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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two tidbits that gave me hope this morning

At the start of November I offered some advice to PM Netanyahu as to how to extricate himself from the conflicting demands of the US administration and his own government.

I said then (and still maintain) that if Bibi would simply tell Obama that Israel can only deliver the new 90- day building freeze the US wants if Jonathan Pollard were released, there isn't a single person in his ruling coalition who would vote against such a trade-off. And in addition to finally getting Pollard out of jail, it would finally show the US what it means to make difficult concessions in the name of peace.

Well, if today's news is to be believed, either Prime Minister Netanyahu is a closet treppenwitz reader... or he is getting excellent advice from other quarters. OK, probably the latter.... but still gratifying to read about a politician doing something sensible for a change.

On a more personal note, my optometrist, Dr. Robert Lederman, (you may remember I wrote about a small miracle he performed on my behalf here) shared an 'only in Jerusalem' anecdote with me that I couldn't resist posting here in his own words:

"I was recently examining an 8 year old boy. He looked like a regular kid wearing a T-shirt and shorts. I was in the middle of doing a retinoscopy when in the distance I heard the siren of an ambulance, as happens in any city from time to time.

The 8 yr old boy asked me if I could stop the exam.

I thought that he wanted to go to the bathroom. But what he did instead was to recite Psalm 121 by heart in Hebrew to pray for the well-being of whoever it was in that ambulance.

When he'd finished, he let me carry on."

A wonderful reminder that, despite what many think, there is far more in the clear, cool Jerusalem air than the sound of sirens.

Posted by David Bogner on November 21, 2010 | Permalink

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Lovely. And timely. Just the other day, there was an accident near our house (at a corner where accidents happen far too frequently). After ensuring that plenty of people were stopping to help, I turned to Morey and said, "there must be *something* we can/should say for the well-being of the accident victims. We're Jews, we have a bracha for everything."

Now I've been schooled by an 8-year-old. Psalm 121 it is.

Posted by: Alissa | Nov 21, 2010 12:47:31 PM

David/Trep; I don't get time often enough to stop and post a comment, but your blog is one of those I check out most often and enjoy. And today's post is a perfect example of why that is. So, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with the world, and long may it continue. Oh, and is it too much to hope that more politicians will take sensible advice? Shavuah Tov.

Posted by: Ellis | Nov 21, 2010 2:45:14 PM

David, Sorry to throw a spit ball but with all due respect and sensitivity to the plight of Jonathan Pollard, do you really think that this "concession" is worth a three month building freeze which affects hundreds of lives. And by suggesting and implementing your idea, at the end of the three months, Pollard will be a faint memory and the Yishmaelim will not have come to the table and the US will say to us, "hang on guys...give this a little more time...it's about to work". No siree, if you want to advise the Prome Minister, tell him to get some cajones and say to the US, "we will negotiate without preconditons and that is non-negotiable". As for Pollard, the U.S. gets valuable Intel from Israel. It's time to use a little blackmail. After all, if Caspar Weinberger could use underhand methods to incarcerate Pollard forever, then it's time we behaved a little less fair too. Notwithstanding, great blog!

Posted by: Shlomo | Nov 22, 2010 4:56:18 PM

Alissa ... But you have to learn it by heart! :-)

Ellis... and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you charm your host. :-)

Shlomo... I couldn't disagree more completely with what you've written... except for the great blog part. :_).

1. Any freeze will be temporary. Pollard will be free forever.

2. If the Palis don't come to the table, it justifies our doubts about their seriousness to talk peace. They can ask us for another freeze, but we can simply say, 'ok... what else do you have that we want?' The Palis have been using the 'pay to play' model for decades... why not us?

3. So long as Israel refuses to be weaned from the US teat, we aren't in a position to blackmail anyone. This is arguably the only leverage we have over the Americans and Nentanyahu is smart to have grabbed onto the chance.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 22, 2010 5:20:06 PM

Shlomo, as one of those directly affected by the freeze (I am building a house in part of the future Palestinian state) I would gladly wait 3 more months for Pollard's freedom, I think my neighbors would all say the same thing.

Posted by: Max Power | Nov 22, 2010 5:37:51 PM

Max, I admire your selflesness but we have to look always at the big picture. Don't kid yourself that this will be a one off concession.

David, are you serious? How many more chances do you want to give the Palis to prove their seriousness. They do not move an inch - correction - they keep hardening their stance and we just keep giving concessions. First a 10 month freeze. Now another 3 months. We all know that there will be one meeting if that between the parties and then the Palis will say that Jerusalem must be frozen and the Yanks will say to us that we showed such bravery, please, just a little more freeze time. The Palis are a trillion miles ahead of their red line (which does not even exist) and we keep whiting out our red lines and painting a new one. I for one am sick of our feeble negotiating tactics. Lets play hardball and you will see that Pollard will be home sooner than will be the case with our current stance.

Worst of all guys, we have all become obsessed with the stupid freeze. As always, our eyes are taken away from the essence and we allow ourselves to get painted into a corner. Tell Bibi to ask one question of the Palis : Do you agree that Israel can exist. Yes or No. Simple. No Jewish State no clever language. A clear simple statement. If Yes, then everything else is technical and semantics. But we all know the real answer. Its time we learned how to paint the Palis into a corner and not just into Gaza.

One final thought.....anyone stop to think that the Likud platform is more left today than the Labour of the late 70's.

Posted by: Shlomo | Nov 22, 2010 7:57:01 PM

This is an(other) interesting post, David.

I have had mixed feelings about the Pollard case. There does seem to be far less damage done to the US intelligence community by Jonathan Pollard than from the Walker spy ring (which sold secrets to the Soviets for more than 2 decades), yet the punishment is similar -- actually, the Walker son only got 25 years and only served 15 because of a plea deal between the Feds and the father. Nevertheless, he did spy against this nation and there are still a significant number of former government officials ("players") who want to see him locked up for life. I'm not sure if it's anti-Semitism or anger/guilt because it happened "on their watch".

I am not supportive of the building freeze unless it accomplishes something tangible for Israel. Perhaps a 3 month freeze in exchange for the US releasing Pollard to Israel AND the Palestinians releasing Gilad Shalit?

What do you think?

Posted by: ProphetJoe | Nov 23, 2010 5:00:05 PM

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