Jul 26, 2011
These days government ministers, journalists and assorted self-appointed experts, who should know better but don’t, are debating how we can apologize to Turkey without really apologizing. And for what? So that Mr. Erdogan can spit in our faces yet again?
Turkey demands not only that we apologize for killing the IHH terrorists who tried to murder our soldiers on the Mavi Marmora, but that we pay them damages and cancel the naval blockade of Gaza. For all this they say they will consider returning their ambassador to Israel.
In response, some of our “brilliant” leaders like Ehud Barak, say we must apologize and pay damages because we need Turkey more than they need us. We need them to refrain from filing vexatious lawsuits all over the world against our Ministers, generals, officers and soldiers. All this is a pipe dream. Why?
1. The Turkish government has no control over who files these lawsuits, even if they wanted to, which they don’t. Anti-Israel individuals and NGO’s will continue to file them no matter what the Turks say or do and Tzippi Livni will still not be able to visit England without being arrested.
2. Even worse, an apology will be taken as evidence that these lawsuits are legitimate. If Israel is not wrong, why did we apologize?
3. Anyone not convinced of Israel’s guilt by our apology will be convinced by the damages. If we were not at fault, why would we pay the families of the dead terrorists?
Thus, rather than make Israel’s situation better, an apology and payment of damages will make it much worse. But, say the “brilliant” leaders, we won’t really apologize we’ll just say we’re sorry. Unfortunately, an apology by any other name smells and acts the same; as the following true story will show.
In the spring of 1956, when I was earmarked to become head of the Betar Zionist Youth movement in North America, I was sent to the World Zionist Congress and World Conventions of the Herut-Revisionists and Betar in Israel, so that I could meet the movement leaders and they could become acquainted with me. At the time, I was 21 and a first year law student at Columbia Law School. In order to attend the Congress, I had to take three weeks off from school just before the final examinations. I went to consult the Assistant Dean who asked me where I thought I would learn more law during those three weeks. I happily answered, “In Israel”.
The year 1956 was a period of great tension with constant Arab terrorist raids going on. At that time the terrorists were called “fedayoun.” The dean said to me, “Don’t get shot,” and I left for Israel.
When Menachem Begin spoke to the Congress plenary session, he told the delegates that upon their return to their countries they should explain that when Israel would be forced to cross the borders to stop the fedayoun attacks, it would not be aggression, but an exercise of the natural right of self-defense.
The next speaker was Ya’acov Hazan of Mapam, the extreme left wing Zionist party. He said about Begin, “He who calls for war commits a crime against the Jewish people.” Immediately there was pandemonium. If the Chariman of that session had been experienced, he would have demanded that Hazan retract the statement (as was frequently done in the Knesset), and everything would have continued normally. However, he was not experienced and things got out of hand. The Herut delegates kept shouting down Hazan and would not let him continue his speech without an apology. He refused to apologize. The business of the Congress was brought to a stand-still for that entire day and night. Hazan would not yield the floor, but whenever he tried to speak, he was shouted down.
The session was eventually closed at 2:00 A.M. and an announcement was made that the Herut-Revisionist faction would meet immediately. We all trooped upstairs to the faction room. Joseph Klarman, who was our representative to the Presidium of the Congress, reported that a compromise had been suggested that Hazan would finish his speech, and at the end he would say that he did not mean to insult any delegate of the Congress.
The hotheads in the room argued against this compromise because of the timing and the wording. They wanted Hazan to open his continued speech with a much more convincing apology.
At this time I asked to speak. The Chairman, the late Dr. Bukshpan, tried to ignore me, figuring he had enough hotheads and didn’t need a young Betari to further inflame the atmosphere. Eventually he had no choice but to give me the floor. I rose and said, “What are we debating here?” Some of the members did not understand that this was a rhetorical question and tried to explain it to me. I continued, “We are debating the value of the honor of a member of the Herut-Revisionist delegation to the Congress. We have shown the world what value we place on his honor. For an entire day and night we have prevented the Congress from conducting any business because the honor of one of our delegates was insulted.
“Now we must decide. The world of Israel and the Jewish people is burning. Do we want the responsibility at this point for the cancellation of the Zionist Congress?
“No one will pay attention to the exact wording of Hazan’s apology. If we accept it everyone will say, ‘You see, they forced him to apologize.’ If we do not accept it they will say, ‘Despite everything they did, they couldn’t make Hazan apologize’.” At this point I sat down. Joseph Klarman said, “Our young friend Heimowitz has spoken the thoughts that many of us had but did not express. Now let us vote.”
Menachem begin said, “It is not necessary to vote”, and my position was accepted.
On May 31, 1989 Mr. Begin wrote me from his retirement (translation from the Hebrew):
“Dear Mr. Heimowitz,
Thank you for your letter of May 26, 1989. I also remember that incident at the Zionist Congress and I don’t think we were wrong in our reaction to the terrible words of insult which emerged from Mr. Hazan’s mouth.
However, on another occasion Mr. Hazan said that the only thing which unites us is love of Israel. Let us leave it to him to decide where to put the emphasis, on what separates us—or on love of Israel.
So let no one tell us that saying Israel is sorry is not an apology. The entire world will say we apologized and therefore we must have done something wrong, and we should pay for it.
Ehud Barak can tell himself otherwise, but he will be the only one listening.
Jul 17, 2011
Brilliant people with the best intentions can produce horrible results. Just look at Aharon Barak, the retired president of the Israel Supreme Court. When he attained that office he decided to overturn two legal principles which had always protected the courts of democratic nations. He decided that everything (!) is justiciable and everyone has standing to bring a suit about anything. By virtue of his brilliance he was able to carry along the majority of the Supreme Court justices, and thus destroyed (yes destroyed) the Israel Supreme Court. They now spend most of their time meddling in matters they should never touch: telling the government how to govern and the army how to conduct war. Thus they don’t have time to do their real work, civil and criminal appeals and equitable relief as a High Court of Justice. I have been saying this for many years, but now more and more people are realizing it.
Since they have their own political agenda, which is far left of left, they have lost the confidence of the majority of the Israel public, who once trusted the courts more than any other arm of government. This is what a brilliant man with the best of intentions accomplished.
Recently a spate of retired generals and former heads of the security establishment have been taking to the podium and the media to tell us what is impossible to do.
One example: It is impossible for Israel to attack the nuclear sites in Iran. But apparently they; think it is possible to live with a nuclear Iran. Even if they are right in theory, is this the message we should be giving Iran?
Another example: It is impossible to rescue Gilad Schalit in a military operation. As soon as they say this, the Hamas price goes up.
Oh for the Israel of yesteryear, when it was not impossible to rescue the hostages in Entebbe, and it was not impossible to destroy the nuclear reactor in Bagdad; when leaders had guts and soldiers had skills and daring.
It is vital to realize that the current political wanabees are not great leaders just because in the past they were successful generals. Arik Sharon saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War, but that did not give him a license to destroy it as Prime Minister. Efraim Sneh spent most of his life in the IDF, but that doesn’t make him a genius regarding the political future.In fact, by definition, all generals are expert in past wars. None of them is an expert in a future war, neither how to prevent it nor how to fight it.
Israel’s professional left wingers, politicians and “talking heads” have gone into paroxysms of hysteria over the anti-boycott law passed by the Knesset last week by a vote of 47-38. They are insisting that the law and its supporters are hysterical, anti-democratic and McCarthyite, and more and more they don’t forget, “Fascist”.
The latter is a curse word, much beloved by leftists to denigrate their opponents without having the faintest idea what fascism means. All that can be said in their defense is that it is a tradition of the left wing of the Zionist movement dating back to the 1930’s, Then they not only called the Revisionists fascists, but called Jabotinsky, Vladimir Hitler.
Their present argument, in a word, is that everything is permitted to leftists in the name of free speech. This includes professors calling on the international academic community to boycott the universities from which they draw their salaries, as racist, apartheid institutions. They have no conscience pangs about continuing to draw their salaries from these tainted institutions, as long as they can spread their anti-Zionist, even anti-Semitic poison in their lectures, exclude and insult students in IDF reserve uniforms and other such “good deeds”.
It also includes forcing Israeli contractors who are building Arab cities in the Palestine Authority, to boycott Israeli suppliers which are located in those areas and which employ many Palestinian Arabs. As always, it is important to “stick it” to the Jews, even at the expense of many Arabs losing their well-paying jobs with these Israeli companies. It is called “cutting off your nose to spite your face” or by left wingers “free speech”.
On the other hand, any effort by Israel to protect itself, its companies, universities and citizens from the intentional damage of these boycotts is an “infringement on free speech.” They are allowed and encouraged to attack us. We are forbidden to defend ourselves. It would be laughable if it were not so sad.
In Friday’s Jerusalem Post the Propaganda Minister of the PA government repeatedly attacked this “racist” law. Consider the hypocrisy of this statement when P.A. Chairman Abu Mazen repeatedly insists that not even one Israeli Jew will be allowed to remain in the Palestinian State which will be “judenrein”. In other words 600,000 to 700,000 Jews will be expelled from their homes, but in the eyes of the leftists, we are the racists.
It is instructive to compare the Israeli anti-boycott law with the vastly more draconian American law, which has been on the books, and enforced, for many years. The U.S. law provides for jail sentences and substantial fines to deter would-be boycotters. The new Israeli law has no criminal penalties whatsoever. It creates a civil tort so that the victim of a boycott can sue the boycotter for damages caused him. It also permits Israeli entities to ban boycotters from participating as bidders in tenders for government contracts. That is a draconian law? The essence of racism, McCarthyism and Fascism? The death knell for free speech?“Give me a break” as the Americans say.
Jul 3, 2011
I have only sympathy for Gilad Schalit's parents, Noam and Aviva, who are fighting to save their son.
I have nothing but disdain for the way in which the Gilad Schalit Campaign Organization has been hijacked through P.R. gimmicks to serve left wing causes.
Five politicians, who were once high in the security establishment, have been mobilized on billboards all over Israel to demand "Gilad Now!" just as they want "peace now". According to them only the Israeli government is guilty of not freeing him today.
When the Prime Minister revealed that Israel (after much agonizing) had agreed to the terms proposed by the German mediator one year ago (!) while Hamas had never responded to them, Haaretz declared in a banner headline that Bibi is a liar. When the German government confirmed that what Bibi had said was true, the silence on the left was so great you could hear a pin drop. Haaretz published a tiny clarification and the five musketeers continued to insist from every billboard that Gilad could be brought home today.
What they want is for Israel to sign a blank check and let Hamas fill in the number and identity of the terrorists to be freed and their destinations.
This is the same kind of blank check they want Israel to give the Palestinian Arabs to coax them to come back to negotiations.
In both cases their thinking extends only to the immediate moment of signing. What will happen when Hamas kidnaps another soldier and demands the release of twice as many terrorists, because they see that it works, is none of their concern. Let the government and the IDF worry about it.
On the other hand I find it hard to believe that the vaunted Israeli intelligence establishment does not know, after five years, where in Gaza Gilad Schalit is being held captive. Is Israel, which carried out the Entebbe rescue on July 4, 1976 and the elimination of quite a few top men of Hizbulleh, up to the mysterious problems troubling the Gaza Fraud Flotilla in Greece today, "eyeless in Gaza?"
Even in the unlikely event that this is so, Israeli intelligence certainly knows where the prime minister and other ministers of the Hamas government in Gaza are and it should not be an insurmountable problem to capture them. At least once before Israel captured senior Syrian generals in order to convince the Syrian government to exchange them for Israeli prisoners whom previously they refused to release.
Before considering all those things, how do we even know that Gilad is alive? This is not farfetched. Hizbulleh kept up the fraud that Regev and Goldwasser were alive for years, and when they eventually returned only coffins, it became clear that they had been killed on the very first day. There has been no sign of life from Gilad for two years and Hamas refuses to let the Red Cross see him.
Perhaps the five musketeers should ponder this question rather than encourage the Israeli public to send SMS's that they are in favor of Gilad's release. Which Israeli is not in favor of Gilad's release? But the P.R. experts of the campaign work overtime on new gimmicks instead of facing the real problem squarely.