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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.
      Cheshvan 7, 5765, 10/22/2004

      Don’t Believe Everything You Hear (except on Arutz-7 of course)

      Far too often, many of us watch or listen to the news and accept it at face value. If something is being broadcast or written, well, then it must be true. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be reporting it, right?

      Well without meaning to sound too cynical, all I can say to that is: hogwash. Poppycock. Phooey, hooey, hokum and bunkum.

      Here’s a case in point: Israel Radio this morning filled the airwaves with a story bound to penetrate even the coldest of hearts. It seems that a young Palestinian mother had given birth to quadruplets at Laniado Hospital in Netanya some two months ago, where they have been kept for post-partum treatment and observation. But the vindictive and callous Israeli authorities have refused to grant the children’s Palestinian father a permit to visit his newborns, and so he has not merited to see them since they came into the world.

      Adding insult to injury, Israel was allegedly allowing the mother to visit her babies no more than twice a week.

      What a story it was! In one fell swoop, it managed to elicit the listeners’ sympathy for the hapless Palestinian couple while at the same time portraying Israel and its “occupation” in the cruelest and most pitiless of lights.

      There was, however, one small glitch: it turns out the story wasn’t true.

      In its 5pm news broadcast this afternoon, Israel Radio offered a slightly more accurate description of the situation. After hearing the report this morning, Israel’s Civil Administration looked into the matter, and contacted Israel Radio to inform them that:

      a) the father of the children is actually a Jordanian citizen living illegally in a Palestinian-controlled city in Samaria, and not a Palestinian;

      b) Israel could not possibly have refused the father’s request to visit his children, for the simple reason that to date he has not yet submitted any such request;

      c) the mother of the children was actually given an open-ended permit to visit the hospital whenever she wished;

      d) despite having such a permit, the mother chose to visit the babies only twice a week, and not because of any alleged restriction imposed by Israel.

      Now, many people like to criticize the foreign media for the manner in which it portrays the Jewish state, often pointing out the myriad inaccuracies and biases that seem to typify much of the coverage of Israel and the region.

      All that is true. And yet, as bad as the foreign media might be, much of the Israeli media is hardly any better, as the incident above makes clear.

      If Israel Radio itself chooses to portray events in such a twisted manner – then it is hard to expect much more from the likes of the BBC or CNN.

      Banner And there you have it – yet another reason to get your news from www.israelnationalnews.com.

      Cheshvan 7, 5765, 10/22/2004

      A Synagogue in Flames

      Where is the outrage? Where is the outpouring of anger, fury and indignation?

      A synagogue, a Jewish house of worship, a place where Jews gather solely for prayer and contemplation, was attacked yesterday by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza – and everyone is silent.

      Some 20 worshippers in the Jewish community of Netzarim were gathered for the weekday morning service, their arms and heads bound in tefillin (phylacteries), their bodies enveloped in prayer shawls.

      Kasamhazanavs They had reached the verse, “Who among the gods is like You, O G-d; who is like You, majestic in sanctity”, when a Palestinian rocket struck, causing grave damage to the building. Miraculously, no one was injured, though two people had to be treated for shock.

      The rest of us, however, apparently felt no shock. A synagogue was hit? It’s just another headline, just another blip in the news – hey, now where is the sports section…

      Just imagine if the Israeli Army had mistakenly hit a mosque or a church. Just imagine the reaction that would not be slow in coming from the left, from the Palestinians, from Europe, from the world.

      But you know what – I’m less concerned about their reaction.

      I’m more worried about ours.

      An attack on a synagogue is an attack on the Jewish people everywhere. It is an assault on our faith, our traditions and our beliefs. It is the ultimate indignity, and it can not be dismissed as “just another terror attack”.

      Whatever you may think about Jews living in Gaza – this is an incident that should touch every Jew to the core of his being, reminding each of us what this conflict is truly all about: the ruthlessness and callousness of our foes, and their desire to bring about our demise.

      But whatever threat they may pose to Israel’s existence, it pales in comparison with the true menace to the future of this country: our indifference and our apathy.

      If a synagogue can go up in flames without evoking a peep of protest – well, then, it seems that things might really be worse than we had thought.

      “Who among the gods is like You, O G-d; who is like You, majestic in sanctity”.

      May G-d save us from our enemies – and from ourselves.

      Cheshvan 6, 5765, 10/21/2004

      Standing Strong in Gaza

      Anyone who doubted the staying power of the Jewish communities in Gaza can rest a little easier after this morning’s press conference by Yonatan Bassi, head of the Israeli Government’s Disengagement Authority (which is responsible for overseeing the removal of Gaza’s Jews).

      Despite months of effort, and despite offering cash bonuses and other benefits, Bassi had preciously little to show for himself today. All told, just 25 families (out of some 8,200 people) have agreed to leave – or a mere 1%.

      Even with the continuing bombardment of their communities – both by Palestinian Kassam rockets and a largely-hostile Israeli media – a full 99% of the Jews in Gaza are standing strong, refusing to be cowed into leaving their homes.

      Some may view them as fanatics, others as an obstacle to making progress with the Palestinians. But as far as I am concerned, these people are true Jewish heroes, demonstrating a level of faith and fidelity to the Land and people of Israel that is both admirable and worthy of emulation.

      Gaza Rather than trying to uproot them, the government should instead learn a thing or two from them - from their commitment to principle and from their tenacity and love for this blessed Land.

      Cheshvan 5, 5765, 10/20/2004

      Arabs for Israel

      There numbers may be small, perhaps even tiny. But their voices are beginning to be heard, and it is time that Israel and the Jewish people do more to reach out to them.

      I am referring to the budding new movement of Arabs who support Israel. I know that at first glance you’ll think I am fantasizing, and perhaps the word “movement” is not yet truly applicable here, since we are talking about a handful of brave individuals who have stood up and made their views known.

      But despite the cultural barriers, the ideological pressures and even the hate mail that they receive, there are a growing number of Arabs and Muslims speaking out against the anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism so prevalent throughout the Islamic world.

      In today’s Jerusalem Post, I wrote a news article about one such figure: Nonie Darwish, who grew up in Gaza learning to hate Jews, but who now speaks out across the United States against Islamic fundamentalism and in favor of support for Israel. She has even launched a website which is well worth visiting and publicizing.

      Another brave soul speaking out is Walid Shoebat, a former Palestinian terrorist who is now a ‘Christian Zionist’. Shoebat has addressed numerous Jewish and Christian organizations, and has spoken out against the establishment of a Palestinian state. "The occupation is not Israel occupying the land which supposedly belongs to the Arabs," he says. "The true occupation is of the minds of Palestinians, of teaching them hatred for Jews. That is the real occupation." Mr. Shoebat also has a website that is both eye-opening and intriguing.

      Of course, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the level of hate for Jews and their state throughout the Muslim world is in any way diminishing, and this is something we must stand on guard against with all of our might.

      Cracks_in_the_wall_1 Nonetheless, it is refreshing, and even encouraging to see that even the formerly impenetrable wall of Arab hostility towards Israel is at last beginning to develop some fissures and cracks from within.

      Tishrei 17, 5765, 10/2/2004

      Dirty Dancing with Labor

      With the dismissal yesterday of the ministers in his government from the Shinui party, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon now finds himself running out of options.

      His coalition government now formally consists of just one party – the Likud – which has 40 out of the 120 seats in parliament. If he is to avoid new elections, Sharon must move quickly to build a coalition – but his options are extremely limited, to say the least.

      Basically, he must try to win back Labor, whose 21 members would give him a numerical majority in the Knesset, but a lot of headaches as well. The Likud Central Committee is already on record – having voted several months ago on the subject – as being against a unity government with the party headed by Shimon Peres. Sharon’s only chance of forming such a union lies in enticing two Haredi parties – United Torah Judaism (UTJ; has 5 seats in the current Knesset) and Shas (10 seats) – to join him. That, it is believed, would make it easier for Likudniks to “swallow” another round of dirty dancing with Labor.

      But even such a scenario won’t prove so simple – both UTJ and Shas have already voted against Sharon’s withdrawal plan from Gaza. Hence, the true irony here is as follows: Sharon must convince the Likudniks, most of whom oppose the Gaza retreat, to allow him to bring in Labor so that he can move forward with the very withdrawal they are against.

      And, simultaneously, Sharon must persuade Labor to embrace the Haredi parties, who have opposed withdrawal, in order so that he can carry it out.

      From a political perspective – the task facing Sharon is immense, as well as intriguing. But that is beside the point.


      Those of us who voted Sharon into office did so precisely because we did not want Labor to be in power. If Sharon moves forward with a unity government, it will be in defiance of the mandate he received from the people. And that is hardly a good example of how democracy is truly supposed to work.