Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Still More"

Arlene Kushner

Every time I write about our mobile medical hospital in Haiti, I think I've provided enough information... and then there's more.

The clip below is from NBC, and describes, again, what only the Israelis have done. The reporter, who is herself a doctor, calls our hospital "A model for crisis care." The equipment includes neo-natal units and monitoring equipment that can transmit information to hospitals elsewhere for assessment by other doctors. Each incoming patient has an electronic record, and an ethics team helps with tough decisions. This is top-flight medicine in any terms, but in this case, set up within 48 hours of an emergency, in a field, inside canvas tents, with equipment and personnel brought half-way around the world, it is nothing short of breathtaking. This is being done, plain and simple, because it's the right thing to do: because we are commanded. One doctor says, in this clip, "We believe that when we save a life, we've saved the world. We've saved the world several times in the last few days."

But think, how many millions are seeing us in this light for the first time. How people might, just might, begin to appreciate who we are. Who we are: first our compassion and the speed with which we run to help others. But also our skills and capacity to make a difference. The interviewer asks a doctor, "You have electronic records of the patients?" and the doctor answers, "Of course." "Of course," she then mumbles to herself, meaning, to him it's a given, but I'm astounded.

Click here for NBC Report: Israeli Field Hospital a Model for Crisis Care


With it all, we must remember that our capacity to respond in an emergency has been honed by our long and painful experience responding to terrorist attacks. But what is important is that we share these skills for the sake of the world -- not just in Haiti now (which is suffering the worst of catastrophes) but wherever there is a crisis.


Today is the first anniversary of Barack Obama's inauguration as president, and today, for the first time in a long time, I begin to feel hope for America. That is because of the stunning upset in the senatorial race in Massachusetts -- the bluest, the most liberal state in the Union -- in which Republican Scott Brown emerged as victor.

That this was an anti-Obama (and anti-ObamaCare) vote is clear. The president now must circle his wagons and decide how to proceed next. There is talk of going slowly with regard to pushing through the health care bill, both because some Democrats are pulling back and because the addition of one more Republican to the Senate makes it no longer filibuster-proof. And it is being said by some Democrats that the emphasis now has to be on jobs and economic matters (presumably with a decrease in unemployment, if achieved, giving the party a boost).

I think the best thing I've read on the subject today is Jeff Jacoby's assessment,"A blessing in disguise."
"It really is the people's seat, and on Tuesday the people of Massachusetts took it back.

"But in electing Scott Brown instead of Martha Coakley to replace Ted Kennedy in the US Senate, the Bay State's voters did more than hand the GOP its most improbable and thrilling come-from-behind victory in a generation....And they did more than prove that no political party has a permanent lock on any state's electoral loyalties.

"They also gave President Obama and the Democratic left a blessing in disguise -- if only they are wise enough to recognize it.

"Brown ran explicitly against Obama's polarizing domestic agenda -- especially the radical health-care overhaul that the president has made his No. 1 priority...

"Politically, ObamaCare has backfired. No president in the modern era has ended his first year in office with disapproval ratings so high. Much of the goodwill with which he entered the White House has been squandered, and any effort to try to force the health bill through Congress now would drive what's left of that goodwill right over a cliff.

"But that isn't going to happen. Brown and the voters of Massachusetts have killed ObamaCare for good. In so doing they have given the president a priceless second chance to adjust his political course, move toward the center, and deliver at least some of the bipartisan cooperation that was at the heart of his once-enormous appeal..."


What I wait to see is if the Obama "readjustment" will affect his push for the "peace process": if he will be too busy attending to domestic matters to give it his attention now, or otherwise think better of it.

This is particularly relevant right now as Mitchell will be here tomorrow.

Aluf Benn of Haaretz believes, with some good justification, that the political dynamics following yesterday's election will work in our favor:


Word today was that Abbas was asking for a "short term" (three to six month) total freeze on all building, including in Jerusalem. This was supposed to be a face-saver for him and allow him to come to the table.

I find this interesting because it suggests that the reports I received last week-- from sterling sources with a great deal of inside information -- regarding the fact that Abbas has decided to simply declare a state unilaterally, and thus is not even thinking of returning to the table, may turn out not to be correct.

Speculation: Could it be that in his present political bind Obama will be far more reluctant to back a unilateral move by Abbas then he once indicated he would be? Is this slow-down time?


Netanyahu held a press conference this evening and forthrightly rejected any notion of freezing construction in Jerusalem, even informally.

Abbas had suggested that if this face-saving "gesture" from Israel is not forthcoming (and it isn't), then there might be shuttle diplomacy, with Americans moving between Jerusalem and Ramallah. The PA would provide the US with specifics of what it was demanding: '67 lines with a 3% exchange of land possible. There has been no comment on this either from the US or our government that I am aware of.


But Netanyahu said something else at the press conference, as well:

"We are surrounded by an ever-growing arsenal of rockets placed in the Iranian-supported enclaves to the north [Hezbollah in Lebanon] and to the south {Gaza]...We cannot afford to have that across from the center of our country.

"In the case of a future settlement with the Palestinians, this will require an Israeli presence on the eastern side of a prospective Palestinian state."

He is alluding to the Jordan Valley, and an Israeli presence on the eastern border of a Palestinian state to block bringing in of rockets and other weaponry that could endanger us. This is the first time that he has made such a demand specifically.

He is absolutely correct, of course, that such an Israeli presence would be necessary. But making this a requirement for negotiating a state more or less guarantees that there will be no negotiations. And in point of fact, there should be none. With all of the myriad other reasons why not, this fact alone makes formation of a Palestinian Arab state not a good idea.


I was fascinated to see a piece by Yossi Alpher in today's Post, called, "The peace process will resume, but why?" Alpher's orientation is to the left, and he has been a staunch supporter of the formation of a Palestinian Arab state.

But in this article, he writes, "Regardless of whether the end result is a unilateral, bilateral or multilateral process, without a functioning Palestinian state apparatus there can be no two-state solution."

What is more, he observes, "There is little...prospect that Abbas will succeed in bringing Gaza and Hamas back into the fold of a single Palestinian partner for Israel. Hence he can negotiate only on behalf of the West Bank. But Gaza won't go away."

Alpher does not address the fact that a "single Palestinian partner" that included Hamas would actually be no partner at all, but he does come part way in recognizing the futility of imagining that a "two-state solution" can be negotiated now.


And so, maybe Abbas will come to the table, and maybe he will not. But even should he sit at the table, there will be no meaningful negotiations. This much is clear.

Now we wait for Mitchell's visit. And, as time allows in upcoming postings I would like to look at Fayyad-Abbas tensions, and Egyptian-Hamas tensions -- all of which play into the broader dynamic.


A notice here for Israelis:

The Moskowitz Prize for Zionism was established by Irving and Cherna Moskowitz as an expression of support for people who put Zionism into action in today's Israeli society.

The need for this special prize arose from the feeling that the true Zionist heroes in today's Israel do not always receive the institutional recognition and public praise they deserve. These are Israeli men and women acting from a feeling of personal responsibility, vision and national mission, each in his field, and often while sacrificing their personal welfare and even endangering their personal security.

This Lion of Zion prize is awarded to Israeli citizens, residents of Israel, who best personify modern Zionism in Israel in their actions, addressing the challenges that face Zionism today, in spheres such as education, research, settlement, culture, defense and security. Winners receive cash prizes.

You have the opportunity to nominate someone who inspires you. Deadline is January 29.

Go to for details and to submit your nomination.

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