June 29, 2008

Sign of Life - Time of Death

I have a deep sense of foreboding about the decision reached by Olmert’s cabinet today. This is not just about an unfair exchange or even the breaking of a principle in trading with terrorists. Ariel Sharon crossed both those red lines 4 years ago when he traded 400 prisoners and 60 bodies for the release of his drug dealing ‘acquaintance’ Elchanan Tennenbaum.

This is much more serious.

As I blogged a few days ago, the position of the Israeli government from Day 1 (two years ago) should have been to hold Hezbolla fully responsible for the lives of Regev and Goldwasser. By agreeing to accept an exchange ‘dead or alive’ this excuse for a government has let Hezbolla and Hamas off the hook and put the life of every future Israeli prisoner-of-war in mortal danger. There will no longer be any compelling reason to keep Jewish captives alive, or give them the medical treatment they need. Less still any reason to send a ‘sign of life’ to their shattered families.

And here we are not talking about people who are likely to breach the Geneva Convention. We are talking of subhumans who glorify themselves in shedding of Jewish blood as a religious duty impressed on them from the cradle. Like those who beheaded Daniel Pearl just because he was Jewish.

Tomorrow the papers and talking heads will all be pontificating about how this was the best deal available – that there was no choice. But there’s no escaping the clear fact that an enormous damage has been done to the credibility of the Jewish state and its deterrent power in the future. Damage to the morale of soldiers and reservists. And heaps of empowerment to Hassan Nasrallah as the Israeli prime minister who is ‘tired of fighting and tired of winning’ hands him the victory of a well-fed and fighting-fit killer like Samir Kuntar returning to the terrorist fold just as he had promised his followers.

You see at least Nasrallah keeps his promises to the little people.

But - surprise, surprise - I saw no anger in the faces of the Goldwasser and Regev families. It was more a feeling of resignation or perhaps a catharsis for them. Even the sole survivor of Kuntar’s butchery was prepared to give the government the benefit of the doubt. So, I ask myself: who am I to second-guess 22 cabinet members and most members of the families directly affected?

But there’s one thing that bothers me. That I just can’t get my head around.

What was the hurry?

If Goldwasser and Regev are indeed not alive, why is Israel rushing to release Kuntar and the other prisoners. And providing the further goodies that Iran needed to know about its missing diplomats?

I try to keep pace with Israeli stories as much as I can, but perhaps I have missed something. All Israel appears to be getting in return for this are two bodies and a ‘report’ about Ron Arad, missing in action for 22 years.

So I ask again: what’s the hurry?

Wouldn’t it have made sense to defer any deal with Hezbolla until Gilad Schalit was freed? After all, Hamas did make the mistake of showing his family a ‘sign of life’ with letters passed on from Gilad; a mistake no terrorist organisation will ever make again after today’s cabinet vote.

So … why not insist on Schalit being freed in advance?

That way Israel would get back at least one LIVE soldier.

Makes sense, no?

Most likely Hezbolla said they had no control over Hamas and that these were two separate terror businesses with whom separate negotiations had to be held. Olmert, Livni and Barak would easily have bought such a story – after all, they believe that terrorists are like cholesterol – there are some good and some bad.

The reality is, that if Eldad and Ehud are not alive, there was no hurry and there is no hurry. And there was no justification to finalise any deal, let alone open the Gaza crossings (under continuing mortar fire) before Gilad Schalit was delivered back into the arms of his family.

Whatever happens – this is a black day that will haunt Israel for decades to come.

But if Gilad Schalit is not home before Kuntar is fêted in Beirut, there will be a helluva lot of explaining to do.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One last thought on this subject.

The unrepentant Kuntar promises to return to killing Jews just as soon as the celebrations are over.

Surely it cannot be beyond the ken of Israeli geniuses, who invented the cellphone and Pentium chip, to implant something microscopic into such released prisoners so that they can be accurately rocketed not long afterwards, along with their next raiding party.


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June 26, 2008

What about the kid ?

Letter to the JEWISH NEWS

Charlie Wolf lauds the Gaza truce as a good deal for Israel which he claims has arisen from Israel's demonstration of 'power and the projection of power'. That this analysis is so far removed from reality proves the effectiveness of the 'smoke and mirrors' that keeps the utterly discredited Ehud Olmert in power.

Hamas has effectively said: 'We'll stop rocketing Sderot if you send us fuel and food and give us enough time to rest and stock up our arsenal. We'll let you know when we're ready for the next round … with a new barrage of Kassams.'

Is Schalit in the deal? No.
Will the arms smuggling stop?
Hell no … in fact it can now be continued overground - just as it does under the noses of UNIFIL in Lebanon, without risk of intervention by the air force so long as we - the good guys - are keeping our part of the truce.

And as for Charlie's 'power and hardball' thing … what's that all about?
Where has Israel projected power and deterrence lately?
In the surrender of Gaza and the uprooting of 8,000 Jews from their homes?
In the spectre of burning synagogues reminiscent of Kristallnacht?
In turning the other cheek to 9 out of 10 Kassam rocket attacks, with the 10th meriting a raid on empty Gaza office buildings?
What's intimidating about writing out million-dollar cheques to Abu Mazen and shipping him ammunition and armoured jeeps?

And then there is Olmert's ceaseless prattle about 'painful concessions' in giving up the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem. And saying that people are 'delusional to think that Jews may retain anything beyond the pre-'67 borders'. Is this a demonstration of power? It sounds more like a unilateral surrender of Jewish rights to the land of Israel. And what of Olmerts' profligate, and obscenely one-sided, offerings to free Arab terrorists? Is this a sign of strength? Bereaved families would say it was an insult to the memories of their loved ones and a devaluation of Jewish blood to almost nil.

The truth is that Israel has not demonstrated its strength and resolve in Gaza since the Spring of 2004 when Sharon's air strikes dispatched Hamas' spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin to his 70 virgins, quickly followed by his commander-in-chief Rantisi in just as many little pieces. That had them running for cover, instead of the rocket launchers. Since then, it has been kid gloves at best or outright appeasement at its worst.

Were it not so tragic for the Shalit family and all those who long for 'the spirit of Entebbe', the deal with Hamas would be reminiscent of Woody Allen's stand-up piece about being kidnapped as a kid. It went something like this:

The FBI surround the house: "Throw the kid out,", they say, "give us your guns, and come out with your hands up."
The kidnappers say "We'll throw the kid out, but let us keep our guns, and get to our car."

The FBI says "Throw the kid out, we'll let you get to your car, but give us your guns."

The kidnappers say "We'll throw the kid out, but let us keep our guns - we don't have to get to our car."

The FBI says "Keep the kid."

Get real Charlie.
The only side which is playing 'hardball' is the enemy.
And they are playing for keeps.

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June 25, 2008

Kadima and Mugabe

While we were all sleeping, the leaders of Kadima and Labor stitched up a deal to stave off today's vote to dissolve the current Knesset and make way for new elections.

Heaven only knows what bribes were offered and false promises made at the expense of the long-suffering Israeli citizens whose security and self-esteem have been so totally undermined by the morally corrupt and defeatist policies of Olmert, Livni and Barak and their money-grubbing supporters in $hass.

Likud's turncoat Tzachi Hanegbi - one of the many Olmert sycophants under criminal investigation - takes credit for the pre-dawn deal to keep Olmert in power for more unilateral surrender and dismemberment of the Jewish state.

Congratulating himself he proclaims: "the cloud of early elections had been removed".

What he really means is: the cloud of democracy has been removed.
For democracy is surely what elections are all about.

Mr Mugabe may be hacking the limbs off his opponents in Zimbabwe - but at least he is holding elections ... of a kind.

People like Hanegbi and Barak would sooner hack off pieces of Eretz Yisrael to keep themselves in power than even consider such a thing as elections.

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June 24, 2008

Wrong Signal

In an act of crass insensitivity to the Goldwasser and Regev families, Ehud Olmert asks the military Chief Rabbi to determine whether the two kidnapped soldiers may officially be declared dead.

In stark contrast, he still refuses to allow the Israeli public to determine that his government may also officially be declared dead.

Olmert's request of the army rabbi goes to the core of his skewed handling of Israel's strategy throughout all the negotiations which followed the Second Lebanon War and the current sellout to Hamas and Hezbollah.

It comes down to this:
We either believe in our legitimate right to the land or not.
If we believe - we must look and act as if we believe.
That is inconsistent with unilateral surrender of territory and endless prattle about 'painful concessions' to imaginary 'peace partners' who have neither the means or the will to deliver anything in return but more demands.
That kind of posture acknowledges that we shall accept whatever the enemy is prepared to give us. A pre-'67 state called Israel, but devoid of its Jewish heart in Jerusalem and without freedom of access to its biblical heritage in Hebron, Judea and Samaria.

The same goes for the kidnapped soldiers.
From 'Day One' the Olmert government needed to hold Hezbollah responsible for the lives and safety of these men.
By making this untimely request of the army chief rabbi, Olmert has given all that up.
Signalling that he is prepared to accept whatever Hezbollah will give him.

Dead bodies.
Like a dead state.

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June 22, 2008

JERUSALEM: The Final Frontier

A front page essay for:

It didn’t take more than a few hours for Barack Obama to backtrack on the promise he made at last week’s AIPAC convention to maintain Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish state.
But who are we to complain when Israel’s own prime minister chose to "celebrate" Yom Yerushalayim in Washington and was rumored to be carrying plans for the surrender of vast parts of the city, down to the last street name and alleyway?
During Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations Ehud Olmert admonished the Israelis to buy into his surrender and appeasement policy. To quell any ideas of retaining the Jewish capital, he declared: "Only fantasists can believe that in this day and age, and in the current situation, it is still possible to cling to the vision of Greater Israel."
That Olmert had strayed so far from the Revisionist ideals of his ideological mentor Ze’ev Jabotinsky was bad enough. But this latest statement placed him even to the left of Ben-Gurion, who famously said, "To be a realist in the land of Israel, one has to believe in miracles."
It was this fear of an imminent division of our national capital that brought such a large crowd to UK-Likud’s annual Yom Yerushalayim celebration in London the previous Sunday. In the front row I spotted Rev. Leslie Hardman. Now in his nineties, he was chaplain of the British armed forces in 1945 and one of the first Jews to unlock the horrors of the concentration camps. My own father at Auschwitz may have been one of those survivors who told his liberators how inmates had collected cigarette butts to trade tobacco with the camp guards in exchange for some flour to make matzo for Seder night. I fantasized a scene of the Jewish chaplain sitting among all those forlorn figures and what he might have offered them as some hope for the future.
"Did you sing Leshana Haba’ah b’Yerushalayim?" he might have asked. They would all have nodded enthusiastically. "Well then, let me tell you something," he may have
continued. "I have a vision that you will yet live to see the creation of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael with Jerusalem as its capital. And, after vanquishing all the Arab armies in six days, your children will begin celebrating their bar mitzvahs at the Kotel, where Jews from all over the word will come to pray under the protection of the strongest army in the entire region."
Even with their wits dulled by starvation and disease, this group of survivors might have regarded the reverend as completely mad. Nevertheless, stay with me and imagine if he had then continued to prophesy: "And then, having kept Jerusalem united under Jewish rule for 40 years, the new State of Israel will be asked by the world to give it back to the Arabs. And they will do so, with the stroke of a pen and not so much as a shot fired."
I wondered at the level of anger and sense of betrayal such a conversation might have invoked among those Holocaust survivors. Those who have survived to this day will be no less angry, perhaps more so for the memories of their fellow inmates who perished in the camps with "Shema Yisrael" on their lips and a vision of Jerusalem in their minds. And yet, the prime minister of Israel will not even dignify their memory by putting up a fight for something millions died for.
This appeasement of the world’s demands for the dismemberment of the Jewish state goes on against the backdrop of a new threat from Iran. At last week’s AIPAC conference, all the major speakers seem to have acknowledged that a nuclear Iran is not just Israel’s problem but represents a clear and present danger to the West as well.
Just so, I would venture to suggest, is the proposed division of Jerusalem. The future of Jerusalem is not just a Jewish or Israeli problem. It is an issue that has major ramifications for the free nations of the West.
We are in the midst of a world war commonly referred to as the "War on Terror." But when – and if – the history books are written about this struggle, it will be referred to by its real name: the Islamic War. A conflict between good and evil – between those who cherish life and those who embrace death; between those who seek to build on a century of democracy and technological progress and those who wish to bomb us all back into the Middle Ages.
And the frontline of this essentially religious struggle is not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but in Jerusalem.
To explain this I need to move from my fantasy about the chaplain in the concentration camp to science fiction, so much of which has ultimately come true.
There is an old "Star Trek" episode in which the ship encounters a fiery ribbon cut into the blackness of space. All the instruments go off-scale and, in a flash, the captain and senior officers are beamed away and immediately replaced by doubles.
But these doubles are brutal psychopaths; just the opposite of the decent men they replaced. Meanwhile, the real Captain Kirk and his officers find themselves on an identical ship, but one filled with consummately evil passengers and crew.
They had interchanged with a parallel universe through a rip in the cosmos. A world where everything was the exact opposite – love supplanted by hate, compassion replaced by brutality. Dead bodies littered the lower decks as the degenerate crewmembers used murder to advance their rank.
There is no better parallel to our present times. And no better manifestation of that rip in the cosmos than the Kotel Maaravi – the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish temple.
In front of our Wall stands everything that is good. An impossibly tiny nation whose people count for one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population but hold the highest proportion of Nobel prizes in all fields of endeavor that have enriched the world and the welfare of mankind. The only nation in history to have returned to its homeland after 2,000 years – and, to top it off, in half a century transformed a desert landscape into a world-beating powerhouse.
This side of the Wall swears in the recruits of the most humane army that has ever existed in the history of conflict – the only army that takes a human rights lawyer into battle against its enemies.
Perhaps more important, this side of the Wall is home to citizens whose compassion and humanity are second to none in the world. A people who have not known a day free of terrorism in the 60 years since their state was formed and yet are daily healing the ailments of their enemies.
And as Gazan children are treated in Israeli hospitals, their Jewish doctors live in fear of a phone call informing them that their home, or their children’s kindergarten, has been rocketed by Hamas.
Despite all the lies and vile propaganda, it is a fact that Israel has never once cut off the electricity supply to Gaza. But still the Arabs continue to rocket the hand that feeds them and Ashkelon power workers come to work each day not knowing whether their homes will still be intact by evening.
On our Jewish side of the Wall stands a people who can claim to be the most charitable on earth. Despite government cutbacks to maintain the essentials of defense and the huge cost of absorbing over a million new immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia, citizens have turned kindness into an art form. There are more charitable and voluntary support organizations per capita in Israel than anywhere else in the world.
From simple soup kitchens to terror victim support, these organizations have woven a tapestry of humanity and compassion that would be the envy of the world – if only the world’s news media were honest in their coverage of Israel.
As much as European politicians like to draw comparisons with Northern Ireland, most realists have come to accept that there can never be peace between Judaism and Islam. Irish Catholics may have wanted a united Ireland but they never incited their kids to kill every last Protestant as a religious duty. So long as Islamists use the Palestinian Arabs as pawns in their bid to remove all infidels from Muhammad’s peninsula, there will be no peace for Israel, no matter how much territory she hands over.
Then we get to the parallel universe that stands on the opposite side of the Wall. A culture of hatred and death that starts in kindergarten. A faith that has translated its holiest book into a screed of savagery. A cowardly army that launches rockets from schoolyards and hospitals. Mothers who celebrate the suicide deaths of their bomber sons and who send their daughters on postnatal appointments to bomb the Israeli midwives who delivered their last grandchild. Unrepentant terrorists who vow to return to their murdering ways even as their freedom is negotiated in exchange for a simple set of Israeli dog tags.
This may be the front line, but the demon seed has already pollinated in Europe and America. London and Madrid have had their own taste of 9/11 and there will surely be more to come. In just the past few days we have seen the architect of 9/11’s carnage using a U.S. courtroom to extol his pride in the Islamic mission of mass murder and thereby encourage other sleepers to follow his example.
Whenever I stand at the Kotel, I feel very strongly that this wall represents the thin line between these parallel universes of our time. By the grace of God, Israel stands at that frontier and has provided free access to pilgrims of all religions to the places that are holy to their faiths. The free world remains that much safer for as long as Israel holds that line.
As for all the journalists and pundits who love to demonize the Jewish state at every opportunity, let them remember that they are only free to do so because countries like Israel keep that rip in the universe sealed up. If the forces of radical Islam are allowed to seep through and take hold, their critical reporting will be subject to beheadings and their womenfolk will no longer be free to dress, work, and live life as they please.
When I stand at the Kotel I also focus on all those kvitlach; the hundreds of scribbled notes squashed into the cracks of the wall. Each one seeks help from the Almighty in some way or another: to cure a sick child, to find a suitable marriage partner or simply sufficient funds and food to keep the family going. But mostly, just a simple wish for "peace" – whatever that word means in the lexicon of this troubled region.
I don’t know if there is a similar wall or "wish depository" in the parallel universe. But if there were such a thing on the opposite side of the Wall, I imagine the majority of entreaties from the radicalized masses could be summarized by one central theme: "Death to the Jews."
So there it is: Jerusalem truly is the "Final Frontier."
And I am thinking: what better way to seal those cracks and insulate us from such a parallel universe of hate than with the prayers and pleas of decent people who share and cherish our simple human values?

Photo by Zalmi

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June 20, 2008

'The Future of Iraq' - CANCELLED

I had to chuckle seeing this caption on an email that came in today.

Here is the text of the email:

'The Future of Iraq' - CANCELLED
The Henry Jackson Society regrets to announce that Monday’s event with Mithal al-Alusi has been cancelled. Due to the breakdown of the biometrics machine at the Baghdad embassy, Mr al-Alusi has been unable to get a visa at this time. We apologise for these unforeseen difficulties, and will notify you as soon as the event is rescheduled.

Mr. al-Alusi is an elected member of the Iraqi Council of Representatives. He founded the Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation in 2005 after he was sacked from his ministerial position by his previous party, the Iraqi National Congress, for visiting Israel and daring to express the hope that there might be peace between the countries. He regularly speaks out against extremist parties and sectarianism, and paid the ultimate price for his outspoken stand when his two sons were killed in an assassination attempt aimed at his car. Despite this horrific loss, he has courageously stuck to his convictions and refuses to back down from expressing them.

Why do I blog it?

Well it’s just the irony of the thing.

Here’s one of the few good guys in a who has suffered personal tragedy and risks his life every day in the promotion of democracy and decency in the world’s most troubled region. And he can’t get in to the UK for a lecture at Westminster without his biometrics being in order.

In stark contrast sits this piece of pure excrement: Abu Qatada who is known as Osama Bin Laden’s spokesman in Europe. His other roles are spiritual leader of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), and the Tunisian Combat Group. In 1997 it is claimed Qatada called upon Muslims to kill the wives and children of Egyptian police and army officers. He is reputed to have been a preacher or advisor to al-Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.

He was freed from a UK prison because his human rights would have been infringed by holding him any longer or deporting him to Jordan where he awaits trial for plotting to bomb tourists in 2000. Why this drekk should be entitled to any rights in the UK is a joke, since he came into the country on a forged passport and has been living off the state ever since. The British taxpayer now faces a million-pound-a-year cost to supervise his parole conditions.

Poor Mr. al-Alusi.

One of the good guys, he sits in Baghdad this weekend. For biometric reasons he is prevented from delivering his lecture in the very Parliament of a once 'Great' Britain which now shelters terrorists and their human rights.

If this goes on much longer, the future of Iraq - and western democracy - may indeed be 'cancelled'.

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June 19, 2008

A Miracle for Olmert

In an interview with a German newspaper, Ehud Olmert hopes that a miracle will save his job.

If you’ve ever marvelled at how arrogant this guy is, witness his gall in expecting G-d to enact a special miracle for him.

That he has been thoroughly dishonest with the Israeli people and his colleagues seems to be accepted by everyone. But if he can for one moment be honest with himself, he will see that he’s already had more than his fair share of miracles.

With a reputation for corruption that has permeated his whole political career, it’s a miracle that he ever got this far. And having been marginalised in the Likud leadership primaries, he was catapulted into the PM’s chair only because Ariel Sharon was stricken with a brain haemorrhage.

Even without such divine intervention, isn’t it the stuff of fantasy and farce that a man so tainted with corruption, with a wife who is said to be a member of the antiwar Women in Black, a radical left-wing lesbian for a daughter who is an anti-security-fence activist for Machsom Watch, a son living in the US who supports the Yesh Gvul movement for soldiers to disobey their orders, and another son who refuses to serve in the army …. isn’t it the sickest of ‘miracles’ that such a person ever got to the top position in the state of Israel?

Come on Mr. Olmert … hasn’t the Good Lord sent you enough miracles?

One prays He knew what He was doing … because we mortals haven’t the faintest idea why on earth such an embarrassing calumny should ever have befallen our people and our state.


June 11, 2008


Down here in Eilat, I popped into my hotel shop to buy a Jerusalem Post.
“Sorry, you have to order it in advance” the owner said, reaching for a pen to take down my room number for tomorrow.
Looking at the selection of Hebrew newspapers, I asked him to remind me which was the least left-wing.
“They’re all much the same” he replied. “If you support the right, we may as well close down this place,” he went on. “As long as we live by the sword, no visitors will come to this country.”
“Well,” I replied, “if we don’t defend ourselves, there will be no country for our own people either. "
He was a pleasant old man but shook his head irritably, clearly struggling with the shopkeepers’ principle: ‘the customer is always right’.
“Okay,” I said. “Let me ask you this: suppose all our Arab neighbors and Iran offered us a solid peace treaty but with one condition; that we must give up either Eilat or Jerusalem. Which would you give up?”
“Jerusalem!” he replied, without a moment’s thought.
I left the shop feeling very sad that, for this man, and millions of other Israelis, this was all just about left and right.


June 10, 2008

Ok, forget the Hussein bit ....

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