Early afternoon yesterday, just about when services were ending for Rosh Hashana, the sky opened up and we had a deluge for a short while.
Rain on Rosh Hashana is unusual — it’s not quite the start of the rainy season yet. (We don’t pray in earnest for rain until the end of Sukkot.) But here, in this parched land, we consider rain a bracha — a blessing. And so people may have been drenched on their way home from services, but they had smiles on their faces, as they exclaimed, “Look at this!”
We can only pray that this was a message from on high, on our holy day — a message that we were beginning a year of blessing. Today’s news carried the information that the rain actually was substantial enough in the north to have some impact– as much fell yesterday as normally falls in September and October. Apparently we are at the cusp of weather shifts that could bring either a dry winter, or one with greatly welcome heavy rains.
And so we must continue to pray.
And it is not only rain we must pray for, but also the well being of all here in Israel in other respects. The news right before Rosh Hashana — according to a blood-chilling secret report seen by AP — was that the IAEA has conceded that Iran now has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is developing a missile system for delivery. This is apparently information that the IAEA has not chosen to make public. but the IAEA has issued a denial. (It must be noted that there have been many accusations against the IAEA that it has not revealed all it knows.)
Most startling was a statement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that was released yesterday:
“When he visited me in Sochi [a Russian resort], Israeli President Peres [in August] said something important for us all: ‘Israel does not plan to launch any strikes on Iran, we are a peaceful country and we will not do this.'”
What? Peres? Peres’s position as president is purely ceremonial, and he does not set policy. I’ve often wanted to tear my hair out because of things he’s said (recently he told Mitchell that Israelis agree with Obama). But this?
Medvedev also alluded to the brief and very discreet visit by Netanyahu that took place recently.
So what is going on? Netanyahu certainly didn’t fly to Russia to assure Medvedev that we wouldn’t be hitting Iran. What is being left unsaid here? What perhaps needs to be left unsaid? A host of possibilities present themselves, including deliberate disinformation.
Most likely on the table with Russia is the pressing issue of release of the highly sophisticated, Russian-made S-300 missile defense system to Iran.
Today Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has refuted Medvedev’s statement, saying — as I would certainly hope and expect — that for Israel the military option is still on the table. Defense Minister Barak has also told Defense Secretary Gates the same thing.
I recommend a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal by Bret Stephens, “Obama is pushing Israel towards war.”
“…it is an abdication of a superpower’s responsibility to outsource matters of war and peace to another state, however closely allied. President Obama has now ceded the driver’s seat on Iran policy to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He would do better to take the wheel again, keeping in mind that Iran is beyond the reach of his eloquence, and keeping in mind, too, that very useful Roman adage, Si vis pacem, para bellum. [If you seek peace, prepare for war].”
Caroline Glick, whose article on the subject I cited recently, says the time is coming, and that Israel can do it. More prayers are in order, as those who do what they must prepare.
Obama has scrapped a Bush-era plan for a European missile defense in favor of a new plan that will be less threatening to Russia. More appeasement in hopes now of getting something — more support on Iran? — from Russia? Russia, actually, is playing hardball with regard to Iran and isn’t even willing to support tougher sanctions. Mentioned just briefly now, this is a situation that merits a close and careful watch. It is not reassuring that Iran has welcomed the Obama move.
Tomorrow on the premises of the United Nations in New York, on the sidelines of the opening of the General Assembly, Obama will be meeting first separately with Netanyahu and Abbas, and then hosting a meeting with the two of them.
There is concern that Netanyahu not cave under these circumstances. But I note that he hasn’t caved to date, that Mitchell did not succeed in coming up with a plan satisfactory to all, and that this meeting is being held anyway (even after Abbas said he wouldn’t meet with Netanyahu until settlements were frozen). This is hardly a time when Netanyahu would be inclined to concede more, I think.
In an Army Radio interview, Minister Benny Begin (Likud), who is in the Security Cabinet, said:
“I believe that the Prime Minister has displayed noteworthy standing power and navigational ability.
“I think that the Palestinian Authority and some Arab nations misunderstood the U.S. and European nations. They thought that the West would like to give them Israel’s head on a cheap plastic platter. This could not have happened, and therefore did not happen.”