The polls: Nearly half the country still doesn't get it
JPost is publishing the results of two polls right now.
53% of the country wants new elections (meaning new Prime Minister and new Knesset) if Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert resigns. According to the Channel Two poll, 23% would want a new government but the same Knesset, and 11% would prefer that the current government stay intact.
Meanwhile, 26% believe that Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud is the best candidate now to serve as Prime Minister. That doesn't sound like a lot, but the poll taken in the four hours after the release of the Winograd Commission's interim report shows:
Far behind Netanyahu were Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni with 9%, Ehud Barak (6%), Labor MK Ami Ayalon (5%), and Vice Premier Shimon Peres (4%.)
Israel Beitenu chair Avigdor Lieberman was the choice of only three percent of the public to take over the reins, billionaire Arkady Gaydamak had the support of two percent, and one percent of those polled believed that Defense Minister Amir Peretz was the best person to serve as prime minister.
Although at present I have only read the first 21 pages of the 171-page report (in Hebrew of course), my guess is that Ehud Barak will lose a lot of support once the commission's conclusions about his role in the flight from Lebanon come out. TzipiFeigele Livni seems unlikely to come in for criticism in this report (except as a member of the cabinet generally) but she may well come in for criticism in the final report in July. The current report only deals with the first five days of the war.
Satellite images released in the United States show three major missile sites in Syria. The sites, photographed in 2004, are located in Hama, Homs and in the Golan Heights.
The operational site in Hama has more than 30 concrete bunkers, which house multiple launchers, missiles as well as a missile electronics and assembly plant.
The Scud D has a range of 700 kilometers and the Scud C, 500 kilometers. Both missiles can be equipped with chemical warheads or a 1-ton conventional warhead. Syria has deployed more than 300 Scud-class missiles in the Golan Heights, north of the United Nations-administered demilitarized zone.
The site also features 30 launchers and is surrounded by a Syrian army division of 10,000 troops. Syria's military consists of 12 divisions. "The Scud D can hit any point in Israel from the furthermost point in Syria near the Iraqi border, and it was done specifically to hit every single point in Israel," Rubin said. A third missile facility has been located in Homs, about 150 kilometers north of Damascus.
The site also has a facility that installs chemical weapons warheads on missiles. Israeli analysts said the Syrian military has also moved Katyusha-class rockets near the Israeli border. Syria was impressed by the effectiveness of intense Hizbullah rocket salvos against the Jewish state during the war in mid-2006.
Something tells me that the IDF isn't prepared for this either....
The real indictment: Shimon Peres' 'New Middle East'
The end of the Winograd Commission press release I quoted above is a powerful indictment of the delusion promoted by Shimon Peres, among others, that a 'New Middle East' is at our doorstep in which lambs and wolves will lay down together. It's powerful stuff and should be thrown in the face of every MK in the government and those to their left in the opposition:
19. The IDF was not ready for this war. Among the many reasons for this we can mention a few: Some of the political and military elites in Israel have reached the conclusion that Israel is beyond the era of wars. It had enough military might and superiority to deter others from declaring war against her; these would also be sufficient to send a painful reminder to anyone who seemed to be undeterred; since Israel did not intend to initiate a war, the conclusion was that the main challenge facing the land forces would be low intensity asymmetrical conflicts.
20. Given these assumptions, the IDF did not need to be prepared for ‘real’ war. There was also no urgent need to update in a systematic and sophisticated way Israel’s overall security strategy and to consider how to mobilize and combine all its resources and sources of strength – political, economic, social, military, spiritual. cultural and scientific – to address the totality of the challenges it faces.
21. We believe that – beyond the important need to examine the failures of conducting the war and the preparation for it, beyond the need to identify the weaknesses (and strengths) in the decisions made in the war – these are the main questions raised by the Second Lebanon war. These are questions that go far beyond the mandate of this or that commission of inquiry; they are the questions that stand at the center of our existence here as a Jewish and democratic state. It would be a grave mistake to concentrate only on the flaws revealed in the war and not to address these basic issues.
Partial text of Winograd Commission press release in English with comments
I pulled this off the Winograd Commission's web site. The full press release runs ten pages and may be found here. [I have not corrected typos, but I have emphasized certain points and inserted relevant links. CiJ].
9. Despite this broad support, we determine that there are very serious failings in these decisions and the way they were made. We impose the primary responsibility for these failures on the Prime Minister, the minister of defence and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. All three made a decisive personal contribution to these decisions and the way in which they were made. Howwever,, there are many others who share responsibility for the mistakes we found in these decisions and for their background conditions.
10. The main failures in the decisions made and the decision-making processes can be summed up as follows:
a. The decision to respond with an immediate, intensive military strike was not based on a detailed, comprehensive and authorized military plan, based on carefull study of the complex characteristics of the Lebanon arena . A meticulous examination of these characteristics would have revealed the following: the ability to achieve military gains having significant political-international weight was limited; an Israeli military strike would inevitably lead to missiles fired at the Israeli civilian north; there was not other effective military response to such missile attacks than an extensive and prolonged ground operation to capture the areas from which the missiles were fired – which would have a high “cost” and which did not enjoy broad support. These difficulties were not explicitly raised with the political leaders before the decision to strike was taken.
b. Consequently, in making the decision to go to war, the government did not consider the whole range of options, including that of continuing the policy of ‘containment’, or combining political and diplomatic moves with military strikes below the ‘escalation level’, or military preparations without immediage military action -- so as to maintain for Israel the full range of responses to the abduction. This failure reflects weakness in strategic thinking, which derives the response to the event from a more comprehensive and encompassing picture.
c. The support in the cabinet for this move was gained in part through ambiguity in the presentation of goals and modes of operation, so that ministers with different or even contradictory attitudes could support it. The ministers voted for a vague decision, without understanding and knowing its nature and implications. They authorized to commence a military campaign without considering how to exit it.
d. Some of the declared goals of the war were not clear and could not be achieved, and in part were not achieveable by the authorized modes of military action.
e. The IDF did not exhibit creativity in proposing alternative action possibilities, did not alert the political decision-makers to the discrepancy between its own scenarios and the authorized modes of action, and did not demand – as was necessary under its own plans – early mobilization of the reserves so they could be equipped and trained in case a ground operation would be required.
f. Even after these facts became known to the political leaders, they failed to adapt the military way of operation and its goals to the reality on the ground. On the contrary, declared goals were too ambitious, and it was publicly states that fighting will continue till they are achieved. But the authorized military operations did not enable their achievement.
11. The primary responsibility for these serious failings rests with the Prime Minister, the minister of defense and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. We single out these three because it is likely that had any of them acted better – the decisions in the relevant period and the ways they were made, as well as the outcome of the war, would have been significantly better.
12. Let us start with the Prime Minister.
a. The Prime Minister bears supreme and comprehensive responsibility for the decisions of ‘his’ government and the operations of the army. His responsibility for the failures in the initial decisions concerning the war stem from both his position and from his behavior, as he initiated and led the decisions which were taken.
b. The Prime Minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that no detailed military plan was submitted to him and without asking for one. Also, his decision was made without close study of the complex features of the Lebanon front and of the military, political and diplomatic options available to Israel. He made his decision without systematic consultation with others, especially outside the the IDF, despite not having experience in external-political and military affairs. In addition, he did not adequately consider political and professional reservations presented to him before the fateful decisions of July 12th.
c. The Prime Minister is responsible for the fact that the goals of the campaign were not set out clearly and carefully, and that there was no serious discussion of the relationships between these goals and the authorized modes of military action. He nade a personal contribution to the fact that the declared goals were over-ambitious and not feasible.
d. The Prime Minister did not adapt his plans once it became clear that the assumptions and expectations of Israel’s actions were not realistic and were not materializing.
e. All of these add up to a serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence.
13. The Minister of Defence is the minister responsible for overseeing the IDF, and he is a senior member in the group of leaders in charge of political-military affairs.
a. The Minister of Defence did not have knowledge or experience in military, political or governmental matters. He also did not have good knowledge of the basic principles of using military force to achieve political goals.
b. Despite these serious gaps, he made his decisions during this period without systemic consultations with experienced political and professional experts, including outside the security establishment. In addition, he did not give adequate weight to reservations expressed in the meetings he attended.
c. The Minister of Defence did not act within a strategic conception of the systems he oversaw. He did not ask for the IDF’s operational plans and did not examine them; he did not check the preparedness and fitness of IDF; and did not examine the fit between the goals set and the modes of action presented and authorized for achieving them. His influence on the decisions made was mainly pointillist and operational. He did not put on the table – and did not demand presentation – of serious strategic options for discussion with the Prime Minister and the IDF.
d. The Minister of Defence did not develop an independent assessment of the implications of the complexity of the front for Israel’s proper response, the goals of the campaign, and the relations between military and diplomatic moves within it. His lack of experience and knowledge prevented him from challenging in a competent way both the IDF, over which he was in charge, and the Prime Minister.
e. In all these ways, the Minister of Defence failed in fulfilling his functions. Therefore, his serving as Minister of Defence during the war impaired Israel’s ability to respond well to its challenges.[The link will remind you all why Peretz became defense minister in the first place. CiJ]
14. The Chief of Staff (COS) is the supreme commander of the IDF, and the main source of information concerning the army, its plans, abilities and recommendations presented to the political echelon. Furthermore, the COS’s personal involvement with decision making within the army and in coordination with the political echelon were dominant.
a. The army and the COS were not prepared for the event of the abduction despite recurring alerts. When the abduction happened, he responded impulsively. He did not alert the political leaders to the complexity of the situation, and did not present information, assessments and plans that were available in the IDF at various levels of planning and approval and which would have enabled a better response to the challenges. [He was too busy calling his broker. CiJ]
b. Among other things, the COS did not alert the political echelon to the serious shortcomings in the preparedness and the fitness of the armed forces for an extensive ground operation, if that became necessary. In addition, he did not clarify that the military assessments and analyses of the arena were that a military strike against Hezbollah will with a high probability make such a move necessary.
c. The COS’s responsibility is aggravated by the fact that he knew well that both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense lacked adequate knowledge and experience in these matters, and by the fact that he had led them to believe that the IDF was ready and prepared and had operational plans fitting the situation.
d. The COS did not provide adequate responses to serious reservation about his recommendations raised by ministers and others during the first days of the campaign, and he did not present to the political leaders the internal debates within the IDF concerning the fit between the stated goals and the authorized modes of actions.
e. In all these the Chief of Staff failed in his duties as commander in chief of the army and as a critical part of the political-military leadership, and exhibited flaws in professionalism, responsibility and judgment.
15. Concomitantly we determine that the failures listed here, and in the outcomes of the war, had many other partners.
a. The complexity of the Lebanon scene is basically outside Israel’s control [because of the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon led by Ehud Barak in 2000 and the subsequent neglect of Hesbullah's buildup. CiJ].
b. The ability of Hezbollah to sit ‘on the border’, its ability to dictate the moment of escalation, and the growth of its military abilities and missile arsenal increased significantly as a result of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in May 2000 (which was not followed, as had been hoped, by The Lebanese Army deploying on the border with Israel.
c. The shortcomings in the preparedness and the training of the army, its operational doctrine, and various flaws in its organizational culture and structure, were all the responsibility of the military commanders and political leaders in charge years before the present Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff took office. [That would be current transportation minister Shaul Mofaz and Likud party member Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon. CiJ]
d. On the political-security strategic level, the lack of preparedness was also caused by the failure to update and fully articulate Israel’s security strategy doctrine, in the fullest sense of that term, so that it could not serve as a basis for coping comprehensively will all the challenges facing Israel. Responsibility for this lack of an updates national security strategy lies with Israel’s governments over the years. This omission made it difficult to devise an immediate proper response to the abduction, because it led to stressing an immediate and sharp military strike. If the response had been derived from a more comprehensive security strategy, it would have been easier to take into account Israel’s overall balance of strengths and vulnerabilities, including the [non-existent. CiJ] preparedness of the civil population.
e. Another factor which largely contributed to the failures is the weakness of the high staff work available to the political leadership. This weakness existed under all previous Prime Ministers and this continuing failure is the responsibility of these PMs and their cabinets. The current political leadership did not act in a way that could compensate for this lack, and did not rely sufficiently on other bodies within and outside the security system that could have helped it.
f. Israel’s government in its plenum failed in its political function of taking full responsibility for its decisions. It did not explore and seek adequate response for various reservations that were raised, and authorized an immediate military strike that was not thought-through and suffered from over-reliance on the judgment of the primary decision-makers.
g. Members of the IDF’s general staff who were familiar with the assessments and intelligence concerning the Lebanon front, and the serious deficiencies in preparedness and training, did not insist that these should be considered within the army, and did not alert the political leaders concerning the flaws in the decisions and the way they were made.
16. As a result of our investigation, we make a number of structural and institutional recommendations, which require urgent attention:
a. The improvement of the quality of discussions and decision making within the government through strengthening and deepening staff work; strict enforcement of the prohibition of leaks; improving the knowledge base of all members of the government on core issues of Israel’s challenges, and orderly procdures for presentation of issues for discussion and resolution.
b. Full incorporation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in security decisions with political and diplomatic aspects. [This can only help Livni. CiJ]
c. Substantial improvement in the functioning of the National Security Council, the establishment of a national assessment team, and creating a center for crises management in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Winograd: Olmert 'passive', Peretz should never have been defense minister
I only have quick summaries right now of the Winograd interim report, which was released just a few minutes ago in Israel. This is from JPost:
According to the final chapter of the report, which includes the committee's conclusions, Olmert is described as a passive leader who was led by the nose by the army and who did not take charge of the war he was supposed to be commanding
Peretz, who should not have accepted the Defense portfolio in the first place, did not do what he should have to make up for his lack of knowledge of security matters after he accepted the post, according to the report.
And with regards to Halutz, the report said that the former IDF chief of general staff did not take Hizbullah's missile attacks against the northern part of the country seriously and at no time came up with a plan to address the threat.
Olmert will meet with members of the Kadima faction on Monday at 6:45 p.m. in order to discuss the findings of the Winograd interim report which was given to him at 4 p.m., one hour prior to its release to the public.
Neither buffoon is expected to resign. To the streets!
Treason at Haaretz: Haaretz helps Iran look for nuke builders
Arutz Sheva is reporting this morning that the International Herald Tribune printed an advertisement last week in which Iran sought help in constructing nuclear plants. The Tribune is owned by the New York Slimes and printed and distributed simultaneously in many cities and (mostly leftist) newspapers throughout the world. In Israel, the Tribune is printed and distributed by Haaretz, Israel's Hebrew Palestinian daily. Haaretz printed the ad. You can see a copy of the ad by following the link above to Arutz Sheva's web site. But here's the curious part:
Arutz-7 asked Haaretz’s advertising department whether it considered rejecting the ad seeking builders for Iranian nuclear reactors. Manager Aviva Bronstein says Haaretz receives the International Herald Tribune as a finished product. “We sometimes don’t even see it until it is in print,” she said. “We do not review their ads, only those that appear in the Haaretz section of the paper.”
A subordinate said that guidelines for ads would reject an ad calling for violence against a certain group of people. Asked by Arutz-7 whether the construction of the means to a nuclear bomb for a nation that has stated its intend to use it for genocide does not fall into that category, the woman, who declined to give her name, said: “I don’t believe that falls into the same category.”
Bronstein said that there is no ad that would conceivably lead Haaretz to refrain from distributing an edition of the International Herald Tribune.
As the sun rises on Winograd day in Israel, both Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post are reporting that we should not expect to see the politicians oust Ehud K. Olmert as a result of the release of the preliminary report. The reason is that the KadimaAchora party - who brought us corrupt politicians like Ehud Olmert, Avraham Hirshenson and Haim Ramon - still wants to remain in power. They are trying to time the elections for the advantage of Foreign Minister TzipiFeigele Livni, who has managed to keep her nose clean of corruption and her public persona free of blame for the disastrous UN Security Council resolution 1701. But as I have noted before, Livni herself would be a disaster for the State of Israel, and therefore it will fall to ordinary Israelis to oust this cabal of corruption as soon as possible. This is from the Haaretz article linked above:
The prime minister is liable to survive the draft report not just because of the confusion and helplessness pervading Kadima, but also because of the alternative: Benjamin Netanyahu. The Likud chairman is Olmert's life-saving drug.
No one in Kadima - or the coalition at large, at this stage - wants to shake up the system and bring about elections in which Netanyahu would be voted in as prime minister. [The coalition currently has 78 seats out of 120. I find it astounding that even Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas will not work to precipitate elections. CiJ] Even Ehud Barak and Ami Ayalon, the leading candidates in the Labor primaries, won't take such a responsibility upon themselves. As long as Olmert survives, they will be with him - and if not him, then with Livni or Shimon Peres. Paradoxically, Barak and Ayalon prefer Olmert; it's better to be a strong defense minister serving under a weak prime minister.
If the Kadima revolt has indeed ended before it even began, that leaves the public at the center of attention. Will "the street" force the politicians to do something? There are such high expectations of a wave of public demonstrations that anything less than a mass protest of the kind held in the summer of 1982 will be deemed apathetic. The rally planned for Thursday at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv is meant to light the torch that will burn Olmert's seat out from under him. But here, too, there are problems.
Sources connected to the rally have complained about difficulties in getting people to attend and in raising money. [Those of you who have not spent time in Israel recently cannot imagine how deeply depressed and disgusted the public is over the entire situation. You may be surprised that people don't want to attend. I am not. CiJ] In the meantime, the two most prominent politicians planning to participate in the event are Netanyahu - after all, it's basically his party - and Meretz-Yachad chairman Yossi Beilin. Many of Beilin's colleagues oppose his participation alongside Netanyahu. [I despise Beilin's politics, but he is a 'true believer' in what he says and I believe he will be there regardless of what his colleagues think. He is one of the least corrupt politicians in the country. CiJ]
Barak is also leaning toward not attending; he doesn't see himself as a sidekick. On Monday or Tuesday he is due to consult with the ministers who support him. Even if he doesn't show up at the demonstration, he'll make his position known about the report, about those responsible for the war, and most importantly: about what he plans to do if he wins the May 28 primaries. [Barak won't attend. Unfortunately, he's not likely to be called to task for leading the flight from Lebanon in 2000 either. They don't call him Ehud Barach for nothing. CiJ].
For those who are wondering why I accuse Livni of attempting a putsch in my title, have a look at this from the JPost article linked above:
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni raised eyebrows in a meeting of Kadima ministers on Sunday when she remained silent while every other minister advised Olmert on how to handle the report.
Livni has recently invited many Kadima MKs and mayors to her office for private discussions about the party's future.
In the meetings, she emphasized she did not intend to topple the prime minister but that she was qualified to take over the reins of the party and the country if Olmert would resign.
Officials in Olmert's camp admitted that there was "frustration" inside the Prime Minister's Office with Livni's silence and the spate of political meetings she has held in recent days.
"She's a politician, she is part of Kadima and she believes in the party," a political source said of Livni. "She is working to strengthen Kadima and to help her position in the party."
The source said the reason for Livni's busy political schedule was not Winograd but the fact that her new political adviser, Uri Kedar, started his job on April 1. Since then, Livni has had meetings described as "very positive" with many of Kadima's most powerful figures, including the head of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, Karmiel Mayor Adi Eldar.
A senior Kadima official said that due in part to those meetings, if Olmert left office, Livni would already have a majority in the faction to replace him.
The official said that contrary to many reports, the party's rules would not prevent her from becoming prime minister while seeking the Kadima chairmanship.
There is no mechanism in Kadima's charter for overthrowing the party's leader, so the charter would have to be changed for Olmert to be toppled from within. If Olmert resigns, an election would be held among party members within 60 days. During that time, Kadima would be led by a temporary head, someone not running for the party leadership.
And for those of you wondering what would happen to the country when Olmert loses his position as Prime Minister, the Post has that answer too:
Meanwhile, Acting President Dalia Itzik ['Acting' in place of Moshe Katzav - Israel's 'first religious President' - who apparently has some difficulties in keeping his pants on in his office. CiJ] would have a week to meet with faction heads and hear their recommendations for Olmert's replacement as prime minister, while Olmert would remain prime minister of a transitional government.
In such a scenario, the Kadima faction could recommend Livni and she would would be eligible to run for Kadima head because she would be prime minister but not the acting party chairman.
And you wonder why Israelis are too depressed to take to the streets and overthrow the government?
With the report of the Winograd Commission, which was hand-picked by Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert, to be released tomorrow afternoon, an anti-government rally has been scheduled for Thursday in Tel Aviv. The government's arrogance in refusing to take responsibility is a sad commentary on the corruption that is rampant Israeli society.
As anyone who has been reading this blog for the past month, I think it is apparent that things are not the same with me. There are reasons for that:
One of the chief reasons is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately. I no longer believe that my anonymity is kept, especially with State Secuirty agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me since that day. I ignore that, the same way I ignored all the clicking noises that my phones started to exhibit all of a sudden, or the law suit filed by Judge Mourad on my friends, and instead grew bolder and more reckless at a time where everybody else started being more cautious. It took me a while to take note of the fear that has been gripping our little blogsphere and comprehend what it really means. The prospects for improvment, to put it slightly, look pretty grim. I was the model of caution, and believing in my invincipility by managing not to get arrested for the past 2 and a half years, I've grown reckless. Stupid Monkey. Stupid!
And speaking of the state of the egyptian blogsphere, it has been pretty depressing in its own right. One has to wonder at some point the futulity of being a keyboard warrior in a country where nothing seems to matter to its people anymore. At the same time, there has been those amongst us who have loved the fame and the attention, and are now becoming the egyptian blogsphere's equivelant of Paris Hilton: They are famous for being famous, peddling the same stories and not really presenting anything of value to the debate. And then there is the fact that we are entering the "Iconogrphy" phase : We are becoming Icons. Too much Media attention, too many american organizations claiming to champion our causes while they are cashing out in donation from people gullible enough to believe them, too much hype generated by us and others, so many of us tooting our own horns and even crying wolf at times has made Icons of us. We now have young bloggers who come up to many of us "Old Guard" and tell us how they are such great fans of ours, and how we are their role models and heroes and how they are starting to blog because of our "courageous example". And there are those of us who are buying into it, taking in undertsudies to placate our big heads, hooking up with groupies to feed our egos, acting as if we are the warriors for change we are made up to be and forgetting why we started blogging to begin with. It seems that we are entering a state of transformation, and we should either 1) evolve, take the next step whatever it is, 2) stay the way we are and risk becoming carricatures of ourselves or 3) quit. Not knowing what the next step is, and needing time and space to figure it out, I chose the only other option that made sense: I quit!
National Jewish Democratic Council's Favorite Candidate
Then again, given that Barak Hussein Obama told the NJDC about "the need for a 'tough discussion' with Israel about working toward a two-state solution," their only other choice is probably to become Republicans.
The question I am asked most often here in the United States is why we Israelis cannot force our corrupt, inept government out. Why is Ehud K. Olmert still Prime Minister and AmirComrade Peretz 'defense minister' after all this time? I have explained before why it is so difficult to unseat the Prime Minister these days. But our best chance of doing so comes this week.
A report broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 news claimed on Saturday evening that the committee found Prime Minister Ehud Olmert failed to put into action emergency plans drawn up long before the war. Fearing it would result in heavy casualties Olmert resisted a ground incursion into Lebanon but presented no cohesive alternative in its stead due to a lack of structured planning. According to the committee the war was grossly mismanaged and decisions were hastily made in the ensuing chaos. [I could have told you that much. CiJ]
According to the report the committee faulted the entire wartime decision-making process and said it was not up to the standard of leadership necessary during an emergency situation.
Olmert’s office said in response that the prime minister had not yet received the report and therefore was not aware of its content. “We have no intention of responding to media speculation," said his spokesman, "we will wait for the report’s release, study it and then we will respond.”
Officials at Defense Minister Amir Peretz’s office were noticeably relieved that the report seemed to offer tolerable criticism of Peretz, who in the immediate aftermath of the war bore the brunt of most of the public's rage. The committee accused Peretz of failing to make up for his lack of military experience and failing to utilize the defense-oriented resources at his disposal. Peretz, according to the committee, preferred to convene a private forum which bypassed the ministry of defense so that in the end he was running the war with Olmert with a complete lack of the necessary knowledge. [That's 'tolerable criticism'? CiJ]
The committee further said that Peretz's decision to run the war in this manner was motivated by irrelevant personal considerations and that perhaps he was negligent in accepting the post of defense minister in the first place.
But all of this does not move the government:
Both Olmert and Peretz are expected to officially comment on the report on Monday afternoon when the committee releases its findings. All other cabinet ministers declined comment on the leaked findings.
Binyamin Netanyahu and Yossi Beilin(!) plan to join forces to bring down the government:
Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu and Meretz chairman MK Yossi Beilin met secretly on Friday to discuss the report and the political agenda it would create. The two discussed the possibility of elections and agreed that Olmert must not remain in power.
"Olmert's fate will be similar to that of Golda Meir's after the Yom Kippur war," said Beilin.
MK Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP) called for elections and said that "the commission's conclusions on Olmert, Peretz and Halutz's failures verify the public's feeling that the government had failed and that it should resign." The chairman of Eitam's party said that if Olmert did not resign he would bring forward a motion to disperse the Knesset.
The Forum for Bereaved Families welcomed the report: "This is what we've been saying for nine months, even the committee appointed by those being investigated established that the prime minister and the entire government are responsible for the terrible failings of the war."
But let's face reality: Olmert is not Golda Meir and he is not going to resign nor are his ministers, and the Knesset will not force them out unless an awful lot of people take to the streets in outrage over the Winograd Commission report. There is no other way.
I was snooping around a US airline website this weekend and discovered that I could fly from Boston to London next weekend roundtrip for $400. But a direct flight from Israel to the US and back costs around $1200. And it's not even high season yet. Why can't you get a cheaper fare?
The Thursday before Pesach (Passover), I had a call from a cousin of Mrs. Carl in Jerusalem who had just arrived in Israel from the US. She told us that 46 people had been bumped from her Wednesday night flight from New York. And there were no more flights. Why isn't there enough capacity to fly to Israel the week before Pesach?
The answer to both those questions is spelled El Al Israel Airlines. More than twenty years after the US airline market was deregulated and more than ten years after flying within Europe got as low as 20 pounds round trip, Israel continues to erect trade barriers to protect the - now privatized - 'national carrier.' The damage to Israel's tourism industry because of all those people who don't come (I heard about empty tables at some hotels over Pesach because of people being bumped from their flights) is intolerable. But no one seems to have the capacity to fight it. As Haaretz points out in Friday morning's editions:
Ticket prices remain very high, low-cost airlines don't come here, and many people cannot afford to travel abroad. Many tourists, including Jews, don't come to Israel because of the high prices and the low availability. This harms the entire tourism sector, which could otherwise resolve some of the employment problems of the less-educated classes. Every 100,000 tourists who come to Israel create 4,000 jobs and contribute $200 million to the gross domestic product.
Last week, a Transportation Ministry committee published recommendations on the matter. The committee recommended deregulating the aviation sector, but created obstacles along the way, rendering its recommendations meaningless. The committee proposed "gradually" opening the skies. But given the political reality here, "gradual" means never - due to the powerful opposition from Israeli airlines.
The committee also determined that the state would cover Israeli airlines' security costs entirely; currently it covers half. The Finance Ministry won't agree to that. In addition, the committee makes the reform conditional on El Al agreeing to change a cabinet decision that made it the only carrier on most routes. El Al won't agree to that. And there are a few other conditions making it difficult to implement the deregulation recommendations.
But Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz presented himself to the public as the man in the street. In response to the report, Mofaz declared, "If until now Mr. Cohen and Ms. Levy had trouble buying airline tickets abroad, after the reform it will be much easier for them to fulfill their dreams." Really? Very unlikely. Mofaz will have to work much harder - and it's not clear he wants to do that - to make us finally into a Western nation, where everyone already has easy access to cheap flights.
When will they ever learn? Israel has a sickness with keeping its economy closed and promoting market inefficiencies. For a smart people, we Jews can be awfully stupid.
They say that if you put a frog in a pot of lukewarm water and slowly heat up the water, the frog would not feel the gradual heating and be cooked without even attempting to jump out. For 60 years now we've been so scared of the Arabs – actually, why 60, 100 at least – that it's the only thing we see. All the rest is marginal.
Corruption? Road accidents? Pollution? Poverty? Who cares about this nonsense? Two Qassam rockets just landed in Sderot and Ahmadinejad again made some belligerent statements. We've got action. Who has the energy to deal with the small stuff? And meanwhile, the country is crumbling in our fingers. Slowly but surely.
We already got used to it: There's no minister who isn't facing a police investigation. Every police chief comes with a scandal and every IDF chief of staff is a failure. The universities are suffocating, while colleges are flourishing. Everyone is studying law and business management in order to learn about how to move money.
Anyone who's worth anything in science and technology goes abroad to pursue a career, because there are no research budgets in Israel. And let's say we're able to give rise to and even keep two or three brilliant minds here, what exactly are we going to do with all those ultra-Orthodox guys who study Torah instead of serving in the army or working? Who will keep Israel afloat in 15 years?
We tried to build a country that would be a safe place for the Jewish people and that will allow us to live there in peace. It didn't work out. It turns out we can't have it all. Perhaps it's something about the Jewish character, or perhaps it's the fact that we got stuck in the Middle East of all places, and maybe it's just bad luck.
There are more 'problems' too - follow the link and you will find them. And Ben Barak's solution?
And by the way, they say that thing about the frog, but they're wrong. If you try to slyly cook a real frog, at some point it will feel that it's too hot and jump out much before you reach boiling point. I wish for all of us the kind of healthy instincts a frog has.
You need to jump out of the pot. Move abroad, while it's still possible. True, for Israelis "abroad" equals "America," but you may be surprised to hear that it's not the only option. There are several countries in this world that would be very glad to get a second-hand Israeli in good condition. Canada is one of them. So is New Zealand. There are many others.
At the end of the day, gloomy prophecies and unflattering comparisons to other countries is not what will get you to board a plane. After you debate, look into it, consult, examine the details, and do the numbers, you'll be left with one question: Do I have the guts to do it?
Leaving Israel is a risky business. Not because of the departure itself, as after all we can always go back, and many people indeed to that – but rather, because it forces you to deal with yourself. It's a process of the most in-depth self-examination, whether you like it or not.
Aumann and Ciechanover found a way out of their shared pessimism in their Jewish roots. "As a scientist, I am only a tourist in the palace of the Holy One, blessed be he," said Ciechanover, "who discovers secrets of the universe that he created, systems that were hidden in it for millions of years. If there are apparent flaws in them, I try, through medicine and science, to fix them."
Aumann stroked his white beard – just as my own grandfather did, according to the only photograph of him that survived the Holocaust and his escape – and said, "I feel the same way you do – I feel the same way you do."
The politicians, in the opinion of the two Prize winners, have stained public life with their behavior. Prof. Ciechanover said, "Our leadership is always raising moral questions; the public's trust in it has been lost completely. Of all the national symbols, only the anthem and the flag are not yet subject to investigation by the Attorney General or the State Comptroller. All the other symbols have already been consumed."
"With such leadership," adds Prof. Ciechanover with great passion, "It is not surprising that the people's internal cohesion is weakening. The external enemy does not scare me; with the help of technology and wisdom, we will find a cure for it. What do worry me are the processes within Israeli society itself. They are the destructive ones. Even our army failed [in this summer's war in Lebanon] morally and practically – just look at the way the IDF is now investigating itself!
You could have "starred" in any university in the world. Why are you here?
Prof. Ciechanover: "Because I was born here and I want to live in a Hebrew-speaking environment, in the State that I fought for and in which I believe—on account of the long history of my people – it is important to live. This country is the essence of my existence. My parents came to Israel as Jews from Poland because they wanted to establish a state in which no one would call them Zhid – a Jewish state in which they could live a free life. They knew what they were aiming for. But this is not necessarily true of all Israelis. Our internal cohesion is falling apart; the rifts are growing from within.
"I grew up with clear values, and, to my sorrow, I see around me their steady erosion. At this juncture, we have lost sight of our goal, and have no one with his hand on the rudder."
Part of Israel's problem is that the Ehud K. Olmert's of the country are trying to cater to the Idan Ben-Barak's of the country and convince them to stay. I disagree. Let the Idan Ben Barak's leave and take their empty 'Israeliness' and destructive cynicism with them. The country is better off without them. In a survey published for Independence Day earlier in the week, 50% of Israeli Jews said that they are Jews first, 45% said that they are Israelis first, and 5% said that neither label best describes them. We're still ahead but just barely.
Delusional Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert spoke to a UJA Federation delegation today, and explained why despite daily Kassam attacks during the cease firehudna over the last five months, Olmert and his buddy Comrade Peretz refuse to let the army respond:
Israel is continuing to restrain itself in the face of Palestinian attacks because it does not wish to lose "the last link with the Palestinians, Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas)," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a United Jewish Appeal (UJA) mission visiting the Knesset on Wednesday evening.
"The Palestinians are not the most credible of partners… to put it softly," Olmert said. "We agreed a ceasefire with them in November, and since then there hasn't been a single day without Qassam fire. And yet we have been restrained," he added.
"Because, we must ask, do we have among the Palestinians a better potential partner than Abu Mazen? Do we want to lose the last link left with the Palestinians, and have no one to talk to?" the prime minister asked.
"I'm optimistic, I believe there is still a chance, within five years, for a historic breakthrough with the Palestinians and Arab states," he added. "There were winds of change blowing through Arab and Muslim states. Previously, they were not willing to recognize that we exist. Now, so many came together to discuss how they can make peace with Israel."
"I'm ready to sit with them. I don't say I will accept everything they say, but I will not reject anything from the outset. I have no preconditions. I'm willing to listen and to consider seriously the arguments they put forward," he added.
So because Olmert longs to sit with his Holocaust-denying friendMahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen, he is allowing Hamas to re-arm and increase its weapons capacity. Olmert still doesn't understanding that having no 'partner' is better than having a 'partner' who lies, cheats, denies responsibility for terror attacks carried out on his watch, and refuses to take any actions against his beloved 'people.' And you thought Israel's 'leadership' learned its lesson from all the years of dealing with Arafat.
The Winograd Commission will publish its interim report on last summer's war in Lebanon on Monday afternoon Israel time. Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert and defenseless 'defense minister' AmirComrade Peretz will only get an hour's head start:
The committee members will present the full, uncensored report to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz at 4 p.m. An hour later, they will meet with media representatives at Binyanei Ha'uma in Jerusalem. At the meeting, the committee chairman, retired judge Eliahu Winograd, will read a statement containing the main points of the censored report which will be released to the general public and an explanation of how it perceives its mission.
According to the statement, "the committee will hold this meeting and present the statement because of the importance it attributes to the accessibility of the entire public to the information."
According to the committee's statement, the censored report and Winograd's statement will be available in English and Hebrew versions, on the committee's official Internet site.
The address of the site is: http://www.vaadatwino.org.il/index.html.
Bishara is accused of aiding an enemy during wartime, transmitting information to an enemy, contact with a foreign agent, violations of money-laundering laws, and more. He is under suspicion of having received a large amount of money for his acts, some of which occurred during last year's Second War in Lebanon. The former MK allegedly pocketed the money in his personal bank account.
A Petach Tikva court partially lifted the gag-order on the inquiry on Wednesday afternoon. The court plans to allow publication of the full story within a week.
Ex-MK Bishara, who was questioned by police twice in the past, told his interrogators that he plans to leave the country, but would return for a continued investigation. After leaving the country last month, friends now say it is not certain whether he plans to return in the near future. He has surfaced in Jordan, Qatar and Egypt, and his family returned to Israel last week.
Bishara's resignation, submitted to the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Sunday, went into effect yesterday (Tuesday).
Most of the articles in the Israeli media focus on recouping the perks for which Bishara is currently eligible as a resigned Knesset member, including the NIS 72,000 annual pension (approximately US$17,000). It seems obvious that those perks should be withdrawn, but while going after him for tax law violations might be a good way of recouping some of the bribes he took, I don't think that's the point and I don't think it should be the focus of Israel's efforts. Nor do I agree with Baruch Marzel who
demands that the Attorney General outlaw Bishara's political party, Balad. "The Attorney General must correct the injustice that was done when our pleas [to outlaw Balad] were not answered," Marzel said, noting that the Israeli political system outlawed Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach party in the 1980's.
Maybe - probably - almost definitely - Balad ought to be banned, but that's not really the point either. I'd like to look at three other reactions (all from the Arutz Sheva report - the other media didn't even focus on this):
MK Yoel Hason (Kadima) said he will work to establish a Knesset inquiry committee into the former Knesset Member's behavior and the grave suspicions against him. "Today the true face of Israel's greatest traitor has been revealed," Hason said. "The Knesset must investigate, and must decide regarding security clearances for all MKs, and for Arab-party MKs in particular."
Complete nonsense. A Knesset committee will be nothing but a three-ring circus and publicity stunt. And you can bet that the other Arab MK's and leftist Knesset members will rally to Bishara's defense and scream that we cannot taint all 'Israeli Arabs' with the stain of treason - just like leftists in the US screamed after 9/11 that all Muslims are not terrorists (that's true, but nearly all terrorists seem to be Muslims, and that fact needs to be confronted). It would play beautifully on the nightly news in the US and Europe - and would be twisted to make Israel look like a fascist state.
A Yisrael Beiteinu party statement reads: "Azmi Bishara is not the problem, but rather its display window. Bishara and his friends have long crossed the red line, but the State has hidden its head in the sand. Our party tried in the past to prevent the entry of the Trojan horse into the Knesset..."
That's also true, except that Yisrael Beiteinu is burying its own head in the sand by continuing to sit in a government that has appointed an 'Israeli-Arab' minister who refuses to sing Hatikva - the country's national anthem - on nationalistic grounds and that proposes to give the 'Palestinians' more land and a statereichlet. National Religious Party MK Zevulun Orlev comes the closest to getting the right answer:
Orlev ... said that Bishara "must be caught, wherever he is in the world, and brought to Israel on charges of treason." Some instances of treason during wartime, as well as Nazi war crimes, are the only crimes punishable by death under Israeli law.
Israel doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to give Bishara the death penalty. But I think that the intelligence services need to know what information Bishara gave to Hezbullah (and to the Syrians and the 'Palestinians') and then the country needs to lock him up and throw away the key.
And then we need to think rationally and outside the box about how to keep treasonous Arab MK's out of the Knesset.
Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D was reviled by the Israeli left, because he used to taunt them that Israel could either be a Jewish state or a democracy but not both. Not without transferring the Arab fifth column out of the country (which would leave Israel as a Jewish state). Not without persuading them to leave. One thing the Bishara case does prove is that it's not just about land or murdering Jews. It's also about money. While we're spending money buying land and buildings that hopefully will house Jews one day, we need to spend some money to get those Arabs who are not willing to live in peace with us, and who continue to send the likes of Bishara to the Knesset as their representatives, to leave the country permanently. Maybe Shimon Peres was on to something when he said that if the Arabs had more money they would be willing to live in peace with us. Except that it can apparently only have a chance of happening outside Israel.
Organizers of the march claimed that the IDF was preventing participants from leaving the settlement safely, and putting their lives at risk.
The IDF responded by saying that the march was not approved in the first place, and that the settlers and activists should leave Homesh the same way they entered it, by foot.
Most of the marchers left the settlement by foot, save a few hundred who decided to spend the night at the settlement in response to the IDF’s refusal.
Members of “Homesh First”, one group that organized the march, expressed rage over the IDF’s decision, saying that they were forcing families, women, and children, to walk home in the dark, often through Arab villages.
The group’s members said that it would hold Central Command Chief, Major General Yair Naveh responsible should anything happen to the marchers.
The IDF claimed that there was lighting in the area, and that forces would secure marchers who wished to leave on foot; the IDF has not yet confronted those who intend on spending the night there.
MK Uri Ariel (National Union-National Religious Party), intervened on befalf of the marchers, and called on Defense Minister Amir Peretz to immediately allow the buses to take the marchers to their homes, so that they would not be at risk walking through Arab villages.
According to Ariel, the situation was life-threatening, and Peretz would be responsible for any ‘disaster’ that may befall the marchers.
Sweet Caroline: Solving one of the great mysteries of life
This post is WAY off topic.
I went to the Sox game tonight. They were awful. Someone has to convince them that beating the Yankees ISN'T enough - you have to play the rest of the teams too (for those living in caves, the Sox swept the Yankees this past weekend).
But in the middle of the 8th inning, I was contemplating one of the great mysteries of life: Why do they play "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond in the middle of the 8th? They sure didn't do that when I was growing up!
Some 6000 'Israeli Arabs' - many of them on horses and wielding 'Palestinian' flags - terrorized 150 Jews who had gone to picnic together in Megiddo Forest outside of Haifa for Israel Independence Day on Tuesday. One Jewish man was lightly injured in the ensuing clash.
On Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the group of Haifa families made their way to the Megiddo Forest, in the north of the country, a group of Arab youths on horseback accosted the Jewish celebrants, jeered and threatened them. As the young Arab men continued their menacing behavior, they called more Arab youths to join them. Some of the new arrivals were waving flags of the PLO terrorist organization.
"Within a short time, there were hundreds of Arabs surrounding us," one of the Jewish celebrants said. "We felt threatened. We are here with little children and they are threatening us. We called the police. They promised they would handle it and send a patrol car, but the car never arrived. We called the police again and again, but the help never arrived."
At this stage of the incident, a few of the Jewish young men, with Israeli flags in hand, charged the gathering Arab mob. Within moments, a fight broke out, during which one of the Jewish youths suffered a light injury to the face. The Arabs, still threatening the Jewish families, called for more of their comrades to join them.
Within forty minutes of the start of the incident, 6,000 Arabs waving PLO flags and making menacing threats had gathered around the group of Jews in Megiddo Forest. It was only at this point that a border guard patrol jeep showed up on the scene, with just six soldiers.
Speaking from the forest at about 3:40 pm, one member of the Jewish group described the outcome of the day's events: "The border guards are handling [the group of Arabs] and trying to block them. They are a few dozen meters from us. We are folding up to go. They are staying here. We can't stay here when we have so many little children with us. ...It is sad that this is the picture in the center of the country on the Independence Day of the State of Israel."
In response to an Arutz-7 query, the regional police department said that they were aware of the incident; however, "both sides promised they would press charges with the police, but neither side did. Therefore, the matter was not handled [by the police]."
Two Israelis were murdered in a terror attack in Megiddo Forest in 1999.
The day before I came to the US, a Korean-born student at Virginia Tech University murdered 32 fellow students in the largest mass murder committed by one individual in American history. How have Koreans reacted? This is from the Korea Herald:
Many Koreans were dumbfounded and felt ashamed when they learned a Korean student shot dead more than 30 people at the university. This first reaction was followed by concerns about a potential backlash against the Korean community in the United States, and against Korea as a nation.
Apparently, behind these reactions is a sense of collective guilt the Korean people feel about the heinous crime committed by a fellow Korean. Koreans, having traditionally been trained to think of themselves as members of a family, a group and a nation, rather than as individuals, have shouldered collective responsibility for the slayings and feared Koreans residing in the United States would soon be targets of reprisal attacks in an ethnic conflict.
But almost all of the scores of emails that we at The Korea Herald received from the United States reassured us that there will be no racial, political or other forms of retribution against Korea and Koreans. The writers made efforts to convince us that ethnicity had no place in the crime, and that it was committed by a deranged individual who happened to be Korean.
Among the emails is one from Kathy L. Cronin, who wrote: "Please convey to the people of Korea that America is a vast and diverse nation of vast and diverse backgrounds, opinions, abilities, and mental aptitude. There may be individuals who voice an opinion which 99.999 percent of the people in America would vehemently disavow."
Compare the Korean reaction with the 'Palestinian' reaction to 9/11. Is it any wonder why Americans still have warm feelings for the Koreans, while feeling indifference or worse towards the 'Palestinians' (Dhimmi Carter excepted)?
Carter in Iowa: Oppose 'knee jerk supporters' of Israel
Former President Dhimmi Carter continues his one-man crusade against the Jewish state with a campaign appearance in Iowa in which he calls on voters to oppose 'knee jerk supporters' of Israel and to seek candidates committed to peacepiece-by-piece.
As long as American politicians are seen as "knee-jerk supporters" of Israel, the country's role as the principal Mideast peace broker will be endangered, former President Jimmy Carter told a crowd Wednesday at the University of Iowa.
"The main reason I came to Iowa is to make sure you knew you could shape an outcome in the 2008 presidential election. At least you can screen out candidates," he said. "Make them pledge to you ... that they will take a balanced position between Israel and Palestinians."
In response to accusations that he's biased, Carter noted his work with Israeli and Jewish groups. But he said that unlike current U.S. politicians and diplomats, he's not subject to pressure from interest groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC, a pro-Israeli lobby group, hasn't made an official statement in response to his book.
Carter said he's been able to see the Palestinian perspective and even worked with Israeli officials to monitor Palestinian elections in 1996, 2005 and 2006.
He called living conditions in the West Bank "intolerable," with more than 500 checkpoints as well as walls and fences that snake through Palestinian land.
Carter said such conditions warrant his use of the term "apartheid," though he stressed that several prominent Israeli politicians, journalists and activists have used the word in terms much harsher than his.
"The forced segregation and domination by Israelis is not based on racism," he said. "The driving force for the terrible oppression and persecution comes from a minority of Israelis."
He condemned violence against innocent civilians, but said unresolved Arab-Israeli turmoil continues to fuel flames of extremism and anti-Americanism.
About 20 students from the student group Hawkeyes for Israel passed out pamphlets outside the gathering refuting claims in Carter's book.
"The title 'apartheid' is an obvious direct reference to South Africa," said Aaron Citron, president of the group. "Israel is a democracy, the Arab-Israelis are allowed to vote, there are Arab members of the Knesset who have a fair share as much as anyone else, which I think Carter fails to address."
Nearby a handful of people held green signs that read, "Palestinians have rights too/End the occupation," and "Arab Americans for Mideast peace."
With the government saying that the IDF will not embark on a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip despite the rocket and mortar attacks launched on Israel on Independence Day, and instead will make due with a 'targeted' response, the IDF turned its efforts today on hundreds of teenaged revenants heading for the town of Homesh in Samaria. As you may recall, the Jews of Homesh were expelled from their home by the Sharon-Olmert-Peres government in the late summer of 2005. Fortunately, this time, cooler heads prevailed than was the case at Amona, and despite 'banning' the rally it had earlier permitted a few days ago, the IDF allowed revenants to proceed to Homesh on foot (but not by car) where a relatively peaceful rally took place. The revenants are now in the process of leaving, although this is taking longer than expected, because the IDF has not let any buses through to collect them and it is dark now in Israel.
Several thousand settlers attended the Independence Day ceremony in the Homesh area calling for a return to former settlements in the northern West Bank.
The organizers of the ceremony instructed participants not to clash with security forces and pledged that they would all leave the area at nightfall.
The IDF originally approved the march last week, but then rescinded the authorization, saying that "anyone attempting to enter or inhabit the area will be breaking the law."
However, the organizers of the event declared on Sunday that the march would go ahead as planned.
Right-wing organizations called on people on Monday to participate in the event, and said that Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Israel Aumann would lead the protesters.
Most of the activists arrived at midday, and picnics, barbecues and other events were set to continue until evening.
One of the things I hope - probably in vein - that the Winograd Commission will highlight in its report is the direct correlation between wasting the IDF's time running after 'settlers' and the lack of preparedness for last summer's hostilities with Hamas and Hezbullah. For too long, the government has used the IDF as its auxiliary police force - and not just against the 'Palestinians' as the government would like you to believe.
IDF soldiers at checkpoints along the way are making no attempt, as of Tuesday evening, to stop the marchers, saying they are there to secure the area, protect the marchers from Arabs from local villages, and to prevent activists from using side trails off the main road. Arutz-7 correspondent Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu described the march as quiet and calm, with the atmosphere between the soldiers and marchers as "very relaxed." Another source, who spoke as he was climbing up the hill close to Homesh, also reported the event as "calm, definitely."
At the head of the main organized group of marchers, which set off at 11:00 am from a nearby town [I assume Shavei Shomron. CiJ], was Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Yisrael Aumann. The world-renowned professor of game theory stated in recent days that he sees a return to Homesh as "signaling the imperative change of direction the state needs. The march to Homesh expresses very well the aspiration to be a free people in our land." Prof. Aumann addressed the gathered activists, as did the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Dov Lior.
According to Tzafrir Ronen, among the march organizers, the turnout was far beyond what the Homesh First umbrella group had planned on. "We prepared for about 3,000 people, and there are more than 30,000 here," Ronen said. Eyewitnesses said the total number number of marchers on the road numbered between seven and ten thousand.
Dozens of hired buses, including some organized without the help or knowledge of the march organizers, brought supporters of Homesh resettlement from all over the country. The Likud movement also formally joined in on the Homesh march during Tuesday morning. Four buses hired by the Likud party brought activists to the area.
Most of marchers are teenagers and people under the age of 30, many pushing strollers with toddlers and babies, although some are middle-aged and older. "I've seen some grandfathers climbing up the hill," said eyewitness Jonathan Stein. Several thousand people had reached the ruins of Homesh by early afternoon, Stein reported. Commenting on the determination of all of the participants to complete the hike, organizer Ronen said, "I have been to all the battles and all the demonstrations - I have never seen anything like this."
The participants are varied and represent "all types - religious, secular, Haredi, old people and young," according to Ronen. "They are all streaming towards Homesh in an unbelievable flow. The police was unable to cope and simply folded up its tent and left the area. Of four or five jeeps, there remains one, [whose occupants] have nothing to do but have a friendly chat with the marchers. Determination has proven itself. It is also clear to the police that this place is ours...."
Let's hope that twenty times this number of people (that's what it will take) come out to topple the Olmert-Peretz-Livni government after the Winograd Commission report comes out and that the IDF can go back to defending the country and stop wasting its time trying to block children from going on a hike.
This morning, the IDF managed to prevent a Hamas attempt at using Kassams to distract IDF soldiers on the Gaza border so that Hamas could kidnap IDF soldiers like Hezbullah did in Lebanon last summer. While the number of each is in dispute, Hamas shot in excess of ten Kassams (maybe as many as tihrty) and an indefinite number of mortar shells (maybe as many as fifty) at Israel's western Negev this morning. But IAF helicopters attacked the Hamas teams that intended to cross through the 'security fence' and foiled the plan. Hamas continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth, with 'moderate' 'Prime Minister' Ismail Haniyeh claiming that the cease firehudna (which the 'Palestinians' have repeatedly violated) is still in effect, while his own 'military wing' claims it is no longer binding.
Meanwhile, defenseless 'defense minister' AmirComrade Peretz has warned Hamas that the 'Palestinian unity government' is not immune from attack (which I am sure just has them shaking in their boots). The Olmert-Peretz-Livni government continues to promise 'restraint' in response to the continuing 'Palestinian' provocations, while Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman counsels correctly that 'restraint' is seen as weakness, but inexplicably continues to sit in the government and not follow through on his own advice.
Last Thursday, Haaretz reported that Hamas is supporting Kassam attacks by Islamic Jihad. But today's attacks go even further with Hamas actually taking 'credit' for them. If, as seems likely, Olmert continues to fiddle and not respond, the 'Palestinians' will draw the correct conclusion (that Israel's leaders are too weak to fight Hamas again) and up the ante yet again. Let's just hope that the Winograd report has the desired effect. It doesn't seem like much else has a shot at moving this government out to pasture.
The British journalists, like the academics before them, dare to tread where an army of goons has gone before. If they do not recognize the ember of anti-Semitism still glowing within them, they ought to park themselves before a mirror and ask why, of all the nations, they single out Israel for reprimand and obloquy. This business of assigning to Jews a special burden, for seeing in them more of mankind's bad qualities and less of its good, has a dark and ugly pedigree: the Chosen People, again -- and again in the wrong way.
'Palestinian' shoots Israeli driver at Hizmeh checkpoint
Now here's a story I have not read elsewhere. DEBKA is reporting that a 'Palestinian' shot and wounded an Israeli driver at the Hizmeh checkpoint. Hizmeh is just outside Pisgat Zev, on the northeastern border of Jerusalem. The checkpoint is at the entryway to Highway 60, which snakes north through Samaria. It is close enough to Jerusalem that it is considered quite safe. The nearest Jewish town to there - Adam - is four and a half minutes from the checkpoint, and is considered so safe that for several years now, the IDF has not required bulletproof buses for its bus route. I have driven there several times myself.
How could I talk about those who would destroy us from within without mentioning Israel's Hebrew Palestinian Daily. This time, the article is even available in English on their own website. In fact, it's one of their regular columnists:
I clearly remember when I stopped hanging the flag. It was after I saw the settlers dashing through Palestinian villages, fearsome flags waving from their cars to confront and provoke the residents of the land they had invaded. I said to myself that a flag intended for provocation and confrontation is not my flag. I later saw the flag as a land marker, establishing ownership that is not ours. In every settlement and outpost they hung the flag that was my flag as well to "establish facts on the ground."
How can I hang at my home the same flag that flies over the homes of the Jewish settlement in the heart of Hebron, which has expelled nearly 20,000 residents from their homes? How can I hang the flag that flies on the homes of Yitzhar and Itamar, and at dozens of checkpoints designed to choke the lives of our neighbors? How can I hang the flag that flies on the jeeps that burst forth in the dead of night and spread terror in the hearts of little children? The flag became increasingly distant from me; the national flag became the flag of extreme nationalism.
Perhaps the question that ought to be asked is how one can hang the flag of the government that expelled Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip, that tolerates rocket attacks on the western Negev daily (including today) and that abandoned one third of its population to Hezbullah rockets last summer.
But the author of the article above, Gideon Levy, ought to leave the country if he is so embarrassed. Maybe we should take up a collection to let him move to Lebanon.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-three years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 11 to 31 years and seven grandchildren. Three of our children are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com