I begin with a report on little Zakkai, who indeed was operated on yesterday. It's been an incredibly tough haul for his parents, first because Zakkai had developed a cold and cough and there were consultations until the last moment regarding the advisability of doing the surgery. It was decided that going ahead was prudent. And then, they had to get to Boston, where the hospital is located, and where there were huge amounts of snow.
Zakkai, thank God, came through the surgery well and the surgeons were satisfied. He is in an ICU unit but having considerable pain, for which he is being treated. Terribly hard not just for the child, but for the parents to witness. ("Unnerving and deflating," is how it was put in an update.) Please God, he will get past these first few days and rally quickly. He is quite a fighter.
Please, continue to pray for him -- for his speedy and complete recovery. And I'll provide further updates.
Rephael Zakkai Avraham ben Yakira Avigael
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke last night at a gathering of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American organizations. Before I share what he said, I want to note an interesting but not surprising phenomenon that I observed; while not uncommon, it was perhaps more blatant than usual:
What I saw late last night and today is that what was emphasized about his talk by any given Internet news site -- what was featured in its headline -- depended very much on the political orientation of the site. And I think it's important for my readers to be forewarned of this.
Thus, there were headline references to the fact that Netanyahu said he still supported his "two-state" proposal advanced in his Bar Ilan speech. And, indeed, he referred to this. But it is not my impression that this constituted the most significant part of what he said. Especially since he also said that the PA has placed pre-conditions on talks, which means they are not advancing negotiations in good faith.
The most important, in my opinion, is this (emphasis added):
"I drew a line at the U.N. last time I was there.
"They [the Iranians] haven’t crossed that line, but what they’re doing is to shorten the time that it will take them to cross that line.
"The way they’re shortening that time is by putting in new, faster centrifuges that cut the time by one third. This has to be stopped, for the interest of peace and security, for the interest of the entire world.
"How do you stop it? Well, you have to put greater pressure on them. You have to upgrade the sanctions. And they have to know that if the sanctions and diplomacy fails, they will face a credible military threat."
I remain convinced -- Netanyahu himself has said -- that this is first on the agenda for the talks between Netanyahu and Obama (who will, it has been announced, be arriving on March 20).
You can see Netanyahu's talk on video here:
Yes, Obama may try to convince our prime minister that he can handle matters, while Netanyahu may show some "give" in luring the PA to the table in order to get what he wants from the president.
Obama, it is being said, doesn't want any "military surprises." But if "handling matters" means simply attempting to "negotiate" with Iran, Netanyahu is neither foolish enough, nor unserious enough, to go for this. A visit to Israel this week by Rose Gottemoeller, acting US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, is being interpreted as an attempt by the US to "pave the way" for Obama's visit by providing reassurances.
US officials are saying that America has built up military assets in the Gulf that are capable of attacking Iranian nuclear sites at short notice. I don't think "capable" is the issue, so much as willing and ready.
Unforeseen or mitigating factors may always intervene. But what I see from where I sit is that Obama is reluctant (afraid?) to make unilateral decisions, as a true leader would. He prefers to rely on international consensus, which surely isn't going to support him on a tough stand on Iran.
While I see that Netanyahu remains courageous in this regard. Witness the air attacks in Syria. I received again today, as I had previously, a statement from an impeccable source in the government indicating that our prime minister is prepared to move instantly if there are signs of transfer of WMD to terrorist hands. No fudging on this. No worry about what the world thinks.
Perhaps it is legitimate to extrapolate from this situation to that of Iran.
North Korea, according to seismic data that have been picked up, has just conducted a nuclear test -- a fact that is alarming. The North Koreans provide a model for Iran to follow. The Iranians will be watching, as well, international response to Korea.
Jerusalem was put on high alert today because of intelligence regarding a possible terror attack. I have no information on the nature of that possible attack. I believe the alert level has now been reduced.
Former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee is in Israel now leading a Christian evangelical tour for some 200 participants. At a press conference, he indicated that President Obama should announce the release of Jonathan Pollard before arriving here.
Good thought. America is fond of securing "good will gestures" from Israel. Now it's America's turn.
I'm not overly fond of petitions, but this one, on behalf of Pollard, is worth responding to. It will be hand delivered to the president during his visit:
You will see a page in Hebrew, but can scroll down for the text of the petition in English, plus a video.
At the top of the screen (which is in Hebrew), you will see 3 boxes to fill in and a green "send button."
Box number one: Fill in your full name
Box number two: Write "Bayt Yisrael"
Box number three: Your email address (Optional. It will not be displayed publicly.)
THEN HIT THE GREEN SEND BUTTON!
© 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.