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Tag: Nobel Peace Prize

Did Barack Grow A Pair? Did He Always Have Them? Will He Understand Us?

U.S. President Barack Obama accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday and gave an unpredictable speech. Acknowledging the choice of giving the Nobel Peace Prize to a war time president – Obama gave a speech underlining the theme of necessary war.

Barack Nobel Peace Prize

“Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war…those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one…I, like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation…I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates – and weakens – those who don’t.”

He went on:

“What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago…and it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace…we must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes…there will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

And towards the end of the speech he said:

“For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world…a non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al-Qaida’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

“A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies”? “Negotiations” cannot halt Muslim extremists? Nations finding the use of force not only “necessary but morally justified”? Hold the phone Jack – conceptually, philosophically, this guy sounds like a modern day Zionist…Then why’s the Pres so down on the Jewish country…or is he? Maybe he just doesn’t “get it”.
Well he’s not as unpopular among Israelis as some may think. According to a new poll by the Washington-based New America Foundation, 41% of Israelis have a favorable rating of Obama against 37% who rated him unfavorably.

And while 55% of Israelis polled said they thought Obama did not support Israel against 42% who said he did – a quote from Reuters remarked that this is “a reflection of the ‘complexity of views’ about the U.S. leader as he presses both Israel and the Palestinians to resume stalled peace talks.”

So he sounded rational at the Nobel Ceremony – at least rational enough to agree with 41% of the good Israeli population.

Well, it’s a start.
Chag Hanukkah Sameach

Where is he now?

arafat yasserEver since the demise of the PLO’s long time standard bearer and first Palestinian Chairman or “President” Yasser Arafat, many people might be speculating what might be happening to him in the after-life, known to Jews as the Olam ha Bah. During his “illustrious” career, Yasser Arafat had many “accomplishments” he could be proud of, including the murder of several thousand of his avowed “Yahud” enemies by acts of terror (most of which he personally authorized or provided funds for), those cherished moments when he almost became legitimate while shaking hands with a former “Zionist” enemy, Yitzhak Rabin, on the White House Lawn; accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Norway (the same city which gave its name to the now defunct Oslo Peace Accords); and, his most notable accomplishment of all, providing his widow Suha with a ‘king’s ransom’ of an endowment, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Yes, the Chairman does have a lot to be proud of; including turning his beloved Palestinian Authority into such a mess that it will be a long time (if ever) before it can eventually be worthy of being part of the “two state solution” that the new American President, Barack Obama, is so much in favor of. But perhaps one of Arafat’s greatest achievements was sending so many of own countrymen and women to their deaths in what is known in the Muslim World as Holy Martyrdom or shaheedim . Long before groups known as Hamas or Islamic Jihad came into being, Chairman Arafat, or Comrade Arafat as he was known then, encouraged young Palestinians and international terror associates (Baader Meinhoff, Japanese Red Army, Carlos the Jackal, etc) to wreak death and personal suffering on as many of “the enemy” as could be shot, stabbed, clubbed, or blown up, often with sensational media coverage. A few of these were the slaughter of people at Ben Gurion Airport in May, 1972, by
Members of the Japanense Red Army, the Savoy Hotel terror attack in Tel Aviv, the attack on Jewish school children in Qiryat Shmona, the Egged Bus attack on the Coastal Road in February 1978, and the attack in the coastal town of Nahariya, not long afterwards.

But perhaps his most sensational terror accomplishment was the attack on the Israeli athletes at the summer Olympic Games of August 1972, carried off by members of the Palestinian Black September faction, who had direct ties to Arafat’s Fatah organization. 11 Israeli athletes and coaches lost their lives in an episode that is still being talked about to this day.

Chairman Arafat finally went to his “heavenly reward” in November 2004, after complications from a medical condition which some say was caused by AIDS, and others by some form of poison. He must have been looking forward to meeting up with some of those 72 virgins (the sex of them open to speculation) as is the reward to all those who did holy deeds on behalf of his religion (he was still a devout Muslim, despite his political leanings).

But in Yasser’s case, did he actually meet up with them, or with something else altogether? All of us on the receiving end of his “good deeds” can only hope he received “something else altogether”.

Shimon Peres Becomes Israel’s 9th President

Katzav, Gila & Peres
In a ceremony fraught with pageantry and fanfare, Former Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres was sworn in July 15 as the 9th President of the State of Israel. In a moving Knesset ceremony, Peres took the oath of what is usually a largely ceremonial position similar to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. In his acceptance speech afterwards, however, Peres (who usually loves to be in the center of governmental goings-on) indicated that his term of office will be anything but ceremonial, with the new president volunteering to go on various peace missions on the government’s behalf.

Despite his advanced age (83) Peres seems to be in excellent health, and loves to travel abroad and hobnob with foreign government leaders and other dignitaries. This means that he may become the county’s first globe trotting President and will undoubtedly not wait even for the paint on the door of his new office in Beit Hanasi to dry before he leaves on his first international assignment; most likely to either the USA or the UK – both favorite destinations for a man who has literally been in nearly every major world capital, including Olso Norway, where he jointly accepted the Nobel Peace Price in 1994, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

After nearly 50 years of governmental and political activities, Peres has finally found a position that most suits his wide and diversified career in public life. In a way it’s a shame he didn’t have this opportunity seven years ago when he barely lost out to Likud political party rival Moshe Katsav, who has now left the presidency in disgrace following his admittance to being involved in a number of incidents of sexual misconduct. Katsav is also being accused of at least two counts of rape, which were dropped by Israel State Prosecutor Manny Mazuz in an effort to keep an already scandalous incident from becoming an embarrassing public trial.

Shimon Peres’ ascension to the presidency will hopefully do much to erase the pall that has been cast on this office by both Katsav and Katsav’s predecessor Ezer Weizman, who wasn’t ashamed to speak his mind; even if his remarks were frequently taken out of context by the press. Peres brings an air of dignity to an office where dignity and protocol are two of the most important aspects. With Peres in this position, not only will he be meeting foreign dignitaries when they arrive in Israel, he himself will be going to meet them on their home ground; where Peres feels as much at home as he does in Jerusalem.

Despite his wife, Sonia being in ill health, Peres will undoubtedly volunteer to be his country’s official peace envoy for as long as he is able to do so. And judging from the current state of affairs that Israel finds itself in, peace is something that Israel sorely needs. If Shimon can make a positive contribution towards this end, his final position in public life will be more than fitting for a man who has dedicated a great deal of his life to the cause of peace.

Moshik has Katsav asking his wife, Gila, how is Peres going to handle the job without his wife…

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.

Picture: bbc.co.uk

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