Monday, January 22, 2007

The Way of the World

Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, the veteran politician, has thanked Iranian President Achmadinejad for uniting the world against the Iranian goals of possessing nuclear arms.

According to one analyst, agreeing with Peres, if Achmadinejad didn’t exist, someone would have had to invent him. Only a monomaniacal leader like Achmadinejad can unite the western world in a common cause.

The powers that be are now bartering for the future of Israel’s top Army job, with Israel’s beleagured Minister of Defense Amir Peretz throwing his support behind Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. It is known that Peretz favors Ashkenazi, who has been his liason to the Army for months.

However, the jury is out as to the wisdom of that choice. Others have recommended Gen..Moshe Kaplinksy, who is the assistant Chief of Staff, as the replacement for Gen. Dan Halutz, who recently resigned his position.

According to informed sources, Kaplinsky may be a better choice, however Peretz is flexing his muscles, showing that as Minister of Defense the ultimate decision on the Chief of Staff is his.

To complicate matters Peretz’s competitors are split as to the importance of a quick appointment to the Chief of Staff post. Some, like Knesset Member former Admiral Ami Ayalon, a hopeful in the leadership race for the labor party, has said it is imperative to appoint a Chief of Staff as quickly as possible.

Others, however, like former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, also making a bid for leadership of the Labor Party, says that there is no rush to appoint a new Chief of Staff.
It is clear that the issue has taken on more steam as potential candidates link their fortunes to the issue of the Chief of Staff’s appointment.

Meanwhile, the debates go on. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that he would veto any candidate he deemed unfit for the post. Reportedly he has agreed to the Ashkenazi appointment.

Olmert is embroiled in other problems, like the Bank Leumi affair. Olmert is under investigation for improper use of public office in securing a favorable bid for one of his cronies. Both the crony and Olmert deny the charge.

The prestigious Herzliya Conference began on Monday. One of the speakers was Dr. Dan Schueftan, deputy director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, who told the gathering that a document recently released by Israeli- Arab leaders called for "nothing short of the destruction of Jewish national state."

The Arab Israeli document espoused a bi-national state, which most Israelis find unacceptable. Dr. Schueftan also said that the Israeli Arab population was not as hostile to Israel’s neighbors as the Jewish population.

Schueftan said: "The signal is that even if inequality is bridged, it won't solve the problem. The lack of legitimacy of the national Jewish state is the source of the problem."
According to Schueftan the only solution the Arabs will ultimately accept is the destruction of the Jewish state.

The tragedies continue to unfold between the Arabs and the Jews. A ten-year old Arab girl was buried yesterday. Her family claimed she was killed by an Army bullet. An autopsy discovered she was killed by a rock. The girl was a bystander to a violent clash between Palestinians and the Israeli Army. Still, she did lose her life.
One analyst wonder what it will take for both sides to realize that living together is better than dying together?

But then, that is a hope that has long been on the poker table, but never seems to be the winning hand.

In Gaza the tension is still palpable as both Hamas and the PA vie for the hearts and minds of the population. PA president Mohamed Abas has gone to Damascus to meet with Hamas political leader Mashal.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal agreed yesterday to focus on ending internecine fighting among Palestinian factions and to continue talks on forming a unity government. However pundits believe this is simply a move by Meshal to get the flow of European money flowing again into Hamas coffers.

Israeli Army sources report that the Hamas sponsored flow of arms from Egypt into Gaza is continuing unimpeded. Rockets still continue to fall on Israel’s Southern towns and kibbutziem, despite a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Recently Hamas announced it had a new rocket which could reach to Ashkelon, Israel’s Southern port town, and beyond.

The debate over Israel’s withdrawl from the Gaza Strip settlements has attracted the attention of Hollywood.

The announcement of the Oscar nominees tomorrow will tell whether the Israeli "Storm of Emotions" is to be included among the five finalists contending for the best full-length documentary award.

The movie, directed by Yael Klopmann, is among 15 short-listed candidates, chosen from an initial pool of 81 documentary films. It documents preparations for the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and the withdrawal itself, in August, 2005, through the eyes of four Israeli policemen.

This film was noticeable for another reason: the filmmakers didn’t receive any money from any of the various film funds that ostensibly support filmmakers in Israel. The “sour-grapes” comments of filmmakers who are passed over for grants by the Israeli film foundations may have some substance. Cries of ‘old-boy networks,’ and ‘it’s not what you know in Israel but who you know,’ are often heard in filmmaking circles.

A report published within the last few weeks criticized the film funds for taking public monies and investing it in stocks and bonds and other vehicles until the filmmakers are ready to make their production. In Israel the filmmakers receive their money in stages. Sometimes the productions take much longer than anticipated. The film funds find themselves with money in their hands, and invest it, not always wisely, according to the report.

But as one sage commented, if those complaining would receive some money then you wouldn’t hear a peep out of them.

The way of the world. Or is it the way of Israel?