Monday, December 26, 2011

Kushner - From Israel: Ya'alon Briefing

Arlene Kushner
26 December '11

Last night, Moshe Ya'alon, Minister of Security Affairs and Deputy Foreign Minister, spoke at a Likud Anglo event in Jerusalem.

I share here thoughts from his briefing:

The main threat Israel faces, he says, does not involve security issues external to us, but rather our level of confidence in ourselves: in our way of life, our culture, our faith. We are in the midst of Chanukah, and this holiday, above all, is about our spirit.


Part of what is required of us is strength in the face of what he referred to as "corrupt discourse." We must continue to see matters clearly and know what we stand for, even in the face of perceptual distortions and biases.

A key example of this is the so-called "Arab Spring," which is actually a geo-political earthquake. The notion that it is about democratization is a fairy tale.

What we are actually seeing around us in the Middle East is the collapse of the nation-state system, which was imposed artificially in this region. After WWI, European nations divided up the Middle East into "nations," drawing lines without regard to the various tribe, clans and other groups, including religious, that existed within the designated borders. They did this using the European nation-state as model. (There is a France, with a French people, etc. But, for example, Syria is governed by an Alawite minority, while the state contains within it Christian, Sunni, Shia, Druze and other groups). In point of fact, the imposition upon tribal societies of nations-states was patronizing.


And now the West is attempting to impose another value: democratization. Often the benchmark used is an election. But this alone does not define a democracy, and Islamic regimes distort the game -- using those elections for their own ends. Actual democratization is a slow process, with development of a free press, concern for human rights, etc.


One of the reasons the West is eager to see instant democratization is because it has developed a fallacious mental set: It sees all problems as having solutions, and believes that those solutions can be found now. This is a corruption of Western modern life. When we are dealing with very complicated geo-political situations, "solutions now" may simply not be possible.

This is certainly the case with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict.

But what happens when no instant solution is found is that Western leaders deny that the Jihadists have accountability. Instead the finger is pointed at Israel. This is a dangerous situation.

The media and academia impose politically correct thinking and are eager to push Israel into a situation that requires appeasement. These are failed approaches, fueled by anti-Semitism, ignorance and naiveté.

And Israel must fight back against this thinking.


Ya'alon says as early as 1995 -- when he was in IDF Intelligence -- he was able to readily see that Oslo was not going to be a success because Arafat wasn't preparing his people for peace, rather he was educating them for war.

Until this day, that situation has not changed. He says that there are three key questions that must be posed to the Palestinian Arabs, which are major signposts with regard to their intentions:

- Will you recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jews? 

 - Will you agree to an end of conflict?

 - Will address Israeli security needs (which are actually greater now because of regional   instability)?

Another key to Palestinian Arab thinking is that see Israeli Arabs as being "under occupation." The PA and Hamas diverge very little with regard to this thinking.


There is too much focus on documents -- on signed pieces of paper. But they can be worthless, as was the case with the Oslo Accords -- which Arafat broke almost immediately, when he smuggled arms into Gaza via Rafah in spite of the fact that Oslo forbid this. Conversely, we have no treaty with Syria, but that border remains quiet.

What we need are not peace treaties, but big sticks and carrots. It is also productive to seek areas in which other nations share strategic interests with Israel, even if interaction is covert.


Ya'alon sees Iran as the security issue of the first priority for Israel. However, he was quick to note, what we are seeing is not Iran vs. Israel, but Iran vs. the West. The West often misses the signs that it, more broadly, and certainly the US, is in Iranian sites. The US is the big satan, and Israel only the small satan.

Iran deliberately foments unrest around the globe. To promote instability, it supports both Sunnis and Shia, who may be at each other. It is involved in Yemen, Bahrain, S. America, and elsewhere.

Israel believes Iranian nuclear efforts must be stopped. It is best if Israel does not lead this campaign, but must be ready to do so if it becomes necessary.

Iran must be told it has a choice: The bomb or survivability.

Iranian leaders must be made to feel insecure. Sanctions must be aimed at Iran's Central Bank. The Iranian resistance must be supported. And a credible military option must be on the table.

Unfortunately, "the US has lost its political stomach and Teheran knows it." With regard to sanctions the US is leading from behind, while Britain and France are at the helm.


The countries in the region that are hostile to Israel cannot afford to go to war against us -- both because of lack of funds, and because they are ill-equipped. Their main weapon, then, has become delegitimization.

This must be fought vigorously. And here is where our confidence in ourselves -- our believing in what we are fighting for -- becomes critical.

Ya'alon says he is optimistic about Israel's future. There is an awakening in Israeli public discourse. This is not yet a decisive victory, but he sees the electorate rising above the [left wing] media and academia.

"No one can take from us our intelligence and our heart."


And then, on this seventh night of Chanukah, a story to warm the heart.

Naomi Faran established the Moran Choirs in 1986, at Beit Yitzhak in Emek Hefer. She has continued as the conductor, musical director and guiding light for the choirs, which comprise four different ensembles.

Faran works with people from ages five to 25. She brings into the fold of her work children suffering from cancer, children at risk and special needs children and adolescents.

Pamela Hickman, professional music reviewer and a personal friend, has told me about the incredible impact Faran has on these children with whom she works -- the ways in which she uses music to build in them self-esteem and a sense of equality and pride. Faran's goal, as Hickman writes, is "to instill the love of singing together, acceptance of the other, excellence and professionalism, to build confidence and discipline, to encourage listening and to nurture the ability to be expressive." All the while, providing a first class musical education. Faran believes that singing is "the most natural and profound human expression of all."


© 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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