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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.
      Av 21, 5766, 8/15/2006

      From "Blood Libel" to "Land Libel"


      For a continent that prides itself on the glory and depth of its civilization over the centuries, Europe sure has a lot of work still to do when it comes to its treatment of the Jewish people.

      For hundreds of years, European attitudes toward the Jews were essentially shaped by a spiteful and malicious lie.

      And in that sense, at least, very little seems to have changed.

      For while they once charged us with the “blood libel”, saying that we illicitly used other people’s blood, various European leaders now falsely tar us instead with “land libel”, asserting that we have taken other people’s territory.

      And just as they once blamed the Jews for all sorts of catastrophes, such as the Black Death, they now seek to lay various world crises at our doorstep, too.

      Take, for example, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's address the other day at a banquet in London, where he outlined his view of how to resolve the crisis in the Middle East.

      In an astonishing display of delusion masquerading as analysis, Blair essentially sought to convince his audience that the "core" of all the region's troubles - and yes, even those of Iraq - are somehow connected with the Jewish state.

      "A major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole of the region," Blair said, adding that it is necessary to adopt what he terms a "whole Middle East" strategy.

      And then, after suggesting that the current focus on Syria and Iran is misplaced, Blair added the clincher: "On the contrary, we should start with Israel/Palestine. That is the core."

      The core?

      What on earth is he talking about?

      To suggest that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is somehow connected with the Baathist insurgency in Iraq, or with Syria's desire to strangle Lebanon, or Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara, or Sudan's acts of murder in Darfur, or any of the myriad other intra-Arab conflicts in the region, is not only intellectually vacuous, it is downright silly.

      Worse yet, it is a cheap and transparent attempt to mollify the Arab states by parroting their party line of "don’t blame us for our region's troubles, blame the Jews".

      In promoting this hogwash, Blair is deflecting attention from the real, underlying cause of the region's ills, namely, the Arab world's lack of freedom, democracy, tolerance and mutual respect.

      While courting the Arabs may prove useful to Mr. Blair as he plans for his retirement next year, we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that it will make the Middle East a safer or more peaceful place.

      Instead, it is just one more sorry example of just how Europe's underlying approach toward the Jew has yet to really change.



      Av 21, 5766, 8/15/2006

      Guess Who's Already Violating the Cease-fire?


      Yesterday's UN-mandated cease-fire had barely gone into effect when Hizbullah terrorists already began to violate it.

      While the media has been playing up the "relative calm" of the situation, Hizbullah has made it abundantly clear that it has little intention of abiding by the terms of the cessation of hostilities.

      Nasrallah_sucks_big_timeTheir actions speak for themselves:

      * At 11:30am on Monday, three and a half hours after the cease-fire went into effect, a Hizbullah gunman opened fire on Israeli troops in the Lebanese village of Hadata.

      * At 1:00 pm on Monday, a group of Hizbullah gunmen accosted Israeli soldiers in the village of Randouria, resulting in an exchange of fire.

      * Earlier today, Hizbullah fired a series of mortar shells at Israeli positions in southern Lebanon.

      In addition, Hizbullah thug-in-chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah declared yesterday that his organization will not disarm, despite being required to do so by the UN resolution.

      In effect, Hizbullah is once again probing to see how much they can get away with, and whether the international community has the resolve to call them to account for their actions.

      Unfortunately, if past experience is any indication, they don't have very much to fear.

      Stay tuned – things are likely to get a lot hotter in the days to come.



      Av 20, 5766, 8/14/2006

      Will Iran & Syria Get Away with Murder?


      Irrespective of whether the UN-mandated ceasefire in Lebanon holds up in the coming days, a grave injustice has already been done to the people of the region, and it can not be allowed to stand.

      The two main state sponsors of this entire bloody affair – Syria and Iran – have gotten off scot-free despite wreaking havoc and sowing instability throughout the entire Middle East.

      Ahmadinejad UN Security Council Resolution 1701 does not even mention either of these countries, nor does it impose any form of punishment on them for their nefarious actions.

      As various observers have already pointed out, the terrorists of Hizbullah are proxies carrying out the will of their paymasters in Damascus and Teheran.

      It was the Baathist regime in Syria and the Khomeinist regime in Iran which planned, financed and orchestrated the past month of violence and bloodshed, and they can not, and must not, be permitted to have done so with impunity.

      Allowing Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to get away with murder is not only a gross act of injustice – it is also an invitation to these two madmen to connive and scheme still further, and plan future atrocities against Israel and the West.

      The value of the piece of paper approved by the UN will presumably become apparent in the coming days.

      But of one thing we can already be certain: Assad and Ahmadinejad are surely having a good laugh together, knowing full well that while they may have done the crime, it is someone else entirely that is being forced to pay the price.



      Av 15, 5766, 8/9/2006

      Ignore Blair's Bullying


      Under fire at home for refusing to state when he will step down as premier, Britain's Tony Blair will visit Israel this weekend to try and squeeze the Jewish state into making concessions to the Palestinians.

      Facing a revolt from within his own Labor party, many of whose members have opposed his support for the war in Iraq, Blair may well be tempted to try and calm their fury by pressing Israel.

      Blair_playing_tennisAccording to media reports, Blair will stress to Olmert that progress in talks with the Palestinian Authority is "vital", even as Olmert seeks to focus on the Iranian threat in their discussions.

      Simply put – Israel should ignore Blair and not take his demands all too seriously. He is a lame-duck Prime Minister who is vastly unpopular at home and who will be out of office within a year, at most.

      Tossing Blair a political bone won't appease the British premier's critics at home, and it certainly won't help Israel's interests, either.

      The best thing Olmert can do is to be a gracious host, offer Mr. Blair some tea, and when he starts making demands, simply show him the door and send him back into the waiting arms of his Labor party rebels back home in London.



      Av 11, 5766, 8/5/2006

      Yawn - it's just another rocket attack


      Ho hum. It has been just another day of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, and it seems as if no one really cares.

      One after another, in broad daylight, four Qassam rockets were fired this morning by Palestinian terrorists aiming in the direction of the city of Ashkelon.

      Qassam_rocket_1 The projectiles landed in open fields near Kibbutz Karmiya and Kibbutz Zikim. Thankfully, no one was killed or injured in the assaults.

      Needless to say, the ongoing attacks, which have only intensified since Israel withdrew from Gaza, have disrupted life in the Western Negev for untold thousands of Israelis.

      Indeed, just yesterday, parents and children from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai held a demonstration to protest the fact that the Government has yet to reinforce the community’s school against rockets, even though it has already been hit several times in the past.

      The rally came after the “Red Dawn” early warning system went off, signaling that rockets had been launched in the vicinity of the kibbutz.

      One of the parents who took part in the demonstration told Yediot Aharonot that “there was great panic in the classrooms. Unfortunately, the kids have nowhere to escape to in the case of a Qassam attack. We call on the government and the defense establishment again to urgently fortify the classrooms."

      So there you have it – not only has the Government failed to halt the rocket barrages, it has not even bothered to provide the most elementary of protection to its citizens who are being bombarded on a daily basis.

      Sorry if we are boring you, Prime Minister Olmert, but isn't it time you did something about this?