a different side of Israel

Tag: Ehud Olmert (page 4 of 7)

Failure Spelled Out: Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz & Dan Halutz Get Final Grade

Olmert Faces WingradIn the beginning of the Second Lebanon War, early on, Hassan Nasrallah called to our leaders and warned that their inexperience should make them reconsider jumping into a war. In essence that is the conclusion of the Winograd Report handed out yesterday.

The report painted a clear, bleak picture of the three men that lead the country to war. Although the Winograd Committee was elected by Olmert and critics were quick to dub it a rubber stamp, this initial report shows they did the work required thoroughly, professionally and with a great deal of respectability.

Ignoring this report and not having these people removed from office (Olmert and Peretz), will both be detrimental and dangerous for Israel, and a step towards becoming a Third World Nation. The good news is that if we do become a Third World Nation, we won’t last that long anyway!

I went through a few pages and translated some excerpts of this frightening report. In case you want to read the initial report (all 171 pages) its available here in Hebrew (get a tissue out before you read this…).

Ehud Olmert was found to be the irresponsible, negligent in his duties and primarily at fault. As Prime Minister he was held accountable to the failures of the Second Lebanon War personally.

“his personal decisions, and the process in which decisions were made, was flawed. The Prime Minister took a position without getting a clear plan for action or asking for one – he therefore was unable to analyze the details of such a plan or approve it. Furthermore, Olmert never requested any alternative courses of action and did not display enough skepticism to the military options presented to him.
The Prime Minister also failed in leading the government to adopting ill conceived decisions, that he himself contributed to directly, in that he did not provide the guidance necessary for a clear decision making process. He also is accused of setting unrealistic goals and proclaiming that the war will not end until these goals were attained.”

Reading The Winograd Report - Moshik!As for Amir Peretz our so called Minister of Defense. The Committee clearly stated that he did not fulfill his duties as army chief. No real surprise there.

“His inexperience and lack of knowledge caused him to fail in all aspects of his job. During the whole period that was inspected by the Committee, Peretz did not request or examined a single military plan, did not check the readiness and preparedness of the armed forces. He did not examine in a broad view the methods of operation and how they relate to the intended goals proposed.”

“We believe that the decision by the Minister of Defense to accept the position, like the decision of the Prime Minister to appoint him the position, were political decisions that need to be examined on the political and public level only. One has to assume, for the benefit of the Minister, that if he had enough time he would have acquired the required competency. However, although lack of knowledge and proficiency in matters of his office should not prevent a man from taking a job, they are not to be celebrated or a reason for any pride. We found failures and deficiencies in every aspect of the Minister’s actions…he did not take necessary steps that would augment his lack of skill and experience, like for example, using a professional consulting system external to the security forces.”

Finally, Dan Halutz, the Chief of Staff. The committee laid at his feet an unprecedented amount of blame, never assigned before to a Chief of Staff. Halutz is now studying at Harvard Business School (MBA) and had Israeli reporters removed when they approached him for comments. The army is paying of course..

“The committee found Dan Halutz personally and professionally responsible for the fact that on the day of the attack he did not have any realistic plans for the possibility of escalation on the Lebanese front. He did not present to government, knowing their inexperience, the complexities of the arena, the army’s perceptions and the physical limitations in readiness. When Halutz received the Green Light, he avoided reserve army recruitment. He was a major contributing factor to the deficiencies and failures associated with the decisions of going to war. The army as a whole was uncreative in its approach.”

The committee clearly brings to light the festering infection at the core of Israel’s leadership. The lack of professional, educated, inspiring leaders has never been so apparent. In a final statement about the government’s role in the war the committee stated that the government as a whole should be held accountable. Ministers voted without knowing what were the exact plans going forward – that as a result of over relying on army reports.

“The government as a whole and each of its members is responsible. It acted in haste and without receiving any assessments that detailed the consequences of their decision on an overly aggressive military action. This decision was made without examining the possible results and demanding an orderly debate on the options. The government of Israel and each of its members, did not act using their better judgment, care and responsibility as required.”

That pretty much describes the problem with our people in government. The sad thing is that unfortunately I don’t think they have the tools to be good leaders, they are just not quality people. Each of them will sell their mother for money and the only benefit they see associated with being a member of government is their own personal wealth and power. Just look at the conviction rate and investigations of political figures and you’ll see the ideological bankruptcy we face.

This war is proof of how bad things can get when a used car salesman runs the show. When the Minister of Defense, a bumbling idiot, a wanabe socialist, bargains his way into the most sensitive position in the country and then war actually breaks out. The welfare of the country was sold for a political bargain price and the Hezbollah was there to call the bluff and serve us the bill – a body count of 139 people.

We need to start over. Get back to basics. Find the people that don’t want the job, that gave up and bring them back. The people that have been made sick by the low moral fiber that passes for leadership in Israel today.

Winograd Report: “for whom the bell tolls”

Eliahu Wingrad
Will Monday’s publication of the much awaited Winograd Report be reminiscent of Ernest Hemmingway’s classic novel: For Whom the Bell Tolls? The long prepared document prepared by a very distinguished committee headed by former Tel Aviv District Judge Eliahu Wingrad (pictured), is supposed to formally point out the faults of the Israeli government during last summer’s Lebanon II war, in which more than 230 Israeli soldiers and civilians lost their lives and the country’s entire northern region from Haifa and Afula onwards were bombarded during 34 days of constant Hezbollah launched missile attacks.

These attacks, which caused serious damage to many of Israeli towns and cities, including Haifa, also turned the country’s economy upside down and caused more than a million Israeli citizens to be either confined to very unpleasant conditions in crowded bomb shelters, or turned into refugees in their own land, forced to seek the kind assistance of people like billionaire Arkady Gaydamak, whose tent city in southern Israel gave temporary shelter while a hapless government failed to come to terms with a very unpleasant reality.

The report is expected to note the failures of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defence Minister Amir Peretz, and then IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. But with all of this before us, is there really anything that hasn’t already been figured out by most of the Israeli public? After all, the reserve soldiers who were sent into battle without enough rations, ammunition – even water – do they need a long and very in depth report by a group to retired generals and legal experts to conclude what has already been thought out by nearly everyone with an IQ of at least 75? The report, which took more than five months to complete and at a cost of millions of shekels, is reported to find Olmert responsible for the results of the war, including lack of ability to care for the needs of nearly a fourth of the country’s inhabitants; Peretz’s failures due to his not being qualified for his position as Defense Minister; and Halutz’s failures due to his not having ‘on the ground’ military experience as a field commander (after all flying over a war zone is not the same as having to plow through it as many unprepared conscripts and reserve soldiers found out).

The committee also blames other IDF generals including Gal Hirsch and Udi Adam for their actions, and adds that lack of awareness of Hezbollah activity by former Prime and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, former Defense Ministers Shaul Mofaz and Moshe (Boogie) Ayalon allowed Sheik Hassan Nasrallah to strengthen his organization’s infrastructure in southern Lebanon during the six year period between the May 2,000 IDF pullout and the July 2006 war.

Though other details will most likely be revealed when the report is formally released at 3:30 p.m. on Monday (NOW !!), the resulting fallout to Olmert’s already troubled administration may result in early elections at most, or if not, at least a severe shakeup in Olmert’s cabinet.

Olmert commented recently that he knows he is not a very popular prime minister; and by the time the Winograd Report’s dust has settled, he may discover that his unpopularity is even more intense. After all, a lot of ordinary people were directly involved in this conflict – more than in most other major wars in Israel’s 59 year history.

And from a military point of view, many eyes will now be focused on new IDF Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi to try to set things right in Israel’s armed forces. The only thing is – things have to be set right at the top as well; for as a former U.S. President, Harry S. Truman, once said, regarding ultimate responsibility: “the buck stops here”.

Halutz Steps Down, Ashkenazi Steps Up and Peretz Has No Self Respect

Gabi Ashkenazi 19th Chief Of Staff It’s official. The 19th Chief Of Staff took office yesterday. Gabi comes from a very different part of the armed forces, Golani. Golani is an infantry brigade and a very down to earth one at that. Comparing that background to the resigning Air Force Chief Of Staff, Dan Halutz, is like comparing well… the earth and sky. The appointment ceremony was yesterday on television. Halutz, thanked everyone, specifically mentioned Ehud Olmert but ignored Amir Peretz. That was the second time he made a point of showing his anger at the Miniter of Defence. In an earlier goodbye speech he mentioned “getting shot in the back by his number 2”, the assumption made was that he meant Kaplinsky, his second in command but he corrected that and said that was not his intention. In fact he made a point of embracing Kaplinsky, who reportedly was extremly offended by the remark. In light of this speech yesterday, I get the feeling it was all meant for Amir Peretz.

There is no doubt that Dan Halutz is a great man. He has contributed almost 40 years of his life to the armed forces and when he felt responsible and accountable, he did the right thing. Unlike Amir Peretz, who is holding on to the position and refusing to take responsibility for the mismanagement of his office and the risk he presents to the country in this sensitive position. He has no place, right or know how for the position of Minister of Defence, and if he was half the man that Halutz was he would have been the first to step down.

Ashkenazi was briefly my commander in the army. I can’t say I know him. The only thing I can say is that he is a down to earth guy, can be tough and is considered “one of the guys” (he can also play a mean soccer game). I think that having the army leadership going from the Air Force to Golani is karma in action. This last war brought us all down to the ground and it makes sense that the man to lead the reorganization of the army should come from the Infantry Brigade and especially “Golani”, a brigade named after the Golan Heights. I hope for peace but let’s face it, there will be a next phase in the North. When the next conflict starts up, and it will, I am hoping we will have a strong army waiting “on the ground” as well as in the air.

It’s interesting that both Chiefs, the new and the old, were raised in Moshav Hagor. It’s a good sign, if judging from Halutz, they have good people up there.

In the ceremony yesterday Amir Peretz had trouble placing the ranks on Ashkenazi. Later Ashkenazi received a note from Halutz saying that he wll have to switch them a round, they were placed on his shoulders backwards… I think that’s really symbolic of the politicians in charge.

Alone! Israeli President “Cornered” in Official Residence

Katzav Going Nuts Yesterday

Israel President Moshe Katzav is really finding out how lonely it is at the top. This is especially true after being accused by his country’s top legal watchdog, Menny Mazuz, of crimes ranging from rape to sexual harassment, fraudulent misrepresentation of facts, and cover ups for other similar deeds. After the official announcement by the State Prosecutor was announced on January 23, Mr. Katzav seems unwilling and unable to come to terms with reality. His speech today at his official residence in Jerusalem, before members of the press, was an exercise in absurdity, with Mr. Katzav adamantly claiming his innocence and expressing his feelings of being victimized by his country’s media, especially the ones representing Channel 2 TV.

Even Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, himself feeling the heat of possible indictments for a number of wrongdoings, has called for Katzav to resign his office immediately. An editorial in today’s issue of the Jerusalem Post states that Katzav can do whatever he needs to do to “clear his name”, but should resign his office for the good of the country. The only problem, for Mr. Katzav anyway, is that the crimes he is accused of being involved in are more than just an issue of “clearing his name”. In fact, they are serious enough to give Mr. Katzav another residence to live in that will be a bit more ‘cramped’ than the spacious one he and his wife have been enjoying for the past six and a half years.

Not being a graphic artist, I can only give an idea what a good political cartoon should be concerning the future domicile of Mr. Katzav. It goes something like this:
The scene takes place at Ayalon Prison where we see serial rapist Benny Sela sitting in his prison cell looking at a tattered copy of Hustler Magazine. The prison warden is yelling out to Sela, “Hey Benny, You’ve not got company!” And following along behind the warden, and carrying his consignment of prison uniform, blankets, etc., is none other than…………… (I’ll let you, the ready figure this one out!).

It’s not a pretty situation by any measure, and in order to prevent the State of Israel from being castigated by the world for drifting from the absurd to the ridiculous, the only alternative that President Katzav has left now is to resign his post and exit, stage right.

He needs to do this not only to preserve what’s left of his own dignity, but that of his county’s as well.

The writer is a freelance journalist and political commentator

The New Ehuds

EhudA couple of weeks ago Ehud Olmert had a little “procedure” to raise his eyelids. He went ahead and did it without letting anyone know in the cabinet. (can you feel the love in that cabinet?). It was a small procedure but still…

Ehud BarakMeanwhile in recent events, Ehud Barak announced that he was running for Minister of Defense. Having served as a Prime Minister for a very short time, and with quite a few shortfalls (excuse the pun) he said he learned from his mistakes and now felt he was ready to return to the political arena. He feels that being a Defense Minister is his calling (at least until the next election …).

So what we have here are two Ehuds and their before and after pictures. Moshik isn’t sure that there is much of a change…
The Two Ehuds

Dan Leaves Us

Halutz Leaves
I guess we all saw this coming in July:

The outgoing chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Dan Haloutz, announced his resignation on Tuesday night, after months of criticism over the IDF functioning during the second Lebanon war.

Despite all the good things that were said about Dan Haloutz, I think that this move was a must. Now if only Peretz would learn from this move…Peretz has already been placed in check and the process of selecting the new chief is going to be monitored:

“Although the defense minister formally makes the appointment, it is his [Peretz’] intention to set up a clear process, in order to choose the best possible chief of staff,” Olmert said.

Ted Kollek Passes Away At 95

Ted Kollek Mayor of JerusalemTed Kollek, the legendary mayor of Jerusalem passed away today at the age of 95. In an interview with his son, one thing stuck in my mind. He said that Teddy Kollek belonged to a class of political leaders and personalities that are at a different level from the people we see today in politics. He said he hoped we have some more in the making because he can’t see any of this caliber in the current leadership. I tend to agree.

Teddy Kollek lost his election in 1993 to Ehud Olmert. This is about that election:

“It was a dirty campaign in which Kollek’s age – then 80 – was used by Olmert and his aides as a deterrent in electing him, with the slogan, “Because everyone knows it’s about time”. The age campaign did its job. “I felt great and I could have continued,” Kollek said. “If they didn’t keep mentioning my age all the time, I would have won.” Following the loss, Kollek retired from political activity.”

During his term as mayor he was the first at the office at 5:30 AM every day and personally made sure the garbage trucks went out daily. He raised over a Billion dollars for the city in donations and was an outstanding spokesperson for the city he loved so much. Several of the larger contributors insisted on naming their “donations” after him and that includes the Teddy Kollek Football Stadium and an Elephant from Thailand at the Jerusalem Zoo, just to name a couple. His biggest regret he said in an interview, was that he never learned Arabic. He said it was important for the sake of the city and the people in it and that he should have.

Rest In Peace Teddy.

Who Need’s Who?

Olmert in L.A.
Recent concern expressed over the fate of the 5.2 million strong American Jewish Community, the largest Jewish community outside of Israel, may not be as much as a concern as the fate of Israel’s 6.5 million Jewish community due to an increasing Muslim birth rate and an ominous threat by Israel’s apparent No. 1 enemy: Iran. At last weeks United Jewish Community’s “G.A.” conference held in Los Angeles, at which Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert (pictured) made a guest appearance; there appears to be a mixed message concerning who really needs who. True, the American Jewish aging community, with an average of 42, and a shrinking birth rate, is a big concern to Jewish leaders there. An increasing security threat to the State of Israel, however, by the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Palestinians in Gaza and the still disputed West Bank, and particularly by Iran’s accelerating nuclear program; the big question now is whether it is a good idea to have such a large Jewish concentration in such a small country as Israel.

American Jews do have a lot to be concerned about as their numbers have been shrinking over the years due to assimilation and lower birth rates. But the problem of an aging population and small families is also a big concern in many Western countries as in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea as well. concerning the American Jewish Community, with Jewish couples marrying at a much later age and having no more than one or two children, it’s very easy to understand why this is happening. From an economic standpoint, American Jewish women, secular ones that is, are simply more interested in their careers than raising families. When they do marry, Jewish couples face the reality what they have to do in order to raise and educate kids in an increasingly more expensive upper-middle class American society. For example, sending two children to a private Jewish day school can cost parents an average of $1,200 to 1,500 per month, per child, not counting additional fees and payments required by these private institutions who generally receive little or no governmental assistance. Being a full-fledged member of a Jewish community, including joining a Synagogue or Temple also cost big bucks these days, including a member’s contribution towards the Rabbi’s annual salary ‘package’ which can be in excess of $200,000 or more.

A shrinking American Jewish community means bad news in respect to continuing contributions to Israel, including the UIA, Israel Bonds, and many other fundraising campaigns, with hard-pressed American Jewish families simply not having the money to donate to Israeli causes. Though more Americans are considering Aliyah to Israel, especially due to receiving assistance from programs like Nefesh b’Nefesh, many such families and individuals find it very hard to live in the Jewish State due to not being able to find suitable employment and affordable housing.

The increasing threat from Iran is also something that more and Jews are having to deal with, both in Israel and abroad. While American Jews, though lobbies such as AIPAC, are trying to bring more attention to the Iranian threat, Israeli Jews will eventually have to face this threat head-on. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not pulling any punches concerning his intentions regarding Israel. These intentions, which could become reality sooner than many think, might require a strong American Jewish Community to be ready to offer assistance, and even shelter, to it’s Israeli Jewish brethren, should this be required.

So, who needs who? It’s simply a question of how one looks at it.

The Noose Tightens

Israeli political and military leaders seem to the playing a continuing game of brinksmanship amid increasing calls for their resignation or dismissal. The most publicized ones, including President Moshe Katsav, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,
Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Army Chief of Staff Dan Halutz continue to be bombarded by public criticism, despite their attempts to appear to be conducting “business as usual”.

President Katsav, for example, tries to keep himself before the public eye, including appearances and events such as the recent ceremony memorializing the 11th anniversary of slain P.M. Yitzhak Rabin, despite many calls for him not to do so. One of his accusers in his sexual misconduct and rape allegations, known to the public as “A”, is still photographed regularly with her lawyer on the streets of Tel Aviv. He refuses to consider stepping down, at least for another six months.

Both Defense Minister Peretz, and Army Chief of Staff Halutz (see photo), are both on the receiving end on increasing flak following the deteriorating situation in Gaza, as well as due to the recent resignation of one of Israel’s top Northern Command officers, Brig. General Gal Hirsch. Hirsch specifically resigned his commission as a result of both Halutz’s handling of the war with Hezbollah, as well as his attempts to ‘white-wash’ the entire affair afterwards. Peretz, due to his lack of military competence and his inability to accept this fact, seems to be bombarded from all sides. This ‘bombardment’ is even becoming more intense due to the continuing launching of Kassam rockets by the Palestinians which caused the death and serious injury today of two Sderot residents. Sderot, being Amir Peretz’ home town, has become his “albatross”, even as much or more so as the recent war in Lebanon. Few, if any Sderot residents want to have anything to do with him.

As for the “guy at the top”, P.M. Olmert, with whom the ‘buck’ is supposed to stop, as U.S President Harry Truman used to say, he continues to try to perform the most brinksmanship acts of all. His current trip to the U.S.A., for example, which was not only very badly timed, but which doesn’t appear to be accomplishing anything, only adds insult to injury to his already shaky position; and makes him in line to be part of the increasing ‘domino effect’ which will accelerate rapidly should Chief of Staff Halutz be the next one to step down.

Olmert didn’t waste any time leaving Washington following his short stay there, including his meeting with President Bush; himself in an uncomfortable position following the Democratic Party sweep of both Houses of Congress. A former aspiring U.S. Presidential candidate, billionaire IBM magnate H. Ross Perot used to say that if elected President he would “take a shovel and a broom and clean up Congress”. While this feat may have partially been accomplished in the recent U.S. midterm elections, it hasn’t been done yet in Israeli politics. And with all the recent goings on in Israel’s current government, especially those mentioned above, one wonders when some of this ‘shoveling and broom sweeping’ will take place in Israel as well.

With all that’s currently transpiring, it’s sorely needed.

Photo: The Jerusalem Post

Bad Timing: Olmert’s U.S. Visit & the ‘New Middle East’

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s appearance in Washington on Monday comes amid a new reality that is already being felt in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s triumph by the U.S. Democratic Party. Though planned well before the November 7 mid-term Congressional elections, Olmert should have realized that the atmosphere in the U.S capital will be quite different than the one he experienced last April when he last visited there following his election win in his own country’s elections. This visit also comes on the heels of the July-August Lebanese II war, as well as last week’s IDF killing of a large number of Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanoun, Gaza; already being called by many as a massacre similar to the one which occurred in the southern Lebanese village of Qana (see photo) where dozens of Lebanese refuges were killed in one building.

Olmert faces a different U.S. political reality, with a new Congressional makeup which will undoubtedly be less sympathetic to Israel’s situation with the Palestinians, as well as regarding the entire Middle East. Olmert is most likely interested in receiving more U.S. aid to help repair his country’s northern infrastructure following the damage sustained in last summer’s 34 day conflict in which more than 6,000 Hezbollah launched rockets caused millions of dollars in property damage, completely trashed a promising tourism season, and resulted in the scorching of more than 10,000 square hectares of forest and pastureland, some of which will take generations to recover from. A new congressional reality in January, 2007, will have the task of approving U.S. foreign aid packages to many countries, including Israel. Israel has been the largest recipient of foreign aid, with a sum of 3 billion Dollars being appropriated on an annual basis. A new Democratic Party controlled Congress will not only be scrutinizing these aid packages, but may be less apt to grant Israel the requested sums. The Bush Administration is already being cast as a “more than lame-duck” administration, meaning that Bush will have difficulty passing even the most mundane legislation through Congress.

The future of the U.S. presence in Iraq is already being discussed by new Democratic lawmakers who are saying that the American public want change; and that ‘change’ will more than likely result in an early withdraw of most American forces from not only Iraq, but from Afghanistan as well. The five year War on Terror has simply not produced results that were hoped for, and most Americans feel even less safe than they did following the September 2001 mega terror attacks on the American home front. How American foreign policy will be changed during the next few years is still a matter of speculation, but changes there will surely be; especially with the strong prospects of a Democratic Party President being elected in only two years time.

Mr. Olmert may find the ‘winds of change’ a bit chilly when he arrives in the American Capital; not to mention the U.N. General Assembly, where he is scheduled to give a speech toward a less-than-sympathetic audience. And Israel’s recent Autumn Clouds military operation in Gaza may well turn into cold, winter rains.

Oops – Sorry!

Two misguided IDF artillery shells, resulting in the deaths of 19 Palestinian civilians (many of them children) has again raised public outcry against Israel’s recent military operations in the Beit Haoun area of northern Gaza. Calling the occurrence a “technical failure”, Israeli P.M Ehud Olmert announced that he is “greatly disturbed” by this tragedy; and that he is willing to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “anywhere, anytime” to try to bring calm to a situation that has almost deteriorated to the point of no-return.

The incident occurred on Wednesday when Israeli artillery fire was supposedly directed at a location where Palestinian militants were hiding. These men were alleged to be responsible for a new wave of Kassam rocket attacks against Israeli towns and settlements located near the borders with Gaza, resulting in a new IDF incursion called Operation Fall Business. Palestinian fury was so rampant that Hamas and other Palestinian spokesmen referred to Israelis aa ‘animals’ and vowed to renew widespread suicide terror attacks not only against Israelis, but against Americans as well (due to America’s close alliance with Israel). “We shall erase Israel from the face of the earth” one Hamas spokesperson was quoted as saying. Several Palestinian militants were also killed in continued targeted assassinations, including many responsible for launching the home-made Kassams at towns such as Sderot in southern Israel.

Abbas has not yet responded to Olmert’s offer as his countrymen are not willing now to enter into any type of negations with their sworn enemies; and this includes deals to release prisoners. This incident brings to mind other incidents involving Israeli bombings in both Gaza and during the recent conflict in Lebanon, where the Israeli military has been blamed for the deaths of either Palestinian or Lebanese civilians. While these events are tragic enough, it should be noted that it has never been Israel’s deliberate intention to put civilians in harm’s way. The Palestinians’ castigating Israelis as ‘animals’ is a bit odd considering various acts they have been involved in against Israeli civilians; whether these acts have been on buses and other forms of public transport, in restaurants, shopping malls, and other public places; as well as during religious events such as Passover Seders. To denounce Israelis in this manner also fails to note events such as Palestinian shooting attacks on Jewish settlements, where women and children were shot to death at point-blank range; and numerous attacks on Israelis in automobiles, including the slaughter of an entire family, the Kutiels, less than three years back.

Abbas should be happy to meet with his Israeli counterpart. His Palestinian Authority is on the verge of disintegration, and the people are nearing starvation due to the P.A,’s ruined economy. The Israeli Prime Minister said that he has many proposals to present to Abbas concerning assistance to the Palestinians, as well as to putting an end to the cycle of violence that has spiraled out of control to the point that even the Palestinians are now fighting each other. Even Palestinian women are becoming more militant as they chant “martyrs by the millions – we are going to Al-Quds (Jerusalem)!”

With Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran watching these events with even more animosity, the main concern now is what will happen next.


Marathon Man

It seems like Israel’s oldest active politician, Shimon Peres (shown at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo in 1994) is still having a go at it like an aging Marathon runner, in regards to his plan to once again run for President of the State of Israel. Despite his age, 82, and the allegations against him concerning the way he recruited more than $320,000 in ‘questionable’ political contributions, the aging political icon just refuses to retire, and become a full-fledged pensioner.

And why should he, with the average of the members of the newly formed Pensioners being around 75, and party leaders like Rafi Eitan themselves either pushing or crossing the octogenarian mark. Though not a member of Eitan’s party, Peres, since his bolt from his 60 year membership in the Labor Party, has virtually embarked on a new political horizon; thanks to Ehud Olmert’s Kadima Party. Peres is alleged to have received the quasi-legal contributions from some very affluent people, including billionaires Haim Saben, Bruce Rappaport, and Daniel Abrahams. Even though the receipt of the money is not considered illegal, the ethics of the circumstances surrounding the affair could have been a bit more “Kosher”.

Peres still intends to keep his hat in the presidential candidacy ring, however, and the question now is whether he will be able to achieve his goal, and come out a real winner, after so many times of winding up on the losing side. After all, his long political career, though colorful, has not exactly been a successful one. Though he has been Prime Minister twice, the first time in a shared national unity platform with former Likud Party leader Yitzhak Shamir, and the second time following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Peres has certainly had his trials and tribulations in the tumulus world of Israeli politics. Even his being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize only happened at the last minute following the nomination of Rabin and Yassir Afafat. Perhaps it was Arafat’s winning a share of the 1994 Peace Prize that convinced the Nobel Prize Committee to include Peres in receiving the award that year.

Peres’ often frank and one-sided political views have often hindered him, especially in a part of the world; where Jews like himself are definitely not welcome – or wanted. It’s often been a visual reality that despite his overtures towards establishing peaceful co-existence with Israel’s Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians, these “neighbors’ just don’t want to be neighborly. Events following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and certainly since the beginning of the Second Intifada in September, 2000, clearly point this out.

Despite all of this, Peres continues to pursue his dream of working out a deal with the Palestinians, and other peoples in the region, and through his Peres Center for Peace he tries to continue a dialogue with more moderate elements in a less than moderate part of the world. Many people, including this writer, would like to believe there is a possibility of peaceful co-existence between Israel and its neighbors. Shimon won’t live forever, however; and one wonders who will pick up and carry the baton after he’s gone.


Lost Pride In Jerusalem

Gay Pride Jerusalem 2006
The police in Jerusalem is very nervous lately. They have sure threats that during the upcoming Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem there will be attacks on participants. The groups are organized and in some reports are supposed to have prepared “ammunition” including razor blade packed fruit, fire bombs and harsher stuff. The police have admitted they are considering calling the parade off, in essence admitting that the ratio of 250,000 religious fanatics to 10,000 cops is not a great ratio. There are supposed to be 5,000 participants in the parade and so that puts the ratio at 2:1, Police to participant.

I found this 2002 article covering the parade with then mayor Olmert:

“Mayor Ehud Olmert tried to convince organizers to hold the event in Tel Aviv, and seemed to regret his country’s system of government when he said that he had to allow the march to take place due to the rules of democracy. Ultra religious groups threatened to stop the march by “all means” including the flinging of rotten vegetables, but opted merely to boycott. The High Court of Justice had to force the dominantly Orthodox Jewish city to provide services, including police protection.”

So nothing much has changed, if anything maybe things got worse. ..

Last night 7 police officers were injured in a giant demonstration against the upcoming parade. Police officers were injured by rocks, pipes and acid thrown at them. The organizers of these demonstrations are warning of far worse the day of the parade and the police is still considering the options.

I am bothered by this, and not for any special feelings either way, but because this coincides so closely with another event. We are about to remember Yitzhak Rabin’s death. A murder brought on by severe differences of opinion and radical behavior by a group of people who felt that violence would solve all problems. I don’t think it has.

What’s worse is that we lost something that day and we passed a barrier or dropped to a new low. It was okay to kill and wound people for differences of opinion and it was acceptable to use violence to settle arguments or force an opinion on another group. 11 years after we crossed the barrier we see the results of that first act of violence – again and again….

Letter to an Okie

Some people I know from “the old country” had been planning a trip to Israel this fall, but cancelled it, partially due to the “injustice” of the war in Lebanon. The following letter is my reply:

Dear ……,

I’m also very sorry you guys decided to “delay” your trip here. Many tours and private visits were “delayed”, but on the other hand, many more visits have occurred; by non-Jews as well as Jews.

The circumstances which brought all of this about still plague this region and Americans may not have the true picture as most attention is now focused on events in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as with (Daffy Duck loving) Kim Jong Il in North Korea; not to mention Iran.

Letter to an OkieIsrael started the year with the best intentions, including new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s pledge to begin a withdraw from parts of the West Bank, following the painful August 2005 disengagement from Gaza. This should have made the Palestinians happy. But what did they do? Why they attacked an Israeli patrol, killing several soldiers and capturing Cpl. Gilad Shalit. Israel reciprocated by attacking Gaza to pressure the Hamas-led government there into releasing Shalit. Israel also ‘invited’ several P.A. parliamentarians to be ‘guests’ of the IDF until the release of Shalit.

When all this maneuvering didn’t work, the good Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and the “Hezbollah Friendship Society” did some ‘maneuvering’ of their own by pulling off a similar attack on Israel’s northern border, also killing more soldiers and capturing two more: Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, both reserve soldiers (Goldwasser had only been married 3 months before this incident occurred). About the same time, the Sheikh and Co. launched a bunch of their famous pop bottle rockets into Israel, resulting in Israel attacking them big-time.

Now, bear in mind that the Hezbollah Friendship Society (H.F.S.), because they are so friendly, like to locate themselves in the middle of heavily populated areas (Like the old Jude n’Jody furniture commercials, they love folk). That’s why Israeli Aircraft had so much trouble in ‘rooting’ them out. That’s also why that well publicized incident occurred when that house containing all those poor people was bombed, killing many of them (much less than the erroneous Lebanese and Red Cross information noted, however).

Yes, Lebanon did get bombed a bunch and a lot of innocent folk got killed. A number of innocent Israelis got killed too, though much less. However, we did suffer a significant amount of property damage; and this included more than 10,000 square hectares of agricultural and timberland, much of which will take 50+ years to grow back. With all this said and done, The Sheikh is now a hero, and Israeli leaders including P.M. Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz are castigated as losers, with many crying for their dismissal. Goldwasser, Regev, and Shalit are still captured as well.

I think Bush is mad at Israel for not “stomping a mud-hole” in Hezbollah, as should have been done; but this may still happen, and the good Sheikh knows this all too well. That’s why he still is lying low. Real low!

Despite all those UNIFIL and so-called Lebanese Army troopers patrolling Lebanon’s border, Hezbollah still has another 10,000 or so pop bottle rockets left, plus some bigger stuff. Israelis now feel more vulnerable than ever before, with no effective ‘anti-pop bottle rocket’ defense in hand.

Besides we’re all looking East toward that country run by the Mullahs who aid and bankroll the H.F.S. They and that even friendlier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are conjuring up some even bigger pop bottle rockets with something even more powerful to eventually shoot at Israel. Only one of these going off, and it’s all over.

So, when you talk about peace and justice, the question to ask is peace and justice for whom?

I still think you should eventually plan a trip here, and then you will see all of the facts for yourself. You also need to see where it all began (Christianity), which was also during a very volatile time (the Romans were not nice guys).

Take care and have a happy Thanksgiving.


“We had ‘normal’ sex!”

Larissa Trembovler (Picture by Ofer Amram for Ynet
Interviewed on media programs such as Channel 10, Larissa Trembovler, wife of convicted murderer, Yigal Amir, described her 10 hour connubial visit with her husband. “We had sex together like any normal married couple. I hope we will have more opportunities to be together in the near future.” While not going into graphic detail, Larissa seemed happy concerning her first intimate contact with Yigal, after so long a delay. The short liaison, carried out in a special room set aside by Ayalon Prison authorities for such allowed visits by spouses of convicted prisoners, provided the couple with a full sized bed, shower facility, and even snacks provided by the prison administration; plus soft drinks which Amir brought with him to their ‘honeymoon suite’ as many are dubbing it.

Whether or not this visit results in Larissa conceiving a child is too early to predict, especially due to her age, 39, and from their short time together. The former psychology professor already has four children from a previous marriage; and raising another child under the circumstances that he or she would the child of the man who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, is psychologically problematic in its own. The fact that this event happened at all is a wonder as just a couple of months ago, even allowing Amir and Trembovler to have a child via ‘invitro-fertilization seemed unlikely to happen. Now, this request was surpassed by allowing them to have intimate physical contact, enabling Amir to “know” his wife and possibly “open her womb”.

Many individuals and organizations, including Peace Now, are vigorously protesting the allowance of this event to occur, even though it is now a ‘done deal’. The couple is slated to be allowed another such visit in six months time, perhaps sooner.

Many other convicted prisoners serving live imprisonment have not been allowed such a gesture, are one wonders why the governmental authorities relented in this extreme case. The Rabin family, for one, is very upset over this lenient gesture towards Amir being granted. And with the possible including of Avigdor Lieberman’s ultra-right wing political party into Ehud Olmert’s governmental coalition, many wonder what will happen next. Will a possible future right winged government decide that Amir was misguided into committing this heinous act, and should be set free? Or, perhaps, his wife will be hired as a prison psychologist and will be allowed to move to the prison and housed with Amir in special accommodations on the prison grounds? This entire tragicomedy may someday be made into a full length movie or docu-movie; and might even be directed by some internationally famous person like Michael Moore. To quote a song composed by the rock group Bachman-Turner Overdrive in 1974: “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”

And yup, I suppose we haven’t.

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