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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 26, 5766, 6/22/2006

      The Baker Report: What a Waste of Paper!!

      Today, the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group in the US released its much-anticipated report, which was met by a virtual blizzard of media coverage and interest.

      But after glancing at the text and looking over some of its recommendations, it's hard to see what all the fuss is about.

      While it may have been prepared by diplomatic heavyweights such as former US Secretary of State James Baker, this report has got to be one of the least creative and least imaginative set of policy recommendations to have been produced in Washington in a long, long time.

      Indeed, rarely have so many spent so much time producing so little of value.

      Take, for example, the section on "The Wider Regional Context". In short order, Mr. Baker and his colleagues recommend that Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights and agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

      I read this part of the report and just could not help but wonder: what the heck does any of this have to do with the sectarian strife in Iraq?

      Does Mr. Baker really believe there is a connection between Shiites and Sunnis killing each other in the streets of Baghdad, and Israel holding on to the Golan?

      Does he honestly think that what goes on in Gaza or in Ramallah is what is driving the former Baathists and Saddam loyalists, and Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, to kidnap and murder Iraqi government employees?

      The logic of the report is so transparently silly, and so intellectually vacuous, that it is nothing short of amazing that anyone could take it seriously.

      Here's my prediction: the Baker report will create some waves, but it will shortly end up being tossed into the "circular file" that is cleared out at the end of each day by the janitorial staff – which is about where it belongs.