It is doubtful that I will post again before the beginning of Rosh Hashana, tomorrow evening. I will pick up again after Shabbat.
There are times to put aside the politics in order to concern ourselves with more ultimate issues. Rosh Hashana is certainly such a time. A time for prayer and acknowledgement of the Almighty before whom we stand. For arousing ourselves to our full potential.
To each of you who will begin celebrating the holiday tomorrow night, I send my most sincere wishes for a Good Year, a year of fulfillment and health, of love and inner peace, and of prosperity. May the Almighty watch over us, guide us in the way we should go, and protect us from our enemies.
In the spirit of the holiday, I share here a very special video (with thanks to my daughter Sharon). This is the exceedingly moving story of a time pre-state, when the British forbid the blowing of the shofar at the Kotel, and of the brave young boys who risked arrest to do it anyway.
A few diverse notes in the way of politics and defense issues, before the holiday begins. Unfortunately, the world goes on as it is:
Last Friday, Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the US, described to AFP that Hezbollah has an arsenal of approximately 15,000 rockets amassed on Lebanon’s border with Israel, including some with a long enough range to hit the southern city of Eilat.
“The Syrian-Iranian backed Hezbollah poses a very serious threat to Israel…[It] now has four times as many rockets as it had during the 2006 Lebanon war. These rockets are longer-range. Every city in Israel is within range…
“In 2006, many of their missiles were basically out in the open, in silos and the Israeli air force was able to neutralize a great number of them…Today those same missiles have been placed under hospitals, and homes and schools because Hezbollah knows full well if we try to defend ourselves against them, we will be branded once again as war criminals.”
It was not simply a randomly-timed observation Oren was delivering. His statement followed an explosion in a Hezbollah weapons storage facility in the town of Shehabiyeh in Lebanon, a Shia stronghold. While several people were injured during the explosion, Hezbollah trucks were observed coming in to evacuate the weapons. UNIFIL forces were prevented from entering the area until the weapons had been relocated to nearby Hezbollah villages.
The IDF has video footage of this.
Much has been made of late of the greatly improved competency of the PA security forces. So much has that competency been exaggerated that I find many people don’t realize how extensively the IDF still operates in PA areas. And so I would like to call your attention to this article by Hillel Frisch of the BESA Center, “What Abbas Wants”:
“Hamas, and to a much lesser extent, Islamic Jihad, remain a substantial threat to Abbas, and the threat of a Hamas takeover in the West Bank has yet to dissipate. Dealing with this threat entails good security cooperation between Abbas and Israeli security forces – an arrangement in which Israel deals with the Hamas terrorist infrastructure by night while Abbas’ security forces harass Hamas terrorists by day…
“Abbas is essentially using the IDF to gain the kind of political and security foothold Arab leaders recognize as being essential to the art of ruling. He is assuming the role of the traditional Arab ruler – controlling all the funds, avoiding elections (which will only be held if the outcome is a foregone conclusion), allowing no opposition, and making sure that his picture appears daily on the front page of the media.
“Such security cooperation can hardly take place once any kind of peace arrangement is achieved. At that point, Israeli security presence in the West Bank would have to cease. This would leave Abbas’ security forces to face Hamas alone. So Abbas prefers not to make progress in the peace talks until the terrorist swamp is more effectively dried up. A Hamas takeover in the West Bank must be averted at all costs. This means that no substantial progress in the peace talks can be made before such a danger is dealt with.
At the same time, the pretense of peace talks is essential to placating the ‘Arab street.'”
I make a further observation here: Frisch speaks of “until the terrorist swamp is more effectively dried up,” but there is no indication of this happening. Especially is this the case as we are, very foolishly in my opinion, ceding the PA forces more control in some areas. Part of those ‘confidence building measures’ or something.
My own impression, based on interviews with a variety of experts, including a reserve general, is that the PA forces are simply not going to strengthen to the point of going it alone.
The World Jewish Congress just held a meeting with 200 representatives from around the world in David’s Citadel Hotel, which is on King David Street in WEST Jerusalem.
According to WAFA, the PLO news agency, Israel’s willingness to open her doors for this meeting is “a provocation to
the feelings of Arab and Islamic nation…”
Routinely, for Western ears, the PLO claims eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. In theory Jerusalem is supposed to be divided, with western Jerusalem to be retained by us.
But those of us who have followed Palestinian Arab statements over a period of time have observed that in many contexts in which you would expect reference to “East Jerusalem,” you can find only “Jerusalem.”
Now we read the truth of the matter expressed more blatantly as the PLO International Relations Department “called for all relevant international and Arab bodies to stand in the face of these activities, the Israeli aggression against the holy city, stressing the need for a national conference on high-level response to the situation of Israeli activity against a just solution to the Palestinian cause…”
All Israeli actions in Jerusalem are “invalid and illegal” because Jerusalem is “occupied territory.”
There is something profoundly ludicrous about this PLO position. But I take it with absolute seriousness because it’s a key to Palestinian Arab intentions. They want the whole thing. Mark my words, if (G-d forbid) they were to get what is called “East Jerusalem,” it would be their intention to use it as a first step towards getting the whole city.
Bookmark this article from WAFA and keep it for future reference:
In no sense do I wish to downplay the need for vigilance with regard to concessions our government might make. The dangers of setting the wrong precedents and of weakening us in a variety of ways are real and still exist. I made this concern obvious yesterday.
And yet, I see that there is a possibility for the “peace negotiations” to fall apart even more quickly than we might have hoped. I would be perfectly pleased to say that our prime minister played it prudently, should that turn out to be the case.
Who knows what will happen between now and next week, especially in this part of the world. What we do know is that Secretary of State Clinton is due to come to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for the next round of talks — it would be the first talks in our new calendar year of 5771 — and it’s looking as if the highly choreographed honeymoon is over.
In the presence of Obama, in Washington, everyone played his role to the hilt — and that very much included Netanyahu.
Now Abbas is raising issues, once again, that he diplomatically avoided in Washington. Just yesterday he told Al-Quds al-Arabi that he would “pack my bags and leave” before compromising on the borders of a projected state. What is more, he isn’t interested in compromise on refugees either.
And, while the US is looking ahead to the third meeting another two weeks hence, possibly in Jerusalem, PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told Army Radio that there was no point in even thinking about this unless progress is made in Egypt.
Egyptian officials, too, played their allotted role in Washington, and have now reverted more to type. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit has expressed concern about Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state. (This demand is important for Netanyahu in part because it would preclude “return” of refugees. But perhaps even more significantly, it would signal the end of the conflict, in that it would mean Arabs had accepted us here.) Gheit professes to be worried about what would happen to our Arab citizens if we were recognized as a Jewish state. Would we throw them out?
Not for a second do I believe Gheit is worried about this. He’s grandstanding simply to be obstructionist. But it is in Gheit’s home territory that the next meeting will take place, and this obstructionist view is likely to further sour the tone.
Said Gheit: “If the international community defines Israel as a Jewish state – such a decision should be approved by the UN.”
I hasten to remind him, one, that this region was allocated by the League of Nations in 1922, as being set aside for a Jewish homeland, via the Mandate for Palestine (which allocation is still valid within international law). And two, that this recognition was forthcoming a second time in 1947, when the General Assembly recommended division of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. There is thus more than ample precedent in international law for recognition of our state as Jewish. It’s just that the Arabs have perennially refused to acknowledge this. And this, clearly, is not about to change.
And, so, I’m heading into Rosh Hashana, prayerful that once again, and without delay, the Arabs will back out, as they always do. And then, I’m going to be watchful next week of how Hillary handles all this.