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Posts Tagged ‘peres’

Israeli Vows to ‘Bike for the Fight’ Against Cancer

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

A new initiative – Bike for the Fight – will raise money for the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), a North American organization funding grants to top Israeli cancer researchers and scientific institutions, by biking for three months across the United States, according to a report by NoCamels.

Started by Tom Peled, a 24 year student at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya who lost his father to cancer in 2011 after an 8 year battle,  the venture will see Peled bike from Los Angeles and through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and ending in New York City.  The mission will begin on August 1.

The recipients of ICRF funds are used to fund research into the development of life-saving early diagnostic devices and new drugs for such cancers as leukemia, bone marrow cancer, breast and ovarian cancer, and others.

Peled has attracted the support of Hillel, Maccabiah 2012, and Microsoft Israel, which is creating a special app for the project, as well as President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Biking for the Fight has already raised NIS 41,000 by selling campaign bracelets, and signed up hundreds of people for organ donation.

Blogging Tomorrow at the President’s Conference

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

My first stop on the final day of the President’s Conference was a special bloggers meeting first with Dr. Yossi Vardi and then with President Peres. Bloggers joked on Twitter that they felt like calling Peres ‘Saba’ after spending the past few days with him, and I can understand why. He certainly has a grandfatherly type of spirit made up of a kind smile and a warm glow that radiated through the low lighting of Exhibition Hall.

The bloggers had the opportunity to ask President Peres some questions at the gathering. Bloggers from both national papers and personal websites were represented and asked questions that ranged from straightforward politics to ones that were more personal. One inevitably centered around the status of Iran, in which Peres answered that Iranians are using dangerous means that don’t give Israelis much of a choice when deciding what to do next. Peres explained that in the recent nuclear negotiations, the Iranians came to the table half-hearted. If the leaders don’t agree to economic sanctions, then all options will be on the table. A heavy calm had permeated the room throughout Peres’ discussion, but hearing the idea of the potential for more extreme measures took it to a deeper level.

That feeling was lifted during one of the most moving parts of the session when Peres was asked about his reflections during his time in America with President Obama. A clear advocate and friend to America, Peres explained he was charmed by the President. He said the unique thing about America is that it’s the only power in history that got its strength not by taking, but by giving. “This is a new concept about the strength of generosity,” he said. As kind as his words were, I can’t help but poke a hole in the message. I don’t think the Native Americans would be so quick to talk about America’s generous nature. On top of that, America is a capitalist country that inspires starry-eyed youth with the idea of the ‘American dream.’ The greed and corruption that can result from the concept doesn’t match up. Further, when America started the War on Terror, they exercised their strength under the cover of generosity, wanting to set up a democracy in a less fortunate area, but the true reasons for invading were far less altruistic. That being said, even if America may not be the most generous historically, honoring Israel certainly falls into that category. Seeing Israel in that respect was incredibly moving for Peres and for many bloggers in the room.

Some questions were injected with religion. One blogger asked Peres what he would ask God for at the Kotel. Peres said that God resides in each of us and He guides us. We can follow him or we cannot follow him, but he would ask him to continue to give the right advice and in turn, we will do the right things. It’s an idea that I’ve been learning about at seminary for a few weeks now, and an aspect that can be included in all areas of life. The overarching idea mimics the theme of the conference in general. We don’t know what’s in store for the future, but we must have faith that tomorrow’s world will be better than today’s. Peres said that in the Hebrew language there is only past and future, no present. In response to the words of the prophets, he said that “there is nothing on the waiting list.” The prophets’ words advise us in which way to change for the future. Peres’s actions set the stage for that. By creating the President’s Conference, he is setting up a means to exchange ideas and meet new people that together can create that change.

Peres exuded the same fervor in response to the most fun question of the day. @Roopunzel (on Twitter) asked, “What’s on your wish list for your next birthday present?” Peres didn’t hesitate. He responded that his wish is for all people to have happy birthdays. I hope that’s a message that can be delivered.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/dr-mordechai-kedar/mordechai-kedar-the-failure-of-the-palestinian-venture/2012/04/23/

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