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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.
      Tevet 16, 5768, 12/25/2007

      Defending Israel on the cheap



      the annual budget that Olmert has put forward for 2008 does not include even the minimal amount of funds necessary to protect the people of Israel
      Well, here's a cheerful bit of news to brighten up your day.

      Despite its monumental failure to adequately prepare for, and then conduct, the 2006 Lebanon War, it seems as if the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has now failed to take adequate steps to prepare for the next war either.

      As Labor Party Knesset Member, and former Deputy Defense Minister, Ephraim Sneh pointed out today, the annual budget that Olmert has put forward for 2008 does not include even the minimal amount of funds necessary to protect the people of Israel.

      According to Sneh, the 2008 budget includes no funding to distribute gas masks to the public in case of war, and provides the Home Front Command with a measly one-quarter of the amount it says is necessary to protect Israelis from Palestinian Qassam rocket attacks in the Negev. "The most elementary thing that they need, they're not receiving," he said. 

      Even more worrisome is that the defense budget reportedly does not include sufficient resources to address the threat posed by Iran and its atomic ambitions. "The most imminent threat to the state of Israel is the threat of a nuclear Iran. This threat is growing, yet we do not have the budget to appropriately deal with it," said Sneh.

      Sneh, who is a member of the ruling coalition government, is no back-bencher looking to score political points. His criticism is timely and frightening, and underlines once again just how dangerously incompetent the present government is.

      Instead of investing the resources necessary to safeguard the Jewish state, the premier seems to prefer to do things on the cheap. But when it comes to protecting the lives of Israel and its citizens, a higher standard is called for.