Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Own Question to Yariv Oppenheimer

Because I was unable to ask a question during the debate - note: I had my hand raised quietly the whole time, but it was the people calling out and screaming who had their questions heard or managed to get called upon.

It's a 2-part question, but a very simple one.

Part 1:  In 1947, the UN voted to partition Mandatory Palestine into two states for two peoples.  The Jews accepted and the Arabs attacked us.  In 1949, there was no recognition.  In 1967, Moshe Dayan gave back most of Chevron and Har HaBayit.  We ended up being attacked from everywhere over there.  Levi Eshkol offered to return Judea and Samaria for peace, but was rejected.  In 1977, we finally got "peace" with Egypt, but the Arab world laughed that off.  In 1987, we were given the first Intifada.  In 1993, we signed Oslo - and had Camp David in 2000.  Those both led to thousands of Jews dead.  The expulsion from Gaza got us nowhere accept in a worse security situation.  (Same story with the unilateral withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 which led to the Second Lebanon War in 2006.)  Annapolis?  Bibi's Bar Ilan speech?  Washington talks?  Settlement freeze?  Amman?  We have tried and tried again.  Where has that led us?
Part 2:  Israel has signed peace treaties with two Arab countries - Egypt and Jordan.  Add to that the friendships we've shared with two more Muslim nations - Iran and Turkey.  Where has that led us?  Iran became our bitterest enemy in 1979.  All it took was a new government, and our best friend in the region was out.  Our second best friend in the region?  That's on its way out thanks to a new government, the AKP, from 2002.  They "claim" it's because of Cast Lead.  If so, that's certainly worse.  We try defending ourselves, and we lose a friend over it.  On to Egypt: need I say more?  Our embassy has been attacked twice, the Parliament has voted the Zionist Regime as the "worst enemy of the Egyptian people" and the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist Noor Party are both looking to end all agreements with Israel.  Jordan has fared no better.

With all that background, I ask a simple question: Why should we make peace with the Palestinians?  How are we to ensure that peace will be real?  Peace isn't lack of war.  We aren't looking for a ceasefire or armistice.  We are looking for long-lasting peace.  How is this supposed to happen and BE GUARANTEED, considering everything in the region pointing to the contrary.

Left versus Right: Wrong Person Won

A couple of nights ago, the Likud on Campus group at Bar Ilan University (Ta Lavi) hosted a moderated debate between Yariv Oppenheimer, head of Peace Now, and Ayelet Shaked, head of My Israel.  This was supposed to be a debate and open forum between leaders from the left and right.
Already, I feel they screwed up.  If you're going to bring in such an important person, such as Yariv Oppenheimer, then bring in a big name, such as Moshe Feiglin.  I had never heard of either Shaked or My Israel until I got to the event.  In my opinion, as well as some other people I spoke to, it showed.  She raised some solid points, but she did well because she had virtually the entire crowd hanging on her every word.  She could do no wrong.  She controlled the crowd at her will.  Had the exact same debate/forum taken place in virtually any other university in the country, she would've been eaten alive.

To the actual debate: Forum was supposed to be moderated with a supposedly impartial moderator asking questions to both, challenging each with points with points raised by the other, and finishing off with an equal amount of questions for each.  Very quickly into this, the crowd proved this would be no civilized forum.  It was an absolute debacle.  A shouting match with who can come up with the most annoying time to yell the loudest and be the most obnoxious.  Now I am no fan of Yariv Oppenheimer.  But I came to listen to him.  And I was denied that opportunity.  What did the shouting accomplish?  To get Oppenheimer to know what you're thinking?  Trust me, he knows.  To get him to change his viewpoint?  Mission failed!

Here's the message I just sent to him on Facebook:
I'm writing this in English, and hope that's OK with you.  I'm a student at Bar Ilan and was at the "debate" on Sunday night.I'll start off with I come from the Right.  I'm quite to the Right.  That being said, I wanted to personally thank you for the Mesirat Nefesh you showed simply by coming to Bar Ilan, and by coming to a Ta Lavi event at that.  You impressed me with your courage, and standing strong in the face of the rudest of rude.  I was appalled by members of "my camp" and the way they would listen, or refuse to listen.  The way you were treated is disgusting, and I'm deeply ashamed.  I came because I was genuinely interested in what you had to say, and I feel I was robbed of a unique opportunity.Do I agree with Shalom Achshav?  Absolutely not.  But something we share is the idea of democracy and human rights and freedom, and you weren't granted the most basic modicum of human decency.  For that, I apologize.I apologize for those who called you anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist.  As thick-skinned as this business might make all, I'm sure those aren't easy things to hear.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an anti-Zionist, and he's both my enemy and yours.  But to call you anti-Zionist defeats the purpose of inviting you and listening to what you have to say.  No one has a monopoly on Zionism.  We disagree vehemently on what steps Israel must take, and on the rights/roles of the Palestinians.  But we agree on the most basic of principles - Israel is the Jewish homeland.  It's the historical land of our people, and it's the one place in the world that Jews can call "home."I hope you do come back to Bar Ilan at some point so I can hear you speak, and you don't allow people who treat you like an animal to get in the way of that.
It's sad.  And at the end of the day, Oppenheimer won.  Why?  Because he sat and listened to people act like animals, screaming and shouting, and calling him names, but he kept his cool.  He never lost it.  He behaved the way a mensch should behave, and he behaved while unfortunately, my side didn't.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wake Up Leaders of Israel!

Yet another terror attack.  This time, a soldier was stabbed on the light rail.  And for what?  Simply because she was a Jew, born in Israel, who fulfilled her legal obligation of joining the military for compulsory service.  She did absolutely nothing to warrant being stabbed in the chest (and hand).  She's now hanging on for life.  Meanwhile, rockets continue to pound the south.

For this, I turn to the UN Human Rights Council to hear some encouraging words about the Middle East.  Well, yesterday, they approved a report PRAISING former Libyan dictator, Muammer Qaddafi's human rights record.  Seriously?!  The guy who brutalized his protesting citizens?  The guy who caused another UN council, the Security Council, to authorize military action against him?  The one who France, in effect, declared war on?

So maybe the EU has better words?  Nope, there, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief simply regrets the actions being taken by both sides.  Yes, there are 2 sides - neither one is right nor wrong.  There's no terrorists.  There are sides, just like in a sports game.  And she doesn't deplore the rocket attacks, she simply regrets them.  (I wonder, does she really regret the rocket attacks, or does she regret that more Jews haven't been killed by them.  But I digress.)

It's time to wake up!  Even J Street, the "pro-Israel" group in America regretted (before pressure) the loss of life on both sides.  Really?  Why, if you are a pro-Israel group, would you regret the loss of life of terrorists bent on Israel's destruction.  That doesn't sound so pro-Israel to me!

When will the J Streets and the Peace Nows of the world recognize that pandering to the insatiable whims of the UN and the EU won't make them like Israel or Jews any more and it certainly won't make Israel any safer. It's time for Bibi to take a stand for Israel's security.  The "peace process" is dead.  Every Israeli leader, be it the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, IDF Chief of Staff, Member of Knesset, etc. must recognize the most important factor to look after is: Israel's security.  For years, leaders have looked for peace.  How can everything fit into peace.  Everything was weighed versus how it would appear to the world, how the Palestinians would take it, how it would affect peace prospects, etc.  It's time to become a normal country.  The Jews are supposed to be different than the rest of the world, and that's perfectly OK.  But remember Herzl who wanted a country like the countries of the world.  In this regard, I think it's fine to try to emulate other countries.  Look out for number one which is security.  The USA isn't nervous about every action they take in regard to how it will be perceived.  They make sure to protect their own national security and their own citizens.  Everything else is secondary.  Israel - it's time to do the same!

Bibi, stand with the people of your party who believe in this, such as Danny Danon, and you will have forever built a legacy of the PM who cared about the citizens of Israel!

Am Israel Chai!