Life Lessons with Judy Simon
After decades of artifice, Israelis and people around the world yesterday finally got to see the real Shimon Peres.
With a straight face and a dour demeanor, Peres intoned about the need “to put country before party”, thereby seeking to explain his dramatic decision to leave the Labor Party and back Ariel Sharon for Prime Minister.
And here is why: it was just two weeks ago that Peres sought to be elected Chairman of Labor, and its candidate for Prime Minister, in the party’s primaries.
In other words – had Peres won that vote, rather than enduring an embarrassing defeat to Amir Peretz – he would now be running against Sharon in the upcoming election.
But because he lost, and Peretz refused to guarantee him a safe slot on Labor’s Knesset list, Peres was left with no choice but to cut and bolt, throwing his support behind Sharon in the hopes of salvaging his own political future.
So, you see, it has everything to do with power, and very little, in fact, to do with principle.
“Country before party”? Hardly. It was more like “Peres before party”.
And that, at the end of the day, is what the real Shimon Peres is truly all about.
Buried away in a recent news item were two sentences that should shake the Israeli left out of its slumber.
The other day, Israeli media reported that the security services had captured 3 Palestinian terrorists from Gaza who had been sent to Judea and Samaria to establish factories for the manufacture of Qassam rockets and mortar shells.
Their mission, they said, was to build the rockets and then fire them straight into Israel’s major metropolitan areas, as well as carry out a range of other heinous attacks. Had they succeeded, places such as Tel Aviv, Netanya and Kfar Saba might all have come under enemy fire.
But it was the left-wing Ha’aretz, of all places, that contained the hidden “bombshell”, if you’ll pardon the pun. The paper’s military correspondent, Amos Harel, noted that, “Palestinian terror organizations have been trying for years to set up Qassam factories in the West Bank. These efforts have increased since Israel withdrew from Gaza.”
So, in effect, rather than making “central Israel” safer, the Gaza retreat has only brought the threat posed by Palestinian terror even closer to Israel’s financial and industrial heartland, giving the terrorists greater opportunities, and incentives, to launch attacks.
Something to think about, especially for all those who supported Israel’s retreat.
This time around, thank G-d, the terrorists were caught before they could do any harm. But who knows if we’ll all be so fortunate in the future.
It’s election season again in Israel, and the various parties are gearing up for the balloting, which is now less than 4 months away.
With each passing day, it seems, confusion mounts, as the Right finds itself in disarray, the Left is in turmoil, and Ariel Sharon’s new party continues to lead in the polls.
So what is a clear-headed Israeli voter to do? The answer, I think, may be to try and draft a surprise candidate into the race.
And who might that be, you are wondering – well, perhaps the answer is none other than US Vice-President Dick Cheney.
In a speech last week, Cheney laid out a clear philosophy for how not to deal with terrorists: “It is a dangerous illusion,” he said, “to suppose that another retreat by the civilized world would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone.”
In fact, Cheney noted, “such a retreat would convince the terrorists that free nations will change our policies, forsake our friends, abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with murder and blackmail.”
At a time when Prime Minister Sharon is said to be considering major withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, it is a shame that more Israeli politicians don't share the Vice President’s clearheaded thinking.
So that’s why I think it is time to launch a write-in campaign here in Israel, if only to send a message to our leaders that we want someone who will stand firm in the face of Palestinian terror rather than withdraw.
Dick Cheney for Prime Minister!
It is an issue that has been hushed up, ignored and overlooked as much as possible.
Over 50 American citizens have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo Accords, but you would hardly know it from the manner in which the Clinton and Bush Administrations have related to the issue.
Indeed, for over a decade, Washington together with the mainstream media have done their utmost not to tell this ongoing story, undoubtedly because of the damage it would generate to the Palestinian cause.
It is time to end this conspiracy of silence.
This past Monday, the influential Washington Times devoted an editorial to the subject, citing a recent column of mine in the Jerusalem Post. The Times’ editorial appears below. I would urge you to copy it and then forward it on to your elected representatives, along with a simple request: what are you doing to bring Palestinian killers of Americans to justice?
It is time for the Palestinians to be brought to account for their actions. Justice demands no less.
The Washington Times, October 24, 2005
AMERICAN BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS
Late last week, as the U.S. media ran story after story describing the relatively upbeat tone of Thursday's meeting between President Bush and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, an Op-Ed ran in the Jerusalem Post which provides a sobering postscript to the White House talks.
The article, written by columnist Michael Freund, broached a disturbing topic that has been largely ignored by the mainstream media in the United States: the reality that since the Oslo peace process began 12 years ago, more than 50 American citizens have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks. But none of the killers, according to Mr. Freund, have been brought to justice.
Three of these Americans -- John Branchizio, 37, of Texas, John Linde Jr., 30, of Missouri; and Mark Parsons, 31, of New Jersey -- died in an Oct. 15, 2003 bombing of a U.S. diplomatic convoy travelling in Gaza. The perpetrators used a remote-controlled explosive device which they activated once the Americans were in range. The vehicles, all of which had diplomatic license plates, were traveling on a road that had been closed to Israeli traffic. In other words, this was no case of mistaken identity; the killers knew that they were targeting Americans and they killed them. Moreover, in the weeks leading up to that attack, the Palestinian media intensified anti-American incitement, which included calls for the destruction of the United States and denunciations of this country as Palestinians' "No. 1 enemy."
The organization believed responsible for the Oct. 15, 2003 attack calls itself the Popular Resistance Committees -- in reality, it is a mix of terrorists affiliated with Hamas, the Syrian-backed and Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Mr. Abbas's own Fatah organization. After intense pressure from Washington, PA security forces arrested several PRC members but eventually released them. Asked about the slayings last week, PRC spokesman Mohamed Abdel-Al denied that his group had been involved in targeting Americans. But Mr. Abdel-Al (speaking five weeks after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and civilians had been completed) took "credit" for firing rockets from Gaza into Israel in an interview on the John Batchelor Show. Mr. Abdel-Al said his goal was to kill Mr. Sharon and that the PRC had already smuggled rocket technology into the West Bank in order to target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Eight days ago, Israelis once again witnessed the results of Mr. Abbas's refusal to cooperate with Israel in preventing the West Bank and Gaza from becoming havens of anarchoterrorism, as three Israelis were gunned down while waiting for rides. The Palestinian media referred to the three as "settlers," presumably justifying their deaths. With as many as 50-60,000 men in uniform, Mr. Abbas has more than ample firepower to move against the gangsters who have brought so much suffering to the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. But he lacks the political will. His continued political paralysis augurs poorly for the future.
Anyone who bought into the media's speculation that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was giving up Gaza in order "to strengthen Israel's hold on the West Bank" will be in for a rude surprise.
Just the other day, in a televised interview, Sharon said explicitly that not all of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will eventually remain under Israeli control.
In other words - he is already beginning to plan another round of expulsions, exile, and bulldozing.
As I suggest in the article below that I wrote for the Jerusalem Post, it is essential that the Right muster its energies, as well as some foresight, and begin to plan its strategy now for the struggles that lie ahead.
Only if we move assertively and confidently forward, following a clear game-plan and with faith in the justness of our cause, can we prevent the next round of retreat, withdrawals and defeat.
The Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2005
A Roadmap for the Right
A Roadmap for the Right
By Michael Freund
Hardly a week has passed since Gush Katif was emptied of its Jewish residents, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is already promising more expulsions of Jews.
In a televised interview with Channel 10 broadcast Monday, Sharon made clear that he plans to uproot additional Jewish communities in the future. "Not all the settlements presently in Judea and Samaria will remain there," he said, adding that "the final map will be presented only at the last stage of negotiations."
So there you have it. Talks with the Palestinians have not even resumed and Sharon is already busy making concessions, effectively promising to dismantle further, as yet unnamed communities as part of a final deal.
As if this wasn't bad enough, Sharon has also done virtually nothing to counter the renewed terrorist onslaught launched by the Palestinians of late.
In just the past few days a Palestinian terrorist stabbed and killed a young Israeli yeshiva student in Jerusalem; an Israeli border policeman was stabbed in the throat in Hebron by a Palestinian attacker; two Kassam rockets were fired from northern Gaza at Sderot; firebombs were thrown at Israeli vehicles in Gush Etzion, and a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at Beersheba's bus station.
Thus far the government's response to this renewed wave of violence has been limited to verbal denunciations and a bit of finger-wagging, which are hardly likely to be taken very seriously by the gunmen of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
So not only is Sharon demonstrating weakness at the bargaining table, he is also projecting frailty on the military front, inviting still more violence and pressure in its wake.
This combination of weak knees and feeble muscle poses a grave danger to the country and to its national interests.
As Haifa University Professor Dan Schueftan recently pointed out to The New York Times, the way things are looking now, "The next stage of disengagement is inevitable... We are basically retreating slowly toward the fence."
More than ever, then, it is essential that the Right get its act together and find a way to save the country from the desperate, devious and dithering man who now runs it.
To be sure, the retreat from Gaza and northern Samaria was a terrible blow, but the perils that lie ahead may prove even more ominous. Israel is essentially slouching its way back to the pre-1967 Armistice Lines, which would endanger the state and its interests.
In order to prevent this, the Right must lick its wounds from the Gaza debacle and formulate a strategy aimed at forestalling any future retreats. The time to do so is now because, with a little foresight, we can and will prevent more Jews from losing their homes.
SUCH A strategy should encompass a number of key spheres: political, practical and ideological, and it should not be left in the hands of any one organization to implement. Rather, the various forces must combine their efforts and work in tandem to bring it about.
In the political realm, the number-one priority at this stage should be to remove Sharon from power. It is critical that he be punished politically for the Gaza retreat so other politicians will see there is a heavy price to be paid in terms of their careers for daring to expel Jews from their homes.
It is not enough merely to bring down the government. Rather, Sharon must be seen to suffer a stinging political rebuke, such that it will be obvious to all that the withdrawal led directly to his downfall.
Similarly, it is time for Israel's Right to adopt a modified form of one of the most successful tactics used to date by American Conservatives – the taxpayer protection pledge, which has been championed for some two decades by Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington-based lobbying group.
In the US, the idea is simple: force politicians to live up to their pre-election rhetoric by asking them to sign a short document in which they promise not to support new taxes once they are in office. This effectively binds the signatory, in writing, to live up to his word to the voters.
In America it has come to be known as the "No New Taxes" pledge, and it has proven immensely effective in compelling politicians to take a stand and stick with it. Over 1,200 state officeholders, and nearly 50% of the US Senate and House have signed on, and their adherence to the pledge is duly monitored and reported to the public.
HERE IN Israel, the Right could initiate a "No New Withdrawals" oath which would require politicians to solemnly declare that they will never agree to yield territory or uproot Jewish communities. Anyone refusing to sign, or violating the pledge, would then lose the support of right-wing voters, and would be branded a "pledge-breaker" for all to see.
On the practical front a major push must be made to get more people to settle in Jewish communities that could potentially be on the chopping block should Sharon have his way. Bolstering towns such as Shavei Shomron in Samaria, or Tekoa in Judea will make it harder for any future government to part with them, just as Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim have been taken off the table thanks to their sizable population growth.
Whether this means encouraging more Israelis to move there, or persuading American Jews to purchase homes in these places, it is crucial to shore up these communities and reinforce their numbers as soon as possible.
Finally, on the ideological front, the Right must not allow its failure to prevent the Gaza withdrawal to lead to despondency or despair. The protests on behalf of Gush Katif may not have achieved their ultimate aim of preventing the pullout, but they did tap into a strong and dynamic undercurrent of enthusiasm and love for the Land of Israel.
That energy must not be allowed to dissipate. It should be marshalled to prepare for the next stage of the struggle, before Israel's dangerous slide toward retreat truly does become a reality.