Israel Resource Review 15th October, 2006


Arlene Kushner

The holiday season ended with Simchat Torah here in Israel yesterday, and will end outside of Israel with dark tonight. Yesterday we prayed for rain for the first time in the new year. And today we had the first rain of the season, a heavy rain -- not just a sprinkle -- that lasted for some duration of time. Let it be a harbinger of blessings to come, for we will need them.

Last Wednesday, Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice gave the keynote address at the Inaugural Gala of the American Task Force on Palestine. In that talk she said: " . . . there could be no greater legacy for America than to help to bring into being a Palestinian state . . . I promise you my personal commitment to that goal."

No greater legacy? We, my friends, are in trouble. There has been a significant shift to the left, with positions being adopted that are anti-Zionist. Each and everyone of you who is a supporter of Israel must be aware of this, and must work as diligently as possible to speak out on behalf of Israel.


Carolyn Glick in her column in The Jerusalem Post on Friday, addresses the issue of pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist political action now taking place on the left, and the ways in which this influences the entire political climate. It is impossible for me to do justice here to all of the points that Glick makes, and I urge each of you to read the entire piece, which is a frightening eye-opener.

Here I will elaborate just briefly with regard to major issues that Glick raises: The first has to do with the move leftward of the Democratic party. It is certainly no longer the party of just a few years ago. There are many on this list who, at least until now, could not imagine themselves ever voting anything but Democratic; for them any suggestion of voting Republican is considered an anathema. It is certainly not my place to tell anyone how to vote, and I will not presume to do so here. But I will most strenuously suggest that it's time to think open-mindedly about alternatives in voting, and very much time to consider how the continued viable existence of the State of Israel might be affected by votes for a left-wing Democratic party.

The second is the role that very left wing American Jews have been playing in strengthening leftist Jewish organizations -- Peace Now, Brit Tzedek V'Shalom, Israel Policy Forum, etc. -- that work against Zionist goals. Some of these organizations represent themselves as liberal pro-Israel, but a caution is very much in order. These groups were, for example, involved in trying to block Congressional sanctions against Hamas in the PA. And it was Seymour Reich of the Israel Policy Forum who last year actually encouraged Rice to come down hard on Israel with regard to negotiations in the horrendous Rafah deal, which presented a security risk to Israel.

Or, going back to 2003, there is Edgar Bronfman of the World Jewish Congress, who gave an interview in which he said: "If the Palestinian suicide bombers only went to the settlements and told the whole world they were wrong, then the whole world would have had a case against Israel and there would be a two-state solution by now. Instead, they sent them into Israel proper, which is ghastly."

Of particular note with regard to all of this is the activity of Jewish billionaire George Soros. JTA, the Jewish news service, has put out a piece indicating that Soros has met with members of the "dovish pro-Israel community" and was considering with them the idea of founding an alternative to AIPAC, the Israeli lobby group, which he considers too hawkish. In fact, the title of the JTA piece is "Soros to Form Pro-Israel Lobby?" While there is certainly room for legitimate differences of opinion within the pro-Israel community, I would suggest that nothing Soros is associated with is likely to be genuinely "pro-Israel," by any definition of that term. Soros, it seems, is a primary funder of, which, reports Glick, permits on its site anti-Semitic slurs against Israel. In battling Senator Joseph Lieberman, MoveOn referred to him as the "ZioNazi Lieberman."

And so, be forewarned, be aware, be on your guard. And please, speak out.


Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beitenu Party has, over the past several days, been negotiating with Olmert with regard to joining the coalition. Lieberman advanced several conditions for doing so -- these include electoral reform, retention of all settlements (i.e., not removing so called illegal settlements), and scrapping the "convergence" plan. At this point it's touch and go as Labor is opposed to his joining, opposed to a good deal of what he demands, and is seeking to undermine where possible -- so that there was a move by Peretz, for example, to try to quickly take out some settlements. In fact, this issue has caused some dissention within the Labor party. Today, however, a ministerial committee on gov't reform approved Leiberman's proposed bill, which would change the system from a parliamentary one to a presidential model. And so . . . stay tuned. Lieberman is seeking one ministry, to be created to deal with the crisis of Iran.

On the flip side: fellow Russian Natan Sharansky is will be leaving the Knesset in about a month; he will become a fellow at the Shalem Center think tank in Jerusalem, where, reportedly, he will write a book about dealing with Iran.


MK Uri Ariel (National Union) reported last week that he will be drawing up plans to construct a synagogue on the Temple Mount. Love it! It would be a step towards reasserting our rights on the Mount, which the Arabs, at present, assume is theirs. It would, in fact, correct an incredible injustice: right now, Jews are allowed to visit the Mount as visitors, but are not allowed to pray there, apparently because this would offend Muslims. (I am not making this up!) This is going on in spite of the fact that, according to Ariel, every ruling by Israel's Supreme Court has given Jews the right to pray there. Such is the rush by various governments to be politically correct and avoid confrontation with Arabs, even when it means relinquishing Jewish rights. (This is at the heart of our problems.)

The construction of the synagogue would not interfere with the rights of Muslims to pray at Al Aksa Mosque on the Mount. It would be done in consultation with leading Torah scholars so that everything would be proper (e. g., it would not be placed where the Temple or Holy of Holies -- sacred ground -- might have been). The plans will be submitted to the Jerusalem municipality and the Committee for Design and Construction.

Before announcing these plans, Ariel had visited the Mount. Following this, another MK, Talab el-Sana (Ta'al), said the "provocation" would bring "war and bloodshed." Bravo then to Uriel for not being intimidated by this -- which is the purpose, along with incitement, of such remarks. According to Arutz Sheva, Uriel instead responded that such a plan was an opportunity for the Muslim world to prove it is capable of rising above the violence and intolerance that have surfaced in the past year.

It should be noted that King Abdullah of Jordan has just announced plans to design a fifth minaret for the Mosque on the Mount, which would be visible from the Kotel. This plan would need Israeli gov't approval and there is not yet any comment.


An imminent meeting between Olmert and Abbas is not likely to take place, as talks to set it up have broken down. Olmert is seeking release of Shalit before he will release prisoners.


Intelligence reports are that Hamas is gaining the upper hand in the tension with Fatah. Chances of a unity gov't actually forming are close to nil right now.

Intelligence also says Hamas has smuggled sophisticated anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles into Gaza.


Until now I have avoided mention of the charges being made with regard to the conduct of President Moshe Katsav. What began with suggestions of sexual harassment many weeks ago became charges of rape in due course. Katsav has said that he is being framed: that women have been enlisted in a plot to set him up so that when he leaves the presidency shortly he will be finished in politics (Likud). He has adamantly refused to resign. Do I know what the truth is? I do not. Needless to say, I am privy to no inside information with regard to this. Adhering to the principle that a man is innocent until proven guilty, I judged it prudent to simply say nothing.

Now, however, a completed police investigation has been released; it indicates sufficient evidence to charge Katsav with sexual misconduct that includes rape. Does this make him guilty? It does not; he still must be formally indicted and tried. But we've moved well beyond the realm of rumor and innuendo. Not a pretty picture, and a sad day for Israel.

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Amit Cohen and Barak Ravid, Jericho
Correspondents, Maariv

About two kilometers west of the Jordan Valley road, in the heart of the city of Jericho, Abu Mazen's army is at this time being built. When the process-all of whose stages are supported and being paid for by Washington-is over, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority is meant to have a large, trained force, one that is largely clean of the influence of any terror organizations. His Hamas rivals are following tensely, fearing that on the day the order is given, the new army will be directed at them.

The basis of the future army is the Presidential Guard, which is absolutely loyal to the rais. "The goal is for the Presidential Guard to become the main security organization, and later for it to be the only one, and for there to be a real Palestinian army one day," said a high-ranking Palestinian source closely associated with Abu Mazen, who is familiar with the subject.

To this end, the recruitment and absorption processes for new combatants are taking place. A high-ranking source close to Abu Mazen said that the existing security organizations are tainted with irregularities, commander problems and politics. He said that the goal is to take the best and most loyal soldiers from them and to gradually dismantle the old organizations, such as the police and the National Security Service.

Nonetheless, not everyone can be accepted to the new and prestigious organization, even if they now serve in one of the security organizations. A high-ranking Israeli source revealed that the soldiers go through a security screening in which all those with connections to Iran, to Hizbullah, to Hamas, to Islamic Jihad and to other terror organizations are weeded out. "Political affiliation is a consideration," said one officer at the training base in Jericho, but refused to explicitly say that there is no entry to people from Hamas. "I do not have permission to say that. Ask the headquarters in Ramallah," he said.

The establishment of the organization is fully coordinated with the American administration, which wants Abu Mazen to have a strong force in case a free-for-all begins in the PA. The budget for supporting Abu Mazen includes about USD 300 million of Palestinian Authority money that was confiscated when Hamas came to power. Some of the money is now being released for the new organization.

American General Keith Dayton is working with the members of the Presidential Guard. Dayton drew up and even presented a security plan for reorganizing the Presidential Guard with 6,000 to 10,000 soldiers. Diplomatic sources say that Americans oversee the drills of the Presidential Guard and do the actual training.

A few weeks ago work began on a large training base in Jericho, on an area of over 60 dunams, which will serve the Presidential Guard. The entire compound is encircled by a wall, on some of which there is barbed wire. The work is going slowly at the moment because of Ramadan, although it is already possible to see classes taking place and some of the living quarters are at an advanced stage of construction. The cost of building the camp is about USD two million, which comes from American aid.

Top Palestinian sources said they hoped that the new version of the Presidential Guard will be able, in the future, to be responsible for the cities that Israel evacuates. But Israel, on the other hand, is still not approving the transfer of weapons and equipment to Abu Mazen's guard, certainly not security authority. In the meantime, the new recruits walk around without guns, and concentrate on fitness training.


This article ran in the October 16th, 2006 edition of MAARIV

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