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Friday, April 22, 2005

In The Name of God, Go!

Having come to visit my eldest son and his family in Calgary for the Passover festival, I found myself busy with preparations for the holiday. What with shopping and spending time with the grandchildren, by early evening I found I was pooped. I turned on the TV to learn that Prime Minister Paul Martin would be addressing the nation in a few moments.
Too tired to thumb the remote, I decided to watch the telecast. Here are some random, brief thoughts on what transpired in the next 30 minutes.
Paul Martin looked well groomed, but not Prime-Ministerial. He failed to shake off the sobriquet, Mr. Dither. Indeed, by being the only one to appear in ‘canned’ format, rather than live, as did the other leaders, his weakness under fire was highlighted.

But what was truly sad was to see the Prime Minister of Canada, begging for clemency, or, at least, a delay before the imposition of sentence. Actually, his seven minute address was reminiscent of a defence lawyer making submissions to sentence.

Unfortunately, in this instance the accused was acting as his own counsel, and the litany of supposed mitigating factors which he cited merely added to the culpability.
I was also struck by the fact that while all opposition leaders spoke in both French and English, Mr. Martin spoke only in English. Perhaps he has already written off the Province of Quebec.

And as I listened and watched, I could not help but think of the words uttered by Oliver Cromwell in dismissing the rump parliament in 1653: “you have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of god, go!”
In The Name of God, Go! posted by guraryeh at 3:06 p.m. 10 comments

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Little Twig and the Limp Carrot

True, I am writing this on April 1st. However, I assure you this is no April Fool’s joke. Which is not to say that, were it not so tragic, it would not make for a great comedy routine. It might start with the line: ‘Did you hear the one about the General who ordered a retreat and called it a momentous step forward?’

Great tactician that he is, Ariel Sharon orchestrated the votes in the Knesset to assure that his dictates would prevail. On the budget vote he was able to come up with 700,000 Shekel to buy the votes of Tommy Lapid and his party. Thus he not only assured passage of the budget, he also, as someone commented recently, legalized prostitution in Israel. Once it was legalized, he was able to persuade a number of Likud members to vote with him by promising them cabinet positions.

However, as he was ready to put the new cabinet appointees before the Knesset Plenum, he suddenly realized that he did not have the votes. So he changed his mind and withdrew the appointments. This was not difficult for him because he has gained vast experience in going back on his word. Indeed the hallmark of his current administration is one broken promise after another. It reminds me of the question David Ben-Gurion is reputed to have uttered when Sharon’s name came up: “Is Arik still lying?”

Amram Mitzna campaigned in the last elections on a call to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. Sharon unequivocally attacked him for this position, and roundly defeated him and the Labour Party. Conclusion: the country was against this folly.

Now Sharon argues that circumstances have changed and the policy that was defeated must be implemented. He goes on to argue that the nation as a whole supports him in this. Yet I am not aware of any vote by the populace that approves such a move.

I know the argument about the polls showing the people’s approval. But as the cliché has it: ‘the only poll that counts is the one at the ballot box’. That is the one he steadfastly refuses to permit. Could it be that deep down he knows he would lose?

Leaving aside all of the above, I have yet to hear any real justification for the policy of disengagement. What I do hear is that the Egypt-Gaza border will be policed by the Egyptians. They are the people who bring you that great entertainment called, “Dig a New Tunnel”. This program, which runs almost daily, is sponsored by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Tanzim – their respective arms smuggling wings, as distinguished from their political or homicide bombing wings.

As for expecting any policing from the Palestinians, ‘fugedaboudit’. They’re too busy smuggling in Strela missiles so they can threaten commercial and military aircraft. And such officers, or future officers, as are not engaged in the smuggling are busy shooting up Abu Mazen’s Ramallah headquarters.

Just to add to the lunacy, Shaul Mofaz, former Chief of Staff, now Defence Minister, says the PA must seize the missiles. Does he not realize they are the ones who brought them in? These are weapons not permitted in the PA territories, neither under Oslo nor the Road Map. They should be destroyed immediately, otherwise all bets are off. Inexplicably, he holds out a little twig and threatens with a limp carrot.

The reality is that the Egyptians are not going to help Israel. Since the death of Sadat there is not one whit of evidence to show benign intentions by Egypt. They are the facilitators , if not the instigators, of the smuggling in the Rafah area. Now Sharon wants to rely on them to police the Philadelphi Road.

This unilateral lunacy can achieve only one thing. Instead of the hotspot being the Egypt-Gaza area, it will now become the Gaza-Yad Mordechai area. The killers and headchoppers will be getting ever closer to the heartland of Israel. And when the day of reckoning comes it will do no good for the nation to repeat Ben-Gurion’s question quoted above.
The Little Twig and the Limp Carrot posted by guraryeh at 11:21 a.m. 1 comments

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Colour Orange

One of my grandsons is afflicted with a love for the colour orange. Why do I say afflicted? Well, if he visits Israel in today’s police-state climate, he might not be permitted to enter. At the very least, he would be subject to forceful questioning about his love for that colour, which, according to the simple-minded police mentality now prevalent, clearly signifies support for the Jews of Yesha, and opposition to disengagement.

I say this because of what happened to members of the group that recently came to Israel with Dov Hikind. Mr. Hikind is apparently an Assemblyman from the State of New York. Reputedly, he is also a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. Thus he assembled some 40 New Yorkers, including Supreme Court Justices, educators, and business people, all of whom came to Israel at their own expense to show solidarity with the inhabitants of Yesha.

Now the purpose of the trip was no secret. Indeed publicity was the point of the exercise. On arrival the vast majority of the group was unceremoniously taken to an interrogation area and subjected to questioning which was clearly intended to intimidate. Passports were seized, and the police lied to them by telling them that Gush Katif, where they were intending to go to show solidarity, was a closed military area. When one woman spoke up to ask why she was being honoured with such a display of heavy-handedness, she was informed that the orange t-shirt she was wearing clearly branded her as a person who was against disengagement. Hence my concern about my grandson’s affliction.

Are these guys for real? The group came for the express purpose of showing solidarity with the inhabitants of Yesha, and to voice their disapproval of Sharon’s disengagement lunacy. In a democracy the concept of l’etat c’est moi does not exist. The people are free to express their opinions, and those who agree with them are free to demonstrate that agreement.

I realize the members of the New York group were probably not Israeli citizens. But they are the people to whom Israel turns for support in times of need. And they are clearly Jews who love Israel and the Jewish people. Just because Aipac will not permit anti-disengagement voices to be heard, does not mean that there are not large numbers of North American Jews opposed to disengagement. They are just as entitled to be heard, both in and out of Israel, as are the so called ‘leaders of the Jewish community’. And the latter are not really leaders at all. Rather, they are a collection of followers falling into step behind the dictates of a formerly great general, now a wholly befuddled and anti-democratic Prime Minister.

This past Saturday we read the special Maftir, Zachor, which is read annually before the festival of Purim. It is an obligation on every Jew to hear this reading, to remember it, and, as best he can, to try and achieve its fulfillment. We are told to remember what Amalek did to the Jewish people on their way out of Egypt. We must never forget, and we are commanded to wipe out the memory of Amalek. Was Sharon in the synagogue to hear the reading? Did any of his anti-democratic minions hear it?

They have another chance to learn the lesson. Thursday evening and Friday morning they can hear another reading, Megillat Esther, in which the lesson is basically the same. But somehow I don’t think they’ll be there.

On the other hand, I think a good many of Hikind’s group heard Zachor. They will likely hear the Megillah. But they got the point long ago; they remember, and they want others to remember as well.

As I write this I am looking at a painting of Queen Esther that my wife did in 1979. It so happens that the Queen is dressed in orange. More and more I’m beginning to like that colour.
A Colour Orange posted by guraryeh at 5:30 p.m. 1 comments

Friday, March 18, 2005

ARE YOU SERIOUS?

If we disregard the spin doctors, and overlook the mendacious statements of the parties, it is clear that Abu Mazen's negotiations with the 13 terrorist factions have failed. This, of course, is no great surprise, as they were never intended to succeed. Simple window dressing to continue the pretence.

The obligation of the PA is to disarm the terrorist organizations. That is what they committed to in the Oslo Accords, and again in the Road Map. That is the first step, the sine qua non, without which nothing can happen. But Abu Mazen has said often and publicly, both during the election campaign and afterwards, that he has no intention of moving against the terrorists. And so the only purpose served by the meeting between the 13 factions and the terrorist-in-chief was to create window dressing.

Israel Radio carried the following statement by Abu Mazen: "The Palestinian agreement is important and serious and it will ... give the peace process a chance to move forward."

Clearly the agreement is "important". But only to the PA, as it permits the PA to continue the fiction that it will fight terror and the terrorists. But the reality is that there is not even a hudna, there is just some ephemeral concept of calm, capable of being broken, without notice, at any time. I guess it is like a time-out in sports: an opportunity to catch your breath, get new instructions from the coach, then take up the battle once again.

I was troubled by the use of the word "serious". But on reflection I think he inserted it in the comment in order to forestall the outcries that would start with: ARE YOU SERIOUS? Because that is the only sensible question to be asked when the terms of the agreement are grasped. The calm is not only ephemeral, but is subject to such nonsensical conditions as the release of all prisoners. ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Abu Mazen goes on to talk about a "peace process". What peace process? There never was, and there never will be, a peace process until the thirteen bands of killers are fully disarmed and shunned by all those who truly seek peace. That does not mean coopting the killers to the PA security forces. There is no point in relieving them of their present ordinance, just to issue them new, or even the same, ordinance, and calling them members of the security forces. All the more so when we recall that the lynch mob that brutally killed two Israeli reservists was to a large extent composed of members of the PA security forces.

I also find it interesting that Abu Mazen has two names. This nome de guerre, and the name given him at birth, Mahmoud Abbas. Under the latter name, as the elected President of the PA he speaks out of one side of his mouth, mouthing platitudes designed to hide his true intentions. Under the former name he mouths the true venom of his position, the incitement that will inevitably lead to more death and devastation.

Peace process indeed. If he really wants to set off on such a process he must take the first step to which he has obligated himself. Disarm the terrorists, stop them in their tracks. Peace will follow as day does night.
That is, if he is serious.
ARE YOU SERIOUS? posted by guraryeh at 12:10 p.m. 0 comments

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Thin End Of The Wedge

On my first trip to Israel, almost 50 years ago, both I and the country were young and naive. But even the youthful exuberance, wonder and awe, could not keep me from noticing the inordinate bureaucracy, and the almost dictatorial socialist behaviour of the police and government functionaries, the pakidim.
As a Zionist-Revisionist, a Betari, and devotee of Jabotinsky and Begin, the incident of the Altalena, when Ben Gurion ordered Jews to open fire on Jews, and the order was carried out by Yitzchak Rabin, was fresh in my mind. But as I walked the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat, all could be overlooked. To be in a Jewish homeland was what mattered, all the rest were minor irritants and could be ignored. Boy, was I wrong.
Then, over the years, as the light began to penetrate, I was still loath to publicly find fault with the State. In a sense, I still am to this very day.
However, the use being made today of the police and security services to ram a policy down the throats of the people is going just a little too far. There was the Avishai Raviv affair where the lunatic conduct of a Shabak agent led, directly or indirectly, to the assassination of a Prime Minister.
Now, once again an agent provocateur is being used to discredit the right of the political spectrum. And if that is not enough, you have people who disagree with government policy being thrown into jail in "administrative detention". No right to a trial, no crime specified, just thrown in jail because the Shabak, or the police or the Prime Minister, or some nameless functionary doesn't like what they are saying. And all this in the name of democracy.
The law governing "administrative detention" is a left-over from the British Mandate period. After the declaration of statehood in 1948, Israel just never got around to getting rid of it. In 57 years they could never get around to rescinding the law. In any event, surely in a democracy one may speak out against that with which one disagrees. One may even go so far as to urge the defeat of a government and the formation of a new government. If not, where is the democracy?
Martin Luther King was never placed in "administrative detention" because the US, unlike the hypocritical British, never had such a quaint concept. Yet Israel chooses to maintain this iniquitous tool, and to use it with increasing frequency. If someone is speaking sedition or committing treason, charge him accordingly, and present your evidence in a court of law. Otherwise, to speak out is his democratic right. To attend demonstrations and rallies is equally his right. Those in power may disagree with what he urges, but they must always accord him the right to urge it publicly and freely.
Lately I am reading about incidents where the police are alleged to have beaten youngsters for no reason other than they were attending or participating in demonstrations against government policy. Some of these youngsters are at an age where they are about to be inducted into the military. What a novel way of instilling patriotism! Here is the coverage from Arutz-7 - Israel National News.
Arutz-7 – Israel National News,
2/27/2005

Two families told Arutz-7 the same thing today: "We've filed a complaint with the
Police Department against the policemen in question, and are planning to file a civil lawsuit as well, via Honenu."
Both families, the Alberts and the Halfons, underwent the same trauma at the hands of violent policemen, just a day apart. A member of each family was arrested by police for no apparent reason, and was beaten up repeatedly by policemen on the way to - and in one case, inside - the police station.
The story of Hanoch Albert, 25, of Givat Ahiyah near Shilo, was told to Arutz-7 in detail by his brother and wife. On Feb. 15, police came to arrest Hanoch's friend for having planted a tree a month earlier at the site where he was wounded and a friend was killed in a terror attack in May 2003.
Hanoch attempted to dissuade the police from arresting him, explaining that his friend was a terror victim, etc. There was no violence, but finally the police decided to take Hanoch as well. On the way to the police station, they threatened him – "We know your family; you'll end up in the hospital in pieces" – and at one point, took him out of the car and began beating him frightfully and powerfully. He protected his face and head as best he could, but received strong blows on his head and neck – and still suffers from pain and nausea today. The police brought him to the Shaar Binyamin police station just north of Jerusalem, where they interrogated him and continued to strike him.
"He called me for a second," his brother Elchanan said, "and just managed to say that I should come to Shaar Binyamin, and when I got there, I heard from behind the door how the policemen were laughing about how they had hit him, and complaining that he would probably be released soon.
"Ariel Halfon, a 17.5-year-old resident of Shilo, has a similar story: "On Feb. 16, I was walking away from the [anti-disengagement] protest in Tel Aviv with my friend when a police car drove by. We paid no attention. Suddenly, policemen jumped out and arrested us. I asked one of them for some identification, and I received a strong slap. The other policeman also didn't show identification... they really beat me up. They then threw me into the car and put me in the back. A policeman sitting next to me [his name is being withheld in the meanwhile at Ariel's request – ed.] struck me throughout the whole ride, with the other policemen encouraging him.
"When we got to the station, a policeman asked me for identification. I hesitated for a moment, and when he saw that, he took the very heavy log book and gave me a terrifically strong blow on my head, and then struck me in the legs." They interrogated him for several hours, and then took him to Ichilov Hospital to have his eye - which was hurt during the course of the beatings - looked at. No x-rays of his limbs or other organs were taken, and the family was unable to receive a copy of the
medical records for several days.
Both families say they wish to publicize their stories in order that the guilty be punished and to deter other policemen from acting the same way. They are in contact with Honenu, an organization that has set as its goal the provision of legal aid for those who find themselves in legal trouble as a direct or indirect result of the military/political situation in Israel.
Shmuel Medad of Kiryat Arba, who heads the organization, told Arutz-7 today, "The film clip on our site shows just four examples – but we have a lot to update it with, ever since they started this unprecedented and terribly ugly wave of arrests of protestors against the disengagement. Just today I was informed of a boy in the Old City who was kept overnight in the Old City police station last night for an incident of spitting that occurred a month ago, and of two Chabadniks arrested for taking part in a protest, and of someone from Maon who was beaten mercilessly... We are collapsing under the burden, but we can't give up."
Now the Attorney General takes it one step further. He is urging legislators to change the law so that citizens may be arrested for what the Shabak, or the police, or the Lord alone knows who else, thinks they may be thinking. According to Menachem Mazuz, the old law requires evidence. Usually there isn't any. So let's do away with that silly requirement and simply throw them into jail. To quote Dr. Aaron Lerner of Imra:
Israel TV: AG Mazuz proposes outlawing expression as "inciting" even if doesn't lead to violence
Aaron Lerner Date: 27 February 2005
Israel Television Channel One news correspondent Avi Fierst reported on Mabat tonight that Attorney General Mazuz explained to the cabinet today that the incitement law now requires that political expression can only be prosecuted as illegal if it "has a real possibility of leading to violence" and thus cases don't hold up in court as a conviction essentially requires that someone armed who is exposed to the expressions actually acts on the words."If you want us to act," Mazuz told the cabinet, "then change the law."
Fierst's report on Mabat also featured, within (sic) considerable fanfare and graphics, the contents of a pamphlet that was "revealed" by Shabak (ISS) head Avi Dichter to the cabinet: "Instructions to the protestor against disengagement from the Legal Center of the Headquarters for the Struggle Against Disengagement
"Recommended to bring a camera - if arrested - pass to a friend."
"Equip yourself with a cellular telephone with the number of the legal assistance center in the memory."
"During the course of the interrogation say: "this is a political interrogation and thus I have nothing more to say."
"Record the names of the police for the purposes of filing a proper complaint."
"They always have complaints that they were hit and beaten etc. etc.", Fierst explained.
The advice is what any competent first-year law student would give. As to Fierst's closing comment, he fails to take into account that the complaints may well be true. But all of that aside, the attitude of the authorities smacks of George Orwell's 1984. All the more so when the putative guardian of the rights of the people, the Attorney General, is the one suggesting abrogating, if not eliminating, those rights.
If one emulates the worst conduct of one's enemy to protect oneself from that enemy, is one any better than that enemy? The end does not always justify the means. Indeed, it rarely does. To abridge democratic rights is to fly entirely against that which the world needs most. We must not let the thin end of the wedge under the door.
The Thin End Of The Wedge posted by guraryeh at 11:24 p.m. 0 comments

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Of Buttons and Prisoners

Jake was a ne'er-do-well who used to hang out with the gamblers and race track characters. Rube had a poultry business, and a rather ugly daughter. On bumping into Jake one day, Rube proposed that Jake marry his daughter, and Rube would buy him a truck and hire him to deliver the poultry. And so the deal was done.
However, the daughter kept coming to Rube to complain that thus far Jake had not so much as touched her. Finally, after some weeks, Rube went to see Jake to try and find out what was going on.
Now, in those days, zippers on trouser flies had not yet replaced buttons. As Rube upbraided Jake for not fulfilling his marital responsibilities, the answer he got was: "Not one button moves until I get my truck"
So, too, the United States is a country that likes to propose a marriage between Israel and the Palestinians. In 1998, Bill Clinton promised to release Jonathan Pollard if Israel signed the Wye Agreement. Bibi Netanyahu, accompanied by Arik Sharon, signed; but no Jonathan Pollard. Under Ehud Barak, Israel was urged to release terrorist prisoners. Many were released, still no Jonathan Pollard. To free one bent former colonel who became a less than honest businessman, and retrieve some dead bodies, Arik Sharon gave away the store; still no Jonathan Pollard.
And now, to satisfy a preening holocaust denier, Sharon is urged to free a fresh batch of killers and terrorists. Once again he is going to give away the store, when he should be saying: "not one button moves until I get my truck". Not one prisoner should be released until Jonathan Pollard is freed.
If you agree, e-mail Prime Minister Sharon at pm@pmo.gov.il, I'm sure he'll be glad to hear from you. While you are at it, why not send a copy to Justice For Jonathan Pollard: pollard@jonathanpollard.org.
Of Buttons and Prisoners posted by guraryeh at 5:44 p.m. 0 comments

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Foreign Affair

Throughout his tenure I often contended that Bill Graham was probably the worst Foreign Minister Canada ever had. However, given the performance of the present incumbent in that office, Pierre Pettigrew, I almost find myself wishing for the return of Graham. I said almost.
I guess that given the amount of time he has spent in his pied-a-terre in Paris, Pettigrew has picked up the French way of conducting foreign affairs. And given the Liberal bias against the US, Israel, the war in Iraq, and the war on Terror, his incomprehensible judgment calls seem to perfectly fit the French mould.
Recently he went off to the Middle East. The purpose of the trip wholly escapes me, but there he was laying a wreath at the grave of the Great Terrorist, Yasser Arafat. As I wrote in a letter to the National Post:
National Post
Monday, February 14, 2005
Re: Pettigrew Assailed For Arafat Tribute, Feb. 12.
I suppose it may not surprise other readers that Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew would honour one of the world's leading terrorist murderers. But I think that act was shameful in the extreme.
And then to read that two members of the Canada Israel committee, who were traveling with the Minister, condoned the action is also highly disturbing.
Everyone seems to agree that Mr. Arafat was the main obstacle to peace, and so to heap honour on him on behalf of Canada sends the wrong message at this time.
I can understand Mazen Chouaib pointing out on behalf of the National Council of Canada-Arab Relations that, "Arafat, whether we like it or not, was democratically elected by the majority of the Palestinian people." I would simply point out that Adolf Hitler, too, was democratically elected. I might even go so far as to point out that the similarity does not end there.
© National Post 2005
I doubt even Bill Graham would have been so insensitive or so foolish. But Graham can take pride in the fact that his successor borrows from him as well as the French. We all recall how Graham dithered and stalled to avoid declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The excuses were legion. He claimed Hezbollah did good work in education, but neglected to mention that it was educating the members in making bombs and killing innocent women and children. He also claimed that Hezbollah was a political party as well as a collection of thugs and killers, and we should overlook the latter to preserve the former.
And now Graham can look with pride on Pettigrew who yesterday refused to declare the Tamil Tigers a Terrorist entity. His reason was that to do so would interfere with negotiations presently under way in Sri Lanka. But he takes it one step further and says that the US has asked him not to declare the Tamil Tigers to be terrorists, although the US has long ago done so.
My simple question is, are they or are they not terrorists? As quoted by CP, the Minister states they are. Isn't that an end to the matter? And since when do good Liberals take instructions from the US? Isn't he afraid that Carolyn Parrish may attack him as being born of an unwed mother?
Bob and weave, do the dipsy-doodle, avoid decisions, blame everyone who is not a Liberal; that is Canada's foreign policy for the last twelve years. Mike Pearson must be turning in his grave, given what is happening to the Department which he led for years. One did not always agree with him, but he articulated and implemented policies. This present bunch, integrity and policy are concepts totally foreign to them. That is why Pierre Pettigrew is Minister of foreign Affairs.
A Foreign Affair posted by guraryeh at 2:06 p.m. 0 comments