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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.
      Iyar 2, 5768, 5/7/2008

      With a President Like This...



      Why is the President of the State of Israel only in touch with his Jewishness as a result of external threats rather than internal conviction?
      As the titular head of state, the president of Israel is meant to embody - or at least represent - the nation and its interests.

      Sadly, as Israel turns 60, we can not claim to have such a leader in Shimon Peres.

      In a revealing interview with Ha'aretz, Peres makes two statements that leave the reader shaking his head in complete and utter disbelief.

      Speaking about the conflict with the Palestinians, Peres made the following pseudo-admission: "I believed the separation between the West Bank and Gaza would make things easier, not harder. I did not imagine that we would leave Gaza and they would fire Qassams from there; I did not imagine that Hamas would show so strongly in the elections."

      He did not imagine it! This statement is utterly astonishing, if only because prior to the Gaza retreat, this is precisely the scenario that was forecast by both the Israeli right as well as the military. Day in and day out, the alarm was sounded, warning against the inevitable disastrous consequences of a unilateral withdrawal from the region, but neither Peres nor his cohorts on the Left was willing to listen. So it is not that Peres did not "imagine" how bad things would turn out - he simply did not want to accept reality.

      And then there is this whopper, which interestingly enough, appears only in the Hebrew version of the interview and not in the English: Peres says that Hamas together with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "return me to the Jew within me".

      As nice as it is to hear that Peres may be drawing closer to his "inner Jew", the question that comes to mind is: why does it take the threat of destruction and annihilation to do this? Why is the President of the State of Israel only in touch with his Jewishness as a result of external threats rather than internal conviction?

      And there, my friends, is the true root of Israel's current problems - a leadership that has grown so detached from its heritage that it takes the threat of Qassam rockets and possible nuclear annihilation to remind them of who they are.

      As Israel enters its 61st year, let's hope and pray that we will soon be blessed with true Jewish leaders - men who are anchored in faith and confident in the justness of our cause.



      Nissan 25, 5768, 4/30/2008

      A Reminder of the Fight for Jerusalem



      the tiny Davidka shell uncovered this week serves as a timely reminder that once upon a time, the Jewish people were willing to fight for Jerusalem
      There was something immensely symbolic in the discovery made by archaeologists this week in the Old City of Jerusalem.

      While carrying out excavations in the Western Wall Plaza, researchers unearthed a 60-year old Davidka mortar shell dating back to Israel's 1948 War of Independence.

      The Davidka was a homemade 3-inch shell developed by Jewish freedom fighters which was known more for the noise it made than any damage that it caused. But more importantly, it proved effective in scaring off invading Arab units during the Independence War, when Israel was vastly outnumbered in the struggle for its survival.

      Now, just six decades later, the sovereign government of the State of Israel is negotiating away the future of Jerusalem, determined to divide the Holy City and turn over its eastern section to our foes.

      But the tiny Davidka shell uncovered this week serves as a timely reminder that once upon a time, the Jewish people were willing to fight for Jerusalem, the city we longed for throughout our dispersion.

      Maybe, just maybe, this unexpected find will spark within our leadership the spirit of old, the spirit that cries out: Jerusalem is ours, and we shall never abandon her!



      Nissan 18, 5768, 4/23/2008

      Can Israel Really Stand Up to the Rest of the World?



      Imagine that. A country that is prepared to stand up for itself and proudly declare its willingness to be "an insuperable obstacle" over a matter of principle! If only Israel and its leadership would learn from Greece's example.
      With Israel coming under increasing pressure to make additional, far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians, the question has arisen once again of whether the Jewish state is capable of standing up for itself and its interests.

      Interestingly, there is another small Mediterranean state - namely Greece - that recently created a major diplomatic furor, all because of a question of semantics.

      And as I argue in the column below, Israel would do well to learn from their example.
       
      thanks, and Happy Passover,
       
      Michael Freund

       

      It's Greek to me

      By Michael Freund 

      Once upon a time, and it seems like it was truly a very long time ago, Israel knew how to stand on principle.

      Attacks on our citizens were met with swift and forceful retaliation. Talk of surrender alluded to our foes, rather than to official Israeli government policy, and we didn't hesitate to defy the world when necessary in order to defend ourselves.

      The spirit of Entebbe, Osirak and yes, the Six Day War, sparked our imagination, filling us with pride at the valor and heroism of the modern-day Jewish warrior. Our lives had meaning, our society had a purpose, and the nation's overriding goal was to build the land, rather than withdraw from it.

      But all that appears to have changed. Our leadership's infatuation with retreat has become an obsession. Yesterday's trial balloons have become today's diplomatic agenda, and what was once considered unthinkable, such as the division of Jerusalem, is now suddenly looming over the horizon.

      How did we reach this point? How could we sink so low so swiftly?

      Well, you might be saying to yourself, we don't have a choice. We're a small country, with limited resources. What else can we do? Do you really think we can stand up to the rest of the world?

      Heck yes.

      If you think this is naïve, just take a look at Greece, which recently stared down the entire Western alliance over an issue of semantics.

      EARLIER THIS month, at a NATO summit in Bucharest, Greece singlehandedly caused a major diplomatic imbroglio, scuttling the expansion of NATO and defying the will of nearly all of its friends and allies, for the simple reason that it objected to the name of its neighbor, Macedonia.

      Macedonia, which used to be part of Yugoslavia, had been hoping to receive a formal invitation to join the trans-Atlantic coalition, as a means of further deepening its integration into the West.

      "But Athens blocked the invitation," the Associated Press reported on Monday, "to protest Macedonia's name, saying it implies a claim to a northern region of Greece also called Macedonia."

      As the Greek Foreign Ministry Web site explains, "The choice of the name Macedonia directly raises the issue of usurpation of the cultural heritage of a neighboring country. The name constitutes the basis for staking an exclusive rights claim over the entire geographical area of Macedonia."

      In other words, Greece is willing to risk the wrath of the United States, Britain and the rest of the NATO coalition, merely because they believe that Macedonia's choice of name masks expansionist ambitions that threaten to undermine their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

      The boldness of Athens's position becomes even more apparent when one considers that over 100 countries formally recognize Macedonia as Macedonia. Nonetheless, Greece stubbornly continues to insist that it be referred to as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," or FYROM.

      There are those who will look at the Greek position with raised eyebrows, wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, who cares about names?

      But I applaud their resolute determination to stand firm and defend what they consider to be their national interests, even at the risk of international opprobrium.

      Indeed, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakovannis didn't hesitate to announce publicly in March that "as regards the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia… the policy followed by our neighboring country in its relations with Greece, on the one side with intransigence and on the other with a logic of nationalist and irredentist actions tightly connected with the naming issue, does not allow us to maintain a positive stance."

      "As long as there is no such solution," she added, "Greece will remain an insuperable obstacle to the European and Euro-Atlantic ambition of FYROM."

      Imagine that. A country that is prepared to stand up for itself and proudly declare its willingness to be "an insuperable obstacle" over a matter of principle!

      If only Israel and its leadership would learn from Greece's example.

      Instead, we are being led by the nose inexorably towards catastrophe, unwilling to buck international pressure even when it threatens to undermine our very existence.

      There is, of course, an expression that something "looks like Greek to me" when we can not begin to fathom what it says.

      But this is one case where Israel would do well to start deciphering the words. And fast.

      --- from the April 23rd Jerusalem Post



      Nissan 11, 5768, 4/16/2008

      Jimmy Carter's Terror Tour 2008



      ever since he was tossed out of office in 1980, Carter has devoted much of his time to undermining his own country’s foreign policy, coddling its foes and seeking to impose solutions on it from the outside
      Just when we thought we'd heard the last of America's worst president of the past century, along comes Jimmy Carter to stir up some waves in the Middle East.

      Not content with making a few headlines and then quietly going on his merry way, Mr. Carter has instead taken upon himself a new cause: to legitimize the Hamas terrorist group by meeting with its leadership.

      Of course, ever since he was tossed out of office in 1980, Carter has devoted much of his time to undermining his own country’s foreign policy, coddling its foes and seeking to impose solutions on it from the outside. So it should come as no surprise that he is now doing the same thing to Israel, which has always been his favorite "whipping boy".

      But Carter's embrace of Hamas represents a new low for the farmer peanut farmer, as he unashamedly seeks to confer legitimacy on those who kill Jews for a living.

      On Tuesday, Carter met with former Hamas deputy prime minister Nasser Eddin Shaer and reportedly hugged him. Less than 24 hours later, Hamas terrorists shot and killed 3 Israeli soldiers.

      Coincidence? Hardly.

      The former president has foolishly emboldened the terrorist group still further, and for that he deserves nothing but condemnation.

      It's no wonder the American people denied Mr. Carter a second term nearly three decades ago. Unfortunately, that doesn't prevent him from continuing to bring shame upon the office he once held.

       



      Adar Bet 27, 5768, 4/3/2008

      A Prime Minister Resigns


      He is the Prime Minister of the country, and he is suspected of corruption.

      Police believe he took cash in exchange for favors, using his governmental post to line his own pockets.

      He has not been charged with any crime - at least not yet - but a cloud of suspicion hangs heavily over his name and his reputation.

      Sound familiar? Well, the person in question is actually not Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, but Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of Ireland.

      But there is, however, one major difference between the two: Ahern had the decency to announce his resignation.

      Speaking at a surprise press conference on Wednesday morning, Ahern said, "While I will be the first to admit that I've made mistakes in my life and in my career, one mistake I've never made was to enrich myself by misusing the trust of the people. I have never received a corrupt payment and I've never done anything to dishonour any office that I've ever held."

      Nonetheless, despite professing his innocence, Ahern decided to fall on his political sword, realizing that his service to his nation could not continue under the circumstances.

      Would that our own leaders in Israel would watch and learn from his example.