Thursday, May 21, 2009
"Rejoice in Jerusalem"
It is 42 two years since Jerusalem was reunited under our sovereignty. Four-two years since we took eastern Jerusalem and the Old City in the Six Day War.
Tonight and tomorrow we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim -- may she remain united in our hands eternally.
Enjoy this one-minute video that celebrates Yerushalayim with scenic and historical views:
http://www.aish.com:80/movies/YomYerushalayim.asp And for the most stunning version of Yerushalayim shel zahav (Jerusalem of Gold) sung by the late, magnificent Ofra Haza z"l:
Speaking of Jerusalem:
Palestinian sources are lamenting that they were promised by the US that in any peace deal Jerusalem would be their capital.
But President Obama's peace plan -- essentially the Saudi plan with some modifications, which he intends to unveil in Cairo when he gives his much-vaunted talk in early June -- envisions things just a bit differently. In this plan the Palestinians would get eastern Jerusalem as their capital, but the holy places would be under the jurisdiction of the UN.
I can just imagine him, thinking how sage this is, how fair. That an international agency should supervise these sites, thus preventing Jewish-Arab rivalry for control.
For us this is nothing more than a joke. The United Nations controlling the Kotel (Western Wall) and the Temple Mount? Oi! Give me a break!
That Obama would think this is OK means he is totally devoid of any sensitivity to how the UN has treated us (does he even know the UN Human Rights Council record?) or how we respond to this agency. Either that, or he just doesn't care, as long as he provides a surface semblance of impartiality.
But it seems this plan doesn't suit the Palestinians either. And I love this complication.
An even worse hindrance to the "peace plan" is the instability of the Palestinian Authority, with which we would be expected to negotiate, and which would presumably govern an autonomous region or state. Seems a good part of the Fatah party is not happy with the new government that Abbas has put in place. While many Fatah people have become ministers, they have done so as individuals and not as members of the party.
Fayyad, it should be noted, is viewed (not without reason) as a puppet of the West.
Has Obama figured out precisely whom we are supposed to talk to and who actually can speak for the Palestinian Arab body politic?
An issue was raised by a reader today (thanks, Minka) that I've addressed before, but would like to return to here. I refer above to the "Palestinian Arab body politic," but the question is whether there really is one. That is, are the Arabs known as Palestinians truly united in their perceptions of themselves as one people, with a genuine yearning for a state?
There is every indication that the answer is no. There are multiple loyalties -- to the hamula, which is the all-important clan; to ideologies, including radical Islam and even socialism; to cultural associations linked with Egypt or Jordan; etc. But they don't get their act together as one people. And thus have they failed to develop the infrastructure necessary for building a state.
Whatever Obama's intentions towards us, our strongest friends in the US are in Congress. A letter initiated both by members of the Republican and Democratic parties has been sent to President Obama, telling him that "peace cannot come while terrorism continues to wrack Israel.”
It was signed by over 250 members of Congress, including 76 senators.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was pushed with regard to a freeze on settlements while he was in Washington, but he declined to commit to anything, saying that first he wants to see what commitments the PA is honoring. This is his principle of reciprocity. As National Security Advisor Uzi Arad put it, "If this is about give and take, then what is the Palestinian side ready to give? You can't expect Israel alone to answer the Palestinians' demands time and again."
Washington leaders were told that we will continue to build in Jerusalem and in our major settlement blocs.
Netanyahu arrived back home today and pronounced himself satisfied.
It is being reported that in a briefing on the plane coming home, Ron Dermer, one of Netanyahu's closest aides, told the journalists present that "the focus by the media on the concept of solving the Israel-Palestinian issue through a two-state solution is childish and stupid...the fixation with that idea rather than focusing on the fundamental issues." He was careful to say he wasn't describing the concept itself this way, but he was headed in that direction.
However, according to YNet, another, unnamed, Netanyahu aide was less circumspect and referred to the concept itself as "juvenile."
What we're seeing then is the beginning of a campaign to discredit the Obama approach and deal more realistically with the complexities of the situation.
My response: A very cautious, a very tentative Halleluyah!
As many of you may know, Iran today announced the test of a Sajjil-2 missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers, which has the capacity to reach not only Israel, but US troops in the region and parts of Europe. This announcement has been confirmed.
It is not of immediate concern to Israel, as Iran has older missiles with a range sufficient to reach us, and we have been preparing defense against this via anti-missile systems. But it should be of concern to the Western world more broadly.
An unnamed US official cited by Reuters said, that though the United States wants to engage with Teheran, American patience is "not infinite."
"Iran just keeps going in the wrong direction. We want them to engage with us, to talk about how we can make the region more stable. This is just a step in the wrong direction,"
Do the Americans responsible for current policy know how stupid this sounds?
It's as if this official is speaking to a recalcitrant child who won't get with the program: "You didn't like it when Bush ostracized you, and we're trying to be nice to you. So why are you making it so hard for us and being so contrary? Naughty, naughty. We can't help you when you act this way."
Has it occurred to anyone over there that it is simply not a goal of the Iranian mullahs to make the region more stable? That this is the whole point?
Sigh... Then we have the secretary of state, who spoke about Iran at a Senate hearing today. She said that the prospect of a nuclear Iran was an "extraordinary threat", and that the government was working "to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear weapons program."
In my humble opinion, Hillary is not sounding too swift either.
"The Good News Corner"
Today it's political good news. First an announcement from the Foreign Ministry:
"Israel will, for the first time, open an embassy in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan. The decision to open the embassy was reached in view of the development of the good bilateral relationship with Turkmenistan and the new momentum in relations with Central Asian countries.
"Turkmenistan is one of the leading countries in Central Asia, and Israel's relations with it are of political, economic and strategic importance.
"We are certain that the permanent presence of an Israeli diplomat at the ambassadorial level in Ashgabat will ensure an additional quantum leap in the development of relations with a pivotal and friendly country such as Turkmenistan."
Interestingly, in today's Jerusalem Post is an article by the ambassador to Israel from Kazakhstan, another Central Asian nation. He praises the cooperation and positive dynamic between his country and ours, and seeks stronger ties.
From the Foreign Ministry announcement: "the new momentum in relations with Central Asian countries." Our future is with these nations and not the nations of western Europe.
Kuwait has just held a general election and the results represent a stunning victory for reform and democratization. For the first time ever, women -- four of them -- were elected to the parliament, while the Muslim Brotherhood lost three of its four seats.
Then, as this is Yom Yerushalayim, sharing of a bit of news regarding Mayor Barkat's new master plan for Jerusalem, to be carried out over a period of years:
 A green belt surrounding the city, with picnic areas and hiking trails, a bicycle path and a lake.
 Revamped eastern Jerusalem infrastructure, with 13,00 housing permits for Arab housing and special attention to historic sites.
 A massive tourist drive.
 Tens of thousands of new hi-tech jobs.
 Affordable housing and arrangements for young couples who are now squeezed out of the city.
Let it be!
see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info