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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.
      Elul 15, 5765, 9/19/2005

      My Vote for "Persons of the Year"


      Time Magazine the other day made its annual selection for “Persons of the Year”, conferring the honor on Bill and Melinda Gates and rocker Bono because of their philanthropic work on behalf of others.

      With all due respect to the editors at the venerable news magazine, I think they overlooked the real heroes of 2005 – the Jews of Gush Katif and northern Samaria, who were expelled from their homes this past summer.

      The noble example they set of faith, commitment and determination, continues to resonate throughout society. Despite being so callously thrown off their land, many have tapped deep inner resources of strength, marshalling the energy and fortitude to begin to rebuild their shattered lives and those of their destroyed communities.

      Gush_katif_and_the_flag Their government has abandoned them, the media overlooks them, but the Jews formerly of Gush Katif and northern Samaria continue to inspire and to motivate us all.

      Writing checks and raising awareness for good causes is nice – but also fairly common. What is far less common is to espouse the pioneering spirit exemplified by Gush Katif’s Jews – and to continue to live by it even after enduring a major setback.

      And for that alone, the men and women in Orange deserve our thanks, and our recognition.



      Elul 14, 5765, 9/18/2005

      The Vote is in...


      In local balloting held this past week in several cities in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian electorate sent the world a loud and unequivocal message: they want anti-Israel terror to continue.

      Initial results appear to indicate that candidates of the terrorist group Hamas succeeded in capturing three of the four Palestinian-controlled cities, defeating Fatah by a wide margin.

      Indeed, a headline from Ha’aretz said it all: “Landslide victories for Hamas in key cities”.

      This fact alone should give people on the left pause – after all, if Israel were to withdraw from most of the territories, it is clear that the Palestinian entity that would emerge would rapidly turn into a Hamas-controlled state bent on destroying its Jewish neighbors.

      Hamas_sucks_bigtime As the results of the Palestinians elections demonstrate, that is the will of the majority of Palestinian voters, who knew quite well for whom they were voting.

      So don’t let the media and all those talking heads fool you into thinking otherwise – creating a Palestinian state is a grave danger to the future of this country.



      Elul 3, 5765, 9/7/2005

      Fence Fantasies


      Barely 24 hours had passed since Monday’s Palestinian suicide attack murdered 5 Israelis in Netanya, but that didn’t stop a leading left-wing figure from calling for further surrender to the terrorists.

      Speaking to a group of students, former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon, who is running in the Labor Party primaries, called for the uprooting of all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that lie beyond the security fence currently being constructed by Israel. Moreover, he asserted, it is “immoral” for Israeli soldiers to be defending these areas since they will be handed over to the Palestinians anyway.

      Stink_1 It is hard to decide what is more troubling about these comments – their timing, their content or the person who said them.

      Coming so soon after a lethal suicide attack, Ayalon’s remarks will only reinforce the terrorists’ belief that violence will break Israel’s spirit and result in further withdrawals.

      In addition, they back up what so many observers have been saying for so long – that the left will inevitably try to transform the security fence into a political border, as a means of effectively transferring some 95% of the territories to the Palestinians.

      Lastly, these remarks come from a man who until recently was charged with the task of defending all of Israel’s citizens – including those “settlers” who live beyond the fence. For him to suggest that it is “immoral” to protect them only confers legitimacy upon those who seek their demise.

      The bottom line here is that anyone who thought the security fence would only be a “temporary” measure, and would not necessarily create political facts on the ground, should wake up and start smelling Ayalon’s coffee.

      His remarks should serve to dash any fantasies people may have been entertaining about the true nature of the fence which, though it might be saving lives in the short-term, will only serve to create a Palestinian state that will threaten Israel’s existence in the long run.



      Av 29, 5765, 9/3/2005

      On the Cease-Fire Front


      Remember the much-hailed “cease-fire” declared by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen)?

      Well, here is the latest from the cease-fire front:

      Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at the Jewish community of Gadid in Gush Katif last night (Tuesday). Fortunately, the rocket landed in between two homes, so no one was injured in the assault, though there was some damage reportedly caused.

      Ironically enough, the attack took place during a meeting between Abbas and Israel’s Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz aimed at finalizing the transfer of additional territory to Palestinian control.

      Even more ironic, however, were Mofaz’ remarks at a press conference held after the meeting, in which he told reporters that, “It will be difficult to advance on the political plane if there is no security for Israeli citizens.”

      As yesterday’s attack (which was preceded by numerous others, such as the shooting incident in Hebron on Monday which wounded two Israeli border policemen, or the recent suicide bombing in Tel Aviv) should make clear, we are a still very long way from being able to say that there is “security for Israeli citizens”.

      White_flag Nonetheless, that doesn’t seem to deter the Government from pressing forward. In last night’s discussions, Mofaz reportedly agreed to turn Jericho over to the Palestinians as early as this evening, to be followed in the coming days by the city of Tulkarem.

      So once again, the Palestinians see that there is no price to be paid for their ongoing resort to violence. This will likely lead them to conclude that it is precisely the bloodshed that is compelling Israel to retreat.

      And as the events of the past decade have shown time and again, withdrawing under fire only invites still more aggression. It’s about time that Israel’s leadership finally grasped this most basic of lessons.



      Av 28, 5765, 9/2/2005

      Raining on the Peace Parade


      Welcome to Ceasefire-Land, where the Palestinians talk about peace even as they continue shooting at Jews.

      Just hours after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) yesterday declared an end to violence at the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at an Israeli army checkpoint in northern Samaria.

      I guess they didn’t get the memo.

      Then, late yesterday evening, the army announced the arrest of a Palestinian terrorist from Abu Mazen’s own Fatah faction who was planning to carry out a bomb attack against Israelis near Jenin.

      Shortly thereafter, Palestinian gunmen fired at an IDF outpost near the Jewish village of Har Bracha, on the outskirts of Shechem (Nablus).

      Palestinian_ceasefire Earlier today, Palestinians opened fire on Israeli soldiers near the village of Kadim in northern Samaria, a Hamas terrorist near the Kissufim junction in Gaza was killed as he tried to fire a rocket at an Israeli vehicle, and an Israeli was injured by rock-throwing Palestinians northwest of Ramallah.

      Call me a cynic, but I thought that a “ceasefire” meant that the terrorists would actually, well, cease to fire. Of course, that has yet to occur.

      But don’t expect to read about the any of this in your friendly, neighborhood newspaper, as the last thing the mainstream media wants is to rain on the peace parade that began at yesterday’s summit.

      But don’t be fooled by all the pageantry and handshakes. What counts is not what the Palestinians promise, but what they do. And thus far, they have continued to shoot. Stay tuned.