Last night I went with friends to participate in the reading of Eicha — Lamentations on the destruction of the Temple — on the Tayelet, a scenic walkway in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem. We sat on the grass on a hillside and looked down on the Old City of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount as we read. It was a stunning experience.
Today I attended shiurim — classes — for Tisha B’Av. And what I came away with was the necessity of being "b’simcha" — having happiness — for what is ours. (Yes, Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning, but the message of the need to have heart-felt gratitude transcends this; without that appreciation we lose what we have.)
And so, whatever we must still confront, whatever we must be alert to and fight for, there is, first, this message of gratitude for Jerusalem that is ours.
Tony Blair met with Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials in Ramallah today. After the meeting Blair refused to answer questions. But Saeb Erekat was more than happy to speak with reporters:
"We made it clear that we are no longer interested in talks, declarations or even initiatives. We are interested in the creation of mechanisms in order to implement all the ideas for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
"The economic issue and the building of institutions are part of the overall diplomatic issue…
"What is needed, therefore, is a mechanism for the implementation of all the ideas as one in order to reach the goal, which is ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state in the 1967 borders."
It’s no wonder, then, that Blair had nothing to say after this meeting. The message that was delivered to him was that the PA authorities weren’t much interested in the economic programs and institution building he was offering. If he couldn’t deliver on moving towards a state, they had little to say to him.
This is unmitigated gall. The Palestinian have done zero — less than zero — to entitle them to a state. They are lacking the economic base and the civic institutions that would make a viable state possible. If they were sincere about wanting a stable and self-sustaining state, they would be grateful for the assistance Blair comes to offer.
But, of course, they are not sincere. They pretend that Israel has blocked them from achieving the goal of a state and ignore their own self-defeating role in landing them where they now are. They talk about "occupation" but utter nary a word committing themselves to the elimination of the terrorist infrastructure that keeps an Israeli presence in their cities.
When considered rationally and objectively , this state of affairs is really quite incredible. There sits a bunch of bums with solid terrorist credentials and an enormous capacity for corruption and self-serving policies. Yet for a variety of very perverse reasons, the world is rushing to help them achieve something that should never come into being.
I would like to think that it would begin to dawn on the leaders of the international community whom they are dealing with. But I know better: of course it won’t. The Palestinians have this incredible sense of entitlement precisely because the international community has cut them slack over and over again. And watch — it’ll happen again now.
The Palestinians want a state? That’s fantastic. It represents a diplomatic breakthrough. Let’s work to get it for them. No one will have the honesty and the courage to say, "You want a state? First get your act together and convince us that it’s a good idea — that the creation of a state will be a positive for world peace and the international community." Silly me, to even suggest such a thing.
I mention one other matter here which must be repeated again and again: There are no "1967 borders" (by which is meant the lines before the Six Day war). There are only armistice lines that were acknowledged as not being permanent; it was clearly understood at the time armistice agreements were drawn that final borders were still to be negotiated. And yet the world buys this notion of "borders to which Israel is obligated to return." Buys it because the lie is repeated so frequently.
Bret Stephens, former editor of The Jerusalem Post, and now with The Wall Street Journal, today wrote an article about Syrian encroachment in Lebanon.
An American NGO with UN consultive status , the International Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, has just done a survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border. It was a scrupulously done survey that utilized military maps, satellite images, photographs and more.
The finding: Right now Syria occupies 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. This was achieved via infiltration along the border and accounts now for some 4% of Lebanon. In one location, those doing the survey photographed Syrian military checkpoints a mile inside of Lebanon. Assad’s response is a refusal to permit demarcation of the border between Lebanon and Syria.
This — in and of itself — shouldn’t be surprising . We know that Syria is on the verge of overtaking Lebanon again. What is notable is that the results of the survey are considered so controversial that the authors wish to remain anonymous and have kept it quiet. When the UN suddenly decides that Shaba farms (which is only 12 square miles) is Lebanese after all and Israel should give it back, there is considerable noise made. But here everyone is quiet. For certain, Hezbollah, who claims the defense of the territorial integrity of Lebanon as a prime raison d’être, is not going to say anything.
With regard to Lebanon, The Christian Science Monitor today carried a startling story: International (UNIFIL) forces in Lebanon are being threatened by terrorists who are assumed to be radical Sunnis with a possible al-Qaida connection. (It should be noted that these radicals were referred to as "militants" by the Monitor. But these guys killed six UNIFIL soldiers with a car bomb recently, and that makes them terrorists in my book.)
So guess who UNIFIL is unofficially seeking help from? Yes, incredibly: Hezbollah. Agents from Italy, France and Spain met with Hezbollah in city of Sidon in April, and subsequently some Spanish UNFIL troops were escorted on their patrols by Hezbollah.
Pray tell, then, how, are UNIFIL forces going to come down on Hezbollah for being where they shouldn’t and bringing in their weaponry? That’s a rhetorical question. They’re not.
The Monitor cites one expert who says threats against UNIFIL are such now that there is the risk that this international force will become so occupied with protecting its forces that it will patrol as little as possible.
A Kassam rocket launched from Gaza yesterday hit a house in Kibbutz Karmiya, which is south of Ashkelon. The rocket came through the roof and landed in the bedroom of the family’s eight-month-old baby girl; the crib was smashed. The child, who suffered shrapnel injury, was saved because her mother, on hearing the warning siren, had snatched her from her crib and run to a safer part of the house. Talk about terrifying.