Merry Christmas to one and all. From our family at Barnabus Press, and our family and extended family in both the US and Israel, we wish you the happiest of this Christmas as you celebrate with your loved ones.
A special greeting to all our believing friends (we know of 30) who are serving in the Israel Defense Forces, and to our American troops and allies who are spread around the world in such places at Guam (more loved ones), and in dangerous combat duty. You are missed here at home, loved and admired for your courageous duty to keep our world free and safe.
There are many soldiers of the Lord who are away from their home fires as well, and our prayers and love goes out to them as well.
The world is full of unsung heroes who answer the question, “Who will go for me?” They hear those words and step forward, answering “Here am I, send me.” Theirs is a worthy cause every day, but we know that at holiday time, it is the home-side hearth to which their thoughts turn.
And to the families who are “left behind.” Brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, grandparents, and others who are remembered by a photo, shared experiences and longed for in the dark of night as the absent one prays for home and for God to keep his family safe, just as they pray likewise for safety for the one on the front lines of life far away.
To all of you we salute you, we remember you, and we here pay tribute to you and what you do for us, your nation and your Lord, whichever and whatever the case may be.
12/23/2009 - Perspective
LIVING INSIDE THE CAULDRON
Our friend Haviv Rettig Gur at the J-Post wrote a piece this week about the state visit of a Lithuanian statesman who said it would be a good thing if the Europeans didn’t talk about the Middle East so much. Just leave them alone to get to the bargaining table and work out a peace plan both sides could work with. I applaud the idea, but have little belief it will become fact anytime soon.
MAYBE GOOD FOR INSIDE ISRAEL TOO.
When you live in Israel, your thoughts are almost constantly about what’s happening around you.
Wall Street has crashed. Okay, what’s the price of the Dollar?
Fifty boat people from Haiti were arrested on the high seas. Okay did you hear about the Arab who stabbed the Border Guard outside the Damascus Gate?
The tide is turning against Pelosi and Reid. How can you tell? The media photos show them uglier and angrier each day. Okay, so what happened at the Foreign Ministry yesterday with all the police cars flooding the area?
The Pope is sick. Right. And are they going to arrest the kook Rabbi like they threatened?
You get the idea don’t you? We know that Israel is the center of the world and Jerusalem is the soul-center of that world. But what about the larger circle of life? What are your interests there?
Family. Friends. Church. Politics as it ruins or raises your nation. Society as it digresses. But with the exception of the first three the rest just seems to be like the rings around Uranus; they are just there. It isn’t like your not interested, or that they are not important, but finally there reaches a point where you hit overload. You just cannot deal with too many things. You need to decompress yourself.
That’s one reason I write novels. They take me outside myself for a while and allow me to just focus on something that is not earth shaking. Fun, entertaining, good to read, but not life or death in the real world.
I used to hunt that way. That’s gone by the wayside due to our life nowadays. Same with fishing and golf. Time and opportunity have fled, though I still enjoy all three pastimes.
A WRITER WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR THAT YOU WILL ENJOY.
Barry Rubin is a man with a serious face. Plenty of lines, a salt and pepper beard, thinning hair and sparkling eyes.
He writes with insight, audacity and forgive me – hope!
Enjoy his piece on Abbas’ plan for the Palestinians:
The Region: The 'no war, no peace' option
Dec. 20, 2009
Barry Rubin , THE JERUSALEM POST
We now have Mahmoud Abbas's answer regarding short-term Palestinian Authority strategy. He says that if Israel stops all construction now - in east Jerusalem and the 3,000 apartments being completed - and accepts in advance the 1967 borders, there will be peace within six months. This is the basic story we've been hearing since around 1988: One or more Israeli concessions and everyone will live happily ever after.
This is clearly bait being dangled for President Barack Obama, offering him an "easy" way out of his dilemma of not having any peace talks after almost a year in office: Pressure Israel to give up more and you will look good, with plenty of photo opportunities of you presiding over Israel-PA talks.
Of course, what Abbas wants to do is remove one of the main points of Israeli leverage, the borders to be agreed upon and the status of east Jerusalem. Moreover, he is leaving out both the additional demands he will be making (all Palestinians who want to can go live in Israel) and all the Israeli demands he will be ignoring (recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, the end of the conflict and dropping all Palestinian claims, security guarantees, an unmilitarized Palestinian state, settling all refugees in Palestine).
In addition, of course, he can't speak for about half the people and territory he claims to represent; that is, the Gaza Strip. And by not holding elections and unilaterally extending his term, Abbas leaves the door open for some future Palestinian leadership saying he had no legitimate mandate to negotiate and therefore any agreement he made isn't binding.
Finally, he made one very big misstatement, hoping - as usual - that the West pays no attention to what's said in Arabic. He claimed that the PA stopped incitement against Israel, in terms of urging violence and rejecting Israel's existence. While the PA is, of course, far better than Hamas on such matters, a very large dossier can be compiled on how that is a lie.
THE QUESTION is what will the Obama administration do? Is it going to press Israel for further unilateral concessions so that the PA will agree to talks and Obama can call it a success? Will it try to get the PA to do something in terms of confidence-building measures or to talk without preconditions? Israel is certainly not going to accept the 1967 borders with absolutely no change before even talking with the PA (and probably not even as part of a peace agreement).
Indeed, it is now Obama administration policy that there need to be minor border modifications to accommodate the post-1967 changes on the ground. Moreover, Israel can say that if it stops all construction immediately, including in east Jerusalem, the PA still won't talk, so what's the point?
Incidentally, Abbas admitted that he never asked for an Israeli construction freeze before but is only doing so in the context of the road map. However, even after the road map, Abbas never made this a big issue until after Obama demanded a construction freeze. In objective terms, the president has no one to blame but himself for this mess, but of course he won't do that. He has to blame either Israel or the PA. Which will it be?
At the same time, there's a new trend worth noting in the West Bank and the PA: a sense of satisfaction. While the Western media generally reflect the rather false-front public relations' campaign waged by the PA - bitter, frustrated, victimized and eager for peace - that's not what's really going on right now.
Abbas' government has to weather some difficult politicking along the following lines:
• He has extended his own term in office indefinitely and cancelled January 2010 elections without receiving much criticism from within the PA. After all, Hamas won't let any balloting happen in the Gaza Strip and who knows which side might win a fair vote?
• The PA has been rounding up Hamas activists and maintaining security on the West Bank while - with a lot of help and some pressure from Israel - preventing cross-border attacks.
• The economy is doing well with relative prosperity in the West Bank, though this could collapse in hours if the PA lets violence reappear.
• Abbas has contained intensive criticism from his colleagues about his being too "soft" in his dealings with Obama.
• He has worked out a way to refuse negotiations while blaming it on Israel.
• No matter what the PA does, international media coverage, support from Europe and a lack of criticism from the US government seem assured.
THERE ARE plenty of things to be pleased about even though the peace process is dead, there's no realistic prospect of a state and Hamas looks set to govern the Gaza Strip forever.
What's really true - though often misunderstood in the West - is that a no war, no peace option suits the PA just fine right now. There is a question of whether hotheads among Abbas' colleagues, a Hamas sabotage or some accidental event will set off a new confrontation. Yet that doesn't seem too likely in the short- to medium-run.
Finally, while Fatah and the PA can't wean themselves - indeed, they aren't even trying - off a basic strategy whose main goal is destroying Israel some day, that doesn't mean they can't get along with Israel on a current basis. Behind the scenes, things aren't so bad.
Indeed, when Abbas speaks privately, he is likely to spend much of his time attacking Hamas and urging tougher sanctions on Iran. He knows who his real enemies are, even if most Western observers take him at his (public) word.
FINALLY THIS WEEK:
We find ourselves without a gall bladder. First surgery in my life, though I’m certainly no stranger to stitches and scars. Plenty of those with the memories to boot.
What was a scheduled 45 minutes turned into over 2 hours in the OR and the same in recovery. The redhead was a little frightened when my good doctor came out to let her in on what was happening, but we are out and on our way to recovery.
Still as sore as a bad bull rider, but improving. Seems they found a lot of adhesions – internal scar tissue – is how they explained it to me. Don’t look it up, you don’t want to see it. Now is the extended period of recovery, and another hospital procedure on the 4th of the new year.
Most real serious work is suspended for a few weeks while we get our act back together. But I’m getting lots of babying over which I scowl and purr simultaneously. My good wife is ever there for me, regardless of the “state” wherein we find ourselves.
We wish you all the merriest Christmas.
NEXT WEEK there will not be a regular column.
What we will have instead is a few of our finer photos from Israel.
Thanks for the prayers, notes and encouragement. Love you one and all,
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.
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This Week In Israel is written for those with a real interest in Israel and what affects that nation. Written from a position of love and concern for the people, we want to educate, at times entertain, and keep you up to speed.