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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 24, 5767, 3/14/2007

      Palestinian Finance Minister Admits Aid Money is Stolen

      It is time for Israel and the West to stop propping up a corrupt Palestinian regime
      If you read just one article this week about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, make sure it is the one that appeared the other day in the UK Sunday Telegraph.

      Headlined "Palestinian minister admits aid millions lost", the article contains some astonishingly earnest admissions from the new Palestinian Finance Minister, Salam Fayyad, who admits that hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid has been siphoned off thanks to corruption and malfeasance.

      After noting that some $700 million of aid has been sent to the Palestinian Authority (PA) since January of last year, the article states:

      "Now, Palestinian Authority spending is out of control, salaries are being paid to workers who never turn up, and nobody can track where the money is going, according to Mr. Fayyad.
      There was no way to be certain that aid was being used as intended, he admitted. "Please write this: no one can give donors that assurance. Why? Because the system is in a state of total disrepair."
      Mr. Fayyad said incoming funds have been widely dispersed with no central authority to monitor them. Some have gone to people who do not appear on the Palestinian budget ledger. "Where is the control?" asked Mr. Fayyad. "It's gone. Where is all the transparency? It's gone."

      This only confirms, of course, what many of us have been saying for some time now: that sending aid to the Palestinian Authority is a recipe for disaster. Instead of benefiting those it is intended to help, much of the money, as Mr. Fayyad pretty much admits, ends up lining the pockets of corrupt Palestinian officials.

      Just another reason for Israel and the West to stop aiding the PA now. There is no reason to continue propping up the corrupt Palestinian regime.

      Adar 23, 5767, 3/13/2007

      After Calling for His Death, Olmert Now Praises Dahlan

      In 2002, Olmert called for Dahlan's assassination. Now, he calls him an "old favorite." What a difference five years can make.

      On Sunday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with senior Palestinian officials, including Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan, whom the premier affectionately referred to as an "old favorite Fatah minister". Sounds like a nice little reunion of two old chums, no?
      In 2002, Olmert called for Dahlan's assassination. Now, he calls him an 'old favorite.'

      And yet, it was just a few years ago that Mr. Olmert was sounding a very different tune about his "old favorite Fatah minister." (hat tip: Nitsana) In a June 3, 2002 opinion piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal, Olmert – at the time mayor of Jerusalem - said that Israel could not do business with a man such as Dahlan, and even called for Dahlan's assassination because of his involvement in organizing a bomb attack on an Israeli schoolbus.

      Here’s what Olmert had to say back then in the Wall Street Journal:

      Mr. Dahlan is the man who has presided over an ever-fortified terrorist network. Gaza, the home to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, became a base for some of the most heinous terrorist attacks unleashed against Israel.

      On his watch, Mr. Dahlan permitted Gaza to become a safe haven for the hundreds of fugitive terrorists fleeing Israeli forces. Among those being sheltered is his childhood friend Mohammed Dief, a leading Hamas mastermind with the blood of scores of Israelis on his hands. In the meantime, Mr. Dahlan's district became the primary launching grounds for the hundreds of Kassem missiles fired at Israel.

      Mr. Dahlan's involvement in terrorism has not been confined to mere nonfeasance but, rather, gross malfeasance as well. Mr. Dahlan, along with his assistant Rashid Abu-Shabak, are the primary suspects in the terror attack on an Israeli school bus in Kfar Darom in November 2000. The bombing of the bus left half a dozen children maimed, and seriously injured an American citizen, Rachel Asaroff. In response to this brutal terror attack on Jewish school children, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak dispatched Israeli planes to strafe Mr. Dahlan's Gaza headquarters.

      In Israel, we are frequently lectured that we must do business with the unsavoury assortment of dictators, strongmen and criminals that surround us. This, we are told, is the nature of the neighbourhood we live in. As mayor of Jerusalem, I have in my public duties the unfortunate experience of sitting down with many individuals I do not necessarily like. But the current thinking that Mr. Dahlan can bring reform and law enforcement to the Palestinians is totally misguided. No democratic state should ever allow itself to do business with those individuals who deliberately target a school bus.

      While the State Department and envoy Burns are to be admired for their determination to forge a peace agreement on Israel's behalf, their zealousness is beginning to chafe. Seeking a "regional conference at all costs," and hanging hopes on a reorganised Palestinian security force under the sole leadership of one who has himself been involved in serious terrorist attacks sends an unacceptable message. Criminals such as Mr. Dahlan and Arafat can never be reformed; they must be eradicated by force.

      Ahhhhh, if only Mr. Olmert would go back and re-read those forceful words that he once wrote. It seems like it was ages ago…..

      Adar 21, 5767, 3/11/2007

      Is Israel Ready for the Next War?

      Just in case you thought that Israel's leaders had learned their lesson from last summer's disastrous war in Lebanon – think again.

      In today's YNet, an Israeli reserve soldier describes his recent experience after being called up to take part in a training exercise.

      His article reads like a laundry list of failures – outmoded equipment, lousy planning, and complete and utter disorganization.

      These are all precisely the same complaints that were hurled against the defense establishment over six months ago, at the war's end. And yet it seems that little has been done in the interim to correct them.

      The reservist's conclusion, although based anecdotally on his own narrow experience, is nonetheless chilling: "If, G-d forbid, war breaks out tomorrow, the situation will be very bad. At this rate, we will not win it."

      Is anyone in power paying attention?

      Adar 16, 5767, 3/6/2007

      We're Number One?

      Well, the results are in, and guess which country has the worst image of any in the entire world?

      If perhaps you thought it was Mad Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denying, terrorist-training, nuclear-wannabe rogue state of Iran – well, you guessed wrong.

      And don’t think for a second that Kooky Kim Jong-Il's hermit kingdom of North Korea, where millions starve while the Dear Leader dines on caviar, was the one to win this dubious title.
      This poll tells the extent to which the media is tarnishing Israel and its image through its biased and unfair coverage of events in the region.

      Sadly, it was Israel, which was named the country with the most negative image worldwide in a major international survey conducted by the BBC.

      The BBC asked more than 28,000 people in over two dozen countries to rate 12 nations. Israel was found to be viewed negatively by 56 percent of respondents and positively by just 17 percent. Iran came in second, with 54 percent negative versus 18 percent positive, while the US came in third.

      Frankly, however, I think this says more about the media than it does about the Jewish state. After all, how is a country's "image" created? Who conveys information and impressions to worldwide audiences?

      Hence, what this poll is really telling us is the extent to which the media is succeeding in tarnishing Israel and its image through its biased and unfair coverage of events in the region.

      Which is all the more reason why those of us who love and care for the Jewish state need to start speaking out as much as possible in her defense.

      Adar 5, 5767, 2/23/2007

      Bomb Iran Now!

      The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report today on Iran, and the results were hardly surprising.
      As expected, the IAEA concluded that not only has Iran ignored the deadline imposed by the Security Council to stop enriching uranium, but that the Ayatollahs have actually expanded their enrichment program.
      In other words, Iran is moving dangerously closer to obtaining nuclear weapons, while the world looks on and does nothing.
      There is simply no getting around the fact that diplomacy has failed. As I argue in the column below, the time has come to bomb Iran now, for there is no time to waste in confronting this danger to Israel and the West.

      Bomb Iran Now: Stop the Atomic Ayatollahs!

      By Michael Freund


      Less than 1,000 miles east of Tel Aviv a new Auschwitz is being prepared, as the world looks on and does virtually nothing to stop it. Instead of the gas chambers being fired up, centrifuges are being installed. In place of Zyklon-B gas, the agent of choice is now uranium.
      The fact is that Iran is out to assert its power and dominance, and to sow instability for the US and its interests far and wide.

      And while the language spoken by its architects may be different, the threat to the future of the Jewish people, and that of the entire Western world, is no less grave than it was six decades ago in Europe.

      Indeed, with each passing day the would-be Hitler of Persia draws perilously closer to his goal of obtaining a nuclear arsenal, threatening everyone, and everything, that all of us hold dear. The press loves to mock the Iranian president, portraying him as a nut, a kook, and a fanatic. But I take him at his word. He has made quite clear what his objective is, telling us over and over again that he plans to eliminate Israel and destroy the West.

      Like it or not, we are all in his crosshairs, and we ignore him at our peril. And that is why it is time to show a little more courage and a lot more determination, and to tackle this threat head-on.

      It is time for Israel or the US to bomb Iran now. Not next week, next month, or next summer, but now. As quickly and as hard and as painfully as possible.

      THE ALARM bells are ringing, and the danger signs are near. In recent days it was reported that Teheran has installed at least the first two sets of 164 centrifuges to enrich uranium at its underground nuclear facility in Natanz, part of its plan to fit nearly 3,000 in all.

      You don't have to be a nuclear scientist to understand that the large-scale use of centrifuges means a country can produce more enriched uranium in a shorter period of time. And that is exactly what the Iranian leadership is vowing to do. In a speech on Sunday in Teheran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised his audience an "April surprise."

      "From now until April 9," he said, "you will hear frequently about the great progress of the Iranian people and the unique developments in the fields of industry, agriculture, and especially nuclear energy."

      "This is the nuclear celebration," Ahmadinejad promised the crowd. His idea of a "celebration," of course, is our idea of a funeral.

      According to the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, once the 3,000 centrifuges are operational it will take possibly as little as nine months for Iranian scientists to produce enough highly-enriched uranium to make an atomic bomb.

      And so, by the end of this year, the atomic ayatollahs could very well have their hands on the ultimate weapon of mass terror and destruction. This cannot and must not be allowed to come to pass. And the only way to stop it is with military action.
      Diplomacy has run its course. Its only effect has been to give the Iranians still more time to progress toward achieving their surreptitious and malicious aims.

      DIPLOMACY has run its course. Its only effect has been to give the Iranians still more time to progress toward achieving their surreptitious and malicious aims. After the UN Security Council passed a resolution in December insisting that Iran end its uranium-enrichment program, Ahmadinejad dismissed it as "a piece of torn paper" and vowed to expand his country's nuclear program; which is precisely what he proceeded to do.

      For more than a decade Iran hid its nuclear program from the international community. It has interfered with inspections of its nuclear facilities and repeatedly defied demands to cease and desist from its dangerous actions. Does anyone really think another UN resolution is going to do the trick?

      The effects of the world's inaction have already begun to be felt, as other Arab countries in the region now speak openly of pursuing their own nuclear capability.

      On Sunday, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council announced that six Gulf Arab states are moving ahead with plans to build their own nuclear power plants. These same countries have oil coming out of their ears, so there is hardly a pressing need for them to develop nuclear energy resources. But they are undoubtedly looking on with alarm at their Iranian neighbor to the north, nervous at the prospect that he will be allowed to succeed in his quest to obtain nuclear weapons.

      So now, thanks to the failure to shut down the Iranian nuclear program, we have the beginnings of a good, old-fashioned Middle Eastern arms race on our hands. Furthermore, the Iranians have grown so emboldened that they now feel comfortable enough to start sharing their nuclear know-how with other rogue regimes. As the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported last week, "Iran's ambassador to Belarus on Friday expressed Teheran's readiness to explore cooperation in construction of a nuclear plant in the country."

      And according to reports last month in the British press, Iran is cooperating with North Korea on nuclear research and ballistic missile technology.

      THE FACT is that Iran is out to assert its power and dominance, and to sow instability for the US and its interests far and wide. Last summer, Teheran orchestrated the war in Lebanon through its proxy group, Hizbullah, and it is now waging war against the West by sending arms for use against US and coalition troops in Iraq.

      At the same time, the ayatollahs are busy expanding their military arsenal so they can create an ever-greater arc of terror and fear. Back in November, Iran test-fired dozens of missiles, including the Shihab-3, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and can hit targets up to 1,200 miles away - meaning that all of Israel is now within reach.

      And lest anyone still doubts Ahmadinejad's intentions, he made them abundantly clear at the Holocaust denial conference he hosted in Teheran back in December. In his closing speech, the would-be Persian executioner gleefully declared that "The life-curve of the Zionist regime has begun its descent, and it is now on a downward slope towards its fall... The Zionist regime will be wiped out, and humanity will be liberated."

      And once he dispenses with the Jews, as we know, it is the West that will be next. So this is not just Israel's battle, it is everyone's war, and it is time for the decision-makers in Washington and Jerusalem to act.

      Sure, the thought of striking Iran is scary, particularly in light of the trouble America is having next door in Iraq. But as frightening as the idea might seem, it pales in comparison with the ayatollahs having their finger on the button and being able to threaten the world with nuclear blackmail and destruction.

      So like it or not, time is of the essence, and there is not a moment to lose. The US or Israel should bomb Iran now, before it proves too late.

      --- from the Jerusalem Post