The energy level all over Israel is amazing. I saw a country full of vitality wherever I went.
I spent days just roaming the streets of Tel Aviv to sense the feeling of my old grounds. I spent hours on the fine beach where I got so many sunburns in my youth I could not count them. I travelled around the country and opened my eyes. People were enjoying themselves, going on with their lives, their errands, chatting with friends in the park. As they were strolling the streets or shopping, their faces were relaxed, just enjoying themselves. They have good reasons to: the economy is buoyant, the Shekel is rising every day against the dollar, income is rising, employment is good; I did not sense concerns about security, of either the current situation or the future.
Life in Israel is good. Even a great many Israeli Arabs say they’d rather live in Israel then any other country. I watched a waiting line in a pharmacy, an Arab lady stood in front of an orthodox Jew, without any fear. I saw Arab families strolling on the shore of Tel Aviv, no one paid attention to them. When will a Jew be able to travel in peace in an Arab country?
As I emerged from the modern, clean, quiet, train in central Tel Aviv I saw a skyline full of soaring glass office buildings in most directions. If any space was left, it was now full of tall construction cranes busily erecting new office buildings inside the cities, and modern tall condominiums in the suburbs. Sometimes a few old, small apartment buildings are being replaced by a single, ultra modern 20 stories lovely condominium. And the money is just rolling in. I was wondering if I was in the same old country I knew. Could it have grown so much in less than four years?
I was just amazed at the pace, continuous traffic, the no end construction, and the relaxed mood of the people. It is both a busy country of seven and a half million people and a small informal family-oriented place at the same time: Every one talks to you as if you are his brother. The bus driver lets people off when they asked, even if there was no station there. People were very helpful giving me directions when I did not know were I landed. I rarely heard a car horn; even in the busy market place of Shuk Hakarmel no one was pushy or impolite.
I also stayed in small communities; saw new constructions of private homes in many places, all of it by Arabs. They spoke Hebrew well but with a heavy accent. They did not like that I took so many pictures, so I answered them in English, they did not understand me but left me alone.
Every where I went, from a kibbutz, small communities, medium cities, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, I got two strong feelings; Israelis are so busy building the country they do not have time to worry about their enemies. And they are enjoying themselves at every opportunity.
I went to a few modern restaurants, lovely places, excellent food, on par with excellent ones here. But all parking lots within a good distance were full. One of the most difficult problems in central Israel, the greater Tel Aviv region, is parking. Every one has a car despite the excellent public transportation. The cars are quite small and energy efficient but at $8 a gallon it is quiet a load. Luckily most Israeli distances are short. Tel Aviv to Jerusalem takes less than an hour and a half by a slow bus at traffic time. Jerusalem is now such a sprawling city; it is the area of Paris. And I used to walk from one side of the Jerusalem to the other in an hour when I lived there in 1948.
Israelis seem to be relaxed about terrorism because they have been hardened by experience; because the number of attacks dropped down drastically, because of the fence, the dedicated security services, and because the rocket attacks from Gaza seem so far away.
When I heard machine guns in Jerusalem I asked where it came from. My relative told me: In Israel, unless they shoot directly at you, you just ignore it.
Iran? Our military will take care of that when necessary, they told me.
Politics? So many views on internal matters, but almost united that Muslim terrorists, Hamas, Hizbullah, all the others, should be defeated with strong military arm. The Left’s dream that giving territories away would settle the Palestinians was shattered after the Gaza giveaway. Hamas terrorism in Gaza hardened every one’s attitude; we gave them Gaza and they shoot rockets back. I was surprised by the change in mood of people I knew to be so idealistic before. You hear very little from what remained of the Left.
Israel population is almost that of Sweden and twice that of Norway. These countries have a uniform population and surrounded by friendly neighbors. They, nevertheless, preach to Israel how to live in this hostile region. Israel thrives despite its enemies and because of its open society, mixed population, wide range of views, and a vibrant society. When you see the rainbow of color of the people you realize what it means: “the gathering of the people.”
The ability of Israel to cope with terrorism, to have such powerful military yet respond with humanity, to advance so rapidly economically especially in Hi Tech, and to produce so much from such a small piece of land is amazing.
You may be interested in hearing an interview I had about two years ago with Tamar Yonah of Israelnationalnews about my Lechi underground experience.
It will be there only for about a week.
Regarding my previous article about negotiation with Muslim extremists in general and Iran in particular, I suggest your read the summary below and think what we can expect from Iran’s leadership. Some among them said it is ok to lose millions of Iranians if we could wipe Israel off the map.
The Phenomenon of Islamist National Suicide - Amnon Rubinstein (Jerusalem Post)
• Lt.-Col. (ret.) Ari Bar Yosef writes in the army journal Ma'arachot that cases of Islamist national suicide are not uncommon. He cites three such examples of Arab-Muslim regimes irrationally sacrificing their very existence, overriding their instinct of self-preservation, to fight the perceived enemy to the bitter end.
1. Saddam Hussein could have avoided war and conquest in 2003 by allowing UN inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction wherever they wanted. Yet Iraq's ruler opted for war, knowing full well that he would have to face the might of the U.S.
2. Yasser Arafat in 2000, after the failure of the Camp David and Taba talks, could have continued talking to Israel. But he chose to resort to violence, with the result that all progress toward Palestinian independence was blocked.
3. Post-9/11, the Taliban had the options of entering into negotiations with the U.S., with a view to extraditing Osama bin Laden, or to risk war and destruction. They chose to die fighting rather than to give up an inch.
• In all three cases, prolonged war, death, destruction and national suicide were preferable to peaceful solutions. Dying is preferable to negotiating with infidels. The same conclusion is applicable to the Palestinians voting for Hamas, and to Iran's decision to confront the Security Council on acquiring nuclear weapons.
• Suicide in the struggle against Israel has acquired a degree of legitimacy the West cannot even fathom. Israel, as well as the West, should be prepared for a long, irrational and costly war, unlike any other fought in the past.
The writer, a professor of law at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, is a former minister of education.
A few minutes ago I talked with Ambassador Mark Ginsberg about the path the US should take with Iran. He said that we should try all possible means to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, including negotiation.
I prefer a peaceful solution, but my question is: would negotiation with that regime accomplish anything, or would it just allow them additional time to produce their nuclear bombs?
Two and half years ago I wrote you about the danger of the Iranian nuclear weapon program and suggested that there is negligible likelihood of a peaceful solution. The only way Iran will stop this program is under a powerful international economic pressure with the participation of all major players. This, I said, was not likely since China and Russia have different agendas.
Relying on negotiation with Iran would be a mistake, I believe, because Iran is not willing to negotiate with any degree of sincerity.
Let’s review some facts about negotiation:
Despite all the attempts for the last few years to negotiate with Iran internationally and via the UN Security Council, Iran played the negotiation game to gain time for speeding up its nuclear weapons development. Again and again we were left holding the bag. When will we learn?
In addition, and that is critical: Iran has proven - beyond a shadow of a doubt- its determination to destabilize the Middle East by its support of terrorism in Iraq, in Lebanon and in Gaza.
Several Arab countries, including Egypt and Saudia are afraid of Iran’s attempt to control the Middle East. Even without actually using their nuclear weapons, Iran could extend its power over many nations.
Iran is using its unexpected windfall from the substantial escalation of oil prices to finances much of the terrorism in Lebanon (via Syria, a very poor country): the Hizbullah war against Israel two years ago, and against the Lebanese government recently. Israeli forces determined that Hamas has been supplied and trained by Iranian forces and many of the rockets used by Hamas are also supplied by Iran.
These facts and more should alert us that Iran is a proven enemy not only of Israel, but of the civilized world. They have said so themselves. Any attempt to negotiate with them is futile. They have been advancing Muslim extremism inside and outside their borders for years. What could we give them to stop their core national goal?
Negotiation is a word that represents an interaction among people with generally similar expectation of life. We can not negotiate with people who have radically different visions of life and the world, and will use any means to achieve their goals. So how could we have negotiated successfully with the USSR, after all they also were our enemies?
The people and government of the USSR, as militant as they were, wanted to live, to prosper, and to have a successful, peaceful future. True, they wanted the world to be communist, but not at all costs, only when it was relatively easy for them to do so. Muslim terrorists are not only willing to die for their cause, they are eager to die to destroy their enemies. Much of the leadership of Iran are willing to sacrifice millions of their own people in order to destroy their enemies. They have said so repeatedly. You can not compare the USSR attack on Hungary with 9/11, Hamas, or Iran.
The major error in the theory of negotiation with terrorists is that proponents of negotiation all assume, unconsciously, that there is a similar person on the other side to negotiate with. In business negotiations there is the premise of the honesty of both sides, and that they are not going to use the negotiations as a deception but to really try to get to some agreement.
Often extreme leaders in the Muslim world have no morality, no constraints of any type that we can conceive off. They are so much more cunning than we are. They can run circles around any Western that has even just a little morality.
We never faced an enemy of this extreme nature before. We do not want to see it, it is not nice to say…but their Muslim religion and culture encourages them to lie to gain advantage for their overall cause: Jihad: Islam’s conquest of the world. It also tells them to negotiate when they are weak, and when they gain strength to discard the agreements. That is what Mohammad did during his life and what he advocated. It is not only written, it is normally practiced. Negotiation in Arab culture means that you are weak, therefore, after Arafat signed the Oslo Peace Accord with Rabin, he had to explain this concept of temporary agreement to his supporters in Arabic: this is a temporary agreement to give us strength, then we will take over all of Israel. And he proceeded with terrorism.
Rabin and Peres understood leaders like Sadat and King Hussein, people with morality. Mistakenly Rabin and Peres assumed that Arafat and his PLO were of similar nature. Their wishful thinking brought the bloodiest wave of terror in Israel existence.
Do not assume that because President Bush was so unreasonable we could not have negotiated with Iran. There is no issue that we can really be agreed upon, and no party that wants or can get to any solution. We are facing extreme fanaticism, combined with death wish, and aims to murder as many people as they can. Iran’s current president is not the only one aiming “to wipe Israel off the map,” the same view is expressed by many in Iran’s leadership, including their previously “moderate” president.
Ambassador Ginsberg also believes that the US has been toothless in that region and we can not influence events there without projecting a viable military power.
We do not have any other leverage. We need their oil, they do not need our money. There are plenty of buyers. Nuclear Iran would dominate the vast Middle East oil resources by threat alone.
Let’s look at several famous attempts at negotiation with the enemy:
Chamberlin’s negotiation with Hitler prior to WWII was a sham. While Chamberlin beamed of peace in our time Hitler advanced and increased his military power and preparation. Brittan meanwhile was not gearing up for a possible war.
I just watched a documentary on President FDR. Japan and the US were negotiating prior to Perl Harbor, the only problem was that while the US was negotiating, the Japanese navy was already on its way to the attack- their secret preparation took months. FDR was shocked by the depth of damage to our fleet, he was fooled. He did not realize the unpreparedness of our navy and the cunnings of the Japanese.
In contrast, Libya’s Kaddafi first decided to reject his nuclear program then we negotiated with him.
Both parties in a negotiation aim for a compromise that will give each of them some of their desires but not all of them. Many international negotiations were very successful between antagonists. But you had to have a willing opponent with the aim of a peaceful compromise. During WWII we did not negotiate with Germany and Japan, they would not have stopped their wars until they were utterly destroyed and defeated.
Why logical people can not already grasp the above points after so much history, after so much evidence of Muslim terrorism, direct Iran participation, and their extreme statements?
It may be a combination of effects: We are exhausted of all the wars, strifes, natural disasters, global warming, and financial agonies. It is understandable, we wish for a miracle solution, “if we just did that…
Or, we hate Bush so much, it is his fault. Now, a new liberal president will wave a magic wand…
Or, common to many Israelis in the past: the fault is our own, we did not do enough, we did not try hard enough. Because of their kind hearts, because it is so much beyond their own experience some liberal Americans can not fathom that some people are evil. That some people have such a twisted mentality that you should not negotiate with them. Could we have talked with Hitler and convince him to peaceful coexistence?
Finally, most Israelis learned from their troubled existence: Palestinian terrorists are murderers and their goal is the full destruction of Israel. According to all the people I talked with a few weeks ago in Israel, representing a wide political spectrum, most Israelis do not wants more talks, they want military solutions. It is time to destroy Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorists, they emphasized.
I hope we become wiser and less dreamers in this country since if we misunderstand the extreme nature of Muslim terrorism, and Iran, we and the world would be facing much more than 9/11 atrocities in the future.
p.s. Former Ambassador Ginsberg spent many years in his youth in Israel, and lost family members in Israeli wars. He was US Ambassador to Morocco, and he is Fox News Channel's principal global affairs commentator. I talked with him tonight in Sacramento after his interesting AIPAC presentation. He urges any supporter of Israel to join AIPAC to enhance Israel’s security.
You may be interested in my answer to a friend:
You are asking me if Bennie Morris’s criticism of Israel’s success in the war of Independence is valid.
I do not believe most of what I read unless the source is:
1: Well known and reliable,
2. It is corroborated with info from other, independent sources,
3. It makes common sense to me based on my own experience.
I study issues by looking, over time, at many diverse sources, not the unique view of an individual.
I have known for some years that Benny Morris is anti Israeli and works for years to discredit the facts of the 48 war.
My brother Dr. Pinhas Ginossar was a historian of the period at the same university for a long time and edited a serious and highly respected yearly publication on the very issue- Israel independence: IYUNIM BITKUMAT ISRAEL-- Studies in Zionism, the Yisuv and the State of Israel. My brother reviewed also materials we do not have access to- Pinhas told me to disregard most if not all that Morris has been saying.
I was there during the war and so were most of my friends; we were in the right age to fight and die, and they told me many of their experiences.
The facts are:
The majority of Palestinians escaped because: First, their leaders told them to leave because they would destroy Israel, drive us to the sea quickly and then they could return and take our empty homes. I saw their propaganda against us. It reminded me of the Nazi propaganda, you must see it to realize their attitude.
Also, some Palestinians knew that if they caught us they would murder us, and therefore believed that we would do the same to them. They ran in fear. But the Israeli’s rarely killed innocent people. In a few places we encouraged them to leave, and I am glad we did. During the war you look to secure your positions and do not have the leisure of being magnanimous.
You also have to be realistic about war and your country.
Almost all countries that gained freedom in the 20th Century gained their freedom by force, by might, by fighting. So did Israel. Don't start feeling guilty about it.
Israel is without a doubt a legally internationally recognized country. The Arabs disregard this reality.
We won our country by our wars against the British and the Arabs.
Land is held by those who have the dedication and strength to win the wars.
Israel won it several times from Arab attackers. It is ours and any discussion trivialized the 23 thousands Israeli dead the Arabs murdered during the different wars they imposed on us.
I do not care what the Arabs are saying about their rights, like they do not care how much proofs we can submit to them about our rights.
The one with strength wins. And that is the way life is for thousands of years.