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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.
      Adar 26, 5770, 3/12/2010

      Let's Launch "Arab Apartheid Week"



      the time has come to stop playing defense and to bring the offense out onto the field
      This week, the Jewish state is being demonized in more than 30 cities across the world as part of the annual hate-fest known as "Israel Apartheid Week", which aims to tarnish the country's image by portraying it as akin to the racist regime which ruled South Africa.

      In the past, the typical response by pro-Israel activists to such charges has been to go on the defensive. Well, I say the time has come to stop playing defense and to bring the offense out onto the field. We need to turn the tables and fight back against our opponents by taking the struggle toward their end-zone.

      As I suggest below, a good place to be start would be to organize an annual Arab Apartheid Week, which would highlight the decrepit state of human and political rights throughout the Arab world.

      Doing so will reframe the debate. More importantly, it will help Westerners to finally begin recognizing the Arab regimes for what they are: a dangerous mix of despotism and dictatorship.

       

      Let's Launch "Arab Apartheid Week"

      By Michael Freund

      In nearly three dozen cities across the world, a coordinated series of events is being held this week with the express aim of demonizing Israel.

      Now in its sixth year, the annual hate-fest known as "Israel Apartheid Week" has sought to portray the Jewish state as a bastion of bigotry, inequality and discrimination.

      The organizers do not mince words in describing their objectives, asserting on their website that they aim "to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns" against the Jewish state.

      This, they confidently declare, is a key part of "the battle to end Israeli apartheid", whatever that means.

      Naturally, behind the sloganeering stands a clear political platform, one which essentially seeks to dismantle the Jewish state by stripping it of territory and flooding the country with millions of Palestinian refugees through the so-called "right of return".

      The first step in this campaign, of course, is to equate Israel with the evils of apartheid-era South Africa, thereby laying the groundwork for increased diplomatic and economic pressure to make far-reaching concessions.

      And so, as usual, the only democracy in the Middle East once again finds itself on the receiving end of yet another indefensible canard, accused of one of modernity's greatest political sins without any basis or justification.

      Simply put, this slur cannot be allowed to stand. It is an insult to Israel and its democracy, and dangerously analogous to asserting that Zionism is a form of racism. If allowed to take hold in the public's consciousness, it could have far-reaching and extremely damaging effects on support for Israel in the near- and long-term.

      In the past, the typical response by pro-Israel activists to such charges has been to go on the defensive, responding to the slanders and explaining in great detail the myriad differences between democratic Israel and the racist regime that once ruled South Africa.

      Well, I say the time has come to stop playing defense and to bring the offense out onto the field. We need to turn the tables and fight back against our opponents by taking the struggle toward their end-zone.

      A good place to be start would be to organize an annual Arab Apartheid Week, which would highlight the decrepit state of human and political rights throughout the Arab world.

      There is a solid case to be made that the Arab states remain the last great outpost of despotism and tyranny on earth, and people need to be reminded as much.

      Indeed, the Arab world today is a living encyclopedia of outmoded forms of government, from sultanates such as Oman and emirates such as Qatar, to thuggish dictatorships such as Syria and dynastic monarchies along the lines of Jordan. It may be a political-scientist’s dream, but it is a nightmare for the hundreds of millions of Arabs chafing under oppression and tyranny.

      Basic and fundamental freedoms such as personal autonomy and individual rights are routinely trampled upon, and ethnic and religious minority groups suffer extreme discrimination and intolerance. Just ask Coptic Christians in Egypt, Bahais in Iran or Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia for starters.

      This was borne out most recently by a report issued by Freedom House, the independent Washington-based group that advocates for freedom worldwide.

      Its annual survey, "Freedom in the World 2010", would make for eye-opening reading for all those who cry "apartheid" whenever they see a flag with a Star of David.

      Consider the following findings from the report.

      Of the 18 countries in the Middle East that Freedom House surveyed, only one is considered to be "free".

      And just who might that be?

      Yep, you guessed it: Israel.

      Not a single Arab country – not one! – did Freedom House consider "free". Three Arab states – Morocco, Lebanon and Kuwait – were labeled "partly free", while 13 other Arab states as well as Iran merited the dubious distinction of being branded as "not free".

      In effect, then, this means that of the approximately 370 million human beings currently residing in the Middle East, only 2 percent enjoy true freedom – namely those who live in the Jewish state.

      So much for "Israeli apartheid".

      Not surprisingly, in a press release announcing the report's publication, Freedom House concluded that, "The Middle East remained the most repressive region in the world."

      It is this message that Israel and its supporters need to begin highlighting. By casting a spotlight on the subjugation, oppression and tyranny that typify nearly the entire Arab world, we can open some eyes out there and educate the Western public as to who really shares their democratic values.

      As Prof. Bernard Lewis has written, the Arab states are little more than “a string of shabby tyrannies, ranging from traditional autocracies to new-style dictatorships, modern only in their apparatus of repression and indoctrination”.

      An annual Arab Apartheid Week, held on campuses and at community centers, could be an effective vehicle for driving home this fundamental truth.

      Doing so will reframe the debate. More importantly, it will help Westerners to finally begin recognizing the Arab regimes for what they are: a dangerous mix of despotism and dictatorship.

      --- from the March 11 Jerusalem Post







      Adar 12, 5770, 2/26/2010

      Coming home to Zion



      Yes, I have indeed truly come home.
      Fifteen years ago this week, my wife and I, together with our young son, embarked on a fateful journey.

      Leaving behind friends and family in New York, we boarded a flight and fulfilled our dream, along with that of our ancestors, by making aliyah and settling in the Land of Israel.

      I still remember the heady feeling that I had, walking through the streets of Jerusalem in the initial days after our arrival.

      As much as I had enjoyed visiting the country as a tourist over the years and seeing the sites, there was nothing quite like the emotion that gripped me as I took in my surroundings as a proud new resident of the reborn Jewish state.

      From waking up to the sounds of Hebrew on the radio, to catching a glimpse of the walls of the Old City at sunset, I could sense my soul stir in a way I had never experienced before.

      Yes, I thought to myself, I have indeed truly come home.

      I'm a little older now, of course, with less hair on my head and a bit more cynicism under my belt. But I still look back on that moment as one of the proudest of my life, when I inextricably tied my fate, and that of my family, with the unfolding destiny of the Jewish people.

      By its very nature, immigration is a form of transformation, one that involves a profound yet paradoxical mix of uprooting and planting anew. But the act of relocation is far more than merely a matter of geography. It goes to the very core of a person's identity, forcing one to confront who they are and who they wish to be.

      I am still grappling with many of those questions, and perhaps I always will. That, after all, comes with the territory.

      But as I consider the momentous times we are living in, and the fulfillment of G-d's promises to His people Israel, there is no place I'd rather be. Right here - in the center of it all.







      Shevat 20, 5770, 2/4/2010

      The Jihadist Next Door



      Anyone who takes an honest look at the data will see that a frightening number of Muslims across the globe support violence and jihad
      We would all desperately like to believe that radical Islamic fundamentalists represent just a tiny minority of Muslims. How much simpler the problem would be if the threat of Islamic extremism was in fact marginal.
       
      But as I note in the column, the numbers just don't bear this belief out. A number of comprehensive surveys and studies all reveal that there are tens of millions of Muslims worldwide who believe violence and suicide bombings against Israel and the West are justified.
       
      It would be wrong to suggest that all Muslims are extremists, but it is equally off the mark to minimize the extent to which large numbers of them do support the use of violence.
       
      This is not simply a question of semantics, it is a matter of life and death. If Israel and the West continue to deceive themselves into thinking the global jihadist movement is minuscule, we will naturally fail to deploy the tactics and resources necessary to confront it.
       
      And we will persist in overlooking the mounting danger staring us all in the face.
       

      The Jihadist Next Door

      By Michael Freund

       

      The Super Bowl may be just days away, but that hasn’t stopped America’s Quarterback-in-Chief from fumbling the ball. In an interview with YouTube on Monday, US President Barack Obama was asked about his plans for America’s war on terror.

      After wisely asserting that al-Qaida needs to be fought “on all fronts” and “in very concrete ways,” he then veered sharply off course, landing in a ditch alongside the road known as wishful thinking. Invoking what has become one of the central myths of American foreign policy, the president asserted that “we have to work with the overwhelming majority of Muslims who reject senseless violence of this sort.”

      Ahh, if only that were true…

      Indeed, we would all desperately like to believe that just an insignificant minority actually backs the use of violence against Israel and the West.

      How much simpler the problem would be if the threat of Islamic extremism was marginal. We could all sleep better at night, stop worrying so much about body scanners and cavity searches, and finally get on with living.

      But anyone who takes an honest look at the numbers will see the level of delusion at work here. The fact is that a frightening number of Muslims across the globe support violence and jihad, and the figures are far from inconsequential.

      According to the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, 68 percent of Palestinians, 43% of Nigerian Muslims and 38% of Lebanese believe that “suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets” are often or sometimes justified.

      Add to that 15% of Egyptians and 13% of Indonesians who expressed support for such attacks, and you have tens of millions of Muslims who believe strapping explosives to their bodies and detonating themselves among crowds of innocents can be justified.

      I don’t know about you, but I hardly see any source of comfort in those statistics. They give the lie to Obama’s assertion about the existence of an “overwhelming majority” of peace-loving, terror-hating Muslims.

      CONSIDER ALSO the findings of a wide-ranging study published last February by the University of Maryland’s WorldPublicOpinion.org project. Entitled, “Public opinion in the Islamic world on terrorism, al-Qaida and US policies,” the results showed that even though a large percentage of Muslims may reject al-Qaida’s methods, most subscribe to its goals.

      According to the press release issued to mark the report’s publication, “Majorities agree with nearly all of al-Qaida’s goals – to change US behavior in the Muslim world, to promote Islamist governance and to preserve and affirm Islamic identity.”

      Even among Muslims living in the US, there is cause for concern. On December 17, the Pew Center sought to reassure Americans with a report headlined, “Little support for terrorism among Muslim Americans.”

      Citing “questions about homegrown terrorism,” the study noted that 78% of US Muslims believe suicide bombings can never be justified. While that is certainly welcome news, what about the other 22%?

      Going by a previous Pew estimate suggesting the size of the US Muslim population is 2.35 million, that means more than 500,000 Muslims in America believe there are circumstances which may justify suicide attacks.

      Clearly, the challenge facing the West is far broader than a small, hazy and nebulous al-Qaida organization. It is a struggle against an ideology that is far more deeply-rooted than Obama would have us believe.

      Islamic extremists are not merely a small band of nut jobs hiding in caves along the Pakistan-Afghan frontier. They are part of a worldwide movement. The jihadist next door is no longer just a nightmare scenario.

      Sure, not all Muslims are extremists, and it would be entirely wrong and absolutely unfair to suggest otherwise. But it is equally off the mark to minimize the extent to which large numbers of Muslims do seem to support the use of violence.

       

      This is not simply a question of semantics, it is a matter of life and death. If Israel and the West continue to deceive themselves into thinking the global jihadist movement is minuscule, we will naturally fail to deploy the tactics and resources necessary to confront it. And we will persist in overlooking the mounting danger staring us all in the face.

      The longer Obama and others continue to underestimate the scope of the problem, the more difficult it will be to vanquish it. It is therefore time to sweep aside self-delusion and recognize reality.

      Even if the Taliban and al-Qaida are crushed, the battle against Islamic extremism has only just begun.

       

      --- from the February 4 Jerusalem Post







      Tevet 14, 5770, 12/31/2009

      Is it time to bomb Iran?



      Less than 1,000 miles east of Jerusalem, a new Auschwitz is steadily being prepared as the international community dithers over what to do
      Recent events have made it clear that sanctions and diplomacy have failed to halt Iran's nuclear program, which is nearing the brink of developing an atomic arsenal.
       
      Israel's future and everything we hold dear is at stake, and we may very soon wake up to discover the would-be Hitler of Persia with his finger on the button, threatening to exterminate the Jewish state.
       
      As I suggest in the column below, we can no longer ignore this reality. The danger is simply too great, and the threat is too real.

      Iran can and must be stopped, and military force may be the only way to do so. Less than 1,000 miles east of Jerusalem, a new Auschwitz is steadily being prepared as the international community dithers over what to do.

      Six decades ago, the world watched in silence as the Germans tossed us into Hitler's ovens and turned six million Jews into ashes. We cannot assume they will act any differently if Iran seeks to do the same.

      So we dare not tarry. There is little room left for delay. If the world fails to act, the option of last resort - bombing Iran - may be Israel's only choice.

      Iran: The Last Resort

      By Michael Freund

      As 2009 draws to a close and the second decade of the 21st century looms before us, there is no greater danger facing the world than the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

      As the events of recent weeks have made abundantly clear, sanctions and diplomacy have utterly failed to stop Teheran's march down the road to an atomic arsenal. The ayatollahs have gleefully ignored repeated warnings from the West, and stubbornly insisted on proceeding apace toward nuclear proficiency.

      We can no longer continue to ignore this reality. Our future and everything we hold dear is at stake. The danger is simply too great, and the threat is too real. As frightening as it sounds, Israel must give serious consideration to bombing Iran before it is too late.

      MAKE NO mistake. If a halt is not put to Iran's efforts, we will soon wake up to discover the would-be Hitler of Persia with his finger on the button, threatening Israel and the world with nuclear blackmail and destruction.

      What the Nazi leader could only dream of accomplishing more than half a century ago, will soon be within reach of his Iranian disciple. Indeed, the clock is already winding down and we are nearing the end of the game, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scientists prepare to cross the threshold and storm past the nuclear goal line.

      Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave a chilling account of just how close Iran is to meeting its nefarious goal. By early 2010, he said, the mullahs will have the technology to build a nuclear bomb, and they will be able to produce one within a year. That means that sometime in the next few weeks or months, Teheran will reach the technological point of no return, beyond which lies a future clouded in darkness and uncertainty.

      And so, less than 1,000 miles east of Jerusalem, a new Auschwitz is steadily being prepared as the world dithers over what to do.

      MONTHS AGO, Washington and its allies set a year-end deadline for Iran to accept a deal drawn up by the UN under which their uranium would be enriched abroad. But even this proved unacceptable to the hard-liners in Teheran, who are not exactly quaking in their boots at the prospect of additional economic penalties.

      In a speech delivered last Tuesday, Ahmadinejad made clear that he remains unmoved by warnings from the West. The international community, he said, can give Iran "as many deadlines as they want, we don't care."

      And why should they? The UN Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran with little to show for it. Does anyone really think that yet another round of injunctions and hand-wringing will do the trick?

      In fact, just a few days ago, reports surfaced in the press that Iran was once again actively seeking to violate existing UN resolutions by trying to import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan to further bolster its enrichment program.

      This is just one more sign that the West's efforts to freeze Teheran's nuclear program have come up short.

      MOREOVER, THE Iranians continue to improve their strategic missile capability, heightening the peril should they succeed in constructing a nuclear warhead. In mid-December Iran test-fired its latest missile, the Sajjil-2, a sophisticated solid-fuel rocket that is more advanced and more accurate than its predecessors. With a range of 1,200 miles, or nearly 2,000 kilometers, it can hit anywhere in Israel and even reach parts of Europe.

      Iran's defense minister boasted on state television that the Sajjil-2 can be fired more quickly and reaches its target faster, which makes it harder to intercept or shoot down. Since it is a solid-fuel rocket, it can be prepped in advance and hidden in silos, thereby decreasing its vulnerability to a preemptive attack.

      And lest there be any doubt about the ayatollahs' real intentions, the Times of London reported two weeks ago that Western intelligence agencies have obtained an internal Iranian document detailing plans for neutron initiators. These are the triggers which set off nuclear explosions, and they have no other use.

      TAKEN TOGETHER, all these pieces combine to form a frighteningly unambiguous picture: Iran is terrifyingly close to becoming a nuclear power. With each passing day, this nightmare scenario moves one step closer to fruition.

      And so we must look ourselves directly in the mirror and ask a simple yet very pointed question: Are we really prepared to allow the tyrant of Teheran to threaten our very existence?

      An atomic Iran would transform the strategic dynamic of the Middle East, strengthen radical and fundamentalist forces and spark a region-wide nuclear arms race. It would raise the specter of terrorist groups allied to Teheran, such as Hamas and Hizbullah, getting their hands on the most devastating of weapons.

      And we all know how Iran's leaders have repeatedly and brazenly vowed to exterminate the Jewish state and wipe us off the map.

      The alarm bells are ringing and the danger is near. Iran can and must be stopped, and military force may be the only way to do so. Six decades ago, the world watched in silence as the Germans tossed us into Hitler's ovens and turned six million Jews into ashes. We cannot assume they will act any differently if Iran seeks to do the same.

      So we dare not tarry. There is little room left for delay. If the world fails to act, the option of last resort may be our only choice.

      --- from the December 31 Jerusalem Post







      Tevet 14, 5770, 12/31/2009

      Is it time to bomb Iran?



      Less than 1,000 miles east of Jerusalem, a new Auschwitz is steadily being prepared as the international community dithers over what to do
      Recent events have made it clear that sanctions and diplomacy have failed to halt Iran's nuclear program, which is nearing the brink of developing an atomic arsenal.
       
      Israel's future and everything we hold dear is at stake, and we may very soon wake up to discover the would-be Hitler of Persia with his finger on the button, threatening to exterminate the Jewish state.
       
      As I suggest in the column below, we can no longer ignore this reality. The danger is simply too great, and the threat is too real.

      Iran can and must be stopped, and military force may be the only way to do so. Less than 1,000 miles east of Jerusalem, a new Auschwitz is steadily being prepared as the international community dithers over what to do.

      Six decades ago, the world watched in silence as the Germans tossed us into Hitler's ovens and turned six million Jews into ashes. We cannot assume they will act any differently if Iran seeks to do the same.

      So we dare not tarry. There is little room left for delay. If the world fails to act, the option of last resort - bombing Iran - may be Israel's only choice.

      Iran: The Last Resort

      By Michael Freund

      As 2009 draws to a close and the second decade of the 21st century looms before us, there is no greater danger facing the world than the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

      As the events of recent weeks have made abundantly clear, sanctions and diplomacy have utterly failed to stop Teheran's march down the road to an atomic arsenal. The ayatollahs have gleefully ignored repeated warnings from the West, and stubbornly insisted on proceeding apace toward nuclear proficiency.

      We can no longer continue to ignore this reality. Our future and everything we hold dear is at stake. The danger is simply too great, and the threat is too real. As frightening as it sounds, Israel must give serious consideration to bombing Iran before it is too late.

      MAKE NO mistake. If a halt is not put to Iran's efforts, we will soon wake up to discover the would-be Hitler of Persia with his finger on the button, threatening Israel and the world with nuclear blackmail and destruction.

      What the Nazi leader could only dream of accomplishing more than half a century ago, will soon be within reach of his Iranian disciple. Indeed, the clock is already winding down and we are nearing the end of the game, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scientists prepare to cross the threshold and storm past the nuclear goal line.

      Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave a chilling account of just how close Iran is to meeting its nefarious goal. By early 2010, he said, the mullahs will have the technology to build a nuclear bomb, and they will be able to produce one within a year. That means that sometime in the next few weeks or months, Teheran will reach the technological point of no return, beyond which lies a future clouded in darkness and uncertainty.

      And so, less than 1,000 miles east of Jerusalem, a new Auschwitz is steadily being prepared as the world dithers over what to do.

      MONTHS AGO, Washington and its allies set a year-end deadline for Iran to accept a deal drawn up by the UN under which their uranium would be enriched abroad. But even this proved unacceptable to the hard-liners in Teheran, who are not exactly quaking in their boots at the prospect of additional economic penalties.

      In a speech delivered last Tuesday, Ahmadinejad made clear that he remains unmoved by warnings from the West. The international community, he said, can give Iran "as many deadlines as they want, we don't care."

      And why should they? The UN Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran with little to show for it. Does anyone really think that yet another round of injunctions and hand-wringing will do the trick?

      In fact, just a few days ago, reports surfaced in the press that Iran was once again actively seeking to violate existing UN resolutions by trying to import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan to further bolster its enrichment program.

      This is just one more sign that the West's efforts to freeze Teheran's nuclear program have come up short.

      MOREOVER, THE Iranians continue to improve their strategic missile capability, heightening the peril should they succeed in constructing a nuclear warhead. In mid-December Iran test-fired its latest missile, the Sajjil-2, a sophisticated solid-fuel rocket that is more advanced and more accurate than its predecessors. With a range of 1,200 miles, or nearly 2,000 kilometers, it can hit anywhere in Israel and even reach parts of Europe.

      Iran's defense minister boasted on state television that the Sajjil-2 can be fired more quickly and reaches its target faster, which makes it harder to intercept or shoot down. Since it is a solid-fuel rocket, it can be prepped in advance and hidden in silos, thereby decreasing its vulnerability to a preemptive attack.

      And lest there be any doubt about the ayatollahs' real intentions, the Times of London reported two weeks ago that Western intelligence agencies have obtained an internal Iranian document detailing plans for neutron initiators. These are the triggers which set off nuclear explosions, and they have no other use.

      TAKEN TOGETHER, all these pieces combine to form a frighteningly unambiguous picture: Iran is terrifyingly close to becoming a nuclear power. With each passing day, this nightmare scenario moves one step closer to fruition.

      And so we must look ourselves directly in the mirror and ask a simple yet very pointed question: Are we really prepared to allow the tyrant of Teheran to threaten our very existence?

      An atomic Iran would transform the strategic dynamic of the Middle East, strengthen radical and fundamentalist forces and spark a region-wide nuclear arms race. It would raise the specter of terrorist groups allied to Teheran, such as Hamas and Hizbullah, getting their hands on the most devastating of weapons.

      And we all know how Iran's leaders have repeatedly and brazenly vowed to exterminate the Jewish state and wipe us off the map.

      The alarm bells are ringing and the danger is near. Iran can and must be stopped, and military force may be the only way to do so. Six decades ago, the world watched in silence as the Germans tossed us into Hitler's ovens and turned six million Jews into ashes. We cannot assume they will act any differently if Iran seeks to do the same.

      So we dare not tarry. There is little room left for delay. If the world fails to act, the option of last resort may be our only choice.

      ---- from the December 31 Jerusalem Post