Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Master Plan

September 13, 2006

The Winograd commission headed by retired judge Eliahu Winograd is to review the events of the war in Lebanon II. Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had suggested other people to head the panel, but critics were concerned with cronyism and turned to the courts who denied Olmert's appointments.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that he was not worried about the findings of an investigation. Peretz said he was serious when he recommended accommodations for bravery to soldiers who fought in the war, and said appeared serious when he said that officials like him didn’t get accommodations.

Peretz abstained on a vote to approve Israel’s 2007 budget. In a radio interview Peretz said the budget ignored the crucial issue of setting a higher minimum wage. Peretz, once head of the Histadrut Labor Federation, has long considered himself an advocate of citizen’s rights.

None of his labor party Knesset members voted with Peretz. Observers see this as a sure sign that Peretz has lost control of the party. Meanwhile pressure is on President Moshe Katzav to step aside until the accusations of rape and sexual harassment are settled.

Gen. Udi Adam, who ran the army’s battlefront in the north, resigned suddenly, saying he was taking responsibility for the way his forces fought. Adam was essentially replaced during the war by Chief of Staff Dan Halutz's second in command. Adam was long expected to resign over that insult. However, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has been called upon by ex-General and Labor Party Knesset member Foud Ben Eliezer to give up his post over the way in which the Lebanon War II was handled. Ben Eliezer said that Halutz should follow Adam's example.Labor party hopeful and ex- head of the Navy Ami Ayalon has called on Minister of Defense Peretz to resign, and for Halutz to draw the necessary conclusions.

Ex-Chief of Staff Moshe "Bugi"Ya'alon has said that the losses soldiers lives during the war was shameful, and simply the result of a political spin PM Olmert wanted to put on to show that the war wasn't a complete disaster. Ayalon is considered a Likud hopeful to contest Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu for that party's leadership. Meanwhile Ari Shavit writing in Haaretz has said that essentially PM Olmert is finished as the Prime Minister, and it's only a matter of time before he is forced to resign.

Gilad Shalit, one of the soldiers kidnapped by Hamas and taken to Gaza at the outset of the war, is the subject of much discussion in the press. Shalit’s father held a press conference yesterday for members of the Arab media, in an attempt to influence those holding his son to release him.

Observers say it was no coincidence that the Military Court agreed yesterday to release 18 Hamas members of the Palestinian Assembly who had been arrested during the Lebanon War II. The legislators were each released after posting a 25,000 shekels (about five thousands) dollar bond. The media has speculated that Gilad Shalit would be released in exchange for as many as 800 prisoners. Commentators say that the release of the Hamas legislators was a precursor to the ultimate mass prisoner exchange.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, has made no signs that it is willing to release the two Israeli soldiers they are holding in Lebanon. Defense Minister Peretz did say in an interview today that delicate matters like the negotiations for the release of prisoners were best not discussed in public.

One of the sticking points is the Hamas demand for the release of Samir Kuntar, Israel's longest-held Hezbollah prisoner, responsible for the brutal killing of many Israelis. According to Defense Minister Amir Peretz, every time Israel has to negotiate with Hamas over the issue of a prisoner exchange, the name of Samir Kuntar always comes up. However Peretz hinted that this time Kuntar might be included in the mass prisoner exchange.

The fact that Israel is a child-oriented society has created the situation like that arising from the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. Israelis are well known for sacrificing what ever needs to be sacrificed for the good of their children. The Israeli army has a long tradition of not leaving a soldier in the field. The combination of these two factors has resulted in Hamas and Hezbollah using kidnapping as one of their strategic weapons in their struggle with Israel.

Jeffery Goldberg, writing in the recent New Yorker magazine, relates that while visiting a wanted terrorist in Gaza the man put his arm around his 15-year old son and said how proud he would be if his son became a martyr, and detonated a suicide bomb amid a crowd of Israelis. Later in the interview the boy said with some cynicism that his father loved him so much he wanted him to die. The boy then smiled and put an arm around his father, saying he would be proud to die a martyr.

According to Goldberg becoming a suicide bomber is a thing kids want to do in Gaza. Goldberg reported that one Palestinian Authority politician told him his son wanted to become a suicide bomber, a martyr, so he could go to heave. His father dissuaded him. “All that you get after you blow up the bomb is your pieces are dumped in a hole in the ground, and then covered with dirt.”

Goldberg uses these two examples as proof of the great divide between the Hamas and Palestinian Authority politicians. The former are driven by a religious fervor, the latter by pragmatic and usually materialistic goals. One of the main criticisms against the PA (Palestinian Authority) is their corruption. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Palestinians in Gaza aren’t happy with Hamas, since their incompetent management of Gaza brought economic ruin. No one is yet starving in Gaza,although malnutrition has been reported, but the men don’t have work, and families more than the bare necessities. According to Haaretz the average Palestinian is still angry at the Palestinian Authority politicians who live in huge expensive villas on the best pieces of property in Gaza and drive government issue Mercedes sedans. The Hamas politicians live modestly, which helps with their popularity.

Hamas and the PA have agreed to form a coalition government, however Hamas has emphasized this does not mean Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist. Most political analysts see this as a marriage of convenience. The PA wants to be back in power after the humiliating defeat at the hands of Hamas in the last election. Hamas wants some form or international recognition so that the funds promised to the Palestinians would be turned over to the government. Hamas has not paid salaries to government employees in months. Last week a group of protesters including the police raided the Hamas government offices demanded back pay.

A EU and USA boycott of Hamas has taken its toll. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the USA. However, through a loophole, money may be transferred to the PA’s President Abu Mazan, and used to pay off the debts Hamas has rung up.
U.S. Sec. of State Rice has encouraged Israel to start talking to Abu Mazan again, and to make overtures to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Signora. Sec. Rice is again encouraging the “Road Map” which the State Department hopes will bring peace in the Middle East.

Another interesting article appeared in the New Yorker edition dedicated to 9/11. A long detailed article by Lawrence Wright about the history of Al Queda, the goals of the organization, and the parts played by the supporting actors. In the article the author claims that Al Queda has long wanted the USA and Iran to go to war, since this would bring the Arab world into the anti-USA camp. The article also thought that Hezbollah would be a card played to encourage the Israel to strike. Al Queda, according to this article, wanted an American invasion of Afghanistan, in order to bring about a world Islamic revolution. Now Al Queda, which has since broken up into a number of independent self-motivating and self-operating cells, acting spontaneously as they saw fit, envisioned an Islamic state resurfacing in Afghanistan. Another taking over Iraq, another taking over Lebanon, and yet another taking over Syria.

The goal was the elimination of Israel, and the Islamization of the Middle East. During the struggles with Iran and others the oil weapon would be played. All of the diverse cells that have sprung up like mushrooms will begin to strike at will. The firestorm will envelop the world, according to Al Queda. A prime example of an independent cell is the one started by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the recently killed Al Queda leader in Iraq.

Reportedly Zarqawi was a sex-offender and thief who met an Al Queda ideology when both were in jail in Jordan. Zarqawi decided to implement his own brand of terrorism under the loose Al Queda umbrella. Zarqawi was brutal, bloodthirsty, and crazy. He was responsible for the rash of beheadings witnessed on international TV, beginning with that of Nicholas Berg, the US construction worker killed public ally in Iraq. While other Al Queda ideologs disagreed with the way Zarqawi behaved, the article says his behavior only supports the notion that Al Queda is no longer an organization as much as a name that represents the goals of Wahabi Islam (that practiced in Saudi Arabia), i.e. to destroy all non-Wahabi Moslems.

Hezbollah, according to this analysis is gearing up to seize control of Lebanon, and possible Syria, turning one or both into Islamic Fundamentalist run states. Clearly a kettle is bubbling around the Middle East. Witness the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, the Islamists in the Sudan, the move to take over Iraq. The Iranian dictators and their nuclear ambitions. How serious are these threats? According to the New Yorker they are very serious. And the goals may not be realized immediately. The Al Queda planners foresaw the fall of Afghanistan, and an ultimate attack on Iran. They believe that these are only setbacks in the long struggle that will result in an Islamic run world.

Given this background, it’s no wonder that Israel is concerned with how a war was fought against Hezbollah, since it may have been a trial for larger battles to come. Nor is it a wonder that mentions pop up every few days of Israel dealing with the Iranian threat single-handedly. Because the bottom line of the New Yorker piece was that the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews where ever they are is the goal of Al Queda. Hezbollah even says no Jew anywhere in the world is considered a non-combatant, So it may fall to Israel to be the sheriff, and face the bad guys at High Noon, Problem is, they didn't do so well the last time they stood in the hot sun. Ari Shavit in Haaretz blames that on Olmert, Halutz and Peretz.