Here in Israel, we have just completed the holiday of Shavuot, which — marking the receiving of the Torah at Sinai — is the culmination of the Exodus from Egypt celebrated at Pesach. (Outside of Israel, the holiday extends for yet another day.)
It is customary on this holiday to study all night long. And the blessing is this: After dinner with friends last night, we had a discussion as to where each of us had chosen to go for shiurim — study sessions. The marvel is that there are so many places to choose from within an easy walk. And then, once out on the street, at midnight and beyond, we encountered many others walking here and there to places of learning. Truly a blessing, that this should be the situation here in Jerusalem.
I now enter a period of several days away from my computer. This is likely the last posting for some two weeks. Should there be an occurrence of significance, I will try my best (bli neder, as it is said: “without an oath”) to post.
The most likely occurrence of significance to take place before I return to regular postings is a military operation in Gaza. But, if multiple reports are true, how shamefully it is shaping up. Not an earnest effort to take down Hamas, but some nonsensical effort to teach Hamas a lesson. This is reported to be the plan shared now by Barak and Olmert. The clamoring for action in Gaza is strong, but they are inclined for a variety of reasons to go with a ceasefire. So, they will do a “medium strength” action to take Hamas down a peg or two and not let them gloat that they had it all their way. Then a pull-out and a ceasefire that is coupled with release of Shalit. (This is not my idea, but the government’s, I assure you.)
No guarantee that things will actually play out this way, but it is, for me, embarrassing to even describe this plan. It seems as if they are telling Hamas in advance: Don’t get too upset, guys, because we won’t hit too hard, and when we’re done you can have that ceasefire. Even if this is their plan, why speak of it at all?
The political ramifications here are enormous. I hasten to note that Abbas is very much opposed to a major action in Gaza, which he fears would backfire on him.
It must be noted, as well, that there is nothing spelled out regarding a cessation of arms smuggling.
But the IDF is ready, and awaiting the go-ahead from the political echelon. Decisions reportedly to be made within days. Reportedly.
Then, too, there is the wonderful news that Rice is due back here shortly. Presumably to assess the progress of the “peace process.”
Regarding that process, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei announced recently that the parties have begun drafting a document. This, however, does not mean agreement (apparently there is no agreement yet on any of the core issues), but rather that the position of each side if being committed to writing for the first time. Qurei is also saying that the parties have agreed that all issues must be resolved — there can be no partial agreement, such as borders but no decision on Jerusalem. But, says Qurei, all of the issues are being discussed.
Olmert’s office is playing down the significance of this preliminary document. And, indeed, Qurei has said it would take a miracle to reach an agreement by the end of the year.
Members of the opposition are stating clearly that if an agreement is reached, they will not honor it when a new government is formed. I myself have some questions about this, because the legality is complicated, but apparently there is precedent.
61% of Israelis think Olmert should resign.