Last week did not reveal a lot of major changes in political thinking, antagonism and rhetoric. Israel began to prepare for Holocaust Remembrance Day. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry added to his frequent-flyer miles, as he made his third trip in three weeks to our neck of the woods. The situation in Syria is becoming more problematic and the south is heating up, again. But, much attention in this update is given to the Holocaust.
Holocaust Remembrance Day
There are always will be those who do not want to remember that the Holocaust is a fact of history. For some, like Iran and other anti-semites around the world, it is a matter of willful denial. For others, remembering that the Holocaust really happened is too painful for them, either because it brings back memories of what they, themselves, went through, or because it generates anguish and thoughts of what others went through, during a time when the morality and conscience of the world sunk to an all-time low.
But, the long and the short of it is that the Holocaust stands as a scar on the heart and a wart on the hide of humanity that cannot be removed. The best way to cope with it, and to learn from it, is to never forget it. That’s why Israel has a day a year specifically set aside for the remembrance of the Holocaust. That day began in the evening of April 7th and continued until the evening of April 8th. The media was filled with stories that would pull tears out of a stone. The radio had songs that would wrench the heart. Our national leaders had statements and phrases that were intended to encourage us and strengthen our resolve, so that the phrase “Never Again!” would have reality to it.
Holocaust Remembrance Day here is marked by a ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem. Memorial flames are lit by Holocaust survivors, whose incredible stories are told in brief before he or she takes the torch and lights the memorial flame. This year’s memorial of “Yom HaShoah” (“Day of the Holocaust”) included a theme relating to the 70th anniversary of the rebellion which began in the Warsaw Ghetto on April 19th, 1943, known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (note: Unlike the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is marked worldwide on January 27th, which is the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Israel’s Day of Remembrance coincides with the date of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, according to the Hebrew calendar). One of the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto was Peretz Hochman, who was scheduled to light one of the six memorial torches at the opening ceremony at Yad Vashem. This honor was never experienced, as Peretz died only a few days earlier. His wife, Sima, was given the honor to light the memorial flame. Speaking of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Dr. Havi Dreifuss, a senior lecturer of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, stated: “For both Jews and non-Jews, this even has become the symbol of the desperate heroism and resolute struggle of the Jewish spirit.” Although tremendously outnumbered, the uprising was able to last for 27 days. When it was over, 13,000 Jews were killed. The approximately 50,000 ghetto survivors were sent to nearby death camps.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his speech by adapting a portion of the Passover Haggadah (the booklet that is used to guide participants at a Passover Seder) and stated: “In every generation our enemies rise against us to destroy us. In every generation, each man must view himself as though he had survived the Holocaust and went on to found the state of Israel. In every generation, it is our duty to ensure that the Holocaust does not recur.”
The remainder of his speech is significant for what he said, as well as for what he did not say: “During the generation of the Holocaust we were helpless to prevent the destruction. Many failed to recognize the danger in time, and once they did, it was too late. The trap had been set, the trap door had shut. The gates of our land were closed to Jewish refugees, as were the gates of most countries. From that point, it became very easy to exterminate our brothers and sisters — six million of them.
“Hatred of Jews, which peaked in Nazi Germany, the Jews’ weakness in exile and the world’s helplessness — these three factors came together to bring about the tragedy of the Holocaust. However, in the depths of darkness, a major shift in the fate of the Jewish people began. In the death camps and the ghettos, in the Warsaw Ghetto, Jewish history shifted. That is where the Jewish resistance rose up again.
“That is where the spirit of the Maccabees was rediscovered. That is where the flag of rebellion was waved anew. In the depths of despair unlike anything humankind had ever known, young Jews mustered up their power to resist and their Jewish courage, and fought back against the Nazi enemy. The fact that they were defeated did not diminish the power of their courage, nor did it diminish the great transformation they instigated in the history of our people.
“The defenders of the ghetto went from being helpless victims to becoming brave fighters. Five years later, with the same spirit, the few versus the many, Israel Defense Forces soldiers, among them many Holocaust survivors, defeated the Arab armies that tried to destroy the State of Israel. Our ability and willingness to defend ourselves are what ensures our continued existence and our future.
“Several days ago, I bid farewell to a young lieutenant colonel who served in the military secretary’s office at the Prime Minister’s Office. He is relocating to the Negev to train the future commanders of the IDF at the officers’ academy. He moved me immensely when he told me about his grandmother Hannah, who survived Auschwitz. The number that the Nazis tattooed on her arm ended in the numerals 78. As luck would have it, the identification number that Hannah received upon entering the State of Israel also ended in 78. Her number of death had turned into a number of life in the State of Israel. Hannah, who is watching us from the audience right now, survived the Nazi inferno, and today, her grandson, an officer in the IDF, is preparing our future commanders.
“I am proud to be the prime minister of this people, but there are those who seek to extinguish this light of ours. Iran has openly declared that it intends to annihilate the State of Israel. We appreciate the efforts made by the international community to halt Iran’s nuclear program, but at no point will we ever leave our fate in the hands of others, not even the closest of our allies.
“I am certain of Israel’s power, and I have faith in the Israel Defense Forces. I believe in you, the citizens of Israel. We are stronger today than ever before, and we will overcome the challenges that face us, as difficult as they may be. Never again will we get to a point where it is too late. Never again will we stand helpless in front of those who seek to kill us.
“We will know how to defend ourselves. In this place, and on this day I vow: There will never be another Holocaust.”
There is no doubt that his speech touched and encouraged many. It was a speech that touched on history, bravery, resolve, confidence, encouragement and gave warning. But, it also was prideful and contained his vow that the Holocaust would never occur again. I cringe when people talk with misplaced pride and make vows that they, themselves are not able to fulfill, particularly when those doing so are politicians and leaders of Israel, who speak on behalf of the nation and as their representatives. “If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word ; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” (Numbers 30:2) “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you.” (Deuteronomy 23:21)”When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)
We have not yet reached the point when nations “will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3) We live in a world that has failed to learn from its past failures and that is, once again, increasing in anti-semitism and in acts of hatred, vandalism and violence against Jewish people. The prophets speak of a time when Israel will once again suffer and when two thirds of the nation will perish, while one third will remain, to be refined and tested by God, so that they will call upon His Name.(Zechariah 13:9)
With two of my children having served in the IDF and the third going to serve before too much longer, I, too, am confident that those who wear the uniform will continue to perform their assigned tasks honorably, to serve and to defend this nation and its inhabitants. And, to the extent that it depends upon them, they will act to insure that “Never Again!” is a meaningful statement.
But, if our trust is in the strength of our flesh only, then our trust is misplaced. We did not succeed against the Arab countries because of our courage or strength. Indeed, we were tremendously outnumbered and under considerable military disadvantage. We succeeded because God pulled us out of the ashes of the Holocaust and fought for us, just as He did when He brought us out of Egypt. Woe to us if we rely on man and make flesh our strength and turn our hearts from the LORD. (Jeremiah 17:5)
I would have expected that a national leader of Israel, who holds a Bible study in his home, would have made reference to the God of Israel, Who keeps Israel and will not slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:4). “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar ; The LORD of hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs From before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 31:35-37)
President Shimon Peres also spoke at the opening ceremony and, in my opinion, his speech was more to the point and touched more people than the speech of the P.M. Some of Peres’ statements appear below:
“The Holocaust will not sink into history’s gaping hole. It is here with us, burning, real. It resonates as we step on the stones of the ghettos. It hovers like a ghost in the barracks of the camps. It cries from the prayer shawls, the hair and the shoes that we see with our own eyes. It whispers from the tears that dried before we said goodbye. It is reflected in the photographs of the babies in their mothers’ arms. The noise of those murderous trains which have ceased moving still rings in our ears. The smoke has cleared, but it has not faded as it drifted into the sky above.
“Survivors walk among us, the Holocaust and its horrors are with them every day. Their blood flows through our veins. Their bravery accompanies every step of our lives. There was no greater horror in the history of mankind. Nothing can undo the greatest darkness mankind has ever known.
“The 74 years that have passed are more of a biography than a history. Millions of names are still missing, of parents and children, of entire Jewish communities that were destroyed (by the way – one of those communities is Ostrolenka, Poland, where my parents were from, who were able to leave in 1939, just before Germany’s invasion of Poland; many of my relatives never made it out and are listed among the 6 million who perished). There is no substitute for the culture, for the values, and for the talents that are gone. They remain as an open wound. We will not stop searching for every scrap of information, for a name yet to be identified, for a photograph that has been blurred. A third of our people, six million, were murdered for no reason.
“The Jewish people today are fewer compared to their number at the eve of World War II. We decreased in size, but not in spirit. We are working with all our might to fill the void. Physically and spiritually. To grow out of the ashes, to create something out of nothing, to defend. To foster our independence, and not to tire from efforts to better the world we live in….
“The Holocaust is an orphan with no comfort and a moral responsibility that cannot be compromised. It does not permit us, the Jewish people, to turn a blind eye. It must always serve as a warning to all of humanity.
“The map of Europe still contains local stains of anti-Semitism. The racism that was rampant on that land in the last century dragged it down to its lowest point. Ultimately the killings there damaged it as well.
“To our shame, there are some who have learnt nothing. Young [neo-nazi] skinheads. False scientists dressed in false suits. Yes! There remain those who repress the Holocaust and there are those who deny the Holocaust. Not all the volcanic eruptions have subsided. Crises are once again being exploited to reestablish ridiculous, yet dangerous, Nazi parties. Sickening anti-Semitic cartoons are supposedly part of the freedom of the press.
“The journey for justice and freedom is not over yet. When I hear the four words, ‘Let My People Go’ I feel again and again that the journey out of the house of slavery our people embarked on has not ended, and must not ground to a halt. It must not stop until slavery, in every way shape and form, is abolished — in every place, in every situation, until the winds of freedom blow away the stench of racism and clear the evil smoke.
“The enlightened world must ask itself how, so soon after the crematoria were extinguished and despite the terrible death toll the Allies had endured in the effort to counter the Nazi devil, the leaders of Iran feel they can openly deny the Holocaust and threaten another Holocaust. Whoever ignores the threat against one nation, must know that the threat of a Holocaust against one nation is a threat of a Holocaust against all nations.
“The Jewish people may be small but it they are large in spirit. That spirit cannot be burned in crematoria. From the ashes of the Holocaust emerged a spiritual revival and a political renaissance. Some of our people were cut off from the rest, but we rose and we built a state of our own. We lost possessions, but retained our values; We returned to our ancient homeland; We renewed our moral legacy. We returned to independence. We returned to creation, to education, and we returned to hope.
“We built a defensive force capable of dealing with dangers, new and old. The Israel Defence Forces, which was formed in response to the attempt to annihilate the Jewish state that had just been created, is also the right lesson from the Holocaust. It is founded upon the bravery of Jews in the Holocaust.
“Today, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day is also the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. There has never been a rebellion like it. They were so outnumbered, but their bravery remains as a model for so many. From now and forever! Today we salute their bravery with the flags flying in the wind of freedom. These are flags of exaltation, not only of grief.
“The resistance in the ghettos, in the camps and in the forests and the rebirth and bravery of the State of Israel all have a common thread. This involves dignity, renewed independence, mutual responsibility and kiddush Hashem [willingness to be martyred in the name of God]. As a ray of hope that continued to beam alongside terrible anguish. The ghetto fighters sought life even when circumstance screamed despair….Touting the heroism of the fighters is not just a matter of doing justice to their bravery. It is an existential need, for each of us, for all of us as a people. We have always praised their heroism, but not always paid tribute to the actual heroes. It is now time we do that. We have not always listened to their heartbeats or attended their health and taken care of their well-being. Time has come to right this wrong.
“The history of the Holocaust is not just a lesson from the past, it is also a lesson for the future so that we know how to defend ourselves against dangers and thwart them in advance. It serves as a lesson that we shall rely on ourselves, so that we retain our moral legacy, which withstood impossible situations. We must maintain our friendship with friends, and work with them to foster a better future, for every person, for every nation, for all nations so we can ensure humanity never again becomes inhumane. We’ll ensure that every person has the right to be unique — unique and equal. We will never despair. After all, we were commanded: ‘Do not fear, my servant Jacob’ because ‘The Lord will give strength to his people’.”
It is important to listen to what these two leaders said. Netanyahu left God completely out of the picture. Peres alluded to Him, in his last sentence, which is a combination of different passages from Scripture (the part about Jacob not fearing – see Isaiah 44:2; Jeremiah 30:10; 46:27-28 – it is God Who will bring us back from afar to return to the land and be secure, with no one to make us tremble; the part about The LORD giving strength to His people – see Psalm 29:11. If Peres had continued with the latter verse, he would have stated “The LORD will bless His people with peace”).
Again and again, our leaders think that reliance upon ourselves defines us and will protect us. We, too, have not learned from our past, which cries out to us to “trust in the LORD; He is [our] help and [our] shield.” (Psalm 115:9)
The nation came to a standstill for two minutes, as sirens wailed from “Dan to Beersheva”. Cars stopped on the highway and people got out to devote moments of silence in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.
Ours is a constant blending of past and present, which helps us look to the future. If only our eyes were lifted heavenward, the future would look all the more bright.
Lessons to be learned from The Holocaust
There are many lessons to be learned from the Holocaust. But, it is impossible to do a proper treatise in this week’s update. Nevertheless, what must be clearly understood is that defending our nation and our citizens is an essential priority. However, before the defense is factored in, we must have a greater understanding that there is a nation that has come home after two thousand years. Just as the children of Israel eventually learned that Egypt was not their home, so we must ask the question whether we can truly be “at home” living outside of Israel. A few years ago, there was a popular song here that included the refrain, “Ayn li eretz aheret” – “I don’t have another country”. I realize that the return to Zion is a touchy issue for many Jewish people around the world. The early Zionists called for all Jews to return to their ancient homeland. But, only a few responded and came, while most remained in the Diaspora. I often wonder how things would have turned out if the Jews of Europe had responded more positively to the Zionist call. Now, with anti-Semitic incidents increasing all over Europe, as well as in North America and in other places around the world, I again wonder whether the Jews of Europe will listen this time to the call of Zionism and come home, or whether they think that what happened then cannot happen again now. I also wonder whether the time has come for “the wandering Jew” to stop wandering.
Another lesson to be learned from the Holocaust comes from the speeches made at Yad Vashem, to the effect that we can’t trust the fate of our nation to the hands of others, “even those of the best of our friends”, as mentioned by Netanyahu. Speaking about the Holocaust, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said that “the State of Israel is the assurance that such an atrocity doesn’t repeat itself, and the IDF is the shield that protects the national home, a safe haven for the entire Jewish people.” Stated differently, the Holocaust has taught us that we cannot rely on the other governments of this world to step in and defend Israel when it is at risk. While this has a ring of truth to it militarily, it would appear obvious that it can also be applied to the diplomatic sphere. The world stood by as Hitler’s efforts to bring about the “final solution” of the Jews became more effective. Even now, the world looks on, as Iran laughs all the way to the circle of nuclear countries. We have no indebtedness to the world and, therefore, the world cannot tell us how we should act or what we should do to protect ourselves and our families from those who seek to do us harm. Nor should we allow the nations of the world to dictate policy for us regarding our national homeland.
So, in short, two of the most fundamental lessons, among many, that we can learn from the Holocaust are that we don’t have any place to call “home” other than Israel and that we should not allow any other nation to tell us how to protect ourselves. We have a God Who rules the nations and He alone should place a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.
John Kerry tries to further Obama’s intentions
It didn’t take long before the ideas that were presented during President Obama’s visit to Israel and its environs were given expression by Secretary of State John Kerry, who returned here for his third trip in three weeks, to revive the dead “peace process” and move it along. Upon returning to Israel, Kerry met with P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to get him to return to the negotiating table. Abbas, for his part, expressed a willingness to do so, but renewed old pre-conditions, while adding new ones: stop settlement construction, present a map of the proposed Israeli and “Palestinian” borders, release “Palestinian” prisoners, a promise from Israel not to withheld further payments to the “Palestinian” Authority and permission for the “Palestinians” to build in an area that is under total Israeli control (known as “Area C”). These demands were passed along to Israel, who would be out of its mind to agree to any of them. The “Palestinians” took a deep breath after what they considered to be a disappointing trip by President Obama. They expected more. But, now that he is gone, they have returned to their old ways, demanding much and giving nothing in return.
From the point of view of the “Palestinians”, the release of between 150-250 “Palestinian” prisoners would be a “trust-building step” that would foster a “positive environment” that would enable the two sides to meet. Haven’t we released enough of those prisoners over the years? Haven’t we demonstrated enough “trust-building steps” to get the other side to move? Of course we have. But, there is not even the basic recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and, from the point of view of Hamas, we have no right to exist at all.
Efforts were made by Kerry to try to convince Turkey’s leadership to restore full relations with Israel as quickly as possible. While meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, Kerry stated: “We would like to see this relationship that is important to stability in the Middle East and critical to the peace process … get back on track in its full measure”. But, Istanbul also has its pre-conditions, namely: first, to end all commercial restrictions against the “Palestinians”. Davutoglu hinted that full “normalization” between the two countries would take time: “There is an offense that has been committed and there needs to be accountability”, adding that Turkey would proceed carefully towards full restoration of ties with Israel, after compensation for the Mavi Marmara incident (where 9 Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos) and an end to Israeli trade restrictions on the Gaza Strip, both of which remain stumbling blocks from Turkey’s perspective. He also stated (through an interpreter): “All of the embargoes should be eliminated once and for all”.
The Turkish newspapers “Hurriyet” also reported that Kerry offered that Turkey play the role of mediator between Israel and the “Palestinians”. However, both sides have rejected that possibility and “Palestinian” officials in Ramallah have indicated that they and Israel have agreed that Jordan would be the mediator between them. In a take-off from Lewis Carroll’s statement: “The hurrier I go the behinder I get”, it would seem that the greater the intensity to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, the worse the suggestions become for how to accomplish this task. The White House’s efforts to mediate were one sided: give to the “Palestinians”. The offer for Turkey to mediate is conditional: give in to the “Palestinians”. The alleged agreement to have Jordan mediate is absurd: They had control of Trans-Jordan (also known as Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank) after the Israeli War of Independence and lost it in the 6-Day War, giving rise to the absurd claim by the “Palestinians” that we captured and are now occupying their land. So, Jordan’s participation would also be biased and based on “You took from us, give it back – to the ‘Palestinians’.”
Israel needs to stop trying to please and appease everyone. It should take the position of “We extended our hand in peace and friendship, but it was slapped away; we are willing to talk, but there is no one to talk with; we have other things that are of an emergency nature, so for now, no more offers; as bad as the situation may be with those who call themselves “Palestinians”, we’re willing to live with the status quo; unsuccessful attempts were made to get through our naval embargo of the Gaza Strip and we were foolish enough to agree to pay compensation for defending ourselves. Enough is enough!” We want the assistance of the U.S. vis-a-vis Iran and the U.S. wants our assistance vis-a-vis Syria. A fair trade-off between friends. Let’s leave it at that.
Israel concerned over Syrian troop withdrawal from the Golan
Over the past few weeks, Israel’s practical concerns had been focused on the proximity of the Syrian rebels to the Golan Heights and, of course, the firing of mortar shells into Israeli territory. But, the presence of Syrian, regular troops in the area of the Golan acted as a buffer between the rebels and Israel. Now, in the most significant redeployment of troops in the past 40 years, the Syrian government has ordered the withdrawal of four, elite Syrian divisions, comprising thousands of soldiers, removing them to the areas in and around Damascus, to fight the rebels. This creates a real concern that their withdrawal from the Golan Heights will leave a power vacuum that could be filled by various jihadist forces, who could turn their weapons towards Israel.
Obviously, the removal of Syrian troops from the area of the Golan could also jeopardize the future of U.N. peace-keeping forces stationed in that region, as some countries are reconsidering their commitments to submit troops to the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force. Due to the deteriorating situation in Syria, Croatia withdrew its “U.N.” troops two months ago.
Israel’s primary concern, however, is not the possibility of rebel troops perching on her north-eastern border. Rather, it is Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons and advanced anti-aircraft missiles systems that could fall into the hands of Sunni Islamist rebels, who have links to international terrorist groups and/or into the hands of the Shiite Hizb’allah forces in Lebanon, who are loyal to Assad and have links to Iran. None of these scenarios is good for Israel. As the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, Israel is trying to work through possible scenarios that would require immediate action and full military involvement. This is where U.S. pressure is added to that which already exists against Israel.
Anti-Semitism increased worldwide by 30% in 2012
Unlike opinion polls, which can have differing results based upon the different questions and different population groups who constitute the survey pool, statistics are usually based on undisputed, numerical data. On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry reported a 30 percent increase in anti-Semitic vandalism and violence worldwide in 2012. The report indicated that 686 anti-Semitic incidents took place last year, compared with 526 incidents the year before. A little over one third involved physical assaults against Jews, with some 50 incidents that involved the use of firearms. Among the places vandalized were about 190 synagogues, Jewish monuments and gravestones, as well as some 200 buildings in Jewish communities worldwide. The report also covered various anti-Semitic trends in public and political discourse, as well as in the “social media, which was described as a breeding ground for anti-Semitic and fascist groups promoting hatred against Jews.
Dr. Moshe Kantor, the head of the research center, stated: “As a Jewish leader, I can say that the [Jewish communities] in Europe are in danger. People are afraid to go to synagogue, to go to Jewish school – this is a new phenomenon and it is joined by several other trends we haven’t seen before, like the fact that neo-Nazi [parties] have not only become legal in Europe, they’re already holding parliament seats in Hungary, Ukraine and Greece.”
Iran – Yuval Steinitz, the Strategi Affairs, Intelligence and International Relations Minister, is calling on world powers to set a deadline to take military action against Iran, within weeks. This came as a result of unsuccessful talks held in Kazkhstan, which were focused on trying to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment program. Steinitz stated: “The time has come to place before the Iranians a military threat or a form of red line, an unequivocal red line by the entire world, by the United States and the West … in order to get results.” He added that such action should be taken within “a few weeks, a month”, without elaborating further.
Referring to the example of North Korea, he stated: “I think that what is currently happening in Korea serves to demonstrate to us all … how urgent it is to stop Iran’s nuclear [activity]…North Korea was somehow allowed by the international community to gain nuclear weapons and it is threatening to use them against South Korea, Japan and even the United States. Imagine what could happen within two or three years not only to Israel, but to Europe, the United States and the whole world if the fanatical and extreme regime in Tehran attains nuclear weapons.”
It should be recalled that P.M. Netanyahu had spoken of a potential mid-2013 “red line”, but, according to various Israeli officials, this time line has been deferred without a new deadline being set. Whether or not this is an attempt to catch Iran off guard is not known at this juncture. We need to line up Netanyahu’s statements, along with his vow that there will never be another Holocaust, and hold him accountable for his words. When dealing with maniacal regimes, we cannot play politics and make empty threats, particularly when the potential consequences of failing to act could result in exactly what Netanyahu vowed would not happen.
Hebron – A “Palestinian” prisoner in an Israeli jail died of complications resulting from throat cancer. He was 64 and serving a life sentence. His death sparked clashes between “Palestinian” youth in Hebron and IDF troops, with the “Palestinians” claiming that the prisoner was denied the medical care he needed and that he should have been released on compassionate grounds when it was demonstrated that his cancer was diagnosed as untreatable.
In the wave of violence following the prisoner’s funeral, “Palestinian” youths pelted the IDF with stones. In another location near Tulkarem in northern Judea and Samaria, firebombs were thrown at an Israeli checkpoint. The IDF returned fire and killed two of perpetrators. P.A. President Abbas responded to the latter incident by saying that the use of lethal force by Israel shows that it wanted to “provoke chaos” in “Palestinian” areas. I guess he thought that firebombs and stones were not intended to “provoke chaos” or could not cause lethal injury. But, then, what can we expect from someone who still denies that the Holocaust happened?
Ramallah – It is impossible to avoid the latest ploy of the “Palestinians”, which adds the demand that Netanyahu present a map of the borders of a future “Palestinian” state. Despite his chalking up frequent-flyer miles, Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts at shuttle diplomacy are destined to failure. Border maps have been presented in the past and have been rejected. But, such maps were part of on-going negotiations, which also went nowhere. Now, Abbas is trying to make the presentation of the map a pre-condition for renewing negotiations. This is absurd. Border negotiations cannot precede other issues, such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and a willingness to end all belligerency against Israel, including amending the “Palestinian” charter that calls for the destruction of Israel. If we start to talk about borders first, the other issues will never end up being resolved. It will be the classic situation of putting the cart before the horse. Abbas claims that he is willing to talk, but violence is once again in the streets of Hebron and other areas that are under the control of the P.A., with nothing being done by the P.A. security forces to stop them. By the way, the salaries for the security forces of the P.A. are paid for by a portion of Israel’s tax money that is transferred to the “Palestinians”.
Interestingly, one Israeli reporter wrote a column in a leftist newspaper last week that throwing stones at Israelis is justified. Writing in Haaretz, Amira Hass defended stone-throwing by “Palestinians” as “the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule”. She was widely condemned for going overboard. One excellent response, which was published as an “Opinion” in Haaretz is by Dr. Cellu Rozenberg, a historian and national security specialist, which stated, in part: “The Palestinian resistance movements do not recognize Israel’s existence, even based on the 1947 borders…The PA is an artificial creation, which receives artificial respiration from the “occupier” on a daily basis. The PA does not represent the popular mood. Hass ignores the fact that in the eyes of Israel’s greatest opponents, even the PA must disappear. The PA was evicted from Gaza only because of its desire to conduct a dialogue with Israel. Hamas eliminated the PA in Gaza, and if there are free elections in Judea and Samaria too, we can assume that Mahmoud Abbas will no longer be president. Hamas leaders and others consider Abbas a traitor because he recognizes Israel’s right to exist within the 1967 borders. The fact is Israel severed itself completely from Gaza, with the exception of commercial ties, and opposition to Israel continues full force…Hass writes: “Often hurling stones stems from boredom, excessive hormones, mimicry, boastfulness and competition. But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of ‘We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.'” There is a logical inconsistency built into this argument: If the end is correct, then the beginning – in other words the “symptoms” – is irrelevant.”
Netanyahu’s most recent comments
At a meeting with Secretary of State Kerry yesterday (Tuesday), P.M. Netanyahu stated: “I am determined not only to resume the peace process with the “Palestinians”, but to make a serious effort to end this conflict once and for all.” Following his discussions with Kerry, Netanyahu said that the discussions were about the peace process and concerned two primary issues: recognition by the “Palestinians” of Israel as a Jewish state and security arrangements. Israel is demanding that the “Palestinians” present their positions on both matters.
Seems like every time a U.S. Secretary of State comes to Israel, some unseen pressure is applied and we start to make statements and commitments that can only get us into trouble. First, Netanyahu sets “red lines” and “deadlines”. Then, he makes a vow that is impossible for him to fulfill. Now, he states that he is “determined” to resurrect a dead peace process and finally to make a “serious effort” to end the Arab-Israel conflict. We need to make sure that we have our “life jackets” on. It looks like we’re in for some rough waters ahead.
And That was The Week That Was, plus a little more.
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper ; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17)
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. Your builders hurry; Your destroyers and devastators will depart from you.” (Isaiah 49:16-17)
Have a truly blessed week.
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