Lots of interesting things happened this past week, but the primary focus was on failed international negotiations, threats from our neighbors, Syrian missiles pointed towards Tel-aviv and shooting on the Golan Heights. There were public demonstrations and economic issues that occupied much of the media here, but I opted not to address them here this week. Of course, there were the political battles and struggles that are a regular part of our society. We took a break from these issues as well and focused, just a bit, on the President of Israel and his efforts to involve the Vatican in the affairs of Israel. More remains to be discussed, but at least there are matters presented for prayer and further inquiry.
P.M. Netanyahu fails to persuade Putin not to sell missiles to Syria.
From many perspectives, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a shrewd and persuasive politician. He knows how to pull the right strings and to press the right buttons. But, sometimes a situation develops that requires more than what strings and buttons can accomplish. And sometimes, friendly discussions have not-so-friendly consequences.
Such was the case last week, when Netanyahu flew to Russia in an effort to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin not to go through with Moscow’s agreement, signed in 2010, to sell S-300 anti-aircraft missile batteries to Damascus. The deal with Syria is similar to one signed with Iran, but until now, the missiles had not been delivered to either country.
Although sources in the Prime Minister’s Office reported that the meeting between the two leaders was “warm and productive” and that “a wide range of issues were discussed, including the arms deal and its ramifications”, Netanyahu pointed out that the sale of such missile batteries to Syria “could destabilize the region.” The understanding, of course, is that such weapons could fall into the hands of those seeking to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or worse, the Hizb’allah.
Avi Magen, a former Israeli Ambassador to Russia, who now serves with the Institute for National Security Studies here, said that the purpose of Netanyahu’s visit had more to do with the possibility of a “Western offensive” in Syria than the issue of the arms sale, an offensive which is strongly opposed by Russia. Magen added: “Russia has gradually become a key player on the Syrian front, implementing a strategy that bars any outside intervention, which enables Assad to fight the rebels. Simultaneously, Russia has been pursuing alternatives that could end the conflict but would still ensure Syria standing in the Middle East, and allow it to maintain the radical Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis.” The civil war in Syria has claimed some 80,000 lives over the last two years.
Israel will not allow the transfer of “game-changing” weapons to the Hizb’allah.
A senior Israeli official in the know informed The New York Times that “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region. If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies, he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.” Up to this point, Israel has made a concerted effort not to become involved in Syria’s civil war, but that would obviously change, if Assad decides to attack Israel in one way or another.
In this regard, Zeev Elkin, the Deputy Foreign Minister, who was with P.M. Netanyahu during his trip to Russia, noted that the report in the New York Times was not a threat, but a statement of fact: “We are not threatening him but we do have our clear red lines. We will not intervene in the Syrian civil war but we have very clear positions and the transfer of any game-changing weapons is a red line … and we will do everything necessary to stop them.”
Syrian missiles are pointed toward Israel.
Events in the Middle East rarely remain stable for an extended period of time. Israel’s statements of its intention not to become embroiled in Syria’s two-year civil war may soon change. According to a report in The Sunday Times, domestically-produced Tishreen missiles, carrying 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) warheads have been deployed in Syria, with attack coordinates set for Tel Aviv, and standing orders to fire them, if Israel strikes Syria.
In response to the above report, Prime Minister Netanyahu informed the cabinet that Israel was prepared for any scenario, stating: “The Middle East is currently facing one of the most sensitive eras it has seen in decades, and at the center: the escalating shock waves in Syria…We are closely monitoring the developments and changes there, and we are prepared for any scenario…The Israeli government is acting responsibly, is determined and calculated, and will ensure that Israel’s top priority is preserved — the security of the citizens of Israel in accordance with the policy that we have outlined — and prevent, as much as possible, the transfer of advanced weapons into the hands of Hezbollah and terror organizations. We will take action to protect the security interests of the citizens of Israel in the future as well.”
The deployment of the Tishreen missiles, if true, indicates that Syria has moved the crisis to a new level, vis-a-vis Israel. As noted just before the weekend by a senior Israeli intelligence official, Jerusalem would prefer that Assad’s regime would continue, rather than face an uncertain, rebel-led regime if Assad is removed. As he stated: “Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos and extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there.” However, not everyone agrees with this assessment, as revealed by the words of IDF Spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai: “I don’t know who this unnamed source is. I have learned a lot over the last two years about the calculated use of such remarks to achieve this or that objective. Since I am very well acquainted with the official position of the Military Intelligence Directorate, I find this quote to be implausible, and I would even go as far as to say that it sounds baseless.” It is difficult to imagine that there is no basis to the statement of the official, as Israel has been keeping a close eye on the developments within Syria, particularly as Assad’s defeat could create untold havoc with regard to the use of Syria’s very sizable cache of sophisticated weaponry, either by the rebel forces or the Hizb’allah. While the latter has an identifiable leader and a location, the former does not, at least at this point.
Notwithstanding Israel’s “hands-off approach with regard to the Syrian uprising”, Assad claimed in a recent interview with an Argentinian newspaper that “Israel is working with the Syrian opposition against me…Israel directly supports terrorist groups. It gives them logistical support, and tells them which sites to attack and how to carry out those attacks.” Referring to the recent attacks against Syrian weapons locations and shipments, Assad added: “Rebels attacked radar installations that were part of our aerial defense system. The system is able to track any plane that approaches our territory, especially from Israel. The Israeli attacks were carried out to raise the rebels’ morale.” He also denied attacking his own citizens with chemical weapons, a denial which the world media is able to clearly and easily refute.
During the above interview, Assad took the opportunity to express doubt concerning the reality of the Holocaust, stating: “I am no historian as to know exactly what went on there, but we all know that history is dictated by those who write it and we have gotten false historical accounts on more than one occasion.”
The relatively passive attitude of Israel may change in a moment, as the situation in the region of the Golan Heights continues to heat up.
Is Assad’s continued rule really good for Israel?
The question of whether or not the continuation of Assad’s regime is good, or bad, for Israel, has proponents and opponents on both sides. At first, it was clear: Assad needs to go. But, as the Syrian “Arab Spring” turned into polluted waters, it slowly became more and more difficult to decide who are the good guys from the bad guys.
Obviously, there is a valid argument for wanting to upset the Iran-Syria-Hizb’allah triumvirate, all of whom have a common goal of downing the “West” and, of course, Israel. The fact that weapons continue to flow from Iran to Syria, coupled with the attempts to continue that flow from Syria to the Hizb’allah in Lebanon, is a major cause for concern and Israel has pledged not to allow that to happen. The success of such weapons transfer could radically upset Israel’s strategic military edge in the region. The toppling of Assad’s regime would sever the lifeline of that axis to the Hizb’allah.
Alternatively, and as already pointed out, there is no central authority among the rebel forces, who could command the allegiance of all of those who seek Assad’s immediate departure, not only from power, but from this world. Indeed, given the fact that there are extreme jihadist and al-Qaida elements among the opposition forces, this could lead to a free-for-all drive for power and the mighty will dominate over the less powerful. That would clearly open for the door for re-directing the energies of those opposition forces against Israel, which would be a goal that could and probably would unite the various military forces, including some who are presently part of the Syrian army. We’ve seen this before with the situation in Egypt and it is still on-going. If the Syrian border becomes like the Sinai Peninsula, Israel will have its hands full trying to maintain a sense of order along its northeastern border, which could quickly become a haven for all kinds of terrorist groups and jihadist elements. Such a situation could also cause Israel to take more active measures inside of Syria, which it is desperately trying to avoid doing.
To the extent that it depends upon Jerusalem, we should continue to stay out of Syria’s civil war. However, we should not remain indifferent to the dynamics that are developing there, particularly the increase in power and influence of radical Islamic elements. It was a greater victory for David not to slay King Saul in the cave when he had a chance to do so than to slay Goliath. So, in a certain sense, it takes more wisdom and courage to stay out of the fighting in Syria than to take an active role in it to sway the outcome. May God grant both to our government and to the military leaders of Israel.
Israel responds to direct gunfire in the Golan Heights.
It was to be expected that the sporadic “misfiring” of mortars and bullets, claimed to be a spill-over of the Syrian civil war, would eventually turn into directed attempts to test Israel’s readiness to respond to more active aggression. So, when the third consecutive cross-border shooting incident in the past three days took place this morning (Tuesday), Israel responded and “returned precise fire”. The IDF confirmed that it successfully destroyed the source of the fire. The shooting incident struck an IDF jeep in the region of the central Golan Heights. Syrian army radio claimed that it “destroyed an Israeli vehicle with everyone in it” and broadcast images of a destroyed Israeli army jeep, which the Syrians claim is evidence of Israel’s active assistance of the rebels against the Assad regime. The IDF denied the allegation and said that the jeep was a leftover from the first Lebanon War in the 1980s and that it has been out of service during all this time. It added: “This is a cheap propaganda attempt and nothing more.” The IDF views the intentional shooting “with concern” and Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, commented that there is a risk that Israel could be drawn into what it wants to stay out of, namely, a “security deterioration in our region at any moment, a deterioration which could rapidly spin out of control…Not a day goes by when we are not faced with decisions which could lead us to a sudden and out of control deterioration. This is the situation that will accompany us in the near term and we need to be more alert because of it.”
President Shimon Peres urges the new Pope to come to Israel.
Why would the President of the State of Israel urge the Pope to visit Israel? The official answer is found in the statement of Shimon Peres to newly appointed Pope Francis, made during Peres’ visit to the Vatican on April 30th: “The sooner you visit the better as in these days a new opportunity is being created for peace and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.” This statement came after a private meeting between the two men, which lasted for three quarters of an hour. Several thoughts come to mind as a result of the above. What was the need to hold a private meeting? Shimon Peres is not a policy maker. He cannot make decisions that affect the country without being given an official OK to do so. And he has expressed his opinion on national policy matters, when it would have been best for him to remain silent.
The next question: What is the “new opportunity … for peace” that he mentioned? Does he know something that the rest of the country doesn’t know? Doesn’t Peres read the newspapers himself, or is he just fed a bunch of gobbledygook by advisors? The so-called “peace process” is dead. Almost everyone knows that, except for ultra-leftists, who continue to push negotiation and appeasement leading to partition – a nice word meaning “division” – of this land.
Regarding the “peace process”, Peres added: “I believe that there is a chance to open negotiations between Israel and the ‘Palestinians’. Abu Mazen (i.e., Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the ‘Palestinian’ Authority) is a genuine partner for peace. The ministers of the Arab League expressed their support for the two-state solution, which also is accepted by us, and a broad structure of support is being created for making progress.” Again, we have to ask whether his thoughts are filled with nutty-putty, or whether he is privy to information that is being kept from the rest of the country. Since when does Israel make decisions based on what the Arab League favors or supports? What “broad structure of support is being created for making progress” and by whom? There are no negotiations between the parties concerned, which means that the “broad structure of support” has to be coming from other parties.
Peres then told Pope Francis: “You have an important role in advancing peace and the belief in it”, adding that “the whole country of Israel” was waiting for his visit. Why? What is it about another Papal visit that the whole country is waiting for? What role is he to have in advancing peace?
The Vatican released a statement after the private meeting between Peres and the Pope, saying that the two men discussed the relations between Israel and the Vatican and the latter pointed to “significant progress” in, and the hope for the speedy conclusion of, negotiations towards a diplomatic pact that would establish legal and economic rights of Catholic entities in Israel. The Vatican statement also stated that the two of them discussed prospects for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that would respect “the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region.” This sounds like it came out of a “Palestinian” propaganda statement. This region is getting set to explode. Israel is surrounded by those who are sworn to destroy us as a nation, so that the name of Israel would be no more. The “partner” of the so-called “Palestinians” is Hamas, who said it will never recognize Israel. Iran wants to nuke us, jihadists and al-Qaida want to destroy us, the Hizb’allah in Lebanon says its missiles can reach from Dan to Beersheva (i.e., everywhere in Israel), Syria has missiles pointed towards Tel-Aviv and is one, gigantic powder keg. And these two men want to move the establishment of a “Palestinian” state, thinking that this will “decisively [contribute] to the peace and stability of the region”. This is an attempt to create a superficial expectation that “peace is at hand” and can readily be achieved when, in fact, they assert “peace, peace, but there is no peace” (see Jer. 6:14; 8:11).
And so we leave the pontifications about peace and return to the realities of the day. Shimon Peres, as a Jewish child growing up in Poland, received his early education in a Jesuit school. OK, that was probably the reality of many Jewish children at the time. But, how many of those Jesuit-educated, Jewish children went on to become the President of the State of Israel, maintained a close contact with the Vatican and has visited the Vatican many times over the years and wants to conclude a diplomatic pact with it? It is a documented fact that about 20 years ago, Peres wanted to internationalize Jerusalem, granting political control of the Old City to that un-organization, the U.N., and control over the holy sites in Jerusalem to the Vatican. This would enable the U.N., among other things, to allow the “Palestinians” to establish their capital in East Jerusalem. The story first broke back in 1993 and became a front-page issue in 1995, even in one of Israel’s most left-wing newspapers.
In 2006, Peres met with the then Pope, Benedict XVI, and invited him to visit Israel, stating: “I definitely believe that a visit by the Pope can influence the peace process”. Sound familiar? Following that meeting, the Vatican spokesman published a statement, which included, among other things: “Relations between the state of Israel and the Holy See were also examined — in the light of agreements endorsed in 1993 and 1997 — as well as the relations of Israeli Authorities with the country’s Christian communities.”
According to a Reuter’s news release, Peres, while serving as the head of the opposition Labor Party, suggested that the way to resolve the Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict over Jerusalem was to put its holy sites under U.N. control. The Old City would become a “world capital”, whose mayor would be the U.N. Secretary-General. Obviously, Israel rejected that idea. And, of course, there’s more.
It is clear that Peres’ raison d’être is to bring about the establishment of a “Palestinian” state in the heart of Israel, while at the same time yielding Israeli sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem, our ancient capital, which was reunited under Israeli control during the Six-day War. Such plans only encourage our enemies to pursue their ultimate goal of removing us entirely from this land. That being the case, we must ask “whose interests is Peres seeking to protect”? But, he is not alone. Lest we forget, God is totally against those who divide this land and scatter His people (see Joel 3:2).
Maybe we should look to Peres’ involvement with the Freemasons, along with the involvement of other top ranking, political leaders of Israel. But, that’s another story altogether and for another time.
And THAT was The Week That Was.
“My people, what have I done to you and how have I wearied you? Answer Me. Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt and ransomed you from slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam. My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you might know the righteous acts of the LORD.” (Micah 6:3-5)
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, it we have risen and stood upright. save, O LORD; may the King answer us in the day we call.” (Psalm 20:7-9)
Have a simply blessed week.
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