Archive for May, 2009

Good Move Obama; Two Down, More to Come. Hopefully.

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

President Obama’s backtracking on his decisions to close Guantanamo Bay and release photographs which show abuse of prisoners by the United States is very positive. It means that he is beginning to see in practical terms that national security comes first and foremost and that it must take precedence over political or ideological considerations. It also means that he is beginning to understand the true nature of the difficulties President Bush had to deal with and that intractable problems, like what to actually do with the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay if you really close the place, don’t lend themselves to simple, facile solutions that are nothing more than soundbites in disguise. It must have been hard to backtrack because of the criticism it will engender and the crow he will have to eat but he did so for the greater good and should be commended for it.

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Hopefully he will come to his senses about other aspects of the war on terror and the conflict in the Middle East as well. this is especially important on the eve of his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Obama must understand that a strong, secure Israel is in America’s best security interests and that an Iran in possession of nuclear weapons most certainly is not. He must also understand that any waffling or equivocating on either or both of these severely damages U.S. security whereas security will be enhanced if he makes sure that Iran believes that possessing nuclear weapons is very undesirable from his point of view and that no options to prevent this are off the table, including military ones.

President Obama has shown that he is willing and able to alter course in the face of realpolitic. This is most encouraging, particularly since much of what he has said and done on the national security/foreign policy front has made many countries around the world question just how deep America’s commitment to them really is and whether or not the United States would defend them or act preemptively if push came to shove. How he acts after his meeting with Netanyahu will send a very strong message to friend and foe alike. Let’s hope it’s the right one.

Re; Pope in West Bank Offers Support to Palestinians, Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2009

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

So the Pope has reiterated his call for a Palestinian state, “Pope in West Bank Offers Support to Palestinians” Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2009. Everybody, especially the Israelis, wants a Palestinian state too, except of course for the Palestinians themselves and the wider Arab world in general as well.

There have been many opportunities over the years for the Palestinians to have their own state. After WW1, 1937, 1947, 1967, Oslo all come to mind. Why don’t they have it? Because they want Israel gone, because they view Israel’s presence as an affront to Islam, because they are unwilling to accept Israel’s right to exist and guarantee it’s security, because of all pervasive anti-semitism in their society rooted in religion and myth and because Israel is constantly being attacked and Israeli’s always have to worry about being killed or maimed by Palestinian bombs, rockets, suicide bombers, the survival of their own state and so on.

If Palestinians really want their own state they should put their money where their mouth is, change their beliefs, attitudes and behaviour and allow Israelis to live in peace and security. Until these things happen no one should take them seriously or give any credence to their rhetoric. Until these things happen, a state is out of the question, as it should be.

Israel will accept and welcome a Palestinian state, but only when Palestinians, and the wider arab world in general for that matter, accept and welcome israel.

State of Play, Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11th, 2009

The U.S. is pushing a two state solution to the Middle East conflict despite Palestinian unwillingness or inability to guarantee security for Israel. There cannot be a Palestinian state until this occurs.

The U.S. should understand that and help Palestinians achieve this goal, instead of championing ill thought out “solutions” Israel cannot possibly accept because security must trump all
(“Obama: Status quo unsustainable; two state solution critical,” March 26).

From this perspective, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s approach, tying the pursuit of peace to concurrently dealing with political, economic ans security issues, is eminently realistic and sensible (“PM to Sharm today,” May 11).

The Pope and the Sheikh

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Pope Benedict XV1 should be congratulated for walking out of a meeting with organizations involved in religious dialogue after it was hijacked by Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, Chief Islamic Judge of the Palestinian Authority. He has done a great service to everyone who is serious about peace in the Middle East and the creation of a Palestinian state.

The Sheikh took the podium even though he was not on the speakers list and launched a vicious tirade against Israel, calling Israelis murderers and urging Muslims and Christians to unite against them. The Pope repudiated his views in no uncertain terms by leaving and castigating them in a subsequent press release. This is exceedingly important because by doing this the Pope, one of the most influential people in the world, effectively took action against the poison and hatred spouted by the Sheikh, poison and hatred which Palestinians are bombarded with daily. Walking out is far more significant and symbolic than merely denouncing Sheikh Tamimi’s views verbally or on paper because actions really do speak louder than words. Good for the Pope!

One can only hope that President Obama will act in the same vein when confronted with such phlegm. The single biggest roadblock to peace in the Middle East and a Palestinian state is hatred of Israelis, Jews, by Palestinians, Arabs. Peace and a state can’t possibly come until that hatred is no longer part of the equation because there can be no security for Israel as long as it exists. Denunciation in action and words by President Obama will play a huge role in sending those attitudes where they belong, the dustbin of history. Let’s hope that he has the vision, sense courage and morality to do exactly that.

Israel will accept and welcome a Palestinian state, but only when Palestinians, and the wider Arab world for that matter, accept and welcome Israel. Pope Benedict has brought that much closer.

Right To Attack. Re: Israelis could attack Iranian reactor without U.S. approval, Vancouver Sun, May 7, 2009

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

The Government of Israel should attack and remove Iran’s nuclear facilities if the Iranians development of nuclear weapons is imminent. It has every right to do so and would be derelict in it’s duty to the Israeli people if it didn’t. Iran is developing nuclear weapons for one reason and one reason only: to use them against Israel, which they would of course do if they were in their possession. A preemptive strike by the Israelis would be necessary to prevent a nuclear attack on them.

Of course every measure should be taken to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in the first place. If all else fails however Israel has no choice but to go it alone, with or without approval from the United States.

In the end Israel can depend only on itself and expecting the U.S. to defend it militarily could be suicidal. So could holding back while America dithered, which is entirely possible given President Obama’s mushy thinking in foreign affairs to date and seeming inability to prevent behaviour by various regimes that is potentially harmful to the United States and/or it’s allies. If Obama came to the conclusion that jettisoning Israel would somehow be in his country’s best interests or fit into some sort of personal ideology he would do so, regardless of anything he has said or commitments he has made.

The Israelis are well aware of all this of course. They would attack as a last resort with the greatest reluctance, but attack they would. Rightly so. any other country would do the same under similiar circumstances.

And yes, the Iranians would have no one to blame except themselves.

What’s next, Muslims demanding non-Jewish Judges? Re: Court agrees to consider question of Muslims testifying with veil on, Toronto Globe & Mail, May 2, 2009

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

On no account should a Muslim woman, devout or otherwise, alleged victim or otherwise, be allowed to testify in a criminal trial wearing a veil. To allow this would be a serious erosion of one of the fundamental principles our justice system and Western justice in general is built on- the right of an accused person to face their accuser openly in court. This is clearly impossible if the complainant is veiled.

How can we possibly say that we have a transparent court system and that everyone’s rights are fully protected if people who are accused of crimes cannot see their accuser? We can’t. To allow someone to give evidence while veiled essentially changes the character of the court process and is a violation of a basic value that has long been at the heart of our way of life. It is reminiscent of the Star Chamber.

I note that the Judge in the preliminary inquiry last year has a Jewish sounding name and instructed the plaintiff to remove her veil during that proceeding. What’s next, Muslims demanding non-Jewish Judges?

Physician, Heal Thyself, Re: ‘A Play for Gaza,’ a debate on hatred, National Post, May 2, 2009

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Hatred is rife in the Middle East all right but it is not hatred of Arabs by Israelis it is hatred of Israelis, Jews, by Arabs. This is the most intractable problem of all there and is the biggest roadblock to peace by far. The hatred existed long before Israel came into being and has nothing to do with any of it’s actions, in Gaza or anywhere else. It is rooted in religion and dogma, in myth and psychological factors which can only be speculated on.

People who are seriously interested in peace between Israel and it’s neighbors will do everything they can to convince Arabs to rid themselves of this hatred because peace can’t possibly exist until they do. Plays like Seven Jewish Children only prolong the agony and are nothing but a terrible disservice to everyone, including Palestinians.

Peace, prosperity and their own state will come when they stop hating, recognize and accept israel’s right to exist and stop the bombing, maiming and killing that Israelis constantly have to live with. Not before.