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July 8, 2015 / 21 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘agreement’

Should Israel bet the farm on U.S. promises?

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Recently, Israel’s security cabinet met for 10 hours to discuss, among other things, Iran. Details of  the meeting were secret, but

It is likely that among the issues discussed were the “red lines” that Israel would like the United States to establish as a way of deterring Iran from moving ahead. While Netanyahu has not publicly declared what he thinks those red lines should be, Uzi Arad, the former head of the National Security Council, said that they could include a declaration that any uranium enrichment beyond 20 percent would be a direct trigger for military action.

Arad, in an Israel Radio interview, said other possible red lines could be the discovery of additional uranium enrichment plants – like the once secret facilities at Natanz and Fordow – or the interference with the work of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

In addition, Arad said that the US has not yet spoken in “categorical terms” making crystal clear its determination to stop the Iranian nuclear march.

An example of this, he said, would be clearer presidential declarations to the effect that the US will not tolerate or allow a nuclear Iran, and will use all means to prevent it.

Other “categorical” expressions of this determination, Arad said, could be congressional authorization now of the use of force if diplomacy fails to convince the Iranians to halt, and a clear statement that the military objective of any US action would not be to “buy time,” but rather to prevent Iran from ever being able to build a nuclear bomb.

There is also this, from an AP report:

After tense exchanges with the Americans, Israeli political and defense officials said Tuesday that the sides are now working closely together in hopes of getting their positions in sync. Clearer American assurances on what pressure it is prepared to use against Iran, including possible military action, would reduce the need for Israel to act alone, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a security matter.

I hope that this does not represent the thinking of Israeli policymakers. It is imperative to deal with reality as it is, not as we would wish it to be. And reality is 1) that only military action or acredible threat thereof will stop Iran from developing deliverable nuclear bombs, and 2) that an Obama administration, or even a Romney administration, is highly unlikely to provide this.

A strategy of stopping Iran by getting the US to promise to enforce red lines is only a promise; and nations — the US is not alone in this — do not keep promises when doing so is not determined to be in their interest.

Here is an example. In 2004, the US was very interested that Israel carry out its proposed withdrawal from the Gaza strip. President Bush wrote a letter to then-PM Ariel Sharon promising that:

In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949…

Israeli officials insisted that there was also an informal agreement that this would be understood as allowing construction in settlements located in areas that Israel intended to keep in any proposed agreement with the Palestinians.

By 2008, even the Bush Administration was backing away:

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, at a news briefing in January [2008], suggested that Bush’s 2004 letter was aimed at helping Sharon win domestic approval for the Gaza withdrawal. “The president obviously still stands by that letter of April of 2004, but you need to look at it, obviously, in the context of which it was issued,” he said.

The Obama Administration finished the job in 2009:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected Israeli assertions that the Bush administration had reached a binding agreement with Israel on Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“We have the negotiating record, that is the official record that was turned over to the Obama administration by the outgoing Bush administration,” Clinton said Friday at a joint press conference with her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu.

“There is no memorialization of any informal or oral agreement” concerning the settlements, she said.

Since coming to office in January, President Barack Obama has repeatedly called on Israel to halt all settlement activity in Palestinian areas, a demand rejected by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israelis say they received commitments from the previous US administration of President George W. Bush permitting some growth in existing settlements.

They say the US position was laid out in a 2004 letter from Bush to then Israeli premier Ariel Sharon.

Clinton rejected that claim, saying any such US stance was informal and “did not become part of the official position of the United States government.”

Is this the kind of promise-keeping that a nation can bet its existence on? I don’t think so.

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Anti-Aircraft Missiles in Sinai?

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/anti-aircraft-missiles-in-sinai.html

Anti-Aircraft Missiles in Sinai?

According to recent news reports, the Egyptians are mad about the recent attack that resulted in the deaths of 16 Egyptians. They are right to be mad. What is interesting is that the world supports their going after the terrorists who planned and implemented the attack. Where Israel would never get a green light to hunt these terrorists down (at best, we would get silence after the fact), Obama’s government and others are all in support of Egypt’s actions, stating it will bring more stability to the new Morsi government.

To accomplish this hunt, the Egyptians need serious military equipment. They have identified 1,600 terrorists and to get them, they have moved in tanks and anti-aircraft missiles into Sinai. This is a violation of the 1979 peace agreement with Israel. One would think that if Egypt was about to violate the agreement, they would, at least, contact Israel and tell them so.

They didn’t, of course.

Israel contacted the US, which contacted Egypt. That’s all well and good but have a simpler question…why does Egypt have to move in anti-aircraft missiles? Have the terrorists demonstrated any indication that they have aircraft? And how many tanks do you need to go against 1,600 terrorists?

I’m all for cleaning out the Sinai of it infestation of terrorists – an infestation that was allowed to happen by successive Egyptian governments. But I do not understand why anti-aircraft missiles and tanks are required. And, if they are for some reason the only method that Egypt knows to use, they should have acknowledged the peace accords and their hope/intention of violating them temporarily to accomplish their task. No such announcement was made in advance.

The Egyptians have never proven themselves to be particularly open or honest in their dealings with Israel. At least four wars have been fought between our countries. Peace is a fragile thing that must be nurtured. It must be built on honest dealings and trust. Moving tanks and anti-aircraft missiles violates not only the agreement, but the trust as well.

Netanyahu’s Poignant Message to Cairo: Get Those Tanks Out of the Sinai

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

After Egypt has dispatched tanks into the northern Sinai area over the past few weeks, as part of its attempt to combat Islamist terror cells in the peninsula, the Prime Minister’s office has decided that this must stop. Using the White House, Netanyahu sent a sharp message to Cairo to withdraw the tanks immediately.

Israel also requested that Egypt refrain from further dispatching military forces to the area without prior coordination, as this is a breach of the peace agreement between the two nations.

American intervention was called upon after the closely aligned military and security coordination between the two countries was recently compromised. The United States has strong influence on Egypt – mainly because of the vast military support that it provides that country every year – upwards of $1.3 billion.

Yesterday, a senior Israeli source confirmed: “Israel is worried about the tanks in northern Sinai. This is an outright breach of the peace agreement.”

One of Israel’s suspicions is that Egypt would not take action to recapture security controls over the Sinai, and that its actions against the terror cells would remain on a limited scope.

Another suspicion is that Egypt would take advantage of the deviations from the peace agreement in order allow the armed forces to remain in the Sinai for an unlimited time, thus altering the agreement de facto.

The Nestling

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Dear Readers:

The following short story is fictional. However, many of you will surely nod your heads in agreement as you recognize people you know – perhaps yourself – in the characters I have described. I hope in future articles, to touch on what I believe are the various psychological factors that contribute to the shidduch crisis.

The Nestling

Mrs. Bredin glanced worriedly at her watch. Her Leahleh had left on a shidduch date at 6:00 p.m. and it was now 9:30 p.m. The hour itself was not what concerned her. After all, Leah was 28, had a thriving dental practice and took her Yiddishkeit to heart. By all standards, 9:30 p.m. was a respectable hour to still be out with a potential mate – and that was the source of Mrs. Bredin’s concern.

Mrs. Bredin felt her blood pressure rising with each passing moment. Surely a girl as smart as her daughter would have found a way to end her date well into the second hour – thereby tactfully terminating what Mrs. Bredin considered a gross mismatch.

Could it be that Leah did not see this boy was not in her league?

Mrs. Bredin shuddered at the folly of youth. It would not be the first time Leahle liked a totally unsuitable boy.

In fact, in the five years her daughter had been dating – Mrs. Bredin had insisted she finish her schooling first – Leah had wanted to continue seeing numerous boys with whom she “clicked,” much to her mother’s despair. While all these young men had been from suitable families, and were thoroughly examined, inspected, scrutinized and investigated – each had what she considered an irreconcilable flaw.

To pass the time while she waited, Mrs. Bredin went over them in her mind: There was Chesky, taakeh a nice boy, a dental school classmate whose parents were from the same town as her late husband. (His untimely death had left her a young widow with an 11-year-old daughter and twin sons of 15. After the shiva, the boys returned to their out of town yeshiva, then married and moved near their wives families. Thank G-d for her Leahle, how empty her life would be without her.)

She turned her thoughts back to Chesky. He would have been a good catch – except he was short. Wearing his hat, he was just a couple inches taller than Leah, who didn’t exactly qualify as a basketball player herself.

Then there was Duvid, the internist. He had real potential, but his family did not eat gebrokts. Why should Leah complicate her life with such a difficult minhag? Pesach might be only a week, but it could feel like a year with that added restriction. And why make it more difficult to eat by her brothers?

And, how could she not insist Leah reject Berel, a brilliant lawyer who also had yadin yadin smicha.

He was tall, but he also had a double chin and a paunch that made Humpty Dumpty seem scrawny. Mrs Bredin would have been embarrassed for such a grobe yingel to be her daughter’s husband even though he was a talmid chacham and worked at a prestigious law firm.

When Leah had come home from her date bubbling with enthusiasm over Berel’s witty and insightful conversation, Mrs. Bredin had cut her short.

“Don’t even think about it, Leah, he is not for you. As soon as you left I called Mrs. Weinstock and let her know how insulted I was that she could even suggest such a boy for you. She had told me he was a bit chubby, but I never imagined he would be so big.”

“Ma,” Leah had exclaimed with exasperation. “He isn’t so heavy, you always exaggerate. He just needs to lose a few pounds. All that studying he did over the years – eating late night snacks to keep up his energy…. If he was married and had home cooked meals waiting for him, I’m sure the weight would come right off. I really enjoyed talking to him. He is such a mentsch.”

But Mrs. Bredin had been firm in her resolve that her daughter get the best – she deserved it. And as much as she wanted Yiddishe nachas, Mrs. Bredin was not willing to “settle” for anything less.

Open Skies

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I spent nearly half an hour in search of an image that would best illustrate the concept of an open sky policy, in a way that expresses the yearning of the average citizen of this planet to go places for a while, if only it didn’t entail getting so deep in debt they won’t see the sky again until next summer. I think this one does the job in a strange and immediately understood way.

Now the story – and remember, I could have just picked up a picture of an airplane either on the tarmac or in the air, or a bunch of planes in all kinds of weird positions – and you would have given it a glance and moved on. This image, on the other hand, is worth watching for a while.

OK, now the story.

The Ministry of Tourism’s initiative from 2006, which has led to thorough discussions lasting a number of years (6), has led Israel and the European Union to initial on Monday morning the Open Skies Agreement.

Israeli Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov, who supported the initiative and was active in promoting it, congratulated the signing of the agreement, saying it is “an essential move that will jumpstart tourism to Israel by hundreds of thousands, and will bring about a decrease in fares for the Israeli consumer as well.”

Misezhnikov pointed out that Israel’s joining the European club will bring new and varied opportunity for new players in the airline industry as well, which will promote competition. Nevertheless, he cautioned, “the state must find a way to ensure support for the Israeli airline companies within the new agreement.”

Open skies is an international policy concept that calls for the liberalization of the rules and regulations of the international aviation industry—especially commercial aviation—in order to create a free-market environment for the airline industry.

Why Abbas Will Never Make Peace With Israel

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

What are the chances that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would ever sign a peace agreement with Israel? The answer: zero.

Abbas, who is in his late 70s, has been in power since 2005 even though his term in office formally ended in January 2009.

If Abbas did not sign a peace agreement with Israel when he was a legitimate president during his earlier four-year term in office, he is most unlikely to strike any deal with Israel now that he does not have a mandate from his people.

If he wished, Abbas could have reached a deal with the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. But Abbas, like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, chose to turn down a generous offer that could have seen Israel relinquish control over most of the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Abbas is not interested in reaching any deal with Israel: he knows that such a move would require him to make concessions. Abbas knows that Israel will never give him 100% of his demands; that is enough for him to refuse to sign any historic agreement.

Like Arafat, Abbas does not want to go down into history as the first Palestinian leader to make concessions, especially on sensitive issues such as refugees and Jerusalem.

In 2000, Arafat rejected Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s generous offer, which included more than 90% of the territories captured by Israel in the Six Day War.

Arafat turned down the offer because he was afraid of being condemned by Arabs and Muslims for having “sold out to the Jews.” Arafat was later quoted as explaining that if he made any concessions to Israel he would “end up drinking coffee with [slain Egyptian President] Anwar Sadat up there.”

So if Arafat, the popular symbol and leader of the Palestinians was unable to make any concessions to Israel, who is Abbas to accept anything less than 100%?

Abbas knows that in a final deal, Israel would not permit millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps to enter the country. He also knows that Israel is planning to retain control over some parts of the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Arafat walked away from the Camp David summit in 2000 because he had been telling his people that anyone who makes concessions to Israel is a traitor.

Similarly, Abbas has also tied his hands by constantly promising the Palestinians that he would never make concessions on the “right of return” and settlements.

Abbas has even gone a step further by mobilizing Palestinian public opinion against Israel to a point where his people are not even ready to see him meeting with Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has been denouncing Israel and many of its leaders, including Mofaz, as war criminals. This is why when, two weeks ago, Palestinians heard that Mofaz was planning to visit Ramallah to meet with Abbas, hundreds took to the streets to protest.

Abbas quickly succumbed, and called off the meeting with Mofaz.

The next time Abbas plans to meet with any Israeli government official, Palestinians will once again take to the streets to protest.

The motives of the protesters are understandable. Why should they approve of such meetings while Abbas himself has been telling them for many years that Israeli leaders are war criminals and do not want peace?

If Abbas is not even able to hold a meeting with a senior representative of the Israeli government, who said that he could ever reach any peace agreement with Israel?

Abbas’s problem is more with his people than with Israel. Not only does Abbas not have a mandate to reach any deal with Israel, he has also lost much of his credibility among Palestinians for his failure to end his dispute with Hamas and to implement major reforms in his ruling Fatah faction

Today, Abbas is not in a position that allows him to sell to most Palestinians any agreement he reaches with Israel. Even if he were to bring home an agreement that includes 100% of his demands, most Palestinians would still receive it with full skepticism because it would be coming from a leader who does not have a mandate to make even the slightest concession.

Getting Serious About Get-Refusal

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

It’s human nature to hide our heads in the sand. That may be because we are mostly optimistic. We believe everything will be all right even when we know we are taking a chance.

On the flip side, it’s emotionally very difficult to admit we have a problem. We are worried about how others will regard us. Moreover, addressing a problem entails gathering strength to go about solving it. It’s so much easier to hide our heads in the sand.

About ten years ago, at a rabbinic convention in Israel, I was introduced to a well-known American Orthodox rabbi as a to’enet rabbanit – rabbinical court advocate. The rav politely asked me what I do. I briefly explained how I work with dayanim in Israeli batei din on cases of Get-refusal they have difficulty resolving. I stressed my focus on prenuptial agreements to prevent the agunah problem from arising in the first place, through the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel.

“Oh, I know all about prenups” the rabbi replied. “My daughter just got married but I didn’t tell her to sign one. We don’t need these things.”

This rav, one of the most effective leaders in the American Orthodox world, did not recognize the very real agunah problem in his community. In fact, I have received cries for help (even though I am in Israel) from women who belong to every manner of Orthodox community in the U.S., from chassidishe and haredi to Modern Orthodox and everything in between.

Truth be told, it is difficult for a rav to admit publicly to a problem of Get-refusal in his community when no one is admitting it in the other communities. It is more comforting to imagine that should an agunah case arise, the community will take care of it. However, individuals who begin to tread the path of a me’agen are becoming more and more resistant to communal pressure or even rabbinic influence.

By recognizing the potential for the problem and arranging the signing of prenuptial agreements for its prevention, communal and rabbinic influence can be restored. The problem needs to be prevented from taking root in each individual case before it is too late.

Nevertheless, the practice is to hope for the best, rationalizing the agunah problem with statistics. “What,” we think, “are the chances of this happening to me or to my daughter?”

And yet our communities have overcome deep-seated reluctance in order to deal with other widespread problems. To cut down on the number of cases of genetic disease afflicting the Orthodox community, for example, practical yet dignified solutions were found. The community needed to find a way to assist individuals on a communal level and so now many Orthodox educational institutions routinely bring professionals into twelfth-grade classes to administer blood tests.

In this manner, the individual understands the implicit stamp of approval by the rabbanim and the fear of “what will others think?” is erased, since all are working toward the prevention of the problem.

Similarly, the leadership of each of the various Orthodox communities can make practical arrangements for prenup education with every educational institution – high school, yeshiva gedolah, seminary or college.

A service should be provided whereby every student, man or woman, who becomes engaged is called in. The school’s rabbi or counselor can present the couple with a halachic prenuptial agreement together with an explanation, and arrange for notarization services in the school’s office. In this manner the community will quickly understand that all are expected to sign a prenuptial agreement. It will become “automatic” – one of the things you have to arrange before you get married.

Even those who marry later, while no longer under the aegis of educational institutions, will remember to sign a prenuptial agreement since it will have become a standard part of the shidduch process.

Twenty-one rabbanim of one of Americas’ Orthodox communities – roshei yeshiva of Yeshiva University – recently signed a (second) kol koreh calling on all rabbis and the Orthodox community to promote the standard use of a halachic prenuptial agreement. They were spurred to do so by the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. There are those who may feel YU or ORA is not their derech, but that does not relieve them of the responsibility to address the agunah problem in their own communities.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/getting-serious-about-get-refusal/2012/07/11/

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