For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
The international community is forging ahead with those plans to advance "peace negotiations": Later this week, Quartet representatives hope to meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian Arab officials, in Brussels. The goal of these meetings is said to be determination of the position of each side with regard to core issues. Then it is hoped that agreement can be reached on how to resume negotiations.
According to an article in Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu is still debating about whether to send his chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho to this meeting.
His concern is that of being unduly pressured by the international community to restart negotiations based on the '67 armistice line (erroneously referred to as a border). A Quartet summit is scheduled for two weeks from now in Paris, and he is worried about an official statement coming from that meeting.
Currently, Netanyahu is attempting to determine more precisely the purpose of the Brussels meeting via contact with the US administration. He will then call a meeting of the Septet (the inner cabinet of seven) before making a decision.
And so now I think is the appropriate time for us to deliver a message to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He needs to know that he has enormous support if he will stand strong in making decisions that protect Israel's rights. Implore him not to cave to international pressure. Remind him that he must believe in Israel's value to the international community.
Please! Keep this very short and very direct, in a gracious manner. No speeches, no history lessons.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
Then, if you are inclined, please send a similar message to the following members of the Septet. This must be done today, if they are meeting tomorrow. Indicate that you are writing with regard to the Septet meeting on Tuesday, at which there will be a discussion about Quartet involvement in the peace process.
In all instances, when faxing from the US: 011-972-2 followed by the regular seven digits.
I continue to suspect that the PA will prove to be such a stumbling block to Quartet attempts to bring them to the negotiating table that no advance will be made. They have already decided to go another route (see below).
However, as it continues to be the tendency of the international community to lean on Israel first, there is no need to take unnecessary chances. Pressure on Israel is precisely what the PA would prefer.
Fatah has come out in opposition to the attempts by PA Prime Minister Fayyad to promote unity with Hamas. This is according to Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah, as cited by Khaled Abu Toameh.
The party, explained Maqboul, objected to two matters in particular: that Fayyad said unity would be declared before all issues were resolved (I had thought that rather strange when he said it, and an indication of Fayyad's desperation), and that Fayyad was willing to allow Hamas to continue to control Gaza (a key stumbling block between the parties previously -- this was Fayyad providing Hamas with huge incentive).
Fayyad is an independent, and not a member of Fatah. Fatah has let it be known that it is within the party's jurisdiction, and not his, to determine reconciliation with Hamas.
Fayyad's rush to unity was motivated, I believe, by the desire to get them to permit elections in Gaza -- something they've said they would not allow until the dispute with Fatah was resolved. Fatah, you see, is in something of a bind. Elections are past due, which makes everything a bit illegitimate (although almost everyone turns a blind eye to this). There is however, no way to allow all Arabs in Palestinian areas to participate in voting as long as Hamas is blocking the way. The election would be very truncated if held under such circumstances.
Fayyad, who has said he is aiming for a Palestinian state by September, was hoping for PA elections by then, to maximize legitimacy.
Of course, the fact that Fayyad's approach to the matter of unity was considered unacceptable by Fatah does not mean they won't have their own approach.
Caroline Glick's piece from last Friday, "Playing Israel's good hand," makes several important and highly relevant points.
First of all, she emphasizes precisely the message I've suggested be delivered to Netanyahu:
"As our region is consumed by the flames of rebellion and revolution, the challenges and threats Israel faces multiply by the day. In these new and trying times, our leaders must shed their failed concepts of statecraft based on weakness and adopt new ones founded on strength."
This is THE message that members of our government must hear.
She also takes a closer look at the PA-US relationship:
"The revolution in Egypt happened just after the PA was thrown into a state of disarray. Al- Jazeera’s exposure of PA documents indicating the leadership’s willingness to make minor compromises with Israel in the framework of a peace deal served to discredit Fatah leaders in the eyes of the Israel-hating Palestinian public.
"In the wake of the Al-Jazeera revelations, senior PA leaders escalated their anti-Israel and anti- American pronouncements...
"The shift in the regional power balance following Mubarak’s fall has caused Fatah leaders to view their ties to the US as a strategic liability.
"If they wish to survive, they must cut a deal with Hamas. And to convince Hamas to cut a deal, they need to abandon the US.
"...the likes of Abbas and Fayyad understand that no matter what they say or do, the West will probably not abandon them. Europeans need them to continue carrying out their political war against Israel because that is what their constituents demand. US leaders will continue to support them because they follow Europe’s lead.
"On the other hand...PA leaders have to bend over backwards to appease Hamas and Iran if they wish to survive.
"...not only are the Palestinians unwilling to pay any price for maintaining Western support for them.
"They are willing to initiate ugly confrontations with the US and humiliate Obama in order to win the approval of Hamas and Iran.
"Facing this reality, Israel’s best bet is to initiate a few confrontations of its own to demonstrate its strategic importance to the US and Europe.
"With the conflagrations raging in the Arab world essentially making its argument that a strong Israel is imperative for the West, Israel should be going on the offensive against the Palestinians and the international Left that supports them."
But Netanyahu isn't doing this -- he's too busy being a "team player" and trying to avoid confrontation. Thus is the message to him recommended above extremely timely.
Especially because we must emphasize reasons to be proud of Israel, I would like to share some lovely observations.
The first is by Charles Moore, writing in The Telegraph (UK):
"It is often said that anti-Israeli feeling is growing in the West because Israel does not, despite its claims, live by Western values. I sometimes wonder if the opposite is the case: Israel, because of the constant threat to its existence, reminds us of the high cost of defending our freedoms. And that, to Western wishful thinkers, is intensely irritating."
And then, from the Harvard Crimson, of all places, comes a piece by Lee M. Hiromoto, "My Israel":
“'Discrimination is built into Israel.' Zionism 'has at its core the replacement of one people with another.'
"These were two claims I heard at a law school panel discussion on 'boycotting the Israeli occupation'... As the speakers attempted to ascertain the best practices for attacking and dismantling the State of Israel, I thought back to the four years I spent there before starting law school last fall.
"The Israel I experienced differed starkly from the fascist dystopia of which the panelists spoke. That Israel, my Israel, hopes for peace with its neighbors and respects the rights of minority groups, sometimes to a greater extent than the U.S. does.
"My military service as a dual citizen gives me great respect for Israel’s deep yearning to co-exist with its Arab neighbors...
"As part of my service, I visited hospitals in Jerusalem where Palestinian children, with Israeli military coordination, receive critical dialysis treatments several times a week (such treatment is unavailable in the West Bank). I saw a Jewish Israeli surgeon, an Apache pilot in the Israel Defense Forces reserves, treat Palestinian, Iraqi, and African children in an intensive care unit. At the crack of dawn I welcomed Palestinian workers to the Israeli community of Qedar outside Jerusalem, where they worked with their Israeli neighbors for much higher wages than they would earn in a Palestinian city.
"The upshot here is that Israel doesn’t have to let thousands of Palestinians, many of whom still deny Israel’s basic right to exist, into its communities for medical care or work (as happens every day). But Israel does."
In line with the above, see this video about Rambam hospital, in Haifa, which treats 700 Palestinian Arab children every year. In this film we see a charming little girl from Gaza whose life was saved by Israeli doctors who did emergency brain surgery on her:
Israel has just brought 23 of the 33 Chilean miners, who had been trapped underground for 68 days, to Israel, with spouses. Guests of the Ministry of Tourism, they were given an opportunity to visit Christian sites, in order to celebrate their faith and offer thanksgiving.
“It is a great honor for us to be here, because the God who rescued us from the bowels of the earth is the God who brought us here, and we are so grateful,” said miner Jose Enriques.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"