Monday, May 16, 2011
From Israel: First Things First
Arlene from Israel
15 May '11
I want to share this information first, to be certain that everyone sees it:
Within days, my daughter-in-law is due to deliver her ninth child. As we say, "B'sha'a tova" -- in a good hour, may all go well. I am on call to care for the other eight children while she is in the hospital, and will remain some short time after she comes home. When I get the call to come, I'm out of here! And I will return when it is time for me to return.
Thus, there is going to be a hiatus in my postings, starting in a few days. As it happens, this is likely to occur while Netanyahu is in the US. But, as I said, first things first. My priorities are clear. I'll keep posting now until I'm called, and then share and analyze on my return.
It is with gratitude that I realize that many reading this wish me and my family well. But I will ask that you hold your messages for now. In fact, I also ask something else of you: Please, please, remove me from your lists and refrain from sending me much in the way of information from now until I've come back. I'm on what can only be described as overload.
Thank you for understanding.
Now to business.
Word I'm getting is that Netanyahu is holding tight as he prepares to go to the States. But the pressure on him at this point has to be unbearable.
There are reports from sources as solid as the Wall Street Journal saying that Obama's Middle East speech will not focus on Palestinian Arab-Israeli negotiations, but rather on the implications of bin Laden's death, uprisings in Arab lands, etc.
But today I heard it from a quite reliable source, who has connections in Washington DC, that leaks are coming from the White House indicating that Obama does intend to deal with "negotiations," and will be leaning on Israel, as he believes it falls to us to make sufficient concessions to bring the PA back to the table.
My information is that Netanyahu sees the situation without illusions.
In response to this, please:
Contact Prime Minister Netanyahu. This goes especially for those who are Israeli.
Do not lecture him, do not give him history lessons, do not belabor points he already understands.
Just deliver a clear, strong, supportive message:
Tell him that you know that his position is very difficult and that pressures on him are enormous as he prepares to go to the US, to meet with President Obama and then address Congress.
Let him know that he is not alone and you are with him.
Tell him that the world will be listening to him when he speaks to Congress. This is his opportunity to make Israel's case -- with regard to Jewish heritage in the land, legal precedents for the right to the land, and security requirements for retaining the land. Many have never heard such messages before. He will earn his place in history if he stands strong for Israel at this moment.
Implore him, as he makes Israel's case, to refrain from further concessions. Ask him to avoid doing anything that weakens Israel -- even if done in the name of garnering good will internationally. There is no end to the concessions that are expected of Israel, and more than sufficient concessions have already been made.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
For those of you, whether in Israel or elsewhere, who have Israeli contacts who are not on my list but who would be understanding and responsive, please copy the material immediately above, in lighter blue (the rest does not pertain to them), and paste it into a new message to those contacts. Explain that this came from a posting by Arlene Kushner and ask that they contact the prime minister to give him strength, and that they share the message with still others.
Inside the United States, there is a different job to be done.
Obama must know that he is being watched, with regard to putting additional pressure on Israel.
Let him know that he is going to lose considerable support come election time, if he fails now to be supportive of Israel -- the only democracy in the Middle East and a valuable and loyal ally.
Tell him Israel's supporters have a long memory and how he acts now -- as he meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu and delivers his Middle East speech -- will not be forgotten in November 2012.
Say that it is time he held the Palestinians accountable, and that he must acknowledge the impossibility and impropriety of trying to foster negotiations with Hamas in the picture.
Fax: 202-456-2461 White House Comment line: 202-456-1111
e-mail form via: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
This said, I want to turn this over to activists in the US. The presidential campaign provides the opportunity for leverage with regard to how Obama treats Netanyahu and pushes on Israel . This leverage must be utilized to the maximum, and it falls to those in the States to pursue this. Contact members of the Democratic National Committee, key Democrats in Congress, and whomever else may have influence on the president's stand on Israel. Let them know clearly that what the president does now will affect Democratic electoral chances in November 2012. Do not relent in publicizing this message. Run with the ball, please.
Nakba Day. It could have been worse. There is no "third intifada." At least not yet. But it also could have been better.
What was probably the most difficult situation occurred in the north. Unrest from inside Israel is one thing, infiltration of Israel's borders is something else. Palestinians crossed the border from Syria and moved into the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan, where they rioted against the IDF:
It is now estimated that nearly 1,000 Syrians approached the fence, and that some 300 protesters rushed the fences and crossed over onto Israeli soil. Roughly 100 people entered Majdal Shams and clashed with Israeli forces, causing some injuries.
They have now been pushed back. (And there was consultation with Druze leaders in the village, in the process.)
Additionally, rioters tried to breach the Lebanese border and enter Israel. But they were prevented from doing so by Lebanese forces.
In Judea and Samaria, there were several places were Arabs rioted -- for the most part coming out of Arab villages and burning tires, throwing rocks and firebombs. The worst was in Kalandia, where some 600 rioted. On the IDF YouTube channel -- http://www.youtube.com/IDFNADesk -- you can see rioters in Kalandia trying to hide behind an ambulance.
Inside Jerusalem I heard reports of crowds and unrest on the Mt. of Olives and behind Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem.
In the neighborhood of Isawiyah, in eastern Jerusalem, youngsters hid behind dumpsters as they threw rocks at police. At one point, a Molotov cocktail aimed at police missed and set an apartment on fire. A young mother came out hysterical, and police went in and rescued her two young children.
In the South, riots took place in Gaza, near the Erez Crossing, where damage was caused to the crossing and rocks were thrown at IDF soldiers. One individual was seen planting an explosive device near the fence.
Inevitably, there were casualties, as the IDF and border police sought to contain the riots. With regard to those coming down from Syria, depending on the report, from one to four were killed and dozens injured. Of the 100 or more reportedly injured or some ten killed in attempts to cross the border from Lebanon, it is believed that the Lebanese forces did the shooting. Reports are that one person was killed in Gaza, and several injured.
The IDF is being credited with enormous restraint, which prevented the shooting of far larger numbers, in particular as they rushed across the border.
But, as we had to expect, Israel is being accused of wanton aggression. Undoubtedly there will be an investigation, or several investigations.
In a televised speech, PA President Abbas said the blood of those killed will not be in vain.
From Hezbollah came threats of repercussions.
Israel is holding Syria responsible for the infiltration from its territory into Israel: The Syrian military is in control of the northern border crossings, and those who rushed the border would not have been able to approach the border – let alone infiltrate into Israel – without the Syrian military's knowledge and consent.
In fact, one of the possibilities being considered is that Syrian authorities (or Assad himself) sanctioned or fostered the breaching of Israel's border. A handful of the Syrian infiltrators have been held for questioning.
"This appears to be a cynical and transparent act by the Syrian leadership to deliberately create a crisis on the border so as to distract attention from the very real problems that regime is facing at home," stated one unnamed top Israeli official.
While IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said that the protests bore Iran's "fingerprints...
"We are seeing here an Iranian provocation, on both the Syrian and the Lebanese frontiers, to try to exploit the Nakba day commemorations."
In this context, it's important to note that people in Jordan seeking to approach towards Israel were prevented from doing so by Jordanian police.
In a statement late today, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"We hope to see the calm reinstalled as soon as possible, but make no mistake – we are determined to defend our borders and sovereignty." (Article 51 of the United Nations Charter addresses the inviolability of borders of a sovereign nation.)
"[Contrary to what organizers of Nakba Day said] their fight isn’t about the 1967 borders, but the very undermining of the State of Israel. It is important that we face reality and know who and what we are dealing with."
Matters have quieted down, but it not yet all over. And there is speculation as to what will follow.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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