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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.
      Nisan 2, 5769, 3/27/2009

      A Not-So-Happy Anniversary

      Egypt has long tried to keep Israel at arms length, treating the Jewish state coldly and never truly embracing the idea of a warm and friendly peace
      Israel this week celebrated 30 years since the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, holding a series of diplomatic receptions, public exhibitions and museum events to mark the occasion.

      And just how did Egypt choose to commemorate the forging of peace with the Jewish state?

      Well, they didn't.

      As the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday, "In Egypt, on the other hand, not much fireworks or fanfare is planned. There is "nothing official that I know of" going on in Cairo to commemorate the March 26 anniversary, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. He said he did not know why."

      Well, I'll be glad to tell you why: Egypt has long tried to keep Israel at arms length, treating the Jewish state coldly and never truly embracing the idea of a warm and friendly peace.

      Whether it is undermining Israel at various international bodies, or allowing Hamas to smuggle weapons freely from Sinai into Gaza, the Egyptian regime of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak has never missed a chance for diplomatic or security mischief-making.

      Nonetheless, that didn't seem to stop US President Barack Obama this week from citing the Israel-Egypt peace treaty as a source of inspiration in his efforts to advance a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      What an unfortunate remark to make!! Instead of pressing the Egyptians (who receive $2 billion in foreign aid annually from the American taxpayer) to forge a true and lasting peace, and to play a positive and constructive role in the region, Obama has essentially let them off the hook.

      But let Obama say what he wishes. Cairo's failure to mark the anniversary of the peace treaty this week speaks far more loudly and compellingly about the real nature of Egypt's intentions.


      Adar 26, 5769, 3/22/2009

      Iran Disses Obama

      US President Barack Obama may have made an unprecedented video appeal to Iran on Friday in an effort to improve relations, but the Ayatollahs wasted little time in rejecting it out of hand.

      Speaking less than 24 hours after Obama's extraordinary plea for "constructive ties", Tehran's so-called Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dismissed the move as little more than just "a slogan".

      Here is how the Times of London reported it: "A familiar chant of “Death to America” echoed around a religious shrine in the northeastern city of Mashhad as Khamenei complained that Obama had “insulted the Islamic republic of Iran from the first day”. He added: “If you are right that change has come, where is that change? Make it clear for us what has changed.”

      Khamenei continued with the usual harangue about US sanctions against Iran and its support for "the Zionist regime", in effect dissing the President and his attempt to lay the groundwork for dialogue between the two countries.

      But by all accounts, Obama and his aides remain undeterred. As the Times noted, "President Barack Obama intends to press ahead with efforts to open a dialogue with Iran", despite the "apparent setback" of Khamenei's remarks.

      Translation: Washington intends to waste still more time and effort trying to talk to the Ayatollahs, even as the latter move ever more closer to obtaining nuclear weapons capability. And so, while the countdown proceeds towards a nuclear Iran, Obama insists on continuing to play the fiddle. Let's just hope that the West doesn't end up burning as a result.

      Adar 12, 5769, 3/8/2009

      Obama vs. Judea and Samaria

      Barack Obama has been in office for just over 6 weeks, but he has already declared a quiet war against the heartland of the Jewish people.

      A report in Ha'aretz reveals that "Israel is under increased pressure from the United States over settlement construction. In the past month, since Barack Obama was sworn in as U.S. president, Israel has received four official complaints from members of the new administration regarding various issues linked to West Bank settlements".

      The "complaints" relate to the demolition of illegal Palestinian homes in eastern Jerusalem and various Israeli construction plans in Judea and Samaria.

      So even though Iran is speeding towards construction of a nuclear weapon, North Korea is threatening to test-fire a long-range missile, and Pakistan is engulfed by political turmoil and increasing Islamist terror, Mr. Obama is focusing his sights on pressuring Israel.

      It is simply outrageous that the US seeks to interfere in internal Israeli affairs, such as whether illegally-constructed homes should be demolished. Nowhere else in the world would such interference be tolerated - and Israel should pay it no heed.

      Judea and Samaria are the cradle of Jewish civilization, the place where our ancestors once walked thousands of years before the advent of Islam or the establishment of the PLO.

      What a shame that instead of seeking to bolster the Jewish return to Zion, Mr. Obama prefers to try and stand in its way.




      Shevat 26, 5769, 2/20/2009

      A Frightening Headline

      Iran may now be just months away from having the bomb - not years, as some had hoped
      If you read one article this week, make sure it is this:

      "Iran holds enough uranium for bomb" says today's Financial Times of London, basing itself on a new report issued Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

      The IAEA found that Iran now has one ton of low-enriched uranium at its Natanz nuclear facility. Should that material undergo further enrichment, it would produce more than 20kg of fissile material, which is sufficent for a nuclear weapon.

      In other words, Iran may now be just months away from having the bomb - not years, as some had hoped.

      Indeed, the IAEA, which is an arm of the UN, acknowledged that its previous assessments had "underestimated" the quantity of nuclear materials in Iran's possession.

      This means there is even less time remaining to stop the Ayatollahs from crossing the nuclear threshold.

      Nonetheless, the Obama administration does not seem to be in any particular hurry to stop them.

      We must sound the alarm about this threat, and urge our leaders in Israel and the West to take action - and soon - to prevent the would-be Hitler of Persia from obtaining nuclear weapons. For once Iran does cross that threshold, there will be no turning back. And we absolutely can not allow that to happen.



      Shevat 21, 5769, 2/15/2009

      Here Comes American Pressure....

      A new Israeli government has not yet even been formed, but that isn't stopping the Obama administration from turning up the heat on the incoming coalition.

      An article in today's Ha'aretz reports that "the U.S. administration is preparing to put heavy pressure on the new government to freeze all settlement construction and keep its promises to lift roadblocks".

      Washington, it says, "will demand that Israel avoid creating new facts on the ground that may burden achieving an agreement in the future."

      If true, this is shameful intereference in Israel's internal affairs and a defiance of the will of Israel's democracy. The electorate of the Jewish state delivered a loud and resounding "no" to the outgoing Kadima government's proposed concessions to the Palestinians and voted overwhelmingly in favor of a nationalist and religious majority in the Knesset.

      By what right, then, does Mr. Obama seek to veto this change in policy? This is nothing less than diplomatic arrogance and it can not be allowed to stand.

      Israel's next government should make it abundantly clear from the outset to Mr. Obama and his secretary of state, Hillay Clinton, that the rules of the game have changed, and there will be no more dictates to Jerusalem regarding our national and security interests.

      If Obama is serious about his pledge to conduct a less "arrogrant" foreign policy, a good place for him to start would be by not interfering in the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland.