Israel Resource Review 26th April, 2005


Why Sharon's Plan will NOT Come to Fruition
Moshe Kempinski

"What are you doing regarding planning for the day after?"

That infuriating question regarding Sharon's Disengagement/Expulsion Plan is constantly being asked and repeated. There are those asking the question out of real concern for the spiritual and psychological wellbeing of those faithful to the Land of Israel. There are others asking the question as a way to ominously remind those faithful that their day is coming.

The simple answer to the question is that the day after will be very much like the day before. The Jewish residents of these communities will continue to sow, to plant and to reap. Yet, they will be doing so with much greater joy.

There are many natural reasons to assume that this Expulsion Plan will not come into reality.

The first is that the Palestinian entity is doing all that it can to hold its terrorist objectives and desires at bay until after the so-called Disengagement. Yet, people that have given themselves up to Evil have a difficult time with limits. They will have an impossible time holding together the facade of a governable and democratic Palestinian entity. It is our prayer that when that meltdown quickens, as it has already started to do, our armed forces, with the help of G-d, will be able to quench those fires quickly.

The second reason relates to Ariel Sharon's own government. As more and more information becomes available regarding the corrupt and bizarre machinations being employed by Sharon and his sons to keep themselves in power, the whole delicate untenable framework that makes up this government will deteriorate. The Israeli population can stomach only so much and the media can attempt to hide only so much. Sharon and his son's unusual money-making schemes, the head of the Disengagement Authority's financial involvement with the lands that the government wants to send the expelled Jews to, and the deteriorating democratic practices of this present administration will destroy what is left of the Sharon government before too long.

The third reason is, in fact, much more poignant. The heads of the army and the police are beginning to realize that after educating generations of young men and women to be ready to sacrifice all to defend the people and land of Israel, it is very difficult for them to do the opposite. The Expulsion/Disengagement cannot be adequately rationalized as an act of defense. They are being asked to do what they have been raised never to do. They are being asked to take babies from their mother's arms and put on buses residents who have lost limbs or loved ones in the defense of these settlements. They are being trained to split and arrest parents, children and their grandparents, and incarcerate them in hurriedly prepared detention areas. They are being asked to do what they cannot do.

Most importantly, they are being asked to do all this without any definable recompense. No one is suggesting that this expulsion will deter terrorism. No one is inferring that peace negotiations will be forthcoming. In fact, the intelligence reports indicate that this seeming capitulation will fan further terrorism in the future .This is the reason so many psychologists have been sent in to deal with these hapless soldiers and policemen. In essence these men and women, bereft of direction and of passion, will fail in their encounter with families whose souls are aflame with divine and historic vision.

Yet, the question is still being asked. The question is further refined into statements like, "You can't expect to go against the whole world," or, "The die has been cast, there is nothing natural that can stop this." However, all those asking the questions or making these statements forget one very important characteristic of the Jewish people.

In the book of B'reishit/Genesis (Chapter 15), G-d talks to the forefather of the Jewish people, Avraham:

(5) And He brought him outside and said: "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, if it was possible able to count them"; and He said unto him: "So shall thy seed be."

Our sages point out that Avraham was being taught a great lesson regarding his children. He is told to count the stars and then he is told that it is impossible. Avraham then goes out and starts counting. G-d says to him, "So shall thy seed be." That will be the internal strength of your children, Avraham is told. Even though something may seem to be impossible or untenable, that possibility will not deter them from acting on their faith.

In the midst of a recent discussion about faith, one of our neighbors told us of a rabbi he knew from B'nei Brak. When the rabbi was yet a young boy, he was herded along with other members of his family and thousands of Jews into the Birkenau death camp. Within a horrifying short time, he found himself in the concrete sealed "showers". The young boy looked around franticly for a way out. One of the elder Jews turned to him and said softly, "Say the Sh'ma prayer, our time in this world is almost ending." The boy looked fiercely at the man and said "No, I'm not ready to die. G-d knows that it is not my time. I'm getting out of here!" The man sadly tried to convince the boy that he must be ready to accept the inevitable reality. The boy turned away.

Suddenly, the doors opened. The Nazis had stuffed the shower with too many people and they were concerned that the poisonous gas would be wasted. They took a sizeable group of people out of the gas chamber. The young boy walked out into his future and eventually became a rabbi in the Israeli city of B'nei Brak.

Five years ago, tragedy struck the Cohen family. Three of Cohen's seven children -- her son Yisrael, 7, and two daughters, Tehila, 9, and Orit, 12 -- lost limbs when their bus was sprayed by shrapnel from a mortar shell detonated by Palestinian terrorists as it traveled from the Kfar Darom settlement to their school in Gush Katif. Two teachers lost their lives and Yisrael lost a leg, Orit part of a foot, and Tehila was badly hurt in both legs. Recently, Yisrael and the other children planted trees throughout Gush Katif. Even though Yisrael is still a young man, he is deeply aware that he will not benefit from the trees he is planting. Yet, his core of faith is such that he knows with a certainty that his children and others like them in Gush Katif will enjoy the shade of these trees in the future.

In May of 2004, terrorists murdered the Hatuel family on their way to demonstrate against Sharon's Expulsion Plan. These terrorists obviously could not wait for Sharon's plan to be implemented. Tali Hatuel, 34, who was eight months pregnant with what would have been her first son, was massacred in her car by Palestinian terrorists, along with her four daughters, ages 2-11, Hila, Hadar, Roni and Meirav . After shooting them, the terrorists went back to shoot them point-blank to "make sure they were dead." David Hatuel, the husband and father, was left seemingly with nothing. Yet, the Palestinians and Sharon's machinations could not vanquish his faith.

On Wednesday night before Passover, he called for a mass gathering of faith in Jerusalem's large convention hall in memory of his wife and children. The impossible: a man who seemingly lost everything teaching thousands the secrets of faith.

The descendants of Avraham will continue to settle the land bequeathed to Avraham. They will continue to sow, plant and reap. They are celebrating the holiday of Pesach filled with the confidence that nothing stands forever against faith and faithfulness.

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Self-Censorship in the Israeli Media To Protect PM Sharon From Too Much Criticism
Yaniv Zach
Correspondent, Maariv

"The one who set up this whole enterprise was Sharon, and if, toward the end of his life, he is inspired to remove the settlements, in my opinion we must safeguard him, not only from political, but also from legal problems." This statement was made not by associates of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but by journalist Amnon Rabinowitz, a television Channel Two analyst, from the podium at a conference on the subject of disengagement.

In recent months many complaints were made by right wingers who oppose disengagement, saying that many journalists do not come down hard on the prime minister because they support the disengagement plan. The statements brought here make it clear that in as far as Abramowitz, who is a senior Israeli journalist, is concerned, apparently the right wingers are right. At least, judging by his own statements.

Abramowitz made these statements about two months ago, at a seminar on the disengagement plan at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. The panel discussion, which dealt with Israeli politics, was attended by Abramowitz and Nahum Barnea, a Yedioth Ahronoth commentator. It was emceed by Amir Oren, a Ha'aretz military and security commentator.

"I, in contrast to emcee Oren, think that Sharon should be watched over like an etrog [citron fruit used in the Sukkot holiday that must be carefully stored], putting him into a sealed box, with a sponge and cotton balls," said Abramowitz from the podium, to the sound of laughter from the audience.

"And with a television set," commented Oren. "A television too, certainly," confirmed Abramowitz with a smile, "because he is the only one who is really capable of carrying this out. After all, he is the one who founded this enterprise."

Barnea had reservations. "I have no interest or intention of watching over Sharon beyond his maintaining the law, justice and using common sense," he said in response. "It could be that on the day after the disengagement we will wake up and ask ourselves what we lost on the way, things unconnected to disengagement. After all, we are a country that needs to address many more things than your very very serious and respectable wish (referring to Abramowitz) to see the settlement enterprise moving to a rational track."

Apparently Abramowitz was not swayed. Later in the panel, he continued in the same vein: "Over the years you (Barnea and Oren) have been writing the same article against the occupation, and when Sharon goes and takes this on himself, the question is what is the role of the newspapers, whose agenda, as mentioned, for many years was dictated by the question of the occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. Must it support him, not support him, envelop him. Before I spoke about keeping him safe as an etrog, and Nahum had reservations. I am prepared to compromise: like an etrog until the end of September 2005. Afterwards we will reconsider. If this has been our main agenda for years, the question is what is the role of the media? As a take off point, our attitude to the politicians is exactly like theirs to us. It is functional, and in extreme cases, such as Ehud Barak and perhaps others, even instrumental. But I don't expect of them what I don't think they expect of me. If this serves your comprehensive world view-and it doesn't matter for the moment if we are talking about politics, the rule of law, strikes or whatever-support or reservations must be corresponding. I am talking about people who work in the media who are allowed or who can legitimately let their opinions be known. I am not talking about hard news. If I think that Sharon will be the first who is about to remove the settlements and begin the end of the occupation of 1967, I think that he deserves support. if Sharon comes along and 'went crazy' as his opponents say, then I am in favor of this craziness and my support must accordingly be given."

Amnon Abramowitz commented, "This was a serious discussion, thanks at least to both my colleagues, and what you quoted is an accurate part of an entire picture. And anyone interested in more, I invite him to read my article which will be published soon in the magazine Haayin Hashviit."

Thie piece ran in the April 26th edition of Maariv

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Conflicting Interests:
The United States Wants Cheap Oil and Democracy
Editorial, The Houston Chronicle

Since World War II, the United States' abiding relationship with Saudi Arabia has been based on mutual interest. The United States wanted a reliable source of inexpensive oil; Saudi Arabia's rulers wanted American expertise, protection and dollars. The relationship broke down in 1973 when Arab producers ceased oil shipments to the United States to punish it for supporting Israel, but the traditional formula reasserted itself.

Monday's visit by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah to President Bush's Texas ranch shows that some common interests remain. The United States wants a steady supply of oil at prices low enough to spur economic growth, and the Saudis want to maintain the flow of dollars from healthy oil markets too shortsighted to conserve or switch to alternative energy forms. But conflicts beyond the ancient enmity between Arabs and Israelis make the future of the U.S.-Saudi relationship - and the West's oil supply - more precarious than ever.

Especially since 9/11, mutual mistrust between Americans and Saudis has grown. At his Crawford ranch, Bush acknowledged the importance of his personal relationship with Crown Prince Abdullah. But longstanding family ties aside, the basis for this relationship is difficult to see. Bush is committed to spreading democracy and human rights in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia's rulers are more passionately committed not only to continued despotism, but also to the harsh brand of Islam that is the kingdom's hallmark and which provides inspiration for al-Qaida members and recruits.

In order to remain in power, the Saudi royal family must appease the dissatisfied segment of its populace that, deprived of a voice in government, has turned to religious fanaticism and hatred of the West. Even if the House of Saud wished to extend equality to women and the rule of law to all, which it doesn't, its princes probably couldn't summon the courage to do so and thus diminish their hold on power.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has internal conflicts of its own. The administration pursues a policy of a weak dollar while the president complains to a Saudi prince that Americans have to pay more for imported oil. Bush asks Congress to pass an energy bill that he admits will do nothing to bring down gasoline costs or - through conservation and breakthrough technologies - reduce the nation's dependence on unstable foreign oil supplies.

Saudi Arabia has a plan to increase oil production capacity from 11 million barrels a day to 12.5 million. That might be enough to meet rising demand in China, India and other fast-developing countries, but the tight gap between supply and demand likely will remain, aggravated by insufficient refinery capacity in the United States.

It will take more than personal ties between a president and a prince to guarantee the United States a safe, adequate energy supply.

This piece appeared on April 25th as an editorial in the Houston Chronicle.

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