Thursday, November 24, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, November 23, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

November 23, 2005

To those who are in the States: Happy Thanksgiving. Here life goes on routinely (if there is such a thing as "routine" in this country), and so I will report, understanding that this posting will be seen when it will be seen...

[] A commentary piece in today's Jeruslem Post by Isi Liebler, of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, merits considerable attention here. (The Post has not put it up yet on its website yet, so I am sorry I cannot provide a URL.)

In his piece, entitled 'When Seymour met Condi", Liebler writes about the visit Seymour Reich, president of the left-wing Israel Policy Forum, paid to Sec. of State Rice before she came here last week. Reich had the unmitigated gall to encourage Rice to pressure Israel on the Gaza crossings and other matters. He reportedly told her that if she got tough on Israel "she would gain the support of Jewish Americans on both sides of the aisle." Later he boasted that "I have no doubt that we... strengthened her [Rice's] opinion that aggressive American involvement was needed."


As Liebler points out quite well, diaspora Jews have no business interfering in security matters that may require a sacrifice for Israel. It is not Reich's life that is on the line if, say, trucks -- ostensibly carrying merchandise but with the potential to harbor weapons and terrorists -- are permitted to come into Israel from Gaza in numbers too large to adequately monitor. But it is my life, and my family's, and my friends'. Decisions on what we risk do not belong in his hands. Yet as a result of the Agreement that he encouraged Rice to shove down our throats, scenarios such as this are on the way to becoming reality.

Simply feeling rage with regard to this is not enough, however. What must be done is to appropriately express that rage -- to counter what Reich did, at some level.

Leibler describes how Rice and Wolfensohn "bludgeoned" Dov Weisglass into conceding ground on security issues, despite appeals not to do so by Israel's top security people. This all makes me sick in the pit of my stomach. This entire obscene deal needs to be reversed.

I have written about these matters before. I have requested that letters be sent. If things have moved true to form, there are a good many of you reading this who, in spite of the most sincere intentions, have not yet gotten around to writing those letters. I ask again now, in the light of this very specific information, that, if you are an American citizen, you DO write those letters and ask every American you can think of to do the same.

Very simple. Letters to Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice and to President Bush.

Tell them, using your words, that the Rafah Agreement weakened Israel's security and sovereignty and that it never should have happened Tell them that you consider it an outrage that there was pressure put upon Israel to make concessions to close the deal -- especially as the PA has done nothing to dismantle the terrorist infrastucture. Tell them that this action has caused you to withdraw your support for them (or has weakened your support for them). If you are Jewish, to Rice, say that you understand that Seymour Reich advised her she would gain support from American Jews by doing this, but you are an American Jew and her action has had just the opposite effect on you. Say to Bush that you understand Rice was advised... however....etc. etc. If you are not Jewish, of course it is still important that you write those letters. Tell them that lots of Americans who are not Jewish also care about Israel's wellbeing. In all instances, identify yourself as a voter and provide your US address.

No e-mails. Hard copy letters, mailed snail mail. Trust me. This is what captures attention -- when you show you cared enough to bother. And this must happen in large numbers, because the volume counts.

President Bush
The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500

Sec. of State Rice

U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520

Thanks, everyone!
[] A host of leaks over past weeks suggested that Sharon -- in spite of his declaration that he won't -- fully intends to unilaterally give away at least parts of Judea and Samaria. Now we have Haim Ramon, who has just bolted Labor and joined Sharon's new party, making a statement to that effect on Israel's Channel 10. Says he, if the Roadmap doesn't work and the Palestinians don't dismantle terrorism, Sharon will withdraw unilaterally, but he wants to give the Roadmap a chance and doesn't intend to tell the people before the election.

You can see this, cited by Aaron Lerner, at

I see such "leaks" as not accidents but contrived and deliberate. Ramon's game-plan in saying this publicly is not clear -- he is supposed to be part of the Sharon team now. If he said this, in all likelihood Sharon wanted it said. With the "disengagement" Sharon often used Olmert to float ideas and see how they played.

My response here is two-fold: Sharon absolutely absolutely must be defeated in the next election. He will destroy the nation if he is prime minister again. Aside from from the plans he has -- which are the worst -- there is the simple matter of his routine duplicity. How is it that people in this nation still trust him??

[] I would like to devote this section of the posting to the on-going failure of the PA to function, even minimally:

-- This is a cute one: According to Middle East Newsline, the Palestinian Legislative Council has lost track of 25% of the security forces. An investigation was called for to make certain that everyone in the security forces to whom the PA was paying salaries was a genuine security officer. But neither the Interior Ministry nor the Finance Ministry could confirm the identity of a good number of those on the rolls. Some 25% of the officers are either fictitious or no longer working in security. This ladies and gentlemen, gives a bit of insight into how the PA routinely works. The practice of paying everyone by check is new, I must add. In Arafat's time, he carried around cash and paid many people directly from his pocket -- this was his means of maintaining loyalty and control.

-- You've heard about it before here, but the scandal grows. Local families and armed groups have co-opted large parcels of the land of the former Gush Katif, land that the PA was going to develop, presumably for the good of the people (if not, as various rumors would have it, for luxury homes for the higher-ups or for a casino). Some of the land-grabbers are members of PA security forces.

So outrageous has the situation become that Frieh Abu Medin, chairman of the PA Land Authority and a former minister of justice, has admitted that the PA has failed to take control of the area. THIS is what we pulled those beleaguered residents of Gush Katif off their land for???

The PA had hoped to maintain the infrastructure left behind when the Israelis were pulled out -- there were public buildings such as schools, as well as the greenhouses. But almost everything has been destroyed by "hooligans" and the PA security forces did not do their job in stopping them.

What boggles my mind totally is that the western world, and include Rice and Bush here, have the notion that the PA -- which functions thus -- is on the way to developing a democracy and should be made into a state. An incredible example of how people and nations can delude themselves.

-- It has been announced that PA president Mahmoud Abbas is to receive a salary of $10,000 per month, in addition to a one-time payment of $50,000 to "improve living conditions." Understand, Abbas is a wealthy man. I'm sure the average Palestinian living at poverty level is thrilled about this.

Abbas's predecessor, Arafat, received no salary. That's because he was in charge of ALL the money. (This is on the level, not a joke.)

[] A correction: The other day I referred to Ariel Sharon's son as Omni. Of course I know better -- it's Omri. Thanks to Chana Givon for catching it.

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