Tomorrow night begins the festival of Sukkot, which is known as the Season of our Gladness. Truly, a happy, festive holiday.
This is a holiday from our Torah, with an ancient tradition that will still be observed long after the Palestinian Authority is gone. Remembering this provides a badly needed perspective. We are bidden to dwell in temporary booths — Sukkahs — and thus to trust in the Almighty for our safety. Another lesson.
I think I write every year about how special this holiday is here in Jerusalem. Sukkahs are being erected everywhere. On a nearby street that is a “restaurant row,” sukkahs are placed out on the sidewalk so that religious customers can patronize their places over the holiday.
Me? I’ll be eating and sleeping in a sukkah with my children and grandchildren. And so — while I am mindful of the fact that much is going on in the world, and while I expect that I’ll do some writing — I will be focused elsewhere a good part of the week, and my writing will slow down.
Please, friends. Hold your comments to me. Hold interesting articles unless they are very important. I will not be accessing my e-mail on a daily basis and would be grateful if I were not overwhelmed.
To each of you celebrating the chag, I say, Chag Sameach, and extend wishes for your joy.
Actually, stepping back from what’s going on in the world is a good thing, for what passes as “news” is in large part shtuyote — nonsense. The ridiculous in the guise of important events.
Yesterday, Netanyahu participated in a conference call with Jewish leaders arranged by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Now, today, it is reported, in part, that he said:
“President Abbas has to decide [about recognizing Israel as a Jewish state]. He cannot skirt the issue. He cannot find clever language designed to obfuscate or to fudge it.
“He needs to recognize the Jewish state. He needs to say it clearly and unequivocally. He needs to say it to his own people in their own language.
“Remember that famous commercial – Just Do It? I think for the Palestinian leadership, it’s even simpler: Just Say It. Say that you recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”
All these dramatic words. “Just say it”? Netanyahu knows full well that Abbas will not do this.
What he doesn’t say, with all the drama, is that Abbas refuses to say it because the ultimate goal of Palestinian Arabs is to get rid of Israel as a Jewish state and replace it with an Arab one. Saying that would not be politic, would not be playing the game. And Netanyahu is quite clearly playing the game to the hilt.
He also said: “I believe that an agreement is possible. But to succeed, President Abbas and I…have to be willing to address the issues with an open mind. We have to be flexible and creative in finding compromises that are anchored in a realistic assessment of what is possible.”
Give me a break. Abbas is willing to compromise on nothing. And what Netanyahu ought to be telling American Jewish leaders is, Sorry, folks. I’d love to have peace here, but it’s impossible when there is no compromise whatsoever on the other side. Don’t let fancy words from PA leaders fool you — there is no give. What he’s doing is misleading them.
Quite properly, Netanyahu persists in emphasizing the need to guarantee our security if a Palestinian state is formed. When all is said and done, in my opinion, the only way to guarantee that security is by making sure a Palestinian state does not come into being. But since we’re not hearing this…
There have been suggestions (from the EU?) of an international force, and he rejects that, saying — again, quite properly — that only our own troops can protect us. This is something else Abbas will never agree to: Israeli troops on the eastern border of a PA state.
As alluded to earlier, Yitzhak Molcho, chief Israeli negotiator who is currently in NY, and Saeb Erekat, chief PLO negotiator who is currently in Washington, are supposed to meet within the next 24 or so hours in order to pave the way for another round of talks between Netanyahu and Abbas. Presumably, this new round of talks will take place before the 26th, when the freeze is due to end, so that the parties can work out a “compromise” on the issue, in order for negotiations to continue after the 26th.
Abbas is saying that he will not negotiate “for a single day” if Israel does not extend the freeze.
He also said that he was “not opposed to a settlement freeze for a month or two” and that he believes it would be possible “to conclude a peace deal on all final status issues if the settlement freeze is extended.”
Conclude all issues in a month or two? You might be tempted to ask exactly what Mahmoud Abbas has been smoking. But there is method to his madness and I want to point it out.
While Netanyahu is talking about security, Abbas keeps saying the first thing to decide is borders. Deciding borders, he claims, will simplify the issues — Jerusalem (how much goes to the Palestinian Arabs) and settlements (what, if anything, Israel would keep and thus where Israel could continue to build and where not).
This, you see, is why he now says only a month or two is necessary. Theoretically, there would be no “freeze” issue if it had been determined where Israel could build and where not. And if there freeze is only for a month or two, he likely imagines that he can push this to get it resolved before the freeze is over.
This — the question of setting borders — is what Abbas is after. The rest matters to him considerably less, or not at all. For he could then walk away from negotiations, go to the UN, and ask for recognition of a state, within the borders that Israel had already agreed to.
This might not happen, and the whole plan might backfire on him badly. But know that there is talk about Abbas doing this. Therefore, it is critical that Netanyahu not fall into a trap of agreeing to borders. Not even tentative borders, i.e., IF this and this is set in place, OK then I would also agree to these borders.
It would be a very dangerous and foolish business.
I will mention here, where it is particularly relevant, that there is talk about bringing a bill to the Knesset that would require a national referendum before Netanyahu could sign off on any agreement with the PLO. A good move. But the wording of that proposed legislation has yet to be worked out — it would have to be air-tight and would then have to pass three readings in the Knesset. So we’re not there yet by any means.
Sometimes, in spite of the peaceful facade that the leaders of the PA/PLO offer the Western world, something leaks out that reveals true intentions. Almost always that leak is in Arabic, as is the case here:
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has picked up an article from the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, from September 9. In translation:
“The PLO’s representative in Lebanon, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah, emphasized yesterday that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which have started in Washington, are not a goal, but rather another stage in the Palestinian struggle… He believes that Israel will not be dealt a knock-out defeat, but rather an accumulation of Palestinian achievements and struggles, as happened in South Africa, to isolate Israel, to tighten the noose on it, to threaten its legitimacy, and to present it as a rebellious, racist state.”
Then, PMW tells us, there is the performance by a song and dance troop that ran on PA TV on September 12. The lyrics include:
“Fight, brother, the flag will never be lowered,
“the torches will never die out.
“…We replaced bracelets with weapons…
“This invading enemy is on the battlefield.
“This is the day of consolation of Jihad.
“Pull the trigger.
“We shall redeem Jerusalem, Nablus and the country.”
At this site you can see a video of the singing and dancing. It’s scary stuff:
Our “peace partner.”
Please, share this information with those who imagine that there really is a “peace process.”
See also, please, Khaled Abu Toameh, who asks, with regard to the negotiations, “Why Is Washington Sticking Its Head in the Sand.”
I may not have any fondness for Defense Minister Barak, but when I like what he says, I acknowledge it:
He is in the States now, and gave an interview to Fox News, during which he said that Iran might attain nuclear capabilities within two years or less. Thus, “We have to start considering what follows if sanctions won’t work.”
What is more, “Part of the way history will judge” the Obama US administration is with regard to whether Iran”turned nuclear” under its watch.”
After Obama said that military action was not the “ideal” way to deal with Iran, Barak responded that “As far as Israel is concerned, all options must remain on the table.”
An American president wh
o is seeking an “ideal” in the face of this emergency is, it seems to me, not in touch with reality.
Let’s end on an upbeat note, with thanks to Janglo. Hope you can pick this up.
Singing of Hallel (special psalms of praise) in a synagogue in the community of Efrat in Judea on a morning during the week of the holiday. The joy and sense of celebration are palpable. You will see people holding an etrog (citron) and lulav (grouping of leaves from a palm, myrtle and willow) used ritually.