The view from my veranda

090120 Update and assessment and Mazal Tov America

Gaza Update 13 – Reflections and assessments

At the Lord Mayors Mansion on November 10th 1942, Sir Winston Churchill, describing the Allied victory at the famous battle of Egypt

“Rommel’s army has been defeated. It has been routed. It has been very largely destroyed as a fighting force.”

He did not say we were victorious he said

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

So it could be said of the battle of Gaza, so close physically to that other battle which turned the tide of WW2 and gave the Allied troops back their lost confidence.

I have a dear, caring, highly intelligent friend who loves Israel with all her heart but whose information is filtered through Haaretz and Israeli television Channel 1 news. Based upon that information she is convinced that all decisions were made by the PM alone and he over-rode everyone else in “his usual arrogant fashion”. The writings and words of news people on both the left and the extreme right who prefer to create “uvdot” facts and ignore the truth that Foreign Minister Tsippi Livni has announced time and again that all decisions were made in consultation of the three major players – the PM, herself and Minister of Defence Ehud Barak, under constant the advisement of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Some news people are unable to admit they got it wrong and Israel actually did a good job! The Chief of Staff accepted all decisions made based upon the information he presented from the front until he came to the decision that it was time to withdraw and see clearly the results. It was he, the Chief of Staff who felt it was time to assess our next moves. These are not the words of the press who were shut out of those decision making meetings, but of the Foreign Minister who was privy to and part of every single judgment.

Incidentally, what was perceived by the press as a snub by the PM when the FM flew to Washington was in fact an essential information meeting with Condaleeza Rice, who, unlike many, does not feel that the PM’s gaffe was of any consequence either to the present or the future!

Zvi and I sat last night and thought of what, under the most extreme of circumstances which would have broken any other man, the Prime Minister has achieved in his term of office in general and his premiership through this war in particular.

Our right to self-defence is recognized;

Egypt is within (of sorts) the group of allied countries prepared to fight extremism and was given the “kavod” of having their plan adopted. Egypt and Jordan sat at the Sharm Summit with the European leaders and expressed a desire to play an essential part in fighting evil.

We have Europe behind us; do not minimize the effectiveness of the warmth and friendship of this Prime Minister and his ability to make friends with those who have been Israel’s biggest deriders and bring them inside.

When told of the Iranian ship off the coast of Gaza, filled with arms and waiting to land, the European leaders, at the suggestion of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, decided to put together a fleet of ships which will patrol that source of arms running and they also recognize our need to solve the gun-running tunnels between Gaza and Egypt – putting Egyptian President Mubarak on the spot.

World leaders, if not the press and thus the simple people, have come to understand what we face and that Hamas caused uncountable suffering to the people of Gaza- killing and maiming thousands and thousands of ordinary folk.

The people of Gaza will not be tricked again, they finally see Hamas for the bunch of killers, bullies and cowards they really are – they talk of Hamas giving aid only to those who swore allegiance to their terror tactics; of killing their detractors and exposing ordinary folk and their families to unbearable danger while their leaders and mentors, in the words of one resident of Gaza who lost his home and family “hide in bunkers and behind the skirts of their women and children. They hid and we suffered the results of their actions. Every Hamas home is now empty – they all ran to Egypt escaping like the cowards they are”

Hamas cause dunbearable and unconscionable suffering to the people of GAzaH

Syria is exposed as a major funder of Hezb-Allah and Hamas and lost all credibility while losing their nuclear potential;

Finally and most dramatically, the apparently impossible happened. Recent events, and Israeli diplomacy, succeeded in splitting the unbreakable “brit”, the covenant, of the Arab States, sidelining Hamas, Hezb-Allah, Islamic Jihad, Syrian and Iranian interests and achieving recognition of their evil – quite a conquest I would say!!!

Our hearts go out to the Gazan families who lost everything because their leaders goaded and provoked Israel into a war she did not want. Israel has already set up the mechanism to treat the wounded in Israeli hospitals and is also preparing a plan to rebuild. No matter how it looks on the surface – we didn’t want this, we avoided it at all costs for 8 years because we knew that it would be the ordinary people who would pay, and they did. Care WAS taken to protect the ordinary people but it was not enough – however in the words of Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, and a senior military adviser to the British government “Never, in the history of warfare has an army taken so much care to ensure the safety of civilians as the IDF”. If only this had not happened but it did.

If the very fragile cease-fire will hold then, with the help of the Europeans, aid for the people of Gaza will finally reach those for whom it was always intended. It will be filtered through Abu Mazen, not because we love, or trust him but because we want to eliminate any opportunity for Hamas to feed and educate the children of Gaza, with money and the tyrannical doctrine of Iran, which is how they got their initial foothold, after the corrupt Fatah leadership stole all the former monies. This time every penny will be monitored and aid will finally get to the people.

This article by the excellent Ehud Yaari explains the current situation in Gaza

Most of the jokes about Israel concern the fact that Moses led us to a desert with no natural resources and lousy neighbours…. Well, think again – Huge gas reserves have been found in the sea near Haifa – apparently it wasn’t Moses who got it wrong – we just didn’t know where to look!!!

and now to something completely different and monumental in importance.

Today, January 20th 2009, President Barak Obama stands before his country in to be sworn in as an estimated 3 million people stand in the freezing cold of the Mall in Washington DC. For the first time ever a man of colour will become the 44th President of the United States; The definitive confirmation of the American dream.

As an Israeli I wish the outgoing President, Mr. George W. Bush, a gentler time of reflection and warmth in the knowledge that history will be much kinder to him than the present; and to President Barak Obama, I am confident that you will allay the fears of those who are fearful of what is new and different; that you will continue your path of accepting advice and trying to follow a straight path which will be the most productive and effective for your country. We watched last night as you embraced and included Senator John McCain in your celebrations, showing yet again your ability to seek the good in people despite their political affiliation, which you showed in your choice of advisors too. Mr. President please know that whoever our next Prime Minister will be, we, the ordinary Israelis, know, recognize and accept your country’s leadership, support and friendship with humility and warmth. Our countries have so much in common, our values and our aims; we can only walk side by side, the colossus and the magical sprite who share a Bible and a future.

With love from Jerusalem, heart of our world and my home