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Nissan 18, 5768, 4/23/2008
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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.
Adar Bet 21, 5768, 3/28/2008
There is something obsessive about the manner in which the Bush Administration is devoting so much time and resources to trying to create a Palestinian state.
A direct result of this mindset is that other, far more important issues, such as Iran's drive toward nuclear weapons and the nuclearization of the Middle East, are not getting the attention that they deserve. As I argue in the column below, this is a dangerous development, and warrants a major "re-think" in Washington's entire approach to the region.
The Price of Washington's Obsession with the Palestinians
While the West fiddles, the Middle East threatens to burn. Recent months have seen a renewed surge in American efforts to jump-start the political process between Israel and the Palestinians, as a stream of high-level officials have made their way to the region. We've had visits by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice looks set to be upgraded to "platinum" in whatever frequent flyer program she takes part in. The Secretary of State has already been to Israel twice this year, and it's only March.
Adar Bet 19, 5768, 3/26/2008
Guess what? The Palestinian Authority is not living up to its obligations to fight terrorism against Israel.
So concluded the American officials responsible for monitoring Palestinian compliance with the Road Map peace plan, according to the Ha'aretz newspaper.
The paper reports that, "Specifically, the Americans are concerned that the PA does not engage in the full spectrum of counterterrorism activities, including arrests, interrogation and trial, as it would if it were trying to eradicate the armed wings of Islamic terrorist organizations. Instead, it makes do with trying to "contain" terror - to prevent specific attacks, and to keep Hamas from growing strong enough to threaten Fatah's rule in the West Bank."
Nonetheless, despite the Palestinian failure to halt anti-Israel violence, the Bush Administration is pressing Israel to allow the transfer of still more weapons, ammunition and accessories to the Palestinian security forces!
Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the US security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinians, is reportedly set to submit a formal request to this effect to Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the coming days, and Barak is said to be ready to agree to it.
Sound absurd? Well - it most definitely is. The Palestinians are allowing terror against Israel to continue - so how do the US and Israel respond? By giving them still more weapons.