Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Bearing of Leadership: National and Religious Parties, Let Your Platforms Bloom

The newly revised National Union party in Israel is a breath of fresh air. Five parties joining into one is essential to not only serve to consolidate political power for the parties involved, but to offer true democratic choice to the voters of Israel. When there are dozens of parties running, having parties that stand for more than a single issue is a vital prerequisite for such to occur.

The reason why there have only been three parties that have actually led an Israeli government, despite the fact that hundreds of parties have been created over the past sixty years, is because only a handful bothered to make a political platform broader than one or two issues. Just as when voters look for leadership qualities in potential heads of state and those candidates who lack that charismatic aspect never seem to get into the real contest because they usually lose support long before the elections arrive, so too voters look for parties that seem competent enough to handle all the affairs of state, not just their pet issues. This is true for any party.

Because of the natural variety of opinion to be found in a mixture such as the new National Union party offers, they are bound to be more ready to represent a broader knowledge base and finer leadership qualities than other national parties have in the past. Consequently, they should garner more votes than any party on the right has in a long time; which is the opposite direction that the new Jewish Home party is currently going in. By giving extraordinary weight to former National Religious Party members, they are currently giving the appearance of a party that is trying to cling to a smaller base of political issues.

Likud did a similar thing by marginalizing right wing elements in the party, and only after that did they start to fall in the polls. But this sort of behavior does not simplify or purify the image of a party to the voter, rather it destroys the demeanor of leadership that a mainstream party must present if it is to become an upper echelon party in Israel's political future. If you are in a political party on the Israeli political right or true political center (Left wing Kadima, please sit down), then take my advice and let your political platforms bloom with diversity.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Finally Action in Gaza: Now Make it Final!

I wish to offer congratulations to the Kadima led government on overcoming the lethargy that restrained them and their now actively allowing the IDF to do its job and defend the citizens of the State of Israel. Action in Lebanon ended a long time ago and there is no reason to allow any failure there to make one hesitant to act in self defense if needed.

What goals do I seek from the assault on Hamas?
  1. Destruction of all rocket launcher infrastructure, including ports at sea, or concealed tunnels to Egypt, if that is where the new arms are coming in.
  2. Rescue Gilad Shalit.
  3. Regime change in Gaza.

Pro-Abbas people in Israel and the USA are constantly whining about how he is at risk of being overwhelmed by Hamas. Time to call their bluff and eliminate his opposition. Give him a chance to renounce terrorism without opposition. If even in an environment without fear he echoes Arafat's policies, then that would prove to the left that he is not a partner in peace. Something people to the right and center already know.

If Olmert, Barak and Livni do not completely remove Abbas' enemies, Hamas, from power in Gaza, then they are effectively admitting that:

  1. Abbas is not a true partner in peace,
  2. that they need to allow Abbas the Hamas scapegoat eternally to cover up Abbas' terrorist leanings (don't notice the kinder and gentler terrorist (at Jerusalem's northern suburbs) when you have the pro-Iranian terrorist in Gaza), and
  3. they have zero faith that Abbas will ever truly leave his terrorist ways behind him unless they hurry up and give up a lot more land than Likud ever would.
  4. there is almost no hope for Olmert, Barak and Livni ever coming to their senses.

Perhaps if my three test goals are achieved by the current leadership in Israel, then there would be indication of hope (in the long term) for Olmert and Livni. But in the immediate future, at least, no matter what happens in Gaza, I do not expect endorsing them for reelection as the top party in Israel any time soon. This matter should have been resolved many months, and many thousands of rockets, and much, much pain, cost and fear, ago. Under no circumstances should they be rewarded with a vote for Livni at this time at least, even if you disagree with me and support their beliefs. It is just rewarding bad leadership and thus not good public policy to give them any real political clout in the very next government.

May the God of Israel protect His people from all harm!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ending the Era of Weakness: Annex the West Bank and Gaza

A couple of days ago the man who is likely to be the next Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu said:

"...the era of weakness of the Livni-Olmert government is over". "What the citizens of Israel have been witnessing in the last few months is an ongoing weakness, a willingness to give up everything in exchange for nothing..."

"The government releases 1000 terrorists without any return. It makes concessions in Jerusalem, it is willing to return to the 1967 lines - and the most incredible thing, it is willing to absorb thousands of Palestinian refugees into Israel. I plan to make it clear to President Sarkozy and to all our friends and foes across the globe: this policy is going to end."

"A Likud government led by me will restore security to the people of Israel, will restore pride and determination to our policies. We will stand decisively for a united Jerusalem and defensible borders in every diplomatic arena. We will not agree to have a single refugee from 1948 enter the sovereign state of Israel, not to Ashkelon, not to Jaffa, not to Acre, or any other place".

My reaction is fourfold. Two praises and two admonitions to Mr. Netanyahu.

First, good analysis by Bibi regarding the Olmert-Livni government.

Two, it is nice to hear he wishes to return Israel to a policy of strength against terror.

Three, the down side of Bibi's Theory of Reciprocity, is that once the other side does actually comply, the pendulum of concessions swings back towards you. Yes to Jerusalem, but what about Hebron and the other Holy places of the West Bank?

Four, he should not call Palestinian refugees in foreign lands by the title refugees as it could seem to some that he is referring to West Bank and Gaza Palestinian Arabs who are still technically refugees under International Law. It is OK to refer to West Bank and Gazan Palestinians as refugees, because it removes the false stigma of "Occupied Territories". Israel is not the occupying force, the Palestinians are residing on unofficially annexed Israeli land.

Well, Bibi can remove both of my criticisms at the same time by merely Annexing the West Bank and Gaza with a simultaneous enactment into Israeli law of the Everyone Wins Peace Plan as their mode of resolving the refugee problem. Now that there exists a safe way to take in refugees, they morally should, because now it is merciful, not weak, to do so, but only if in accordance to a non-suicidal naturalization plan such as found in the Everyone Wins plan. Such mercy towards Palestinian Arabs would also be just, so that no one should ever compare Olmert's sin of allowing terrorists to fire at civilians indiscriminately with the lofty goal of aiding refugees.

One more issue Mr. Netanyahu raised in his statement.

"The era of weakness is about to end, and it will me my friends and I in the Likud who put an end to it and restore security to the people of Israel", Netanyahu concluded.

Bibi has to realize that humility is good, even in politics. Mentioning God's help at this point would not hurt him with Israel's religious and traditional voters, and serve to indicate that he is not at risk to fall into Ariel Sharon's trap of arrogance. Sharon "made" the settlements and felt that entitled him to take them apart as well. But the truth is that everyone in life is just God's messenger on the path that they freely choose to follow. The path we choose. But the force of causation is to God alone.

A man of Truth and Strength requires Humility and Compassion as well, in order to be an ideal leader.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hybridized Political Thought on the Middle East Conflict

A Statement of Hybridized Political Thought on the Middle East Conflict

By Alan Friedlander

By the grace of God, I was blessed to write previously from a religious perspective on why there should be Israeli concern for Arabic civil rights in the West Bank and Gaza, even as land-for-peace is rejected as an option in a peace process. India is a country that knows all too well how the surrender of land to a single disgruntled ethnic group to form a country of their own does not guarantee a lasting peace. I wrote from a religious perspective on this eight months ago, not in an effort to force my religious viewpoint on anyone, Israeli or Arab, religious or secular, rather my call for the disentitlement of Arabs to absolute control of the territories that they currently occupy is due only because their claims are legally unequal to Israeli claims even according to non-sectarian international legal principles as well. It is this fact that international law and the Jewish faith have a common ground in realities on the ground in the Middle East Conflict that gives a cause for hope to find a greater consensus towards lasting peace in any peace process that will seriously consider both perspectives at the same time.

Did you ever wonder why Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers of the USA decided to quote mainly from political philosopher John Locke when writing the Declaration of Independence? Benjamin Franklin personally knew several members of the French Enlightenment. So why did they skip the Philosophes of their day to quote a philosopher of the previous century? You see, in political thought, in ancient times, religion preceded secularism. During and following the Enlightenment, secularism preceded religion. But between those ages, in the early Modern Period, political philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke openly considered both perspectives in unison, in what I consider a generally healthier dose of hybridized thought, which outclasses mainstream secularist myopia that burdens many political theorists today. Hobbes and Locke, if they lived today, would outclass today’s philosophers in their ability to evaluate modern issues that stand in the way of successful peace processes and thereby be more readily able to create a new philosophic direction to cure such woes. In the Enlightenment, religion was labeled (libeled?) as less rational. But, even assuming so, in the pursuit of finding a true peace methodology, "Rationalism" alone does not adequately address the causes and does not accurately predict future reactions of opposing religious belief systems and the disparate people who possess them.

Jews are bidden, by the Creator of All, to be a ‘light unto the nations’ (Isaiah 42.6 & 49.6); implicit in this is the need for Jews to not hate or discriminate against gentiles as a chosen policy. Only true enemies of creation (such as terrorists) deserve the dispensing of hatred as policy, as per: "Those who hate You, O Lord, I hate and with those who contend against You, I shall contend.” (Psalm 139.21).

Because the ways of peace requires dealing with peoples of other religions, it is not a lack of faith to seek secularly acceptable standards for international relations. Indeed, the way of the Torah is to avoid conflict by finding a compromise solution that does not compromise one’s faith. In other words, evaluate each potential peace solution in the guiding light of the Torah, even if every last minutia is not found in the Torah. Seeking hybridized political standards in diplomacy, therefore, is consistent with the Torah attitude towards political philosophy.

I am not suggesting placing any other philosophy on par with God’s Holy Word. I mean that those who refuse to listen to religion or those that refuse to listen to any ideas from those who are not religious are leaving themselves bereft of the full picture and also the very goal of the Torah’s path to peace itself. Simply put: by hearing all sides, a common ground can be found. John Locke and Thomas Hobbes knew at least that much.

True enemies of Israel, according to Western/Lockean Theory, would be those who try to extinguish Israeli Life, Liberty, or Property; Heaven forefend. Life corresponds to true peace, Liberty relates to the right to pursue religious freedoms such as for Jews to worship at their holy sites without danger, and Property is land and the buildings upon it and the potential prosperity that they can bring.

Assuming friendly Arabs respect the concept of everyone sharing evenhanded Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Rights, and of all Israelis being protected under IDF rule and Jews worshipping at their holy sites, then so too Israelis must be prepared to acknowledge that West Bank and Gaza Arabs are people too, and like Israeli settlers they should be allowed to keep their homes and have affordable and legitimately achievable access to good jobs and economic improvement. But I want even more than such basics for them. To fulfill the Lord's Will, it appears to me that we must go beyond our current achievements for their betterment, but of course, only once West Bank and Gaza Palestinians as a whole go beyond their current rabid levels of opposition to even the most fundamental Israeli and non-Islamic rights in the Holy Land.

On that fateful day, when the knowledge of the Lord and tolerance of others are ingrained into Palestinian society more deeply than the worship of terror is today, then these wonderful things can occur. Then we can ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to truly respect Arabic Palestinians. This process would be hastened by a program that weeds terrorists out of normative Palestinian society.

Achieving true regard for and from West Bank and Gaza Arabs, in such an enlightened age of post-terrorism, comes by advocating an end to their current segregation from normative Israeli Arabic society. Tearing down a fence may not be enough to bring economic and other forms of equality fast enough to make them feel a part of the State of Israel. Yes, that is important. Trust me on this. Imagine if you were one of them.

Once we agree to the same goal, i.e., to transition West Bank and Gaza Arabs from refuges to immigrants as soon as possible, and that everyone in the territories who rejects terrorism deserves to keep their home and not fear eviction, Jew and Arab alike, then the only real question is what step to take next to help integrate the Arab immigrants into Israeli society. The best vehicle to this, in my opinion would be to allow a natural enhancement to the current level of immigrant Palestinian Arab civil rights in Israel, and I suggest that this should be by giving them the right to vote in Israeli elections, just as their cousins over the Green Line enjoy today, but only in a way that is not demographically destructive to the State of Israel.

Further Reading (full URLs of the above hyperlinks)…


In honor of my mother, Sarah bas Yosef HaCohain, 13 years since her passing to the World of Truth

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Violence at Beit Hashalom: How the Olmert Administration is Inciting Radicalism

The ill advised forced evacuation at Beit Hashalom took place today. It did not have to. It could and should have been delayed until a less sensitive time, assuming that the people settled there needed to be moved for the sake of the greater good of the nation, which, of course, they did not.

It was all the clumsy provocation of Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak.

As the United Nations representative was placing all the blame on "Settler Extremists", Prime Minister Olmert was busy praising the real culprit, Ehud Barak.

Not only the rough handling of the situation caused this violent reaction, but it was done at the same time that Israel is being attacked by rockets from Gaza, and several weeks following an either dishonest or impotent declaration by Kadima Party leader and PM candidate Tzipi Livni that if the violence occurred they would react. In an act of lunacy, or evil, or stupidity and probably in a combination of all the above, Livni's effective reaction to Hamas terror as implemented by Ehud Barak, and cheered on by Olmert, was to punish Israeli settlers for the crimes of Hamas.

I am not stating that they chose this as policy, but such was the obvious inference of the emotional reaction that would ensue from a crackdown on law abiding settlers at the same time when seemingly limitless patience is shown to terrorists. According to Lockean Theory, it may be possible to claim that the settlers had a legal right to defend themselves against such a move, in such a time as was perpetrated by the Israeli government. A government must protect its people, not subject them to such cruelty.

Further, innocent Arabs whom this government wishes to give a country to, had to deal with vandalism. If this government does not help its own citizens, nor people who they do not consider citizens, then there is no one gaining any benefit from this government!

A government that does not defend its citizens, but rather allows the enemies of its people to wantonly attack without reprisal and then implements poorly timed policies against its own people, does not deserve to be in power. Must not remain in power.

Massive non-violent rallies and possibly labor strikes must take place until the elections are pushed forward sooner than the current February timetable.

No longer is the Kadima Party/Labor Party government merely a national security risk, but now it has become an internal security issue as well; freely chosen by Israel's current leadership. The time has come for Israel to freely choose better leadership. It would be a mistake to assume this is the last foolhardy trick that the current government has up its sleeves.

The reaction required in the face of these matters is that loyal Israelis should do whatever non violent acts that are required to force elections to be held immediately!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Problem With Kadima: A Lesson in Pseudo Political Centrism

Israel National News reported last week Deputy Prime Minister, Retired Colonel and Kadima Party member Otniel Schneller's call for the fortification of the schools in Ashkelon to protect them from Gazan rockets. That call is symbolic of the mire that the Kadima Party has become stuck in. To act one needs conviction. To possess conviction, one needs a moral or ethical base. To achieve their targeted goals, Kadima party members had to leave their philosophies behind them and go full throttle towards "peace". They used "peace" as their objective standard. Yet as their current usage of the term "peace" is linked to the failed philosophy of Land-For-Peace, Kadima's objective standard is inherently flawed. This well meaning declaration by Schneller reveals the troubled core of Kadima's pseudo political centrist nature.

Without the popular, if not always wise, instincts of Ariel Sharon leading them, Kadima has become a party that speaks tough, but does little. The antithesis of effective leadership, Kadima's leaders like to walk loudly and carry a sponge stick. They lift their sponge sticks at the enemies of Israel and say, "Don't make me use this." Then two days later they say to Israel's enemies, "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. Let's discuss more one sided concessions to prove that we truly want peace."

Two weeks ago it was reported that Kadima's latest leader Tzipi Livni said that Israel will do something if the shelling continued. Livni said, "There is no such thing as a partial ceasefire... If the ceasefire violations continue, Israel will see no impediment to action." It was assumed that she meant to actually do something against that group of naughty and elusive 'partners in peace', Hamas, and not towards all those 'offensive' school buildings in Ashkelon. So far that assumption is looking like overly wishful thinking.

Last week PM Olmert made some noises about peace in our time (in an apparent attempt to justify Kadima inaction to the threat against Israeli citizens) immediately before he lost his last shred of political legitimacy as voices from parties on the left as well demanded his resignation following the Attorney General Mazuz declaration of intent to indict him. As there seems to be no real difference in his policies and Livni's stated intentions, I find no reason to rush to eject him and replace him with Livni. I support the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and a Livni Premiership would not offer Israel's National Security a significant enough enhancement to warrant an exception to this rule. The real guilt lies with the Kadima Party itself and unless elections are hastened, which I believe they should be, then I do not join in the chorus that Olmert leave office immediately over crimes that he has yet to be found guilty of in a court of law. Rather, Olmert should leave office immediately in conjunction with hastening the upcoming elections. Why wait for February? The Israeli elections should be held immediately so that a real peace process can begin. A party cannot lead if it has lost its way.

Kadima's position on national security just does not make any sense. But again, I am looking at this from a perspective of one who assumes that a government wishes to protect its own citizenry. Perhaps the suggestion to fortify schools is so that Ashkelon residents can at least have a few vicarious hours of respite from terror knowing that each day their kids are safe for a few hours, at least until it's time for the bus ride home each evening; God protect. Again this is only today's apparent meaning to the weak Kadima perception of National Security. Tomorrow perhaps some more radically imbecilic statement will issue forth from Kadima leadership like plastic pearls of wisdom on a hot stove top.

God knows, even if Kadima clearly does not.

One never really knows what to expect from Kadima; not because they are so perfectly moderate in their political beliefs so that no one to the right or left can fathom their brilliant wisdom, but the very opposite, because they are so weakly attached to any guiding philosophy whether right or left. This is a complete breakdown of the entire centrist mandate that their constituency originally voted for.

Kadima's weak leadership has allowed the practiced national security policies of Israel to become extremely left wing in character. The only way to even the balance scale of Israeli leadership is for politically moderate voters in Israel to shift their political support to the politically right parties in order to tip the scale back towards the middle and restore the proper political equilibrium to the Knesset. How far to the right this shift requires the Israeli voter to go depends on how far Kadima's inaction, and the potential actions of the enemies of Israel reacting to weak Kadima leadership, serve to pull Israeli security out of kilter between now and the elections. Therefore to enhance National Security and the hope of real peace, I recommend that Israel should hold elections immediately.