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September 11, 2007: Gratitude

September 11, 2007

On this, the last posting before Rosh Hashana , I want to begin with the positive, and keep that positive in mind throughout.

Isi Leibler, who is chair of the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and very clear-eyed regarding all we face, has written an upbeat essay, "Toward a year of renewal."

Says Leibler:

"There is no denying that 5767 was another awful year. But as we usher in the new year on Wednesday evening, let us restrain our masochistic inclinations and – without detracting from the very real threats confronting us – end the prevailing atmosphere of gloom and doom…

"Despite daily predictions of an impending war, our position today is unquestionably better than in the years immediately following the Oslo catastrophe…

"In time, the Hamas putsch in Gaza may even prove to have been a blessing in disguise. After all, ‘moderate’ Fatah terrorists murdered far more Israelis than did Hamas. The difference was that duplicitous Fatah leaders – including Mahmoud Abbas – paid lip service to ‘peace’ while continuing to sanctify terror. In contrast, Hamas explicitly proclaims its objective of destroying Israel. In doing so, it deprives apologists for the Palestinians from promoting moral equivalence, babbling about cycles of violence, and obfuscating the distinctions between victims and killers.

"…we still remain under the cloud of the disastrous Second Lebanon War. But we must remind ourselves that the failures were due to our inept leaders, not the people, who displayed extraordinary courage and determination…

"Corruption did indeed reach obscene levels. But the tide has unquestionably turned…

"The ongoing presence of failed political leaders is Israel’s Achilles heel. But their days are numbered…

"On Rosh Hashana it is incumbent to remind ourselves that despite all our problems, we remain the most fortunate and blessed Jewish generation in over 2,000 years of exile and persecution, and that Israel still stands out as the greatest success story of our century past….

"There was never a period in Jewish history when we did not face adversaries. Yet we always triumphed."

Let it be so in the year ahead. Amen and amen.


In the wee hours of last night, a Kassam rocket was launched that landed in the Zikim military base just north of Gaza; 67 soldiers who were scheduled to complete basic training just hours later were wounded when their unfortified tent took a direct hit. One soldier lost his leg.

Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas called it "a victory from God."


In spite of this attack, the government still has not declared intention to launch a major operation in Gaza. Among the reasons given are the ones we’ve heard before: there is still tension in the north and the holidays are coming.

And then there was this one: "It would be problematic to carry out a major operation now of all times, as a reaction to the attack on IDF soldiers – after all, there were civilians wounded in the past as well. We should not create a situation where it appears that the army is only defending its soldiers."

But from many officials, inside and outside the government, there is great anger at this holding back.

Said Eli Yishai, head of Shas, which is in the coalition: "The hourglass has long since run out, a red line has been crossed,…This is not the time for empty gestures – and this is not the time to attend an international conference."

From MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) : "Instead of embracing Abbas and freeing murderers, the government should be fulfilling its duty to defend the citizens of the State of Israel and ordering a ground operation in Gaza…we must not sit back and wait for the next tragedy to strike."


Our excuse for a foreign minister , Tzipi Livni, in meeting with the foreign minister of France today, explained that "We need to use other means, not only military ones, in the Gaza Strip. But we need to say the truth, that other means will not stop the Kassams."

Now, if you understand this, you are a lot more savvy than I.


The last day of the counter-terrorism conference in Herzliya was today, and many there spoke about the need to act in Gaza. Said Uzi Landau, a former minister of internal security, who resigned from Sharon’s government over the "disengagement":

"We were promised that once we leave Gaza, if any more rockets came our way, Gaza would shake, and the world would understand."


Ma’an, a Palestinian news agency, is reporting that Olmert and Abbas have agreed on principles to bring to the conference. Allegedly the document, which hasn’t been signed, includes Jerusalem as the capital of two states, withdrawal from the West Bank and dismantling of settlements.

As much as I don’t trust Olmert and realize we have to stay alert for all possibilities, I also note that there are a lot of stories flying from the Palestinian side that are generated to put additional pressure on us and create a certain atmosphere. There is no confirmation of this Ma’an report.

Our government says that "no agreement or draft has been written, and when one will exist it would be brought to the government for approval."

Israel Radio yesterday reported that the meeting between Olmert and Abbas was tense because Olmert refused to draw up, ahead of the conference, a detailed timeframe for the resolution of the conflict .


According to an (unnamed) IDF officer , most of the roadblocks in Judea and Samaria have already been dismantled, with the ones that remain critical for security. Most dismantled months ago and this is the first we hear about it? Most dismantled and the Palestinians complaining about how they have no freedom of movement? Most dismantled and IDF officials are routinely cited as saying the checkpoints must not come down? Is this so? Is anything what it seems to be?

Israel Radio cited this officer as saying that those Al Aksa terrorists who had been granted "amnesty" are still being monitored. Many, he said, have ceased their terrorist activities, even if most of them have not actually surrendered their weapons. Now, the deal was that they were required to surrender their weapons, and we’re watching them and see that they haven’t and we don’t protest? And has it occurred to this officer — or his superiors — that perhaps they may have temporarily ceased their terror activity precisely because they know they’re being watched?

This same officer also noted that the PA is not targeting Hamas terrorists in Judea and Samaria, as Israel has asked them to do. Instead, they are going after things like camps and charities affiliated with Hamas, giving the impression that they are doing something.


I have now picked up three different versions of what Israel was doing in Syria and have no confirmation on any. It seems rather likely at this point that we’re not looking at a fluke or a routine sortie to take photos. This may have been a major military operation, and, if so, one that increases our deterrence in a definitive way. Perhaps more to follow.


Perhaps in the weeks ahead those who have their heads on straight will have had enough of Olmert and Livni and Ramon. Perhaps the government’s reluctance to take necessary action in Gaza in the face of injury to our people, coupled with its dangerous eagerness to participate in a conference that will seek to push us to the ’67 lines, will bring people to act at last. The comments by Yishai about our not attending the conference are encouraging, as is a statement by him I read about not staying in the government if there are withdrawals planned.

We need Yishai to pull his party out of the coalition and Avigdor Lieberman, his. At a minimum. Perhaps it is coming at long last.

We must pray for this with all of our hearts , and work towards this with all of our beings.

"There was never a period in Jewish history when we did not face adversaries. Yet we always triumphed."




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