Some months ago I wrote a number of times about a little boy named Zakkai, in the US, who was undergoing severe medical problems. I learned about his situation from his grandmother, whom I know -- who had written and asked for prayers: He had an extensive tumor growing up his spine and into his thoracic area. At first it was thought be a rare form of malignancy and then was declared benign. This was cause for celebration, but he certainly wasn't home free. Non-cancerous, rapid growing tumors can do extensive damage.
Zakkai underwent two serious surgeries to remove the tumor. The surgeries, in spite of minor hitches, were considered successful, and he then received follow-up treatments -- physical therapy because of damaged muscle, etc. A scan indicated that there were two small spots on the spine and it was not clear at first what they were.
Now, with the latest scan it is clear: the two lesions on his spine were tumor-tissue and are now growing, rapidly. The doctors have not yet determined what to do.
But we can do starting immediately is pray for this brave and happy little boy, who is now a little over two:
Rephael Zakkai Avraham ben Yakira Avigael
We are now deep into the throes of an election campaign, which is just a bit more then three weeks away. I am not going to write about all of the inter-party goings on, which often have something of a "madhouse" tone about them and frequently make me very weary.
All this said, however, this is potentially a very significant election, with shifting alliances, new people coming to the fore, and a chance for some real changes.
PM Binyamin Netanyahu and his fellow Likud members are clearly nervous and handling themselves badly. Finally they have begun to aim their criticism at the center-left after a very unfortunate bout of attacking Habayit Hayehudi, their natural coalition partner.
The issue of coalition formation is critical in a variety of ways. There is, of course, the obvious: How the coalition shapes up -- whether, for example, a victorious Netanyahu will include center/left parties instead of Habayit Hayehudi-- will have an effect on who controls key ministries and what gov't policy will be.
But there is more: After the elections, the president meets with all of the parties and asks for recommendations as to which faction's head should be asked to form the coalition. Usually, the head of the party with the most mandates (and that will almost certainly be Likud) is asked, but this is not a given.
If the center-left parties say they will consider being included in a Likud coalition, then they presumably will recommend Netanyahu to form that coalition. But what they -- notably Shelly Yachimovich of Labor and Tzipi Livni of the Tzipi Livni party -- are saying now is that they will band together in refusal to join the coalition, making it more difficult (but hardly impossible) for him to form a coalition. Peres might be "inspired" to ask someone else.
Peres would be delighted to encourage a left wing coalition. (See more below.) This is well understood and a tad worrisome.
Yet another aspect of the left/center declarations of refusal to join a Likud coalition (for today, anyway -- except for Lapid of Yesh Atid, who says he might), however, is that Netanyahu might be asked to form the coalition and then actually have no choice but to include Habayit Hayehudi in order to make the requisite number of mandates. Which would be great and precisely as it should be
Are you confused yet? I'll track this more clearly as the factors sort themselves out.
PM Netanyahu (Likud) has been accused (not without reason) of waffling on what he stands for. That is more or less his MO.
And so today Avigdor Lieberman (head of Yisrael Beitenu and former foreign minister) came forward with a clarification. Remember that Likud and Yisrael Beitenu are running together on a joint list. Lieberman says that Yisrael Beitenu is for the formation of a Palestinian state, and that a Likud-Yisrael Beitenu government will base its policy on Netanyahu's Bar Ilan speech.
Well...that's pretty clear.
Voters who will not vote left have a choice, most significantly, between this and Naftali Bennett's position as head of Habayit Hayehudi, which is solidly against a Palestinian state. (There is also the small, strongly nationalist Otzma l'Yisrael -- Strength to Israel party.)
Bennett recommends annexing area C, and offering citizenship to the small number of Palestinian Arabs who live there. Habayit Hayehudi is in a merged list with National Union, which most certainly is not for a Palestinian state.
I see media reports that refer to Bennett as "radical right," "extreme." I see this as a joke. It's an attempt to render what he is saying in defense of our rights as not legitimate. (Anything that rejects that "two state solution" is represented as not legitimate.)
In truth, Bennett's position is moderate. He advocates expelling no one from his or her home -- including no Arabs. Those Arabs in the area he recommends annexing would stay where they are and be given full rights.
Beware of politically-inspired labels.
There were rumors that Lieberman said his party would break apart from Likud and form a separate faction after the elections, which he is now denying -- although there are suggestions that this was understood when the lists were merged. That would leave Likud further weakened.
One other political observation here: President Shimon Peres has been making political statements of a sort that are simply inappropriate for a man in his position. The presidency is not a political office.
He recently said that PA putative president Mahmoud Abbas was a partner for peace, and then found himself in the position of having to defend this because of severe criticism.
Yoel Marcus, in a piece -- "President Peres - resign" -- he wrote in Haaretz on Friday, provides us with a quote from Peres on the subject: "'The role of our diplomacy has always been to stretch out a hand to anyone willing to talk,' said Peres. He added: 'I've known Abu Mazen...[Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] for 30 years, he's open and ready for rapprochement.'"
And here I thank David Bedein for calling this to my attention: Thirty years is ten years before Oslo. How did Peres happen to be acquainted with this PLO leader and protégé of terrorist Yasser Arafat back then?
As to that "peace partner" Peres has been referring to, we should heed the statement of IDF Ezion Sector Commander Colonel Yaniv Alaluf.
Credit: Effi Sharir
Alaluf, one of Central Command's top ranking officers, said after a training session (emphasis added):
"We're no longer on the verge of a third intifada – it's already here. We anticipate many more [clashes] from now on. We may not be facing thousands of demonstrators storming border fences with AK-47s, but that doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the situation.
"The process lead by Abu Mazen [Abbas] is over, replaced by the attitude promoted by Hamas. Abu Mazen is trying to survive the Arab Spring and he understands that the path of negotiations with Israel is over.
"The question is – what will follow? We may see regional anarchy...
"The third intifada won't be like the second one, which surprised us. We're ahead of the game now and terror won't be able to slither up to central Israel because we're better prepared."
I want to turn here (with thanks to Reisa S.) to a new documentary -- "Jihad in America: The Deception" --from The Investigative Project on Terrorism, founded and run by Steve Emerson. Emerson reliably documents the threat in America from Islamists. Before 9/11 he had made predictions about an imminent major terrorist attack and was written off as an alarmist kook. After 9/11, he was sought all over as a commentator in the know. It is prudent now to learn what he has to say.
His concern is not "just" the fact that Islamist groups such as Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda seek world domination and imposition of sharia (Muslim) law, it is the fact that these groups masterfully disguise their intentions from the general public and are accepted as moderates within the halls of American power.
Here you can see a video interview of Emerson, with a discussion of the documentary and accompanying text:
In the course of the interview, Emerson speaks of Siraj Wahhaj who "is a major imam from Brooklyn who... was the first Muslim to open the invocation in Congress in 1991, but in fact is a very, very radical militant Muslim cleric who has called for jihad, he has supported terrorism. In fact he was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case. And believe it or not, despite all that has come out including his unindicted status, to this very day he is still being invited to and paid for by US government agencies to speak at counterterrorism conferences." (Emphasis added)
None of this should be dismissed or taken lightly.
The DVD documentary can be ordered via Amazon:
As to the good news, there is some:
The Jewish community of Rachelim in Samaria, which had been built with full support from the Housing Ministry but was referred to as "illegal" for lack of one Defense Ministry signature, has now been fully authorized.
Please see here for the full story of how this was accomplished
"Rachelim was built in 1998 in memory of two Rachels both murdered by Palestinian Authority terrorists. Rachel Druck, 35, was murdered in a shooting attack on a bus in 1991 as she and her son traveled from Shilo to Tel Aviv. Rachel Weiss, 26, was burned alive in 1988 as she desperately tried to save her three young children, who were trapped in the flames after a terrorist hurled a firebomb at a bus."
And then there is the weather. Last night and today there was heavy rain in the north, causing flooding. By tomorrow the rain is expected to move to the center of the country, and last most of the week. The level of the Kinneret is going up, perhaps about to reach better levels than it has in 20 years. All together a great blessing for us.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.