Sunday, July 30, 2006

Moral Equivalence?

SEATTLE, July 29 (Reuters) - Police stepped up security at Seattle synagogues and mosques on Saturday, a day after a Muslim man who said he was angry at Israel shot dead one woman and wounded five others at a Jewish center.

"We are also protecting mosques, because there is always the concern of retaliatory crime," Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske told a news conference late on Friday.

Are they for real?! I wonder if the Seattle Police also protect burglars, murderers and rapists for fear of retaliatory crime? Does he not realise that one group of people in this story are the victims and the other - the agressors?! This is not the time for moral equivalence; cycle of violence and political correctness.

Saturday, July 29, 2006



We have come together today
To stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel
And to say a simple prayer.

Ribbono shel olam [Master of the universe],
Let your people Israel live in peace.
Let there be an end to bloodshed and violence.
Let there be an end to hostility and hate.
Let Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev come home.
Let Israel’s defence forces come home.
What else did Your people ever want,
Except the right to live with security, without fear, in peace?
Almighty G-d, let your people Israel live in peace.

Today we stand in solidarity with Israel,
And rarely have I felt so proud of Anglo-Jewry as I have done these past few days.
Especially of our young people.
Last week 1300 of them, from youth groups right across the religious spectrum,
Went out to Israel.
Every one of them, or their families, might have said: no. Not now. It’s too dangerous.
Yet almost none of them did.
I want to say to every one of those young people: Kol hakavod. You make us proud.

And today I want a message to go forth from us to Israel to say: Israel, you make us proud.
In a mere 58 years, in a country half the size of Lake Michigan, you have done things that are unbelievable.
You have gathered together Jews from more than a hundred different countries speaking more than eighty different languages and out of them made a great nation.
You have taken a land with no natural resources and turned it into one of the great economies of the modern world.
You have created a democracy in a part of the world where no one thought it possible.
You have taken a desolate land and made it blossom and bear fruit.
You have developed medical technologies to save life.

Wherever in the world there has been a natural disaster, you have been among the first to offer humanitarian aid.
Through six decades under almost continuous threat you have given the world poets and philosophers and musicians and novelists whose heart is Jewish and whose love is for all humanity.
You have taken the language of the Bible and made it speak again
You have taken a people from the valley of the shadow of death and made it live again
You have taken hope itself – hatikvah shnot alpayim – and made it breath again.
Israel: you are our people and our pride and we stand with you today.

Why then does a people who have consistently said Yes to life and No to death,
Who have consistently said Yes to peace and No to terror,
Find itself today fighting in Lebanon and Gaza?
The answer is so simple, yet so unbelievable, that we must hear it clearly and unequivocally:
Israel is fighting today in Lebanon because 6 years ago it withdrew from Lebanon.
Israel is fighting today in Gaza because 1 year ago it withdrew from Gaza.
And Israel discovered the terrible truth spoken by the late Mother Theresa
That no good deed goes unpunished.
Every gesture of goodwill undertaken by Israel has been seized on by its enemies as a sign of weakness.
Every Israeli effort towards peace has led without exception to an increase in violence against Israel.
The Oslo Peace Process led directly to the first Palestinian suicide attacks in Israel
Taba: the most generous offer Israel ever made to the Palestinians, led directly to the most concerted set of terrorist attacks against any nation in modern history.
The Gaza Withdrawal, the most painful act Israel has ever had to undertake, led within less than a year to 1000 Kassam rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets including schoolchildren.
And finally the Lebanon withdrawal, undertaken by Israel six years ago in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 425. That resolution was immediately broken by Hizbullah, about which the United Nations special envoy to Lebanon warned at the time, in November 2000: “Such breaches of international peace and security in the south threaten to ignite a new spiral of violence with tragic consequences for the civilian population.”
That failure led in 2004 to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 which called categorically for the disarming of militias in Lebanon. Again rejected. This time Kofi Annan himself protested to the Syrians. The effect? The arming of Hizbullah with weapons that threaten the very heart of Israel.
Israel withdrew from Lebanon.
Israel does not want to be in Lebanon.
It does not want to do any of the things it is now doing.
It accepted in good faith the commitment of the United Nations that it would not have to.
It is acting today only because the international community has failed to ensure that its neighbours met their obligations when Israel met hers.
Israel, the Israel we know and love, is a people that pursues peace, yearns for peace, sings about peace, needs peace.
For 58 years it has done everything a nation could do in pursuit of peace, and it has been rewarded instead with violence and terror.
It has done what the world has asked it to do, and the result has been that it has been left vulnerable and alone.

Which of us does not weep when we see the news day after day?
Does any of us, God forbid, take satisfaction at the devastation of Lebanon?
Is that who we are?
Let me be clear and unambiguous.
We weep not just for Israel
But for the people of Lebanon also.
Lebanon was once a great country,
A centre of civilization
A beacon in the Middle East --
Until Jordan drove the Palestinians out of Jordan into Lebanon
Until Syria used them to terrorise the Lebanese
Until Iran armed and funded and manipulated them;
Until the whole country of Lebanon, every man, woman and child, became a hostage.
And so a great country was destroyed and reduced to ruins.
And today Israel is fighting in Lebanon so that Israel should not become, G-d forbid, another Lebanon,
As any country in the world will become If it lacks the clarity and courage to say No to terror and Yes to peace.

Tragically Jews have learned over the centuries
That when their enemies speaking of killing them, driving them into the sea, wiping them off the face of the earth, they mean what they say.
What Hizbullah and Hamas have said in word and deed is:
We will kill you if you stay
And we will kill you if you leave.
We will kill you if you retaliate
And we will kill you if you don’t retaliate.
What can Israel do but to seek to end the terror
That threatens and is meant to threaten its very existence?
When alone among the 192 nations that make up the United Nations, after 58 years it still finds its very right to exist denied?

Friends, let me tell you what is wrong with terror. It is not just that it murders the innocent: the young, the old, the defenceless, the uninvolved.
It is that it murders innocence itself.
It turns virtue into weakness, decency into vulnerability.
And if we, if Israel, if Europe, if America do not take a stand against terror, if we ignore it as the world ignored it for so long, then it will leave a stain on the human future that no tears, no regrets, will ever remove.

The battle Israel is fighting today is not for itself alone.
It is for the sake of all those who say no to terror
No to the desecration of life
No to killing in the name of God
Whether they live in Bali or Beslan, or Madrid or Mumbai.
And therefore let me end with simple words of prayer:

Ribbono shel olam: Be with your people Israel now.
Hear their cry
Heed their tears
Listen to this, our prayer on their behalf.
Grant peace to all your children, Jew, Christian and Muslim alike.
Help us live together, respecting one another.
Help us cherish life.
Help us to use the powers You gave us, to heal, to mend, to build.
We ask of You, Almighty God, just one thing:
You who make peace in high places,
Help us make peace down here on earth.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Rogue Regime: How to get what you want in 3 easy steps

  1. Start developing a military nuclear program
  2. Threaten to wipe out Israel of the face of the plane
  3. Get a basket of goodies from the EU including, but no limited to:
  • an end to economic sanctions,
  • nuclear power plants,
  • nuclear fuel,
  • military aircraft parts, and
  • the guarantee of non-aggression from the US and Israel (no matter how many
    Shiabs missiles are pointed at Israel or US military camps in Iraq)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dangerous Territory

It looks like Peretz is trying to work on the nightmare scenario described in my last post in which he would govern as prime minister despite coming a far second in a democratic election. There are no boundaries for this man - a man who for the sake of self-advancement is considering setting up a coalition with far-right parties, thus stalemating any diplomatic developments for the next few years. I guess that can be expected from a union leader: self-interest first; the good of the nation second.

It has been sugested that these moves are the result of Peretz's ego getting bruised by calls from Kadima memebrs that Peretz would be dangerous as treasurer. Kadima for their part were just stating the obvious.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Israeli Election Analysis: Winners & Losers

The elections in Israel were won by the minor parties and lost by the major parties. Labour, Likud and Kadima all received final results that were below their polling levels. An apathetic electorate, despondant of the security issue, affected the result in two distinct ways:

  • Turning up and voting on niche issues (such as pensions, immigration and religion)
  • Not turning up to vote: voters for smaller parties are more likely to be passionate enough to turn up to vote, a low turnout will skew the results away from the major parties.

The biggest loser:

  1. Netanyahu's Likud: With 11 seats, the party which had until 100 days ago been at the centre of Israeli politics commanding a third of Israel's 120-member Knesset is now a minor party (finishing in fifth position).
  2. Olmert's Kadima: With 28 seats, the party is finishing well behind the 45 seats that were within reach only months ago. In the final weeks of the campaign, Olmert gambled by publicly announcing plans to withdraw from the West Bank. With the recent rise to power of Hamas, these statements were not well received by the electorate. The statements do have 2 positive effects:

a) Olmert positioned himself as a leader in his own right

b) Olmert has given his government a mandate to deal with the final borders of the State of Israel

  1. Pertz’s Labour party failed to gain any momentum on social issues as it has expected. It had three parties vying into its hitherto exclusive ‘social territory’: Shas won over the disaffected Sefardi minority; Israel Beitanu - the Russian migrants and the Pensioners party were the stars of the night winning over a large share of the retiree vote. That said, Peretz did prevent a slump in the labour vote that was expected to go to Kadima and as such can count the night as a moderate success.

The biggest winner:

  1. There is no doubt that the biggest winner was Rafi Eitan and his Pensioners party who received 7 seats and were expected to get 1 seat at most. As a social leaning party, they would be natural partners of a centre-left coalition
  2. Shas is the other big winner of the night, with 13 seats, they have captured the populist vote of the Likud and have surpassed that party in size. As the third largest party in Israeli politics and considering that the centre-left block could not reach 61 seats – Shas is looking at warming up some cabinet seats.
  3. Liberman’s Israel Beitanu was the other scavenger on the Likud vote, having captured the fiscally conservative vote from Likud and again surpassing that party in size. The Jerusalem Post noted that for the first time, Israel now has a party espousing both fiscal and political conservatism.

All in all, the results are disappointing as they give the next prime minister a weak mandate and large multi-partnered government that will pull policy in different directions. Ehud Olmert has the tough task of forming a coalition from a much smaller base than he had anticipated. This means many Kadima minister-designates loosing their cabinet seats to members of opposing parties, leading to potential rumblings within Kadima.

I had anticipated a coalition of Labour, Kadima and Meretz. It now looks like Meretz would have to vacate its position to its archrival Shas, and the Pensioners party will come out oblivion into government, leading to a coalition of 68 seats.

One should note the following nightmare scenario: Amir Peretz may have a chance to block Ehud Olmert by getting the Pensioners party and Shas on his team first. This could lead to a Peretz is in a position to demand to act as prime minister on a rotary basis (as Shamir and Peres have done in 1988), or worse, be given the opportunity by the president to form a coalition in his own right.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I have heard it said that Israel is the most multicultural state on earth (I believe measured by the number of people who speak a first tongue other than the main language). To support this claim, I present the gingle for the Kadima party in... Amharic.

For those who don't know, Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia and the language spoken by the nearly 100,000 Ethiopian migrants of Jewish origin who live in Israel. For a closer look at Israel's demographics, visit this site.

It looks like this election is going to have the lowest turnout in the country's history. It seems apathy is the big winner of the day.

No more "Acting" Prime Minister

Ehud Olmert, Sharon's loyal sidekick will be rewarded today with an election victory. His next task is to form a coalition - which is likely to include Labor on the left (who are likely to demand the coveted treasury portfolio) and Meretz (who are likely to seek soft portfolios like education, environment, etc). All parties joining the coalition will agree to the notion of Israel forgoing most of the west bank and drawing its own borders - unilaterally if need be - within four years.

At the time of writing the election is still taking place and there seems to be a very low turnout, which is bad news for Kadima. I would therefore expect Kadima to get a result in the mid 30's rather than anything in the 40's and to expect a very narrow coalition with Labour and Meretz. Depending on the final results, there may be a need to invite additional parties to ensure a more stable coalition.

Ehud Olmert is getting one of the toughest jobs on this planet. Let's hope to G-d he is up for the job.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Must see TV - Al Jazeera

This is really a "must see tv" segment by Arab-American Psychologist Wafa Sultan on Al Jazeera television (Qatar) - 21 February 2006.

Memri TV

Please post your comments below once you have seen the segment.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Unchartered waters

I have been off the blog scene for a few months and in that time much has happened in the Middle East. First, Ariel Sharon suffered a major stroke and has been in a coma ever since. He is now fighting for his life after a sever malfunction in his digestive system. Ariel Sharon –Israel’s grandfather figure, the general, and the popular Prime Minister – was forced by G-d to bow out of politics.

Meanwhile, the unassuming Ehud Olmert picked up the reigns and has managed to bring stability to his party and country – he prevented the predicted exodus from Kadima (post Sharon) while sending the right messages at home and abroad ensuring that the Israeli stock market remained stable and that Israeli-US relations remain cordial.

Polls show that Israeli voters seem still believe that the disengagement model is the way forward and are undeterred by the fact that its architect is lying in a hospital bed.

Ehud Olmert is by no means in an enviable position. He has been thrown into the seat of power, unelected, in the midst of an election campaign – having to contend with the real threat of a Nuclear Iran and the newly elected Hamas leadership. Having gotten to the point where there is no road, Ehud will have to do what Bush did on September 11 2001 – rise up as a leader and charter his own course.