Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, delivered a speech for Israel’s 60th. It is so extraordinary that I must lead off with this today:
"All of my life, Israel has been a symbol – a symbol of the triumph of hope and faith. After 1945, our battered world desperately needed to be lifted out of post-war darkness and despair. After so much pain and suffering, humanity needed comfort and optimism. After so much death and destruction, we needed renewal – the renewal of the dream of a better and more civilized world. In short, we needed to be inspired. It was the people who had suffered who most provided that inspiration. By their example, they led the world back to the light. From shattered Europe and other countries near and far, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made their way home. Their pilgrimage was the culmination of a two-thousand-year-old dream; it is a tribute to the unquenchable human aspiration for freedom, and a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Jewish people.
"In the sixty years that followed, Israel blossomed into one of the most successful countries on earth; a land of ingenuity and enterprise, an oasis of agricultural genius, a wellspring of fine art and high culture, a model of democracy. Israel truly is the ‘miracle in the desert.’
"But the source of Israel’s strength and success , in my view, is its commitment to the universal values of all civilized peoples: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law…
"Unfortunately, Israel at 60 remains a country under threat – threatened by those groups and regimes who deny to this day its right to exist. And why? Make no mistake; look beyond the thinly-veiled rationalizations: because they hate Israel, just as they hate the Jewish people. Our government believes that those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada, because, as the last world war showed, hate-fuelled bigotry against some is ultimately a threat to us all, and must be resisted wherever it may lurk.
"In this ongoing battle, Canada stands side-by-side with the State of Israel, our friend and ally in the democratic family of nations. We have stood with Israel even when it has not been popular to do so, and we will continue to stand with Israel, just as I have always said we would…
"There will be many challenges along the way , but considering how far Israel has come in such a short time, in the face of such seemingly insurmountable odds, I can foresee no dark force, no matter how strong, that could succeed in dimming the light of freedom and democracy that shines from within Israel."
How rare in this highly politicized and twisted world is such unqualified support. Imagine how different our position would be if other world leaders spoke similarly. PM Harper is to be saluted.
Ted Belman has posted the entire speech at Israpundit:
What I ask is that you take the time to thank Prime Minister Harper by writing to him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
As to the Olmert investigation, I begin today by saying that I have never in my life encountered so many innocent people. No one did anything. At least, that is what they are working vigorously to have us believe.
The former director of the New Jerusalem Foundation , Zvi Raviv, for example, expressed bewilderment as to why this non-profit organization, which does good work, should be involved in the investigation at all. Never mind that Olmert and Messer founded it and Talansky was made treasurer. Or that the Post reported eight years ago that there were suspicions about use for campaign purposes of money from this foundation (which had not yet registered in Israel as a non-profit and in 1999 failed to report millions in contributions).
"We support those with special needs, children , and teenagers," said an NJF spokesman. "We fund dance centers, libraries in schools, provide help for the deaf, and holiday food packages." Bringing up the name of the foundation was "unjustified." "The police are not interested in the foundation."
While Talansky gave an interview on Channel 10 TV , in which he said that Olmert asked for campaign donations, just as other Israelis were asking, and that he gave for the pure joy of giving and helping an Israeli candidate. If Olmert asked, he assumed it was legal.
Talansky is adamant that he never bribed Olmert . As to that quote about being afraid something will be done to him because of his testimony, he says they are making a big deal out of what was only an off-hand remark.
The investigation at this point is reportedly focusing on possible bribery, rather than illegal campaign contributions. What has been discovered is that he took large sums of money while he was minister of industry, trade and labor — and had no need for campaign funds — in a time frame around 2005.
The term "soft money" is being bandied about , but I will not attempt to grapple with whatever legal meaning it has here in Israel. In the US it refers, broadly, to political donations made in such a way as to avoid federal regulations or limits.
Here the implication is that rules for what can be accepted from foreign nationals for a campaign did not apply, as Olmert wasn’t running for office — that the money went to Likud and not Olmert, or to pay his previous campaign debts, or towards future campaigns. Remember, the law applies to donations to a candidate in the nine months before an election.
According to Haaretz, an official connected with the investigation explained that: "There’s no doubt that Olmert is trying to pull the investigation in a certain direction, of collecting funds for elections."
"But," says the official, "in contrast to the impression Olmert is trying to create, the investigation team is currently focusing precisely on the period when there were no elections, and there was no apparent justification for collecting funds for an election campaign." This official, Haaretz reports, says that the police suspect Olmert of having received envelopes of cash that cannot be accounted for.
According to another source involved in the probe , who was also cited by Haaretz :
"The investigators are currently focusing on reinforcing suspicions that are relatively easy to verify….They are dealing with the period during which it is possible to unearth findings that will strengthen the suspicions against Olmert…
"During the short period being probed so far , the investigators managed to arrange a cross-checking of sources. There are documents, there’s Talansky’s testimony, there’s Messer’s testimony – all these findings reinforce the credibility of the other." All evidence is pointing in the same direction.
YNet reports that according to Major-General (ret.) Borovsky , who headed the anti-corruption department at the State Comptroller’s Office and is familiar with details of the current investigation, an indictment is likely to be served. "The police are acting with determination, professionalism and courage in this case."
Apparently a deposition will be taken from Talansky.
But, truly, we probably shouldn’t worry about any of this, because we have it straight from President Bush in an interview that ran on
Channel 10 here: Olmert, he says, is an "honest man." Translation: I want the peace process to proceed and don’t want this stuff to get in the way.
A Dahaf poll done yesterday for Yediot Ahronot shows that 60% do not believe that Olmert didn’t take money (this double negative is how the poll was worded), and 59% think he should resign.
If Livni heads the Kadima party , according to this poll, Kadima would get 27 mandates (seats) and Likud 23. This is bad news for Netanyahu, who’s been biding his time, assuming that Likud would win the next election, and for those who are anxious to see Kadima out of power.
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman was here, and presented to Olmert and to Barak the proposal worked out with Hamas for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Both Barak and Olmert indicated that terms were not acceptable because the return of Gilad Shalit must be included. Additionally, Olmert specified that terms must include cessation of smuggling and arming of terrorist groups.
Suleiman was disgruntled by this Israeli response , after Egypt had worked so hard to establish terms. Suggesting that we are "inflexible," he pushed the notion that the ceasefire had to be accepted first, and then there would be an opportunity to discuss Shalit. But Israeli leaders weren’t buying this, and he has no choice but to carry this message back to Hamas.
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) made an important point , with this: Release of Shalit, as eager as we all are for it, should not be the cause for our agreeing to a dangerous ceasefire that will result in additional deaths and kidnappings down the road because Hamas will continue to strengthen.
Although Suleiman spoke about a ceasefire leading the way to discussions on Shalit, it’s not that simple. There is a standstill on these negotiations because there are certain Hamas prisoners with blood on their hands that our security people refuse to release but that Hamas insists must be released.
There are those who see Suleiman’s visit as a final effort to stop the shooting of Kassams before Israel escalates militarily. Barak made the observation, perhaps relevant, as his meeting with Suleiman ended, that "Israel cannot continue exercising restraint over the ongoing terror from the Gaza Strip." Additionally, Barak was clearly not receptive to the suggestion that after six months of quiet in Gaza there would be efforts to extend the ceasefire to Judea and Samaria.
Olmert, however, is scheduled to meet with Mubarak , precisely when is unclear. This had been agreed to weeks ago.
This evening an elderly woman who had come to visit at Moshav Yesha, near Gaza, was killed when a Kassam hit the house where her family lived. Islamic Jihad has claimed credit.
Earlier today two Grad Katyushas hit Ashkelon.