Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fatah Isn't the Answer - Jordan Is

From The Wall Street Journal, 20Jun07, by Michael Oren, senior fellow at the Shalem Center [my emphasis added]....

The green flags of Hamas are unfurling over Gaza and the Fatah forces trained and financed by the U.S. have ignominiously fled. Fears are rife that Iranian-backed and Syrian-hosted terror will next achieve dominance over the West Bank and proceed to undermine the pro-Western governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf. To avert this catastrophe, the U.S. has joined with the Israelis and the Europeans in resuming the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid to the PA under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, and accelerating talks for the establishment of a West Bank Palestinian state.

But the policy ignores every lesson of the abortive peace process to date as well as Fatah's monumental corruption, jihadism and militancy. Indeed, the unbridled corruption of the PA and its Fatah headmen served as a principal cause of Hamas' electoral victory in 2006, as well as its takeover of Gaza.

Though Fatah originally aspired to replace Israel with a secular state, it refashioned itself in the 1990s as an Islamic movement, embracing the lexicon of jihad. Hundreds of mosques were built with public funds, and imams were hired to spread the message of martyrdom and the hatred of Christians and Jews. These themes became the staple of the official PA media, inciting the suicide bombings that began in 2000 and poisoning an entire generation of Palestinian youth.

Fatah has never fulfilled its pledges to crack down on terror. Though Mahmoud Abbas routinely criticizes Palestinian terrorist attacks as "contrary to the Palestinian national interest" - not an affront to morality and international law - he has never disavowed the al-Aqsa Brigades, a Fatah affiliate responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks against Israeli civilians.

In view of its performance over the past 14 years, the Palestinian Authority under Fatah can be counted on to squander most or all of the vast sums now being given to it by the U.S. and the international community. More gunmen will be hired and better weapons procured, but in the absence of a unified command and a leadership worth fighting for, PA soldiers will perform no more credibly than they did in Gaza. Abbas will continue to denounce terror while ignoring the terrorist units within his own organization, while PA imams will persist in preaching their jihadist sermons.

Clearly no progress toward Palestinian statehood can be made before Fatah has reformed itself financially, ideologically and structurally. This process is certain to take many years - longer if economic aid and political support are provided to the PA unconditionally.

The U.S., together with its Quartet partners, can work to establish areas of extensive Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank. Security, however, will be jointly administered by Israel and Jordan. The Jordanian involvement is crucial to convincing Palestinians that the status quo of occupation has ended and they may in the future assume full responsibility for their internal defense. Such an arrangement will benefit Jordan as well, by facilitating its efforts to fight radicalism and stem the flight of Palestinians over its borders.

Hamas Lying in Wait in West Bank

From The Washington Post, by MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH, The Associated Press, Tuesday, June 19, 2007.....

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Hamas leaders in the West Bank have been driven underground by a Fatah campaign of kidnappings and arrests, but the Islamic militants warn they'll eventually come out of hiding to try to destabilize the rule of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with car bombings and assassinations.

Hamas is too weak now for a frontal assault on Fatah in the West Bank, but Iranian funding for Hamas, Abbas' political weakness and Fatah infighting could one day change the balance, Fatah leaders, Hamas militants and Israeli analysts say.

Security forces allied with Abbas say they're determined to snuff out Hamas in the West Bank. The president has declared the Hamas militias illegal, and his security chiefs said they wouldn't just go after Hamas' weapons, but also its money. "The only way to deal with Hamas ... is by dismantling every single military cell in the West Bank, and that's what the security apparatus is doing now," said Kamal Abu Rob, a Fatah lawmaker.

The best insurance against a Hamas takeover might come from elsewhere: Israel's relentless pursuit of Hamas has kept the militants on the defensive and the resumption of foreign aid to the West Bank, after a 15-month boycott, could swing public opinion strongly in Abbas' favor.
Hamas leaders are keeping their heads down. In the past week, some 120 Hamas activists have been arrested by security forces or kidnapped by a violent Fatah offshoot. Gunmen have stormed the parliament building in Ramallah, burned offices of Hamas lawmakers in Nablus and warned some government employees with Hamas ties not to return to work. One Hamas member has been killed and another seriously wounded. Several others have been shot in the legs.

Khouloud al-Masri, a Hamas member of the Nablus municipal council, was forced from her office Tuesday. She said Fatah gunmen told her she wouldn't be able to return the next day. Al-Masri said her husband is in hiding and their five children are with grandparents. In response, Hamas has made threats. "They (Fatah leaders) think Hamas is weak in the West Bank, just as they thought Hamas was in Gaza," said Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas hard-liner in Gaza. "The West Bank may surprise the world with what they don't expect, and it's best for them not to fall into this trap."

Hamas' military strength in the West Bank is difficult to assess. Some Israeli analysts say only a few dozen gunmen escaped arrest by Israel. But a top Palestinian security official in Ramallah said Hamas has recruited hundreds who are organized in sleeper cells, outfitted with guns and uniforms, and ready to move. Hamas, which carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Israel in recent years, can also draw on explosives experts and runs secret bomb labs, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the rules of his security service.

A senior Hamas militant leader said the group has recruited about 4,000 gunmen in Nablus and Hebron, and has thousands of weapons. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is wanted by Israel. He said that when the signal comes to act, Hamas would carry out car bombs and try to assassinate Fatah leaders to destabilize the West Bank. On Tuesday, civilian cars were banned from security headquarters in the territory amid concerns about car bombs.
Money might help tilt the balance.

Fatah's former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan alleged that Iran funded Hamas' onslaught on Gaza with some $250 million. "If we are not careful, it (the Iranian-directed campaign) will move to the West Bank," he told Palestine TV. And Hillel Frisch, an Israeli analyst, said Iranian money could buy off Fatah security officers who haven't been fully paid for months. He also noted that militants have moved from one group to the other in the past, and that money could be a strong incentive. With the foreign aid embargo lifted, Abbas expects full Western support for his government. The resumption of aid will allow him to pay his 27,000 security forces in the West Bank and ensure their loyalty.

Palestinians are following the power struggle with trepidation. "I hope that this new government will control security and control the street," said Medhat Hanans, 45, a shopkeeper in Ramallah. "The foreign aid that we will receive will help the government a lot." The Ramallah security chief said he has orders to block money to Hamas, some of which he says is funneled through West Bank businesses. He said Hamas' social institutions, such as welfare organizations, will also to be targeted.

Fatah's greatest weakness _ its petty internal rivalries _ may yet sabotage its stand against Hamas. Behind the scenes, there's angry finger-pointing over the loss of Gaza, but Fatah activists are under orders not to go public. Kadoura Fares, a Fatah leader in Ramallah, said the shock of recent days might finally shake up the movement, which failed to make reforms even after its election defeat to Hamas in 2006. "Fatah activists have now realized the importance of defending their movement and building it, and the necessity of halting the internal battles," he said. "For the first time, you find a kind of harmony in the movement, because it is threatened by Hamas, and our national project (of a state) is threatened too."
AP writers Ali Daraghmeh contributed to this report from Nablus, Dalia Nammari from Ramallah and Laurie Copans from Jerusalem.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


From MERIA, Volume 11, No. 2, Article 5/8 - June 2007 by Nathan Thrall ...

The prospect of peacefully preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons looks bleaker by the day. Iran appears more emboldened than it has in decades, and support for the Bush administration's foreign policy is at an all-time low. As a presidential election year approaches, conservatives are seeking to distance themselves from Bush by eulogizing Reagan. Yet they forget or ignore that the present predicament is in large part Reagan's legacy. This article examines how the Regan administration, through a seemingly endless series of self-deceits and capitulations, nurtured the ambitions of Iran's current leadership, ruined U.S. credibility, and eroded America's power to deter the Islamic Republic. Still, while Democrats may welcome any shifting of blame from the failed Iran policies of Reagan's predecessor [Carter], it is they who have the most to learn from Reagan's mistakes; for Reagan's errors were realist errors, and the influence of realism is now rising most markedly on the left. Carter gave birth to the decades-long U.S. appeasement of Iran; Reagan fostered it.....

Follow the link for the full article.


Shalom readers. I'm giving us both a break while I travel in Israel etc. However I cannot resist sharing this very moving story (hat-tip to Tamara) from a letter by Rabbi Dr. Gideon M. Goldenholz Temple Sinai of Hollywood 1400 North 46th Ave. Hollywood, FL 33021 [read it all]...

The sky was gloomy that morning as we waited anxiously. All the men, women and children of Piotrkow's Jewish ghetto had been herded into a square. Word had gotten around that we were being moved. My father had only recently died from typhus, which had run rampant through the crowded ghetto. My greatest fear was that our family would be separated.

"Whatever you do," Isidore, my eldest brother, whispered to me, "don't tell them your age. Say you're sixteen". I was tall for a boy of 11, so I could pull it off. That way I might be deemed valuable as a worker. An SS man approached me, boots clicking against the cobblestones. He looked me up and down, then asked my age.

"Sixteen," I said. He directed me to the left, where my three brothers and other healthy young men already stood. My mother was motioned to the right with the other women, children, sick and elderly people. I whispered to Isidore, "Why?" He didn't answer. I ran to Mama's side and said I wanted to stay with her.

"No," she said sternly. "Get away. Don't be a nuisance. Go with your brothers." She had never spoken so harshly before. But I understood. She was protecting me. She loved me so much that, just this once, she pretended not to. It was the last I ever saw of her.

My brothers and I were transported in a cattle car to Germany. We arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp one night weeks later and were led into a crowded barrack. The next day, we were issued uniforms and identification numbers. "Don't call me Herman anymore." I said to my brothers. "Call me 94983." I was put to work in the camp's crematorium, loading the dead into a hand-cranked elevator. I, too, felt dead. Hardened, I had become a number.

Soon, my brothers and I were sent to Schlieben, one of Buchenwald's sub-camps near Berlin. One morning I thought I heard my mother's voice. "Son, she said softly but clearly, "I am sending you an angel." Then I woke up. Just a dream. A beautiful dream. But in this place there could be no angels. There was only work, hunger and fear.

A couple of days later, I was walking around the camp, around the barracks, near the barbed-wire fence where the guards could not easily see. I was alone. On the other side of the fence, I spotted someone; a young girl with light, almost luminous curls. She was half-hidden behind a birch tree. I glanced around to make sure no one saw me. I called to her softly in German.

"Do you have something eat?" She didn't understand. I inched closer to the fence and repeated my question in Polish. She stepped forward. I was thin and gaunt, with rags wrapped around my feet, but the girl looked unafraid. In her eyes, I saw life. She pulled an apple from her woolen jacket and threw it over the fence. I grabbed the fruit and, as I started to run away, I heard her say faintly, "I'll see you tomorrow."

I returned to the same spot by the fence at the same time every day. She was always there with something for me to eat - a hunk of bread or, better yet, an apple. We didn't dare speak or linger. To be caught would mean death for us both. I didn't know any-thing about her except that she understood Polish and seemed to me to be just a kind farm girl. What was her name? Why was she risking her life for me? Hope was in such short supply, and this girl on the other side of the fence gave me some, as nourishing in its way as the bread and apples.

Nearly seven months later, my brothers and I were crammed into a coal car and shipped to Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia. "Don't return," I told the girl that day. "We're leaving." I turned toward the barracks and didn't look back, didn't even say good-bye to the girl whose name I'd never learned ... the girl with the apples.

We were in Theresienstadt for three months. The war was winding down and Allied forces were closing in, yet my fate seemed sealed. On May 10, 1945, I was scheduled to die in the gas chamber at 10:00 AM. In the quiet of dawn, I tried to prepare myself. So many times death seemed ready to claim me, but somehow I'd survived. Now, it was over. I thought of my parents. At least, I thought, we will be reunited.

At 8 A.M. there was a commotion. I heard shouts, and saw people running every which way through camp. I caught up with my brothers. Russian troops had liberated the camp! The gates swung open. Everyone was running, so I did too.

Amazingly, all of my brothers had survived; I'm not sure how. But I knew that the girl with the apples had been the key to my survival. In a place where evil seemed triumphant, one person's goodness had saved my life, had given me hope in a place where there was none. My mother had promised to send me an angel, and the angel had come.

Eventually I made my way to England where I was sponsored by a Jewish charity, put up in a hostel with other boys who had survived the Holocaust and trained in electronics. Then I came to America, where my brother Sam had already moved.

I served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War, and returned to New York City after two years. By August 1957 I'd opened my own electronics repair shop. I was starting to settle in. One day, my friend Sid who I knew from England called me. "I've got a date.
She's got a Polish friend. Let's double date."

A blind date? Nah, that wasn't for me. But Sid kept pestering me, and a few days later we headed up to the Bronx to pick up his date and her friend, Roma. I had to admit, for a blind date this wasn't so bad. Roma was a nurse at a Bronx hospital. She was kind and smart. Beautiful, too, with swirling brown curls and green, almond-shaped eyes that sparkled with life.

The four of us drove out to Coney Island. Roma was easy to talk to, easy to be with. Turned out she was wary of blind dates too! We were both just doing our friends a favor. We took a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoying the salty Atlantic breeze, and then had dinner by the shore. I couldn't remember having a better time.

We piled back into Sid's car, Roma and I sharing the backseat. As European Jews who had survived the war, we were aware that much had been left unsaid between us. She broached the subject, "Where were you, during the war?" she asked softly. "The camps," I said, the terrible memories still vivid, the irreparable loss. I had tried to forget. But you can never forget.

She nodded. "My family was hiding on a farm in Germany, not far from Berlin," she told me. "My father knew a priest, and he got us Aryan papers." I imagined how she must have suffered too, fear, a constant companion. And yet here we were, both survivors, in a new world.

"There was a camp next to the farm." Roma continued. "I saw a boy there and I would throw him apples every day." What an amazing coincidence that she had helped some other boy. "What did he look like? I asked. He was tall. Skinny. Hungry. I must have seen him every day for six months."

My heart was racing. I couldn't believe it. This couldn't be. "Did he tell you one day not to come back because he was leaving Schlieben?" Roma looked at me in amazement.


"That was me!"

I was ready to burst with joy and awe, flooded with emotions. I couldn't believe it. My angel.

"I'm not letting you go," I said to Roma. And in the back of the car on that blind date, I proposed to her. I didn't want to wait.

"You're crazy!" she said. But she invited me to meet her parents for Shabbat dinner the following week. There was so much I looked forward to learning about Roma, but the most important things I always knew: her steadfastness, her goodness. For many months, in the worst of circumstances, she had come to the fence and given me hope. Now that I'd found her again, I could never let her go. That day, she said yes.

And I kept my word. After nearly 50 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren, I have never let her go.

Herman Rosenblat Miami Beach, Florida.

This is a true story and you can find out more in this article from OCRegister and also from Newsday.