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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 8, 5768, 9/8/2008

      Exploiting the Cease-fire in Gaza



      36 months after Israel pulled out, what do we have to show for it? Is Gaza safer? Is Israel safer? The answer is an unequivocal 'no'
      Guess what? Three years after Israel withdrew from the area, Gaza is being used as a training ground to attack Jews.

      No surprise there: indeed, the Palestinian terrorist organizations are busy exploiting the cease-fire currently in place in Gaza to retrain, rearm and prepare for the next round of conflict with Israel.

      That, at least, is what emerges from a report in the Arabic daily A-Sharq Alawsat, whose Gaza correspondent was invited to watch dozens of members of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades practice urban warfare.

      "Since the calm agreement between Israel and Hamas came into play," the paper states, "it has been clearly evident that Palestinian resistance factions, without exception, have taken advantage of the ceasefire by conducting military training for their recruits."

      Such training, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees said, also includes practicing how to abduct Israeli soldiers.

      A number of the Palestinian terror groups are making use of the abandoned and largely demolished Jewish communities that once flourished in Gaza. "These sites," the Arabic daily helpfully explains, "are regarded as the best environment for conducting military training because they are uninhabited, have sandy hills, and are very close to the seacoast."

      There you have it: 36 months after Israel pulled out, what do we have to show for it? Is Gaza safer? Is Israel safer? The answer is an unequivocal 'no'.

      Instead, the Strip is now being used as a laboratory for terror. And if it isn't dealt with soon, it will undoubtedly blow up in Israel's face.



      Elul 4, 5768, 9/4/2008

      The French, again....



      Following in the finest tradition of misguided French policy, Mr. Sarkozy is doing precisely the opposite of what needs to be done
      As much as French policy has shifted since Nicolas Sarkozy assumed the presidency, it seems that old habits die harder than expected in Paris.

      Ever since the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut in 2005 (an act that virtually everyone believes was carried out by the Syrian regime), Western leaders have largely shunned Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

      Until yesterday, that is.

      Sarkozy arrived in Damascus to much fanfare, where he has even been photographed smiling side-by-side with Assad. And since France holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, the trip takes on added diplomatic weight and significance.

      In private, Assad and his aides must be rolling in laughter at this turn of events. Syria continues to support terror groups such as Hizbullah, maintains its alliance with renegade Iran, and even backed the recent Russian bloodbath in Georgia.

      Yet, instead of paying a price for its mischief, the Syrian regime once again finds itself being courted by France and the West, who naively hope to bring about a change in the wily Assad's stance through "engagement" and "dialogue".

      Following in the finest tradition of misguided French policy, Mr. Sarkozy is doing precisely the opposite of what needs to be done. Rather than rewarding Assad for his bad behavior with photo-ops and praise, France should be leading the charge to isolate and undermine the dangerous Damascus regime, which does not hesitate to use violence and terror to further its interests.

      Then again, I guess we really shouldn't be all that surprised by Paris' pitiful policies. As the French themselves like to say, "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" ("the more things change, the more they stay the same").

       



      Sivan 19, 5768, 6/22/2008

      America's Arab Allies?


      Look at the company that America is keeping.

      Here is a story I came across at the Kuwait Times about the Kuwaiti Interior Minister's announcement that unaccompanied women will not be granted visas to visit the country.

      Note the headline, which indicates how Kuwait's government views women who travel by themselves.

      This of course speaks for itself, and says a great deal about the kind of regimes that Washington is backing throughout the Arab world.

      But don't expect to read about this in the mainstream liberal media in the West - after all, most journalists are too busy focusing on Israel's alleged mistreatment of the Palestinians to take notice of how America's Arab allies treat half of their own citizenry.

       

      Local News

      'Kuwait will not admit whores'

      Published Date: June 22, 2008

      KUWAIT: Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled, the Minister of Interior, said that the decision to grant visit visas to residents in GCC countries would not make Kuwait easily accessible to prostitutes. Kuwait will remain a clean country, reported Al-Rai. He also emphasized that visas would be limited to people "holding high profile jobs and visiting Kuwait for business," he said.

      "Women will not be allowed to enter Kuwait unless accompanied by her husband or she is arriving for official business with a major company," he reassured.

      Meanwhile, Chairman of the parliamentary committee for 'alien practices,' MP Jamaan Al-Harbash warned of the possible consequences of randomly allowing GCC residents to enter Kuwait.

      Further, Al-Harbash said that he had already field a parliamentary enquiry on the matter two weeks ago.


      Iyar 25, 5768, 5/30/2008

      The Delusions of the Left



      With all due respect to Mr. Olmert, repeatedly banging one's head against the wall of Palestinian obstructionism in the hopes of making peace, even as more and more blood pours forth with each blow, hardly seems to qualify as rational behavior
      This past Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a Knesset Committee that anyone who believes in the idea of "Greater Israel" is a "delusional fantasist".
      But in reality, as I argue in the column below, the true "delusional fantasists" are those who persist in clinging to the false hope of forging an even falser peace after 15 years of ongoing Palestinian violence, terror and obstructionism.
      Believing in the right of the Jewish people to the entire Land of Israel is neither delusional nor fantasy. It has been the basis of our faith, and the core of our national dream, for the past 2,000 years, and over the past six decades we have seen it begin to come to pass.
      And soon enough, the promise of "Greater Israel" will yet come true.

       

      The real "delusional fantasists"

      By Michael Freund

      Ladies and gentlemen, we have a slight problem on our hands. This coming Sunday night marks the start of Yom Yerushalayim, the annual celebration of Jerusalem's liberation during the heroic 1967 Six-Day War.

      Normally speaking, it is a day filled with cheer. Special prayers are recited in synagogues around the world, marches, ceremonies and commemorations are held, and crowds of visitors flock to the Old City to stroll through its narrow streets, caress the gentle stones of the Western Wall, and savor the holiness in the air.

      But here's the glitch: just how exactly are we supposed to rejoice over Jerusalem's reunification this year when the Israeli government is now actively seeking to divide it?

      It almost seems like throwing a large wedding anniversary party in the middle of divorce proceedings.

      Sure, the negotiations with the Palestinians may or may not be getting anywhere, depending on the latest spin being circulated in the media. And the current governing coalition, along with its policy of concessions, might in any event be gone before we know it.

      But all that is beside the point.

      The very fact that Jerusalem is on the table just 41 years after its miraculous emancipation from the shackles of foreign control cannot help but cast a menacing shadow over the festivities.

      And yet, oddly enough, despite the uncertainty hanging over the fate of our capital, I intend to whoop it up and revel fully in the spirit of the day. And you should too.

      Here's why: the jig is up for the Left and its supporters.

      TRY AS they might to let the air out of the balloons, those in favor of tearing apart Jerusalem cannot, and will not, succeed. They and their ideological fellow-travelers are running out of steam, and they long ago ran out of political vision and courage, so it is only a matter of time before their outmoded policies become a thing of the past.

      Point of fact: for the past 15 years, ever since the signing of the Oslo Accords, various Israeli leaders have been coaxing and cajoling, pleading and pressing, and even begging and beseeching the Palestinians to make peace with us. And all they have to show for it is a string of failures and half-a-dozen worthless agreements, topped off by a steady stream of Kassam rockets now raining down on Sderot and the Negev.

      And yet, that doesn't seem to stop the proponents of retreat from hurling invective at those of us who refuse to buy into their forlorn worldview.

      "Delusional fantasists." That is how Prime Minister Ehud Olmert referred to those who believe in the vision of Greater Israel when he appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

      "Only fantasists," he said, "can believe that in this day and age, and in the current situation, it is still possible to cling to the vision of 'Greater Israel.' "

      But who is really being delusional here? Is it Israel's Right, which has warned from the start about the dangers of appeasing Palestinian terror, or those who persist in clinging to a false hope of forging an even falser peace?

      With all due respect to Mr. Olmert, repeatedly banging one's head against the wall of Palestinian obstructionism in the hopes of making peace, even as more and more blood pours forth with each blow, hardly seems to qualify as rational behavior or intelligent policy-making.

      If anyone is delusional, it is those who still think that dividing the land of Israel will appease the Palestinian appetite, and quench their thirst for dismantling the Jewish state once and for all.

      Believing in the right of the Jewish people to the entire Land of Israel is neither delusional nor fantasy. It has been the basis of our faith, and the core of our national dream, for the past 2,000 years. It was a Divine promise to our ancestors, and it has propelled our people over the past century to climb out of exile and to continue to strive. And over the past six decades we have seen it begin to come to pass.

      Herzl too was mocked in similar terms when he boldly predicted the establishment of a Jewish state. Back in 1897, the great Zionist thinker Ahad Ha'am wrote this about Herzl's vision: "only a fantasy bordering on madness can believe that so soon as the Jewish State is established millions of Jews will flock to it, and the land will afford them adequate sustenance."

      GUESS WHAT? It happened. Just look around at what Israel has accomplished in the past 60 years.

      So in the spirit of the day, I'm going to keep right on celebrating the return of Jerusalem to Jewish control, confident in the knowledge that those who raise a hand against her will not succeed.

      And I take solace from a passage in the Talmud in Tractate Taanit (29a), which is well worth pondering as we mark Yom Yerushalayim. The Talmud there contains a description of how the two Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, centuries apart, by the Babylonians and then by the Romans.

      In both cases, when the attackers entered the Temple grounds, it occurred on a Sunday. Nevertheless, says the Talmud, the Levites on duty were singing the Song of the Day normally recited on Wednesdays.

      Rabbi Nachman Kahane points out that Wednesday's song, which is Chapter 94 of the Book of Psalms, begins with the words, "O G-d of vengeance, L-rd, O G-d of vengeance, appear!"

      The Levites, he explains, seeing that the Temple was about to fall into enemy hands, issued a last-minute plea to G-d to avenge its capture, hence they chose Wednesday's song.

      But why specifically Wednesday?

      Jump ahead nearly 2,000 years to the Six Day War, when Israeli soldiers ascended the Temple Mount and restored it to Jewish control. The day that took place was June 7, 1967 which was, of course, a… Wednesday. And so the historical circle was closed.

      Go ahead, dismiss it all as a coincidence, if you wish.

      But don't go calling it "fantasy." The promise of Greater Israel will yet come true. Just you wait and see.

      --- from the May 28 Jerusalem Post



      Iyar 14, 5768, 5/19/2008

      Look who's talking to Hamas....



      Instead of talking to gangsters such as Hamas, Israel should be hunting them down and putting an end to the threat they pose to innocent life and limb.
      Well, now it is official.

      After months of media reports and speculation suggesting that the Israeli government was conducting talks with Hamas, along comes a senior cabinet member and confims it once and for all.

      Speaking at a faction meeting of the ruling Kadima party, Vice Premier Haim Ramon acknowledged that the government is in fact holding talks with the terrorist group - even though this violates the terms of a cabinet decision proscribing such talks as long as Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state.

      In a certain sense, I guess it should come as no surprise - after all, the government had little compunction making deals with Yasser Arafat, despite the rivers of innocent Jewish blood on his hands.

      Nonetheless, Ramon's revelation is disheartening and even sickening. Hamas continues to fire rockets from Gaza at Israeli towns and cities, and remains inalterably committed to the Jewish state's destruction.

      Instead of talking to gangsters such as Hamas, Israel should be hunting them down and putting an end to the threat they pose to innocent life and limb.

      It is a sad indicator of just how much our current leadership has lost its way when it is willing to talk with Hamas terrorists, rather than eliminate them.