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December 23, 2009: By Other Means

April 18, 2010

Yesterday I wrote about the possibility of securing Gilad Shalit without releasing terrorists, and made one or two fairly obvious suggestions.
But today the news carries this forward in a number of ways.  Most significantly, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, for the first time, said that both overt and covert actions were being taken by the government and security apparatuses to bring about the release of Shalit.  Good to hear that covert means are being attempted. 
My concern is that Hamas might agree to the trade before another means of securing Shalit have been implemented.  Right now the unofficial news is mixed.  Hamas leaders in Damascus — who have not officially answered — are said to be opposed, but there are leaks saying that the prisoners themselves have agreed and that it thus may go through.
I have read, by the way, that Barghouti might be released and allowed to return home instead of being deported far away.  If this were to be the case, it would be a most outrageous travesty of justice, a form of gross stupidity, in the name of “strengthening” Fatah.
Daniel Tauber, who is chair of the American Legal Forum for the Land of Israel (an affiliate of the Legal Forum here), addresses means for securing Shalit’s release in a piece he wrote for the Post today.  He suggests, among other things, making the continuation of the building freeze conditional on Shalit’s release (presumably so that Obama, who seeks that freeze, would get involved), and resumption of target strikes on Hamas leaders. 
What Tauber is suggesting is that Netanyahu take the initiative in this regard, instead of responding passively. The prime minister did not, for example, even mention Shalit in the course of his talk at the UN, viewed by millions on TV.
Tauber’s point is a very significant one.  Part of the damage done by this whole prisoner trade business is that it diminishes us.  We shouldn’t negotiate with Hamas even indirectly, and should pay them nothing.  Hamas, he says, is bringing Israel to its knees. And I agree.
What is more, this undermines the justice system.
Speaking of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, this organization filed a petition with the High Court against the building freeze, and now we have the first word from the court:
As yet, the moratorium stands, but, “a number of aspects remain as of yet unresolved in a satisfactory manner by the State.”  The State has been given a month to supply information on issues such as the date on which the proposed commission for deciding on compensation for those affected by the freeze will begin its work, the process by which one applies to the commission, and the manner in which appeals may be done.
Concern appears to be not with the freeze per se, but with the way it impinges unfairly upon individuals and how these problems will be officially rectified.  High Court president Dorit Beinish observed, “I do not know to what extent whoever issued the order gave thought to all the variants of potential damages.”
There is much criticism implicit in this comment, and thus the expectation that if answers are not provided by the government in a timely and satisfactory manner, the Court may look further into the question of the freeze.
“Whoever issued the order” is, of course, Barak.  And no, there is no reason whatsoever to think that he considered all potential damages.  It is precisely that precipitous heavy-handedness that evoked so much anger on the part of residents affected by the order.
Lenny Ben-David, who served as a diplomat at the Israeli embassy and is now an independent consultant, has been doing some excellent research on J Street.  Please, see what he says most recently regarding the relationship between this ostensibly “pro-Israel” organization, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab American Institute:
There is news about the break-up, finally, of Kadima, with seven people leaving the party, most to return to Likud, which they left when then prime minister Ariel Sharon started Kadima.  This is something that had been talked about for so long that it seemed no more than talk, but Netanyahu, working consistently and quietly, has apparently managed to achieve this by promising those returning to Likud various positions.
That Kadima should fall apart is a fate well deserved, but I have considerable ambivalence about the machinations  involved and the implications of it all.  More in due course as and if this unfolds.
Could it be?  I have picked up a piece that suggests that Jimmy Carter’s “heartfelt” contrition with regard to how he has maligned Jews may have been motivated by the fact that his grandson is running for Congress from a Georgia district that has a relatively large Jewish population.  Who knows.  What I do know is that the terminology he used (al het, Yom Kippur) seemed to have come by way of grooming in the use of the proper terms to appeal to Jews, rather than being spontaneously expressed regret.  It was a bit “over the top” for me.
“The Good News Corner”
This area was one of the earliest to develop wines — as attested to by the excavation of ancient wine presses and storage vats, as well as the frequent motif of grapes on ancient coins and jars.  Wine was cultivated here 2,000 years before it reached Europe.

In the last ten years, the Israeli wine industry has grown by leaps and bounds, so that today there are about 150 wineries in this small country.  Israel currently exports about $22 million worth of wine annually.  Wine connoisseurs give high marks to many of these wines, including several with kosher labels.



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