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February 21, 2009: Gov’t in Formation

May 6, 2009

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

President Peres, unable to convince Kadima head Tzipi Livni to join a unity government, yesterday afternoon officially handed a letter to Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu charging him with forming a government.

Netanyahu says he will meet with Livni tomorrow in a final effort to convince her to join his government, citing again the need for unity because of the major threats facing us.

He has six weeks to form his government, but I am expecting him to proceed much more promptly than this. He is well aware that it is very much in the interests of our nation that he do so. What must be formally done now is to assign ministries, but it is almost a certainty that a great deal of this bargaining has already been done.


It was inevitable, considering the last US election, that ultimately we would — as incredible as this seems –find we missed Condoleezza Rice. And, sadly, that time is already upon us.

The Bush/Rice policy with regard to the Palestinians was to ostracize Hamas, a terrorist organization, and to attempt, maddeningly, to build the PA as a “peace partner.” The rule of operation — which ignored many harsh realities — was that if Hamas was bad, Fatah must be good.

But what we’re going to see now is worse — with even harsher realities ignored. US Envoy for the Middle East, George Mitchell, has now voiced support for establishment of a Fatah-Hamas unity government.

Of course, Mitchell qualified his support for this option, saying that Hamas had to recognize Israel and stop violence first.

But wait… we’ll see dancing around these conditions. Violence? What violence? Hamas is quiet — it’s those other groups launching rockets. And recognizing Israel? Hey, the members of Hamas admit Israel exists — isn’t that sufficient? So, they don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, but over time that will come, as long as we talk with them.


Why would the Obama administration be promoting this? Because they are convinced they have it within their capacity to “make peace” here, but the fact of two different Palestinian entities gets in the way. This is considered a step in the right direction.

Mitchell, in a public statement last week, said that the US was “unwaveringly committed” to Israel’s safety, and that the two-state solution “coincides” with its commitment. It’s so nice that he knows what’s best for us.

If in the process of advancing our security he happens to give legitimacy to a terrorist organization sworn to our destruction, hey, that’s just the way it is.


Today, Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the Post, reports that according to the PA they have now received a “green light” to negotiate a unity government with Hamas. According to a PA official in Ramallah, “The administration of President Barack Obama believes that a Hamas-Fatah government is good for stability.”

President Mubarak of Egypt has received essentially the same message, and is now moving ahead with regard to negotiating that unity government. Invitations have been sent to Fatah, Hamas, and several other Palestinian groups to attend reconciliation talks in Cairo starting on February 25.

If talks proceed, five joint committees will be established to work out various issues, such as formation of a government and control of the border crossings.


It is highly unlikely that such a unity government, even should it be formed, would have stability over a period of time. But what is fairly predictable is that, in the course of working towards that unity, the party that would be the most conciliatory, and make the most concessions, would be Fatah. The unity government, that is, would ultimately be more radicalized than Fatah is now.

We have a precedent for this from the last time a Fatah-Hamas unity government was briefly established in 2007: Fatah made almost all of the concessions. And now Fatah is considerably weaker than it was then, before the Hamas take-over of Gaza. What is more, Fatah is worried about being cut out of the rebuilding of Gaza, which may give Hamas more credibility. Thus has Abbas declared himself ready to work with Hamas.


Recently President Obama signed an executive order for the release of $20 million to aid Palestinian refugees in Gaza. I have received much material on this, either charging that Obama was intending to bring those refugees (who might well be Hamas-supporters) into the US, or questioning whether this was this case.

When I examined the text of the executive order, I saw that it was altogether unclear that bringing refugees to the US was its intention.

Now Aaron Lerner of IMRA has written that: “Previous presidential orders using almost identical language directed U.S. funds to international agencies helping refugees in other parts of the world.
“The assistance for Gaza refugees has absolutely nothing to do with aiding the immigration of refugees to the U.S. If anything, the criticism of the UN body dealing with Palestinian refugees is that it seeks perpetuate their refugee status.”

You can see this comment and the executive order itself at: http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=42883


Obtuse left-leaning thinking is not restricted to the US. We know this. And today I stumbled upon an instance here in Israel so blatant that I felt moved to share it.

I am alluding to a statement by Naomi Chazan, in her column in Friday’s Post magazine. Chazan believes that Israel should follow the US lead and participate in the preparatory meetings for Durban.

Specifically, she said this: “…although Israeli hesitations regarding the composition of the 20-member steering committee (under the aegis of Libya and including Iran and Cuba) cannot be summarily dismissed, if [Israel] does not participate in the preparations, it forfeits any chance of shaping the agenda…”

Can she be serious? Can she possibly believe that Israel has even the remotest, the tiniest, chance of shaping the agenda sitting on a committee chaired by Libya and including Iran and Cuba — and when the goal of that committee is the vilification of Israel??

Then Chazan concludes that, “…if Israel is not part of the proceedings, it can hardly deplore the results.” And on this score she is absolutely wrong. She seems devoid of any notion that Israel would be demeaned sitting on that committee and would, by virtue of doing so, proffer legitimacy to its proceedings.

Naomi Chazan, I note here, is president of the New Israel Fund.


In the very same magazine, however, there is a marvelous piece, “Next year — in Des Moines?” — by Eli Kavon, an American Jew. This I share eagerly for the most positive of reasons. Writes Kavon:

“In July 2006, when the IDF was struggling to defeat Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen referred to the State of Israel as an honest mistake. He argued that the creation of a Jewish State in the Arab and Islamic Middle East had produced ‘a century of warfare and terrorism.’ In the wake of the recent Israeli war of self-defense in Gaza, more and more American Jews seem to be agreeing with Cohen’s assessment.

“While many American Jews remain supporters of Israel, Jews [in the US] are starting to abandon hope that Israel will be able to survive. They argue that the Jewish state is surrounded by enemies, that Israel’s Jews are a house divided, and that, perhaps, the creation of a modern Jewish state in the Land of Israel was not meant to be. They are starting to say that ‘Israel is a mistake’ and that Judaism and the Jewish people would survive even if Israel were to be obliterated by Iranian nuclear weapons. Many years ago, a student in an adult education class that I taught at a local community college proposed that the Jewish state should not be in the Middle East, but in America’s Midwest. Would not a Jewish state in Iowa, located in a region far, far away from the hostile Arab and Islamic world of the Middle East, be the best location for a homeland for the Jewish people?

“Perhaps, at the Passover Seder this year, I should conclude the festive meal with the cry of ‘Next Year in Des Moines!’ Perhaps those who do not recognize the centrality and importance of Israel to the future of world Jewry are right. Perhaps we, as Jews, can go on even if Israel no longer exists. Perhaps we should forget who we are, the descendants of men and women who sacrificed in the Temple in Jerusalem, studied in the academies of Yavne and Tiberias, fought for independence in Modi’in and Betar against the Hellenists and the Romans. Perhaps we should discard the Hebrew Bible as our deed to the Land of Israel. Perhaps we should ignore all the archeological evidence proving that the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel dates back 3,000 years. Let us forget the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bar Kochba letters, the Western Wall, Masada.

“Let us forget that Jews have yearned for millennia in the Diaspora to be redeemed in the Promised Land. Let us abandon Hebrew as a living language, relegating it only to sacred texts that we do not understand except through English translation. Perhaps this form of mass amnesia is the answer. Forgetting who we are, where we came from, and forgetting 60 years of sacrifice, backbreaking work, heroism on the battlefield, Nobel Prize winners, economic success, the revival of Judaism in a Jewish homeland – for some Jews, this sort of amnesia seems to be the answer.

“WORLD JEWRY WILL NOT survive the destruction of the State of Israel. The Jewish state is the religious, political and cultural center of all Jews. The hope of the Jewish future is the hope of Israel, the people and the nation. Some American Jews argue that Jews have lived in the Diaspora for more than 2,000 years and will continue to do so whether Israel exists or not. At best, this argument is misguided. At worst, it is defeatist. With each passing day, we resemble more and more the spies in the Bible who demoralized the Israelites by claiming that the Land of Canaan could not be conquered.

“…Jewish identity is both religious and national. Whether it was Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel in ancient times or Jewish self-government in Germany and Spain in the medieval period, Jewish identity was never based solely on religion. We, as a people, cannot survive if we forfeit either crucial element of our identity.

“American Jews fool themselves if they truly believe that Judaism could survive another destruction and another exile from the Jewish homeland. There will be no more genocide of the Jews. There will be no more exile of the Jewish nation from the Land of Israel. This time, history will not repeat itself. The year 2009 is not the year 586 BCE or the year 70. Jews and Judaism in the 21st century would never recover from the destruction of the State of Israel.”





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