Friday, November 30, 2007

Gillerman rocks my world - as usual

Just saw this on Israellycool, Gillerman's speech yesterday at the UN.

For those who don't know, at the UN there always reigns ultimate hypocrisy. The 29th of November 1947 was a great day for Jews. They worked hard for this day. It was also not a great day for Arabs. But not because of any wrongdoing towards the Arabs, but because they would not accept the Jewish state, and have ever since lived with the consequence of their decision. Had they accepted an Arab state next to the Jewish state, everything would have been different. Yet, they refuse to accept responsibility for their decision, and have this reversed schadenfreude situation, in which every time the Jews or Israel have a reason to celebrate, they hijack this reason to mean misery and tragedy for them.

How else would you explain the fact that every year since 1977, the UN marks "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" on the 29th of November?

Dan Gillerman found just the right words. The bits in red are done by Dave from Israellycool, which I totally agree with.

You can also view the speech here (it starts at 1 hr 35 mins and lasts approximately 16 minutes) [requires Real Player]

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.
I know these words evoke a different voice and a different precedent. But with all seriousness, Happy Birthday. On this day, 60 years ago, the Jewish State was born out of the historic 1947 General Assembly session, where two extraordinary gifts were given to humanity: the gift of a modern state for the Jewish people and the gift of Israel to the world.
I have just come from a commemorative ceremony at Lake Success, where that United Nations, met 60 years ago. You see, throughout history, nations traditionally have been created through war and conquest. Israel, however, was created by UN decree and by the nations of the world. To be there today – representing my Government and my People – was indeed a joyous occasion. So, I wish you all, a Happy Birthday.
Mr. President,
Late last night, I returned from Annapolis. It was a memorable occasion, with representatives from over 40 nations – chiefly among them moderate states of the Arab and Muslim world – committed to supporting the bilateral process between Israel and the Palestinians. The air in Annapolis was filled with the hope that by working together we can realize a peaceful and better tomorrow. I have no doubt that this sense of optimism was felt by all those in attendance.
Yet, back here in New York, standing before this august Assembly – in a place so distant from Annapolis in body, mind, and soul – I cannot help but wonder whether today’s debate will contribute to the spirit, promise, and hope of Annapolis.
After all, this Assembly hall is also the birthplace of the annual 21 resolutions defaming Israel – with a litany of predetermined, impractical, and completely biased conclusions – that have only given the Palestinians a fictitious sense of reality and a discourse of rights without responsibilities, both of which render the United Nations completely incapable of playing a meaningful role in addressing the conflict.
Today – 29 of November – is perhaps the greatest example of how this Assembly continues to stifle hope and faith for peace in our region. According to the calendar of the United Nations, today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which by definition precludes Israel.
Let me be clear: Palestinian self-determination is a cause Israel wholeheartedly supports. Indeed, at the Annapolis meeting, just two days ago, my Prime Minister, Mr. Ehud Olmert said “we will find the right way, as part of an international effort in which we will participate, to assist these Palestinians in finding a proper framework for their future, in the Palestinian state which will be established in the territories agreed upon between us”.
Over the years, however, the proceedings held in this Hall and at UN centers around the world have corrupted the cause of Palestinian self-determination and transformed it into a denigration and defamation of the Jewish state.
I have been listening carefully to the statements delivered this afternoon. They all focused on Israel, and I know many will focus on Israel later.
The narrative is the same: it is unjust, draining, grossly erroneous, misleading, and – I dare say – viciously boring. It is sadly, yet again, déjà vu, all over again.
The penchant for blaming Israel for the repeated Palestinian failures is so widespread and contagious that the absurdity of it goes completely unnoticed. And today reminds us why: the Palestinian addiction to the culture of victimhood is fed by this world body and specifically many of its Member States – as we just witnessed – who day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, use this international forum for their rhetorical theatrics. Broadway might have been on strike, but the theater on the East River is always open for business.
It is time to close the gap between the reality on the ground and the rhetoric in this Hall now, forever, once and for all.
For us – for Jews and for Israelis – today is not a bitter day at all. We are not downtrodden or haunted by vanquished dreams. Today is a day of great victory and success – victory over oppression and tyranny, and success over the painful tragedies and suffering of Jewish history. Today, we celebrate the resilience of the Jewish people and our eternal bond to the land of Israel, where after so many years of yearning and longing in exile we merited the return to our homeland.
The joy felt on 29 November 1947 is recounted by Amos Oz, one of Israel’s most celebrated writers, and a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature:
“There was dancing and weeping … Bottles of fruit drink, beer and wine passed from hand to hand and mouth to mouth, strangers hugged each other in streets and kissed each other with tears, … frenzied revelers … waved the flag of the state that had not been established yet, but tonight, over there in Lake Success, it had been decided that it had the right to be established”.
Travel to any city in Israel, and you will no doubt find a street named for this very day – כ”ט בנובמבר – the 29th of November – a testament to its importance and significance to our people.
In fact, I live in Tel-Aviv, just yards from a street named after the 29th of November, and my eldest grandson, Ron, as born on this very day nine years ago. It is on his behalf and on behalf of all children of Israel and the children of the region that I stand before you here today.
Distinguished Excellencies, think of the past 60 years, and consider Israel’s many contributions to the world in the fields of science and technology, medicine, art, and culture. A country that has discovered ways to stop deserts from receding; a country that has engineered critical advancements in medicine, cures for illnesses and limbs for the disabled; a country that has endowed the world with rich treasures of art and culture, through its Nobel Laureates, poets, artists, and writers.
Think about where the world would be today without the State of Israel – and I know some in this Hall perversely dream about such a question. But Israel is here to stay, to flourish, and to continue contributing to the advancement of man, progress, and human civilization.
It is then the greatest insult to us, to history, and to this Assembly that while Israel celebrates, others at the United Nations mourn.
Some Member States will note my delegation’s absence from past 29th of November proceedings. We stopped addressing this session because some Member States hijacked and abused the forum for their own political interests and turned it into yet another venue to demonize Israel. We cannot allow that to happen any longer. Today is our day.
It is high time for Israel and for all those committed to peace in our region, to reclaim this day for what it truly means: the peaceful coexistence of two independent states in the region, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace and security, each fulfilling the national aspirations of its respective people.
Mr. President,
In this regard, it is all the more bewildering that of late the Jewish character of the State of Israel has been called into question. Last week, as Israelis and Palestinians set out for Annapolis, a veteran Palestinian negotiator said “the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel’s Jewish identity”.
The resolution that gives the 29th of November significance – General Assembly resolution 181 – speaks of the creation of the “Jewish State” no less than 25 times. Even before that, the notion of a Jewish state in the land of Israel was cemented in the 1922 League of Nations British Mandate on Palestine, which put into effect the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to establish a national home for the Jewish people.
The Arab refusal to recognize the existence of our Jewish state has been at the core of the Palestinians’ inability to achieve a state of their own. When the Jews accepted the UN partition plan, the Arabs made a fateful – and indeed fatal – choice to reject it and invade the newly borne Jewish state, rather than coexist with it.
Had the Arabs accepted the UN’s decision, there would have been two states, one Jewish and one Arab, all this time, for the past 60 years. Had the Arabs not rejected the decision, my Palestinian colleague who spoke earlier would have represented a Member State, not just as an Observer entity.
The wrong choices did not end in 1947. We saw them again in 1967, 1973, 2000, and 2005, when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip only to have the Palestinians bring the Hamas terrorists to power. The wrong choices of the Palestinians continue until this very day, when, on average, Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip fire rockets at Israel every three hours.
For their brutal violence, arrogance, and intransigence, Israel has paid an enormous price: with the lives of our people – the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism: men, women, and children, young and old, doctors and lawyers, artists and scientists, all who would have contributed so greatly to life in Israel and to the betterment of the entire world.
The terrorism we still see today stems from an innate refusal to recognize Israel, a refusal to recognize the Jewish state, and a refusal to recognize the value of our lives. So long as there is a denial of the existential issues, I fear, there can never be an agreement on the territorial ones.
Mr. President,
Annapolis – I hope and believe – represents a new wind of change. Moderate Arab and Muslim states today recognize that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the cause of instability in our region and that the conflict can and will end. They also recognize that the real dangers come directly from Islamic extremism and its champion Iran, who sponsors terrorism around the globe, tries to attain nuclear weapons, denies the Holocaust while preparing for the next one, relentlessly defying the will of the international community.
The Coalition for Peace, which the world saw assembled in Annapolis just two days ago, will support the process between Israel and the Palestinians. But it is also a coalition that will hopefully counter and confront the extremists in Teheran.
I hope that the winds of Annapolis will blow to the north, to this very Hall. For there could be no better time for the nations of the world – and in particular the moderate Arab and Muslim states in this Hall today – to show their commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian process. And there could be no better place than here at the United Nations –where for decades Israel has been discriminated against and singled out, contrary to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter – for Members States to tell Israel and the Palestinians that they support our dialogue.
Mr. President,
Allow me to take you back once more to sixty years ago, to 2 October 1947, when David Ben-Gurion, founding father and first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, two months prior to the General Assembly’s historic vote, said in Jerusalem:
“We will not surrender our right to free Aliyah, to rebuild our shattered Homeland, to claim statehood. If we are attacked, we will fight back. But we will do everything in our power to maintain peace, and establish cooperation gainful to both. It is now, here and now, from Jerusalem itself, that a call must go out to the Arab nations to join forces with Jewry and the destined Jewish State and work shoulder to shoulder for the common good, for the peace and progress of sovereign equals”.
Mr. President, sixty years later, today here, Israel’s message to the Arab nations and the Palestinians has not changed. Shoulder to shoulder for the common good. Now, more than ever, with the winds of change blowing strong from Annapolis, to New York, to the Middle East, to all corners of the earth.
Thank You.
 Related links:
Miracle at Flushing Meadow - 60 years to the partition vote at the UN

Video of UN vote on resolution 181 in 1947

I looked all over, but I couldn't find any good video showing the whole of the vote. So here's a nice one with a message from Dan Gillerman, Israeli Ambassador to the UN. Always nice to hear from him.

"By doing that, the United Nations ... has created a country which has contributed to mankind and to humanity, not just to itself or to the Jewish people, more than most other member states of the united nations."

"That same body that maybe if it had to vote today would not reach that same decision..."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Miracle at Flushing Meadow - 60 years to the partition vote at the UN.

29th of November 1947 marks a historic date in the creation of the State of Israel.
The British felt that they could no longer handle the Mandate of Palestine, and handed the issue over to the UN. It was decided that the piece of land between Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan was to be shared between Jews and Arabs. Not Palestinians mind you - the Arabs of the British Mandate of Palestine didn't call themselves Palestinians back then, nor did anyone else.

A plan for the partition of the land was made. The Jews did not feel they got a fair share. They had no direct access to Jerusalem and two thirds of the land was just desert sand.

The Jews wanted a country. The Jews accepted the partition plan. It was better than nothing, they would make what little was given to them work in some way or other.

The Arabs didn't accept the partition plan. Because of Jerusalem? No, Jerusalem wasn't meant for the future Israeli State according to the partition plan. Because of the massive land grab? No, they weren't interested in the dry, sandy Negev desert. Because of the Israeli occupation maybe? No, it was the British who were "occupying" at the time. No no. The Arabs didn't accept the partition plan because it meant a Jewish country in the middle of their Muslim world.

We all know that finally, 60 years ago, the vote was for partition. 33 for, 13 against, 10 abstentions and one absence. Less than thirty years later, the UN voted that Zionism was equal to Racism. At this same platform, Israel is continually singled out and criticized. But 60 years ago, the UN had one shiny moment. My favorite recounting of this event is in the book "Exodus" by Leon Uris, which tells the story of the Exodus ship.
Here is the part where the story of the UN partition plan is told. The Yishuv is the term used in Hebrew referring to the body of Jewish residents in the British Mandate of Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel. Barak is a fictional character, but every other name is very real.

      Finally in November of that autumn of 1947, "The Miracle of Lake Success" began to unfold.
      Granados of Guatemala, Lester Pearson of Canada, Evatt of Australia, Masaryk of Czechoslovakia, Smuts of South Africa, Fabregat of Uruguay, and a lot of little men from little nations would not let the truth die at Flushing Meadow.
      First came a cautiously worded statement from the United States in favor of the "principle" of partition.
      Then came a move that rocked the world. After outlawing Zionism for over two decades, the Soviet Union made one of its startling reversals and announced itself as favoring partition. The news was released after a secret caucus of the Slav bloc; Vishinsky orated in impassioned tones of the rivers of Jewish blood shed and the justice of a Jewish homeland.
      Behind this humanitarian mask the Russians had made a shrewd political maneuver. First, they openly mistrusted the Arabs. They realized that the Arab anger was merely a verbal expedient; Russia could vote for partition today and buy the Arabs back tomorrow. Meanwhile the Soviet strategy was to brand Great Britain a tyrant, at the same time making a move that could possibly lead to a Russian foothold in the Middle East. Russia knew that if she voted for partition the United States had to follow suit or lose face around the world as a friend of justice. This in turn meant a break in Anglo-American solidarity. Finally, the Soviet Union stood to gain tremendous prestige value from its "humanitarian" proclamation. And so, inadvertently, the Yishuv suddenly found a strange bedfellow.
      As the two great powers made their carefully worded statements for partition, the halls of the United Nations were filled with rumors that cropped up every hour.
      The mammoth chess game went on. In the dramatic maneuverings Granados and Pearson became key figures. After much labor these two succeeded in the momentous achievement of closeting the United States and the Soviet Union in a meeting. They emerged from their conference with an electrifying joint statement of definite support of partition.
      The Arabs guided for a last-ditch fight to keep the partition resolution from reaching the floor of the General Assembly. Soon it became apparent that a test vote would take place: to get the resolution to the General Assembly only a majority vote was needed, but this vote would indicate the strength of both sides. The vote came and the move passed and the resolution went to the General Assembly -- but the roof caved in on the Yishuv. The count was twenty-five in favor, thirteen against, and seventeen abstentions, with two absent. If the same line-up held on the final vote for partition, the Yishuv would not get its needed two thirds majority. France, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and New Zealand had abstained. Paraguay and the Philippines were absent.
      The Arabs saw that many "sure" partition votes had abandoned the Yishuv, and the Jews did not have the required number. Confident that they could bag an extra vote or two, the Arabs now switched tactics and pressed for the showdown on the assembly floor.

      The final debates raged. The Yishuv delegation sat in its special section of the General Assembly looking like men prepared for the executioner. The jolt of the test vote had shaken them to the core. As the arguments continued, their prospects darkened by the hour.
      Greece, expected to abstain out of friendship to the United States, declared openly against partition, fearing what the Egyptians would do to their nationals.
      The Philippines, expected to follow the United States, reversed again.
      Haiti was suddenly without instructions. Liberia went back on the fence and Siam crossed back to the Arabs.
      It was "Black Wednesday" for the Jews.
      As the day wore on, the friends of the Yishuv employed a desperation move to talk the clock out and stall the vote. The next day would be American Thanksgiving Day and a holiday. It offered twenty-four precious hours to munster the needed votes. The filibuster went on until an adjournment was called.
      The Yishuv delegation assembled quickly in a caucus room. Everyone spoke at once.
      "Quiet!" Barak roared. "We have twenty-four hours. Let's not panic."
      Dr. Weizmann came into the room excitedly. "I have received a message from Paris that Léon Blum is personally interceding to get the French vote. Feeling for partition is running very high in Paris." It was cheering news, for the former Jewish premier of France was still a powerful voice.
      "Can't we appeal to the United States to get Greece and the Philippines into line?"
      The delegate who worked with the Americans shook his head. "Truman has issued absolute orders that the United States is not to pressure any delegation. They won't budge from that position."
      "What a time to become honorable."
      The phone rang. Weizmann lifted the receiver. "Good ... good," he said. He held his hand over the mouthpiece. "Shmuel from downtown. Good ... good ... Shalom." He replaced the phone. "The Ethiopians have agreed to abstain," he announced. Ethiopia, under pressure from her neighbour Egypt, had been expected to vote against partition. The abstention decision showed great courage on the part of Haile Selassie.
      A newspaperman close to the Yishuv delegation knocked on the door and entered. "I thought you fellows would like to know that there has been a revolution in Siam and the Siamese delegate has been discredited." A yell of happiness went up at this Arab loss of another vote.
      Barak made a quick run down of the roll call of nations -- he knew it by heart -- and calculated the vote shifts.
      "How does it look Barak?"
      "Well, if Haiti and Liberia go with us and France comes in and we don't lose any more ground, we may just squeeze through."
      "It was still too close for comfort. Grimly and tensely they talked over the final assignments. They could not afford to lose a single vote at this stage.
      There was a knock on the door and their champion, Granados of Guatemala, entered. There were tears in his eyes.
      "The president of Chile has just sent personal instructions for his delegation to abstain. The delegation has resigned in protest."
      "Impossible!" Dr. Weizmann cried. "The President is the honorary chairman of the Chilean Zionists."
      The stark reality, the naked hopelessness of the situation crashed down on all of them. Who knew what pressure had been brought to bear on the President of Chile? Who knew where the screws would be turned in the next twenty-four hours?

      The gavel rapped. The General Assembly of the United Nations was ordered into session.
      "We shall have a roll call of nations on the partition resolution. A two thirds majority is needed for passage. Delegates will answer in one of three ways; for, against or abstain."
      A solemn quiet fell over the great hall.
      "Afghanistan votes against."
      The Yishuv had lost the first vote. Barak marked it on a pad.
      "The government of Argentina wishes to abstain."
      "We have to cut the abstentions down," Barak whispered; "they could kill us."
      Everyone leaned forward as Evatt got to his feet with the first vote of a British Commonwealth nation.
      "Australia votes in favor of partition," Evatt said.
      A buzz of speculation went up. Weizmann leand close to Barak's ear. "Do you think it might be a trend in the Commonwealth?"
      "We'll just have to count them one at a time ... we can't tell."
      "Belgium votes for partition."
      Another buzz arose in the great hall. A few days earlier Belgium had abstained on the test vote. At the last minute Spaak had defied British pressure.
      "Bolivia votes for partition."
      "Brazil favors partition."
      The South American countries were sticking. A vital vote was coming up with the next call. If the Soviet Union had a double cross up its sleeve, the world would know it now, for a satellite, White Russia, was next.
      "White Russia votes for partition."
      In unison the Jews breathed a sigh of relief. The Slav bloc was going to come in. The signs were bright.
      Lester Pearson arose and spoke firmly. "Canada votes for partition." The second of the Commonwealth countries had gone against Great Britain.
      Another delegate arose in place of the chief who had resigned in protest to his orders to abstain. "Chile has been ordered to abstain," he said slowly.
      China, jockeying to become the dominant power in Asia, feared to go against the Muslims of India and Pakistan.
      "China abstains."
      It was a setback for the Yishuv.
      "Costa Rica."
      The Costa Rican delegate had been approached by the Arabs who tried to bribe his vote by a promise to support him for an important United Nations post. He stood and looked at the Egyptian delegation.
      "Costa Rica votes in favor of partition."
      The man who could not be bought sat down smiling.
      "Cuba votes against partition."
      This came as a complete and unexpected shock to the Yishuv.
      "Czechoslovakia votes for partition," Jan Masaryk said.
      "Denmark favors partition."
      "The Dominican Republic favors partition."
      "Egypt votes against and will not be bound by this outrage!"
      The gavel rapped and order came about slowly, following the Egyptian's angry outburst.
      "Ecuador votes for."
      "Ethiopia ... abstains."
      It was a bombshell! The faces of all the Arab delegates turned to the Ethiopian with stunned expressions. The Syrian delegate shook his fist angrily.
      "The Republic of France votes for partition," Parodi said in a voice filled with satisfaction.
      An expectant murmur went up. It was the first excited awareness that the miracle might actually take place!
      Granados, the champion of partition, spoke. "For," he said.
      "Greece votes against partition."
      In the last moment the Greeks had bowed to Egyptian blackmail.
      Haiti was a key vote that had suddenly been left without instructions in the last two days. "The government of Haiti has just sent instructions for this delegation to vote in favor of partition."
      "Honduras wishes to abstain."
      "Iceland votes for partition." The world's oldest republic had worked to make the world's newest republic.
      "India votes against partition."
      "Iran votes against."
      "Iraq votes against and we will never recognize the Jews! There will be bloodshed over this day. We vote against!"
      "Lebanon votes against partition," Malik said.
      "How does the vote stand?" Weizmann asked Barak.
      "Fifteen for, eight against, and seven abstentions."
      It was not too encouraging. So far the Jews were running one vote shy of their two thirds, and the deadly abstentions were piling up.
      "What do you think, Barak?"
      "We will know when they come to the next three South American countries."
      "I think we shall have to start pulling away. We are near the halfway mark and we show no decided strength," Weizmann said.
      "Liberia votes for partition."
      Another small country under duress in the British economic sphere.
      "Luxembourg votes for partition."
      And again the British had been directly rebuked. The Yishuv now stood one vote over two thirds.
      "Mexico abstains."
      The entire Yishuv delegation winced.
      "The Netherlands votes for partition."
      "New Zealand."
      "New Zealand votes for."
      "Nicaragua ... for."
      "Norway ... for."
      "Pakistan votes against partition."
      The pivot votes were coming up. "If we get over the next four, I think we are in," Barak said shakily.
      "The Republic of Panama favors partition."
      "Paraguay has just received new instructions not to abstain ... instead, Paraguay votes for partition."
      "Peru favors partition."
      For a breathless second the world stood still. Romulo had been called away from Flushing Meadow. The alternate stood up.
      "The Philippines votes for partition!"
      A roar went up! The members of the Jewish delegation looked to each other with dazed expressions.
      "Dear God," Barak said, "I think we have made it."
      "Poland votes in favor of partition."
      The Jews were beginning to pull away. Poland had paid its small indemnity for the years of persecutions.
      "Saudi Arabia."
      The white-robed Arab screamed out against partition in a hate-filled voice.
      Siam was not represented.
      "Sweden is for partition."
      And now the Arabs had their backs to the wall as they went into the last ditch.
      "Syria, against!"
      "Turkey votes against partition."
      Barak scanned the balance of the roster quickly. The Arabs still had a breath of life. They now had twelve votes with one more certain. If some last-minute change came through it could upset everything.
      "Union of South Africa."
      "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."
      Vishinsky got to his feet. "The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics votes for partition."
      "The United Kingdom of Great Britain."
      The hall became silent. The British delegate got to his feet and looked around the room ashen-faced. At this awesome moment he stood alone. The Commonwealth nations had deserted. The United States of America had deserted.
      "His Majesty's Government wishes to abstain," the Englishman said in a shaken voice.
      "The United States of America."
      "The United States of America votes for partition."
      It was all over. The reporters scrambled for their phones to flash the news around the world as the last vote was cast. Yemen gave the Arabs their thirteenth vote. Yugoslavia abstained in deference to a large Muslim minority. Professor Fabregat of Uruguay and the delegate of Venezuela gave the partition plan its thirty-second and thirty-third votes.
      In Tel Aviv pandemonium broke loose.
      In the final analysis, the Jewish victory was crushing. The Arabs had thirteen votes, and eleven of these were Arab or Muslim nations. The twelfth was a vote coerced from the Greeks. The thirteenth vote, Cuba, represented the only nation on the face of the earth that the Arabs were able to convince by force of argument.
      Those men who had won this battle at Flushing Meadow and had seen the miracle unfold were realists. The Jews in Tel Aviv celebrated only for the moment. Ben Gurion and the leaders of the Yishuv knew that an even greater miracle would have to take place to win independence for the Jewish state, as the cry "Perish Judea!" arose like thunder on Arab lips.

If you liked this bit, go read the book. I'm going to watch the "Exodus" movie tonight!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In Bercy park in Paris, people protest a poster supporting our three missing soldiers.

What do you make of this? The protesters are not capable of putting their posters next to the one standing, no, they need to completely remove the Israeli one in order to make a pathetic little point. Just like in real life, they can't even conceive putting a Palestinian country next to Israel, they need to completely wipe Israel off the map to exist. They can't stand hearing another point of view other than their own, which is exactly the problem in the Middle East.

The mairie of Paris has put up this poster in support of three abducted soldiers. On June 25th 2006 Gilad Shalit was abducted from Israel proper by terrorists who built a tunnel to enter Israel from Gaza. In this terrorist attack, the terrorists killed two Israeli soldiers. Israel had completely disengaged from Gaza about 10 months prior to this incident. During these ten months, Kassam Rockets from Gaza into Israel proper never ceased. Less than a month later, on July 12th, on the northern border, Hezbollah launched Katyusha rockets into Israel as a diversion, then attacked two IDF Humvees with anti-tank rockets, and abducted Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. During this unprovoked attack, four Israeli soldiers were killed. Israel had completely disengaged from southern Lebanon more than 6 years prior to this incident, in May 2000.
A year after Gilad's abduction, a voice recording of him was given by the military wing of Hamas, asking that the Israeli government proceed with a prisoner swap.
We haven't heard anything from Hezbollah about Udi and Eldad.

200 people in Paris protested the fact that this poster has been put up in the Bercy Park. As you can see in the video, the three faces are covered with an appeal for the Palestinian prisoners, as if there is some sort of moral equivalent between them, and some injustice has been done by showing support for the Israelis.
First of all, why not put up your protest next to the missing Israeli soldiers? Why is it that pro-Palestinian ALWAYS has to equal virulent anti-Israel?
Second of all, do you really believe that there's some sort of moral equivalent? Our three soldiers were abducted from inside Israel, by terrorists who live in areas which have no reason to target Israel any longer*, in order to later have the upper hand in some sadistic negotiation. We have no news from them, they have no medical treatment, access to them by the Red Cross is denied, we don't know their whereabouts or even if they are still alive, how they are treated, or rather, how they are tortured, or when this will all come to an end. Talking from experience though, how many abducted Israeli soldiers have come back home?
Their prisoners are, in fact, prisoners. They were not abducted, they are not MIA. They were caught during a terror attempt, or during a raid on a terrorist source, or arrested, or whatever. Their families know where they are, how they are doing, they can even go visit them (since they always seem to complain that the ride to the prison is so long. Pfff), they get regular doctor visits, Amnesty International and the Red Cross are ever present when it comes to non-Israeli prisoners, they get three HALAL meals a day, they get to pray whenever they wish (confirmed by the fact that they once complained that they had to pray in the direction of the toilet, the poor dears), they even get to have cellphones (with which they took pictures to complain about their treatment). Most importantly, they have contact with their families and they know how long their sentence is.

In the video you can see a poster of a young man, Salah Hamouri, who the protesters say is a French-Palestinian student. The truth, it turns out, is slightly different. But why should they care about itty bitty details like the truth?
Salah Hamouri is an Arab-Israeli, not a Palestinian, who also has a French nationality (as does Gilad Shalit, incidentally). He was arrested with two other Arab-Israelis for suspicion of plotting to kill Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Belonging to the PFLP, they were convicted of assisting the enemy at a time of war. That's quite different from the image they try to paint to the audience.

The protesters managed to get the Israeli poster removed last week.

Yesterday on the radio I heard that the mairie de Paris decided to put the poster back up, though I can't find any mention of it online.

*There never *is* a legitimate reason to target Israel, but your average terrorist-Joe will always be able to complain that they only target Israel because of some unjust occupation. But seriously, what do people in Gaza want more from Israel after they completely disengaged from Gaza? What do Hezbollah in southern Lebanon want after Israel completely disengaged from southern Lebanon? Oh right, they want complete annihilation of Israel.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Go Sarko!

I have to say, I was a bit worried about Nicolas Sarkozy when this national transportation strike started. It seemed like the workers wouldn't back down and they had the power to cripple France for a very long time. Usually popular public opinion is against Sarkozy, or is at least very critical of him. I'm surprised, in a good way, to see that 70% of the population actually back him on this issue.

The issue for those who aren't aware? In short, for some odd historic evolution, railway workers have some benefits, like early pension at the age of 50, which other national workers don't have. Not to forget that these national workers, fonctionnaires in French (I'm not sure of the word in English...) have another benefit over non-fonctionnaires, which is job security. They can't get fired unless they commit a really horrible infraction. And obviously people who are independent get no pension plan and have no job security at all, but why would anyone care about those guys right? Pfff. Anyway, I'm digressing.
These benefits for the railroad workers started with the fact that because of their jobs, these workers had a shorter life span, so they were given earlier pension. This is obviously not the case anymore, so why should they get special treatment? This seems to be understood by everyone except them.
Their wages and pensions come from the taxes of people who don't get to take a break at the age of 50, or of independent people who pay unbearably higher taxes who don't see any of that tax money in return, and whose "pension" is what money they could put aside.
The other day I saw an young railroad worker interviewed. His main complaint was that when he started working he was promised that he would only have to work until the age of 50 and then he could retire. This was a kid not older than 22 maybe 23. Is that all the ambition this kid has? Retire at the age of 50? Isn't he satisfied enough with the fact that he has total job security and never needs to make any effort above being "mediocre"?
I don't care for such people. Not everyone can have ambition, or the proper education, or inspiration, or even opportunities. Not everyone can be a rocket scientist or a business owner or renowned musician. But I do not care for people who feel that those who can be all of those are somehow responsible for giving money to those can't just because they don't feel like working any harder.

I'm very glad this is turning out like it is. Kudos to Nicolas Sarkozy for standing firm.

French Support President in National Labor Strikes

After nine days of crippling national transportation strikes France
appeared to be returning to normal Friday amid negotiations between labor unions
and government officials. [...] while the walkout
has snarled traffic, angered commuters and cost the country millions of dollars
there appears to be one winner: French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Say that again?

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but what you heard is not what I meant"
- Robert McCloskey

Heh, have to read that a few times to understand it. I'm still not entirely sure that I have :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sderot Suing Hamas

Zaka, Sderot suing Hamas leader for crimes against humanity

They are going to sue Khaled Mashaal, Hamas's political leader in the International Court of Justice for the continuous Kassam rocket launching.

I don't actually approve of the use of the ICJ. They're either useless or harmful. Let's see what happens this time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And now for the latest in absurd news...

Monday evening an Israeli was shot by Palestinian gunmen while driving his car. The Aksa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility and said that it's in protest against Annapolis.
Yeah, let's try and make peace with people who protest a peace conference by killing us. Hell, let's give them a country, an army and more funding!

And then there's this headline, which made me wonder if there's a hidden camera in my office...
Israel to free 441 Palestinian prisoners - In a bid to win Arab nations' support for a peace initiative, the prime minister also pledges to raze illegal West Bank outposts.

This is not even for lasting peace, this is to have support for a peace initiative.

What rational mind can't understand that it's insane to give our "peace partners" their terrorists back in order to achieve peace? Would you put a child rapist in charge of a kindergarten as part of his correctional treatment?