Wednesday, April 23, 2014

“Zeman Herutenu”

The Time of our Freedom. Another term for the Pesach Holiday which is just completing (last night here in Israel, tonight outside of Israel).  As I picked up news over the holiday that gave me a knot of considerable dimensions in my stomach, I knew how I had to begin this first post-holiday post:
Herut.  Freedom.  It was supposed to be that the Jewish People, having reached Israel, would be free. 
But what I see is that we are still enslaved.  Enslaved to a galut (diaspora) mentality: bowing still before international public opinion.  Worried about what “they” will say, or do.
When last I wrote, it was clear that the continuation of the “peace negotiations” was going to be a non-starter.  Or, at very least, if the two sides were to return to the table, it would come to absolutely nothing.  I had hoped to be done with writing about this, hoped that there would be nothing more to write in this regard.  But, alas, it was not to be.
Our prime minister – however ludicrous the situation and the demands of the PA – never says with finality, “Look guys, the current situation is obscene. We’ve given it our honest best, and we’ve had it.”  He prefers to play that game, so that the “failure” of the talks doesn’t appear to be our “fault,” all the while knowing it can go nowhere.
Just hours before the beginning of Pesach here, there was a terrorist attack:
Baruch Mizrachi, 46, was a chief superintendent in the National Police, in the intelligence unit.  With his wife Haddas and four of their five children, he was driving from Modi’in to Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hevron, for a Pesach seder with his in-laws, when terrorists fired on his car.  He was killed, and his wife and at least one of his kids were injured.
Credit: JPost
Every Israeli death at the hands of a terrorist brings heartbreak, but this was one of the really tough ones.  On their way to a seder!  Haddas Mizrachi, pregnant. allowed to leave her hospital bed the day after yom tov (the first day of Pesach) to bury her husband.  “With a bullet’s whistle,” she said, “I lost you, the love of my life.”
She told about how Baruch had spotted the terrorist and pressed his foot on the gas pedal, so that the terrorist would not have clear aim.  In doing this, said his widow, he saved his family, although he took a fatal hit.
Credit: Reuters 
It is past time to say, ENOUGH!
What Prime Minister Netanyahu did say was that this attack was the result of PA incitement:
"The Palestinian Authority continues to constantly broadcast -- in its official media -- programs that incite against the existence of the State of Israel.”
He is absolutely correct.  The message given to the Palestinian Arabs is that attacking Jews is an acceptable, indeed, a praiseworthy thing to do.
But did he follow through and say that there can be no further “negotiations” with the PA until that incitement is halted?  That any entity that promotes murderous attacks on us cannot be considered a partner in such negotiations, theoretically aimed at achieving peace?  Of course not.
Then a flap ensued regarding the question of whether Abbas condemned the terror attack – with Netanyahu saying that talks about the talks could not continue unless Abbas did provide a condemnation. “The incitement of the Palestinian Authority continues in that it has yet to see fit to condemn this abominable and reprehensible act."
In any event, a condemnation, had it been offered to satisfy a demand, and not as an expression of spontaneous outrage, would have been worthless.  But I will tell you that even this did not happen: Abbas did not condemn the attack – not in terms that are meaningful.  But he’s a sly fox who knows that he can offer pretense, and that Israel will look away.
Pathetically, a group of MKs from the Meretz and Labor parties – all people who are definitely not free, and don’t seem to even know what freedom is – visited Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday.  They came away insisting that Abbas did condemn the terror attack.  That’s how Abbas does it, if at all – in English, and in a private room. 
It is so pathetic that MK Nitzan Howowitz (Meretz), according to the JPost, declared that Abbas “specifically emphasized his disgust from bloodshed.”
Now, I ask you... What sort of pretzel do you have to turn yourself into to believe/or tout an Abbas statement such as this?
The tenor of feelings in the PA regarding the terrorist attack is quite clear from this report:
“Endowments Minister Mahmoud El Habash told Israeli reporters in Ramallah earlier last week that he was ‘pained’ by the murder of 47-year-old Baruch Mizrahi.” Now there are demands that he be dismissed and put on trial.  On some Palestinian Arab FB pages threats about killing him have shown up.
What we must remember is that the only thing that matters is a public statement by Abbas in Arabic, so that he would be delivering a message to his own people regarding his stern disapproval of such behavior.  This he never provides.  He might, quite literally, find himself on the receiving end of some violence if he did.
According to PA spokesman Nabil Abu Ruaineh, Abbas did not condemn the attack, but, rather, simply said in that meeting that he “is committed to a total condemnation of violence...” 
Double talk.  Did Abbas offer a condemnation of the attack to the MKs and then allow his spokesman to deny it?  Or did those MKs misinterpret and expand on what he actually said?
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  No public condemnation was given in Arabic, and yet Israel, with a one day hiatus, continued those talks about the talks. Martin Indyk had returned, and things proceeded apace.  Which means nothing has been happening.
An unnamed Palestinian official has told AFP that Indyk, in meetings on Friday, “did not present any new proposals on how to salvage the talks.”  I laughed at this.  There is nothing, but nothing, that could be presented by Indyk that would generate a break-though, although an associate of mine thought maybe Indyk might bring a different kind of pizza to the table.
Next week we reach the deadline for the talks, and there is a great deal of unease as to what comes next.  PA officials are indulging in their typical dramatic statements and threats. 
Abbas has delivered his latest list of demands for returning to the table. I’ve lost track of how many times he’s set out “requirements,” each time varying the specifics.  I will not belabor them here, as what Abbas wants is far more than Israel will give: release of prisoners, total freeze of all building over the ‘67 line, including in Jerusalem, and agreement on borders for a Palestinian state within three months.
Israel has already rejected these terms.  A senior Israeli official has said that building will not be frozen, and borders will not be discussed separately from other issues – in fact, borders could not be determined until other issues were resolved.
The official further said: "The meaning of what Abbas said is that the Palestinians do not want peace. Because those who do [want peace] do not continue to make demands they know Israel cannot accept." This is apparent on the face of things for those who wish to see.
The most dramatic of Abbas’s threats right now involves a dismantling of the Palestinian Authority.  I see it as a ploy and no more.  Even Saeb Erekat says it won’t happen.  But I’ll come back to this as appropriate.  There are vast implications and complications, yet I am less unsettled by them than many seem to be.  Minister Naftali Bennett has challenged Abbas: You want to leave, so leave.  I would second that.
What does unsettle me greatly is the manner in which our sovereignty is being challenged, both on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) and Har Hazeitim (Mount of Olives), where we have been confronting increased – and horrendous - Arab violence.
To those who are watching this closely, it seems clear that we are not seeing disparate incidents that just happened to take place at the same time.  We are seeing a concerted campaign.  This I want to address in some detail. 
Oh! And there are renewed talks with Hamas regarding a unity agreement.
You can see details here:
This is just one more attempt to frighten Israel into making more concessions.
Last Thursday was “Palestinian Prisoners Day,” and the PA marked it by calling for the release of all 5,300 Palestinian Arabs in Israeli prisons.  Now that the “state of Palestine” has ratified the Geneva Conventions, PA leaders say, they are able to harness international law in applying pressure on Israel.  Keeping the Palestinian Arabs in prison is a “war crime,” they claim, for Israel is holding political prisoners who are fighting for their people’s freedom.
What an absolute crock this is.  International law (invoked inappropriately by various parties) does not recognize the deliberate killing of innocent civilians, including children, as a political act on behalf of freedom. 
This is what we are going to be subjected to, more and more. But we’re looking mostly at empty threats and what is important is to not be intimidated or manipulated. Said an Israeli official:
“According to the Geneva Conventions, the entire Palestinian leadership should be immediately indicted for the thousands of rockets that have been fired from Palestinian territories into Israel...” 
The Palestinians have actually increased their liability by signing the Conventions, by which they are now bound.
Here I recommend an important briefing for the JCPA by Alan Baker on PA attempts to be recognized as a state.  It addresses serious issues regarding international law:
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