Chief of Staff Ashkenazi, with regard to the fact that a ground incursion into Gaza would be necessary to stop the terrorism.
Seems Defense Minister Barak spoke at the same conference where Ashkenazi made his comments. Regrettably, Barak spoke not as a military man, but rather as a politician, calling the situation in Sderot "difficult and complicated." The "complication," of course, is negotiations w
ith the PA.
"We know that this is a mission we haven’t accomplished yet, and the road ahead is still very long. This is a solution that requires sound judgment and responsibility, the situation isn’t simple and I hope it will not come to a point where we are forced to do that which, for now, we do not want to do."
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has recently made comments about the need for NATO involvement in Gaza if we are to make major concessions, and this philosophy has been seconded by Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu). But this is a recipe for disaster. For this robs Israel of the right to defend herself and avoids the issue of making the PA responsible for security in its territory.
For a cogent analysis of the pitfalls, see Dr.Aaron Lerner:
In an interview yesterday, Sec. of State Rice said that President Bush will be taking a much more active role: "…he very much wants to signal support for the bilateral process between the parties and to continue in a hands-on way to encourage them to move forward."
There are many topics that I would like to share with my readers, but that keep getting tabled because of more urgent matters. Let me make room for some of them here.
I begin with an issue that , in its larger implications, is of considerable significance:
Most of you have read about the British school teacher working in Khartoum, Sudan, who allowed her seven year old students to call their Teddy bear Muhammad. When she was arrested for allowing "insult" to the name of the Prophet, mobs outside the jail called for her execution. She was released only after two Muslim British peers flew to Sudan to intervene.
This is a ghastly scenario , and one that is not unfamiliar. Remember the riots over cartoons.
What caught my attention, however , is the way the teacher, Lillian Gibbons, described as a kindly woman, responded after she was released and on her way home. If it was me, I think I would have lambasted that country to the moon and back. But that is not politic. No criticism is politic. What she said was: "I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone. I am sorry if I caused any distress." She didn’t even remark on HER distress, which undoubtedly was considerable.
One of the Muslim peers, a Lord Ahmed , commented, "We hope that British aid to Sudan continues and that relations between our two countries will not be damaged by this incident — in fact, this should be a way to strengthen relations."
This is nauseating. Have the British no dignity these days, do they see fit only to grovel? One article I read described this as cultural jihad, and it rings true. Everyone is afraid to offend the Muslims, no matter how they behave. And this portends a very dangerous state of affairs.
Ruth Wisse has written an articl e in the Harvard Crimson called "How Much Land is Enough." She makes several excellent points but I wish to quote just one here: The ratio of Arab to Jewish land in the Middle East is 640:1. Makes one sit up and take notice.
Seven years ago, there was a horrible lynching of two IDF soldiers in Ramallah, when they ended up there by mistake. Most of you surely remember this chilling event, with a lyncher raising bloodied hands from a window of the police station in a sign of victory.
Well, it has taken seven years, but the last of those involved has been caught. This is first, a matter of justice and retribution. But it also a form of deterrent — that those conducting themselves with such inhumanity know we’ll get them. Catching them is part of the Israeli code.
The terrorist, Hayman Zaban, by the way , is with Tanzim, which is part of Fatah.
According to the Palestinian Maan news agency , the PA wants to provide one time payments of $5,000 to the families of Palestinians who have served in Israeli prisons for 20 years or more. Those who are imprisoned for lengthy periods have usually killed Israelis.
A few days ago, Defense Minister Ehud Barak came up with an idea to entice settlers into leaving by offering them money, so they wouldn’t have to be forced out. What he had in mind were the 70,000 settlers on the far side of the security fence. Well, a poll subsequently taken shows that 76% of the settlers wouldn’t leave because of money.
This last item might be called a joke , but it tells us some painful things about where American Jewry is coming from. Just a few weeks ago, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations announced that Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. have agreed to head a committee organizing events to celebrate Israel’s 60th. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chair of the organization, called this a "great honor." My response: You have GOT to be kidding.
Bill Clinton is at least perceived as a friend of Israel . But in fact he did Israel considerable damage, first by courting Arafat in a way that absolved him of responsibility for his behavior (setting a precedent that lives to this day) and then by pushing Israeli concessions in a last minute rush to achieve "peace" while he was office, even as he knew that the Palestinians wouldn’t honor their commitments (a la Bush Jr. now). This is something Clinton’s special envoy, Dennis Ross, later admitted.
And Bush Sr.? He was never a friend to Israel in any respect. His cadre of advisers, starting with James Baker, was decidedly and rudely anti-Israel.
There was no one else available?