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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.
      Sivan 30, 5765, 7/7/2005

      London, Israel

      The scenes emerging from the string of terror attacks today in London are both terrifying and eerily familiar.

      A bombed-out shell of a bus, shaken victims covered with blood and soot, emergency services crews evacuating the injured – it was jarringly reminiscent of the carnage that has appeared on the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba over the past several years.

      London, England, as it were, has now become London, Israel.

      The UK has long been one of the Jewish state’s best friends in Europe – though of course that is not really saying very much. Our hearts go out to the victims – innocent men and women on their way to work, fighting the daily struggle to make a living, improve their lives and take care of their families.

      London_conferencebIt was just a few weeks ago that reports emerged of contacts being held between British officials and Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group waging war on Israel.

      One can only hope that in light of the atrocities carried out in the heart of Britain’s capital today, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government will gain a renewed sense of moral clarity, as well as determination to do battle with terror – wherever it might be.

      Sivan 22, 5765, 6/29/2005

      This just about says it all...

      Every once in a while, there is a tidbit of news that just about says it all, summarizing a complex situation while highlighting the central, underlying problem in an easy to grasp manner.

      Today, in Ha’aretz (of all places) is just such a story, one which makes clear just how dangerous and ill-advised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal plan truly is.

      The paper reports today that:

      “One of the most feared Fatah operatives in the Gaza Strip will soon be returning to action there - this time, as head of a special Palestinian Authority security service whose goal is to seize control of the lands evacuated by Israel under the disengagement plan.

      The new role assigned to Nabil Thamus, who until last year headed Fatah's "death squads," is being interpreted by both Palestinian sources and Israeli intelligence officials as a PA attempt to create a counterweight to the growing power of Hamas in Gaza. Thamus is considered close to Mohammed Dahlan and Rashid Abu Shabak.

      Under Thamus's leadership, the "death squads" had several confrontations with Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, and his name has also been linked to several politically motivated murders.

      The new organization that he will head will number some 5,000 policemen.”

      So there it is, all in just a few, easy-to-digest sentences:

      a) An Israeli withdrawal will mean turning over Gaza to a guy whose CV includes employment experience as leader of a “death squad”;

      Hamas1 b) It will mean increasing competition between Fatah and Hamas, with each trying to show the Palestinian public that it is more “extreme” in order to win their support – and that certainly will not result in more peace and quiet;

      c) Instead of arresting Mr. Thamus and trying him for murder, the Palestinian Authority is giving him a promotion and placing him in charge of his own police force – is this really the way to build the Palestinian democracy that President George W. Bush speaks about?

      There you have it – three darned good reasons why a Gaza pullout is dangerous for Israel, dangerous for the Palestinians themselves, and counter to American interests.

      Too bad none of our leaders are really giving any of this much thought – if they did, they might stop and think twice before plunging ahead with a plan that threatens to endanger us all.

      Sivan 19, 5765, 6/26/2005

      The Only Way to Eliminate Terror

      Another Jewish family was destroyed this morning when 16-year old Aviad Mantsur died as a result of the injuries he sustained in a Palestinian terror attack on Friday afternoon. His friend, 17-year old Avichai Levy, was also slain in the assault.

      All weekend long, Aviad had struggled for his life, as his father prayed for a miracle – but it was to no avail.

      The government has been silent, the army has done nothing, and all that is left from this horrific event are the tears of two families left to mourn their loved ones.

      For weeks, opponents of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Gaza had warned that it would lead to an upsurge in Palestinian terror. Time after time, they cautioned that yielding to the terrorists would only embolden them, leading them to expand their operations and intensify their efforts to kill Jews.

      And that is precisely what has happened.

      If the terrorists are afraid of a possible Israeli military reaction, they certainly aren’t showing it. Islamic Jihad and Fatah both openly took responsibility for this outrage, as though they have no reason in the world to fear any reprisal.

      Determinationb And that is because they don’t – for, despite the recent increase in anti-Israel attacks, the government has done little to change its overall counter-terror policy. Other than renewing occasional pinpoint strikes against senior Islamic Jihad leaders, no other significant steps have been taken.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again: the only way to eliminate terrorism is to eliminate the terrorists. Unless and until Israel begins to wage war on terror with unrelenting determination, the bloodshed will unfortunately only continue.

      Sivan 14, 5765, 6/21/2005

      Arrest Abu Mazen!

      In the past 24 hours, Palestinian terrorists have killed two Israelis, fired rockets and mortar rounds at Jewish communities in Gaza, opened fire on Israeli soldiers in Atzmona, and sent a suicide bomber to blow up Soroka Hospital in Beersheba (thankfully, she was caught on the way).

      So how exactly is Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reacting to this renewed onslaught of Palestinian violence?

      Why – by hosting Palestinian leader Abu Mazen, of course!

      Sharon and Abu Mazen will be holding a mini-summit today to discuss coordinating the proposed Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria that is slated to take place in August.

      In other words, even though Abu Mazen continues to allow Palestinian terror groups to attack Jews with impunity, Sharon seems to have no qualms about greeting him in Jerusalem or discussing the transfer of territory to his control.

      This is not just a matter of national pride or even diplomatic niceties – it is a dangerous act that signifies weakness and frailty, for it sends a message to the Palestinians that they need not pay any “price” for their continued acts of terror against the Jewish state.

      Jail_cell Instead of welcoming Abu Mazen to his home, Sharon should instead consider arresting him – by refusing to crack down on terror and by allowing terrorist groups to operate with impunity from territory he controls, Abu Mazen is responsible for the acts of violence which they perpetrate.

      Abu Mazen belongs in a jail cell, not in a tete-a-tete with high-level Israeli officials. As US President George W. Bush has said time and again, those who harbor terrorists should be held to account. It is time Israel began applying that principle to its Palestinian neighbors, too.

      Sivan 12, 5765, 6/19/2005

      Abu Mazen's Newest Cheerleader

      Condoleezza Rice desperately needs a reality check.

      Standing in Ramallah yesterday with Abu Mazen at her side, the US Secretary of State was practically gushing with praise for the Palestinian leader.

      Making little more than passing reference to the need for Palestinians to combat terror, she could hardly contain herself in lavishing approval on him in front of the cameras.

      “I’m honored to be here with President Abbas”, she said. “We applaud President Abbas’ commitment... The United States will stand with President Abbas”.

      “This is a man of peace,” Rice concluded. “His government is a government that is seeking peace. And it is the goal and the policy of the United States government to support a Palestinian leadership that is, we believe, determined to come to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” she said.


      Needless to say, Rice’s adulation for Abu Mazen has no factual basis in reality. It is little more than a continuation of Bill Clinton’s policy of ignoring Palestinian violations while pressing Israel to make concessions.

      Indeed, just hours after Rice’s remarks, Palestinian terrorists attacked Israeli troops along the border with Egypt, killing one and injuring two others. And over the weekend, Israeli troops arrested a Palestinian planning to carry out a suicide bombing attack and also uncovered a bomb factory in Palestinian-controlled Jenin.

      Rice’s reaction to this string of incidents? You guessed it – silence. Why should she let the facts get in the way of her little plan to boost Abu Mazen as a “man of peace”?

      Israel has been down this road before – and all it led to was increased violence and terrorism. If Condi Rice really thinks that cheerleading for Abu Mazen is a viable policy option, then the former professor needs to go back and review some of the lessons of the past 12 years since Oslo, and stop giving a boost to those who kill Jews.