Our enemies were up to their old tricks last week and tried to see how we would respond to a rocket being fired on one of our populated cities. There was trouble for the not-so-friendly folks in Hizb’allah-land, as its leadership is facing difficulties staying alive. We still don’t have a coalition government and concern is growing over what the makeup of the government would be, if it is formed, and whether it will, in fact, be functioning by the time President Obama comes to visit. Germany is becoming more anti-Semitic and anti-Israel and Turkey’s Prime Minister doesn’t like Zionism. So, what else is new?
Rocket fired from Gaza at Askelon
Last Tuesday, an advanced Grad-type rocket was fired at Askhelon from the Rafah Area of the southern Gaza Strip. This type of rocket is capable of reaching up to 80 kilometers (50 miles). It was reported that this was the first time that a rocket has been fired at Israel since the end of “Operation Pillar of Defense” (in Hebrew: “Pillar of Cloud”) in November, 2012. In reality, however, there were a number of attempts to fire rockets into Israel since the end of that military operation, but, fortunately, all of the other rockets exploded inside of Gaza. The Al-Aqsa Brigades (the military wing of Fatah [P.L.O.]) claimed responsibility, claiming that the attack was in response to the alleged “assassination” of a “Palestinian” prisoner in an Israeli jail. Israeli authorities deny that the prisoner was killed and allege that he died of a heart attack. It is clear, however, that the firing of this rocket, or any rocket, from the Gaza Strip could only happen if Hamas gives its okay to such an action. The only real Israeli response came from President Shimon Peres, who in referring to the rocket attack, said “Israel has an interest in preserving the quiet, and so does Hamas.” Apparently, his perspective of what is in Hamas’ interest does not line up with Hamas’ perspective.
Nasrallah flown to Iran for treatment?
Following last weeks threat by Syrian rebels that they would attack Hizb’allah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, if he continued to assist the regime of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, the media was all abuzz earlier this week about a report from the Voice of Lebanon radio broadcast that claimed that Nasrallah, was was wounded by an attack from Syrian rebels, which required his being flown to Iran for treatment. A different report, coming from the Voice of Lebanon radio station and later, another one from the Turkish Anatolia News Agency, claimed that a malignant tumor in Nasrallah’s brain metastasized to the rest of his body and, after initially being hospitalized in Beirut, he was later secretly flow to Tehran for emergency medical treatment. Unfortunately, there was no official confirmation of either report from any other source.
But, by mid-week, Nasrallah appeared on Lebanese television on Wednesday and denied reports that his health was failing, stating: “The rumors that have been spread and their effect on the region prompted me to quickly arrange an appearance before you to talk about some of the issues at hand…I would like to stress that all of what has been said in the media regarding my health is false…[In] order to have our attackers learn their lesson, I decided to make a media appearance and to stress with my voice and image that all of what you have been hearing is patently false. If more rumors come out, I will appear again to debunk those rumors too.” At the same time, Nasrallah denied reports that his his deputy, Sheikh Naim Qassem, was seriously wounded when a convoy, with Syrian military officers and high-ranking Hizb’allah officials, was attacked by Syrian rebels. Although it was claimed that Nasrallah was speaking from Beirut, the actual location of the broadcast could not be validated. If, in fact, Qassem was severely injured, it could have considerable implications for the leadership of the Hizb’allah, as he was the one who was reported to take over for Nasrallah due to the alleged deterioration of the latter’s health.
Israel did not comment on the alleged poor health of Nasrallah, but pointed out that in the event that another war breaks out with the Hizb’allah, many Lebanese civilians could find themselves in harm’s way, inasmuch as the terrorist group is widely deployed in civilian population centers. This was not meant to be a by-the-way type of comment by Israel. Approximately two weeks ago, Nasrallah warned that if a war breaks out with Israel, the Hizb’allah had all of the weapons that it needed and would not have to import them from its Syrian and Iranian allies. He also claimed that his terrorist organization had the capability to plunge Israel into darkness, threatening to fire missiles at Israel’s “ports, airports and power stations” and to blanket Israel with missiles “from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat”. It should be recalled that during the Second Lebanon War, which broke out in mid-July, 2006, some 4,000 missiles were fired into the north of Israel, causing approximately one-third of our population to seek shelter for five weeks. During that time, 121 Israeli soldiers were killed and about 1,200 Hizb’allah terrorists. Haifa suffered 12 civilian deaths, the largest of any other location in Israel.
After some four weeks of official coalition talks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a coalition government. As was expected, he met with President Shimon Peres on Saturday and received a 14-day extension to form a government. Netanyahu blamed political “boycotts” for his inability to form a coalition on time: “The main reason I have been unable to complete putting a coalition together until now is because of boycotts…A certain population with the State of Israel is being boycotted and that goes against my principles…I am doing everything in my power to unite the people [of Israel]. I think that as Jews we have suffered enough boycotts. We know that Israel is often boycotted in international forums and in such cases, we justifiably object.” He was, of course, alluding to the alliance between Naftali Bennett (Chairman of the Habayit Hayehudi party) and Yair Lapid (Chairman of the Yesh Atid party), which effectively forces Netanyahu to leave out the ultra-Orthodox parties, with whom he has had a long-standing partnership, even if they did not always see eye to eye. Lapid, whose heads the second largest party in the Knesset, with 19 seats, will not join a coalition government that includes the ultra-Orthodox. Bennett, whose party has 12 seats in the new Knesset, will not join the coalition without Lapid.
The political game-playing continues, with Netanyahu and Bennett hurling accusations at each other, directly or through spokespersons. The Prime Minister tried to appeal directly to Bennett’s constituency, pointing out, with substantial justification: “[When] Judea and Samaria settlement products are boycotted, we cry out, with good reason. If anyone should understand this, it should be the settlers in Judea and Samaria, who are subject to boycotts on a daily basis. Throughout our history, we have seen a lot of tragedy resulting from baseless hatred and civil strife.” He stressed that “the haredi [ultra-Orthodox] public is ready to accept [the] understandings” reached between Likud-Yisrael Beytenu and Tzippi Livni’s Hatnuah party on diplomatic and economic issues, as well as on shouldering the military obligation burden more equally.
Responding favorably to Netanyahu’s request for an extension, President Peres that he was “pleased to hear that you [Netanyahu] believe that you can complete the task of assembling a coalition within two weeks…The state, in its current condition, needs a strong, organized, stable, elected government as quickly as possible, so that it can face security threats and grave social problems and bring all its people together as much as possible.”
Bennett’s response to Netanyahu was to the effect that Likud officials “boycotted” Bennett’s party, sending a message that it would not be included in the coalition. “We expected to be the first, most natural partner to enter Netanyahu’s coalition. Despite the boycott against us, we recommended to the president that he [Netanyahu] assemble the coalition, without imposing conditions. Just like we promised during the election. But the message coming from Likud was simple: Religious Zionism will not be in the coalition under any circumstances.” The reason purportedly given by the Likud representatives was that the diplomatic process (i.e., with the “Palestinians”) would not move forward with Bennett (who opposes any agreement that would give the “Palestinians” an independent state on Israeli land) in the coalition.
Where does this nonsense leave us? Netanyahu has until March 16th to present his coalition to the Speaker (or Acting Speaker) of the Knesset. In reality, however, if Netanyahu is pressed to wait until the last minute to inform that his government is ready to be sworn in, then the Speaker of the Knesset must convene the plenum (full body) of the Knesset within seven days, to vote on the new government. This would bring the matter to a vote by the 24th of March, the day before the Erev Passover (the evening when Passover starts), which is the 25th of March. This is usually a very busy time and it could be that the Knesset itself might decide to put off the vote on the coalition government until after Passover.
So, with Bennett and Lapid forcing Netanyahu not to include the ultra-Orthodox, Netanyahu will have no choice but to start appealing to center and left parties, like Kadima (headed up by Shaul Mofaz, a former Army Chief of Staff) and Labor (headed up by Shelly Yachimovich), which will turn an intended right-wing government over to the political left, a scenario that would find favor only with those who seek to divide Israel and allow the establishment of a “Palestinian” state in the heart of the land.
Not to be left out of the picture is the appearance of U.S. President, Barack Hussein Obama, who is expected to arrive on our soil on the 20th of March. If Netanyahu manages to put together a coalition government bythe 9th of March, then the new government will need to be approved and sworn in by the 16th, only four days ahead of Obama’s arrival. That does not allow for a lot of time for a new coalition to work together and establish a clear understanding regarding government policy, either nationally or internationally. If, on the other hand, push comes to shove and everything is put off until the absolute last minute, then the possibility exists that Obama will arrive here, while we have a “lame duck government” in place, which is unable to make any firm commitments to Obama, placing him in a situation where, for reasons of practicality, he would consider putting off his visit until the new coalition government is approved. Otherwise, if he proposes that Israel agree to something that some of the coalition partners do not agree with, it could jeopardize the existence of the coalition, before it even gets off the ground.
If, for example, Bennett agrees to join the coalition at the very last minute, with or without Lapid, it could create a coalition crisis if, during Obama’s visit, discussion is held for the establishment of a “Palestinian” state and Israel is asked to commit herself to such an agreement. If Netanyahu brings in too many center and left parties and Bennett and Lapid join at the last minute, even if Bennett leaves, Netanyahu may be stuck with a coalition over which he has no control.
Of course, all of this is mere speculation and much will depend upon what happens with coalition negotiations in the coming days. Bennett needs to understand, if he doesn’t already, that he really has no choice but to join the government. His constituency expects it and will demand it of him. If he fails to join, either for personal animosity towards Netanyahu, or because he has shifted his alliance from national-religious right to centrist/left, it would be fair to conclude that his first term as Chairman of Habayit Hayehudi would also be his last.
Still, there are the “red lines” of Bennett, one of which is that Tzippi Livni cannot serve as chief negotiator with the “Palestinians” and that she cannot serve as the Justice Minister. The first objection is clear, given the absolute refusal to agree to the establishment of a “Palestinian” state. The second is based on legitimate concerns of the national-religious right that Livni, who, as Justice Minister also would become the Chairwoman of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, would use her position to prevent desired legislative action that would re-establish the national religious movement (religious Zionism) as a power to be reckoned with in Israel.
The nation is divided. Our leaders have become blinded by their own ambitions. There are threats from within and threats from without. Political positions change along with the way that the wind is blowing. There is only One authority for what should take place in Israel, but He is being ignored. He is the Lord God of all creation, the Holy One of Israel, Who does not change. He has chosen Israel and kept her and promises blessing for her and through her. Yet, the type of ruler whom the Lord seeks for Israel is “a man after His own heart” (1 Sam 13:14; 16:7). None of the present “players” seems to fit the bill and we are left to reap the consequences of the games played by power-hungry politicians, who sacrifice the good of the people for the sake of their own ambitions. We have a little more than a week and a half for Netanyahu to form his coalition government. We might still be surprised.
“Our enemies are uniting against us and we must come together.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu was briefed over the week-end of the meeting that took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan between Iran and the P5+1 countries over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. His response was simple and direct: “My impression from these talks is that the only thing that was achieved was to stall for time during which Iran intends to continue enriching nuclear material for an atomic bomb, and it is indeed continuing toward this goal…I must say that at this time our enemies are uniting to gather not only atomic weapons that could be used against us, but other deadly weapons that are piling up around us. At a time when they are coming together and uniting their efforts, we must come together and unite our forces in order to repel these dangers…I regret that this is not happening. I will continue my efforts tin coming days to try to unite our forces and bring them together ahead of the major national and international tasks that we face. I hope that I will succeed. I will continue to try.”
In line with the no-results meeting in Almaty last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a resolution stating that if Israel would be “compelled to take military action in self defense, the United States government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military and economic support to the government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people and existence.” But, Senator Lindsey Graham (Rep. S.C.) stated at a news conference: “This is not a green light to Israel to do anything other than defend itself…We will be there.” Those who proposed the resolution hope that it will pass before President Obama’s visit to Israel. What is not stated is a definition of “self-defense”. Do we need to wait until Iran fires a nuclear missile in our direction before the U.S. “will be there”?
We need to understand that the religious zealots who rule Iran are ambitious and ruthless. But, they are not stupid. They recognize strength, but like most predators, also sense or smell weakness. Up to this point, economic sanctions have hurt only the Iranian people, but have not affected the leadership. If economic sanctions are stepped up significantly and are coupled with a realistic threat of the use of military force, Iran may take a step backward and a door might open for full inspection and even a diplomatic solution. But, talk is cheap and the more that talk is unaccompanied by action, the less credible all the efforts of the civilized nations become in the eyes of Iran, who continues to laugh her way towards enriching uranium.
President Obama’s trip to Israel – What’s on his agenda?
Can there be any doubt that U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry intend to push Israel to the limit, in an effort to force an Israeli-“Palestinian” peace deal? If some doubt still lingers, consider the statement made by British Foreign Secretary William Hague last week, after meeting with Kerry, that “there is no more urgent foreign policy priority in 2013 than restarting negotiations between Israelis and ‘Palestinians’.” If Obama is coming here just to “listen” and become a bit wiser in his understanding of Middle East realities, then how in the world did William Hague come up with his statement?
There should be no doubt that such an approach would be counter-productive and, in any event, if doomed to failure, just like the multitude of prior efforts to force Israel into making a really bad deal. It often seems that international politicos talk with each other – or to one another – without having the slightest idea about the realities on the ground. “The concept of “Palestinian” statehood is nothing but a punitive construct devised by our worst enemies – the United States and Israel – to constrain “Palestinian” aspirations and territorial ambitions”. So said Professor Ahmad Khalidi, a prominent “Palestinian” advisor. Or, as stated by another “Palestinian” negotiator told a Diaspora Jewish group a few weeks ago, “We ‘Palestinians’ will not, i repeat NOT with capital letters, ever recognize Israel as a Jewish state, because this is meant by Israel to block the ‘Palestinian’ right of return to Jaffa, Haifa and Ein Karem.” If the politicos were paying attention, they would have understood that these statements simply repeat the same “Palestinian” position that caused them to refuse the overly-generous offers of former Israeli Prime Ministers, even up to 97% of the territory captured in 1967. In the light of such intransigent positions, why would our “friend” from across the Big Muddy want to push a peace deal though? It is clear from the outset that such efforts are ultimately doomed to failure, even if they bring about a temporary agreement, which will never hold. But, pride puffs up and power, particularly when it is abused, generates antagonism by the one being forced to do something against his will. It would not be a “change that either the ‘Palestinians’ or we could live with”
Turkish P.M. declared Zionism “as a crime against humanity”.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, during his speech at a U.N. summit on tolerance, held in Vienna last Wednesday, stated: “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity”. His statement was reminiscent of the U.N.’s Resolution 3379, adopted in 1975, which was repealed in 1991, by U.N. General Assembly Resolution 4686, which equated Zionism with racism.
The U.N.Watch, a non-governmental monitoring organization, criticized Erdoğan’s comments and urged the members present at the summit “to denounce remarks that fundamentally contradict the very purpose of a forum supposedly dedicated to mutual tolerance…Erdoğan’s misuse of this global podium to incite hatred, and his resort to Ahmadinejad-style pronouncements appealing to the lowest common denominator in the Muslim world, will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its four-year-old feud with Israel”.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Erdoğan’s statements, saying they were “hurtful and divisive,” and that such comments risk deepening Turkey’s rift with Israel. The Secretary-General’s spokesman said, “The secretary-general believes is it is unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership.”
A statement from Netanyahu’s office said he “strongly condemns (Erdoğan’s) statement about Zionism and its comparison to Nazism.”This is a dark and false pronouncement the likes of which we thought had passed into history.”
The Zionist movement was the moving, human factor that stirred the establishment of the State of Israel. Apparently, Erdoğan and almost everyone else present at the U.N. summit on “tolerance”, overlooked the fact that God is a Zionist (Psalm 9:11; 48:2 and others).
Anti-Semitism growing in Germany
After the Holocaust, all of the governments of German upheld their obligations and responsibilities to the Jewish people. Study of the Holocaust is mandatory in the German educational system and Holocaust denial is classified as a crime under German law.
But, in recent years, there has been a growing resentment in Germany against the Jewish people, who are accused of placing over-emphasis on collective German national guilt for the Holocaust.
The German “left”, which tends to “demonize” the Jewish state, is helped along by the sizable Islamic community in Germany, which now numbers over 4 million, which aggressively agitates against Israel and the Jews, who are being urged by some Jewish community leaders not to even wear kippot (Jewish skull caps) in public.
On the positive side, there is an abundance of pro-Israeli supporters in Germany, who occupy positions in all areas of German life. But, given the current tone of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiment, there is legitimate concern for the future of Jews in Germany. And, after the conclusion of Angela Merkel’s present term as Chancellor, the likelihood is that the situation will become even worse.
As noted, many in the German “left” believe that there is an over-emphasis of collective German guilt for the Holocaust. As the argument goes, not everyone was aware of what was going on. However, an article that just appeared in the New York Times Sunday Review refers to research that was done to “documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.” The findings go far beyond what even the “experts” in Holocaust history could imagine.
About 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps were located throughout Europe during the time of Hitler’s reign of terror from 1933 to 1945, including “30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers. In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites.” According to the article, one of the researchers said that although many Germans claimed ignorance after the war, the findings of the research reveal that they “must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time…You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps,” he said. “They were everywhere.” The link to the NY Times article is: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/sunday-review/the-holocaust-just-got-more-shocking.html
Optimism or Pessimism – a psychological view
The American Psychological Association came out with a new study, according to which pessimists enjoy greater longevity that optimists. Normally, I would not include such a study in TWTW, but such a finding could end up being a bit of good news for the Jews. History has shown us that, like Tevya from the movie A Fiddler on the Roof, we have asked God on more than one occasion, “Couldn’t you choose someone else for a while?” Maybe it’s part of our DNA to fret and to worry about this, that and the other thing. And we have good reason to do so. Given the events that have surrounded our existence, we are always looking over our shoulder to see if someone is trying to sneak up behind us. And, having made it to this point, we are a constant reminder to the world that God performed and continues to perform miracles and that He has kept us alive to fulfill His promises concerning us as a people. We will continue to exist, despite attempts by nations and rulers to eliminate us, because God is faithful to His Word. (see Jer. 31:35-37)
I won’t get into the details of the study, other than to point out the conclusion, that those who are pessimistic about the future tend to be more careful about health and safety matters, whereas those who see the glass as “half full” tend to be somewhat less careful and experience greater degrees of disappointment when things don’t work out as expected. Of course, there are a lot of variables that make up the equation and the study’s findings should not be considered as being etched in stone. In any event, we are encouraged not to fret, being assured that in a little while “the wicked man will be no more”. (Psalm 37:1, 7, 10)
Still, as a whole, we all too often tend to look at our difficult past and project it into the future. So, if we experience a blessing of sorts, we begin to anticipate that it won’t last too long, before someone or something will try to rob us of it. For example, if we’re told that it will be a beautiful day today, we will joyfully, but pessimistically, say “I’m afraid you’re right.” But, with all our pessimistic fretting, God has given us an attitude of unbeatable optimism. So, we can look at difficult circumstances and say, “We were able to make it past Pharaoh, we’ll get through this, as well.”
And That was The Week That Was.
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness and her salvation like a torch that is burning.” (Isaiah 62:1)
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind The Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7)
Have a truly blessed week. Keep looking up and don’t let the devil get you down.