First things first, we want to wish all our veterans a happy Veteran’s Day. This always seems a strange greeting to me, knowing what many of our vets have endured in becoming veterans in the first place, but you likely know our hearts are for you and yours.
With the shooting in Ft. Hood there is so much on the media waves that I won’t get into lots of it. A couple of things seem evident. This was an act of Islamist terrorism, regardless of the fact that the shooter was in the military. He isn’t the first who has done this kind of heinous deed and no doubt he won’t be the last.
As to whether he should have been grabbed or not, we do think that there is far too much “political correctness” in the military today – a result of politicians shoving the garbage down the throats of the military, not to mention the fact that some of the generals are only too ready to swallow.
The second Mayor Daly in Chicago immediately came out and blamed guns. Typical knee-jerk reaction from a gun-banning jerk. Chicago has lots more crime than Ft. Hood or Killeen, Texas, so our advice is that the Mayor should shut his mouth and clean up his own act.
11/11/2009 - I QUIT! (or not)
Well, now that I’ve got that off my chest…
KEEP THAT CELL PHONE HANDY IN ISRAEL
Word came out this week that Israel is preparing a system of cell phone alerts for incoming rocket or missile attacks. This would certainly be better than the current siren alerts now in place. We have been here when the alerts sound and in lots of areas one simply does not hear them.
The only problem is that the system is not going to be ready for another two years.
A report came out this week that two-thirds of Israelis doubt their health system – especially the Health Ministry. They give their family doctor a high rating, but don’t have much faith in hospitals and bureaucrats who regulate the public system.
I’ve already had my say on the one experience I had at a local hospital so I won’t revisit that, but I sure do understand the survey results.
When the debate began in the States over health care “reform” (or destruction, as the case may be) there were a lot of articles bragging on Israel’s system and the fact that many here thought the US should adopt a similar program. Hogwash.
Name me even one system that the government runs that is superior to private enterprise operations. The post office as opposed to UPS or Fed Ex? Social Security?
This US grab is not about health care it is about cornering 17 percent of the economy and putting it in the hands of the likes of the Sneaker of the House, Pelosi.
ABBAS QUITS! AGAIN.
There is a round of quiet from Ramallah today and for the past couple of days. Abbas’ resignation was more for the sake of trying to hammer the Obama regime and get them to push Bibi around while he was in the States. That apparently did not happen.
Could it be that the President has come to the conclusion that Israel and in particular Prime Minister Netanyahu is making more sense than all the vapid proclamations from the Palestinians.
Below is our read on what’s going on, some responses, etc.
It came without a lightning bolt. There was no drum and bugle corps with pennants unfurled in the Ramallah breeze.
There was just poor old grandfatherly Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen as he prefers to be called locally, standing before his sycophants, dry-eyed, reading from a piece of paper yellowed by time. He’d used it many times in the past.
On it the words that he has uttered so often before.
(My paraphrase): “Things are difficult. This job is not fun. I will quit. I won’t run for re-election, if we have elections. I quit. I quit. I quit.”
Well, at least it might have gone something like that. But threaten to quit, he did. Again.
As a long time Middle East observer I will tell you, the tune is the same regardless of whether the words change or not. In this case the words did not change.
I did a Google search for the phrase “Abbas threatens to resign.” It turned up 113,000 hits!
Here are some of the dates on the stories:
10.26.09 - (up to today)
Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the most successful terrorist organization in history (excepting perhaps al Qaeda), President of the Palestinian Authority, perpetual whiner and spoiled brat says he’s quitting again.
What is one to make of this?
Who might take his place?
What will Israel do?
What about Hamas and their reaction?
What do the Palestinian people think of all this?
We’ll try to answer these questions and more in the coming paragraphs.
First – Why now?
The timing of this most recent quitting fit came just as Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to travel to the United States to speak to a congress of Jewish American organizations. Timing is everything.
In the news was the absence of a meeting with President Barak Obama. It is virtually unheard of for allied heads of state to be in one or the other’s nations without a sit-down. But Obama was silent – for a change. No meeting was scheduled until Netanyahu was literally in the air on his way to the United States.
Even then the talks were held at midnight with no photographers. Why such rudeness? Because it is clear from previous meetings that Bibi is not under the magical spell of the Great One. He stands firmly on America’s side, but has shown that he is neither a step-and-fetch-it who will do Obama’s bidding at the cost of Israel’s security nor a man who says whatever Obama wants when it is not true.
Abbas wanted to pressure President Obama to demand that Israel cease from ANY building programs inside the West Bank. Period. And I remind you that to Abbas, the West Bank includes Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. The Palestinians have recently taken to calling Jerusalem a settlement and claiming all of it – not just East Jerusalem – will someday be in their hands.
I HASTEN to add that the Palestinians came by this demand for no settlement construction from President Obama. In another of his speaking without first understanding what his words would mean, he said that Israel should stop all settlement growth.
The Arabs of the PA leaped on this glib but naïve phrase and made it the clarion call of their demands to get them to the “peace talk table.”
Obama of course recanted, denied and otherwise side-stepped his remark, but Abbas seems this time like a pit bull on the President’s pants cuff. He won’t talk peace with Israel unless they promise to not lay one limestone atop another anywhere in all of Samaria and Judea.
This of course, is ludicrous. Many of what are called settlements are actually thriving Israeli cities, established almost immediately after Israel captured the area from Jordan at the end of the Six Day War in 1967.
WHAT IS ONE TO MAKE OF THIS?
According to reports from Abbas’ Fatah officials, he decided to resign because he wanted to send a message to not just the Americans but also to the Arabs.
The Abbas Fatah terrorist entity is at war with the Palestinian Islamist Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Egypt has been trying to broker reconciliation between the two. It has not worked.
Hamas is in total control of Gaza. Abbas cannot hold elections as he planned in January of next year without Gaza participating lest he be shown to not carry a clear majority of all Palestinians. Hamas has already said that there will be no elections in Gaza.
Furthermore, Egypt told Abbas that he should immediately sit down with Israel and begin new rounds of peace talks. That went down poorly with Abbas.
ANGRY AT HILLARY
Let me give you some examples clipped from the Jerusalem Post’s reporting on Abbas’ anger at the Secretary of State.
You may remember that recently Hillary was in Pakistan where she lectured them on their inability to capture al Qaeda terrorists. From there she traveled to Abu Dhabi where she met with the unfortunate Abbas. She was on a role, and we don’t know what was said to the Fatah leader, but our guess is that he got a bit of what she had left over from the Pakistanis.
He didn’t take it well:
“In a remarkably nasty article in the PA's Al-Hayat al-Jadida on Sunday, headlined "Clinton, why must you lie?" Omar Hilmi al-Ghul, an adviser to the PA's much-US-admired Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, asserted that the secretary was "twisting the truth and accusing the Palestinians of being an obstacle" to peace. He asked viciously: "Why, Mrs. Hillary? How much did the Zionists bribe you, and what weight does AIPAC carry in your decisions and inclinations?"
"Your lies can deceive only a few simpletons who have been led astray," Ghul went on, according to a translation provided by MEMRI, "but the overwhelming majority of people can clearly see the truth."
"Obama should fire her," declared columnist Talal 'Awkal in another PA-affiliated newspaper, Al-Ayyam, the same day, adding for good measure that Mitchell should resign in protest at the "great deception" Clinton had perpetrated by purportedly backing down over the settlement freeze.” (J-Post)
Additionally they have taken to print and television with the absurd Arafat lies that there was never a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, that the Israelis are robbing them of their national heritage, etc.
This is ludicrous in the face of their own statements that their roots actually go back to Crete and not Israel or even Jordan.
WHO MIGHT TAKE ABBAS’ PLACE?
Well, that is the great question. In Western minds it would be Prime Minister Fayad. The problem with such an idea is that though his popularity has recently doubled, it is at only 4% according to a recent poll.
Marwan Barghouti is very popular in the West Bank. His problem is that he is serving five life terms for his part in terrorist raids where Israelis were murdered. His voice is still heard from prison, as strange as that is, but he is not a viable candidate.
The other Fatah leadership are all part of the old-time corruption mess that Arafat brought with him in 1993 from Tunis. They are despised by most Palestinians as robber barons and thugs.
As Khaled Abu Toameh, the awesome reporter on Arab affairs in the Jerusalem Post told me a couple of years ago when I asked about one potential leader from near Hebron, “He’ll never make it. One – he’s never killed a Jew, and Two – he’s never been in an Israeli prison.”
That accurate statement should tell you what the Palestinian society is really like.
WHAT WILL ISRAEL DO?
As you probably know, there is never a vacuum in leadership. Somebody always rises to the top when the big guy topples.
In the case of Abbas leaving, there is every likelihood that there will be a bloody night of the long knives among the Hamas leadership. While that is going on, Hamas leaders in the West Bank are apt to stage a coup. They hate Fatah, they have the moral (immoral) support of their brothers in Gaza, and the general public is helpless when the guns come out.
For its part, should the bandits come to power, Israel will most likely do what Sharon did to stop Intifada II. He will send in the IDF with Speed, Surprise and Overpowering Strength – the Trinity of War. More blood will be spilled briefly, then things will quiet down.
It is our personal opinion that should that happen, the Palestinian Authority would be disbanded – something Abbas himself has threatened recently – and the Arab man on the street would take a deep sigh of relief.
Why? Because I remind you that before 1993 when Arafat arrived there was a literal 1000% better standard of living among the Palestinians of the West Bank.
Can the clock be turned back? I don’t know. Would Egypt and Jordan accept such a return to the old days? Probably, though Jordan would really be concerned about their own peace from the 70% Palestinian population inside their nation.
Would Jordan and Israel agree to an arrangement whereby they share security arrangements in Samaria and Judea? Israel would no doubt deal with infrastructure (roads, water, schools, local government and business promotion and investment). This would improve Palestinian life because previously there would be so much less corruption and abuse of power. In other word – jobs, income and peace would improve and well-fed people who have jobs and hope are usually more peaceful people.
That would be a real benefit that many Palestinians would find difficult to ignore. With Jordan helping deal with security, one would also expect to see some severe treatment of troublemakers. Like his father, King Abdullah II does not worry a lot about outside interference in his dealing with those who cross him. You might want to remember that the name “Black September” came into existence when King Hussein killed 10,000 of Arafat’s PLO Palestinian members when they tried to pull off a coup.
DO THE ARABS OF EAST JERUSALEM THINK A “WILDCAT” UNILATERAL FORMATION OF A NEW PALESTINIAN STATE IS A NEAR REALITY?
Listen to what the J-Post, in an article by Abe Selig recently reported about the mindset of Palestinians in East Jerusalem:
“While anxiety is reportedly mounting within the government over the possibility of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, with east Jerusalem as its capital, residents of east Jerusalem - Arab and Jewish alike - told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that they have little faith such a prospect would materialize, and were more concerned with their daily lives than with vague expectations for the future.
"I have family in Ramallah," he said. "We see what the PA is doing there, things have changed. We're beginning to see a semblance of law and order that we didn't see in the past. And Salaam Fayad is a Jerusalemite, which gives him more credibility. People want to trust him, we do feel that he's doing things to try and make a difference.
"And Abu Mazen has stolen his riches already," Hamed added, laughing. "I don't think he needs to steal anymore.
"But in the meantime, we're trying to get by, and however we can do that better, that's fine. But until we can see that the PA is serious about these plans, I don't think anyone will really believe it."
WHAT ABOUT HAMAS AND THEIR REACTION?
The Iranian-backed evil twins of Hamas and Hezbollah in Gaza and Lebanon respectively, have taken their lumps recently. Not the least of these are the capture of ships bringing weapons to both groups. One headed for Hezbollah had 500 tons of rockets and arms.
Hamas has proven that they are not the fighters that they might have been. When the IDF entered Gaza in Operation Cast Lead (ripples of which are still lapping some shores) Hamas sent their boys into the battles and they were chewed up.
It was more their style to booby-trap the homes of their own citizens, hide their leaders out in hospitals, schools and mosques, and make radical claims to the news media, primarily al Jazeera.
They are not totally inept, do pose a real threat as terrorists where bombings are concerned and even more so with their rockets which can now reach as far as south Tel Aviv.
Our read on this is that with Netanyahu at the helm politically, Ashkenazi leading the IDF and the former special ops hero Barak at Defense, Hamas does not want a stand up shooting war with Israel. They were a great disappointment to their Iranian Guard teachers last time out and many of their leaders are still staying near their spider holes just in case the IDF decides to take them out abruptly.
WILL ABBAS RECANT?
With everyone from President Shimon Peres to foreign statesmen worldwide pleading with him to stay, we imagine he will see the light.
As the one man from East Jerusalem said, however, Abbas has his money (he inherited the account numbers from Arafat you recall), so it is possible he will seek safety in Paris or some other European location and retire. My guess is he will stay.
IF HE LEAVES DOES IT MEAN WAR FOR ISRAEL?
Personally I say it does not. The Arabs have this penchant for fighting among themselves as much as with outsiders. With foreign aid dollars up for grabs (or grabbing in graft), the keys to the war machine of the security forces, and the perks of the Presidency, there is a lot to consider by many close to the top of the West Bank Arab ranks. Some are likely already sending for their Savile Row tailor as they convince themselves they are next in line if Abbas quits.
Only after the internal wars are over will the Arabs turn their attention to Israel. By that time, Israel will already know how to deal with the winners and the losers.
As J-Post Editor David Horovitz said this week in an editorial, “AROUND NETANYAHU there are influential figures who are none-too concerned by the pre-negotiation deadlock and the fading of Abbas. After all, they argue, the prime minister is strong and popular, and the day-to-day security situation, notwithstanding Hamas's newly extended missile capabilities, is relatively stable. If Israel now has to wait a little longer for a truly moderate Palestinian leader, they conclude, so be it.
“The administration, furthermore, feels aggrieved at the Palestinian criticism - just like its predecessors, it has always made clear its opposition to settlement expansion but, it insists, it did not set its demand for a freeze as a precondition for resuming talks.”
One more loser in all this is President Obama and his team. They botched the talks by trying to shove Israel into shutting down all building in the settlements and Jerusalem. That is what led to all this talk by Abbas and Co. Mark it up to one more stumble by the King of the World.
THE REASON THINGS ARE QUIET NOW…
Our read is that Abbas and his corrupt cronies are basking in all the incoming pleadings for him not to resign.
Well, all of us like to feel we are wanted, needed and appreciated, so who can blame him?
But it occurs to me that one of these days the world is likely to say, “Okay, Mahmoud! Beat it! We’re tired of all this quitting. So quit.”
That may seem unreasonable, knowing what the world is like. And, perhaps there is some of the devil you know as opposed to the devil you don’t.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE ABOVE:
Let me tell you a story about two ole boys who were down in a well back in the days when wells were dug by hand.
The one says to the other, “Hey Willie, why do we hafta be down in this cold well digging when George is up there just giving orders and drinking coffee?
Willie, says, “Well, Buck, wait a minute and I’ll go up and ask him.” With that he gets hauled to the top and goes over to George.
“Hey, George, Buck and me want to know why you get to be up here and we gotta be down there where it’s damp and cold.”
George hands Willie a shovel and walks over to a tree. He puts his hand up against the trunk and says, “Swing that shovel hard as you can and hit my hand.”
Ole Willie winds up and takes a full swing. Just before the shovel strikes, George moves his hand and Willie gets that electric-like shock that comes from a bad hit.
“Now get back down there and get to work!” George exclaims.
Back in the well, Buck says, “Well, what did he say?”
Whereupon Willie holds his hand in front of his face and says, “Hit my hand with that shovel!”
The result of that story is about where Mahmoud Abbas has placed himself. He has insulted the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She is not one to take a slight lightly, as many can testify. Read some of Dick Morris’ work for details of how she can delight in “pay backs.”
Abbas has further denigrated both President Obama and his ME Representative George Mitchell by seeing that insulting articles are placed in the Palestinian controlled newspapers and television.
It’s not helpful to be slapping American faces when one wants more billions of dollars to come pouring out of the US treasuries into one’s pockets.
Contrast that to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s charming baritone American-sounding voice saying that Israel is ready to sit down with the Palestinians with no preconditions. The voice of reason contrasted to the screech of nails on a chalkboard and the oft-repeated threat of Abbas to resign from running the Palestinian Authority.
Now we want to present the text of the speeches of both Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Michael Oren. I have had the pleasure of knowing Michael Oren. He writes often with a Cross pen I gave him when he admired my own. He is smart, wise (not always the same thing) and a great teacher and speaker. I think you will appreciate his comments.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"Thank you all.
"My dear friends, leaders of the Jewish communities of North America,
The history of the Jewish people has been marked by a paradox. We are at once both small and great. We are few in number but luminous in achievement. In the ancient world, the Jews were a small people on the foothills of Asia touching the Mediterranean. But in Alexandria some 2200 years ago, the Bible was translated into Greek, and the world has never been the same since.
"The Jews brought to civilization at least three big ideas: the idea of monotheism, the belief that all people have innate rights that transcend the power of kings, and a prophetic vision of universal peace.
"It is impossible to fully describe the revolutionary impact of these ideas throughout history, nor the poetic power of the Biblical stories that overshadowed much of the literature of the ancient world.
"As in antiquity so in modernity.
"Israel is one of the world’s smallest countries. But our success in science and technology, agriculture, medicine, and the arts belies our size. And on this continent, the Jewish community accounts for less than 2% of the population, yet its creative accomplishments in every field are legend and legendary.
"In modern times, Jews everywhere have made extraordinary contributions to humanity.
"So, smallness and greatness have thus accompanied our people throughout nearly 4,000 years of our history. But our conspicuous achievements often masked our small size and the vulnerability that comes with being small.
"Being prominent but small, we often could not defend ourselves against larger foes who envied our achievements, despised the ideas we championed, and periodically sought to expel or even annihilate us outright.
"The rebirth of Israel did not eliminate such attacks. But it fundamentally changed our ability to repel them.
"In 1948, some 600,000 Jews, their backs against the sea, fended off the assault of much larger enemies sworn to our destruction. We were aided by many of our fellow American Jews. You gave money, arms, and most important, tremendous moral support.
"You helped Israel absorb waves of immigrants, you spearheaded the historic struggle to free Soviet Jewry and you have tirelessly worked to strengthen the American-Israeli alliance which is a cornerstone of Israel’s security. Today, you support Birthright, Masa and Nefesh B’ Nefesh – these are programs that promote Aliyah and strengthen Jewish identity, thereby ensuring that our numbers are not further diminished and dwindled by the forces of assimilation.
"Strengthening Jewish identity can no longer be a task exclusively for the Diaspora.
It is increasingly the responsibility of the Jewish State. Over a decade ago, I was proud to be the first Prime Minister to allocate state funds to bolster Jewish identity outside of Israel.
"And I assure you that in my second term, I intend to do even more.
"The result of our joint efforts has been a stronger Israel. And only a strong Israel can achieve peace. But even a strong Israel is still a small Israel. And a small Israel demands a secure peace. Peace in our land, the peace of Jerusalem, our eternal capital, is one of our oldest longings, expressed in our Psalms and our prayers.
"Peace between Israel and our Arab neighbors: the first and immediate result would spare our children the horrors of war. It would spare our children the horrors of war. It would spare our grandchildren the horrors of war. What a great gift.
"Peace could usher in a new age of economic progress for the benefit of all. We have already signed peace agreements, two of them, with Egypt and Jordan. And we are eager to achieve peace with all our other neighbors, especially with the Palestinians.
"I believe there is no time to waste. We need to move towards peace with a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose. I want to be clear. My goal is not to have endless negotiations. My goal is not negotiations for negotiations sake. My goal is to reach a peace treaty, and soon.
"But to get a peace agreement, we must start negotiating. Let’s stop talking about negotiations. Let’s start moving.
"This past June at Bar-Ilan University, I put forward a vision of peace that has united the vast majority of Israelis.
"In this vision of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state would recognize the Jewish state.
"Now, what do I mean by a Jewish state? It is a state in which all individuals and all minorities have equal individual rights. Yet our national symbols, language and culture spring from the heritage of the Jewish people. And most important, any Jew from anywhere in the world has a right to immigrate to Israel and become a citizen.
"I want to make it clear: Any Jew, of any denomination, will always have the right to come home to the Jewish state. Religious pluralism and tolerance will always guide my policy.
"What does a Jewish state mean for the Palestinians? They must abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, give up irredentist claims to the Negev and Galilee, and declare unequivocally that the conflict is finally over.
"Yet, even after we achieve peace it may take years for the spirit of peace to permeate most levels of Palestinian society. Therefore, any peace agreement we sign today must include ironclad security measures that will protect the State of Israel.
"Here comes that paradox again.
"Israel is powerful but small. No matter where our final borders are drawn, Israel will remain exceedingly small. I am not sure you know how small Israel is. The United States and Canada are each roughly 400 times the size of Israel and the Arab world is 500 times the size of Israel. Egypt alone is roughly 40 times larger and even a small country like Jordan, our neighbor to the east, is almost four times as big. Israel is bigger than Rhode Island, but that’s about it.
"Small countries are not necessarily insecure. Belgium and Luxemburg are small but they today are not insecure. Yet if their neighbors included radical regimes bent on their conquest and destruction with terror proxies firing thousands of missiles on their people, believe me, they would feel insecure. Anyone would.
"Because of our small size and the radical and violent neighborhood in which we live, Israel faces security threats like that of no other nation.
"A few facts to drive the point home.
"A few days ago, the Israeli navy interdicted a ship carrying hundreds of tons of rockets and explosives from Iran bound for Hezbollah via Syria. Last week, Hamas tested a rocket with a range of nearly 40 miles.
"Now, for a large country, that might not be too consequential. But in tiny Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah now have the power to reach Tel Aviv.
"Israel’s security therefore requires that any territory vacated in a future peace agreement must be effectively demilitarized.
"An effective demilitarizion of Palestinian areas is an essential component of peace recognized by successive American presidents. I want to assure you Israel is willing to make great concessions for peace. But there can be no concessions on Israel’s security. We have to ensure that weapons do not flow into the Palestinian areas in the West Bank, which overlooks Tel Aviv and surrounds Jerusalem.
"We cannot permit another Gaza or South Lebanon in the heart of the country. What we want is a durable peace, a peace that can be defended. We fervently hope that such a peace will hold, but we must be prepared to defend ourselves in case it doesn’t.
"The UN report on Gaza, which falsely accuses Israel of war crimes for legitimately defending itself against real war criminals, in effect seeks to deprive us of the right of self-defense. This report must be firmly rejected.
"We are proud of the Israeli Defense Forces. We are proud of our sons and daughters who are defending our country every day. We know that our army, Israel’s army, is as moral as any army on earth. In supporting the IDF and rejecting this report you’re sending a message to terrorists that they cannot get away with firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians.
"And you do something else. You support peace. For only an Israel that can defend itself is an Israel that can take further risks for peace.
"I thank President Obama for resolutely opposing this twisted UN resolution.
"I applaud the overwhelming vote last week in the American Congress condemning this biased report.
"I know there are many Canadian friends with us here today. I wish to extend my thanks to Prime Minister Harper for his staunch support for Israel’s right of self-defense.
"Last week, I watched a joint exercise of the IDF and some 1400 American soldiers to improve Israel’s defense against incoming missiles. I salute these American soldiers, and I thank their President, their Commander in Chief, President Obama for his commitment to Israel’s security. On behalf of the people of Israel, I send my condolences to the American servicemen and women who were killed at Fort Hood last week.
"My government is working to advance peace and we are not just talking.
"We have removed hundreds of security checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank. I personally extended the hours of operation on the Allenby Bridge and I’ve removed bureaucratic hurdles to Palestinian economic development.
"These efforts, along with measures taken by the Palestinian Authority to improve security, have spurred an unmatched boom in the West Bank and has made life better for ordinary Palestinians.
"For the first time in years, businesses, banks and industry are sprouting. Restaurants, theaters, and shopping malls are overflowing. Thousands and thousands of Palestinian jobs are being created.
"I think we can do a lot more to improve the reality on the ground, and we will. I intend to do a lot more.
"Prosperity can help advance peace – but only so far. To truly resolve the outstanding issues between us, we must begin and complete peace negotiations.
"We should not place preconditions for holding talks. Such obstacles to talks were never set in the 16 years of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. From the day my government was sworn in seven months ago, I have been calling for peace negotiations to start.
"I said I would go anywhere, anytime to advance peace. And no Israeli government has been so willing to restrain settlement activity as part of an effort to re-launch peace talks. So I say today to the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas: let us seize the moment to reach an historic agreement. Let us begin talks immediately.
"I know there are many skeptics. I am not one of them. I believe that peace is possible. I know how committed the Israeli people are to peace and how committed I am to make peace. But I need and we need a determined Palestinian partner as well. A partner willing to shoulder the risk and burdens as we are.
"I believe that with good will and with courageous leadership on both sides, and no less important, with the continued support of the United States, peace can become a reality. We can surprise a skeptical world.
"Achieving peace is a great challenge facing Israel. At the United Nations in September, I spoke of another great challenge: preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. The Iranian regime tyrannizes its own people, sponsors and supplies terrorism, and openly pledges to wipe Israel off the map. Imagine how much more dangerous this regime would be if it had atomic bombs.
"The responsible members of the international community must unite to prevent this grave threat to the peace of the entire world.
"I support President Obama’s continued efforts toward these ends, and I appreciate the firm position taken by the leading European countries. We must not succumb to the Iranian regime’s deceit and cunning. We must stand together to stop Tehran from realizing its nuclear ambitions.
"In addition to achieving peace and preventing a nuclear Iran, there is a third momentous challenge before us – reducing the world’s dependence on oil.
This would help cleanse our world after more than a century of industrial pollution.
"It would help our economies by decreasing our dependence on depleting resources. And it would end the massive transfer of wealth to some of the world’s most odious exporters of terrorism and fanaticism.
"Here’s the question: can we dramatically reduce our dependence on oil?
"Remember, sometimes, one or two inventions can change centuries of habit. For many centuries, salt was highly valued for preserving food. Caravans of camels carried it across the deserts, and it was nearly worth its weight in gold. The salt trade helped build economic empires, and the world’s dependence on salt showed no signs of slackening.
"But then came two inventions: canning and refrigeration. Virtually overnight, salt lost its immense value. The same thing may happen to oil. Scientific and technological breakthroughs could dramatically reduce the world’s dependence on petroleum. And Israel could play an important role in making that happen.
"You know, of course, about our high-tech companies and venture capital funds, our engineers and scientists, our patents and our Nobel laureates. In biotech and agro-tech, in solar energy and desalination, and in many other fields, Israeli innovation is transforming the way we live.
"Two perceptive writers recently wrote a book called, “The Start-Up Nation”. We are the start-up nation. Now we must use our minds to help achieve breakthroughs in the field of clean energy. For example, Israel could apply its unique expertise to the juncture of water and energy. The global need for water is rapidly increasing. Yet, a third of the cost of producing clean water is energy. Sea-water in abundance can be readily desalinated with solar power and channeled inland.
"Having mastered both of these technologies, Israel can make a decisive contribution to alleviating water shortages around the world, especially in the growing economies of Asia and the parched expanses of the Middle East.
"I am in the process of establishing a national commission that will bring together Israel’s finest scientists, businessmen and engineers. We hope to work with other governments and experts to dramatically reduce our dependence on oil in the next decade, providing an example to be emulated by the rest of the world.
"If we could cross the oceans, fly the skies, and reach the moon, we should be able to harness water, wind and sun to power our world.
"I know that these three enormous challenges – achieving peace, preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and developing alternative energies - seem daunting.
But I want you to remember another mission whose success seemed completely implausible when Theodore Herzl embarked on it over a century ago.
"The challenges confronting Herzl’s vision of a Jewish state were not less than overwhelming. Most of the world’s Jews lived in Europe and had no intention of moving to the barren land of their forefathers.
"Few saw the clouds gathering on the horizon. Fewer still saw the need for action. But with a clear plan and a prophetic sense of urgency, Herzl helped the Jewish people overcome their tragic condition of powerlessness.
"His implausible idea gathered so much force that within a few decades our people emerged from the worst massacre in history to establish an independent state in our ancestral homeland. And then our small people then dedicated itself to the great task of building a modern Jewish state.
"In an understandable moment of frustration, Herzl lamented, “The tragedy of the Jewish people is that we do not believe in ourselves.”
"But Herzl did not lose faith. He said, “We are strong enough to form a state”. “We possess all the human and material resources for this purpose.”
"If we will it, he famously said, it is no dream.
"We have learned from history that if the Jewish people are united and determined, if we harness our hopes and our dreams, the hardest tasks are within our reach.
"We are a small people but a great people; a people generous enough to pave a path toward a lasting peace; a people brave enough to thwart the dangers that confront us; and a people creative enough to once again help steer humanity towards a better future for all."
Amb. Michael Oren's Speech at the 2009 GA
In his 1936 essay "Physics and Reality," the Nobel Prize laureate Albert Einstein wrote that "the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility….The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle."
Einstein was responding to the younger generation of physicists who claimed that randomness ruled the universe, that the so-called laws of nature were no more than myths.
But the debate went far deeper than a dispute over the movement of subatomic particles. It was an argument over the existence of God. The fact that light moves at a constant speed of nearly 300,000 meters per second was not accidental, Einstein reasoned--"God," said, "does not play dice with the universe." By the same logic, a God who fixes the speed of light also intervenes to create this planet, to encase it in oxygen, and to infuse it with life. And it follows that a God who fixes physical laws can also intercede in the course of history.
To believe in that God is to believe that human life and human history has a purpose—that we are going somewhere, often muddling, but marching nevertheless.
And perhaps the best proof of that belief is the fact that an obscure tribe of nomads living 3,000 years ago suddenly devised the notion of a single God and of universal morality.
There is the fact that these nomads became a people who conveyed these concepts to other faiths that today account for more than half of humanity.
A fact that that people's faith enabled them to survive in spite of successive expulsions and massacres.
And a fact that this people was given a land in which to realize its national destiny; and that this people longed to return to that land even when exiled.
To believe in the God of history is to believe that there was a reason why a tiny remnant of this people, rising from the ashes of the world's vastest murder returned to that land and reclaimed it; why they created a vibrant democracy and the first Jewish defense force in two thousand years; why they revived and enriched the language in which God had first spoken to them.
Einstein understood this.
Though thoroughly assimilated, once challenged by those younger chaos-theorists, Einstein sided with God. He sided with theJews. "My relationship to the Jewish people has become my strongest human tie," he wrote.
And Einstein became a Zionist.
He looked at the kibbutzim and the moshavim and the new Jewish city of Tel Aviv and was convinced, once again, that God was intervening in Jewish history and endowing it with meaning. "What makes me happiest," he wrote, "is the realization of a Jewish state." Of course, the way in which God intervenes in Jewish history raises many questions.
I cannot forget the barnyard I saw at the Thereisenstadt concentration camp, the stables that during Holocaust had been just as a synagogue by Danish Jews. I cannot forget the Hebrew inscription, still discernable on the wall: Lo Shachachnyu otcha, al Tiskah Otanu. "We have not forgotten You. Do not forget us."
Living in Israel, I have lost a sister-in-law in a suicide bombing and my eldest son was wounded in battle. My family and I have lived through multiple wars.
And yet, even if we cannot understand the meaning of such suffering in God's plan, we who believe that such a plan exists have nevertheless to look at the subsequent six decades in which the State of Israel has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles—wars, embargos, terror attacks—to the point where, today, Israel is in anincalculably better geopolitical and economic situation than at any other time in its history.
Think back to the 1948…..Think back to 1967.
Still, Israel faces monumental threats to its security, if not its existence.
In addition to the terrorists who hide behind their own civilians while firing rockets at Israeli towns and villages, there is the radical Iranian regime that backs those terrorists and vows to wipe Israel off the map; an Iranian regime that is assiduously working to build nuclear weapons.
And when Israel tries to defend itself from these dangers, much of the world rushes to condemn it for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Condemnations such as the Goldstone report cast widespread doubts about Israel's legitimacy. Like Einstein, we who believe that there is a purpose to Jewish history are being challenged by young people—even some Jewish youth--who say that Israel's creation was random and perhaps even wrong.
As representatives of Israel, often speaking on campuses, we remind young listeners of the many times that our leaders accepted a two-state solution only to have those offers rejected by the Palestinians and rejected with violence. We remind them that while we recognize that there is a Palestinian people with a right to state in their Palestinian homeland we have difficulty finding Palestinian leaders who acknowledge the existence of a Jewish people with an historic right to a state in the Land of Israel.
We recall the Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza that were reciprocated not with peace but with many thousands of rockets, and the numerous instances in which Israeli troops risked their own lives to minimize civilian Arab casualties.
We assert that Israel's record of human rights vastly exceeds that of any of our neighbors and that whatever shortcomings Israel does exhibit must never impugn its right to exist as a free and secure nation.
We make the case for Israel but I cannot tell you that all of our efforts are succeeding in eliminating the unconventional weapon of delegitimization—a weapon that renders us vulnerable to economic sanctions and international isolation.
Israel can and will defend itself, be assured. We will fight the terrorists and protect ourselves from Iran. And we will resist the attempts to discredit us.
Yet, ultimately, Israel's ability to withstand the onslaught of delegitimization depends on unity among the Jewish people themselves.
Our strength stems from the belief that we are a people with an historical purpose that has led us to create vital communities throughout the world and most compellingly here, in our own nation state.
Our strength derives from the belief that we have a right to independence in these, our tribal lands, that Jews have the right to defend themselves—to survive as Jews and as as legitimate nation.
But that right must be actively preserved, and not only by the Jews of Israel.
In Diaspora synagogues, schools, and community centers, alongside the banners demanding an end to the genocide in Darfur and efforts to combat AIDs, there must be banners declaring "Support International Sanctions" and "Stop the Iranian Bomb."
Of course, many of us will continue to have doubts arising from the Holocaust and other agonizing chapters of Jewish history.
But what ultimately what binds us is the belief that, in spite of our doubts and differences, we remain a people with a land and a purpose.
What sustains us is our faith.
It's a fact. Light travels at the speed of 299,792,458 meters per second.And it’s a fact that the Jewish people have remained a people for more than three millennia, enriching the world and inspiring humanity while remaining devoted t oa land which is once again home to a brave and vibrant nation.
Finally, it's a fact that whenever Jews have remained united in their faith not only in God but in themselves, as a people, they have overcome unspeakable challenges and even flourished.
A fact that Jewish unity will enable Israel to meet the challenges to its security and legitimacy, and to join with Diaspora Jewry in building a future of spiritual richness, creativity, and peace.
Einstein understood that and so can we—with all the alacrity, and the clarity, of light.
(Courtesy of our friends at The Israel Project)
Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Psalm 25:22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.
Psalm 60:12 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.
Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
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