Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Where are our politicians hearts??

Twice in the last couple of days our senior politicians, ministers no less, have shown absolute callousness for people that they should be worrying about.
First came Shimon Peres' statement about Sderot. “What's the big deal? Kiryat Shmonah was shelled for years," said the veteran politician, "Kassams, shmassams, we're not leaving."
This is insensitivity at its highest! Firstly, because there are thousands of people who have to run to bomb-shelters every day and are living in a nightmare that the government doesn't seem willing or able to solve. However, more importantly last year a 17 year old girl Ella Abuksis died from a rocket that was fired from the Gaza strip. The Abuksis family should demand an apology immediately from the thoughtless and emotionless minister.
Some other good op-eds on this subject are from Ynet News and Ha'aretz.
Yesterday, Interior Minister Roni Bar-On told the Jerusalem Post bringing the remaining Falash Mura to Israel is not necessarily a priority and the delay of their immigration is not simply a matter of money. This is one of the biggest tragedies in Zionist history. There are Jews out there who are being brought to Israel in a drip-drip manner with a few hundred at a time while many die waiting.
Israel has brought many other communities to Israel regardless of the cost or accumulation process. During the early years of the state, Israel brought hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands without a thought for the cost or anything else. Then when the "Iron Curtain" fell and the Soviet Union let the Jews go Israel stepped up and took them in.
Why isn't the government responding the same way to the Falasha Mura?
Our politicians have forgotten who they are. They are there to serve the people's interests, not mock or dismiss the rason d'etre of their office. Israel is a safe-haven and home for all Jews, some of our politicians need to be reminded of that.

Sderot and the Zionist Congress

As the leaders of world Zionist organizations debate resolutions and make plans for the coming years, Israeli leadership has appeared to tied its own hands. Meanwhile, Sderot residents live in fear.

Michael Lawrence (KIC Founder) gives his view on the Zionist Congress irony. Listen now and leave your comment on the KICblog - www.kicisrael.blogspot.com

this is an KICaudio post - click to play

Sunday, June 18, 2006

KICaudio launched

Tonight we have launched KICaudio - our new way to Keep It Current for worldwide KICblog readers. Whether you've been in a KICsession in Israel or you're just a KICfan, now you can hear KICupdates on Israeli news and Israeli Current Affairs whenever you want.

We invite you to listen in and leave us a KICcomment with your opinion.

this is a KICaudio post - click to play

Enjoy!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Un-Annan-Believable

I'd laugh it it wasn't so tragically amusing. It's unbelievable in fact and something so unbelievable could only come out of the mouth of someone so UNbelievable, so United Nations!

What Kofi has Annan been drinking? Not the Israeli Elite that's for sure. Mr Annan finds it hard to believe that Hamas would plant mines or bombs on a beach populated by Palestinian civilians. What is so hard to believe about that, Secretary-General, sir?

For years, Hamas, Arafat and friendly others have placed their women, children and non-combatants on the frontlines and often used them cynically as human shields and protection of their own backsides from IDF anti-terror operations. Hamas the terror government, like Hamas the terror group have ruined the minds of a generation of young people and educated only toward hate, violence and martyrdom. Arafat did the same, only more quietly. Hamas follows the Iranian loud mouth theory of diplomacy.

So what's wrong with Kofi? It's hard to believe Olmert tour of Western capitals last week meant much even if we did witness of the backslapping, smiles and agreement on some issues. Should we all be excited that polls in Europe have done a flip-flop from 2004 when Europeans voted Israel (not Iran, North Korea etc) as the biggest threat to world peace? They say Europeans like Israel more now. They realize Hamas and the Palestinians have squandered a chance for peace or separation or agreement or something...

The 'protect the world from war" organization has again, via its leadership, failed once again to understand or to admit their understanding of Israel's enemies. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah - they all do it. They expose their friends and family to war for the sake of Palestine - a cause that loses more hope each day as a result. Whether its the smuggling of weapons into civilian homes through underground tunnels, shooting missiles from civilian areas, hiding in schools, ambulances and the like, transporting missiles (destined for Ashkelon) through crowded city streets or laying anti-IDF bombs across civilian beaches.

Whatever means, whatever it takes, Hamas has no problem sending families to die. Oh yes, for Palestine, a state that those dead civilians will never see. Their cowardice has never impressed me - pleased to pay 12-year olds twenty shekels to blow themselves up but never running for martyrdom themselves.

I am lying aren't I? KIC, lies and videotape? I must be lying because a man as intelligent as Kofi Annan couldn't really be as wrong and as naive (or skewed) as all this.

I wish I was wrong.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Can one be British and Jewish?


Here is an op-ed I wrote for the Jerusalem Post. The interesting thing is part of my article was picked up by the Independent newspaper. However, contrary to how it looks I was never interviewed or questioned for this article. The journalist merely took parts of the original article and inserted it into his article to make it look like I was being interviewed.
Very Cheeky!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Patience Exhausted

We moaned and we groaned about him and his lack of experience but let's face it – having a left-wing 'land for anything' man as Defense Minister can be rather helpful. It does rather restrict the extent of the criticism heaved at Israel by other countries and by Israelis themselves.

Even when the Israeli Air Force has killed Palestinian civilians along with terrorists, like today, it's more difficult to waive the peace and human rights finger at Peretz and Olmert than it was once when Ariel Sharon (not a word about him anymore) and Shaul Mofaz (still kept tragically busy in the far less honorable, no less important Transportation Ministry).

Our Prime Minister is traveling Europe openly advocating Israeli withdrawal (bilaterally or unilaterally) from 90% of the West Bank. He is not promoting continued control over the lives of the Palestinians. He even approved weapons to Mahmoud Abbas as recently as last night. On Sunday, Amir Peretz rejected the IDF recommendation to "let the IDF win", wanting to give Hamas more time to come to its senses. I am sure they appreciated the extra time to mull things over. Iran's President is enjoying similar time to think. If only thinking was all these people do when we go into extra time.

All this, an Israeli leadership for separation and less confrontation and yet still a leadership, it appears… finally, that does want to fulfill its role of protecting the Jewish people from those who wish to hurt us. It's not an easy role and whether we are in fact the most moral army in the world as Olmert claims and whether we try our best to avoid civilian casualties – regardless - Israel, the IDF and Israelis will stand judged on the world stage by the harshest critics, the same armchair and other experts who judge American, British and other anti-terror action on a different diplomatic playing field.

Guilty before being heard? In the sad death of the family on the Gaza beach – yes! And now, when the media damage is done, will those who accused us stand up to withdraw those claims or at least pause and put away their knives until the case is closed? Muhammed al-Dura and Jenin revealed a world that requires no evidence in the court of world opinion. Will the world believe us when we say that only one IAF missie was fired, that the Kaytusha rockets themselves caused the civilian injuries after medics and civilians surrounded the van? Don't bet on retractions or apologies.

There are going to be more civilian deaths among Palestinians. It's unavoidable when terror cells transport, store and produce Qassam rockets and Kaytusha missiles in residential neighborhoods. We still have an obligation to do our utmost to strike only at those who wish to kill, injure and frighten our people. Those who do in fact threaten us should understand that even the Israeli left's patience has come to an end and that they, the terrorists will be responsible for the harm caused to innocent people, both in Israel and in their own hometowns.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Zionist Parties Awakening

Quite the academics aren't they! Terror stars of the Palestinian Authority have come up with a new line recently. "You see", they exclaim, "there's no difference between the Likud, Kadima and Labor. They're all occupying killers and murderers".
Duh! Why did it take you so long to come up with that prognosis guys?

Though in fact there are significant differences between these three Israeli political parties, those differences can appear to disappear more or less when what Israel faces is a renewal of 2002-like terror actions and warnings across the state. Already tonight we've seen the murder of an Jerusalem Arab near the main highway between Jerusalem and Modiin (injuring 4 other Arabs too). With at least part of Hamas deciding to end its peculiar ("let's spend the time building up an arsenal") 'calm time', Israelis await the very worst and hope for the best.

On Friday night, while cruising through the OU's Torah Tidbits, (this being before I knew of the tragic events in Gaza), I was rather taken aback by a notice inviting people to show solidarity through visits to Sderot and other Western Negev communities. Suddenly it struck me. The right were right.

Here we are, almost a year after Disengagement and now we're invited to solidarity trips for Sderot? Last year it was Netzarim and Neve Dekalim that we were asked to show sympathy for. Now the kibbutzim and small towns in the Negev. Ummm... oops! There's something wrong with this picture.

And Kadima and Labor (the foundations of the new government) recognize this picture very well. They've been having nightmares about it for some time but woken each morning happy to discover that it was all just a bad dream. Dream no longer...

There's room for criticizing the Sharon and Olmert governments' lethargic almost timid response to the constant Qassam and Katusha fire. That's not to say they've done nothing but Sderot and environs are now living a frightening existence. Hamas has declared its ultimate aim to make Sderot a ghost town and they are matching words with actions.

It's a shame that we are faced with an enemy again, the same enemy as 2002, that horrible year. Still, this realization may have finally awoken the Zionist giant and confirmed for the Palestinians what we pro-Israel folk always hoped was true - that is, that when it comes to Israel's right to exist in peace and security, each and every Zionist party will stand and deliver. While maintaining a sensible respect for Palestinian human rights, let's hope that Amir Peretz and crew let the IDF win - once and for all.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Confirmation, Panic Stations, Irritation

When I went to bed at 2am last night, it had become rather clear that indeed an Israeli had been kidnapped and taken away to Shechem (Nablus), terror town of the northern West Bank. Apparently the Hebrew University student had been statched from Jerusalem which was a touch worrying but not particularly surprising.

More shocking was to awake not only to the news that US citizen (non-Israeli) Benjamin Bright-Fishbein had been released and that he'd actually created this whole saga himself by visiting Nablus on his own volition, apparently with kippah (skullcap) and all. He sat happily(!) in a Nablus cafe smoking Nargila before being invited to make a video to the world, with special guest star, Mr Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Should I refrain from further cynicism?

Which side of his brain convinced him that Nablus is nice at this time of year? No Palestinian town is nice for any Jew or Israeli (or really for any Westerner) even on a nice day. While it's not illegal for non-Israelis to visit there, one must say that Benjamin's latter admission that he made a horrid mistake doesn't quite cover the explitives that the security forces are saying under their breath right now.

What kind of 'orientation' and introduction to Israel do they give to foreign Jewish students at Hebrew Uni. How could it be that he had no inkling of what awaited him?

He's a lucky boy and as someone noted in a ynet comment, thank G-d no IDF soldiers were injured in having to rescue him and that no Palestinian terrorists had to be exchanged for him.
I do hope he'll be asked to pay some of the bills for his adventure - a little deterrent for others considering visiting our friendly neighbors.

I've had contact with other foreign born Israeli Jews who venture to Ramallah and other pretty towns for social activities and even to have their haircuts and the like. When they end up starring in the next Zarqawi-style video, I'll feel bad for them but I'm unsure that wilful stupidity deserves IDF risk & rescue.

One thing that did come out of all this is just how disorganized and splintered these terror gangs are and in fact how frightened they can become. Though controversial in the eyes of some, I maintain that the assaisinations of Palestinian terror leaders does in fact make terrorists think twice or three times before carrying out an action. Additionally, international pressure appears to take its toll at times. As has been noted several times in past hours, it appears the tough terror guys suddenly crawled into a hole when realizing Benjamin was an American. As one Israeli official put it, maybe Zarqawi's end might have made the cafe kidnappers imagine their own 72 virginless fate.

Israeli kidnapped - as yet unconfirmed by Israel

West Bank militants say they kidnapped Israeli

NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) - West Bank militants claimed on Sunday to have kidnapped an Israeli man who said in a videotaped statement that his captors would kill him if Israel did not free Palestinian prisoners.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which issued a copy of the tape, said the man was kidnapped near the West Bank city of Nablus. The group said he was an Israeli.

There was no immediate confirmation of a kidnapping and the Israeli army was checking the report. Militants have made false claims about kidnappings before, but have never produced videos showing abductees.
T
he man in the tape appeared to be in his 20s and held up an identity card from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem which gave his name as Benjamin Bright-Fishbein. He wore the skullcap of a religious Jew.

"If the prisoners are not released, they will execute me," he said in Arabic.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

RE-KIC

After some months away from the KICscreen, I am back KICing online and for groups in Israel. I want to thank my colleague Ashley Perry for his insightful and thought-provoking KICcontributions over the last several months. He's kept things more than ticking over and helped those who rely on their daily KIC for Israeli news and opinion and for advice on facing Israel advocacy challenges.

Now that the long days and night of legal studies for the Israeli bar are over, I am looking forward to renewed Israeli news and Advocacy discussion here at the KICblog and to being a part of your educational Israel experience while your group explores this land.

I want to take this opportunity to welcome the newest KICmembers - a group of Scandinavian Bnei Akiva year program participants to whom I guided through Israel Advocacy issues and a leadership discussion 2 weeks ago. With the KICdiary filling up fast, I am looking forward to getting back to sharing my views and current affairs interest with others again.

Things are forever changing in Israel so don't forget to pass over buying the monring's paper because things do change sooo fast here that the print versions are quite literally yesterday's news by the time day breaks.

We'll try to keep it current for you and we welcome your comments on Israel today, the Jewish World and beyond.

Michael