Israel ‘s strength and the source of immeasurable pride. I’ve said it before, and I say it again here: We may have lousy governments, but we’ve got some of the best people in the world. Our enemies would be foolish to sell us short.
The Jerusalem Post on Friday did a series of features on our soldiers: primarily on those who were wounded in the war last year, and on reservists who fought in that war. Reading these articles, with tears in my eyes, I was reminded again of how great these people are, and I knew that once again I had to share news of their humanity and bravery. All the world should know of this.
Here, by way of example, I mention one particular solider: Lt.-Col. Effie Defrin, who led his troops of the Eshet Battalion through a particular critical and vicious battle in Wadi Saluki in Lebanon. His tank was hit by anti-tank missiles and he was critically wounded in the lungs and head.
His wife, who had delivered their child only two weeks before, was told to rush to the hospital with the baby to say goodbye. He was not expected to live the night.
Two weeks later he had resumed his position of command in the field: "I felt like I had to get out of the hospital and back to the battalion. It’s a battalion that feels like a family and I knew they needed me."
His devotion is to a battalion that he considers very special : "Those soldiers went in there knowing that they were going to die for their country. All those slogans that I thought were confined to the pages of history were proven relevant.
"…Soldiers ran, exposed, from their own tanks to pull their comrades out of burning tanks, guarding the wounded without any cover…"
One combat soldier, Dimitri Kamishlin, "jumped out of the tank that he was in, ran without any cover into a burning tank nearby, and pulled out the entire crew.
"People don’t realize the quality of this generation. We don’t value them enough. People say they have no ideology, no beliefs, but I saw otherwise."
Effie, who is taking a year off, after a year of intense work with his battalion, wants to return to continue his career in the IDF. "I see the career with the military as a calling. That once seemed like an empty phrase, but now it has meaning."
What an inspiration. This is our secret weapon.
Insanity of the day: Israel has agreed to stop pursuing some 180 fugitives associated with the blatantly terrorist Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades branch of Fatah in Judea and Samaria if they promise to foreswear terrorism. It’s the old "sign a pledge" scam. This agreement was forged in principle last week at a meeting between Defense Minister Barak and officials close to Abbas. The final deal will apparently be sealed when Olmert meets with Abbas this week.
These fugitives, some of whom are wanted for terrorist activity, will be granted immunity and permitted to be in the PA security forces. Reports refer to a three month trial basis, and to the fact that they won’t be allowed to carry guns. Abbas is encouraging them to surrender their guns by buying them at prices of up to $15,000 for an M16 and almost $4,000 for a Kalashnikov rifle — which shows how much control he has over them. My bet is that many will hold on to their guns, leaving them home when they report for duty.
According to YNet, a "senior Israeli official" said, with regard to this deal:
“The agreement serves Israel’s interests in that the Fatah men on the list will lay down their arms and leave the cycle of terror.
“The Palestinians will benefit from the fact that Israel will cease to hunt down those who form the foundation of Abbas’s forces in the West Bank.”
Is this not truly incredible? Beyond incredible? First, because of some naive notion that these guys will permanently disassociate themselves from terrorism. Free of the pressure of knowing Israel is after them, they will ultimately have greater latitude to act according to their established patterns.
And then, and perhaps more significantly, because of the on-going pattern of merging "security forces" and "terrorist forces" in the PA. This tells the story, the story that our government ignores. Note: "Israel will cease to hunt down those who form the foundation of Abbas’s forces." THIS is who forms the foundation of PA forces. We are dealing with a terrorist entity. These gunmen are already associated with the PA security forces. Seems the Israeli government is hoping that once they no longer have to look over their shoulders to see if we’re after them, they can function more effectively against Hamas.
I would have to write a very long posting indeed to explain all the things that are wrong with this logic. But let me point out here that Fatah lost in Gaza not because of lack of forces or weapons, but lack of will (see more following on this).
In spite of earlier Israeli government denials, it now turns out that Jenin head of Al Aksa Brigades, Zakariya Zubeidi, will be among those "pardoned."
Zubeidi says his people have agreed to stop attacks on Israel to strengthen Abbas and stop giving Israel "excuses" to say there is no partner. This is not a renunciation of terror, but a temporary tactic. It means nothing.
In an interview today, Zubeidi makes his position clear : His commitment is to Fatah, not to Israel, and he doesn’t care what Israel thinks. It is actually the Israelis who will be on trial for three months, he says. Israel has to prove that there will be a new approach to the Palestinian factions.
This man has Jewish blood on his hands, many times over. How…how can we be part of this??
Allow me to share a bit about Zubeidi and about his relationship with Abbas:
When Abbas was campaigning for the position of PA president in January 2005, he sought the cooperation of strongman Zubeidi in Jenin. Zubeidi had him climb on his shoulders and literally carried him into Jenin, with Brigades gunmen firing their rifles. (This was an early indication of the fact that Abbas was no "moderate.") Inside of Jenin, the crowds didn’t chant "Abbas! Abbas!" but, rather, "Zubeidi! Zubeidi!" Abbas, no fool, saw what the situation was.
After he became president, Abbas appointed Zubeidi to a leadership position with the police. At that time, YNet reported that Zubeidi had explained:
"I’m not going to stop any Palestinian activist [i.e., terrorist]. It’s obvious for Palestinians that there are no arrests on political backgrounds. We will deal with maintaining law and order and the security of the Palestinian people.”
I remind everyone that links have been established by Israeli security between Iranian money and Al Aksa Brigades in Judea and Samaria. (I wrote about this in FrontPage Magazine.) Col.(Ret) Jonathan Fighel, who was previously with IDF Intelligence and now serves as a Senior Research Scholar for the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, recounted for me an instance in which an Al Aksa operative from Jenin, in prison, told him they receive money from Hezbollah — which means Iranian money.
But we don’t even need Yoni Fighel’s words. We have the words of Zubeidi himself. "Without the assistance of our brothers in the Hezbollah we could not continue our fight," he said in an interview to a German newspaper in 2006. "They give us money and weapons. We pl
an our military operations together."
How ludicrous to imagine that Zubeidi is going to renounce his connection to Hezbollah and become peaceful.
What we need to think about are the instructions Zubeidi is taking from Iran, via Hezbollah . Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, head of the IDF Southern Command, wrote in a JCPA briefing this past April that, “A few years ago, Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigade in Judea and Samaria was bought out by Iran.” Here we are, sounding alarms about Iran, and yet we make it easier for agents of Iran to operate.
My assumption is that these Al Aksa Brigades terrorists are the same ones who recently shot their guns to disrupt PA high school matriculation tests (remember the story?). They did this because they weren’t being allowed to take the tests in private rooms and were afraid to be exposed, as they were wanted by Israel. They wanted to secure high school certification in order to get higher pay in the PA security forces.
There was a corollary to this story that I hadn’t written about: Ultimately they were allowed to take the tests in private rooms, while holding on to their guns. The report I read said they cheated openly on the tests, but officials were afraid to intervene because of those guns.
So this is the scum we are now going to "pardon." And doing this "strengthens" Abbas. Even if they don’t go after Hamas, the notion that they will help establish law and order is a huge joke.
A word of reassurance: The whole country hasn’t gone crazy. Key officials in the IDF Central Command recommended against doing this, saying first the PA should show action against terrorism and then it might be time to talk about whom to pardon. But the political echelon of the government, not the military, calls the shots.
The right wing opposition is furious. MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) put it boldly: "Ehud Olmert’s plan is a mixture of a criminal spin and sheer stupidity." So, I understand, is Avigdor Lieberman furious. But he, in my opinion, bears responsibility because he insists on staying in the coalition in spite of this dangerous insanity.
But wait, there’s more. Olmert is reportedly about to grant approval for Nayef Hawatmeh, the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to travel from his base in Damascus to Ramallah for a meeting of the PLO on Wednesday. The DFLP is responsible, among other things, for the horrendous terrorist attack on school children in Ma’alot in 1974, during which 26 people were killed. Hawatmen hasn’t been allowed here since 1967.
According to Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i , this a good idea, especially as Hawatmeh would only be staying in the West Bank for a short time. "Even though he was a man who dealt in terror, under the current circumstances he appears to be someone who can assist in shifting the balance in favor of the moderate Palestinian front."
Is Vilani’a on something? How precisely can a murderer as vile as this shift the balance to moderates??? Besides, DFLP officials have let it be known that Hawatmeh would like to stay permanently.
Again, not everyone thinks like the idiots in charge . Construction Minister Ze’ev Boim says we have a "bloody score to settle" with Hawatmeh, and Lieberman thinks we should let him in and then arrest him.
Yet another source of shame. Our government, fearing Muslim riots, remains quiet as damage is done on the Temple Mount. We are permitting the Muslim Wakf on the Mount — which is our most holy site — to act as if it is theirs.
The latest incident involves a long trench in the surface of the Mount dug by bulldozers last week, ostensibly for laying wire. This is in an area where bedrock is no more than a meter below the current surface, so that whatever archeological treasures exist are close to the surface. But there was nary a complaint from Israeli officials — even though gray deposit, which archeologists say is sure indication of "archeologically significant" material, was exposed. In fact, Israeli archeologists on the scene were forbidden to pick up so much as a shard from that trench. The Archeologists Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount — which has no official jurisdiction –is the only group monitoring this.
Oh for a government with Jewish pride and the integrity to stand up for what is ours!
Khaled Abu Toameh, a Muslim Arab journalist living in Jerusalem, has the pulse of the PA at a level difficult for outsiders to achieve. His work as a correspondent for The Jerusalem Post (which I cite frequently) tends to be reliable and insightful.
Abu Toameh has now done a briefing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: "What to Do Now About the Palestinian Authority?" His answer: Nothing.
"The Palestinians do not need more guns and military training. If the U.S. has $86 million and wants to help the Palestinians, then help them build civil institutions…educate them about good things. What’s the point in taking 200 Presidential Guards to Jericho to train them?
"There is no one to deal with on a serious basis on the Palestinian side. Abbas doesn’t even have control over his own Fatah militias. Israel should just sit and wait…
"It is ironic that the West is supporting the guys who are suppressing the moderates and people who want democracy. The West is actually undermining its own goals."
Would that the powers that be might pay attention here and in Washington DC.
As Abbas attempts to consolidate his power in Judea and Samaria, he is establishing yet another government — an interim or caretaker government — to replace the emergency government he put in place right after the Hamas takeover in Gaza, when he fired the existing government. Salam Fayad, who was appointed prime minister for the emergency government, has resigned and been promptly reappointed as head of the interim government.
Hamas claims — with considerable justification — that none of this is legal because by law a new government has to be approved by the legislature, which Hamas dominates. The problem for Hamas is that some three dozen of their legislators are being held by Israel; this has made them reluctant to call a session of the legislature. However, Salah Bardawil, who heads Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, now says he has written authorization from those in Israeli prisons, allowing him to cast their votes for them. The next move will be for Hamas to call the legislature into session and vote against the interim government.
There’s a lot of game-playing going on here , obviously. But what remains significant for me is this: Abbas has not officially disassociated himself from the Hamas entity in Gaza. Were he to say: It won’t work, they’re there, we’re here, and we are going to establish, only in the West Bank, an entirely new government and hold new elections for a new parliament, things would play out differently. But he hasn’t done this, at least not yet. The fact that he hasn’t provides a possible clue regarding eventual renewed cooperation between Hamas and Fatah.
The French Foreign Ministry has released a statement saying that Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government and thus cannot be considered a terrorist organization.
This is a reversal of the statement made last week by France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, after he met with families of our kidnapped soldiers in
The Foreign Ministry’s statement came after a protest by Nasrallah. More tushy-kissing.
I have long felt that essentially President Bush "gets it," and superbly, but that he has not the resilience to buck the political flack and negative reactions to his policies that he is now facing. A statement he made last Thursday reflected the "old" Bush and was encouraging. Said the president:
"The fight in Iraq is part of a broader struggle that’s unfolding across the region…
"The same regime in Iran that is pursuing nuclear weapons and threatening to wipe Israel off the map is also providing sophisticated IEDs [improvised explosive devices] to extremists in Iraq who are using them to kill American soldiers.
"All these extremist groups would be emboldened by a precipitous American withdrawal, which would confuse and frighten friends and allies in the region."
Shimon Peres is being sworn in as Israel’s president today. Not a happy thought in any event. What is exceedingly disturbing is a statement by Yoram Dori, his key aide, this morning saying that Peres would pursue a "peace" agenda from his new office. Dori indicated that while the president is supposed to represent all of the people (i.e., remain a-political), Peres would be justified because of the large majority by which he was elected in the Knesset. Talk about disgusting spin. But it would be foolish to expect more of Peres.
Arkady Gaydamak has presented the Knesset list for his new Social Justice party, but at the same time indicates that he thinks Netanyahu is the best person to be prime minister. The key question here, which I cannot begin to answer yet, is whether Gaydamak’s party will draw votes from Likud, thereby undermining Netanyahu’s chances, or from the left, so that he becomes a potential coalition partner for Likud.