Archive for March, 2009

If all goes as planned, this evening we will have a new government in Israel, but it is not exactly what most of us had wanted. Due to the election results, Benjamin Netanyahu ,the incoming prime minister, has had considerable difficulty in handing out ministeral jobs to the many parties needed to form a coelition, and has been forced to create positions which previously did not exist. He also found it hard giving prestigious portfolios to senior members of his own party, because many were promised to other parties as a way of enticing them into the coelition. So now we will have 30 different ministers in the government, and about 6 of them, ministers without portfolio, and in addition there there will be a number of deputy ministers. It doesn’t look so good, especially during this troubled economic period.
About a week ago our IDF Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, went to the USA on a five-day visit, meaning to lobby the Obama administration to abandon the planned U.S. dialogue with Iran. Ashkenazi, was scheduled to meet with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, was said to bring new Israeli intelligence on Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, but diplomatic sources said the administration made it clear that nobody in a policy-making position was available to meet him. This included President Obama, the Vice-president Biden, Gates, National Intelligence director Dennis Blair or Mullen. So I believe he unfortunately had little success in his mission.
A week ago I attended a lecture given by Azam Azam, an Israeli Druze who had spent 8 years (out of a 15 year sentence) in an Egyptian prison, accused of espionage.He was released some years ago. He had been invited to do some work in a textile plant in Cairo, and was accused of passing on Egyptian state secrets by soaking women’s underwear in invisible ink (if this were true, where he could have got the information from, remains a mystery). Israel pressured Egypt for his release for years, saying he was unjustly accused, but it took 8 years, and only because Israel exchanged him for some Egyptian “students” who had crossed our border. Azam Azam told of the harsh conditions in the jail, sleeping in a cell on the floor and being beaten by his guards. I expect this was all because of the fact he is a Druze. The Israeli Druze community, although of Arab origin with a religion of their own, is faithful to our country, and the men serve in the army.
That’s all for today. Shalom from Irene

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