Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ben Gurion's Assessment

On the 11th anniversary of the assassination of late Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, the writer David Grossman, whose son was killed during the War in Lebanon II, called on Israel to find a way to make peace with the Palestinians. Grossman recommended bypassing Hamas, since Hamas was dedicated to the destruction of Israel. He suggested going straight to the simple Palestinian citizens, who wanted peace as much as the simple Israeli citizens.

Five Kassam rockets fell in the South of Israel on Sunday. Two Sderot residents were sent to hospital and treated for shock. The Kassam rockets continue falling despite the intensive Israeli incursion into Gaza’s Beit Hanun area. The IDF reports that 27 Palestinians have been killed so far this weekend, and that the action would continue until the Kassam rockets stop falling. An estimated 40 Palestinians have reportedly been killed since the action began a few weeks ago.

Labor’s retired General Ephraim Sneh.has said that Hamas is responsible for the destruction in Gaza, saying they brought it on themselves by their actions and statements against Israel.

Hamas has said that if Israel continues the action in Gaza the life of Hamas held IDF soldier Gilad Shalit may be in danger.

The IDF military action in Gaza is expected to continue in an attempt to stop the firing of the Kassam rockets. Some critics say that Israel has long been involved in Gaza and has yet to find a solution to the problems there.

In a feisty interview retired Gen. Binyamin Ben Eliezer has called on Dan Halutz, the Chief of Staff, to resign, saying he failed during the War in Lebanon II. Ben Eliezer said he doesn’t want to hurt Halutz but the safety of Israel is more important that Halutz’s feeling.

Halutz recently recommended the promotion of four IDF officers who were deeply involved in the War in Lebanon II. A public outcry over the promotions arose with critics advising Minister of Defense Amir Peretz to delay the appointments until the results of the committee investigating the army’s handling of the War in Lebanon II are in. Peretz reportedly was not advised of the pending appointments before Halutz made them public in the Press. Some analysts expect Halutz to resign, since he is reportedly deeply embarrassed by Peretz’s overruling him, something the Minister of Defense rarely does.
Since the end of the war the two men have not been on good terms.

The Iranian nuclear threat was still in the forefront of Israeli thoughts, however the Israeli media reported that seven other Arab countries have now expressed an interest in pursuing nuclear capabilities. Egypt is one of the countries who has said it wants to develop nuclear weapons. Military analysts say that the Iranian threat has put the anti-Iranian Arab world on notice, and they are scurrying to protect themselves. What this might mean for Israel, they say, is a nuclear Middle East, something neither Israel, the USA, nor the EU wants.

While analysts say the risk of a Iranian nuclear attack on Israel is slim, those with means are reportedly building bomb shelters that would withstand a nuclear assault. Billionaire Shari Arison, Israel’s wealthiest citizen has reportedly begun work on a bomb shelter beneath her multi-million dollar home near Tel Aviv.

Other Israelis without the financial ability, or space, are considering their options. Some are exploring the possibility of making their present bomb shelters, which are in most homes and buildings in Israel, capable of withstanding a nuclear blast. A prominent Israeli professor has said that she sees no reason to build a nuclear bomb shelter since the likelihood of a nuclear attack is slim, at best, and in any case the bomb shelter would probably not offer complete protection. Some analysts have criticized the construction of these shelters, asking what would be the point since once the attack was over whoever survived in the shelters would have to stay underground for years, perhaps decades. Pollution from the bomb’s nuclear fallout is expected to lay a radioactive blanket over Israel.

The corruption accusations that are flying around Israel have caused the Israel Comptroller’s Office chief investigator to take a three-month leave of absence. Former police executive Rav Pakid Borovsky announced he would take a vacation although he denied any wrongdoing. Borovsky is accused of attempting to bribe Omri Sharon, son of then PM Ariel Sharon. Borovsky allegedly offered to have the investigation into Sharon’s influence peddling dropped if Borovsky was appointed Chief of Police.

Political commentators say that the Likud party activist who made the accusations that date back to a 2004 meeting as payback for Borovsky’s continued investigation into the activities of certain other politicians, and police officials. Borovosky has allegedly been linked to a Tel Aviv crime family. No police charges have been filed, nor are they expected to be. The mutual recriminations among officials are mostly done for the media, where in many ways they make a lasting impression, no matter what turns up later to disprove the charges.

Of late, Justice Minister Chaim Ramon, Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, Omri Sharon, have been indicted for wrongdoing. Charges are expected to be filed against President Moshe Katzav. Investigations are also underway into certain activities of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In a recent poll Olmert was given low marks for credibility.

Flurries of legal activities are circling over the upcoming Gay Parade scheduled for November 10 down Jaffa Road, Jerusalem’s main thoroughfare. Ultra-Orthodox residents of Jerusalem have been rioting for several days, setting fire to garbage bins, and blocking traffic attempting to drive through ultra-Orthodox areas.

Israel Radio reports that the Jerusalem Police are consulting with the State’s Attorney if it is legal to cancel the parade. Some ultra-Orthodox leaders have filed a move to have the parade stopped. Surprisingly a majority of Israel’s secular population has come out against the march calling it a needless provocation. Secular analysts say that the annual “Love Parade” held on the Israeli date “Tu B’Av”, the 16th of the Hebrew month of Av, should be sufficient for the Gay community. The Gay community builds floats and rides down the streets of Tel Aviv during that parade. “Once a year is enough, “ said a young Israeli soldier. The scheduled parade will reportedly attract gays from around the world.

The US elections are also all over the Israeli news. The expected landslide of Democrats is expected to have significant changes in Israel’s policies. Democratic administrations have usually been much tougher on Israel than Republican ones.

Jimmy Carter, who recently published a book in which categorizes Israel as an apartheid state. Bill Clinton tried his best to broker a peace with the Arabs, but fell short. During his term of even-handedness the Palestinian Authority was supplied with weapons for their police force that were ultimately used against Israel.

Israelis are concerned that should the Republicans lose, and the US withdraws from Iraq, radical Islam will turn Iraq into another Iran, destabilizing the Middle East even more than it is now.

At one of the ceremonies in memory of Yitzchak Rabin his daughter Dalia Rabin Persoff said that if her father were alive he’d solve the problems now plaguing Israel. One wonders how true that is. And if there’s anyone around today of Rabin’s statue, real or imagined, who can take over the Israeli enterprise and steer it on a steady course. The current list of leaders all seem to be interested more in their own aggrandizement than in the greater good of the country and it’s citizens. In the “good old days” which were always better in memory than they were in reality, leaders like Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Rabin, and Yitzchak Shamir were more interested in the greater good than the good of their own positions. Or so it seems in hindsight. Men like them, and women like Golda Meir, are sorely missed in these difficult times.

In an interview recently with a veteran Israeli we were told that Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion believed that Israel wouldn’t be a stable and viable entity until the population reached 8 million Jewish citizens. As of now, the veteran Israeli said, there are only 6 million Jewish citizens. “May take another few decades before we reach Ben Gurion’s number. That’s if he was right in his assessment.”

Problem is, there’s no Ben Gurion, or his equal, to step up to the plate. Perhaps one is in the batter’s box waiting for his turn. Only time will tell.