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March 12, 2008: The Way Out

March 12, 2008

Dry Bones Cartoon today:

"Americans are now divided by who they want to lead them…Hillary, Obama, McCain…"

"While Israelis are united on who they don’t want to lead them…Olmert…Phooey, Yuck, Enough.."

But the bitter irony is that , in spite of this sentiment, Olmert still heads the government (I cannot bring myself to say that he "leads" us.)

I don’t know what the way out of this is. I only know that we cannot give up: We absolutely must keep searching for that way.


Clearly, a major key is Shas, which has resisted all outside pressure to leave the government (although apparently there is dissent within the party regarding this stance). It’s possible to watch a process now in which Shas makes a demand (threatening to leave the coalition if it is not honored) and Olmert accedes because the future of his government depends on keeping its members happy. Olmert is even willing to buck Rice in this regard.

Given this state of affairs, the members of the Shas faction believe themselves to be in an enviable position of power and are content to hang in there, congratulating themselves on what they have been able to accomplish that would not otherwise have been possible. Whether these "accomplishments" are all positive is a matter very much of perspective: re-creation of the Religious Affairs Ministry, money for yeshivot and Shas schools, etc. (See more below.)

But for all these political achievements, they are enabling a man who is destructive to the country, and it’s time they asked themselves if this is truly a wise trade-off.


In deference to US demands (and with disregard for Jewish rights), Olmert had put a freeze on construction both in communities in major blocs in Judea and Samaria and in Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem (which both the PA and the US consider to be "settlements").

But now, suddenly, news has broken of approval granted by the Cabinet for construction — 750 units — in the Givat Ze’ev community, not far north of Jerusalem. And it is, of course, Shas that has promoted this. This is one instance in which I see its influence as positive.

The position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that neither international law nor agreements between Israel and the PA prevent us from the sort of growth being promoted here. But the PA envisions itself as acquiring a state in all of Judea and Samaria and demands cessation of all building in any part of the area, saying this destroys the possibility of a two-state solution.

Needless to say, this has generated an international outcry, to which Shas is responding with considerable complacency: Minister Eli Yishai, head of the Shas faction, declared "if we can’t build, then we can’t negotiate. If this activity brings an end to the talks, than that is just."


What is more, Shas is now saying new building projects will follow this one. Notably, Eli Yishai is promoting, with the blessing of Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a project to build 800 new residential units in eastern Jerusalem, 100 for each of the students killed in the terror attack.

This would take place on a piece of land called Kidmat Zion, bordering on the Abu Dis neighborhood. It overlooks the Jebl Mukaber neighborhood where the terrorist murderer of the yeshiva boys lived (which seems to me poetic justice).


"Continued combat in Gaza will bring an escalation beyond what we have seen so far, before we reach a period of calm.

"We are not in a state of calm with Hamas , we are in ongoing activity meant to stop Kassam fire. There is no change in what we are doing. What awaits us here is further operations and [the soldiers] will need to be prepared again for action in order to win this issue."

This is what Defense Minister Barak said to the northern brigade of the IDF’s Gaza Division.

What does it mean? Possibly not much. It sounds at first blush as if he’s expecting tough action. I believe he, personally, would like to see that action. But notice that he talks about what "continued combat" will bring, which likely means that if they stay quiet so will we. What he’s telling the soldiers is that they must be ready, in case: it would seem he doesn’t expect the calm to last.


Interestingly, Barak also said this:

"We are not on the verge of an accord with [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] despite making supreme efforts. I don’t know if there will be a deal, but if there isn’t, it won’t be because Israel wasn’t willing to make peace with the Palestinians, but because there isn’t a willingness on the Palestinian side to make difficult decisions for their people. There isn’t an ability, so far, to establish a law enforcement system, a government, security and a will to succeed in fighting terror."


You may hear about this, but do not believe it:

Reports have spread regarding plans by Mercaz Harav to avenge the death of its eight students via violence approved by some of the rabbis. It started with a story, vague with regard to sources, that ran on Israeli’s channel 1 and then was picked up by AP and published broadly.

But it’s not so. In fact, head of the Yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, repeatedly warned students not to be violent.

The Yeshiva administration has written to the Israel Broadcasting Company and demanded an apology. If none is received, they will initiate a legal action.

Additionally, MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP), angered by the accusations, demanded of Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) that if there was anything to the story arrests be made. Dichter replied that following an investigation no evidence was found.

All of this has taken place in a highly charged political atmosphere. Sadly, there are those all too ready to see religious Zionists as dangerous "kooks."


Southern District Police chief Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev lost a leg in combat in Lebanon when he was 20 and walks with an artificial leg.

Twice now, he has gone to visit Osher Twito , eight, who lost a leg over a month ago in a Kassam attack in Sderot. Osher, who was heavily sedated, was just told two days ago that his leg was gone, and is struggling to come to terms with this. Bar-Lev showed the boy his artificial leg and assured him that he will manage fine. In fact, he told him they’d play soccer together.

"Having lost a leg, I know what he’s going through," Bar-Lev said.

"I am in touch with the family, and we are going to continue to provide continuous, round-the-clock support."

This my friends, is one more look at the heart of Israel.


My most recent article on Frontpage Magazine:





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