Monday, May 07, 2012


Arlene Kushner

Little Zakkai is home.  He's not yet "all clear" as some of that problem with air in the cavity surrounding  his lungs remains -- or remained when he was discharged yesterday.  As he was not having trouble breathing, and it was thought that there was no leak in his lungs, he was sent home with the hope that the situation would resolve itself.  He became much happier once the drain was removed from his thorax.  He will be closely monitored, returning to the hospital for a scan in about two weeks.
Here you see a somewhat confused or retiring little boy (all the transitions likely being bewildering) sitting in front of the very large cupcake his grateful parents got him for celebration.
Please G-d, may there be only good news from this point on.  Keep praying, with gratitude for his progress in recovering.
And then other happy news of medical progress.  I had asked for prayers for a student in Toulouse who had been injured in the attack on the school and was at one point unconscious.  For this information I thank my friend, Sharmaine, in Paris:  Aaron Ben Leah is out of danger but still recovering.  Keep praying for him, please.  A group of women in Paris will be coming together tonight for prayers on his behalf, as well.

Is this "progress"?  
At the Likud Central Committee Convention which opened yesterday in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Netanyahu, just up from sitting shiva for his father, announced that for the sake of "governmental stability," elections would be held in four months. 
There had been talk of September 4 as the date, but he didn't specify this in his declaration yesterday.  That announcement he saved for the Cabinet meeting this morning.
What Netanyahu also said was that he intended to form "a wide and stable coalition."  Which elicits from me a huge, "Uh oh!"
The redeeming information here has to do with what's going on right now inside the Likud Central Committee, where Netanyahu is being challenged by the right flank of the party.
While hesitant to overload my readers with too much political minutiae, I want to provide sufficient information to make a very complicated picture as clear as can be at this point.
Down the road, it will be the placement of right wing nationalists high on the Likud list that will determine the nature of the ruling party, and then influence the nature of the coalition.  Likud rules for establishing that list are controlled by the Central Committee -- thus my feelings of encouragement that a right wing inside the Committee is bent on challenging the prime minister.  The rules for the list are very complicated; I will not describe them here, as they are expected to change. 
Anyone interested in learning more (not everyone will be) can see here:
What I will mention is that there is tremendous resistance to including Barak in the party in any way.
Indubitably, more to follow...
In doing an analysis of the electoral situation at the end of last week, I took a look at possible reasons why Netanyahu might be seeking elections -- and a stronger mandate -- at this particular time. One of those was his intention to take on Iran.
And now I see that this thought, in different permutations, is being advanced by various analysts. 
According to Amnon Abramovich, who is considered to be a knowledgeable commentator, speaking on Channel 2 TV news at the end of last week, Netanyahu hopes to deal with Iran in September or October, while he is heading a transition government and Obama is occupied with his own elections.
A transition government:  If all goes as expected, the Likud will garner the greatest number of mandates (seats) and Netanyahu will then be asked to form the new coalition.  This requires negotiations with various parties and takes some time.  That period of time, after the elections and before the new coalition is established, is transitional.
In a way it's a period without normal accountability. The electorate will have already voted, and there will not yet be in place the new members of the coalition who might call him to task.
But there are possible problems with acting during this period: according to High Court rulings, a transitional government should not make major decisions unless they are critical. The argument would be, of course, that this was critical. 
Defense Minister Barak, following the announcement of early elections, made this statement:
"The political-security system will make decisions as needed, even under challenging circumstances.  We must separate the issue of Iran from the subject of elections.
"The moment of truth [re: Iran] is approaching.  The diplomatic- security system will make decisions if necessary." 
Was he referring to the transitional period?  It's not clear.  But Abramovich thinks so.
According to Ron Ben-Yishai on YNet, the fact that the Israeli populace will heavily support Netanyahu in the elections, even as they know that he's in favor of striking Iran, will demonstrate that the country is behind him with regard to this.  This, says, Ben-Yishai, would give Israel -- should Netanyahu decide to act -- two months to move against Iran before winter rain clouds interfered with air force flights.  Two months during which a pre-election Obama would be reluctant to criticize Israel.
What the election also does, says Ben-Yishai, is give greater credibility to Israel's threat to hit Iran -- thus increasing the effectiveness of negotiations.  (Although I fail to see why negotiations should still be going on by then.)  It is, so to speak, the stick behind the West's carrot: Credible threat of attack is the only thing that might move Iran.
The theory advanced by Yediot Aharonot is that Israel will bomb Iran immediately before the elections.
Informed speculation, perhaps. But speculation, none-the-less -- as is clear from the diversity of scenarios being advanced.  No one really knows what will happen with regard to Iran, and that is precisely as it should be.
The prime minister's office is denying any connection between Iran and early elections.
Before moving past the issue of elections, I will mention that Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beitenu, had asked that the Knesset not be dissolved quite yet.  (He was not saying there should not be new elections.)  What he wanted to do was advance his version of the law to replace the Tal Law while the Knesset was still in session.  Other parties -- notably Kadima -- then began to come forward with their versions of this replacement law, however, and once this happened movement on legislation would not have been as speedy as Lieberman seemed to imagine it might be.
At the moment, this has all become moot: The Knesset House Committee has given the OK to the acceleration of legislation to dissolve the Knesset -- legislation that had already been approved by the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs; it is expected to pass before the end of the day.
The Ministerial Committee had agreed to submit several proposals for Tal Law replacements before the Knesset for preliminary votes before the Knesset dissolved, but they have been tabled.
And so, while this issue is temporarily being held in abeyance, it is a hot and divisive issue that will be revisited in due course.
The Telegraph (UK) today cited an (unnamed) "senior Israeli military officer" with regard to a strong warning to Hezbollah, should it launch a war on Israel:
"Despite the inevitable international outcry, Israel would be left with no choice but to lay waste to swatches of southern Lebanon because Hezbollah has entrenched itself so deeply within the civilian population, he said.
"...'The situation in Lebanon after this war will be horrible,' the officer, a senior commander on Israel's northern border with Syria and Lebanon, said.
"'They will have to think about whether they want it or not. I hope that Iran will not push them into a war that Iran will not pay the price for but that Lebanon will.'
"...the officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, suggested that Israel had taken too cautious an approach in the [previous] conflict, leading to the deaths of dozens of Israeli soldiers.
"No such mistake would be made in the next conflict, he said, especially as Hezbollah had built military sites in the centre of many villages and towns in southern Lebanon. Pointing to a satellite map of the town of Khiam, he identified a series of buildings that the movement had allegedly taken over for military purposes.
"In these villages where Hezbollah has infrastructure I will guess that civilians will not have houses to come back to after the war," he said.
"The Lebanese government has to take this into consideration. Many of the villages in southern Lebanon will be destroyed. Unfortunate, but we will have no other solution. The day after [we attack] the village will be something that it will take 10 years to rebuild."
This, obviously, is a warning not to get involved if Israel attacks Iran.  But hopefully, in some measure, it also represents more with regard to policy.  The sound of it is most welcome. 
It has been maddening, watching the ways in which terrorist groups totally devoid of morality have twisted situations in combat that have left Israeli military frozen, for fear of hitting civilians. 
The IDF, the most moral of military forces in the world, must be able to fight its wars in order to win them.  As Hezbollah has deliberately placed its rockets -- by the tens of thousands -- in the heart of civilian areas, it is Hezbollah that must bear responsibility. 
Please see the piece below by Barry Rubin.   It is particularly important if you read the NYTimes or know people who are influenced by it. But instructive even if this is not the case.
Rubin is writing about the new, highly biased Times correspondent in Israel, Jodi Rudoren.  Many of us knew what she was like from the moment she set foot here, because she put out a very biased twitter message. 
What Rubin is concerned about, here, is the way in which Rudoren describes the hunger strike launched by Palestinian Arabs in our prisons.
He shares what Rudoren has written on the subject:
"The newest heroes of the Palestinian cause are not burly young men hurling stones or wielding automatic weapons. They are gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons."
And then he comments:
"This is not news coverage but revolutionary romanticism. And consider the implications:
" [] The article does not tell us that they are in prison for a reason. These are overwhelmingly people who have murdered or tried to murder civilians...
" [] They were in fact 'burly young men…wielding automatic weapons' when thrown into prison after trials. Most of them admit — indeed brag about — their crimes and make it clear that they would continue such deeds if released.
" [] Consequently, these people are not heroes to Palestinians, a macho society generally, because they are pitiful, gaunt, and starving but because they were heroes of an armed struggle defined in genocidal terms.
" [] The Palestinian Authority and Hamas hold these people as role models to young people so that they will be inspired to grow up to kill more Israelis.
" [] 'Gaunt adults, wrists in chains' seems pulled from the nineteenth century novels of Victor Hugo."
What is maddening -- truly, truly maddening -- here is that Israeli authorities are responding because the hunger strike is being used as a PR weapon against Israel.  (With the assistance of people like Rudoren, who make heroes of murderers.)
Already a committee has met with representatives of the prisoners and some concessions have been made: visits of family members from Gaza, restoring satellite television channels that had been removed, increased canteen rights and improved canteen conditions as well as transfer of sick prisoners by ambulance instead of military vehicles.. 
Can you imagine? Satellite television channels.  Nothing about this in international law. But they are on a hunger strike.  Some 10 prisoners have been hospitalized and the Arabs are saying that if any die it will be on our heads.  In fact, Islamic Jihad is saying any deaths may spark an intifada.
There are some ridiculously small demands, such as being allowed to take photos with their families once a year.  But, hey, they're on a roll, so why not demand as much as possible?
And these vile people with blood on their hands also want to get degrees from Israeli educational institutions.  They had that right once and it was discontinued when certain authorities came to their senses.  But it's being considered again.
My fury at all of this runs deep. 
The big demand is the end to administrative detention -- arrest without charges.  The simple fact is that we are at war.  When individuals are placed in administrative detention -- with the approval of a court! -- it is because they represent an immediate security threat to the nation.  No charges are brought publicly because to do so would be to publicly compromise our intelligence.
This will not be conceded.  It's too important.  Quite literally, innocent Jewish lives are at stake.
Just today, the High Court rejected the petition for release of two prisoners in administrative detention.
Physicians for Human Rights condemned this decision, saying, "The court's decision is a death sentence for both of them,"  This is a prime example of what a crazy world we live in and what bleeding-heart far left thinking is like. 
Hello?  Israel isn't starving these men, they are starving themselves.
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