It's important to be mindful of blessings, and grateful. And so I start with this, which will bring a smile to a lot of faces:
During the war, I wrote about Aharon Karov, who went off to fight less than 24 hours after he was married. Less than two weeks later, he was critically wounded, and the truth is that it wasn't certain that he would live.
Now I have information on his progress, which has been astounding (undoubtedly in part because of the many prayers said for him). Professor Pierre Singer head of intensive care at the Rabin Medical Center, has expressed amazement at the rate of his improvement.
When explosives went off in a booby-trapped house he had entered, Aharon suffered multiple wounds. Luckily, protective gear covered his head and trunk, but he was injured in his arms and legs as well as his face -- with shrapnel piercing his forehead into his skull, his eye, his mouth, his jaw. In one day he endured 14 hours of surgery to address these various acute injuries.
A week ago he regained consciousness and now knows what is happening to him. As he has suffered no permanent damage to his brain, his cognitive recovery should be complete; while still sedated because of pain, he recognizes his family. He is also showing ability to move all four limbs, and his vision is expected to return to normal.
After about four weeks of rehab, he will be discharged. Is it necessary to report that his wife, who has been at his side, is overjoyed? May the two of them go on to many, many years of married bliss.
Another mitzvah we can do:
Jonathan Pollard, who should have been pardoned by out-going president Bush and was not, requires contact from the outside to keep his spirits up Now, more than ever. He can receive only regular snail mail -- no faxes or e-mail. Letters can be short as long as they convey support. Please, take the time to write:
Jonathan Pollard #09185-016
c/o FCI Butner
P.O. Box 1000
Lucky us. Mitchell is coming! Reportedly, before this week is out. That's George Mitchell, new ME envoy. The "there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended" Mitchell. While he will be speaking both with members of our government and heads of the PA, he will not try to initiate any long-term arrangements until after our election. A relief, as this will deprive Olmert and Livni opportunities for any last minute "shenanigans."
A former Senator from Maine, Mitchell was called upon by former president Clinton to head up a fact-finding commission in 2000 and 2001 that investigated the Second Intifada.
David Bedein, writing in The Bulletin, in Philadelphia, has taken a hard look at that mission and the recommendations that followed. Among Bedein's points:
"The Mitchell Commission accepted as a given that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-led riots were based on a movement for 'independence and genuine self-determination,' without giving any credence to the PLO goal, stated in all PLO publications, maps and media outlets, even during the current Oslo process, which consistently and clearly states that 'liberation' of Palestine, all of Palestine — in stages — remained the goal.
"For some reason, the Mitchell Commission characterized the rioters armed with Molotov cocktails as 'unarmed Palestinian demonstrators,' a term that they apparently borrowed from PLO information reports that were published at the time.
"The Mitchell Commission took the position that Israel’s security forces did not face a clear and present danger when faced with a mob trying to kill them with rocks and firebombs.
"It made no mention that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has amassed 50,000 more weapons than they were supposed to have, in clear violation of the written Oslo accords.
"The Mitchell Commission surprisingly accepted the notion that the PA security officials are simply “not in control” of their own tightly controlled security services.
"The Mitchell Commission would not consider reliable intelligence reports that documented the PA had planned the uprising...
"It said the notion the PA leadership had failed to prevent terrorist attacks against Israel as only an Israeli 'view,' ignoring consistent incitement that Arafat had conveyed to his own media for the previous seven years.
"The Mitchell Commission also rejected Israel’s characterization of the conflict, as 'armed conflict short of war”...
"...Instead of issuing a clear call to the PLO to stop sniper attacks on Israel’s roads and highways, the Mitchell Commission simply 'condemned the positioning of gunmen within or near civilian dwellings,' leaving the observer to assume that PLO attacks from empty embankments would be acceptable.
"The Mitchell Commission suggested that 'the IDF should consider withdrawing to positions held before Sept. 28, 2000, ... to reduce the number of friction points,' ignoring the fact that this would leave entry points to many Israeli cities without appropriate protection during a time of war."
Concludes Bedein: "In short, the Mitchell Commission Report drove a nail into the coffin of any credibility that George Mitchell could ever have to serve as a potential Middle East envoy."
It should be further noted that the Mitchell Report, which called for a "settlement freeze," even with regard to natural growth, was the basis for a similar call in the Road Map, two years later.
Thus is Mitchell's reappearance on the scene now considered particularly bad news. As Yisrael Medad asks: "Hear the drums?"
Aaron Lerner in IMRA today points out, however, that Mitchell in his report conceded that Oslo did not limit settlement construction. Mitchell was using the old, slippery and very dangerous "violating the spirit of the Oslo process" line. This was a favorite argument of Rice as well. In the name of the "spirit" all sorts of things can be demanded of us.
We must be strong, and certain of our rights, and unafraid to defend them.
President Barack Obama, "[underscoring] the importance of a strong US-Saudi relationship," placed a call to Saudi King Abdullah on Friday. Obama expressed his appreciation for Abdullah's support of a peace plan.
According to Khaled Abu Toameh in the Post, the PA's security commander for the Jenin area, Col Radi Assidah, says that his force is protecting and providing shelter to Islamic Jihad fugitives who came seeking shelter because Israel was after them.
Negotiations are going on via Cairo for a longer term cease-fire. Latest reports are that our proposal for an 18-month ceasefire and partial opening of crossings was rejected; Hamas countered with a full opening of crossings and a one year cease-fire, which still has to be brought to Damascus for discussion. offering.
Hamas spokesman, Ismail Radwan, said a long-term agreement "will kill the resistance, which is the Palestinian people's legitimate right as long as the occupation continues to exist."
The issue of monitoring of crossings is key to what proceeds now. What a farce! Not even pretending to cooperate with an embargo on weapons smuggling, Hamas is declaring, "No one has the right to prevent the Palestinians from equipping themselves with weapons as long as the occupation continues."
I had read one report that Hamas has agreed to a PA presence at Rafah, but only members of the PA who live in Gaza, none from Ramallah. Now Hamas is saying that Turkish presence would be acceptable. But of course.
Osama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon, and a close ally of Khaled Mashaal, Hamas politburo head in Damascus, said at a rally in Beirut today that there can be no reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas until Fatah ends all security cooperation and peace talks with Israel. Reconciliation must be based on "a resistance program to liberate the territory and regain rights."
He declared that the Palestinian-Israeli peace process had ended.
I do wonder how "there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended" Mitchell will respond to this, and how hard he'll push us to make concessions to bring "belligerent" Palestinian groups around.
A recent poll indicates that over 70% of Israelis think we'll be back fighting in Gaza in two years. Will it take that long?
This is a delightful anomaly that probably gave several BBC executives near-strokes: a former British army colonel, interviewed live, who defends Israel completely with regard to actions in Gaza. We've got it on video now, so please share as widely as possible:
Can this possibly be? According to yesterday's London Times, Iran may be running out of uranium for manufacturing nuclear weapons.
Says the report, "France, Germany, Britain and the US have banded to stop the flow of the material to Teheran by lobbying governments in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Brazil - key uranium producing states - to stop selling."
According to a poll for Channel One done today, 30 % of the public sees Likud chair Binyamin Netanyahu as the most appropriate choice for prime minister, as compared to 16% Tzipi Livni of Kadima and 9% for Labor head Ehud Barak.
I remain uneasy about reports that Livni, seeing this as the only chance to move to victory, might sanction a trade of 1,000 Hamas prisoners for Gilad Shalit. She's been "talking tough."
And also uneasy about vague rumors regarding the possibility that Netanyahu might form a coalition with Labor to protect his party from Obama dissatisfaction.
We are into election season now, two weeks and counting...