When Menachem Begin was prime minister, there were no dull moments. Great milestone events swept past our incredulous eyes in swift succession and, breathless, we rarely stopped to take them all in, delve skeptically beneath the surface hoopla or even marvel at what we were witnessing. For the reporters among us, the dramatic march of history was often reduced to hectic daily chores that had to be done before deadline.
So it was on December 17, 1978 when the watching world expected the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt to be signed (in actuality it only happened in March, 1979).
On September 18, a breakthrough settlement was reached at Camp David in which Begin and Anwar Sadat had committed their two countries to negotiate and sign a full peace treaty within three months. The buzz was that it would all happen on the last prescribed date. That made the December 17 Likud central committee session an absolute no-miss event for the press. Continue reading
A lot of astonishment mingled with shock was expressed in our midst when it emerged that it was a 16-year-old, from an Arab village near Jenin, who slit the throat of Eden Attias earlier this month. Eden was a rookie soldier, just a couple of years older than the teen who slew him while he napped on the bus that took him back from sick leave to boot camp.
The beautiful people just couldn’t get their sensitive heads around it. The cold-blooded knifer was just a boy, whose soul is assumed to be pure.
While most liberal sorts remained atypically tongue-tied, the few who at all regarded the slaughter as worthy of their didactic attention implied that our sins were what drove a mere youth to such hopeless desperation. There had to be a reason (one that clearly conformed to their logical constructs). Violence doesn’t spring from a psychosocial vacuum, they tell us.
The cover-story wasn’t late in coming. The underage butcher was merely avenging the incarceration of his cousins in Israel. The abiding impression is that the two are victims of the ruthless repression of Israeli occupation – prisoners of conscience, persecuted altruists and political-philosophers unjustly put behind bars.
This indeed was the theme replayed unremittingly in the Palestinian Authority’s controlled official propaganda organs – the press, the schools and the mosques. A new overnight icon and adulated role model was born. Continue reading
There’s every reason to assume that US President Barack Obama has never heard of the pre-WWII demagogic question “Why die for Danzig?” The same can be as safely assumed regarding his Secretary of State John Kerry.
Oddly enough, however, their policy appears to draw inspiration from the same ideological wellspring that gave the world the above rhetorical tease.
The slogan, very famous (or infamous) in its day, made its debut on May 4, 1939 as the title of an op-ed in the Parisian newspaper L’Œuvre. Its author was French socialist Marcel Déat and his message was that another follow-up appeasement of Adolf Hitler is mandatory in order to prevent war.
That was already half-a-year after the September 1938 Munich agreement which wrested the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia and awarded it to Hitler to satiate his appetite. That, in the words of Britain’s then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, guaranteed “peace for our time.”
When he landed at Heston Aerodrome right after the deal was done, Chamberlain told the cheering crowd that awaited him:
“The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine… We regard the agreement signed last night as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.”
Just as the red carpet was being rolled out in Cairo in honor of the visiting Russian foreign and defense ministers, Egypt’s headliners were busy declaring that nothing had altered in their country’s geopolitical orientation. According to them, all is as it was – they still are officially allies of the US, still cooperate with its intelligence agencies and would still welcome American economic largesse.
But the very fact that the Egyptian leadership felt bound to articulate and accentuate a business-as-usual message indicates that its business agenda is anything but usual. The very fact that high-level and high-profile Russian visits are taking place for the first time in a very long time, replete with pomp and circumstance, attests quite loudly that things are hardly quite what they were. Continue reading
Israel’s uninhibited and consistently unrepentant Left loves to jeer. So when one of the Left’s more ambitious ventures – the witch-hunt against Avigdor Liberman – ended in unanimous acquittal, the knee-jerk reaction was to continue to taunt. Only this time, left-wingers direct their sneers at Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein for having failed to convict the man for whose conviction they hoarsely clamored.
Weinstein is now simultaneously disparaged for not having pursued “the major corruption case” against Liberman and for having lost “the minor case,” revolving around the appointment of the ambassador to Latvia.
Not a murmur of contrition is heard for seventeen years of slow ceaseless legal torture but there is a hue and cry over the fact that it didn’t achieve its political designs.
Nowhere is there a shadow of acknowledgement that the only impetus for the prosecution to pursue the so-called minor case was fear of a leftist backlash. Abandoning the full set of increasingly dubious charges against Liberman was sure to unleash a merciless onslaught by the remorseless and vindictive Left-dominated press.
From the PR point of view it was unwise for Weinstein to take his hands completely off Liberman because it was no secret that opinion-molders hated the guts of the Israel Beiteinu leader and were after his head. No one, not even the AG, could ignore the public’s presumed spokespersons and their proven potential for triggering utter pandemonium. Put plainly, Weinstein was wary of the Left and for good reason. Continue reading
US Secretary of State John Kerry, obviously quite edgy and piqued, took several swipes in swift succession at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in recent days. Among others, he carped that Netanyahu has no right to criticize the negotiations with Iran, as he doesn’t know enough about the details of the proposals discussed.
“I am not sure that the Prime Minister, whom I have a lot of respect for, knows what the conditions were, because we had not yet agreed on them” Kerry asserted in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press last Sunday. “That is what we are discussing.”
Netanyahu’s rebuttal was prompt: “I am up to date on the details of the proposal for the Iranians, and what is proposed at the moment is a deal in which Iran does not regress in its nuclear capabilities, and as opposed to that – the sanctions are taken back. It is a bad and dangerous deal and it will not happen on my watch. You know what happened when the Jews were silent.”
But how much Netanyahu actually knows or doesn’t, is only one aspect of the matter – and not necessarily the central one. Continue reading
History-altering events don’t always burst dramatically onto our scene. Sometimes they sneak in surreptitiously and we barely detect that something significant has been kick-started.
Thus most of us hardly noticed the renewed buzz about convening a conference on creating a Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (MENWFZ). Yet again – the bloodshed of the misnamed Arab Spring notwithstanding – Arab regimes, with Egypt at the lead, are pushing hard for an international focus on Israel’s purported nuclear power.
This was amplified by reports that that representatives of several Arab states met with Israeli officials last month in Glion, Switzerland, to set the groundwork for a conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Official Israel hadn’t confirmed that the Glion get-together indeed took place but, more notably, it hasn’t denied it either. If true, this overlooked event is a milestone one – the first time that Israeli and Arab delegates have consented to discuss WMDs. Is this a positive development?
A symbolic home-truth accompanied the recent burglary at a swanky five-million-dollar home in Georgetown, Maryland. Nothing valuable seems to have been taken but the very fact that the breached property was that of US Secretary of State John Kerry indicated flawed security – to say the least – in a system that has of late been eavesdropping on the entire world and its cousin.
This includes untold numbers of allied foreign leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel. It would be no surprise if a whole host of Israeli higher-ups were also high on the list of those whose privacy was violated. But unlike the Germans, Israelis are leery of emitting as much as a murmur of protest against their Big Brother in Washington.
So it was a little ironic that while the most sophisticated gadgetry on earth is used to spy on friends in the name of the fight against international outlaws, the most elementary security arrangements aren’t exactly impressive in the fight against local outlaws.
Something here is extremely incongruous. Continue reading
It sometimes becomes downright politically and diplomatically inconvenient to tell it like it is. At such junctures creative copywriters conjure up imaginative alternatives.
This was the kneejerk inclination after a Gazan bus driver slammed his vehicle on February 14, 2001 into a bus stop at the Azur junction, killing eight and wounding a further 21. Although he steered directly into the crowd of passengers on the pavement at a speed of 147 kilometers per hour and plowed the length of the sidewalk, the initial reaction was that this was a road traffic accident.
The driver continued in a mad race southwards toward Gaza, until he was finally apprehended near Gan Yavneh. He then inconsiderately spoiled Israeli officialdom’s pretense by announcing to all and sundry that he had intentionally set out to run down Israelis. The murderer, who never expressed even a vague suggestion of remorse, was freed in the Gilad Schalit deal to a hero’s welcome in Gaza.
This was hardly the only instance of an attempt to pass off a terrorist atrocity as something else. The Israeli penchant for identifying spit in the face as droplets of rain is ongoing. Continue reading
With the Syrian thriller and its spin-off machinations keeping us at the edge of our seats, who had time to at all notice much less care about the volubility of Ramallah’s honchos?
Too much distracting din made it difficult to pay much mind to Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority cronies. But this didn’t keep them from babbling and what they revealed deserved our attention – even if the utterances in question weren’t the sort that the more politically correct in our midst prefer we dwell on.
The Palestinian al-Hayat al-Jadida daily quoted Abbas as bluntly issuing the following ultimatum when addressing a visiting Arab athletic delegation: “We told the present Israeli negotiators that if you want to go back on what was agreed with [former Israeli premier Ehud] Olmert, we will go back on our agreement for a land swap and so we will ask for all of the 1967 land as is.”
Elaborating further, Abbas claimed that Olmert at the time asked for territorial exchanges amounting to 6% of Judea and Samaria while the Palestinians wouldn’t go beyond 1.9%. Continue reading