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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 7, 5766, 8/1/2006

      Israelis Streaming into Judea & Samaria


      These are trying times for Israel, as our Prime Minister lies in a hospital intensive care unit and his fate remains uncertain.

      But even in these difficult days, there was a bit of good news last week which went largely unreported but which is worthy of our attention.

      At first glance, you might find it hard to believe, but the facts speak for themselves: despite the forcible eviction of thousands of Jews from Gaza this past August, the total number of Jews living over the so-called Green Line nonetheless grew in 2005.

      According to statistics released last Thursday by Israel’s Population Registry, the number of Israelis living in the territories increased by 1.5% in the last six months of the year, rising from 250,179 before the Gaza withdrawal, to 253,074 at the year’s end.

      Settlement_building Since the former figure included the over 9,000 Jews who then lived in Gaza and northern Samaria and were subsequently expelled, the increase is actually much larger than the statistics suggest.

      This is a remarkable development, because it shows that the Gaza pullout not only failed to deter Israelis from moving to Judea and Samaria - it also did not push those already living there to pack up and leave, either.

      Indeed, according to the Population Registry, nearly all the communities in Judea and Samaria experienced growth, with some registering double-digit expansion.

      The trend, then, is clear. Even with setbacks such as the Gaza retreat, the Jewish people are continuing to return home.



      Av 2, 5766, 7/27/2006

      Is Israel Refusing to Win?


      Is Israel's political leadership refusing to win in Lebanon?

      It has only been two weeks since the start of the counter-offensive against Hizbullah terror, and already Israel's government is rejecting the military's professional recommendations for how to achieve victory.

      At a meeting held late into the night on Wednesday, Israel's security cabinet denied the army's request to launch a more expansive ground operation in southern Lebanon with the aim of clearing the area entirely of Hizbullah's terrorist infrastructure.

      Instead, the cabinet prefers to continue using airpower combined with pinprick ground incursions against select Hizbullah targets.

      Rockets_hit_kiryat_shmonaThe result, of course, has been that Hizbullah continues to succeed in firing some 100 rockets each day into Israel. Because they do not face a concerted Israeli ground offensive, Hizbullah does not have to throw everything it has into fighting off the Israeli army.

      Consequently, they can deploy men and resources to shoot rockets into northern Israel with the aim of terrorizing the country.

      Don’t get me wrong – a ground offensive aimed at carving out a security zone in southern Lebanon would not be simple or risk-free. But Israel's limited operations thus far have failed to stop the attacks, and the army's experts are saying that the only way to do so over the long-term is to go in full force.

      If that is the key to stopping Hizbullah terror, then that is what the army must do. Let's just hope the politicians don't stand in the way, and prevent Israel from winning this all-important battle.



      Tammuz 29, 5766, 7/25/2006

      The photo that says it all


      Every once in a while, a photographic image emerges which captures the very essence of a major international issue.

      It doesn't happen every day, but when it does, the power of the underlying problem suddenly becomes eminently clear.

      One such photo (see below) now appears on the website of Time magazine (of all places!!), where young kids in a Hizbullah scouting troop are shown pledging to die for the cause while raising their hands in the air in a chillingly-familiar salute.

      Hizbullah_in_nazi_salute

      Coincidence? I doubt it. Hizbullah leaders are knowledgeable enough to understand the meaning of that pose, which was burned into the memory of the Jewish people, and that of the entire world, some six decades ago in the heart of Europe.

      Hizbullah's stated aim, of course, is to destroy the Jewish state, and their actions over the past two weeks have only served to underline their determination to target the innocent.

      So take a good long, look at that photo, and you will see what Hizbullah is busying filling its children's minds with. And then, you'll also understand and appreciate far more profoundly just what it is that Israel is up against.



      Tammuz 25, 5766, 7/21/2006

      The Media's Selective Coverage


      The soldiers have moved across the international border, with the aim of stopping an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group.

      The terrorists are occupying large swathes of the neighboring country, which has been wracked for decades by civil war and bloody internecine conflict.

      Sounds familiar, right?

      Somalia_1Well, in fact, the above scenario is playing itself out not only along Israel's northern border, but in the Horn of Africa, too, where Ethiopia has moved troops into Somalia to counter an Islamic fundamentalist militia that has seized control over parts of the country.

      Ethiopia legitimately fears the destabilizing effect of having a fundamentalist terrorist group based next door, particularly since the Somali Islamists aspire to create a "Greater Somalia" that would incorporate parts of Ethiopia itself. And so, Ethiopia has done what any normal country would do in such a situation: they have moved to protect themselves and their interests from harm.

      Why do I bring this up? Because it underlines the hypocrisy and double standard that is applied by the media and much of the international community, which is only too happy to denounce Israel for defending itself, while remaining silent when others do precisely the same thing.

      Selective media coverage? You bet.

      Selective morality at the UN? Case closed.



      Tammuz 24, 5766, 7/20/2006

      Europe's "Salonistas" Embrace Terror


      Even when the moral calculus is clear-cut and simple, Europe still just doesn't get it.

      Israel may be fighting a war of self-defense against Hizbullah and Hamas terrorists, who resort to kidnappings, rocket attacks and suicide bombings against innocent civilians, but that hasn't stopped the "salonistas" of Europe from coming down hard against the Jewish state.

      But in what can only be described as a new low - even by European standards - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero yesterday openly identified with Israel's enemies, even as Katyusha rockets were raining down on Haifa, Tiberias and Nazareth.

      Speaking at something called the Festival of Socialist Youth (didn't the Soviet Union disappear over 15 years ago?), Zapatero denounced Israel and accused it of using "abusive force" before draping a keffiyeh decorated with a Palestinian flag around his neck (see the photo below).

      Zapatero_sucks2Zapatero's act was morally obscene – for a European leader to do such a thing at a time when Israel is battling terrorism only sends an unpardonable message of support and encouragement to the terrorists.

      It becomes even more absurd when one considers that Spain itself has suffered from Islamist fundamentalist terror. Has Mr. Zapatero forgotten the horrific March 11, 2004 terror attacks in Madrid, which were carried out by Al-Qaeda? Why are Hamas and Hizbullah murderers any different?

      Zapatero_sucks3Perhaps Zapatero thinks that by identifying with the "cause" of Hamas and Hizbullah, he can spare his own country from suffering additional Islamist-inspired attacks.

      Obviously, he has failed to learn one of the central lessons of the post-September 11 world: namely, that as far as the fanatics are concerned, all of the West are "infidels".

      Even those who speak Spanish.