Sunday, December 25

Is there an Alternative to the Israeli Occupation?

All of us are aware of the continuing occupation eroding human values. The late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz has emphasized this constantly since the Six Day War of June 1967. Much of the brutality of the Israeli Border Police in its treatment of the Palestinian population is swept under the carpet by the various governmental ministries. Haaretz, in an editorial (23 December 2005), mentions the apathy of the public towards brutality of the worst kind towards innocent Palestinians going about their business and not involved in terrorism.

There is a certain amount of demonization of the Palestinians by Israel. Haaretz journalist, Gideon Levy has written about the cruel treatment of Mahmoud Shawara, a Palestinian labourer who was brutally murdered. Of course, there are the horrific and cruel suicide bombings against innocent Israelis, which has been the result of the violence against Israel over the last six years of intifada. Nobody in his right mind can find any justification for Palestinian terror, which has killed so many innocent people. However, we must differentiate between this and the brutality of the Israeli Border Police and not justify the use of this kind of torture because of Palestinian terrorism. The victims of Israeli Border Police brutality are usually innocent Palestinians. In many cases, there is a fear of reporting these abuses to the right authorities. Many individual perpetrators go unpunished as a result.

Hebron is another town that has become the focus of attention where zealous Jewish settlers have evicted the Palestinian population. The Israeli Authorities have not done anything about it. They had established a number of settlements such as Avraham Avinu, Bet Hadassah, Tel Rumeida, and Bet Romano. The Jewish populations in these areas total about 530. In Kiryat Arba there are about 6000 Jews.

The friction between Jews and Arabs in the areas around Hebron is great. There have been reports of zealous Jewish settlers in these areas being responsible for brutalizing the Palestinian population. There have been abuses of human rights in the occupied territories.

However, in order to add a certain amount of balance to the tragic situation between Palestinians and Jews, there must be dual recognition of both sides to recognize each other’s rights to exist. Hebron is a hotbed of right-wing religious Jewish zealotry and hates for the Arabs. There has been the destruction of Palestinian property by these settlers and this has contributed much to the escalation of hate between the two communities.

On the Palestinian side, the rhetoric of uncompromising hate for Israel continues. Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that the firing of Qassam rockets on the outskirts of Ashkelon, as he put it, has become Israel’s problem. By making these statements, he denies responsibility and eventually, he will bear the consequences. Time is not on the side of the Palestinian Authority but on the side of the Palestinian extremists such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The former will be participating in the Palestinian elections on 25 January. This means further uncompromising positions by the Palestinians towards Israel and the possibility of continued Qassam attacks on the southern border between Israel and Gaza.

The results of all this will be increased roadblocks and Israeli security checks on Palestinian workers who wish to cross into Israel in order to seek a livelihood. This will create further humiliation for them by the Israeli Security Forces even if they have the required permits for entry into Israel.

What is the position of the Israeli left of centre peace groups? On the one hand, the left supporters of peace will continue to condemn the brutality of the Israeli Border Police towards innocent Palestinians, while on the other hand, the Palestinian suicide bombers will continue to attack Israelis. There is no doubt that the left-wingers are in total disarray because of Palestinian terrorist tactics. Now, there is no viable partner for peace negotiations on the Palestinian side. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is in total disarray amongst themselves. Even the Palestinian Security Force (or is it a farce?) do not communicate with the various levels amongst themselves. The left in Israel has become disillusioned with the situation.

Even if Israel decides to withdraw from all the occupied territories unilaterally, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be solved, as extremists in the Palestinian camp would view this as a victory. It could also create a situation of further outbreaks of hostilities in the form of terrorist incursions and further firing of Qassam rockets into Israeli towns.

Wednesday, December 21

The Controversial Status of Jerusalem

The status of Jerusalem has been and will remain a subject of debate for a long time. The moment that one talks about dividing Jerusalem, there is an outcry from many Israelis and Diaspora Jewry. The slogan of a “united Jerusalem for all generations” has been a plank in electioneering propaganda of all Zionist political parties from left to right. There is no reason to believe that this will change even in the upcoming election propaganda strategy.

Since Israel occupied Jerusalem after June 1967, the attitude towards relinquishing occupied Jerusalem has become more and more uncompromising. Now after thirty-eight years since the Six Day War, it is appropriate to ask if this attitude is still unquestionable or non-negotiable.

The time has come to debate this subject more openly and objectively. There are environmental facts on the ground in
East Jerusalem, which is more Arabic than Jewish. If one were to examine the area where the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa are situated, it is obvious that Israel (in theory at least) should not have jurisdiction. These Moslem Holy Places could never be part of “United Jerusalem” under Israeli jurisdiction eternally.

Jerusalem – the eternal capital of the Jewish People has become an axiom that has not been open for discussion for many years. Now there seems to be some
cracks in that axiom as far as Eastern Jerusalem is concerned. What is controversial is non-Jewish Jerusalem, which includes the Christian and Moslem Holy Places.

However, facts on the ground make discussion of Jerusalem’s future status as being the capital of two states – Israel and the future Palestine, an almost a non-starter for a number of reasons:

  1. The Palestinian leadership at present is unable to contain Palestinian terror within their midst.

  2. Israel has no partner on the Palestinian side with whom to negotiate a final status settlement on Jerusalem let alone a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security. This is dependent on the Palestinian Authority’s ability to rein in the terror.

  3. The presence of uncompromising Palestinian groups who are adamant in their determination never to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

If by some very remote chance, there is unilateral withdrawal from predominantly Arab populated East Jerusalem, there would be total chaos and it would be easier for Palestinian terrorist groups to carry out terror attacks against the Israeli population. A hint of the Palestinian “desire” for peace is occurring since the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Southern Ashkelon is now within the line of Qassam fire from Hamas and company. An Israeli Army base has already been a target of Qassam rocket fire. It seems as if the Palestinian terrorist groups are out to target the electrical installation pylons south of Ashkelon. This could create tremendous damage to Israel’s electric power supply. It would not be surprising if Iran finances these terror attacks. A unilateral withdrawal from Jerusalem with its complex demography and potential for terrorism makes the situation far more complex and dangerous.

The future of any negotiations on Jerusalem’s final status is dependent on the Palestinian’s desire to cease terror and recognize Israel’s right to exist. If these basic ingredients are absent, the idea of the division of Jerusalem between Palestinian East Jerusalem and Israeli West Jerusalem will never be negotiable let alone attainable.

Wednesday, December 7

The Netanya Blast and its Aftermath

The suicide bomber struck again killing five people and injuring scores of passers-by. Unfortunately, for us living in Israel this has become part of our lives. We all live in uncertainty as to when and where the suicide bomber will strike again. We all know that this will not be the last time. My daughter, Ilanit, was in the Netanya Shopping Mall at the time of the blast and escaped injury by shear luck. She managed to phone my wife when it occurred to reassure her that that she was safe but horribly shaken and tearful. The mobile phone network crashed soon afterwards. I was in a state of uncertainty not knowing whether she was injured or not.

I witnessed the arrival of ambulances conveying the injured one after the other to Laniado Hospital. There were many family members of the injured in a state of anxiety and some were hysterical and panicking. The scenario was horrendous!

Once again, the ball is in the court of the Palestinian Authority.
Mahmoud Abbas condemned the bombing because “it does not serve Palestinian interests”. There has been no message of condolences from the Palestinian leadership towards those who lost their lives. It does not take much effort to realize that if the bombing were to serve Palestinian interests then the leadership would not condemn it. This means that violence and bloodshed is an integral part of the Palestinian leadership psyche. Mahmoud Abbas has made the “correct cosmetic noises” in a weak attempt to sell out a sop to Israel that he will do all in his power to arrest those responsible. We are all aware that he will do nothing, as is his wont after every terrorist attack. At the same time, they shiver in their boots at the thought of Israeli retaliation. They made a crying appeal to the world to pressurize Israel not to retaliate. It is logical that the only way to fight terror on the Palestinian side is by disarming and arresting the members of Islamic Jihad and their ilk. Mahmoud Abbas will not do that. He said that if he were to take action against these terror groups there would be civil war, which he wants to avoid. This means that he is a weak leader and ineffectual! He has once again proved his inability to be a true partner for peace negotiations and help to end the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

There is another very serious problem amongst the Moslem clergy. They have not been forthright enough in their condemnation of suicide bombings. Imams of high standing have not issued a fatwa against suicide bombings that is convincing. Does this mean that
Islam condones violence of this nature? I hope that that is not the case! Where are the forthright condemnations coming from Moslem religious leaders? All we seem to hear is rabble-rousing anti-Jewish and anti-Western rhetoric. There is also Al-Qaeda and Iranian provocations to jihad and wiping Israel off the face of the earth.

Israel and Palestine are on the threshold of elections. The suicide bombings will cause many Israelis to vote for a right wing government. This will cause the Israeli side to become less compromising towards the Palestinians in future negotiations. While there was relative calm, the focus was more on social issues such as poverty, economics, health issues and education. Security was becoming less of an issue for the elections. Amir Peretz, the newly elected Labour leader was showing signs of making electoral gains according to the polls. Now, after the suicide bombing in Netanya, the electorate will be returning to security mode rather than seeing the situation in a broader aspect.

People view
Amir Peretz as a potential prime ministerial candidate without any security experience and this could harm his chances of an electoral victory. How many serving prime ministers in democracies have any experience in the military? There are not very many. However, all prime ministers do have their capable military advisors when making defense and security policy decisions. Decent and good government cannot be measured by military capability alone.

When one decides on which party to support, many different factors should be considered before making one’s final decision. The Likud and its offshoot, Kadima, under PM Ariel Sharon have failed the test on clean government. Many have left the Likud for Kadima tainted with criminal charges.
A case in point is the latest addition to Kadima, Tzachi Hanegbi. He is awaiting criminal charges for illegal appointments to the Ministry of Environment when he was Minister of Environment. Even Ariel Sharon’s son, Omri, is about to lose his immunity as a member of the Knesset in order to face charges of illegal financing his father’s electoral campaign in 1999. He should resign until his name is cleared assuming that he is found not guilty.

When an election is run over security issues alone, there is bound to be dissatisfaction afterwards. This does not guarantee good government on other issues already mentioned. Since the intifada years, there has been much neglect. Any future government must address the increases in violence amongst the youth coupled with poverty. The Likud coalition has neglected these issues. Bibi Netanyahu, the finance minister at the time, had introduced draconian salary and pension cuts resulting in increased poverty. Remember that Ariel Sharon was a partner to these cuts as well! Kadima under Ariel Sharon have paid lip service to these issues but it is doubtful if they will address these issues after the elections assuming that his party wins the elections.

It would be very short sighted indeed, if the electorate returns the same leaders into power. They have not proved themselves except in one sphere – corruption - that is rife amongst the members of the ruling government. We deserve better than that! After all, the old motto – new brooms sweep clean – is applicable in the up coming election campaign. We have nothing to lose.

Wednesday, November 30

The Settlers and Palestinian Olive Trees

There have been increasing reports in the Israeli Press about the uprooting of olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers. The perpetrators of these disgusting acts are settlers who had established illegal outposts and seem to get away with impunity (or is it immunity from punishment by the Israeli courts?).

There always seems to be some sort of self-righteous attitude by many settlers that allows them to do everything in order to prove that they are the owners of disputed territory. The Israeli authorities treat them with kid gloves.

If this is the case, one can understand Palestinian animosity towards settlers living beyond the green line, establishing illegal outposts according to their whims and twisted ideological fantasies. If these settlers behave in this manner, it is not conducive to peace and understanding with the Palestinians.

How can anybody justify this kind of behaviour? Olive trees are very much part of the Palestinian farmer’s livelihood. How can these illegal settlers lay claim to Palestinian lands and some how get away with it?

There is no reason to justify these abuses and it would be in Israel’s interests if these settlers were brought to justice and made to pay the price for the damage caused.

This is a result of the occupation of the Palestinians! Many settlers view the Palestinians as sub human and once they have demonized them, they take the liberty to vandalize Palestinian olive groves without any conscience. This hideous, inhuman attitude does not serve anybody. It is not surprising that this kind of violence towards simple Palestinians will create more violence and hate towards Israelis.

Monday, November 28

Should Israel release Marwan Barghouti?

Marwan Barghouti is a mixture of almost everything required to give him the charisma and support of many Palestinians. He is a natural born leader who is very intelligent. He has mastered English and Hebrew with a fluency gained while serving in an Israeli prison during the first intifada. This leader, prior to his arrest, was considered a possible successor to Yasser Arafat.

On April 15, 2002 Israeli security forces arrested Barghouti in Ramallah, part of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield. Israeli courts tried him for a series of murders and there was evidence linking him to other crimes. In May 2004, the Israeli court convicted him of the murder of five civilians and involvement in four terror attacks. On 6th June 2004, he was given five consecutive life sentences plus an additional 40 years in prison (20 years for attempted murder and another 20 for membership in a terror organization).

As time moves on and with election fever heating up in Israel, the future of peace negotiations with the Palestinians is bound to be part of the Israeli election campaign. Parallel to the Israeli elections is the Palestinian election campaign as well. Marwan Barghouti has shown increased support amongst the Palestinians even though he is imprisoned. Perhaps this could be due to the “martyr effect” of imprisonment. His people view him as a freedom fighter that has paid a high price for his activities in the name of achieving freedom for his people.

Political prisoners are freed when negotiations for a peace agreement get under way, even prisoners who have been involved in terrorist activity and murder in many instances. This is a very problematic issue for those who had suffered at the hands of terrorism. It is understandable that families who have lost family and friends in terrorist attacks would oppose the release of Marwan Barghouti. We cannot judge their reactions to a possible release. Even if one were to view Marwan Barghouti’s release from a legal point of view, it is no less problematic.
However, if an agreement is reached with the Palestinians and Palestinian terror is curtailed successfully, Barghouti’s release must be brought up for debate. He is a potential negotiating partner and he is no less guilty of murder than many leaders who were involved in the struggle for freedom of their people. The Irish para-military leader, Gerry Adams, was responsible for many murders as well before he laid down his arms and adopted a peaceful approach resulting in the disarming of the Irish Republican Army. Arafat is another example who was granted legitimacy when the Oslo Accords was signed. What about Israel’s leaders, who were involved in the struggle for the establishment of Israel? Lehi, the Sterne Gang, and the Irgun who were fighting for the freedom of the Jewish people, had also killed many on the opposing side whether Arabs or British. Yitzchak Shamir, who was PM of Israel in the late 1980s until the election of Yizchak Rabin in 1992, is a case in point.

Perhaps one should view the release of Barghouti within the context of the history of Israel’s struggle for independence. Barghouti was involved in the struggle of his people against the Israeli occupation no less than Israel’s past struggles for independence. All struggles for independence results in tragic bloodshed on both sides.
If one were to examine the various interviews that Barghouti had given, he had never denied Israel’s right to exist. He also spoke out against terror. However, he does view those who live in occupied areas as occupiers against whom terror activity is justified as part of the Palestinian struggle for independence. There are certain parallels in his struggle for his people’s statehood and Israel’s past struggle for independence. This is where the tragic problem lies. However, as difficult and problematic as it is, Barghouti must be seen as a leader with whom Israel can negotiate in the future. The fact that he has massive support would mean that his release would be a counterbalance to Hamas and would also improve Israel’s stature in the world and her Arab neighbours.

Wednesday, November 23

What will happen if Sharon is re-elected?

It is never easy to speculate what will happen if Sharon is re-elected. It is a guessing game of “If…….what?” Nevertheless, one can only speculate based on the history of trends in elections in Israel. One thing is certain -much depends on the character of the coalition that he will form which will determine his future strategy assuming his party wins the election. No party will win an absolute majority and there will be much compromising because of post election negotiations.

It would not be surprising if the Labour Party under Amir Peretz becomes part of the Sharon coalition after the elections. Peretz has not ruled out that possibility. Peretz has had a problem being in the Likud coalition but now the situation has changed. The Likud is split and its chances of winning the elections poor.

It is doubtful whether there will be return of territory to the Palestinians as was the case of the disengagement from Gaza. This time much will depend on the ability of the Palestinian Authority to rein in terror. One must remember that the Palestinian elections are due in January 2006 and this in itself is a very important factor that will determine the future of negotiations with Israel under a new Sharon Government.

There may be some cosmetic disengagement in the West Bank with security arrangements. It will not satisfy the Palestinian leadership and there is a strong possibility of a continuing stalemate under the Sharon Government. The economic policies of Sharon will not differ much from the Likud. There may be some policy change towards the weaker sectors as part of a coalition agreement with the Labour Party. However, dramatic change in that area will not occur.

There are two basic issues facing the electorate today:

  1. There must be a return to negotiations with the Palestinians, which includes the establishment of a Palestinian state.

  2. Internal economic and social problems must take priority.

Positive movement towards the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is important for Israel’s future. If there is no movement towards that end, it will not take long before the area becomes embroiled in violence. The Palestinian elections are also on the horizon and if extremists in the Palestinian camp are elected to the Palestinian legislature who is not pragmatic towards Israel, it will be very bad for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The latter issue is dependent on the former. If there is no peace, there will not be stability and slowing of economic growth. Both peoples will not be able to progress. Israel’s budget will be tuned toward military expenses and this will not serve anybody’s interests.

If Sharon’s new party list is elected, negotiations with the Palestinians will be postponed indefinitely, especially if the new Palestinian Authority does not do more to halt Palestinian terror. The signs that this will occur is far from hopeful. Even if the Palestinians do get their act right on terror, it is unlikely that Sharon will do anything that is imaginative or bold towards peace. The Gaza disengagement was a different kettle of fish. There were relatively few Israeli families living in the strip and they became a severe economic and security liability as a hostile Palestinian population surrounded them.

The policies of the Likud led coalition had resulted in economic strife for the poorer members of Israel’s population. Netanyahu who was finance minister under the Likud had targeted the poor rather than the wealthy. The improvement in Israel’s economic situation had largely been artificial because of his policies.

Ariel Sharon is still the same Ariel Sharon. He is pragmatic up to a point and he will not carry out anything drastic to improve the climate between Israel and the Palestinians nor can we expect anything revolutionary in improving the situation of the weaker sections of Israeli society. Amir Peretz’s commitments on both the basic issues mentioned seems to be more convincing. However, if the Labour Party wins the elections, he will also moderate his position when it comes to forming a ruling coalition and all that it entails.

Israel will be in a very similar situation after the elections as before no matter who wins.

Monday, November 21

The Israeli Pre-election Earthquake

After Amir Peretz’s election as leader of the Labour Party, he had managed to shake up the political parties with his energy that reverberated right across the political spectrum. He had managed to get all the parties to agree to elections to clear the air. This controversial politician has breathed new life into the Labour Party. As Haaretz had reported, he had achieved his goal of pushing forward early elections and getting all the parties to agree on that.

Amir Peretz had succeeded in getting his party out of its “political hibernation” in the Likud coalition. He is a catalyst for change even in the Likud. This was overdue. If the Labor Party remained in the Likud coalition, the electorate would view them as a partner to the blunders made towards the economically deprived. Many shudders have occurred in the Likud.

Ariel Sharon has decided to leave the Likud and start a new party called (rather clumsily) the National Responsibility Party. This has created a precedent as a prime minister resigned from the party that he led. It remains to be seen whether it will strengthen his support or not. At this stage, it is difficult to say. Fourteen Likud MKs have left the Likud and joined Ariel Sharon’s Party. Some Labour party members are not happy about Amir Peretz’s election as leader and could bolt the party to join up with Ariel Sharon at a later stage. Chaim Ramon, a Labour cabinet minister without portfolio, has decided to join the new party. What is amazing is how a new leader of the Labour Party has caused such political rumblings. Israeli politics prior to that had reached a new low of pettiness and ineptitude. However if we look back on Israel’s electoral history, small breakaway parties have disintegrated into the mainstream party blocs. It is true that in this case the situation is more complicated in that most Likud cabinet ministers supported Sharon in his disengagement move. Despite that, the opposition by many members in the Likud to his policies made his situation in the Likud untenable and this had prompted Sharon to leave the Likud that he had established.

The situation now is very unclear politically and it is doubtful if elections will alter anything. Superficially, there does seem to be a political earthquake. However, when the dust settles it will be back to business as usual. No political party in Israel has ever gained an absolute majority and relies on gaining the most votes in order to form a viable ruling coalition. The future elections will be no different! Every election over the past two decades have made the situation worse politically and more difficult to form coalitions. Strange bedfellows, with opposing ideologies, joined coalitions that had become unwieldy in the past as well as unstable. There was competition in the wheeling and dealing after the elections as to who was going to benefit the most from the victory crumbs of the largest political party for the narrow interests that many smaller parties represent. Shas is the biggest culprit in this game. They are only interested in their own religious communities. Shas will join any coalition that promises to finance their yeshiva and pseudo-educational systems. The right wing parties will also demand state financial aid on the expanding of settlements beyond the green line as well as establishing new settlements as a condition for entering a coalition. History will repeat itself as the political corruption and blackmail will rear its ugly head in the aftermath of the elections.

In practical terms, elections will solve nothing. The Israeli electorate will vote in many different directions and the small parties will have the balance of power whatever happens. The electoral system of proportional representation as it stands is in dire need of reform. There are too many parties involved which renders the so-called winners unable to gain an absolute majority thus resulting in the chaos of forming a ruling coalition as already mentioned earlier in this article.

Monday, November 14

The Histadrut Dinosaur of Irrelevance

The election of the Histadrut head to director general of the Labor Party is an incredible achievement and has many positive elements. However, one must bear in mind that the Histadrut under Amir Peretz is not much different to the Histadrut under his predecessors as far as looking after the interests of the workers are concerned. The private sector workers have no true representation in the Histadrut. Their problems are very seldom addressed.

If one were to view the various strikes with Histadrut backing, it was always the strong public sector workers that went on strike. The Dock Worker’s Unions, Ministry of the Interior, Telephone Companies, banks as well as many other strong and, in many cases corrupt, workers unions were roped in for organizing strikes. This made tremendous press coverage and was wonderful for the ego of the Histadrut leader, Amir Peretz, who flexed some muscle when it came to negotiating with the government in improving worker’s salaries and conditions as well as keeping to the contracts signed. The press hype created was successful for Amir Peretz.

What about those exploited workers in the private sector, many of them being members of the Histadrut? They were unaffected by all the strike hype and remained exploited and ignored as before. They were not an investment press-wise and were largely forgotten. A case in point is the Dead Sea Potash Works whose main share holders amongst others are the brothers, Yuli and Sammy Ofer, amongst the richest people in the world who are even mentioned in the famous Forbes Magazine.

These workers work under the most intolerable conditions for salaries close to minimum wage. Many of them live under intolerable conditions in Dimona near the Dead Sea. Special overcrowded buses transport them like cattle to work in the Dead Sea Potash Works. They start work at 4.00 a.m. in the morning and end their work day late at night. Their conditions are intolerable. In summer they work in the searing heat with no air conditioners to relieve them. The salty chemical dust that they breathe is hazardous to their health. Nobody cares – not even the Histadrut! They do not have the minimum of security in their jobs nor decent workman’s compensation if they are injured. They are expendable and replaceable when their health fails. They are doomed to a life of poverty with no future for their children whatsoever. Their Worker’s Unions are corrupt and their work leaders are paid higher salaries in order to keep the working underdogs quiet. The main shareholders of this project are not interested in their workers’ welfare. When they were questioned by Ilana Dayan of the Israeli Second Channel in her programme “Uvda” some years ago about the inhuman working conditions there, they denied any knowledge of the workers’ problems and showed no concern whatsoever.

Where was Amir Peretz when these unfortunate Dead Sea Workers needed him the most? Their problems were safely swept under the Histadrut carpet for many years. Their lifespan was shortened by these intolerable inhuman sweatshop conditions and yet nobody cares. It does not make good press for Israel so who knows who is responsible for the great “cover up” there?

There are many employees, who pay fees to the Histadrut so that their working rights are insured and cared for. However, when they approach the Histadrut legal department when they have a work contract problem, there is no address. There are various inefficient clerks who answer the phones and give information which is not helpful; or leave messages which are never answered. I once had a problem and it took two and a half months before I even received a reply to a question and that was only after much nudging and phoning. The responsible (or irresponsible) person in the legal department was never there. Eventually I received a terse answer that was neither here nor there. I happen to be a card carrying member of the Histadrut which does not represent my interests at all as my attempt to get information from them had proved.

The Histadrut is a redundant dinosaur that furthers the interests of those who are able to make political capital in high places. Those workers who are not part of the huge public syndicate that is subsidized by the state have nothing to gain from being members. It is an unwieldy, inefficient organization of technocrats, political hacks of pseudo-socialistic ideals and “jobs for pals” burocrats. Its strength lies in the ability of its leaders to organize strikes sanctioned by strong, corrupt public workers unions which have made little inroads in genuine workers’ rights in the private sector.

Sunday, November 13

The New Leader of the Labor Party

Politics in Israel had reached a new low over the last few years. The Labor Party under the leadership of the veteran leader, Shimon Peres, had lost its direction and identity. It had lost heavily in the previous elections and its power base was close to obliteration. The sop, that the Labor leadership had fed the public, to justify its tagging on to the Sharon Likud Government as part of the coalition, was its acting as a facilitating  watchdog for the momentum towards peace with the Palestinians. It ceased to be interested in social issues and it had supported the Likud line adding its weight in increasing poverty and divisions between rich and poor. It had become Likud B under Shimon Peres whose justification for remaining in the Sharon Government is clear.

Most people were becoming disillusioned with the Labor Party which had resulted in the left of centre in Israel becoming disunited and losing its confidence in the future. The idea of the Labor Government remaining in the coalition in order to support Sharon in carrying out the disengagement from Gaza has now become superfluous and, despite that, it still remained even after the disengagement. Apparently they received such tasty crumbs from Sharon’s plate that they were prepared to turn a blind eye to the dismemberment of Israeli society by creation of the “haves” and the “have not’s”. Even before the disengagement, Labor could have supported Sharon without being in his coalition on the disengagement issue. While in the coalition, they became partners with the previous Finance Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, in eroding salaries of public employees including supporting the so-called Growth and Support Tax which were lopped off our salaries without any accounting whatsoever. Ministerial positions are comfortable for incumbents and even sacrificing one’s ideals is worth it. This was done in order to save Israel’s limping economy. Not a word was mentioned by the Labor Party to oppose Netanyahu’s draconian policies which hit the poor people, pensioners and employees more than the wealthy and strong elements of Israeli society. The Labor Party was on the road to becoming an irrelevant dinosaur!

Amir Peretz has arrived like a breath of fresh air. Now that he has won the elections for leadership, it is hoped that he will steer the Labor Party to represent what it should really be. Tactically he has made the correct decision in leaving the Likud Coalition and ceasing to be Likud B surviving on Sharon juicy tidbits. There is no viable opposition against the ruling coalition and it is up to the Labor Party to get out of its lethargy and provide a viable alternative government with its foresight on Israel’s future in the Middle East and peace with its Palestinian and Arab neighbours.  

Shimon Peres has had an illustrious past in the Labor Movement. He may not have had what it takes in the mind of the Israeli electorate to win elections, but he has made many positive contributions to Israel’s stand in the world and would certainly be an excellent asset to Israel as an international elder statesman serving as a roving ambassador despite his age.

Amir Peretz is a charismatic leader and he seems to have the correct ingredients to kick start the Labor Party and give it relevance once more after its years of relative dormancy and loss of direction. Time will tell whether he will be able to deliver the goods. He will have to show more pragmatism towards the various sectors in Israel society including encouraging a free market economy apart from his almost total concern for worker’s rights in the old socialist mode.

Once his programme in the direction of peace and social democracy becomes clearer, it would be wise to create a broad political front, which would include Meretz-Yahad, in the future as an alternative to the Sharon Government.

Monday, November 7

The Palestinian Donation out of Sorrow

The fatal shooting of Ahmed Al-Khatib (12) by the IDF in error is a terrible tragedy beyond description. The fact that the parents had agreed to donate his organs to six Israelis, irrespective of their religion, is a noble deed that can only illustrate the greatness of the Al-Khatib family of Jenin in their moment of grief in their sad loss.

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has played its part in demonizing both peoples in the eyes of each other. Yet, despite that, in the hour of their grief, the Al-Khatib family made an incredible decision in the name of peace which goes to prove that within Palestinian society there are those who still hold supreme - ideals of saving lives - despite all the hardships and adversity that this tragic conflict has created.

There is no doubt that Israel owes this Palestinian family an enormous amount of gratitude for their noble deed. The circumstances under which Ahmed Al-Khatib was killed makes their donation even more significant and praiseworthy than otherwise would be the case. The question that remains is whether, despite all the tragedy and loss of life, this could be a small start towards a lasting peace which both sides need so much?

Sunday, November 6

Sonic Booms as a Deterrent to Palestinian Terrorism

While the use of sonic booms to scare the Palestinians in Gaza may seem to be a rather extreme tactic, one must see its use in the proper perspective. It is the duty of the Israeli Security Forces to protect Israelis. Gaza has been returned to the Palestinians, the settlers have left and yet the firing of Qassam rockets into the green line continues almost unabated. The fact that there have been fewer successes and much of the terrorist rockets have backfired on the Palestinians themselves in many cases does not mean that this terrorist activity has ceased.

Would it be better if the Security Forces went into Gaza and made house to house searches for terrorists responsible for Qassam rocket fire? This would result in increased suffering for innocent Palestinians who may be coerced by Palestinian terror groups to hide them in their homes. Collateral damage to the Palestinian people would be far worse. Islamic Jihad has proved to be non-conciliatory towards Israel and have not accepted the cease-fire. Mahmoud Abbas still does not intend to curb the terrorist acts against Israelis within the green line, whether it is suicide bombings or firing of Qassam rockets.

So the sonic booms are not pleasant to innocent Palestinians neither are suicide bombings and Qassam rockets pleasant to Israelis. The former causes psychological stress to innocent people while the latter causes death to innocent people. Which is worse? If the Palestinian terror ceases, so will the sonic booms. The ball is in the Palestinian court.

Saturday, November 5

Yitzchak Rabin 1922-1995

Ten Years after the Assassination of PM.Yitschak Rabin

Having been present at the Peace Rally at Kikar Malchei Yisrael (renamed Yischak Rabin Square) in Tel Aviv on that fateful night of 4th November 1995 when PM Rabin was assassinated had left all of us traumatized and I will never forget that evening. It had started off on such an optimistic note. There must have been a crowd of about 450 000 people. How well do I remember my feelings prior to that rally! There was growing opposition to the peace process and I had a feeling that very few people would attend the peace rally.
There were violent demonstrations against the Oslo Accords by the right wing in Zion Square, Jerusalem about two weeks before Rabin’s assassination. Benjamin Netanyahu was also present at that demonstration as a passive supporter of the right wing rabble- rousers. Demonization of Rabin had started even prior to that. A placard was held up showing a photo montage of Rabin in SS uniform! I just felt that I had to go to that rally that night to show my support for the peace process. I never attend rallies or demonstrations but somehow I felt that this was an exception.
The crowd came from all over Israel. It was wonderful to be in the company of so many Israeli well wishers – Jews, Moslems, Christians and many other members of the public whose heart had a common desire for peace. We felt that this was a marvelous opportunity to show our solidarity for peace and not to be daunted by the various right wing movements in the country who had made vociferous statements opposing Rabin and the Peace Process. The slogan of the Peace Rally that night was “Yes to Peace, no to Violence”. How well I remember the massive gas filled balloons with slogans and the Meretz insignia hovering over the multitude that were present that evening. It was a warm almost summery evening – rather rare for November in Israel. The demonstration was peaceful apart from a very few right wingers whose presence was hardly felt. They were pushed very much to the side lines that night. My thoughts that evening were focused on hope that the left of centre government of Yitschak Rabin has a chance of moving the Peace Process forward. Many of us felt ecstatic that evening as the peace rally commenced. Many important guests were present and addressed the crowd. There were many Israeli artists who sang between the speeches made. The Jordanian ambassador at the time, Marwan Muasher (today Jordan’s Foreign Minister), gave a stirring speech, followed by Yossi Sarid the leader of Meretz, Shimon Peires and Shlomo Lahat – the ex Mayor of Tel Aviv, who was one of the organizers of the evening. P.M.Yitschak Rabin was the last guest speaker. He gave a rousing speech and the reaction was ecstatic. We all felt at one with him at the time. None of us had any idea that a few moments later he would be assassinated.

The climax of the evening, which left a lump in my throat, was the singing of Shir Hashalom (the Song of Peace) with Miri Aloni, the famous Israeli performer, leading the crowd. PM Rabin, who does not normally sing, was swept up with the emotion of that evening and joined in the singing with the crowd. All in all, the evening was a major success until tragedy struck Rabin down as we left the square to depart home. As we boarded the buses the tragic news broke out and we were left with an indescribable sense of shock.

The build up of hate for Rabin and the Oslo Accords of 1993 was a snowballing process which reached a climax with Rabin’s tragic assassination. In the aftermath of the signing of these accords and the famous handshake of Rabin and Arafat on the White House lawn on 13th September 1993, I remember returning home from work and seeing a display of vicious anti-Rabin posters lining the Geha Highway. Right wing, religious Zionists of the settler movements were holding them up. The posters were frightening and disgusting in content. There were pictures of blood dripping from Rabin wearing an Arafat-style “keffiya”. The dehumanization of Rabin had begun! He was portrayed as a Jewish traitor! These settler supporters were there shouting and waving their horrifying banners. It was then that I felt that the danger to the peace process came from the right wing camp. Extremist right wing rabbis legitimized “Pulsa denura” ceremonies calling for Rabin’s death. These rabbis had great influence on the right wing extremists at the time. It was not surprising that once Rabin was considered “persona non grata” by his extreme right wing opponents, a fanatic assassin in that right wing camp would arise and murder him.

There is no doubt that the extremist right wing camp was responsible for creating the atmosphere for Rabin’s assassination. The violent demonstrations against the Oslo Accords and the Peace Process were viewed by the lunatic fringe in the right wing camp as justifiable. They believed that the Jewish people were in danger as the momentum towards peace with Israel’s Palestinian neighbours would become a reality.

Today, there is a sudden plethora of conspiracy theories. The whole idea of these theories is to minimize the assassin Yigal Amir’s guilt. It is incredible that the idea of allowing Yigal Amir to marry in order to have children is diabolical. This monster does not have the right to exist let alone marry. If he is granted pardon for his crime it would be a disgrace on the judicial system of Israel! Israel is not the same country since that fateful night. Yigal Amir had destroyed the momentum for peace with Rabin’s assassination!

Saturday, October 29

Iran’s comments on the Destruction of Israel

There is a widespread Islamist fanaticism that is spreading like a cancer in certain countries of the Middle East. Many Arab states are showing signs of pragmatism in recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Apart from lunatic Islamist fringes in some countries such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in the Palestinian Camp, Al Qaeda, whose origins seem to be in many Arab countries of undefined boundaries, as well as many splinter extremist Islamist groups too numerous to mention . Beneath it all is a member state of the United Nations – Iran under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - which seems to be the most vociferous country of all in its official attitude towards the destruction of Israel.

Ahmadinejad’s remarks are abominable, irresponsible and unjustifiable. A member country of the UN coming out with such invective against a member state is enough grist to the mill for member countries to vote for its expulsion from the UN body. Ahmadinejad’s remarks are so unacceptable that a strong response towards Israel’s defense by fellow UN members was quick in coming.

Naturally, these remarks will soon be forgotten and the storm in the teacup will pass. It will be back to business as usual in the UN. It is highly unlikely that any action will be taken against Iran despite Israel’s justified lobbying for Iran’s expulsion from the UN.

This is a great shame and brings no credit to the UN. Another rather interesting phenomenon is that none of the member Arab States condemned Ahmadinejad’s despicable remarks. This could be due to one of two reasons:

  1. A passive support for these remarks stated what many Arab States feel.

  1. Fear of Iranian terrorist infiltration into their countries because of their “so-called support for Israel” in Iranian eyes.

What is interesting and noteworthy is the responsible statement condemning Ahmadinejad coming from Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator who said:

"What we need to be talking about is adding the state of Palestine to the map and not wiping Israel from the map," he told the BBC News website. “Palestinians recognize the right of the state of Israel to exist and I reject his (Ahmadinejad,s) comments.”

He is to be praised for his level headed remarks. This is more than can be said of many of the Arab states.

It is a black day for freedom loving peoples all over the world when a member state of the UN comes up with racist and abominable remarks against a fellow state in the UN. If no disciplinary action is taken against the leadership of Iran in the UN, apart from sterile verbal condemnation, a precedent could be started legitimizing statements calling for the destruction of Israel from the podium of the world body.

Iran has made a counter statement that it abides by the UN Charter and has no intention of committing aggression against member states. Perhaps this is some form of apologetic backtracking as a result of the reactions caused?

Tuesday, October 25

Promoting Regime Change in Syria

It would not be in Israel’s interests to interfere with the Bashar Assad regime in Syria. The US experience in Iraq and in Afghanistan should send out warning signals to the world as to the mess that the US is capable of making.

As ineffectual and autocratic as the Assad regime is in Syria, the alternative would be far worse. While it is true that Syria is harbouring terrorists, the situation has not reached uncontrollable proportions. While the Mehlis Report does lay the blame for Rafik Hariri’s assassination on the intrigues of the Assad regime, it still does not warrant US aided toppling of that regime.

The border between Israel and Syria is relatively quiet. If the US moves in militarily, this situation could easily change with suicide militias, car bomb squads and Al Qaeda terror cells becoming active and chaos would rein supreme. The violence could spill over into Israel and Lebanon. The actions of Hezbollah would be child’s play in comparison. Nothing good could come out of US military action in Syria. If there would be a united, progressive opposition to the Bashar Assad Ba’ath regime, perhaps these opposition groups could be aided by foreign powers to take over and it would be in US interests to play a low key in such a potential operation. The opposition to the Assad regime is composed of extremist Islamist groups whose potential for violence is far greater and its global ramifications for further instability in the Middle East cannot be ruled out. The US does not seem to learn from its past mistakes, she will bumble along leaving US soldiers behind in all the countries that she wishes to police in order to create a western-style democracy which is not part of Middle Eastern lexicon but is seen as a foreign, non-Moslem import.

Economic sanctions, authorized by the UN, would be the best tactic at this stage in the hope to cripple Syria economically thus forcing a positive regime change from within is the best tactic for the moment. Western-style democracy propped up by the US is naivety at its greatest and shows ignorance of the Arab psyche. US paternalism is not a desired commodity in the Middle East.

While there are some Syrian progressive opposition groups living in exile who do pay lip service to democratic change in Syria, there is no way of ascertaining their influence on the Syrian people. It would be premature at this stage to hold high expectations of the progressive Syrian opposition which could be an alternative to the oppressive Ba’ath regime. Perhaps a parallel situation did exist prior to the downfall of Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Today these opposition groups are marginal and it had no influence in the attempt to rebuild Iraq in the post Iraq era.

Saturday, October 22

The Bush-Abbas Summit

The two leaders, President Mahmoud Abbas and President George Bush, have met once again in Washington. As predicted, nothing new has come out of this meeting. The usual discussions are becoming routinely unimpressive with no new strategies or ideas. What does stand out like a sore thumb is an exercise in futility! Nothing ventured – nothing gained. The usual pleasantries, unconstructive platitudes, empty promises as well as sterile pledges to end the violence on the Palestinian side were the order of the day.

President Mahmoud Abbas stood on the podium at the predictable press conference after the summit making empty promises and knowing that he would not do anything to disarm the terror brigades in his midst. The Road Map will remain a moribund plan on the books. What was the intention of the Washington Summit? It never received much press coverage nor was there more than a passing interest in the local Israeli press on the outcome and expectations that were non-existent.

Meanwhile the U.S gave the impression that it had softened its attitude towards Hamas participating in the upcoming Palestinian elections and never raised the issue at all. It is highly unlikely that U.S. pressure would be applied on Mahmoud Abbas to disarm Hamas before it can participate in the elections. What is puzzling is that Bush talks about the Palestinians holding democratic elections so that the ultimate democratic Palestine can arise from it all. This is a contradiction in terms. How could one think of a future democratic Palestine when some of the candidates remain armed members of terror groups and will get in on a terror ticket? This is part and parcel of Bush’s total naivety. The U.S record for installing democracy in the Middle East is poor and ineffectual as can be seen in the mess they created in Iraq. They may even make that mistake once again in their attitude towards Syria with Basher Assad being suspect in the assassination of Hariri of Lebanon. “Iraqi democracy” is total anarchy with various terror groups calling the tune in mass butchering; suicide bombings as well as total chaos. Al Qaeda factions seem to have gained strength in Iraq while under Saddam Hussein they were not a factor at all. When the U.S becomes involved in the Arab world, she makes an unholy mess! U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq, Afghanistan and in other Moslem countries which she intends to police will not occur for many years to come.

It seems as if Bush accepts what Abbas had said that the disarming of Hamas would create a civil war within the Palestinian camp which would weaken his (Abbas’s) position. The reality is that Abbas is weak anyway and has no desire to weaken his own position further by sowing dissension in the Palestinian camp. In any case, whatever Israel or the US do to support Abbas will really weaken him even further in Palestinian street. What may be called for is discretion in the U.S. and Israeli attitude towards Mahmoud Abbas. This means not being over enthusiastic about supporting him in the upcoming elections. This could amount to non-interference even if it means turning a blind eye to Hamas participation. On the other hand, supporting Hamas’s legitimacy to participate in the Palestinian elections could be a catalyst in Hamas moderating her stance towards terror activity and even abandoning it as a tactic. Many terror organizations in the world became legitimate partners in government. This was the case of the Mau Mau in Kenya in the 1950’s before Jomo Kenyatta in the early 1960’s and Sin Fein under Gerry Adams in Northern Ireland. Even closer to home, there was the Sterne Gang and the Irgun that ceased terror activity against the British when Israel was established.

Wednesday, October 12

The Day of Atonement Farce

Yom Kippur is upon us. For many, it is a time of reflection. The meaning of Yom Kippur is losing its relevance today. Fasting has become a competition or some kind of childish endurance race to see who can last out longer. It has also become the annual bicycle festival as kids flood the streets with their bicycles, many landing up in hospital because of injuries incurred. For many who do reflect on that day, fasting without prayer is meaningless. For the Jewish atheist, it is a frustrating day devoid of any meaning.

Orthodox Judaism, as practiced in Israel, has become the monopoly of the right wing. It is very Eretz Yisrael-conscious and unfortunately does not help towards any form of rapprochement with those in the Arab World who seek peace. The idea of atoning for one's sins,(if one believes in the idea of atonement) means that before one enters the synagogue on Kol Nidrei evening one must ask forgiveness for any wrongs committed against one's neighbour before forgiveness can be requested from God. It is a request for annulment of vows undertaken during the year from the last Yom Kippur to the present.

A question that remains in my mind is whether the forgiveness that one requests is for the wrongs committed towards everybody irrespective of race, color or creed or just those committed against our Jewish fellowmen. I think of the many innocents who suffered under the occupation as well. Who has given this a thought? Who has bothered to ask forgiveness from them?

Apart from that, there does not seem to be any improvement in behavioral patterns of many who purport to be religious and observant once the fast is over. People go back to their normal routines as if nothing was learned from Yom Kippur at all. The arrogance and short temper, so characteristic of many Israelis, remains the same.

What is the purpose of this fast? If one does not believe or is non-observant, the "reason" for fasting is to "identify with the people of Israel". This is the clich̩ often used as an excuse for fasting. When one "identifies with one's people" with what aspect of "one's people" does this entail Рarrogance, ill manners, lack of consideration for one's fellowmen, even crime and last but not least, the eternal paper chase?The return to the faith (choser b'tshuva) has become rampant amongst many criminals.

The idea of Yom Kippur, with its outmoded rituals for many, is farcical and become devoid of all meaning. The idea of being a once-a-year-Jew defies all rationality. If one does not observe Yom Kippur in its spirit rather than its act then there is no point observing it at all. Many people fast while watching videos at home and boast that they "made it".

The oppressiveness of religious coercion and self-righteousness reaches its zenith on Yom Kippur. It has become an empty, boring day with very little substance for many people who find religiosity in Israel a hypocritical exercise in endurance. Driving on that day is taboo and in the case of an emergency, the chance of being stoned by "the observant" cannot be ruled out.

Nothing will change for the better at the close of Yom Kippur from a human relationship point of view. This being the case, why bother to fast?

Sunday, October 9

The Relative Respite from Violence in Gaza

The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and the following festivals as well as the Ramadan fasting period coincide this year. We hope that the respite from violence will continue. Hamas have given some hint of cessation of launching rockets into Shderot. While these signs may be seen with guarded optimism, it may also be a false peace. The Palestinians have shown some indication that they have had enough of Hamas violence and this may be the reason why Hamas has halted its terrorist activities, albeit temporarily. Hamas terrorism against Israel is not bringing Hamas the support that they had hoped in Palestinian street.

It is possible that the infighting amongst the various factions in Gaza could be due to the growing opposition to Hamas violence. However, it could be wishful thinking to expect that this could be the end of Hamas terror. One cannot overlook the possibility of a power struggle between the various factions. The Palestinians are tired of the corruption and bribery in government and Hamas has been exploiting this fact with marked success.

Now the limited success of Hamas with its terror tactics has not served the interests of the Palestinian people and this could begin a trend towards a loss in their popularity building up to the upcoming Palestinian elections. Their terror has resulted in Israeli Army retaliation and the loss of many lives. Israel would be making a grave mistake if it shows open support for Mahmoud Abbas in the upcoming Palestinian Elections. Hamas and their terrorist allies view Mahmoud Abbas as an Israeli and U.S. lackey. Israel should remain on the sidelines and not interfere in the Palestinian internal situation.

There have been no practical signs of disarming the terrorist militias. While Hamas remains armed, it will be very difficult for any outside power, whether it is Israel, or the Quartet to exert pressure on Mahmoud Abbas to disqualify Hamas from participating in the elections. The Palestinians may view this as interference in their internal affairs and it could weaken Mahmoud Abbas even further. There is even talk of arming the Palestinian Security Services for the purpose of restoring law and order as well as disarming the Hamas and allied militias. It remains to be seen whether this tactic will work.

The only way that Hamas could be disarmed is if the Palestinian people rise up en masse and show their opposition to an armed terrorist group taking part in the elections. The disarming of Hamas is an essential first step for them to gain legitimacy. If they become a political organization and cease terror operations then their participation in the elections should be encouraged.

Meanwhile there does seem to be a desire on the Palestinian side to maintain the momentum towards a final settlement. There are meetings between the two sides that are encouraging. As Ze'ev Schiff says, the Palestinians cannot expect the world to invest in their infra structure and improving their economic situation while Hamas and their allies remain armed and engage in terrorist activity.

Saturday, September 24

Where are the Palestinians Heading?

The situation in Palestinian Street is moving towards total anarchy. Hamas is still basking in their artificial euphoria since the disengagement. They are adding explosives to their expressions of hate for the "Zionist Entity". This time the careless handling of explosives had resulted in the deaths of 19 Palestinians. This was even stated by the Palestinian Authority. Naturally, Hamas made a massive cover up by blaming Israel for the explosion. Hamas denied their responsibility for the incident to prevent opposition in their ranks. A rain of Qassam rockets landed in Shderot resulting in injury to five Israelis. The Israel Air Force went into Gaza and pounded Hamas weapon factories killing 4 Hamas activists as a form of retaliation.

Anybody who entertained the idea that there will be progress towards peace and further withdrawals after the disengagement must now receive a rather rude awakening. It is back to violence as before. The culture of violence and hate for Israel is so ingrained in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The movement towards peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state will not occur for many years. What are the Palestinian terrorist groups trying to achieve by instigating violence and creating conditions for retaliatory acts by Israel? They seem to live in a world of fantasy! It is obvious that their belief in Israel's total destruction is unabated.

Hamas are very involved in having dramatic demonstrations of hate for Israel. Since Israel's pullout from Gaza, there have not been any signs of pragmatism in the Hamas camp. The provocations and rabble rousing against Israel continues unhindered by the Palestinian Authority. Gaza is ungovernable and the chances of democratic Palestinian elections are becoming a contradiction in terms. The weakness and ineffectiveness of the Palestinian Authority to disarm the Palestinian terrorist groups will backfire on them in the end. It would not be surprising if Hamas seizes power from the impotent Palestinian Authority even before elections. Their patience with the Palestinian leadership is wearing thin.

If this scenario develops, and the firing of Qassam rockets continue, it will not take long before the Israeli Security Forces will move into Gaza in order to rout out Hamas and Co terror cells which are rebuilding their strength to create havoc against Israel.

The future for the Palestinians will be very grim indeed. There will be a continuation of the stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians. No power on earth will be able to prevent that. The Hamas fantasies of driving the Jews into the sea will be the order of the day and this will result in more violence and anarchy.

One would expect that after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, there would be an attempt by the Palestinian leadership to embark on rebuilding the infrastructure of Gaza as well as law enforcement against the Palestinian militias. Nothing has been done. The anarchy and violence in Palestinian street seems to pay off dividends for Hamas and their terrorist allies. Terror is always rampant when the population has limited economic resources. A prosperous Palestinian population would never serve the interests of Hamas and Company. Hamas will do all in its power to upset any movement towards peace, as this would render them redundant. Hamas can only succeed in a bloody environment filled with hate and turmoil. They will ensure this situation for many years to come. They hold the key to the future of peace or war.