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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 26, 5765, 8/2/2005

      Vive European Hypocrisy!!

      They have kidnapped foreigners, fired rockets at civilian population centers and carried out suicide bombings. Their ideology calls for the elimination of Israel, and they unashamedly wave the banner of jihad (holy war) against the West.

      The Lebanese group Hizbullah has one of the nastiest track records around – but despite it all, Europe still hesitates to label them a “terrorist organization”.

      In what must have been a surrealistic scene, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met yesterday with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier to request that the European Union (EU) add Hizbullah to its list of terrorist organizations.


      Incredibly, Barnier demurred, saying that such a move “would have political aspects. Hezbollah has a political party and the entire Lebanese context must be viewed” in the matter.

      To his credit, Shalom quickly retorted, “Show me another political party with 12,000 rockets,” leading Barnier to agree to examine the issue ahead of next week's EU session in Brussels to discuss the list of terrorist organizations.

      But there really isn’t very much to “examine” – after all, as the French Foreign Minister unwittingly made clear, this is little more than a “political” issue as far as Europe is concerned. The fact that Hizbullah targets Israelis and encourages others to do the same – well, the Europeans have more important things (i.e. commercial interests) to worry about than the killing of innocents.

      And so, for all their hyperbole about human rights and international law, Europe remains mired in their own stew of hypocrisy and narrow self-interest.

      Qu'un scandale!

      Tammuz 17, 5765, 7/24/2005

      Al-Qaeda on Israel's Doorstep?

      The weekend terror attack in Egyptian-controlled Sinai, which killed at least 88 people and wounded hundreds of others, should be setting off alarm bells in Jerusalem and Washington.

      Egyptsharm The coordinated series of explosions, which bear all the hallmarks of an Al-Qaeda operation, indicate that Osama Bin Laden’s iniquity has found a comfortable base right alongside Israel’s southern border.

      Coming just nine months after last October’s terror attacks in Taba and Ras Shitan in Sinai, the latest bombings underline the dangers of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s proposed withdrawal from nearby Gaza.

      Terrorists love a vacuum, and that is what an Israeli pullout from Gaza would create, providing groups such as Al-Qaeda with a foothold at the Jewish state’s doorstep.

      Moreover, Egypt’s ongoing failure to clamp down on the terrorists demonstrates that they can not be relied upon to patrol the boundary between Gaza and Sinai – a step that Sharon has reportedly already accepted as part of his pullout plan.

      Saturday’s bombings, then, are a timely reminder that however difficult it might appear to be to maintain an Israeli presence in Gaza, the consequences of withdrawal might only prove far more devastating – and lethal.

      Tammuz 14, 5765, 7/21/2005

      Time for British Jewry to Come Home

      For the second time in the past two weeks, terrorists struck again in the heart of London today, setting off a series of blasts on the city’s underground and on a passenger bus. Thankfully, no one was killed in the attacks, and just one person was injured.

      The damage and loss of life could, of course, have been far worse, as the July 7 bombings – which claimed 56 lives – made clear. It was nothing short of a miracle that today’s incidents proved far less lethal.

      As many commentators have pointed out already, these attacks are a wake-up call for Britain to clamp down on its own home-grown Muslim fundamentalist movement, and to stop currying favor with Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas, with whom British officials have met in recent months.

      Londonparliament But there is another lesson to be learned from these horrific attacks, one that has been almost entirely ignored in the past few weeks: it is time for British Jewry to come home to Israel.

      Anti-Semitism has been rising steeply in Britain in recent years, with the number of incidents targeting the Jewish community continuing to increase. At the same time, British Jewry has been rapidly shrinking as a result of assimilation and intermarriage, casting serious doubts over its long-term viability.

      As the recent series of terror attacks in London indicate, Muslim fundamentalists have British society in their sights, seeking to sow death and destruction along the Thames. It is probably just a matter of time before they decide to attack Jewish institutions there as well, G-d forbid, given the prominence and influence which the community there wields.

      For these reasons alone, Britain’s Jews need to start thinking about their future. With their Jewish identity facing increasing challenges, and their physical safety less and less secure, the Jews of the UK need to realize that their only hope lies in coming back to their roots, and planting themselves anew in the Land of Israel.

      No Diaspora, however comfortable or secure it might seem to be, can ever serve as fruitful ground for Jewish life in the long run. Let us hope that the Jews of Britain realize this, and act on it – for their sake, as well as for Israel’s.

      Tammuz 6, 5765, 7/13/2005

      A National Disgrace

      The blockade has begun.

      In an unprecedented decision, the Government of Israel today sealed off Gush Katif and declared it to be a “closed military zone”, barring entry to Jews who do not officially reside there.

      With a single flourish of his pen, Ariel Sharon today sent young Jewish soldiers in uniform on a mission – not to protect their fellow Jews in Gaza, but rather to cut them off from the rest of the country.

      The first time I saw an Israeli soldier – I remember the feeling of pride that swelled inside of me, knowing that the Jewish people had arisen back onto the world stage and set up an army of their own.

      The Israel Defense Forces – think about that name for a second. A military whose very appellation embodies its primary objective: to defend Israel, the land and the people.

      Now contrast this with the mission that Ariel Sharon has in mind for that very same military – to close off Jewish Gaza prior to uprooting it with force next month.

      This can not be allowed to pass. This is not what our ancestors dreamed of for the past 2000 years in Exile.

      Gush_katif_blockade_begins We can not ignore this national disgrace, this assault on the fundamental principles of Zionism and Judaism, and this affront to common sense.

      For those of you outside the Land, now is the time to speak out, and to voice your support for the embattled Jews of Gush Katif:

      1)     Visit: http://english.katif.net/, the English-language website of the struggle against the withdrawal.

      2)     Contact your elected representatives, call the nearest Israeli consulate or embassy.

      3)     Cry out to G-d and plead for His Divine intervention.

      The clock is ticking, the expulsion is growing dangerously near. We can, and we must prevent it from coming to pass.

      Tammuz 6, 5765, 7/13/2005

      Just Another Day of "Peace"

      It was another day of “peace” in Israel: more bombs, more bloodshed, more innocent Israelis slaughtered in the streets, more lives destroyed while our government twiddles its thumbs rather than engaging the enemy.

      Today’s suicide bombing in Netanya killed 3 Israelis and injured 89 others, while a car bomb attack in Shavei Shomron just 40 minutes beforehand miraculously failed to cause any injuries.

      Ariel Sharon’s government reacted by vowing to respond harshly – vows we have heard so many times before and so few of which have ever been kept. The only promise that Sharon seems intent on keeping is to withdraw, to retreat, to run away from the problem instead of confronting it.

      How much longer can this go on? How is it possible for so many people to delude themselves over and over again and to think that pulling out of territory will satisfy the appetite of our foes?

      For the past 12 years, Israel has tried the path of concessions, and it has only brought the country an unprecedented wave of death and destruction in its wake.

      Under normal circumstances, the people would have (and should have) taken to the streets long ago, and brought down this hapless, ineffective and incompetent regime. Instead, we plunge forward, as though nothing has happened, as if three precious Jewish lives were not cruelly taken today, as if all were quiet on the western front.

      We can, and we do, deserve better. The sooner this government is sent packing, the safer Israel will be.