Archive for October, 2011

     This week’s news is not so much about what is going on in Israel, as about our surrounding and North African Muslim countries.
     I of course presume that most of my readers know about Libya’s dictator Kaddafi’s death, his being sort of viciously slaughtered and now buried in some unknown spot in the desert so that his grave will not become a place for visiting. So far no one knows what sort of government will come into being in Libya now.
     In Syria, the government troops are continuing their daily massacres, tens of innocent people being killed daily.
     In Turkey last week there was fighting against the Kurds, many killed on both sides. But that has stopped in the meanwhile, because of the terrible earthquake in Turkey, with so far 279 confirmed deaths, thousands wounded and left homeless, and hundreds more missing. In the late 90ties there had been another earthquake there, and Israel sent rescue and medical teams to help. Israel has again offered similar help, but Erdogan refused it, probably because of the “bad” relationship between our two countries,  we could surely have helped save lives.
     In Tunisia free elections were held, and although no party took the majority vote, the Nahda  (Awakening) party got the most votes.This is Tunisia’s equivalent of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,and as the biggest political party, they will probably make new religious Muslim laws.
     There is also so far no political stability in Egypt, and unrest in Sudan and Yemen.So many killings in Muslim countries, but this time, even if they want to, they can’t blame Israel.
     And to mention Iran, we hear that they have stepped up their nuclear work by increasing the fissile content of its enriched uranium to the 20% level (whatever that means?) and moving centrifuge machines to a previous secret underground bunker near Qom. (That’s what I read from reliable sources).
     Of the hundreds of Muslim prisoners released so far in exchange for our kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, many have already promised to return to terrorism . One example is a former woman prisoner, Wafa al-bis who  insisted she would seize any opportunity to mount another suicide mission and encouraged dozens of cheering schoolchildren to follow her example. In 2005, she tried to blow herself up at an Israeli hospital where she had been given permission to seek treatment for burns she sustained in a gas tank explosion. She was discovered with 22 lbs. of explosives sewn inside her underwear, but the detonator malfunctioned. Her mother Salma said, “This is Jihad, it is an honorable thing and I am proud of her”. This shows you what we in Israel are up against.
Gilad Shalit is back in Israel !!!!! Welcome home Gilad.
Gilad , an Israeli soldier, was kidnapped over 5 years ago by the Gaza Hammas terrorist organisation, and had been held in solitary confinement all these years, as yet we don’t know under what conditions. The Red Cross was not allowed to visit him, and there were only two signs of life during this long period : One was a letter to his parents, and then a very short video was shown of him in 2008.
The price for his release is very high, – over one thousand terrorist prisoners, many with the blood of tens of innocent Israeli civilians
on their hands have been set free, and there is always the possibility that they will return to terrorism, although they signed a a document stating they would no longer do this. I expect this is not worth the paper it was printed on. Many families of  terror victims are against the prisoner exchange, saying those very cruel ones should not be released, they even went to court  and filed a petition against their release, but the court said it was a political negotiation. 
 For the last hour or so, we keep on seeing Gilad on his return to Israel via Egypt on television, he looks weak, but of course has not been interviewed yet, has to meet his parents first. For Noam and Aviva Schalit (as for most of Israel) this is a great day. They endured five years and four months of uninterupted anguish since their son was abducted, and there is not a Jewish household in Israel that didn’t empathize with their suffering. Hopefully Gilad will be found in relatively good physical and mental condition. Up to this moment of my writing, we know little more and hope for the best.
With these words I end today’s blog. Shalom from Irene
This last weekend we observed “Yom Kippur” (The Day of Atonement), a day of prayer and fasting, and am glad to say it passed quietly. It is now 38 years since the Yom Kippur War, which cost us so many lives when we were suddenly attacked by all the surrounding Arab countries. Now on holy festivals our security forces are always on stand-by.
The local news is not so good, because a problem I mentioned some time ago in one of my blogs has not yet been solved, and starting today is even worse. I am talking about the doctors’ strike, where some agreement had been made, but the medical interns were hardly mentioned . Their representitives expressed frustration with the Treasury’s “failure to understand the reality of the situation”, and about 700 of them have given in their resignation in different hospitals, and there is now a lack of medical staff in most, with older doctors, even professors, doing night shift duty. Many planned operations have been delayed and there is fear of a real medical crisis. Hopefully something wil be done to get the interns to return, although it is hard to know where the money will come from. There is talk of reducing the defence budget (also for social needs. I mentioned before, the demonstrations for cheaper housing, food and such which took place and have also not yet ended). but of course the army is completely against this. Security is Number One in Israel
I feel that today I must mention Jonathan Pollard again. He is an American Jew who was sentenced for spying for Israel and has now served 26 years of his sentence in prison. Due to the information he gave Israel, we were able to bomb the nuclear site then being built in Iraq and prevent a great disaster. Pollard deserved a prison sentence ,but he caused no damage to the U.S.A. or any personnell working for the government, and is the only spy ever given a life sentence for spying for a friendly country. Others like him received from 3-5 years maximum.
During the years many Israeli Presidents , Prime Ministers and others have asked for Pollard to be pardoned , but so far this has not been done. Now lately again Israeli President Peres and Prime Minister Natanyahu have  turned to President Obama, asking for a pardon for Pollard, and strangely enough now Vice President Joe Biden has answered for him, saying “he wouldn’t free Pollard over his dead body, and if it were up to him he would stay in jail for life.” Biden allegedly made this statement during a meeting with Rabbis in Florida last week, when one of the Rabbis asked him about the possibility of Pollard’s release. Was this a way of making the choice of denial for President Barak Obama easier? I sincerely hope not. Strangely enough some years ago Biden spoke quite differently about Pollard and in a video interview in 2007 he expressed support for Pollard’s release via commutation of his sentence to time served.