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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.
      Adar Bet 5, 5765, 3/16/2005

      Calling All Christians


      In today's Jerusalem Post, I wrote an article calling upon US Christians to stand up and raise their voices against the proposed withdrawal from Gaza and the possible establishment of a Palestinian state.

      Christians_for_israel I am convinced that pro-Israel Christians in America are in a unique position to influence events given their political clout and their unwavering support for the right of the Jewish people to all the Land of Israel. Hence, they need to speak out now and make a difference. The article appears below - so if you know of any Christian leaders, organizations or activists in the United States, please feel free to pass it on.

      The Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2005

      Calling All Christians

      By Michael Freund

      Is George W. Bush missing a couple of pages from his Bible? In a speech last week at the National Defense University, the president repeated what has become one of his primary foreign policy mantras.

      Asserting that the only way to bring about tranquility in the Middle East is through the establishment of a Palestinian state, Bush said, "We seek two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security."

      In addition, Bush insisted that Israel must "freeze settlement activity" and "ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable, with contiguous territory on the West Bank," meaning that he expects the Jewish state to withdraw not only from Gaza and northern Samaria, but from large chunks of the rest of the territories as well.

      The president's statement, of course, is nothing new. It is a theme he has harped on for the past few years, laying down his conviction that the Land of Israel should be partitioned between Arabs and Jews.

      But what is truly remarkable, and as yet inexplicable, is that a man so committed to his Christian faith and to belief in the Bible could possibly be unaware of the inherent contradiction in his policy toward the region.

      Indeed, how is it that the most devoted Christian to sit in the White House in decades is the same person pressing to divide God's Holy Land, the very same land promised exclusively to the Jewish people by Divine right?

      Now, I am neither a theologian nor a Christian, but I do know that the words "Palestine" and "Palestinians" do not appear anywhere in the New Testament. So Bush could not have gotten the idea to establish "Palestine" while attending Sunday school. Did he not learn that Jesus was a Jew who, like the Jews who today are called "settlers," lived in land given by God to the Jews, the same land in which he would now create a hostile Palestinian state?

      To be fair, Bush has been a great friend of Israel, deflecting international criticism over the Jewish state's efforts to defend itself while pushing to reform and democratize some of our nasty neighbors.

      Nonetheless, his insistence on pressing for the establishment of a Palestinian state remains baffling, if not incomprehensible, as it would appear to conflict with both his religious and his ideological worldviews.

      Even in terms of the war on terror, Bush's stance on the Middle East is laden with inconsistency. In that same National Defense University speech last week, Bush said, "The theory here is straightforward: Terrorists are less likely to endanger our security if they are worried about their own security. When terrorists spend their days struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training to commit new attacks. We will keep the terrorists on the run, until they have nowhere left to hide."

      And yet, when it comes to the Palestinians, that is precisely the opposite of Bush's policy, as the creation of a Palestinian state would inevitably give terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad a perfect place "to hide."

      In light of the president's position, as well as his religious beliefs, there is one group in particular that should seize the moment now and come out against the current drive toward Israeli withdrawal and retreat: American Christians.

      As the core group of Bush's Republican constituency, and as a growing factor to be reckoned with on the American political stage, evangelical Christians have the clout, the numbers and the conviction to help forestall the creation of "Palestine."

      Efforts by Bush and by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to carve up the Holy Land and turn over parts of it to the Arabs should offend anyone who takes the Bible seriously, including evangelicals. To stand by and watch this process unfold without speaking out is simply unthinkable.

      There are three things – the three P's – that US Christians can and should do to make their voices heard: protest, pressure and pray. They shouldn't wait for a divided American Jewry to take the lead, because time is of the essence, as the planned withdrawal from Gaza is just four months away.

      Hence, there is no reason why American Christians can't start taking to the streets to organize rallies and protests under the banner of "Don't Divide the Holy Land." What a powerful message it would send to decision-makers in Washington and Jerusalem to see hundreds of thousands or even millions of non-Jewish Americans speaking out on this important issue.

      US Christians can also apply pressure on their elected representatives. Next Thursday, March 24, when Jews mark the Fast of Esther, a grassroots effort is being planned to get as many American Jews and Christians as possible to phone, fax and e-mail the White House, with the central theme being "President Bush: Honor God's covenant with His people. Stop Disengagement."

      Lastly, it is time for Jews and Christians to pull out the most potent weapon in their arsenal, the power of prayer. The Land of Israel is in danger, and there can be no better way to influence events than by turning in prayer to the One who guides all human events.

      There is still time to act, to make a difference. American Christians have been put in a unique position, one in which they can have a direct impact on the future of Israel and its land. At this critical hour, when the integrity of the Holy Land is at stake, they cannot and must not be silent.

      -----------

      The writer served as an aide to former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.



      Adar Bet 2, 5765, 3/13/2005

      More than just a Palestinian Food Fight


      Clashes broke out today in Hebron, as angry Palestinian youth hurled stones and various other objects, venting their wrath at those who had dared to cross them.

      Interestingly, however, the target of their fury was not Israel, nor the United States, nor even the West – but other Palestinians.

      The violence occurred at Hebron University, when supporters of Fatah and Hamas clashed ahead of student government elections.

      This incident is about far more than just your usual campus concerns regarding cafeteria food and the length of spring break.

      The rivalry between Fatah and Hamas is heating up, with the Palestinians planning to hold legislative elections in July. Hamas is feeling increasingly emboldened, and announced over the weekend that they would formally take part in the balloting.

      Apparently, the purveyors of suicide terror now sense a growing level of support for their position on the so-called “Palestinian street”, and Hamas’ leaders aim to exploit that to their advantage at the polling booth.

      For those who support the planned Israeli withdrawal from Gaza – this development should be setting off alarm bells, as it underlines precisely what opponents of the move have been saying all along: namely, that an Israeli retreat will only strengthen Palestinian extremists, and encourage them to believe that their resort to violence will ultimately produce results.

      Foodfight While the outcome of the Hebron University election may not actually matter much in the overall scheme of things here in the Middle East, today’s clashes should not be dismissed as a mere Palestinian food fight. If anything, they demonstrate once again just how confident and assertive Hamas feels it can be, thanks to the widespread support for its murderous ways among large sectors of the Palestinian public.

      And, unfortunately, that is likely to mean that in the upcoming weeks and months, Fatah and Hamas will be competing with each other for votes by showing who is more proficient at killing innocent Israelis.



      Adar 26, 5765, 3/7/2005

      Tempest in a (Persian) Teacup?


      For several days now, the US has been in an uproar, after a number of Americans held hostage Iran in 1979 identified newly-elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of their captors from 26 years ago.

      Irans_new_president "This is the guy. There's no question about it," former hostage Chuck Scott, a retired Army colonel, told the Associated Press. "You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I'd still spot him," he said.

      The Iranians vehemently deny the charge, but a number of photographs that have surfaced from that period seem to back up the allegation.

      But here is the really interesting part: in light of recent US policy toward Israel, why all the fuss about the new Iranian president’s kidnapping career?

      After all, the Bush Administration is coming down hard on the Jewish state lately, pressing it to release hundreds of Palestinians involved in terror attacks against Israelis over the past few years. If Israel is expected to “forgive” those who try to kill its own citizens, then why shouldn’t the Bush Administration adopt the same stance towards the new Iranian president?

      Don’t get me wrong – I think it is morally indefensible for Israel release Palestinian terrorists, and I don’t think the Iranian leader’s criminal background should be overlooked either.

      But I do think it is high time for Washington to stop applying a double standard, and start treating all terrorists (be they Palestinian or Iranian) alike.



      Adar 24, 5765, 3/5/2005

      Ending the Palestinian Occupation... of Lebanon


      Lebanon took a big step toward freedom last week with the departure of Syria’s army.

      But here’s a juicy bit of Middle Eastern irony for you: local residents are now demanding that the Palestinians end their occupation of Lebanese soil.

      A report by Agence France Presse (AFP) notes:

      Residents of eastern Lebanon encouraged by the recent Syrian troop pullout from the country are calling for an end to the presence of Damascus-backed Palestinian military positions in the region.

      "We do not want Ahmed Jibril's men who have been deployed here since the 1982 Israeli invasion to maintain their positions. The Syrians are gone, they should do the same," said one resident, Fouad Abu Farah.

      The report notes that for the past 23 years, Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) has maintained bases in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and in the hills south of Beirut. This has come largely at the expense of local Lebanese, whose land was confiscated to make way for the Palestinian presence.

      Toni Keddy, a municipal council member from the Lebanese village of Qussaya, told the AFP that, "it is our right to ask for their departure, even if they never did any harm to us. We want to regain and cultivate the lands that they have confiscated from us."

      Jibril_sucks_1 UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which was passed in September of last year, calls for the disarming of all Lebanese militias – including Hizbullah and the PFLP-GC.

      So now that the Syrians have (mostly) left Lebanon - they reportedly still have a covert intelligence network in place there – the time has come for Washington to turn up the heat on Palestinian terror groups such as the PFLP-GC to lay down their weapons and dismantle their infrastructure.

      Ending the armed Palestinian occupation of Lebanese soil will go a long way toward stabilizing that battered country and pacifying Israel’s northern border.



      Adar 23, 5765, 3/4/2005

      America's Next Target?


      Summer may still be a few months away in the Middle East, but for the Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah, the heat is already here.

      Nasrallah_sucks_1

      Under mounting US and international pressure, Hizbullah’s patron Syria appears poised to end its occupation of Lebanon and withdraw its troops from the country before they hold parliamentary elections next month.

      That will leave the notorious Shiite terror group, which was responsible for kidnapping Western hostages and killing hundreds of US Marines in the 1980s, exposed and increasingly vulnerable.

      Not surprisingly, Hizbullah is now lashing out, thumping its chest with mock valor even as it retreats into a corner like hunted prey.

      Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s terror master, launched a verbal broadside against the US, practically daring Washington to come on over and fight. Speaking at a memorial ceremony in Beirut for the late Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, Nasrallah had this to say:

      We tell America and all those who want to disarm the resistance in Lebanon and the resistance in Palestine to safeguard Israel: This is forbidden. It is not possible.

      The only option left for them [Americans] is that they come themselves to disarm the resistance and the [Palestinian refugee] camps in Lebanon.

      I wish they would come, I wish they would come.

      With its long and bloody history of anti-Western and anti-Israel terror attacks, as well as its destabilizing effect on the region’s security, there is little doubt that the Middle East would be far better off without Hizbullah and its lethal mischief. And that is precisely why Washington has begun to insist that Hizbullah disarm.

      But since it appears unlikely that Nasrallah will do so voluntarily, and his rhetoric suggests that he is just itching for a fight, don’t be surprised if the coming months see an escalation.

      Once Syria is out of Lebanon, that country’s entire internal political dynamic will change, and the US might feel more keen to step in and squash Hizbullah – thereby removing both a dangerous threat to Western interests as well as the last remaining obstacle to a free and democratic Lebanese regime.

      Hizbullah is well aware of this, and might conclude that its only hope of justifying its continued existence is to draw Israel into an armed confrontation of some sort in an effort to rally the Arab world behind it.

      The sooner Washington moves against Hizbullah, then, the better. And if Nasrallah truly wishes for the Americans to come, then by all means, why not send a couple of US Marine battalions to pay him a visit.

      The world, and the region, would be much better off as a result.