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The group was responsible for exposing an email exchange in which Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was coached on how to conduct himself in a US interview
Near the end of the nineteenth century, Theodor Herzl, the Viennese journalist who would wrestle with the plight of Jews amid the enticements and dangers of modernity, felt trapped. For his son’s sake he considered conversion to Christianity; to solve the vexing “Jewish Question” he even fantasized the mass conversion of Jews.
In the past I have written about global anarchy and its strategic implications for Israel. Today, I want to assess something far more specific and ominous: global chaotic disintegration. Such an unraveling is already an evident fact of life in several different parts of the world. Moreover, substantial and sudden extensions of this perilous condition to other far-flung parts of our planet are both plausible and probable.
Even as political commentators speculate that the power of the Obama presidency has been severely curtailed as a result of the Republican victories in the House along with increased GOP representation in the Senate, the Obama/State Department juggernaut continues to grind away at Israel's security and sovereignty.
A portrait of Ze'ev Jabotinsky may still adorn Likud conventions in Israel, but the ideas of this great Zionist leader - who passed away 70 years ago this week - are essentially forgotten and/or ignored.
By every tangible military and economic standard, Israel is more powerful than its Palestinian foes. Nonetheless, from time to time, there are stark and compelling reminders in world politics that the powerful can sometimes be weak, and that the weak can sometimes be powerful. For example, despite its evident superiority in arms, Israel is periodically at the mercy of Palestinian rockets fired into civilian areas from Gaza.
I am interrupting the sequence of my articles regarding questions posed by widows and widowers. B'Ezrat Hashem, I will continue that discussion in future columns. But for now, I feel compelled to address the tragic events that have once again unfolded in Eretz Yisrael. I would also like to remind our readers to daven and say Tehillim for the valorous wounded Israeli soldiers who were so savagely attacked. I make a special point of this because shockingly, I have discovered how few of us stop to consider the pain of our brethren.
William Butler Yeats, the great Irish poet, wrote prophetically of a time in which "the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned." Here he revealed what still seems to elude historians, diplomats and scholars: In the not-too-distant future, there will come a moment in which there will be no safety in treaties or in armaments, no help from "civilization," no counsel from public authority, and no rescue from science.
Reading through one of our local Jewish newspapers, I was delighted to see a full-page advertisement publicizing a celebration for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. The 62nd anniversary of the resurgence of the Jewish State is certainly worthy of a party. In fact, after 2,000 years of bloodstained exile, it is an incredible, modern-day wonder.
Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt was certainly not thinking about Israel's national security when he wrote these words in A Dangerous Game, but his argument still fits perfectly in understanding the Jewish State's prospects for survival. Indeed, and not without considerable irony, unless Israel soon begins to fashion its essential strategic doctrine with a view to including various absurdities, it will never be able to find real safety in the Middle East. There, in what is arguably one of the world's very worst "neighborhoods," unreason often reins triumphant, and chaos is never far away.
The list of PA violations of Oslo goes on and on. There is the incontestable failure to prevent incitement (codified at Annex 1, Art. II, 35); harassment of suspected former collaborators (codified at Art. XVI); failure to provide information on Israeli MIAs (codified at Art. XXVIII of the Interim Agreement and at Art. XIX of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement); the failure to change the PLO Covenant (codified at Art. XXXII), a failure that means that the PA (let alone Hamas) has still not renounced its intent to annihilate the Jewish State; the abuse of human rights and the rule of law (codified at Art. XIX); the failure to control PApolice activity in eastern Jerusalem (codified at Annex I of both agreements - the Gaza-Jericho Accord and the Interim Agreement - which carefully delineate the areas in which the Palestinian security forces may operate).
The core of Israel's active defense plan remains the phased Arrow anti-ballistic missile program. Designed to intercept medium and short-range ballistic missiles, the various operationalized forms of Arrow (Hetz in Hebrew) are expected todeal especially with Iran's surface-to-surface missile threat. Basically a high stratospheric system, Arrow is also capable of low-altitude and multi-tactical ballistic missile interceptions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already indicated approval of a Palestinian state, subject, however, to some codified and verifiable forms of "demilitarization." Leaving aside the inherent infeasibility of this declared contingency -no Palestinian leader will ever accept a condition of fundamentally abridged sovereignty - there is also an overriding and antecedent policy question: Can any form of diplomacy with the Palestinians, Fatah and/or Hamas, prove reasonable and productive? Although, on the surface, such a stark and cynical question may appear distinctly odd or foolish or even needlessly bellicose, there may in fact be no clear benefits for Israel to proceed diplomatically.
Under long-standing international law, every state has a primary obligation to protect its citizens. Yet, it appears that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may soon be prepared to exchange Palestinian terrorists for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Any such exchange, however humane to Shalit and his family, would imperil thousands of other Israelis.
As we asked last week, why then must Israel remain a nuclear power? We continue with the detailed and complete answer that Prime Minister Netanyahu should prepare to transmit to President Obama.
In 1882, Leo Pinsker, a Jewish physician of Odessa, horrified by the pogroms of 1881, concluded (quite reasonably, to be sure) that anti-Semitism is an incurable psychosis. The remedy, he then adduced, must be for all Jews to accept the imperatives of self-help and self-liberation. Later, Theodore Herzl, having witnessed the spectacle of Alfred Dreyfus in France, wrote The Jewish State.
How desperately I would like to be more "positive" in these columns. Like my ever-faithful readers here at The Jewish Press, I would dearly welcome an opportunity - any opportunity - to discover some real evidence of genuine progress toward peace in the Middle East. But, as always, we Jews are especially obligated to look squarely at things the way they are. Recalling our history as a people, we simply should not expect that our most optimistic inclinations will somehow be wished into truth.
Until now, the strategic issue of Israel's nuclear ambiguity - the so-called "bomb in the basement" - has been kept squarely on the back burner. Today, however, time is quickly running out for the Jewish State, and Israel's new/old prime minister absolutely must reconsider this burning issue. From the standpoint of urgency, of course, the immediate problem is Iran.
Credo quia absurdum. "I believe because it is absurd." How, then, shall we Jews survive in such a distorted and meshugana world, both as individuals, and as the always-fragile Jewish State? In our collective form, shall we truly "Seek peace, and pursue it," when our enemies' brand of "sanity" lies relentlessly in genocide and war? Or should we just reluctantly resign ourselves to ceaseless conflict as the unavoidable expression of sanity in an undeniably insane world?