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      Fundamentally Freund
      by Michael Freund
      An alternative approach to Israeli political commentary.
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      Michael Freund is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister´s Office under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He has lived in Israel for the past decade.
      Elul 29, 5773, 9/4/2013

      Shanah Tova!!


      May it be a year of expanding borders, downcast enemies, silenced critics and ingathered exiles for the State of Israel, and may we once again come to appreciate fully the miracle that we are living through as the Jewish people return to our Land.

      Shanah Tova and G-d bless our men in uniform and keep them safe!!



      Elul 28, 5773, 9/3/2013

      More than 1 in 10 Israeli Jews is a "settler"!


      Every year, on the eve of Rosh Hashana, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics releases an update regarding the country's population.

      As we prepare to enter 5774, the number of Jews living in the Jewish state has reached 6,066,000, the highest it has been in 2000 years. Thank G-d, the Land of Israel is once again filling up with Jews!

      Taking into account the fact that there are now more than 367,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria, and an additional 300,000 residing in eastern Jerusalem, this means that more than 1 in 10 Israeli Jews now make their homes over the so-called Green Line! 

      This is a statistic with significant political and diplomatic ramifications - it underlines the impossibility of withdrawal and expulsion, and highlights the ongoing reunification of the people of Israel with their land.

      We need to repeat this over and over again and shout it from the rooftops: the Green Line is dead. There is no turning back. Judea and Samaria are ours forever. 







      Tishrei 8, 5771, 9/16/2010

      Rev Up the Bulldozers


      For the first time in nearly two years, Israel and the Palestinian Authority resumed direct negotiations in Washington this week amid a great deal of fanfare.

      In a clear sign of the occasion's significance, President Barack Obama personally set aside several hours in between his frequent vacations to host the restart of the talks, while former British Prime Minister Tony Blair abandoned the lucrative lecture circuit for a few days in order to attend the ceremony.

      Can this possibly be just business as usual?

      With all the clinking of the champagne glasses at the festive diplomatic dinner, and the inevitable poses for the political paparazzi, some might be tempted to get swept away by all the hope and change that seems to be in the air. 

      After all, the diplomatic process has been stalled for some 20 months now, and the fact that Israel and the Palestinian leadership are again looking at each other across a table clearly marks an advance in the right direction.

      Or does it?

      Before you get too excited, consider the following. Even before the talks began, Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was already at work blaming Israel for their imminent failure.

      In a speech in Ramallah on Sunday, Abbas said, "I clearly state today that we notified the Americans and international officials that Israel will bear sole and full responsibility for the collapse of negotiations should settlement building continue" (Ynet, August 30).

      Like a bride placing a call to her divorce lawyer as she saunters down the aisle, Abbas is laying the groundwork for a letdown.

      Before setting foot in the American capital, he was effectively trying to compel Israel to extend the 10-month freeze on construction in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria that is due to expire on September 26. By asserting a linkage between settlement building and the continuation of the talks, Abbas is seeking to impose unilateral preconditions on the nature and conduct of the negotiations.

      This, of course, is completely unacceptable and should be met with a straightforward, yet firm Israeli response.
      In other words, it is time for the Jewish state to rev up the bulldozers. Let's start building again throughout the length and breadth of Judea and Samaria. This is the only way to ensure that the Palestinians will at last understand that they cannot decree the outcome.

      Sure, you might be thinking, but then won't Israel be giving Abbas precisely the excuse he wants to slam his fist on the table and storm away from the talks?

      But the question itself contains the answer.

      For if Abbas is already looking for a pretext to walk out, then what is the point of negotiating with him in the first place? If he isn't serious about talking, then why on earth should we be?

      Like it or not, if the diplomatic process is to have any chance at all of succeeding, then Israel cannot, and must not, allow the Palestinians to think that they can dictate what Israeli policy should be, whether via threats, pressure or intimidation.

      The last thing Israel, or the process itself, can afford is for the Jewish state to exude a further sense of weakness or frailty. Time and again, since the start of the Oslo track in 1993, Israeli concessions and capitulation have only invited a still more aggressive Palestinian stance.

      It is time to break the cycle of submission, and underline our right to each and every part of this precious land.
      For far too long, the left and the media have fed us with the mantra that "Settlements are the obstacle to peace". Despite the rhetoric, they never have been. Not once.

      The true obstacle to peace remains what it has always been: the Palestinian refusal to accept a permanent and sovereign Jewish presence in the land of Israel. Palestinian leaders continue to harbor fantasies of annihilation, which is why they have been loath to accept even the most generous of Israeli offers over the years.

      Indeed, it wasn't a lack of Israeli generosity that torpedoed peace, but an excess of Palestinian audacity.
      And that is one reason why settlements are so important: they disabuse the Palestinians of their deeply-held notion that Israel is a passing or temporary phenomenon.

      Think about it: every red-bricked Israeli roof that is erected on the outskirts of Ramallah, every Hebrew hothouse that goes up south of Hebron, is a tangible reminder to Mr. Abbas and his colleagues that the Jewish people are here to stay.

      If each time they look out their windows, the Palestinian leadership is faced with a steadily–growing Jewish horizon, they will be forced to accept this basic and fundamental truth. Then, and only then, will peace possibly have a chance of breaking out.

      Personally, I believe Israel should expand Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria because of our Divinely-given right to these areas. And I do not want Israel to give up control over any part of our ancestral patrimony.
      But the bottom line is that wherever you stand on the question of territory - right or left - settlements serve to advance Israel's values and interests.

      So let's get those engines going and start pouring some more concrete. Both because it is good for Israel and, ironically enough, also for peace.



      Tammuz 26, 5770, 7/8/2010

      Can Abbas give Israel something we already have?



      The Palestinian acceptance of Israel's right to Jerusalem, just like their recognition of Israel's existence, must be viewed as a prerequisite, rather than a part of, any diplomatic process
      According to media reports, Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas offered Israel the Western Wall and the Old City of Jerusalem as part of a peace deal.
      But, as I ask in the column below: how can Abbas offer Israel something that we already have?
      The Palestinian acceptance of Israel's right to Jerusalem, just like their recognition of Israel's existence, must be viewed as a prerequisite, rather than a part of, any diplomatic process. We do not need Mr. Abbas, or anyone else for that matter, to give us something we possess already.
      And we most certainly don't need to view his reported acknowledgment of reality as constituting a "concession" or a "gesture" which merits a reciprocal response.

      Placing ourselves at the mercy of Abbas' fickle approval is not a recipe for peace, but a formula for failure..

       

      Anatomy of a Palestinian "concession"

      By Michael Freund

      Earlier this week, just in advance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington, a brief flurry of excitement took hold of the media, as word spread of what appeared to be a major conciliatory gesture by the Palestinians.

      In a well-timed leak, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported over the weekend that Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had offered Israel the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City as part of a future peace agreement.

      The proposal, according to the paper, was among several ideas that Abbas had recently submitted in writing to US Mideast negotiator George Mitchell. The rest of eastern Jerusalem, the Palestinian leader declared, would serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

      At first glance, Abbas' offer would appear to herald a significant form of progress. After all, the thorny issue of control over Jerusalem and its holy sites has long confounded efforts to reach an accommodation between the two sides.

      By granting Israel a foothold in the heart of ancient Jerusalem, Abbas would appear to be conceding that the Jewish people can stake a legitimate claim to this very special place.

      But a closer look reveals that this Palestinian "concession", like so many others before it, is in fact little more than a hollow and ultimately inconsequential act. And it would be foolish for Israel and its supporters to be duped into thinking otherwise.

      To begin with, how can Abbas offer Israel something that we already have?

      Last time I checked, the Western Wall was safely and securely under Israeli control.

      Indeed, it was 43 years ago this summer, during the 1967 Six Day War, that Israel liberated the site from Jordanian occupation in an act of self-defense.

      As everyone knows, the Wall was built by Herod as part of the Temple compound, where the Jewish people were worshipping G-d two millennia before the PLO was created.

      The Western Wall is ours by right and by history, and thank G-d, it is in Israeli hands.  

      We do not need Mr. Abbas, or anyone else for that matter, to give us something we already possess.

      And we most certainly don't need to view his reported acknowledgment of reality as constituting a "concession" or a "gesture" which merits a reciprocal response.

      To do so would be to grant the Palestinians a huge advantage at the negotiating table, for it would transform their verbal acceptance of the most basic truths into something that Israel would be expected to pay for with tangible assets.

      "Want us to recognize that Israel has a right to live and breathe?" the Palestinians will ask, "then ante up!"

      "Want us to accept that you have a right not to be thrown into the Mediterranean?" they will declare, "then give us a down-payment."

      That is not a recipe for peace, it is a formula for failure.

      The Palestinian acceptance of Israel's right to Jerusalem, just like their recognition of Israel's existence, must be viewed as a prerequisite, rather than a part of, any diplomatic process.

      Israel cannot and must not allow Abbas to arrogate to himself the ability to force us into yielding on our positions in exchange for mere words.

      As it is, his authority barely extends beyond the four corners of his own desk, which is yet another reason not to take his pronouncements all too seriously.

      But if we place ourselves at the mercy of Abbas' fickle approval, we will most certainly weaken our stance beyond repair.

      In any event, the questions raised by the Palestinian leader's dubious generosity quickly became moot.

      Within 24 hours of the Al-Hayat report, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat went on Israel Radio on Sunday morning to deny that the Palestinians had made any such offer regarding the Western Wall or the Old City. Jerusalem, Erekat insisted, must be under Palestinian control.

      So much for Palestinian flexibility.

      Not surprisingly, amid all this fuss, little attention was paid to the really big story regarding Abbas, who once again revealed his true colors by heaping praise on a mass-murderer.

      On Saturday, Abbas sent his condolences to the family of Abu Daoud, the mastermind of the terrorist attack against the Israeli athletic team in the 1972 Munich Olympics, who had passed away the day before.

      "He is missed," Abbas wrote in his letter to Abu Daoud's relatives, praising the terrorist as "one of the leading figures of Fatah" and thanking him for having "spent his life in resistance and sincere work as well as physical sacrifice for his people's just causes".

      Among Abu Daoud's so-called "just causes" was the taking of 11 Israeli Olympians hostage in Munich, all of whom were killed during a failed rescue attempt by German police.

      "I regret nothing," Abu Daoud told Germany's Spiegel TV in 2006, defiantly adding that, "You can only dream that I would apologize."

      For Abbas to praise such a man and mourn his passing speaks volumes as to the kind of person he truly is, far more than any supposed gestures he may or may not have made.

      So let's stop seeing "concessions" where there aren't any and peacemakers where they do not exist.

      It should be obvious that from people such as Abbas we require neither recognition nor beneficence.

      And neither should we fawn all over them in order to get it.

      --- from the July 8 Jerusalem Post







      Tammuz 22, 5770, 7/4/2010

      Abbas Mourns Mastermind of Munich Massacre


      Over the weekend, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas once again demonstrated his true colors by heaping praise on a mass-murderer.

      According to an INN newsarticle based on a CNN report, Abbas sent his condolences to the family of Abu Daoud, the mastermind of the terrorist attack against the Israeli athletic team in the 1972 Munich Olympics, who passed away on Friday evening.

      "He is missed," Abbas wrote in his letter to Abu Daoud's family, praising the terrorist as "one of the leading figures of Fatah" and thanking him for having "spent his life in resistance and sincere work as well as physical sacrifice for his people's just causes".

      Among Abu Daoud's so-called "just causes" was the taking of 11 Israeli Olympians hostage in Munich, all of whom were killed during a failed rescue attempt by German police.

      "I regret nothing," Abu Daoud told Germany's Spiegel TV in 2006, defiantly adding that, "You can only dream that I would apologize."

      This incident provides a timely reminder of just what kind of person Mr. Abbas is. Despite the Obama Administration's efforts to cultivate him and portray him as a man of peace, Abbas does not hesitate to heap praise on a man who attacked the Olympics and bore responsibility for the murder of innocents. His words and his actions speak for themselves.

      If this is Obama's idea of someone with whom Israel can do business, he is sorely and gravely mistaken.