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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘disengagement’

Wearing Orange? Don’t Visit Sharon Lying in State

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Guards at the Knesset made sure that no one wearing anything with the color orange in it was allowed onto the Knesset grounds for Sharon’s lying in state.

Orange was the color of the protest against Sharon’s Disengagement plan from Gush Katif.

Guards checked visitors carefully for orange bracelets, shirts, banners, and other orange colored clothing or paraphernalia.

One person, inadvertently wearing an orange shirt unrelated to the Gush Katif protest, was turned away from the Knesset grounds and not allowed to pay his respects to the former Prime Minister.

Weather Forecast: Chance of Rockets Raining on Sharon’s Funeral

Monday, January 13th, 2014

The Israel Air Force (IAF) and General Security Services (Shabak) are on high state of alert ahead of former Prime Minister Sharon’s funeral, according to a report in Maariv.

Ariel Sharon is to be buried Monday in his Negev “Sycamore Ranch” (“Havat Shikmim”), which is within range of Gaza’s rockets.

There is concern within the security forces that the Gazans might decide to shoot rockets at the funeral, and so, have launched “Operation Kalaniot” to try to prevent any rockets from being launched and hitting the ranch during the funeral.

An Iron Dome anti-rocket system will also be deployed to protect the funeral.

In 2007, a rocket from Gaza hit and exploded on the ranch.

After Sharon pulled Israel out of the Gaza Strip, Gaza became a terror base that has put millions of Israelis within rocket range of Gaza’s terrorists, and semi-regularly requires that residents of Israel’s south go into bomb shelters and reinforced sewer pipes so as to not get injured or killed from falling rockets.

Israel’s security has significantly diminished since the 2005 expulsion of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and Gaza.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make even deeper expulsions and pullouts from additional Israeli territories.

Political Expediency…or Adjusting to Reality?

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

As Israelis settle in under a new government led once again by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they might do well to ask themselves this question: Other than having served as Israeli prime ministers after beginning their political careers as mainstays of the political right, what do Menachem Begin, Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have in common?

It is safe to say that none of them, before attaining power, would have supported the policies each pursued while in office. Before their premierships all four held clearly hawkish diplomatic, national security and territorial views; once elected, however, their tilt to the center and even to the center-left on these same issues was just as clear.

Labor prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak often matched their pre-prime ministerial rhetoric with their performances in office. The “principled” hawks were expected to do likewise – namely to practice what they had preached.

But did they?

Let’s examine some of their words before assuming office and their actions after they attained it.

Begin’s words: “The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized…. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever” (November 30, 1947, the day after the UN vote for the partition of Palestine.)

Begin’s actions: Responding to Anwar Sadat and Jimmy Carter’s insistence that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict include a Palestinian right to self-governance, Begin agreed to Palestinian “self-rule” or “autonomy” in Judea and Samaria. This arguably meant that Begin compromised on his view that “Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.”

Netanyahu’s words: “This [the 2008 Israel-Hamas cease-fire] is not a relaxation, it’s an Israeli agreement to the rearming of Hamas. What are we getting for this?” (Netanyahu at the time was opposition leader.)

Netanyahu’s actions: If history is any guide, Netanyahu must surely know that the aftermath of the recent cessation of fighting between Hamas and Israel – a halt that he, as prime minister, approved – will likely resemble the 2008 truce he opposed: a lull until the next round of fighting initiated by a rearmed Hamas.

By acting so inconsistently on the same terrorist threat just four years apart, Netanyahu, it appears, put personal political needs ahead of the national interest in 2008 and again now – both, ironically, just prior to Knesset elections. In 2008 it behooved him to sound hawkish; in 2012 it suited him to be more flexible.

Shouldn’t a noted terrorism expert know better?

Sharon’s words: “Everybody has to…grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours” (Sharon, foreign minister at the time, was addressing a meeting of the Tzomet Party on November 15, 1998).

Sharon’s actions: Sharon went from being one of Israel’s most vocal advocates of expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank and a champion of its presence in Gaza during prior ministerial positions to, as prime minister, unilaterally withdrawing fully from Gaza and from four settlements in the northern West Bank (without the benefit of any peace overtures from the Palestinians).

His clear about-face gave the Palestinians the chance to elect Hamas – sworn to Israel’s destruction – to power in Gaza, enabling it to regularly batter southern Israel with deadly rockets. Sharon’s prowess on the battlefield is, to many, overshadowed by what is perhaps the most blatant political, military and security flip-flop in Israel’s history.

Olmert’s words: “The formula for the parameters of a unilateral solution are: to maximize the number of Jews; to minimize the number of Palestinians; not to withdraw to the 1967 border; and not to divide Jerusalem” (Olmert was serving double duty as minister of Industry, Trade and Labor and minister of Communications when he spoke to David Landau of Haaretz on November 13, 2003).

Olmert’s actions: Only four years after expressing those decidedly hard-line sentiments, Prime Minister Olmert made this generous offer to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the U.S.-hosted Annapolis Conference in Maryland: Israeli relinquishment of parts of East Jerusalem, with Jerusalem’s Old City – and its religious sites – administered by an international group.

So much for Olmert’s 2003 pledge – before he became Israel’s prime minister – to “not…withdraw to the 1967 border and not to divide Jerusalem.”

* * *

Should Israelis understand and accept the political reality that politicians often must retreat from pronouncements made during their days in the loyal opposition in order to govern responsibly once they’ve attained power? Or should those politicians be called out for their patronizing pre-power rhetoric?

Do Israelis believe it’s OK for political aspirants to say whatever they feel is necessary to gain power? Or should practicing what one preaches always be the political rule?

Understanding Israel’s National-Security Policy

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Most of my Jewish Press columns deal with Israel’s most urgent national security problems, especially those that have, or have had, a real or prospective nuclear component. What I have never dealt with on these pages, however, are the important and corollary issues of how Israel actually makes its national security policy.

Now, auspiciously, Charles D. Freilich, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard and a professor at Tel Aviv University, has written Zion’s Dilemmas: How Israel Makes National Security Policy (Cornell University Press), an authoritative and authentically magisterial answer to this vital question. There is much here for the reader to learn.

Let me start with the author’s conclusion, because, paradoxically, it represents an ideal place for me to begin. “The Lord is my shepherd,” quotes Freilich from the Book of Psalms, “and fortunate this is, for the decision-making process in Israel is deeply flawed.” Following 256 pages of meticulous and systematic investigation – an investigation that proceeds with all of the best architecture of modern social science, including appropriately careful delineations of “‘independent” and “dependent” variables – Freilich is intent to call all things by their correct names.

This is no narrowly partisan exegesis. This is no attempt to present a uniformly positive or contrived picture of Israel’s national security establishment. To the contrary, the author offers an entirely honest and open consideration that is often conspicuously less than visceral praise. To be sure, there is also a good deal of praise in Freilich’s book for the Israeli DMP, or decision-making process, but it is correctly based on a dispassionate and detached assessment.

What we learn is that needed changes in the DMP have simply not kept up with the growing complexities and synergies of Israel’s always-hostile external environment:

“Nearly sixty-five years after independence, the same basic political processes, which so successfully gave rise to the nation in its formative years, are still largely intact.”

Especially troubling to the author, the reader will discover, is that Israel’s DMP is more “chaotic” and “politicized” than in other countries, not by any means an intrinsically fatal disadvantage, but one, nonetheless, that has still managed to generate injurious “pathologies.”

Worth noting, at this point, is that Freilich has served as a senior analyst in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and also as Israel’s deputy national security adviser. His assessments, therefore, are not simply an expression of outstanding academic scholarship, but the well-reasoned product of a distinguished and astute observer, one who has already had an important seat at the government table.

As a political scientist, I can admire the graceful way the author moves effortlessly between fashioning general theory and tendering elucidations of pertinent history. Combining the perceptual strengths of Isaiah Berlin’s “hedgehog” and “fox,” Freilich helps us see both one big decisional canvas and also many smaller, constituent elements.

Shaping a consciously nuanced model of national security decision-making in Israel, he applies it to assorted and carefully selected events of the past thirty years, ranging from Camp David I to the “disengagement” from Gaza in 2005 to the Second Lebanon War one year later.

The result is plainly disconcerting, as these seven cases reveal many critically lost opportunities, flagrantly unpardonable decisional errors, and an always highly politicized decisional context. While Freilich underscores the liabilities of Israel’s too-informal planning process, he also notes that this flawed process has allowed a relatively high degree of latitude or flexible response, as well as a gainfully self-serving sensitivity to pragmatic solutions.

Particularly helpful to the serious reader is the author’s continuous emphasis on “existential decision-making” as a critical component of Israel’s national security environment. Undoubtedly, this particular component is indispensable to understanding what drives the country’s DMP at its very core. In this connection, however, I would have liked to see greater attention paid to important details of Menachem Begin’s decision to attack Iraq’s nuclear reactor on June 7, 1981.

Of course, each reader will choose to assess the author’s selection of case studies differently according to his or her own personal hierarchy of concerns. But the connections between Operation Opera and the current threat of a nuclear Iran are unambiguously of the very highest urgency. Jurisprudentially, the attack on the Iraqi reactor was treated by Israel as a permissible expression of “anticipatory self-defense.” One may surmise that any future Israeli preemption against Iranian nuclear assets and infrastructures would have to be cast in very similar legal terms.

Barak to AIPAC: Get Ready for Another ‘Disengagement’

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Israel should consider unilateral steps to separate itself from the Palestinian Authority should peace talks fail, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Sunday.

“We should consider unilateral steps in order to place a wedge on this extremely dangerous slippery slope to a bi-national state,” Barak said at AIPAC’s policy conference in Washington.

Such steps would include dismantling settlements beyond the separation barrier and maintaining a military presence in the Jordan Valley, along the West Bank-Jordan border, a move which PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has rejected.

Israel carried out a unilateral “disengagement”  in 2005 by expelling all Jews from their communities in Gaza and removing the IDF from the region.

Barak, who is leaving government, has until now been the chief advocate within the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for advancing talks and making concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

Barak praised Netanyahu for being a “courageous” advocate for peace, noting his settlement building-freeze in 2010, and that the failure of the talks was “mostly” the fault of the Palestinians.

Turning to Iran, Barak brought up the military option to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “All options must be on the table – we expect all those who say it to mean it,” he said.

Gaza Exporting Terrorists to Syria

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

The Gaza Strip has begun exporting terrorists to other countries. If the terrorists are not stopped, they will start showing up in European capitals and probably cities in the United States.

In contrast to claims by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaderships to the effect that the Palestinians are not taking sides in the Syrian conflict, Palestinians are indeed involved in the fighting.

The Palestinians who are heading to Syria have been told their ultimate mission is to liberate Palestine “from the river to the sea.” Once they get rid of Assad, they are told, they will move to their next station — Jordan. From there, their jihad will take them to Israel, where they and their friends in Jabhat al-Nusra, “The Support Front,” hope to create a pan-Islamic state ruled by Sharia laws.

According to Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip, in the past few weeks alone, dozens of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip headed to Syria through Turkey to join various radical organizations engaged in the fighting against the army of Bashar al-Assad.

Many of these Palestinians have fallen in love with Jabhat al-Nusra, a group recently designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and, according to reports in the Arab media, believed to be responsible for some of the massacres against Syrian civilians.

The organization consists of hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslim fundamentalists from several Arab and Islamic countries. Its declared goal is to topple the Assad regime and create an Islamic state.

The Palestinian men who are heading to Syria belong to Salafi and other radical Islamist groups that have been operating in the Gaza Strip over the past few years. Some are also former Hamas members who broke away from the Islamist movement under the pretext that it was too “moderate.”

Abu al-Ayna al-Ansari, the leader of one of the Salafi groups in the Gaza Strip, revealed that in recent weeks at least two Palestinians were killed in the fighting in Syria: Mohamed Kunaita, 32, and Nidal al-Eshi, 23.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, most of them from the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, have been killed in the past few months during the fighting between the rebels and Assad’s army.

The camp has been under daily attacks by the Syrian army ever since terrorists belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamist groups found shelter among the Palestinian residents.

The Gaza Strip is swarming with radical Islamist groups whose goal is to destroy Israel and the U.S. Most of these groups emerged after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and the Hamas takeover of the coastal region two years later.

The Hamas government, which feels threatened by these groups, has failed to stop them from exporting terrorists to neighboring countries. The Egyptian authorities have also been unsuccessful in preventing Palestinian jihadis from entering Sinai, which has become a major base for Muslim terrorists.

The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which was reached after Operations Pillars of Defense three months ago, has left members of various terror groups unemployed.

Now that the jihadis in the Gaza Strip have nothing to do, such as fire rockets at Israel, they have started searching for other places to carry out their terror attacks. They have found no better place than Syria to start sending their men to join some of the radical Islamist organizations fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The U.S. and Western countries would do well to pay serious attention; Syria is not where this trend will stop.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute, under the title, “Palestinians Exporting Terrorists to Syria,” February 27, 2013.

‘Moral Authority,’ Jewish Style

Monday, February 11th, 2013

There’s an interesting article in the Jewish Press by Joe Settler which hinges on the concept of “Moral Authority.”

When a drafter of Israel’s Constitution says there is a problem because too many IDF commanders are religious, we need to worry about what kind of Constitution he is drafting.

“I meant, that as long as there is no solution for the source of the authority in the IDF in general, and specifically, including the integration of women [because listening to women sing, is the biggest problem the army faces], the problems will grow and increase. As the number of religious soldiers and commanders grow, since the authority of their Rabbis is what rules for them, the size of the problem will get larger. More and more officers and soldiers will find themselves indecisive when they face this conflict.” Dr. Arye (Arik) Carmon, head of the Israel Democracy Institute For many years, I’ve been troubled by the fact that even Torah observant (aka Orthodox) Rabbis, especially American Yeshiva University educated ones, such as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, have somehow added non-Jewish concepts/ideologies of Liberalism and Democracy to the 613 mitzvot, Torah commandments.

We Jews have a much more veteran and well documented social and political philosophy/ideology in our Torah and Talmud.  It actually contradicts many modern “moral” philosophies/ideologies, because it’s timeless.

I was especially disturbed in the troubling times leading to the Disengagement expulsions when so-called Torah observant rabbis said that a Knesset vote could over-ride the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and even banish Jews from their homes, communities and businesses.

ישוב הארץ Yishuv Ha’Aretz, the Settling of the Land is a cornerstone of Judaism, and a large portion of the Torah is centered on it.

The Torah is our MORAL AUTHORITY.  Without it, we Jews couldn’t have had survived as a People during the thousands of years of exile from our Holy Land.  Our Land and our Torah are what has kept us a people.

Last night, I was at a shiur by  Inbal Amiton – “Believe and plant: The Redemption of Land as a Reflection of the Redemption of the Nation, According to Yirmiyahu 32”  in Matan.  Amiton said that according to Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah,) first G-d will return us to the Land and then we will do Teshuva, repent.

I see the process of Torah observant Jews growing in the IDF (Israeli Army) as proof that it is happening today.

Israel’s secular and quasi-secular/religious  leaders don’t understand that our true Moral Authority is G-d given.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

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