Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Plan for Expanded Jewish Settlement in Jerusalem "Angers" US

Thus reads the headline in today's NY Times, but the actual word used by Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs is "dismayed."

"Dismayed."  Oh my goodness!  The US must be really angry.  Better watch out, Mr. Netanyahu.

(Actually, as Haaretz correspondent Akiva Eldar notes today, Netanyahu knows that when it comes to construction in East Jerusalem, he can do just about whatever he wants.  His history with Bill Clinton during the late 1990s, when he had his first term as PM,  tells him so.  And besides, Israel need to do what it needs to do, because, after all, says Netanyahu, it's "the most threatened country in the world"   Hey, did you hear that, Mr. Karzai?  How about you, Ahmadinejad?  You listening, Mr. Zardari?  Huh, what'd you say, Nuri al-Maliki?  No worries about your new Iraq being torn apart when the US forces leave?. 

(Well, that's actually IF they leave.  One of Iraq's VPs has just vetoed the much-ballyhooed new election law - which could slow down US withdrawal.)

Obama did at least say to Fox News that such settlement expansion would not make Israel safer, and would only embitter the Palestinians and make it tougher to achieve peace.  Bu then, of course, he hastened to add:
I've said repeatedly and I'll say again, Israel's security is a vital national interest to the United States, and we will make sure they are secure."
Whew!  Thank goodness!  That statement that you were actually dismayed really had us worried that you might really do something about it, like not have the US veto the attempt to bring a Palestinian statehood proposal to the UN Security Council.


Speaking of which, the usual suspects are piling on to thwart the Palestinian proposal to unilaterally declare an independent state - although Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat has clarified their intention, which is ". . .to take to the United Nations Security Council a request that the international community re-endorse the two-state solution based on the pre-Jun. 5, 1967 borders." Netanyahu has one-upped Mahmud Abbas' move by threatening to annex parts of the West Bank.

And it seems that an ever-larger part of the IDF will be ready to help.  Six soldiers have refused orders to evacuate settlers from illegal outposts.  Perhaps understandable, when  rabbis are telling them that soldiers are not allowed to take part in such operations. Take note:

An extremist right-wing group calling itself the Organization for Saving the Nation and the Land has already announced that it will pay each soldier NIS 1,000 for every day they spend in military prison.

IDF sources said that in both incidents, the soldiers were egged on and abetted by right-wing activists from outside the army: Both acts were filmed, and the material was disseminated by right-wing activists and settlers involved in the efforts to reestablish the West Bank settlement of Homesh, which was evacuated during the disengagement in the summer of 2005.

The soldiers' commanders believe the protesters were also prepared in advance for the ensuing trials. For example, the officers noted, the soldiers all reiterated the same arguments in support of their actions.

And in both instances, some of the soldiers came from the two extremist hesder yeshivas: The most recent protest was the work of graduates of the Elon Moreh yeshiva, while the previous one was carried out by graduates of Har Bracha. Both yeshivas are located in settlements in the Nablus area.

The book published by Rabbi Melamed of Har Bracha was entitled "Revivim." In it, he offered answers to halakhic questions pertaining to "nation, land, army."

Melamed has repeatedly urged troops to refuse to obey orders during the evacuation of settlements, and he reiterated this in his book.

"A simple halakha [law] is that it is forbidden for any person, whether a soldier or an officer ... to participate in the strictly forbidden act of expelling Jews from their homes and handing over any portion of the Land of Israel to enemies," he wrote. "Those who violate this violate several commandments of the Torah ... Moreover, anyone who considers the situation realistically knows with certainty that any such action encourages those who hate us and endangers the lives of many in Israel."

In another part of the book, Melamed wrote in favor of serving in the IDF, "in order to carry out the extremely important commandment of defending the nation and the land. However, we must reiterate that an order that facilitates an expulsion must be refused."

In response to the question, "What if many soldiers refuse; will that not cause the army to collapse?" Melamed wrote: "If many refuse, no such order will be given. At most, senior commanders will have to resign. On the contrary, it would be good if this happened. The majority of the senior officers are contaminated by politics. They are not commanders who can lead the army to victory, as was shown in the Second Lebanon War."

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