Browsing Posts published in March, 2009

President Carter, Prime Minister Begin, and President Sadat join hands on the
North Grounds of the White House to celebrate the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, 26 March 1979.
Photo: Jimmy Carter Library and Museum

Today, 26 March 2009, marks 30 years since the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty at the White House in Washington.  The passage of time has shown the importance of this document, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for the entire Middle East.  The vision of the two leaders who signed this treaty, Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat, has ushered in an era of strategic and economic cooperation.  We hope that our ties with Egypt will continue to strengthen and that the friendship and cooperation between the two countries will only grow.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni commemorated the anniversary in a speech at the official government ceremony.

Additionally, Jehan Sadat, widow of President Anwar Sadat, noted the anniversary with an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required).  Here’s an excerpt:

Thirty years ago today, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter signed the Camp David Peace Accords. It was a culmination of a journey Anwar Sadat, my husband, began in October 1970 following the sudden death of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Within hours of Nasser’s funeral, my husband asked the U.S. ambassador to tell President Richard Nixon that Egypt was ready for peace.
There was no response, since at the time Egypt was a defeated nation having lost the Sinai Desert to Israel in the 1967 war. But Egypt’s victory in the October War of 1973 put Sadat in a position to restart his mission for peace.
On Nov. 9, 1977, in an address to the Egyptian Parliament, my husband announced his intention to make peace with Israel. The audience, which included Yasser Arafat, was stunned at first. Then, they began clapping. When Sadat arrived 10 days later in Jerusalem, then Prime Minister Golda Meir said: “Why are you late? We have been waiting for you.”

We were made aware of this fascinating article from the UMass Daily Collegian about Amit Rom, an 18-year-old Israeli working to make a difference in his country.  Of all things, he decided to volunteer in Sderot schools to help the kids there cope with the trauma of incoming rockets.  A great quote to close:

Just because the city is bombed, it doesn’t mean [the people] don’t need us to plan activities or for us to be with them,” Rom said. “In fact, they need it more. Every kid you talk to just wants someone to be there for them.

During the past several days, serious allegations have surfaced regarding the conduct of soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces during the recent Operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza.

The State of Israel takes all such allegations seriously. The IDF will carefully examine the circumstances of each alleged incident and will thereby determine the need for a further investigation.

The State of Israel is dedicated to maintaining morality during warfare. During the recent operation, the IDF strove to keep damage and casualties in the civilian sector to the minimum possible, and achieved remarkable success despite immensely difficult circumstances.

It should be noted that behaviors of the type alleged are not in keeping with the values and spirit of the IDF and deserve full condemnation. In addition, the IDF has undertaken measures to ensure that soldiers and officers internalize the moral and ethical aspects of combat.

Dear Friends:

Tomorrow, we will mark 1,000 days of captivity for Gilad Shalit. On this somber occasion, we ask that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers throughout the day. In that spirit, we would like to share with you once again the video of Gilad Shalit’s vision for peace, When the Shark and the Fish First Met, which can be seen above and on YouTube.

We reported yesterday that the government has decided not to accede to Hamas’s demands for Gilad Shalit.  As communicated by the Prime Minister’s Office, Hamas refused to negotiate in good faith and remained firm in its exhorbitant demands.  The government reaffirmed its commitment to working towards Shalit’s release, even as this round of negotiations did not succeed.  In addition, the Government released a partial list of the Hamas operatives it had mulled releasing in an exchange.

The Palestinian people, especially those in Gaza, have suffered for some time from abuse and being played as proxies in a war against Israel.  For many years, they were the proxies of the Arab world, which refused to welcome them and forced them to live in refugee camps.  Now, it is Hamas that manipluates the people of Gaza, putting them in harm’s way while its “fighters” take on Israel.

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal Europe suggests the path to peace lies in recognizing and redressing this injustice.  An excerpt:

The media tend to attribute Gaza’s decline solely to Israeli military and economic actions against Hamas. But such a myopic analysis ignores the problem’s root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at cementing the Palestinian people’s status as stateless refugees in order to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel.[...]
Arabs claim they love the Palestinian people, but they seem more interested in sacrificing them. If they really loved their Palestinian brethren, they’d pressure Hamas to stop firing missiles at Israel. In the longer term, the Arab world must end the Palestinians’ refugee status and thereby their desire to harm Israel. It’s time for the 22 Arab countries to open their borders and absorb the Palestinians of Gaza who wish to start a new life. It is time for the Arab world to truly help the Palestinians, not use them.

Haaretz is reporting that Israel rejected the changes made to the statement prepared for the Durban Review Conference as superifcial.  As noted yesterday, UN leaders had scrambled to change the statement after threatened by an EU boycott of the event.  However, the Foreign Ministry said, the document still refers to the original Durban resolution, which singled out Israel.

After the Israel, Canada, the US, and Italy backed out of the Durban Review Conference and warnings that the EU and Australia were planning to do so as well, organizers have reportedly changed the draft resolution.  The changes omit the one-sided criticism of Israel as a racist state and leave out references against the “defamation of religion.”

Of course, there is no telling what the actual conference will be like–or who will finally attend.  For that, we will have to wait until the conference ends on 25 April in Geneva.

One of the biggest issues that needs to be resolved in the context of a broader arrangement regarding Gaza is how to stop Hamas from smuggling arms into the coastal area.  (Of course, Hamas says it’s going to go right on ahead bringing in weapons.)  Last week, a group of nine NATO countries met in London to try to address this issue, and a final report was released today outlining the goals these countries have set.

Ibrahim Mousawi, a spokesman for Hizbullah and an editor of its al- Manar newspaper, has reportedly been denied entry into the UK–the latest in the story of an invitation to an advocate of terrorism.

Mousawi had initially been invited to speak at the School of Oriental and African Studies later this month on “Political Islam,” but the invitation caused quite the uproar.  Mousawi has been a senior figure at Al-Manar, which peddles antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiment and has therefore been banned in the United States.

According to the Jewish Chronicle and the Harry’s Place blog, the government was even set to welcome Mousawi, despite his job description of “whipping up hatred against Jews.”  Many people apparently thought the man did not quite raise enough tension with the country’s Jewish community to raise hackles.

It seems, for now at least, that more rational heads have prevailed.  Of course there is still the need to be vigilant and call incitement, hatred, and racism by their proper names–and refuse to promulgate such ideologies under any excuse.