Thursday, October 13, 2011

Releasing Terrorists: New Victims Pay the Price

  • ...According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as perpetrator, planner, or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded.
  • Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. According to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, from the date of the deal on January 29, 2004, until April 17, 2007, those freed in the deal had murdered 35 Israelis.
  • An investigation by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids.  
...Since 1985 the State of Israel has freed over 10,000 Palestinians who were serving prison sentences for hostile activity or terror actions, and this resulted in the murder and death of hundreds of Israeli citizens. Some of the Palestinian terrorists were freed in the framework of deals with terror organizations that involved the exchange of a few isolated Israelis who were taken captive by the terrorists, for hundreds and thousands of terrorists. Another portion were freed in the framework of what were termed diplomatic “goodwill gestures.” Sometimes the terrorists were freed because their prison terms had been concluded or shortened.
According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as a perpetrator,  planner or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded....

Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. The deal was transacted in Cologne, Germany, on January 29, 2004. According to the information provided by Knesset member Tzahi Hanegbi, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, from that date and until April 17, 2007, those freed in the Tannenbaum deal had murdered 35 Israelis.
A comprehensive investigation recently conducted by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of deals, understandings, or goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids. These statistics have been informally confirmed by security officials... 

Israel’s Dilemma
The Victims of Arab Terror International has appealed many times to the High Court of Justice against the freeing of terrorists, but all the petitions have been rejected. In one of the petitions (High Court of Justice case 914/04), Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levi expressed the dilemma that he finds himself in as a justice and as an Israeli citizen when confronted with the freeing of terrorists, and their reversion to the path of terror.
This is not the very first time that by virtue of agreements it signed, the State of Israel frees terrorists who sowed death and destruction in our midst. After every such prisoner release, the hope reverberated in many hearts that this time a change would ensue and those freed would no longer return to the path of terror and could possibly even serve as ambassadors for disseminating the idea of peaceful coexistence. It would seem that there is no need to elaborate to what extent this hope was in vain, and it might be more fittingly defined as a false illusion. If we needed further proof that those freed were not intent on peace, one can find it in the bloody events that have accompanied us since October 2000. Many of those whom Israel had in the past set free participated in these horrific events. These incidents have taken their toll in human life, sometimes as an everyday occurrence, and altered the lives of the wounded victims' families from top to bottom. I saw myself forced to concur with the decision of my colleagues, and with trembling hand I added my signature, and with the sole hope that beats inside me, namely that those who adopted the decision and have a complete picture before them and whose shoulders bear the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Israeli citizens were persuaded that the decision that they adopted was the correct one, despite the terrible risk involved for all of us in the freeing of the miscreants.
Hundreds have been murdered and many more wounded in terrorist attacks perpetrated by terrorists who have been freed from Israeli prisons.
There needs to be a change in the “rules” that have crystallized in recent years where thousands of terrorists are released in return for isolated kidnap victims. This will limit the damage, for fewer freed terrorists will be free to return to the path of terror. One should not pay any price in order to bring about the release of kidnap victims or captives.
Furthermore, the terrorists that Israel frees in return for captives should not be freed into the West Bank, but abroad, as was done in certain cases in the past. This will make it harder for them to injure residents of the State of Israel.

Why we build

This 4-minute inspiring video, posted on May 26, 2011, of an Israeli pioneer who died in the last few days, explains how ridiculous it is to ask the Jewish people to freeze building construction in "East Jerusalem", including in places that were illegally occupied by Arab forces in 1948.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gilad Schalit to return home!

From JPost 12 Oct 2011, b

Deal passes 26-3 in cabinet vote; Israel to release 1,000 prisoners in two-stage process, including 1/3 serving life sentences; Netanyahu: "My heart is with the families of terror victims."

Exactly 1,934 days after Hamas kidnapped Gilad Schalit near Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza, the cabinet met in a dramatic meeting Tuesday night, approving a deal for his release.

Twenty-six ministers voted to approve the prisoner exchange deal signed with Hamas, with only three voting against the deal.

"The Jewish people is a special people, responsible for one another," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the opening of the cabinet meeting. "Our sages teach that those who save one Jewish life, it's is as if they have saved an entire world.  Today I am bringing a proposal for the saving of Gilad Schalit in order to bring him back, finally, after five years, to his home, to Israel."

The cabinet vote brought close to conclusion a saga that tortured the Schalit family -  and the country -  for more than five years, and which made the kidnapped soldier, now 25, a household name in large parts of the world.

In return for Schalit, Israel will release 1,027 prisoners, some 400 of them prisoners serving long sentences for some of the worst terrorist atrocities in the country's history.

Netanyahu: Deal was in works for weeks
... The framework for this deal has been on the table for years, but ... Israel demanded that the terrorists with blood on their hands be deported to Gaza or abroad, and Hamas demanded that all the names they submitted be on the list.

In the final analysis, both sides showed flexibility, with Israel agreeing to let hundreds, but not all, of the released terrorist remain in the West Bank, and Hamas dropped some of the names on its list.

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yoram Cohen said that the Shin Bet would be able to deal with those returning to the West bank. His predecessor, Yuval Diskin, was adamantly opposed to letting the prisoners return to the West Bank.

Cohen, as well as the heads of the Mossad and the IDF all expressed support for the prisoner exchange deal at the cabinet meeting.

The Shin Bet chief said that while the deal to free Schalit would be difficult for Israel, there is no better alternative in the near future to bring the captured soldier home. "There is no question that for many families who lost loved ones to terror this is a difficult deal. If we want to bring Schalit home though, this is the way," he said.

Netanyahu told the cabinet that the negotiations were restarted in recent weeks through Egyptian mediation. "There exists a built-in tension between the desire to bring a kidnapped soldier or citizen home, and the need to preserve the security of Israeli citizens," he said, adding that the current  agreement expressed the right balance between those considerations.

"This is a difficult decision," he said. "My heart is with the families of the terror victims. I understand their suffering, and their distress, because I am one of them. But leadership is judged in moments like this by the ability to make difficult, but correct, decisions."

Netanyahu said that with all the changes taking place in the region, "I don't know if in the near future we would be able to reach a better agreement or an agreement at all. It might be that the window of opportunity would have been closed, and we would not have been able to return him at all."

...One of the main factors for Hamas in accepting the deal was the fact that the group had lost its headquarters in Damascus amid unrest in Syria...

Netanyahu said he invited Schalit's father, Noam, to his home in the morning to convey the news, and also spoke by phone to Schalit's mother and grandfather. "I said to them that I am fulfilling my promise and I am returning to them their son and grandson. I am happy to have been able to fulfill the goal [it's a MIZVAH - SL] of redeeming captives, and if all goes well, Gilad will return to Israel in the coming days to his family and people."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Isolation? What isolation?

, Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs:

Israel has more embassies and consulates than ever before. Our reoriented foreign policy is opening doors and we are ensuring greater global integration.

During the past few months, Israel’s purported growing isolation has been the subject of much discussion. It is far from the truth, and it is ironic that this debate has taken place during an effective Israeli challenge to the long-standing paradigm of the Palestinians using the United Nations as a “rubber stamp” for its capricious policies.

For decades at the United Nations, Palestinian demands, regardless of how spurious or provocative, were granted by a near wall-to-wall majority in most forums. Recently and almost without precedent, Palestinian officials have been hearing strong messages of disapproval and even rejection.

The fact that Palestinian officials, backed by all the resources of the powerful Arab and Islamic world, are travelling around the world pleading for, and not receiving, complete acquiescence for their unilateral declaration of statehood is almost unparalleled and should not go unnoticed.

However, regardless of the outcome of provocative Palestinian unilateralism, Israel’s relations and cooperation in the international arena have rarely been more wide-ranging and comprehensive.

Under the reins of the current political leadership in the Foreign Ministry, Israel has more embassies and consulates than ever before (many reopened after being closed under previous administrations), with more nations requesting Israeli representation our current budget simply cannot cover.

The number of invitations received by Israeli officials to visit nations across the globe is increasing. More nations than ever before understand our reoriented foreign policy is opening up more doors, and we are ensuring greater integration than previously.

Whereas recent governments ignored vast swathes of the globe, focusing on a few areas that were felt to have sole strategic importance, our new policy, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is to make inroads into areas of great importance long ignored by former Israeli foreign ministers.

We have heard too many leaders in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa say they were until recently frustrated by being unduly ignored by Israel.

Many claimed that only when it came to an issue of central importance to Israel did they hear from our officials. To be successful in international relations you have to put in constant and consistent work and effort.

Unfortunately, in many areas we are still playing catch-up for those years of neglect.

However, even despite these challenges, we are achieving successes in the international arena, beyond issues relating to the conflict.

Two notable examples are Israel’s recent acceptance into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

The increase in our trilateral cooperation with partner countries like Germany, Canada and Italy working with nations in the developing world is reaping benefits for the people of those regions and has helped reframe Israel as a significant partner in such global issues as combating desertification, water management and modern agricultural techniques.

In 2009, we held the widely acclaimed and well-attended Watec Conference. A few months ago we hosted the International Women Leaders’ Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation which was attended by women leaders from across the globe, including United Nations Deputy Secretary- General Asha-Rose Migiro and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Moreover, over the past few years Israel has promoted UN resolutions completely unconnected to either the conflict or the Holocaust. Our agricultural and technological know-how, and readiness to help humanity, are heavily supported in the UN and other international agencies.

However, the true proof of Israel’s growing inclusion, integration and partnership are our growing diplomatic ties with numerous nations.

Government-to-government dialogues, where a large number of government ministers from Israel and another nation meet to discuss matters of mutual interest and promote a strengthening of bilateral relations, have been significantly increased with an unprecedented amount of these meetings taking place in the last few years.

Economic relations have also been solidified, trade volume has grown, and many agreements of economic cooperation have been signed in the fields of taxation, investments protection, Free Trade Zones and the exchange of economic delegations.

This has assisted in the securing of a strong and stable economy that has seen Israel cope very well with the international recession.

While we face many challenges with some of our neighbors, most recent events are the result of changes completely unrelated to Israel or our conflict with the Palestinians.

The deterioration in relations with Turkey began long before this government took office. Its most obvious manifestation was the public humiliation of President Shimon Peres by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Davos at the beginning of 2009, during one of the most dovish governments in Israeli history.

Turkey’s new foreign policy has led them into disagreements with many of its neighbors and Israel stands with Greece, Cyprus, Armenia and the European Union as having being recently rebuked by the Turkish Government.

The so-called “Arab Spring” which is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa has no connection to either Israel or our conflict with the Palestinians. It is hard to predict the outcome, but if it does lead to greater freedom, democracy and development then the region will only benefit as a whole.

Regardless, Israel will remain true to its principles, despite the changes around us. The security and interests of Israel and its people are second to none on our list of priorities. This is nonnegotiable and we should not apologize for this, even if it leads to misunderstandings, including among allies and friends. Israel should not be asked to accept any less than any other sovereign nation would in a similar situation.

We still face many challenges, but by any measurements our successes far outweigh any perceived failures and we are on a path to even further integration.

Israel is a member of more international forums, participates in a larger number of important international events, signs and implements more bilateral agreements and has further integrated into the global agenda than ever before.

This holistic approach to foreign policy may not make the headlines, but is the fundamental basis for the strengthening of our current international standing.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Israel's economy is booming

...At the outset of the Jewish New Year, 5772, Israel's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is $240BN – with 3% deficit, 5.7% unemployment, 3% interest rate and 3% inflation - compared with $38BN GDP in 1990 and 1BN in 1949. Israel's credit rating has been recently upgraded by Standard & Poor, ranking it among the top OECD economies.

In 1948 Israel had no significant export, compared with $6.7BN current account (mostly trade balance) surplus in 2010, featuring the US, Europe and India as the chief trading partners. Notwithstanding disturbing Turkish statements, Israel-Turkey trade volume has surged 140% since the Islamic party, AKP, assumed power in 2002: $3.45BN in 2010 compared with $1.4BN in 2002. Irrespective of political tension, the first quarter of 2011 features a 40% increase in the mutually-beneficial Israel-Turkey trade over the first quarter of 2010.

In 2011, Israel takes pride in robust exports despite the global economic meltdown, due to its highly specialized lines of exports, which correspond to vital global needs in the areas of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biomed, agriculture, water technologies, energy alternatives, software, laptop computers, telecommunications and defense industries. The latter features Israel as the fifth largest global defense exporter. The NY-based "Trading Economics" reported a $1BN Israeli current account surplus in the first quarter of 2011.

Recently, the Houston-based Noble Energy discovered proven offshore natural gas reserves, which will transform Israel – by 2014 - from nearly total reliance on imported energy, to a major exporter of natural gas.

The Jewish New Year, 5772, highlights the Jewish State as "a shining high tech city upon a hill," attracting leading global companies, venture capitalists and investment banks, which seek unique manpower and cutting-edge innovative technologies. 

The European Community appoints Israelis to head its high-technology commissions. Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, calls Microsoft as much an Israeli company as an American company, because of the importance of its Israeli technologies, such as Kinect gaming motion-sensor interface, the fastest rising consumer electronic product in history. 

The same applies, increasingly, to Google, Cisco and eBay and Apple's memory systems for its iPhones, iPods and iPads. According to Intel's CEO, Intel would have been devastated by the competition, if not for its four research and development centers and two manufacturing plants in Israel, which developed its most advanced microprocessors, Pentium, Sandbridge, Atom and Centrino. 

Leading American venture capital funds, Sequoia, Greylock, Accel and Orbimed have become frequent investors in Israel, and some 400 global high tech companies have established research and manufacturing presence in Israel. 

IBM and Computers Associates (CA) just made their ninth and tenth acquisitions of Israeli companies respectively. Overseas investments in Israel's high-tech exceed any single European country and France and Germany combined.

The American defense industry has been a major beneficiary of Israel's unique technological and battle capabilities. Thus, the current generation of the F-16 features over 600 modifications, introduced by Israel, making it a global success and enhancing the American employment, research and development and export infrastructures. 

Northrop Grumman's robotics division cooperation with – and sales to – Israel have dramatically upgraded the quality of its products, as has been the case with hundreds of US defense systems employed by Israel.

In retrospect, Arab wars and terrorism, geo-political constraints and limited natural resources have been nothing but bumps on the path of an unprecedented Israeli economic, technological, educational and defense surge, which has benefitted humanity at-large.