Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"More That's Good"

Arlene Kushner

As I write, it appears that we have won the day with regard to the Libyan ship that had been headed for Gaza. Last report is that it changed course during the night, and that the captain had indicated he would dock in the Egyptian port of El-Arish. The ship is being watched closely, in the event that it again shifts course and heads for Gaza.

Apparently there had been some indirect communication between Israel and the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, the organization headed by Moammar Gaddafi's son, Saif, that underwrote this venture. What our government found particularly satisfying was the international support received for our refusal to let this ship proceed.

US State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley said yesterday:

"We have urged the Libyan government to avoid unnecessary confrontations...

"We, along with our partners in the in the Quartet, urge all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that cargo can be inspected by the government of Israel, and transferred via land crossings into Gaza."

The EU issued a similar statement.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called this a victory for Israel.


A word about Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and his Foundation: According to the IsraelMatzav blog, citing CBS, "the Obama administration" has committed to a grant of $200,000 for this organization. Senator Marc Kirk (R-IL) wants it withdrawn because Saif was responsible for securing the early release from prison of the Lockerbie bomber and bringing him back to a hero's welcome in Libya. (thanks, Cheryl H)

Based on my experience in these matters, however, I would like to make an educated guess about something here. While I certainly don't quarrel with the Senator's objection to providing a grant to this foundation, it seems to me that saying it came from "the Obama administration" is a bit vague. My hunch would be that this came from US AID and Obama knew nothing about it. US AID, which operates with shocking lack of accountability, does just fine on its own, thank you, with regard to funding of dubious projects. Not long ago I wrote about US AID underwriting of a PA Tourist Ministry booklet that described the "State of Palestine" as if it were a reality.


There were Arabs, waiting at the Gaza coastline and expecting to be able to welcome the Libyan ship, who are a tad disappointed. Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyah called the ship "our sailing hope at sea," and had urged that it not be diverted by "tricks" from its original course.


Statements made by Hanin Zoabi -- shortly after she entered the Knesset as a member of the (Arab) Balad Party -- made it clear that she was big trouble. Last March, for example, she said she welcomed Iran's development of nuclear weapons because it was "more useful to the Palestinian issue and more standing against occupation than a lot of the Arab countries. This is our interest..."

Israel has an enormous (I would say, excessive) tolerance for Arab dissidents within the Knesset who make anti-Israel statements and sometimes act in ways that are not in Israel's interest. But yesterday Zoabi got her comeuppance. Because she had traveled as a passenger on the Turkish flotilla ship, the Marmara, and referred to the blockade of Gaza as "the big crime of Israel," she was stripped of her Knesset privileges, including such things as use of a diplomatic passport and enhanced freedoms regarding international travel. She was accused by some Knesset members of being a traitor, and I would say that was fairly accurate.


Israeli courts have tended to work against actions to chastise and limit the participation of Arab MKs who are clearly not interested in Israel's wellbeing as a Jewish state.

The former head of the Balad Party, Azmi Bishara, resigned from the Knesset and fled the country after he was accused of assisting Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War. Until now, he has actually (I kid you not -- I couldn't make up anything this perverse) been receiving his Knesset pension because the court ruled that Israeli law does not permit it to be revoked. Well, the Knesset is in process of changing that law.

A new law, referred to as the "Bishara law," has passed through the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs and is expected to pass in the Knesset, but has not yet. It would prevent Bishara from receiving Israeli funds, but would also apply to others within a defined category.


A correction from yesterday: I wrote that Jerusalem and the Golan, where civil law has been applied, are "fully Israeli" and have a different status from Judea and Samaria. I have been advised -- and I appreciate this advice -- that while, indeed, civil law does apply to both Jerusalem and the Golan, Jerusalem has been officially annexed and the Golan has not.


We've been hearing about a consistent drop in Obama's popularity on the part of the American electorate. But here is information -- encouraging indeed -- regarding the degree to which American Jews in particular have become disenchanted with the president.

Says commentator Marc Thiessen, writing in the Washington Post:

"The drop in Hispanic support [12%] is dwarfed by the astounding 36-point drop in support for Obama from one of the most reliable Democratic constituencies: Jewish voters. Jewish Americans are outraged with Obama, says former New York Mayor Ed Koch. And it's not because Obama's middle name is Hussein."

(Thanks Craig K.)


We probably can count this as good news too:

Riad al-Maliki, foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, during a visit to Bulgaria today, said negotiations with Israel without the participation of an international party would be meaningless.

"We have always said, we need a third party. Without the presence of a third party it would be a waste of time."
(Translation: We don't believe we can get what we want unless the US leans on Israel for us.)

We don't know, of course, if this is going to be official PA policy, although we do already know this is the way PA officials think. If Abbas does refuse to come to the table, then Netanyahu's (potentially risky) "I'm willing and eager to negotiate" approach will have paid off.


The IDF has now declassified information on how Hezbollah has turned south Lebanese villages into military bases.

Since the 2006, Hezbollah has focused on moving military installations from open areas to 100 civilian villages, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

It is exceedingly important for the world, and in particular journalists, to understand this process. When there is war with Hezbollah (and it's likely coming) the deliberate large scale use by Hezbollah of human shields is going to generate more civilian deaths -- whatever precautions Israel may take. Everyone needs to understand, up front, where the fault will lie.

The IDF spokesman's site below provides maps and a 3-D video explaining how Hezbollah has been going about this.


As to that impending war, Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, writing in the Washington Times, says:

"The discovery of a gigantic natural-gas reservoir less than 100 miles off Israel's coast seems like great news for the diplomatically and militarily embattled country. The gas finding will strengthen Israel's energy security, enable it to become an important gas exporter and contribute wealth to its economy.

"It also could be the pretext for the next Middle East war.

"Ten years after Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is struggling to find a cause that would enable it to continue its 'liberation war' against Israel.

"...days after Israel announced its gas discovery, Hezbollah claimed that the deposit extends into Lebanese waters and that it would not allow Israel to 'loot' Lebanese gas resources.

"The discovery blows fresh wind into Hezbollah's sails, giving it a new cause to fight for and a new opportunity to hurt the Israeli economy. Furthermore, by opening a new front in the Mediterranean, Hezbollah is gaining legitimacy for holding onto its arms. Even non-Shiite sects in Lebanon accept Hezbollah's role in protecting Lebanon's waters. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt recently said that Hezbollah's 'weapons are important to defend the oil in the Sea of Lebanon and national resources in the country.'"


Luft speaks of Hezbollah in this regard, but keep in mind that Hezbollah is now part of the Lebanese government. And it was Lebanon's Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, who claimed that part of Israel's newly discovered gas field lies within Lebanon's territorial waters.

The field, called "Leviathan," was discovered in June off the coast of Haifa. It is estimated to contain 15 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to potentially enable Israel to become an energy exporter. Earlier, a field called "Tamar" was discovered not far from this latest field. "Tamar" alone is believed to contain enough gas to supply Israel for the next twenty years, and "Leviathan" is thought to be twice as big.

In response to the Lebanese challenge, about three weeks ago, Uzi Landau, Minister of Infrastructure, replied, "We will not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law."


A recent edition of the JPost magazine had a feature article on the Jewish community of Toronto, considered to be one of the most vibrant Zionist communities outside of Israel. In that context, I would like to mention one energetic group, Canadians for Israel's Legal Rights. They have a brand new website:


see my website

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