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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.
      Tammuz 3, 5767, 6/19/2007

      Did Anything Good Come of the '67 War?



      the core of the Middle East conflict is not the Israeli "occupation" of territory, but the Palestinian "preoccupation" with destroying the Jewish state
      It has been 40 years since the 1967 Six-Day War, and the media and the Jewish state's critics would like us to believe that nothing good came from the war.
      But as I argue in the column below, that is far from being the case - in nearly every field, the war yielded tremendous benefits for Israel.
      And while the critics harp on the "occupation" because they want to pressure Israel into making more concessions - they ignore one fundamental truth: the core of the Middle East conflict is not the Israeli "occupation" of territory, but the Palestinian "preoccupation" with destroying the Jewish state.

      Hogwash History
      By Michael Freund

      It's that time of year again. Summer is here, the temperature outside is rising, and Israel's irresponsible critics are busy turning up the heat.
      Deploying a potent mix of selective amnesia combined with some good ol' fashioned obfuscation, these "amnesiacs," as I call them, would have us all believe that nothing good ever came from the 1967 Six Day War.
      Seizing upon this summer's 40th anniversary of that heroic triumph, they are trying to rewrite the historical narrative, injecting as much gloom and doom as possible in order to push Israel into making still more concessions to the Arabs.
      Occupation, occupation, occupation - that is all the "amnesiacs" seem capable of talking about. How bad it is, how damaging it has been, and how we must bring it all to an end.
      What a bunch of hogwash.
      Harping on Israel's myriad alleged sins, and repeating them ad nauseam, does not make them so, and we cannot allow those who distort history, or who choose to forget it, to cloud our perspective any longer.
      The truth of the matter is that the core of the Middle East conflict is not the Israeli "occupation" of territory, but the Palestinian "preoccupation" with destroying the Jewish state.
      It is that, and that alone, which has fueled this conflict since the start.
      As the late Golda Meir once put it, "When Arab statesmen insist that Israel withdraw to the pre-June 1967 lines, one can only ask: if those lines are so sacred to the Arabs, why was the Six Day War launched to destroy them?"
      Israel's survival was a miracle, and the Six Day War was a blessing from Heaven. Its outcome made this country safer, stronger and more secure, and we should be celebrating it effusively with each passing year.
      Al Gore may disagree, but I am convinced that if there is global warming in the world today, it is because of all the hot air being released into the atmosphere by the media pundits and left-wing activists who bash the Jewish state with unrelenting ferocity.
      Take, for example, Uri Avnery of the far-Left Gush Shalom organization: "40 bad years" is how he summed up in a recent article the intervening period since Israel was saved from annihilation.
      With a seemingly endless supply of vitriol at his disposal, Avnery denounces the "rot" that has set in, blaming "the occupation" that resulted from the war for everything from "destroying the Israeli Army" to poisoning the Jewish religion.
      Then there is the BBC's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, who posted an article last week on the broadcaster's Web site that could easily have been ghost-written by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas himself. Entitled "How 1967 Defined the Middle East," Bowen's screed asserts the legacy of the war to have been one thing, and one thing only: "Israel became an occupier."
      Such third-grade level analysis, of course, ignores the various fruits of the 1967 conflict, many of which Israel continues to enjoy until today. It is not only bad history, but bad journalism, too, to provide such a biased and single-minded interpretation of such a momentous and noteworthy historical event.
      Indeed, in just about every field imaginable, from economics to immigration to a national sense of purpose, the Six Day War yielded tremendous benefits for the Jewish state.
      In the five years following the conflict, Israel's per capita GDP soared by more than 50 percent, exports nearly tripled, unemployment fell and the economy emerged from the painful recession of the mid-1960s. We surged past our neighbors, and Israel now finds itself on a par economically with various European countries.
      The 1967 war also sparked a renewed wave of aliya from both East and West, igniting the Soviet Jewry movement and bringing a massive influx of Russian Jews to Israel.
      As former refusenik Natan Sharansky wrote in his autobiography, Fear No Evil, "the Six Day War had made an indelible impression on me as it did on most Soviet Jews, for, in addition to fighting for her life, Israel was defending our dignity." This, he said, sparked Russian Jewry to embrace the "basic, eternal truth" that personal freedom "wasn't something you could achieve through assimilation. It was available only by reclaiming your historical roots."
      As a result, over 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union have moved to Israel in the past four decades since the war, jump-starting the economy and fueling unprecedented growth in areas such as computer science and biotechnology.
      The war inspired many thousands of Western Jews to make aliya too, with the number of North American migrants soaring from just 739 in 1967 to more than 8,000 in 1971.
      Israel's defeat of its foes also brought a renewed sense of pride to Jews everywhere, as they watched the tiny, vulnerable state emerge triumphant against its enemies.
      And for the first time in 1,900 years, thanks to the Six Day War, we were once again able to caress the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and bathe them in our tears, as a free and sovereign people in our own land.
      If that's not something to celebrate, then what is?
      So to those who continue to carp on incessantly about the "disastrous results of the war" and the need to "end the occupation," all I can say is: Spare us your faulty hindsight.
      If you really want to end the dispute with our neighbors, then tackle the Palestinian preoccupation with destroying Israel, and peace may just eventually come to pass.
      ---- from the June 13 Jerusalem Post


      Sivan 26, 5767, 6/12/2007

      Why is the Media Downplaying the Palestinian Civil War?



      there is a simple reason why the world press has chosen largely to ignore this outbreak of violence: both the perpetrators as well as the victims are Palestinian, and hence they can not blame Israel (at least directly) for the bloodshed
      With great care, the media has thus far studiously avoided calling the internecine Palestinian warfare exactly what it is: a civil war.

      But as the violence has reached new heights over the past few days, with running gun-battles taking place in Gaza hospitals between Hamas and Fatah thugs and mutual assassination attempts directed against the leaders of the two groups, it will become increasingly difficult for the media to continue to downplay and minimize this crucial story.

      Of course, there is a simple reason why the world press has chosen largely to ignore this outbreak of violence: both the perpetrators as well as the victims are Palestinian, and hence they can not blame Israel (at least directly) for the bloodshed.

      Moreover, ever since BBC reporter Alan Johnson was kidnapped by Palestinians in Gaza, the media has been cowed into silence, undoubtedly for fear of offending one terrorist gang or another.

      But don't let the media's non-coverage fool you - what are we witnessing now is the meltdown of the Palestinian Authority (PA), as armed warlords battle each other for control and kill their own people.

      This only underlines once again just how absurd it would be for Israel to enter into negotiations with the PA or turn over additional territory to their control. The Palestinians can not even keep their own house in order, and use unspeakable acts of violence to settle their home-grown rivalries.

      But of course you won't be hearing much about that on CNN......



      Sivan 18, 5767, 6/4/2007

      Israel's "Battered Nation Syndrome"



      Israel should stop apologizing for defeating the Arab states in 1967. Like any other nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we have the right not to be thrown in the sea

      Israel neither asked for war nor initiated it in 1967, so let's stop acting like we did. We do not owe the Arabs anything for defeating them

      This week marks 40 years since Israel's miraculous victory in the 1967 Six Day War.

      Yet now, it seems, many Israelis are gripped by a failure to appreciate this astonishing triumph - with some practically mourning the fact that we won the war rather than go down in defeat.

      As I suggest in the column below, this appears to be a case of "Battered Nation Syndrome" - with the only possible cure being that the Jewish state stop apologizing for its survival.

      A Classic Case of 'Battered Nation Syndrome'
      by Michael Freund

      It was 40 years ago this month that tiny little Israel, facing destruction at the hands of its enemies, miraculously emerged triumphant from the 1967 Six Day War. Existential fear quickly dissolved into breathtaking joy as the Jewish state decisively vanquished its foes, reuniting Jerusalem and reclaiming large swathes of our ancient homeland.

      Our adversaries, who had gleefully pledged to feed us to the fish in the Mediterranean Sea, were forced to look on as their troops beat a hasty and humiliating retreat.

      The stunning victory of 1967 had all the markings of Divine intervention. It was a gift from Heaven to a besieged and beleaguered people. After nearly two millennia we were reunited at last with the cradle of Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria, and with the heart of the nation, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

      And yet, it seems, four decades later, many Israelis still just cannot forgive themselves for winning.

      In what has become an annual ritual, a variety of media pundits, left-wing activists and even some officials launch into mournful sessions of hand-wringing and breast-beating. They bemoan the outcome of the Six Day War, grumble about Israel's success in reclaiming Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and sound as if they would have preferred going down in defeat.

      Displaying an extraordinary lack of appreciation and an exceptional lack of historical perspective, these critics long to give up the hard-earned fruits of that war of self-defense, all in the vain hope of mollifying an incorrigible foe.

      HOW COULD so many forget so much in so short a time? Even now, as Palestinians fire rockets daily at southern Israel from the very same Gaza Strip that we handed over to them two years ago, the proponents of appeasement still refuse to acknowledge the error of their ways.

      It seems the only way to explain this phenomenon is to borrow a term from psychology: Certain parts of the Israeli public and its leadership are clearly suffering from what I refer to as "Battered Nation Syndrome." Like a victim of ongoing domestic abuse, the advocates of surrender to the Palestinians cannot muster the wherewithal to hit back at the abuser. All the hallmarks of the syndrome are there: low self-esteem, a belief that the violence aimed against us is somehow our fault, and a tragic pattern of preferring to appease those who terrorize us rather than confront them.

      Naturally, this distorted world-view results in an almost obsessive focus on Israel's perceived faults as lying at the root of the conflict with our neighbors.

      Consequently, the actions of the Palestinians are downplayed and minimized, excused and ignored, and Israel's policy-making process instead begins to resemble a good, ol'-fashioned. self-inflicted guilt trip.

      But it is time to break out of this collective funk and start viewing the world the way it really is.

      TO BEGIN with, Israel should stop apologizing for defeating the Arab states in 1967. Like any other nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we have the right not to be thrown in the sea.

      What many of the defeatists conveniently choose to ignore is what led up to the 1967 war: increased Palestinian terror, massive Arab military buildups, and public threats by Arab leaders to annihilate the Jewish state.

      They also forget that two years prior to 1967, back when Israel did not yet "occupy" the territories, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol put forward a proposal that could have resolved the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.

      Speaking to the Knesset on May 17, 1965, Eshkol suggested turning the 1949 armistice agreements into peace treaties, and offered to hold direct talks with the Arab states in order to do so.

      Pointing out that Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, combined had 60 times the land area of the Jewish state, the premier noted that there was no logical reason for the Arabs to continue to pursue war. Instead, he offered a vision of peace that included open borders, bilateral trade, economic cooperation and freedom of access to the holy sites.

      All he asked in return, said Eshkol, was "full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the States in the region."

      But Israel's offer of peace was met two years later with a clear and unequivocal Arab response. Egypt and Syria mobilized their armies and their people, and vowed to destroy the Jewish state.

      Hence, Israel neither asked for war nor initiated it in 1967, so let's stop acting like we did. We do not owe the Arabs anything for defeating them, and we certainly do not need to give them any further territory from which to attack us.

      They tried to kill us. We won. Get over it. 

      --- from the May 30 Jerusalem Post



      Sivan 15, 5767, 6/1/2007

      Wanted: New Leadership


      The fact that Israel is desperately in need of some leadership is hardly open to doubt, as the recent wave of corruption scandals and the findings of the Winograd Commission made clear.

      But if there is still anyone out there who thinks that the Jewish state is currently being led by intelligent and thoughtful people, consider the following news item.

      This morning, Israel Radio reported that the Speaker of the Knesset, Dalia Itzik, has a new proposal to bring about an end to Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza - she suggests bringing in a military force belonging to the Arab League, and stationing them in the area.

      When I heard this on the radio, I of course went to check my calendar to see if perhaps this is some sort of Middle Eastern version of an April Fool's Day ruse.

      But it isn't. Ms. Itzik is absolutely serious. It doesn't seem to have occurred to her that inviting a large, well-armed Arab military force into Gaza might pose a threat to Israel and its interests, nor does she seem to have considered the fact that Arab League troops are unlikely to risk their lives in order to prevent their fellow Palestinian Arabs from assaulting the Jewish state.

      Furthermore, as anyone with even a remote understanding of the region is aware, the Arab League continues to maintain an official economic and trade boycott of the Jewish state, with the aim of damaging the country and denying its legitimacy. Why, then, Ms. Itzik would think it wise to station their troops along Israel's borders is anyone's guess.

      If Dalia Itzik's proposal is at all indicative of the kind of strategic thinking that guides our present leadership, then it is no wonder that Israel finds itself in its current predicament.



      Sivan 12, 5767, 5/29/2007

      A Landslide in Damascus!!



      what is surprising is that 2.38% of Syrian voters actually had the courage not to vote 'yes' in this farce masquerading as democracy
      Well, the results are in, and they are quite surprising.

      Syrian President Bashar Assad won a whopping 97.62 percent of the vote in a referendum aimed at "confirming" him for another 7 year term of office as Dictator of Damascus. This was actually an increase from the 97.29 percent that he received 7 years ago when he inherited the throne from his late father, Hafez Assad.

      The outcome, of course, was hardly unexpected, as Assad was the only candidate allowed to run. But what is surprising is that 2.38% of Syrian voters actually had the courage not to vote 'yes' in this farce masquerading as democracy.

      Speaking to reporters, Syrian Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majeed said - apparently with a straight face - "This great consensus shows the political maturity of Syria and the brilliance of our democracy and multi-party system."

      In fact, what it shows is that Syria remains a backwater of authoritarianism and repression, one that is not worthy of being courted or cultivated (Nancy Pelosi please take note).

      Syria is a dangerous dictatorship that has a penchant for stirring up trouble throughout the region, whether it is interfering in Lebanon, allowing fighters to cross into Iraq to join the insurgency, or hosting terror groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Damascus.

      And as the results of the referendum make clear, Syria's neighbors aren't the only ones who are chafing under Mr. Assad and his regime.