Yesterday the polls were released that Likud is way up in a recent poll and Kadima has pretty much fallen on its face. Today I am additionally encouraged. Netanyahu has addressed a meeting of activists of the National Religious Party, and told them that there is a natural partnership between the nationalist public and the national religious public:

“We must strengthen our mutual partnership…

“We firmly believe in the triangle… the Land of Israel, the People of Israel and the Torah of Israel… that must be the platform of the next government, so that it will form the basis for the value system of every boy and girl in Israel, which will withstand great storms.”

Well OK! So there is real hope.

Netanyahu spoke about the need to make concrete plans, with NRP part of any government that arises.

~~~~~~~~~~

Kadima, meanwhile, suffered another blow, as Haim Ramon, who had been Justice Minister, was found guilty of indecent conduct because he kissed a female soldier against her will. This is not a case of the severity of that involving President Katsav (which is why some people in the gov’t registered surprise at the verdict), but involves improprieties none the less. He was intrusive, and humiliated the woman. “We’re not talking about an innocent kiss on the cheek… out of affection… but a kiss that has all the elements of a sex offense,” stated one of the judges. (All trials in Israel are by judge — in this case there was a three judge panel that voted against him unanimously.)

A group of female MKs have issues a statement congratulating the court for “courageously establishing clear boundaries meant to protect women in general and female soldiers in particular.”

So, Ramon is out. And Olmert, who was distressed by the verdict, now needs to do some juggling of portfolios in the gov’t.

And I? I wish I would never have the need to report on such matters within the gov’t again. But Ramon has said he will appeal the verdict, and there is still the conclusion of the matter regarding Katsav (who has now moved out of the presidential residence).

~~~~~~~~~~

Egyptian security forces may have assisted the suicide bomber from Gaza in getting into Israel. According to WorldNetDaily, Egyptian authorities say they have discovered 17 cases in which guards aided Palestinian infiltrators who wanted to get into Israel. The infiltrators, it is claimed, usually say they are seeking work or study, and pay the Egyptian guards for their assistance; allegedly only in a “small number” of cases have security forces knowingly assisted terror groups trying to get into Israel.

A Palestinian official, however, told WND that there are “many, many” more cases of assistance to infiltrators than the 17 authorities are claiming. And indeed, there is every reason to believe that this is just the tip of a very dirty iceberg. We’re looking at several things here: Terror groups and weapons moving between Egypt (the Sinai) and Gaza, and then those who are in the Sinai moving into Israel (the Negev). Most of the time, weapons move from the Sinai into Gaza. But sometimes movement is in the other direction if the intent is to get to Israel.

We’ve known for some time that all the weapons getting into Gaza wouldn’t find their way there without at least the tacit assistance of Egyptian forces. As one Israeli security official said, “We’re talking about extremely sophisticated smuggling rings that bring large quantities of weapons… in some previous cases even in convoy trucks. Don’t tell me Egyptian forces don’t know.”

I daresay that right now Mk Yuval Steinitz, who was formerly the chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, is feeling vindicated. He has shouted the loudest and the most consistently about the fact that the Egyptians are not to be trusted.

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Seems “the political echelon” has decided to mute Israel’s response to yesterday’s attack. I’ve heard two reasons now. One, which I cited yesterday, refers to the fact that there are fewer Kassams being launched now and if there were a major operation in Gaza the barrage would likely increase. (And I’ve already said what I thought about this.)

The other involves the desire not to unify feuding forces. Hamas and Fatah are killing each other, goes the logic, so it’s best not to give them motivation to unite against us as we attack them. I don’t think a whole lot of this reasoning either. First of all, Abbas already called for a focus on attacking the “occupation ” on January 11, and Islamic Jihad has already said they were heeding this with the suicide bombing — which they said would be the first of many. As long as the terrorists inside of Gaza don’t have to worry about a significant IDF operation, they are free to do their planning, recruiting, building of bombs relatively undisturbed. Why would we give them this opportunity? As Isi Liebler, commenting in the Post, put it: “… doing nothing merely reassures terrorists that they can continue killing Israeli civilians with impunity.”

And factor this in, as well, from Ha’aretz today: “Relatives of the suicide bomber… said he had spoken of his plan for a suicide bombing last week. This could not have happened in Nablus. No suicide bomber in the West Bank would have risked babbling, knowing that the Shin Bet would be onto him immediately. The terrorists in Gaza feel relatively safe… Without a military presence, the [Gaza] Strip is slipping from the scrutiny of Israeli intelligence.” www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/819136.html

~~~~~~~~~~

Evidence, if any is needed, of what a crazy world we are contending with:

— A chain of local Israeli newspapers call Ha-Ir (the city) decided to do a marketing campaign that included the release of green balloons. Some of these were caught by the wind and drifted over the border into Lebanon, where Hezbollah announced that Israel is sending poison balloons and that eight people were hospitalized by the toxic fumes from these balloons. Hysteria has ensued in certain quarters, and, as we know, hysteria can generate dizziness and all sorts of other imagined ill effects.

— International Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked in Europe on January 27. But in Ciempozuelos, a small town near Madrid, a decision was made to ignore the Holocaust remembrance and instead substitute Palestinian Genocide Day. A furor erupted and the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry asked them to cancel their plans.

— On the official website of Petra, the Jordanian news agency, this was found: “In a bid to divert the attention of world public opinion from its crimes committed against Palestinians, Israel tends, from time to time to claim the existence of the Israeli temple beneath the mosque, [chair of the Aksa Reconstruction Committee] affirmed.” This is in connection with Israeli objections to excavations in the area of the Aksa Mosque that might damage Temple remains beneath.

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see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info

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When I left the U.S. in 2001, and came to Israel as an olah (a new immigrant) I was eager to share personal impressions and solid information about the situation here. Thus was my listserve born. This list has grown, and its content and style have been refined. Now I do several postings a week, offering both reliable data and analysis.

Shortly after initiating my listserve, I began to work professionally as an investigative journalist for the Center for Near East Policy Research. Today I serve the Center in a consultant capacity. I work, as well, as a freelance writer.

New Jersey born and bred and a resident of Maryland for several years, I have been living in Jerusalem since shortly after my arrival in Israel.

If there has been a constant in my work over time, it has been my writing, but in many ways my background has been eclectic.

My bachelors degree is in psychology and my masters in counseling and human services.  I took up the cause of the Jews of Ethiopia in the 80s and early 90s, via the American Association for Ethiopian Jews; I worked in the field with people newly arrived in Israel, and assisted with relief and rescue efforts from the States.

I then turned to designing softskills software -- training in the computer on diversity, stress reduction and using your whole brain effectively -- and producing Jewish educational software and hard copy materials.  Simultaneously, I conducted live workshops on stress reduction, Jewish identity and more.

For a period of time, I worked with a top non-governmental anti-terrorist in the US.  This led, fairly directly, to my investigative journalism.

My articles have appeared in such venues as Azure MagazineThe Jerusalem Post, FrontPageMagazine.com, American Thinker, Arutz Sheva, YNet, National Review Online, The (Philadelphia) Jewish Exponent,  MidstreamPresent TenseThe New York TimesBaltimore Jewish TimesOutlookAmitThe Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia), and The Aish website.

I have produced several major reports on UNRWA for the Center for Near East Policy Research, as well reports on the true nature of Fatah, the dangers of funding PA security forces, the Israeli NGO Adalah, and more.

I have written three books: Disclosed: Inside the Palestinian Authority and the PLO in 2004, and Falasha No More (for children) andTreacherous Journey: One Man's Escape from Ethiopia, both in 1985.

I have done interviews with BBC online, FrontPageMagazine.com, Voice of America, IBA English News (Israeli TV), and IsraelNationalNewsTV.

I am on the Board of Advisors of EMET, a Washington based organization dedicated to providing policy makers in the US with accurate information.

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