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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘peres’

The President Speaks: Peres Expresses Optimism About the Future, Mideast Peace

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

People flocked to the auditorium for the second plenary of the evening – and with good reason. The line-up was stacked with notable names including President Shimon Peres, Dr. Henry Kissinger and Former Prime Minister of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Tony Blair.

Mr. Philippe Amon, Executive Co-Chairman of SICPA Holding SA was the opening speaker from Switzerland. He was impressed by the diversity and number of people at the conference- more than 4,000 participants from 20 countries and five continents. The session was titled The Compass for Navigating Tomorrow, and aimed to enlighten the audience with messages of peace and optimism.

Kissinger was honored with the Presidential Award of Distinction for his unique contribution to peace in Israel. Peres took the stage to introduce the award and kindly described Kissinger not only as a friend, but a brother. The two have essentially grown up together, as they have known each other since the early 1960s. He called Kissinger an “inspiration to those who see peace between nations and people.”

Kissinger then glided through the bursts of camera flashes to the stage to embrace Peres and pose for photos as he received his medal. He started his acceptance speech by making the crowd laugh. “It is unusual for an 89 year old to say, ‘I wish my parents could be here,’” he said. “They would be more proud of this than any other honors that have come my way.” That’s not something to be taken lightly, as his other honors include winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, being a former Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor. He recently published a book On China, released last year, one that Peres called a “literary masterpiece.”

Kissinger asked, “How does one achieve both justice and equilibrium?” He called Israel an island of stability in a moment of upheaval everywhere else. The recognition of the state is the beginning of peace, not the end. He noted that everyone else knows the sacrifices Israel has and will make for peace, and aimed to fill the audience with hope and to be able to inspire others to have this hope too. “This country was a dream before it became a reality and its reality resided in its vision,” he said.

Tony Blair showed visible excitement as he stepped up to the podium following Kissinger. Smiling, he said how humbled he felt to be seated between Kissinger and Peres. Blair jokingly admitted that he didn’t know much about the world when he became Prime Minister, but he was told that 40 minutes with Henry Kissinger were worth more than four years at Oxford. Blair recounted how he said to Henry, “‘Tell me about the world.’ And he did.

Blair focused the remainder of his speech on the importance of not fearing change, but rather embracing  moving with it. He encouraged people to be open-minded and hopeful about lasting peace. “This is the moment for those that believe in the open-mind to bring that message into the world,” he said, echoing the conference’s theme about looking to the future with optimism.

Peres concluded the evening gala. He addressed the idea of navigating tomorrow, and split the concept into three subsections of moral virtue, pursuing peace, and a love of learning. He sought to imbue his message with Jewish values like loving thy neighbor as yourself, and not rejoicing in the demise of your enemy. He believes in peace, he said, and Israel’s need to be strong in order to achieve it, even if it takes a historic compromise. He mentioned that he had met with President Abbas and was left with the impression that they also need and want peace. The problem with peace lies in Iran, he said, but remained confident that President Obama will step in and prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

In closing his introduction to the conference, Peres expressed optimism about the future of the world, which he said was embodied in Israel’s national anthem of ‘hatikva’, or hope. “I evaluate that the next decade will be the most successful,” he said.

Peres’ Hernia Surgery Successful

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Israeli President Shimon Peres successfully underwent surgery to treat a hernia.

Peres underwent the surgery on Friday at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. Doctors say that the surgery was successful and that Peres is feeling well.

The hernia was discovered in Peres’ abdomen during his recent state visit to Canada.

The Morning After: Israel’s Political System Shaken, Stirred, Realigned

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The stealth move Monday night by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Shaul Mofaz has left everyone in Israel’s political arena reeling. First, the very idea that such a game-changing deal could be kept secret in Israel was shocking. It served to remind everyone of the military combat background of both leaders.

And then there was the realization that by joining forces the two have almost accomplished the oldest dream of every Israeli premier since David Ben Gurion – to rule without partners.

Today, a Likud and Kadima coalition relies on 55 of the 61 seats needed for a majority government.

But in reality, Kadima is “Likud light,” having been formed in 2005 by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, with Likud members who were willing to support Sharon’s plan to uproot the Jews of the Gaza strip, dubbed the “unilateral disengagement plan.”

In that sense, the Likud-Kadima coalition is more reunification than realignment. Mofaz et al are more lost children coming home than political foes overcoming their differences.

Back in December of 2005, then Defense Minister and Likud MK Shaul Mofaz sent personal letters to party members who were defecting to Ariel Sharon’s new party, begging them to return home. Later Mofaz would be ridiculed for the memorable slogan he included in his personal letter, “You don’t desert your home,” because shortly after coining it, Mofaz himself up and deserted that very home.

Seven years later it appears that all is forgotten.

Incidentally, Shaul Mofaz is fast becoming the Mitt Romney of Israeli politics, famous for making bombastic announcements which he disregards in a matter of days. Just before the Kadima primaries in March, Mofaz wrote on his Facebook page: “Listen well, I will not join Bibi’s government. Not today, not tomorrow and not after I become the head of Kadima on March 28. It is a bad, failing and disconnected government, and Kadima under my stewardship will replace it in the coming elections. Clear enough?”

Clear indeed.

The new deal awards the Kadima returnees significant legislative powers.

Under the section “Sharing the burden of military service,” the agreement states:

“The Parties undertake to enact, by July 31, 2012, a law regulating fair and just distribution of the burden of military service among the various segments of the population in Israel, in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling. Clear goals will be set for Haredi recruitment with progressive increases over the years. The bill will be written by a team from Kadima.”

Under the section “Correcting the system of government,” the agreement reads:

“The Parties undertake to fundamentally change the system of government in Israel, establishing a system of governance which will enhance governmental stability and effectiveness. Among other things, the new system will allow a prime minister to fulfill his agenda as determined by the voter, to create continuity of government, enhance the capacity for long-term planning and the protection of the public good.”

Under the section “The political process,” the agreement reads:

Both sides agree that the government will act to renew the political process and to advance negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Both sides agree on the importance of preserving the State of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state, and on the importance of maintaining defensible borders.”

This third segment essentially embraces the two-state solution, which is bad news for the Jews in settlements east of the security fence. It means the beginning of a countdown towards the evacuation of thousands of Jews, and should that undertaking appear unrealistic, many settlers recalled today that Shaul Mofaz, serving as Sharon’s Defense Minister, was the enforcer in the removal of thousands of Gush Katif’s Jews.

The immediate huge loser of this move is Prime Minister wannabe Yair Lapid, who – before last night’s earthquake – was projected to gain between 11 and 12 seats in the coming elections, as newbie center parties have been doing in Israeli politics since 1977.

Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, on Tuesday morning told Israel’s Army Radio that it is clear that Yair Lapid is the big loser of the new move. “He was already revving up his engine and saw himself in the Knesset,” Elkin mocked.

Lapid’s Facebook page offered this entry by the disappointed proto politician:

“What you saw today is exactly the old politics, dingy and ugly, which the time has come to kick out of our lives. Politics of seats instead of principles, of jobs instead of the public good, of interest groups instead of the whole country. They think now they will play for time and we’ll forget, but they are wrong. This disgusting political alliance will bury all its members under its ruins.”

But while the damage to Lapid’s dreams adds comic relief to the story, the new coalition deal means decidedly sobering news for Israel’s two major religious camps – the Haredim and the Religious Zionist settlement movement.

The Pollard Petition

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

The Jewish Press urges readers to sign a circulating petition that calls on Shimon Peres to do all he can, in advance of accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, to persuade Mr. Obama to free Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy serving a life sentence in a federal prison. (President Obama announced last month that he would be awarding the Medal to Mr. Peres, the president of Israel, in June.)

The petition appears in Hebrew (the project began in Israel, but there is also an accompanying English version) and can be joined by logging on to JonathanPollard.org.

Although Mr. Peres sent a letter to President Obama requesting Mr. Pollard’s release, to this point no such action has been taken. And supporters of Mr. Pollard note the incongruity of the Israeli statesman accepting an award from the American president while Mr. Pollard continues to languish in an American jail under a sentence denounced as draconian and excessive by dozens of former American officials.

We have long felt, and emerging evidence seems to confirm, that Jonathan Pollard’s extraordinary life sentence resulted in no small measure from his having spied for Israel, which though a close ally of the U.S. was anathema to some senior officials in the Reagan administration, particularly then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, and several members of the intelligence community. So it cannot be that Pollard’s plight should not somehow resonate when Israel’s president receives the highest U.S. civilian award – especially given that it was Mr. Peres who happened to be the prime minister of Israel when Mr. Pollard was apprehended.

What role the Israeli president can play here is not clear. But it merits mentioning that in announcing the honor to be bestowed on Mr. Peres, President Obama pointed to the 89-year-old statesman’s long career as one of the architects of modern Israel and his great diplomatic skills. “He has taught us to ask more of ourselves, and to empathize more with our fellow human beings,” said Mr. Obama.

If enough of us sign that online petition, perhaps Mr. Peres might just feel empowered enough to use those diplomatic skills to persuade President Obama to empathize with – and release – Jonathan Pollard.

Mordechai Kedar: The Failure of the Palestinian Venture

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Lately, there have been many rumors circulating about the intentions of the Palestinians, specifically Abu Mazen, to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and return to the pre-Oslo days, when Israel was responsible for all of the territories of Judea and Samaria, including the Arab cities. About one month ago, in March 2012, a conference including Egyptian and Palestinian notables convened in Cairo, and discussed this as a serious possibility, “because at present there is no political solution on the horizon.” The questions that the conference dealt with were: who has the authority to implement a decision to disband the PA, and whether the advantages of such a move would outweigh the disadvantages. According to the participants, the PA has failed because it has not achieved a full Israeli withdrawal from all of the territories “occupied” in 1967, and has failed to impose the refugees’ “right of return” upon Israel.

Ibrahim Hamami, head of the Center for Palestinian Affairs in London, who participated in the conference, stated: “The Palestinian Authority was established to serve the goals of the occupation by continuing negotiations, while the Palestinian citizen did not benefit from it at all. On the contrary: it was the Palestinians who were forced to withdraw because of the settlement activity and roadblocks. An additional reason to dismantle the PA is the Israeli “fear of deterioration in security that will occur in Israel because of the absence of Palestinian security organizations.” By saying it, Hamami implies that the whole raison d’être of the PA security organizations is to foster Israel’s security, and thus undermines the legitimacy of the existence of the PA. Hamami claims that six years ago, in 2006, Abbas had already hinted at the possibility of dismantling the PA after Israel broke into the Jericho prison and arrested Ahmed Sadat and his associates. Since then, the possibility of dismantling the PA has arisen from time to time, when Abbas has become frustrated with Israel.

As a result, Palestinian spokesmen have it easy: they just have to blame Israel for their failure. It’s convenient and it provides an explanation that the West will buy, because it doesn’t have a deep understanding of the problems of the Middle East in general, and the Israeli-Palestinian issue in particular. The truth of the matter is, there never was a chance for the Palestinian Authority to succeed, because of the innate problems that flow from the nature of the political culture of the Middle East. We will focus on a few of them:

1. The fundamental problem of any modern Arab state is the problem of its legitimacy to exist as a state, principally because the state does not reflect a well-defined ethnic unit, and therefore is not a nation-state in the European sense, e.g. France and Holland. Traditionally, there is no “Syrian people”, “Jordanian people”, “Lebanese people”, or “Sudanese people”. There is an “Arab people”, which is divided into tribes, clans, religious groups, and sects. Arab states such as Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Sudan are creations of colonialism, which was responsible for the arbitrary division of the Arab nation, without regard to demographic facts. The PA suffers from this problem too, because – traditionally – there was never a “Palestinian People”, and there is no trace of such an entity in any book or newspaper that was printed before 1920 – before the area of “Sham” (Greater Syria) was divided into four political units: Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine-Israel.

2. Most of the members of the “Palestinian People”, the virtual collective upon which the idea of a Palestinian state is supposed to be built, are descendants of immigrants that entered the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River during the second half of the 19th century and the twentieth century. The Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate, and the Jewish villages that were established in pre-state Israel were an attractive source of livelihood for the immigrant workers, who came from the surrounding areas. Many Egyptians fled to Israel in the 1860s in order to escape forced labor – digging the Suez Canal. Therefore even today, many “Palestinians” have names such as “Al-Masri” (The Egyptian), “Masarwa” (Egyptians), and “Fayoumi”, names which point to their Egyptian origin. Others are called “Al-Haurani”, because they were brought by the British from the Hauran, in Syria, principally to work in the port of Haifa. The inhabitants of the village of Jisr al-Zarqa are Sudanese, and therefore they did not participate in the 1948 War of Independence and remained in the place where they settled, between Caesaria and Ma’agan Michael. European geographers who visited the Land of Israel in the 19th century, as well as the international investigative committees which operated during the first half of the twentieth century, documented groups of immigrants from Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, North Africa, and the Balkans, who were residing in Israel. Residents of Rehania and Kfar Kama, two Galilee villages, are Cherkessian from the Caucasus. The Booshank clan, which lives in Kfar Manda, came from Bosnia. All of the residents of the Negev, most of the residents of the Gaza Strip, and some from Mount Hebron are Bedouins, who for centuries wandered between the deserts of Sinai, the Negev, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Their Saudi Arabian dialect clearly testifies to their country of origin. Some of the Armenians – who are Christian – fled to Israel from Turkey in the years 1915-1918, because of the genocide the Turks were perpetrating against them. Therefore, “Palestinians” are mostly a mixed people, various groups whose origin is not the Land of Israel.

Israel Remembers the Holocaust

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

As air raid sirens blared out across the country on Thursday, citizens of Israel stopped for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Holocaust.

Synchronized sirens rang out at 10am throughout Israel, with pedestrian and road traffic, businesses and schools coming to an abrupt halt, and standing in silence for the 2 minute-long memorial.  In Jerusalem, sidewalks were filled with all kinds of Israelis, many reciting Psalms from prayer books quickly drawn from their pockets.  Memorial ceremonies conducted throughout Israel for the occasion also ceased for the siren.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that dismissing the Iranian nuclear threat as an exaggeration “have learned nothing from the Holocaust.”

Speaking at the national Holocaust Rememberance Day memorial at the Warsaw Ghetto Square in Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Prime Minister Netanyahu called thwarting Iran’s nuclear capability an “obligation” on the world, but especially on Israel.  “Remembering the Holocaust is imperative for learning the lessons of the past in order to ensure the foundations of the future,” the prime minister said. “I hope the day comes when we learn of calls for Israel’s annihilation in history classes only, and not in daily media reports. But that day is not here yet. The Iranian regime is openly calling for our destruction and working frantically for the development of nuclear weapons as a means to that end.”

President Shimon Peres, also speaking at the ceremony, said Israel is capable today of dealing with Iranian threats, and appealed to the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.   “Humankind has no choice but to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and face existing threats, before it is too late,” he said.

The ceremony, held under the theme “My Brother’s Keeper”, emphasized Jewish solidarity during the Holocaust, and honored six survivors who provided aid to fellow Jews during the Holocaust.  Hundreds of additional Holocaust survivors were in attendance.

IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz told attendees at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak on Wednesday night that the IDF is “the embodiment of the strength of the Jewish nation”, and that “we are the arm of steel that will respond to any attempt to hurt us with a harsh blow.  We are the people’s wall of protection.”

Throughout Thursday, a Knesset ceremony called “Every Person Has a Name” will read out a list of the names of Holocaust victims.  Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres will participate in the event.

Pollard Leaves Hospital Back to Prison

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Jonathan Pollard was transferred from a federal hospital to his prison cell.

Pollard, who reportedly was rushed to a hospital outside of the prison on the eve of Passover suffering from an unspecified emergency condition, was returned to Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina on Sunday, according to the Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization.

Pollard was permitted to make a short call to his wife, Esther, who reported that he sounded weak and it seemed hard for him to speak, according to the organization.

Esther Pollard told her husband that Israeli President Shimon Peres had appealed personally to President Obama to grant clemency to the convicted spy for Israel. Peres has not received an official reply to his letter, according to his office.

Pollard asked his wife to thank Peres and urge him not to back down.

Pollard has suffered from a variety of illnesses since being imprisoned for life in 1986.

“He has been returned to his unit in the prison, where he is compelled to work no matter how weak or sick he may feel,” Esther Pollard said in a statement. “He is not receiving much-needed follow-up medical care. It is only a matter of time until the next medical crisis occurs.”

She added, “I fear for his life if he remains in prison.”

Obama to Pollard, Peres, Knesset: Drop Dead

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The White House on Monday rejected an emotional appeal by Israel’s President Shimon Peres to commute convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence. Peres based his appeal on Pollard’s fast deteriorating health, after Peres’ recent conversation with Pollard’s wife Esther. Peres’ appeal came after he had received a petition signed by 80 MKs, urging Obama to release Pollard.

In June, President Peres will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian award. Peres is under intense pressure from the Pollard “lobby” to reject the award if Pollard is not freed.

“Our position hasn’t changed,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in an email to Yahoo News. Asked whether the White House had received Peres’ written plea to President Barack Obama for clemency, Vietor said he was not sure “but the position is the same.”

Obama had rejected a January 2011 request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to free Pollard, a former US Navy intelligence analyst convicted in 1985 of passing classified information to  Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-to-pollard-peres-knesset-drop-dead/2012/04/10/

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