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October 17, 2006

Round and round we go, and nothing seems to change…

At the first meeting of the winter session of the Knesset, PM Ehud Olmert made opening remarks. Among the things he said: “It is clear to us that the Palestinian people and its leadership are not made of the same mold.

“We are making a clear distinction between the Hamas government and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who has accepted the three conditions agreed upon by the majority of world countries.

“Abu Mazen is a legitimate partner; we maintain ongoing contact with him and his people, and I am willing to meet with him immediately to discuss ways to move forward according to the sequence of the Roadmap and the phases therein.”

Ah, Ehud, did you have to sell out so completely? How could it be clear that the people and its leadership are not the same? Was it not the people who voted in that Hamas leadership? And is it not the people who in poll after poll support Hamas to a considerable degree, not to mention supporting terrorism as a technique for hitting Israel?

And how can you say that Abbas has accepted the three conditions? One of them is renouncing terrorism. But Abbas signed on to the Prisoners’ Document, which endorses terrorism. And Abbas’s Fatah is itself stockpiling weapons, with the assistance of no less than Hezbollah.

And how can you say you are willing to meet with Abbas immediately? Didn’t you just say the other day that you wouldn’t meet with him until Shalit was returned?

Is there an end to this charade in sight?


At the same time that Olmert made the above statements, he extended an olive leaf to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, offering to meet him face-to-face in order to initiate peace talks. Saniora has totally rejected the offer, saying that Lebanon will be the last Arab state to make peace with Israel.


Mahmoud Abbas went to Jordan yesterday for what was supposed to be an emergency meeting of the Fatah Central Committee, but he returned to Ramallah, reportedly angry, when the meeting was called off. The ultimatum that Abbas had delivered to Hamas with regard to forming a unity gov’t has now reached its time limit, and he had hoped to secure Fatah backing for firing the gov’t, disbanding the parliament, and calling for new elections. I’ve read three or four different reasons as to why the meeting didn’t take place.

The most significant of these was offered by the Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh, who said that there was no unanimity in Fatah about taking such a stand against Hamas. In fact, Abu Toameh says that a major Fatah figure, Farouk Kaddoumi, a hard-liner, has a close relationship with Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal, in Damascus, and told Abbas that he would not back efforts to get Hamas out of the government. (Puts the lie, once again, does it not, to the notion that there is a substantial difference between Fatah and Hamas?)

Stay tuned…


President Katsav has said that if he is indicted he will resign. And so, in anticipation of this likely event, the jostling for the position has begun.


Rather than further belabor the happenings of the day, which seem not so different from the happenings of yesterday, I would like to close by switching gears entirely and considering a thought-provoking concept.

Veteran diplomat Yehuda Avner has written a piece in the Post called “The Case for dwelling alone.” Golda Meir, he recalled, lamented the condition of aloneness of the State of Israel:

“Everybody in the world has sovereign and cultural family except us. Everybody in the United Nations is grouped into blocs bound by a common geography, or religion, or history, or culture, except us. They vote in solidarity, like family. We belong to no family. Our most natural regional allies – our Arab neighbors – don’t want anything to do with us. Indeed, they want to destroy us. So we really belong nowhere and to no one except to ourselves, impelled by our own Jewish, Zionist faith.”

Years later, a similar discussion regarding Israel’s solitude came up in the home of PM Menachem Begin, who held Bible study sessions. It was pointed out, on that occasion, that in the Book of Numbers, chapters 22 to 24, the heathen prophet Balaam is supposed to curse Israel but cannot help himself and blesses Israel instead. In referring to Israel, he said: “this is a people that shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” An accurate prophetic vision.

And what does it mean, to dwell alone? Many were the thoughts of the scholars present. It was suggested, for example, that we do not reckon ourselves among the nations. Someone else mused that the original expectation of modern Zionism was that it would render the Jewish people a nation like other nations in the world — in retrospect, a rather naive expectation of the possibility for normalization.

Begin then drew upon the writing of Dr. Yaakov Herzog, author of “A people that dwells alone.” And it is Herzog’s thoughts that I would like to leave you with:

“The theory of classic Zionism was national normalization. What was wrong with the theory? It was the belief that the idea of a “people that dwells alone” is an abnormal concept, when actually a “people that dwells alone” is the natural concept of the Jewish people. That is why this one phrase still describes the totality of the extraordinary phenomenon of Israel’s revival. If one asks how the ingathering of the exiles, which no one could have imagined in his wildest dreams, came about, or how the State of Israel could endure such severe security challenges, or how it has built up such a flourishing economy, or how the unity of the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora has been preserved, one must come back to the primary idea that this is “a people that dwells alone.” More than that, one must invoke this phrase not only to understand how the Jews have existed for so long; one must invoke it as a testimony to the Jewish right to exist at all in the land of their rebirth.”

When we seek to be like all the nations of the world, we cease to be what we are supposed to be. And it is that effort to be like others, rather than strengthening what we are meant to be, that has done us great harm over the years.

See my website .