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      From the Hills of Efraim
      by Yisrael Medad
      This blog will be informative, highlight foibles, will be assertively contentious and funny and wryly satirical.
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      Yisrael Medad is a revenant resident of Shiloh, in the Hills of Efrayim north of Jerusalem.  He arrived in Israel with his wife, Batya, in 1970 and lived in the renewing Jewish Quarter, eventually moving to Shiloh in 1981. 

      Currently the Menachem Begin Center's Information Resource Director, he has previously been director of Israel's Media Watch, a Knesset aide to three Members of Knesset and a lecturer in Zionist History.  He assists the Yesha Council in it's contacts with the Foreign Media in a volunteer capacity, is active on behalf of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount and is involved in various Jewish and Zionist activist causes.  He contributes a Hebrew-language media column to Besheva and publishes op-eds in the Jerusalem Post and other periodicals.

      He also blogs at MyRightWord in English and, in Hebrew, at The Right Word.

      Shevat 21, 5769, 2/15/2009

      The Revising of History


      First of all, I apologize to my readers.  I have had technical problems with my blog - all my own fault, I hope.

      And now, on to my subject.

      Camp David 1978 is back in the news.  With a new administration, everyone and his mother's uncle are advising President B. H. Obama what to do regarding Israel and especially, those "obstacles to peace", the Jewish communities located in areas of the Jewish national home that was to be reconstituted by international law and where revenant Jews reside legally.

      One historian, Arthur Herman, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the subject of Camp David and attacks Jimmy Carter.  Here's a portion of what he wrote:

      Yet for all their bluster and intransigence in public, Begin and Sadat were more than ready for a deal once they understood that the U.S. would do whatever was necessary to stop the Soviet Union and its Arab allies, such as the PLO, from derailing a peace. An agreement was hammered out for an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, coupled with vague language about Palestinian "autonomy." The item Mr. Carter had really wanted on the agenda -- a Palestinian state -- was kept at arm's length.

      Camp David worked because it avoided all of Mr. Carter's usual foreign policy mistakes, particularly his insistence on a comprehensive solution. Instead, Sadat and Begin pursued limited goals...

      Above all and most significantly, Camp David sought peace instead of "justice." Liberals say there can be no peace without justice. But to many justice means the end of Israel or the creation of a separate Palestinian state. Sadat and Begin, in the teeth of Mr.Carter's own instincts both then and now, established at Camp David a sounder principle for negotiating peace. The chaos and violence in today's Gaza proves just how fatal trying to advance other formulations can be.


      This is fine reading of what happened.  But then he goes a bit further than the facts would support:

      The true story of Camp David is one of two ironies...The second irony is that if any one man deserves credit for Camp David, it is not Jimmy Carter but Anwar Sadat. It was Sadat who managed to save Mr. Carter from himself and revealed the true secret about forging peace in the Middle East: The Palestinian issue is the doom, not the starting point, for lasting stability in the region.

      And earlier in the article, Herman implies that Sadat, seeking peace, supposedly, after 1973, sought allies with Nixon and Kissinger. That, I would suggest is revisionism.  Sadat?  All by himself? 

      Should we not be asking what happened between 1973 and 1977?  Why was there not peace?  Could it have been that it was only with Menachem Begin coming upon the scene as Israel's Prime Minister in 1977, that the peace agreement became a possibility?  Perhaps it was Sadat's fault there was no peace? Or, could it be that it was really Menachem Begin that deserves the major credit for the success of Camp David, to the extent it was a success?

      That peace agreement was achieved by Israel surrendering physical things and Egypt awarding intangibles, easily withdrawn.  Who gave up the Sinai despite the 1967 Egyptian aggression? Who gave up the oil fields developed by Israel?  What did Sadat yield? Who agreed to an autonomy plan for the Arabs of the Land of Israel? Who only permitted a cold peace to develop?

      Whether one agreed with that peace agreement, and I didn't, or not, history should not be permitted to be toyed with and rewritten.

      To his credit, Begin managed to keep the Jerusalem issue out of the main body of the agreement, relegating it to an "exchange of letters" on "positions".  Sadat, unlike what Herman writes, at least on this issue actually did pursue a "justice" path and, in doing so, almost sabotaged Camp David.  Sadat sought to pursue an "Islamic comprehensive peace" but, it seems, Herman doesn't know his own material.

      Another item on this subject is provided to us by Gershom Gorenberg, an almost rabid opponent of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.  He has reviewed, naturally for the New York Times, Jimmy Carter's newly published book, We Can Have Peace In The Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work.

      Here's my comment on what he wrote:

      A beginning student of the Middle East should not learn diplomatic history from this text. In Carter’s telling, the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat went to Jerusalem at his prodding. More objective accounts portray Sadat as making an end run around Carter’s stubborn intent to reconvene the Geneva peace conference.

      ...The agreement with Egypt arguably improved Israel’s security as much as any other single event in its history. Yet a portion of American Jewry has never forgiven Carter for his success. This hints at a key lacuna in Carter’s agenda: though he got into the peacemaking business as a politician, he gives too little attention to the need for building political support for a diplomatic initiative — among voters at home as much as among Israelis and ­Palestinians.

      Indirectly, Carter’s title also hints at a second lacuna. Looking for a neutral name for the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, he chooses “Holy Land,” a phrase from Christian tradition. Carter’s perspective is explicitly religious. Though that can irritate secular observers, it has served him well. His faith helped him build personal connections both to Sadat and to the Israeli ­leader Menachem Begin, despite Begin’s intransigence. Yet when he finally presents his outline of a peace agreement here, he makes no new, creative proposal for the future of the holy place claimed by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. Given Carter’s sensitivity to religious issues, this is surprising and disappointing.

      My comments:

      a) "arguably". That's an understatement. True, no war has broken out but there have been terror attacks and most of the Hamas arms are coming in through Egypt, stored there in Sinai and transported to Rafah.  Terror agents and their Beduin supporters are quite active.

      b) "a portion of American Jewry". That's a snide swipe at Jews who support the legitimate right of Jews to live in their homeland, who care for Israel's security and who campaign for US support for those policies as America, unlike Gorenberg it might seem, is democratic. The old "ost-juden"* complaint: it's them you should be angry at, implicate Gorenberg, not me who is grovelling to be accepted by liberal and progressive forces.

      c) "'Holy Land', a phrase from Christian tradition". Of course, the Land of Israel is refered to in Jewish tradition as אדמת הקודש - the Holy Land.  Since the Land of Israel is where the Divine Presence is, which must be treated with several unique mitzvot (מצוות התלויות בארץ), then Eretz-Yisrael became the Holy Land. As the Prophet Zechariah 2:16 wrote ונחל יה-ה את-יהודה חלקו, על אדמת הקודש; ובחר עוד, בירושלים (in English: And the LORD shall inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again) and this verse in Isaiah 14:2, וְהִתְנַחֲלוּם בֵּית-יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל אַדְמַת יְה-ה (and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD). The exact term Eretz-Yisrael is in I Samuel 13:19.

      Yes, there is an element of religion in the term but it is Jewish primarily.

      Of course, if Carter had used "Judea and Samaria" (it does appear in Acts 8:1), Gorenberg would have gone ballistic.

      d) "the Temple Mount".  Gershom, leave the Temple Mount to us.  We know what to do.

      And so, if Obama and Hillary and Mitchell take these two men's advice and opinion into consideration, they will fail.

      But, will they?



      -------------
      * a derogatory term of German Jews for their brethren from Poland and the East who were considered by them to be uncultured for acceptance into modern society and that they cast shame on these German Jews.



      Shevat 11, 5769, 2/5/2009

      Peace Now "Peacefully" Defaces National Union Poster


      Don't you just love the way our lefties, especially Peace Now, portray themselves has the paragon of public virtue and morality?

      Well, I spotted this this morning at Emeq Refaim:

      That's a National Union elections poster covered up by a Peace Now sticker which 'warns' the voters that Israel seems to be "breaking right" and there's a danger of "connecting with racism".  Another sticker had the slogan "we're disconnecting from the world".  Many more Peace Now stickers were around.

      The irony is that the Emeq Refaim neighborhood of Bak'a and German Colony and Old Katamon are mostly former Arab homes that were abandoned in 1948 and now are demographically liberal, trendy lefty and bohemian Jewish, all of whom preach evacuating "conquered territories" that have been "settled" under an "occupation".

      Little do they realize that the joke is on them.



      Shevat 9, 5769, 2/3/2009

      Our Problems With Turkey Started On the Temple Mount


      Many are upset and concerned over the state of relations between Israel and Turkey and that a crisis has started.  But it didn't begin when Erdogan walked off the Davos podium, angry at (of all people) Shimon Peres.

      How short memories people have.

      It started two years ago and it was over the Temple Mount.

      Here, reread this:

      Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has agreed to a Turkish inspection of the construction work at disputed holy site in Jerusalem, the Turkish prime minister said Thursday. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Olmert had shown him photographs of the construction work, but had failed to convince him that it would not harm the holy sites there.

      The Israeli premier agreed to a Turkish suggestion for a technical team from Turkey to inspect the site, Erdogan said. "Israel should respect the holy places rather than increase tensions," Erdogan said Thursday ahead of his meeting with Olmert.

      So, our Prime Minister sought, I guess, to revive the Ottoman Empire.  Who needed an "outsider", and a Muslim one to boot?

      And then, we discovered an attempt, by Turkey, to sneak in Hamas (here):

      The Deputy to the Turkish ambassador to Israel said Friday that no decision had been made about the members of the delegation set to arrive in Israel early next week to examine the construction work at the Mughrabi Gate in Jerusalem. The official was responding to earlier reports that Turkey was considering sending its senior foreign affairs advisor, Ahmet Davutoglu, to lead the delegation.

      ...Army Radio had reported that Davutoglu, was close to the Hamas leadership in Damascus and had initiated the visit of Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Mashaal to Ankara following the movement's election victory in January 2006...the Turkish Embassy official told the Post, "Davutoglu is one of the official advisors to the Turkish prime minister and has always expressed a neutral and constructive attitude towards Israel."

      Well, looking at things this way, this current flare-up was an explosion waiting to happen, and one we ourselves, well, Olmert, at least, set in motion.

      Diplomacy is not for the unimformed, the forgetful, the pooh-poohers.



      Shevat 9, 5769, 2/3/2009

      Bad Journalism


      Sometimes, media bias is hard to spot.  We all know the big examples, like Bob Simon's "60 Minutes" program but it is many times the minor items that keep reinforcing negative images.  This Ynet story, for example, disturbed me

      A Palestinian man was killed Monday morning near the West Bank religious village of Beit Yatir in South Mount Hebron. The Israel Defense Forces said the man was a terrorist attempting to hurt soldiers, while Palestinian residents claimed that he was part of a group attempting to infiltrate Israel to look for work.

      According to the army, an IDF force was fired on from a moving car at around 9 am. The troops fired back at the vehicle and killed the gunman. There were no injuries among the soldiers. A military inquiry into the incident revealed that the gunman had slowed down as he approached the soldiers and then opened fire at them.


      What bothered me?

      No, not the army's "disproportionate" response (just kidding).

      This phrase: "the West Bank religious village of Beit Yatir".

      So, there's something special about a Jewish community being "religious"? Is Tel Aviv always described as "a secular city"?  Does Ynet mean the residents are all "fanatics", because that's what religious people seem to be in the press?

      What's the implication? Why that adjective?

      And, in addition, as it was pointed out to me, actually the second paragraph should have been the lead-off one.  The initial attack, not the response, is the most important element.  That Arab terror, a terror that seriously wounded my neighbor of Shvut Rachel, continues is what should be highlighted.

      Bad journalism.

      Bad for journalism and, of course, bad for Israel.



      Tevet 17, 5769, 1/13/2009

      Some Foolish Wisdom Out of Washington


      The Washington Post published this following article yesterday from the The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's J. D. Crouch II, Montgomery C. Meigs, and Walter B. Slocombe.

      Crouch II is a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy, served as assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor from 2005 to 2007; Meigs (Gen. Ret.) is visiting professor of strategy and military operations in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown and former director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and Slocombe is a 2004 Bush appointee to the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States regarding weapons of mass destruction. They recently co-wrote The Washington Institute publication, Security First: U.S. Priorities in Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking.

      Heavy hitters.

      The article is entitled Security First which, for me anyway, translates as: Israel's security last.

      I've excerpted some highlights, and I've added my comments in italics:

      "When the dust settles in Gaza, the Obama administration will take up the mantle of moving the two sides toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace. American efforts must focus on strengthening the capabilities of the Palestinian party upon whom hope for peace can rest, the Palestinian Authority, [perhaps they are better than Hamas but their performance during the Second Intifada and afterwards was not very reassuring for Israel and even now, seems more tobe concerned not with Israel's and Israelis security but with regime stability in the face of a possible Hamas coup d'etat] and ensuring the stability of the West Bank.

      "Even before the breakdown of the Gaza cease-fire last month, Israelis and Palestinians were exhausted, bitter, and skeptical that a genuine partner for peace existed. The trust that the Oslo process intended to build collapsed with the second intifada, the wave of suicide bombings in Israel, the Israeli military's reoccupation of much of the West Bank and ongoing settlement construction...[note: if the first two elements hadn't occurred, the second two wouldn't happened. Conclusion? Arabs goofed it up, especially as Arafat led and guided and directed the Pal. violence]

      "...Events in Gaza underscore the fact that progress toward peace will not occur without confidence that an agreement will produce lasting security...American efforts can forge a basis for security between Israelis and Palestinians by developing a professional Palestinian security system that would help inhibit Hamas in the West Bank and eventually allow the PA to reestablish its authority in Gaza.

      "The United States already has a framework for supporting this process through the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton...fundamental security will emerge only when Palestinian security forces target terrorist cells and networks, not just car thieves and other ordinary criminals. And despite some recent progress, counterterrorism efforts by the Dayton-led units remain extremely limited. [I have made that observation numerous times at my personal blog, here and here]

      "...Dayton's...mission must have a regular budget and an augmented, qualified staff (only 16 Americans are assigned to the USSC, including just two speakers of Arabic). American forces must be given legal permission to directly supervise training and operations of foreign police. Authority for the mission should be transferred from the State Department to the Defense Department...as they currently must get permission and security protection from the American consulate in Jerusalem when traveling in the West Bank. [this is quite a silly situation which also indicates how very limited the mission is and how weak the Pal. security capability is]

      "...There may be a role for international forces to monitor an eventual peace agreement, or even a possible border arrangement in Gaza as part of a cease-fire, but it would be impractical to make the international community responsible for delivering Israeli-Palestinian security before peace is achieved. For one thing, the Israelis would be unwilling to outsource their security to other nations, and Palestinians would be reluctant to accept what would amount to another, at least temporary, foreign occupation.

      "In addition, NATO members and other potential participants in such a force would struggle to provide qualified combat, intelligence and civil affairs specialists for the mission. Many NATO militaries have never performed counterterrorism operations and have eschewed doing so in Afghanistan. [that is an understatement]

      "...Empowering Palestinians to assume security responsibility and continued measures to enhance the Palestinians' ability to keep their side of an agreement should be America's principal contribution to the peace process in the coming months. [but, perhaps, a mechanism should be in place that will actually punish the Pals. if they don't accomplish anything in the way of security?]

      If you have reached here, you will understand that it is Israel's fate, it seems, that the 'wise people' come along and make suggestions that usually are disconnected from the previous events and processess and failures that led to the breakdown of be it 'peace' or 'security'.  And they attempt to jump start a 'new' initiative but if, without taking into consideration that an agreed-upon mechanism must be in place, that initiative is one that does not lay out steps for punishment such as rolling back the diplomatic route or more, then that too is doomed to failure.

      But failure means a weakening of Israel's standing and more importantly, its security.

      And on security Israel cannot yield or surrender.  Nor can we be foolish about it.

      Without that, Israel's security will always come last.



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