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September 26, 2010: Ending That Freeze?

January 10, 2011

Here I am, returned from my focus on Sukkot to report on what’s happening with the end of the freeze — the freeze that never should have happened in the first place.  But, as I had anticipated, there is no startling news today.
Officially, the freeze ends at midnight, and there has been no announcement from Netanyahu that there will be an extension.  Already there is expressed determination on the part of the residents of Judea and Samaria to start building immediately. Arutz Sheva is featuring the 2,000 balloons released in the town of Revava, near Ariel in the Shomron, this evening at a demonstration sponsored by World Likud — 2,000 representing the number of new housing units that have already been approved and can now be started (at least in theory).  In a couple of places cornerstones were laid to represent the beginning of housing construction; in Kiryat Netafim, for a kindergarten. There were impassioned speeches about how we can go back to proper values for our nation now.
But in point of fact, the enthusiasm has been tempered, for we are waiting for the other shoe to drop: Right now the prime minister is asking that residents of Judea and Samaria and activists “use restraint” and “play down” the beginning of new construction.  Communication continues between our government and the US regarding some compromise on the issue. 
Reports continue that Abbas may actually not walk away from talks, as he has been threatening to do. Al Hayat, however, tells a different story (this one for Arab consumption): Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina says that “President Mahmoud Abbas will not abandon the Palestinian national consensus which stresses that there must be a freeze in settlement activity for the continuation of negotiations.”  He further stated that Abbas has requested an October 4th meeting with the “Arab follow-up committee” of the Arab League in order to consult with them regarding negotiations.  And at the UN on Saturday, he said that Israel would have to decided between settlements and peace.
So we’re going to have to watch the unfolding of events in the days ahead.
Last Thursday, the very first day of Sukkot, Obama spoke at the UN, and he outdid even himself. 
“We believe the moratorium should be extended…” he told the General Assembly. “We”?  The only “we” that counts is the people of Israel, and “we” do not believe anything of the sort. His gall is unmitigated.
He then went on at some length with regard to the need to make peace here. “This time we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem’s soil as sacred.”  But there is no tolerance in the teachings of Islam!   Rather, those teachings talk about Muslim dominance.
And he finally concluded that if we “reach for what’s best within ourselves” “when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations — an independent, sovereign state of Palestine living in peace with Israel.” 
For a more detailed report on what Obama said at the UN, see Anne Bayefsky:
What transpired, she says, “made it startlingly clear that the U.S. president does not understand the threat facing America and the world from Iran.
“…Obama chose not to speak the plain truth — that Iran seeks nuclear weapons — or to commit his government to stopping them, period. He said instead that Iran had not yet demonstrated peaceful intent and asked Ahmadinejad to ‘confirm’ this intent…
“…Ahmadinejad understands perfectly well that confronting Iran is out of sync with the ‘new era of engagement’ that is the trademark of Obama’s foreign policy. ‘Engagement’ looks like this: The president of the United States keeps talking about ‘extended hands’ and ‘open doors,’ and the president of Iran keeps building nuclear weapons.
“…President Obama played to his U.N. audience just as the president of Iran did. Obama made the centerpiece of his speech an overt squeeze on the state of Israel. Before a U.N. audience infamously hostile to Israel, he demanded that Prime Minister Netanyahu renew the moratorium on building ‘settlements.’ He made no such specific demands of the Palestinian side. Instead, he painted a picture of moral equivalence between the terrorists that seek Israel’s annihilation and Israel’s reasonable skepticism of a negotiating partner that still refuses to accept a Jewish state…
“Ahmadinejad got the message. Israel is vulnerable with President Obama in office, and Iran has no serious reason to believe that hate and terror will be on the losing end any time soon.”

At times like this I find myself pondering how it is that the people of America allowed themselves to be so badly duped that they ended up with this man for president.  What makes it difficult for me to have even a modicum of equanimity as I ponder this is the knowledge that Obama, with his policies, has made the world in general a more dangerous place and has rendered Israel in particular more vulnerable.
It is in light of this that I share a link to a video that delivers an important message to America: the second (non-politically correct) verse of the Star-Spangled Banner.
When facing evil (and what is evil if not the plans and words of Ahmadinjad??) terms such as triumph, just cause and victory are appropriate. “Engagement” is the way to disaster.
(With thanks to Andrew B.)
Obama was not the only one in recent days speaking out of turn.  We also heard from former president Bill Clinton (known here in Israel as “Beel”).  According to Foreign Policy magazine, last week Clinton, during a roundtable discussion with reporters, said “an increasing number of the young people in the IDF are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest core people against a division of the land.  This presents a staggering problem.”
The only thing staggering here is the outrage of his saying such a thing.  
I confess that I was not happy with much of the response to Clinton that came from here in Israel. Statements such as that by MK Lia Shemtov, Chair of the Knesset Immigrant and Absorption Committee: “The immigrants from the former Soviet Union…love their country and want, like every other citizen, to live their lives with security and peace.  There is no basis to the claim that the immigrants oppose peace…”
First of all, this equates dividing the land with “peace.”  The fact is that true peace would be undermined if our land were divided.  And former Russians are not keen on doing this — they tend not to support left wing or progressive parties.  But that’s their right (pun not intended).
This statement about Russian immigrants sounds like apologetics. 
Only one comment was necessary: It is not the business of the former president of the United States to make disparaging remarks about any element of the Israeli populace.  As members of a democracy, all elements have a right to their political positions.
The Knesset will be holding a hearing on what Clinton said.
Shameless, as I knew it would be.  Last week, both Abbas and Fayyad, meeting Jews in the States, delivered messages in English that were absolutely moderate.  Their skill at deceiving and saying in English what their listeners want to hear is unsurpassed.  What is there to do but keep our eye on the ball: remembering always their policies and actions and statements in Arabic that are the antithesis of moderation.
We are now dealing with increased violence — in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
Last week, a security guard driving alone in an Arab area of eastern Jerusalem found himself surrounded by an angry mob. Afraid for his life, he shot his gun, killing an Arab man.  Riots then ensued in and around the Old City, with police moving to block stone-throwing at worshippers at the Kotel as Sukkot began. Some ten Israelis were injured.
Today, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at Border Police in the Givati parking lot near the Old City; a search of the area turned up three more Molotov cocktails.  When fighting broke out on Salah a-Din Street, the police arrested four Arabs; a riot ensued with rocks thrown at the police.
Near the community of Teneh Omarim in Judea, a husband and wife, driving in their car, suffered a shooting attack.  (Yes! again.)  The husband was lightly injured, the wife, nine-months pregnant, moderately so.  Her baby boy, her first child, was delivered by C-section and is fine (thank G-d!). His mother will recover. Police, seeking the perpetrators of the shooting attack, entered the nearby Arab town of Dahariya, setting up checkpoints.  Clashes have broken out with young residents of the town, as houses are being searched.




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