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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 1, 5766, 6/27/2006

      Where is the "Spirit of Entebbe"?

      Even as the nation prays for the safe return of kidnapped soldier Gilead Shalit, reports now indicate that yet another Israeli appears to have been abducted by Palestinian terrorists.

      This afternoon, fears mounted that 18-year old Eliyahu Ashri, of the community of Itamar outside Shechem (Nablus), may have been taken hostage over the past day or two by the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee, which is believed to be holding him in Ramallah.

      And so, over the course of just 72 hours, the people of Israel have had their sense of personal security shattered, as the Government stands by and does nothing (thus far) to rescue the beleaguered captives – other than issue empty, meaningless threats.

      Entebbe_1 It is hard to believe that this is the same country that once did everything in its power to protect its citizens and bring them home.

      Indeed, next week marks thirty years since the heroic Israeli operation to free Jewish and Israeli hostages who were being held at Entebbe, Uganda, by Palestinian hijackers and terrorists.

      For years afterwards, the "spirit of Entebbe" guided this country, and deterred its enemies from daring to repeat such hijinks.

      Only by regaining that spirit, and hitting back at our foes, can we hope to dissuade them from further atrocities.

      The sooner Mr. Olmert and his government adopt that approach, the safer the people of Israel will be.

      Sivan 26, 5766, 6/22/2006

      The Baker Report: What a Waste of Paper!!

      Today, the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group in the US released its much-anticipated report, which was met by a virtual blizzard of media coverage and interest.

      But after glancing at the text and looking over some of its recommendations, it's hard to see what all the fuss is about.

      While it may have been prepared by diplomatic heavyweights such as former US Secretary of State James Baker, this report has got to be one of the least creative and least imaginative set of policy recommendations to have been produced in Washington in a long, long time.

      Indeed, rarely have so many spent so much time producing so little of value.

      Take, for example, the section on "The Wider Regional Context". In short order, Mr. Baker and his colleagues recommend that Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights and agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

      I read this part of the report and just could not help but wonder: what the heck does any of this have to do with the sectarian strife in Iraq?

      Does Mr. Baker really believe there is a connection between Shiites and Sunnis killing each other in the streets of Baghdad, and Israel holding on to the Golan?

      Does he honestly think that what goes on in Gaza or in Ramallah is what is driving the former Baathists and Saddam loyalists, and Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, to kidnap and murder Iraqi government employees?

      The logic of the report is so transparently silly, and so intellectually vacuous, that it is nothing short of amazing that anyone could take it seriously.

      Here's my prediction: the Baker report will create some waves, but it will shortly end up being tossed into the "circular file" that is cleared out at the end of each day by the janitorial staff – which is about where it belongs.

      Sivan 25, 5766, 6/21/2006

      What About the Jews?

      It is almost too absurd to believe.

      The headline in Ha'aretz the other day just about said it all: "Peretz Orders Fence Route Reviewed with Palestinians in Mind."

      Silly me. And I thought the entire purpose of the security fence was to protect Jews from terrorism. Who knew that its route would also be dependent on what is most convenient for our foes also?

      Security_fenceAnd yet, as the Ha'aretz article makes clear, that is precisely one of the considerations being taken into account: "Defense Minister Amir Peretz has decided to review the route of the separation fence to make sure that it allows for the everyday needs of the Palestinian population."

      Now don’t get me wrong – it is perfectly fine to try to accommodate the basic needs of Palestinian civilians, but what about "the everyday needs of the Jewish population" living in Judea and Samaria?

      After all, thousands of them are being left "beyond the fence", their communities essentially cut off from the rest of Israel. And yet, no one in the Government seems to care too much about the needs of these loyal, upstanding and tax-paying Jewish citizens of the Jewish state.

      Don’t they deserve some consideration too?

      Sivan 20, 5766, 6/16/2006

      France's Dr. Dumb

      He is a prominent businessman and philanthropist, well-known to his French countrymen and to statesmen alike, and he even received an honorary doctorate this week from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

      But don't let all that fool you. Baron Eric de Rothschild is still the purveyor of some of the most inane opinions you are ever likely to hear (outside Israel's present governing coalition, of course).

      Baron_rothschild In an interview last week with the Jerusalem Post, he laid bare his outlook on everything ranging from Israeli Beduin to Jacques Chirac. Here is one of Mr. Rothschild's choice pearls of wisdom: "The one thing you can't say is that France is an anti-Semitic country."

      Oh, really? Tell that to the thousands of French Jews moving to Israel each year who are fleeing the hatred back home. Or to the family of Ilan Halimi, the 23-year old French Jew who was tortured and murdered several months ago by anti-Semitic thugs.

      But perhaps Mr. Rothschild's most ridiculous comment of all had to do with Jewish charitable giving. The Post story reported as follows: "the priority for Jewish giving, he said, should be helping Israeli Arabs."

      That's right. Despite Israel's crumbling educational system, underdeveloped development towns, and myriad other social and economic problems, Mr. Rothschild nonetheless thinks that the Jewish people's number one philanthropic priority should be helping the Arabs.

      All one can say in the face of such astonishing foolishness is that while Mr. Rothschild may indeed be a "baron", it would seem more appropriate to refer to him as France's own Dr. Dumb.

      Sivan 17, 5766, 6/13/2006

      Olmert's Unique Negotiating Strategy

      The people of Israel owe a debt of gratitude to Ehud Olmert.

      In a speech today to the British Parliament in London, Israel's Prime Minister unwittingly succeeded in summing up everything that is wrong with our nation's policy towards the Palestinians in a mere two sentences.

      Olmert_bends_over With nary a trace of sarcasm, here is what Mr. Olmert had to say about his plan to withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria while retaining control over a handful of so-called settlement blocs:

      "There was no 'Zionist' reasoning here, as you might be inclined to argue. There is an honest, real will on my part to give a lot and receive little in return."

      Yes – you read that correctly. But just in case you didn't, here it is again: "There was no 'Zionist' reasoning here, as you might be inclined to argue. There is an honest, real will on my part to give a lot and receive little in return."

      And so, the two key principles upon which Mr. Olmert's policy rests, based on his own remarks, appear to be the following:

      1 – no "Zionist" reasoning guides Israeli decision-making

      2 – Israel will give up a lot with the aim of receiving little in return

      And all this time, we were wondering if the guy knew what he was doing…