Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Piano Recital

videoSo much FUN!

Friday, June 4, 2010

In case you didn't see the Washington Post...

The world is outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey denounces its illegality, inhumanity, barbarity, etc. The usual U.N. suspects, Third World and European, join in. The Obama administration dithers.

But as Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, the blockade is not just perfectly rational, it is perfectly legal. Gaza under Hamas is a self-declared enemy of Israel -- a declaration backed up by more than 4,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian territory. Yet having pledged itself to unceasing belligerency, Hamas claims victimhood when Israel imposes a blockade to prevent Hamas from arming itself with still more rockets.

In World War II, with full international legality, the United States blockaded Germany and Japan. And during the October 1962 missile crisis, we blockaded ("quarantined") Cuba. Arms-bearing Russian ships headed to Cuba turned back because the Soviets knew that the U.S. Navy would either board them or sink them. Yet Israel is accused of international criminality for doing precisely what John Kennedy did: impose a naval blockade to prevent a hostile state from acquiring lethal weaponry.

Oh, but weren't the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel's offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza -- as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.

Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel's inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.

Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?

But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel's fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself -- forward and active defense.

(1) Forward defense: As a small, densely populated country surrounded by hostile states, Israel had, for its first half-century, adopted forward defense -- fighting wars on enemy territory (such as the Sinai and Golan Heights) rather than its own.

Where possible (Sinai, for example) Israel has traded territory for peace. But where peace offers were refused, Israel retained the territory as a protective buffer zone. Thus Israel retained a small strip of southern Lebanon to protect the villages of northern Israel. And it took many losses in Gaza, rather than expose Israeli border towns to Palestinian terror attacks. It is for the same reason America wages a grinding war in Afghanistan: You fight them there, so you don't have to fight them here.

But under overwhelming outside pressure, Israel gave it up. The Israelis were told the occupations were not just illegal but at the root of the anti-Israel insurgencies -- and therefore withdrawal, by removing the cause, would bring peace.

Land for peace. Remember? Well, during the past decade, Israel gave the land -- evacuating South Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. What did it get? An intensification of belligerency, heavy militarization of the enemy side, multiple kidnappings, cross-border attacks and, from Gaza, years of unrelenting rocket attack
(2) Active defense: Israel then had to switch to active defense -- military action to disrupt, dismantle and defeat (to borrow President Obama's description of our campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda) the newly armed terrorist mini-states established in southern Lebanon and Gaza after Israel withdrew.

The result? The Lebanon war of 2006 and Gaza operation of 2008-09. They were met with yet another avalanche of opprobrium and calumny by the same international community that had demanded the land-for-peace Israeli withdrawals in the first place. Worse, the U.N. Goldstone report, which essentially criminalized Israel's defensive operation in Gaza while whitewashing the casus belli -- the preceding and unprovoked Hamas rocket war -- effectively de-legitimized any active Israeli defense against its self-declared terror enemies.



(3) Passive defense: Without forward or active defense, Israel is left with but the most passive and benign of all defenses -- a blockade to simply prevent enemy rearmament. Yet, as we speak, this too is headed for international de-legitimation. Even the United States is now moving toward having it abolished.

But, if none of these is permissible, what's left?

Ah, but that's the point. It's the point understood by the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who've had quite enough of the Jewish problem.

What's left? Nothing. The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel's possession of nuclear weapons -- thus de-legitimizing Israel's very last line of defense: deterrence.

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution.

By Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post, June 4, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Statement on the Gaza Flotilla Incident
June 1, 2010

On May 31, the day when Americans paused to remember those who have fallen in battle, we woke to the difficult news that early that morning Israeli commandos had stopped six ships carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid mission to Gaza. Five of the ships calmly complied with the stoppage. The sixth ship did not. It was on this sixth vessel, the Turkish registered Mavi Marmara, where nine people were killed and dozens were wounded after IDF forces encountered unexpected resistance from civilians wielding knives, crow bars and small arms. Turkey's NTV showed activists beating one Israeli soldier with sticks as he rappelled from a helicopter onto one of the boats. Another soldier was thrown from an upper deck of one of the ships and then stomped on by activists.

The Israeli military said troops only opened fire after the activists attacked them with knives and iron rods, and one activist wrested a serviceman's weapon. Two of the dead activists had fired at soldiers with pistols, the army said. Organizers included people affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group that often sends international activists into battle zones, and the IHH, a Turkish aid group that Israel accuses of having terrorist links.

Though the flotilla was in international waters at the time of the attack, Israel has operated under an international law that allows a state, during a time of conflict, to enforce an embargo in international waters. Within this framework, it is legal for civilian ships to be stopped if they are trying to break the embargo.

It would appear that this entire enterprise was a cynical set-up designed to present Israel with an unnecessary Hobson's choice and to generate anti-Israel publicity.

As so often happens after incidents such as this one, foreign governments were quick to condemn Israel for excessive use of force without full facts. Editorials in Israel note a mixed reaction to the Government’s action while still all affirming the right of sovereign self defense. The government of Israel has responded that Israel has the right to blockade Gaza ports to prevent weapons from entering that area and that Israeli Navy personnel were prepared to deal with protesters, not people armed with knives, crowbars and other weapons.

ARZA expresses its sorrow at the loss of life and expresses the hope that all those injured will soon recover from their wounds. ARZA further expresses the hope that governments and individuals will not rush to judgment but will wait for all the facts to emerge before coming to any conclusion. As is so often the case when dealing with incidents that occur in a very unsettled part of the world, it is often difficult to ascertain the facts but very easy to jump to conclusions.

Our sacred task is to build an ever stronger progressive religious presence in Israel. Even when Israel is experiencing difficult moments like these, we must remain focused on creating facts on the ground. To the extent that ARZA can support IMPJ and IRAC, their work will enlarge the societal conversation on Judaism and the creation of a just, democratic, and Jewish Israel.

While waiting for a full report on what happened today, there are some facts that are already clear:

· The flotilla was organized by an Islamist organization that has links to fundamentalist jihadi groups.

· Israel offered from the first announcement of the flotilla that it or the Red Cross would deliver any humanitarian aid to Gaza, as it does daily.

· The extremists brought small children on board by persons hoping to provoke what could be a violent confrontation,

· The activists were carrying 10,000 tons of what they said was aid. Israel transfers about 15,000 tons of supplies and humanitarian aid every week to the people of Gaza.

· "We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation or threats of violence against us, they are going to have to forcefully stop us," said one of the flotilla’s organizers.

· Using the Arabic term ‘intifada,’ Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said "We call on all Arabs and Muslims to rise up in front of Zionist embassies across the whole world.

· Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said this week: "If the ships reach Gaza it is a victory; if they are intercepted, it will be a victory too.

· Israel left Gaza in hopes of peace in 2005 and in return received more than 8,000 rockets and terrorist attacks.

· No country would allow illegal entry of any vessel into their waters without a security check.