UPDATES 7 pm Israel time, Friday, May 9 2014:
**As has become the norm, Palestinian terrorists have been active during the last 24 hours with shooting bullets into Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion, firing a rocket into the Eshkol Region from Gaza, and throwing “rocks” at numerous locations in Judea and Samaria.
This already bad terror situation may soon worsen immeasurably.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed yesterday that Fatah (the PLO) has agreed to release all Hamas terrorists from prisons in the Palestinian autonomous areas as part of the reconciliation agreement that will begin to be implemented next week.
Meanwhile another Hamas spokesman, Moussa Abu Marzouk, indicated yesterday that the same reconciliation agreement specifies the consolidation of Palestinian security services in the Palestinian autonomous areas and in Gaza. Marzouk went on to say that Fatah had agreed to cease all security coordination with Israel and to return to a program of “rifle and struggle.”
The irony, of course, is that with Hamas terrorists on the loose again and with no Israeli security, the coming surge in terrorism will not only target Israelis but also Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah.
**There are extremely worrisome reports today of a huge IDF budgetary shortfall that will soon bring to a halt all IDF training exercises. The first manifestation of this dearth of funds is the calling off “Turning Point 8”, an emergency exercise scheduled for June that was to explore ways to cope with a massive attack on the IDF and Israel’s infrastructure.
These were the comments of an unnamed security official today:
“The rejection of the exercise is the first step in an almost complete cessation of military training and security system due to budget constraints. This is not a game and not scaring people. This is the simple reality: the security system has run out of resources, and the IDF must cancel the exercise. Consequently, the level of competence, readiness and preparedness, not only in the rear, but also in other sectors, including regular combat units and reserve units will go down dramatically.”
How has this situation come to pass? Much of the blame is being placed on IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz who has not been able to put together an annual budget for even one year out of the past four.
As Israel’s Independence week celebrations come to an end, your humble servant would like to do something unusual today. What appears below is the slightly abbreviated version of an op-ed article written by Ben-Dror Yemeni that appeared in four days ago in Yedioth Aharonot. In it, Yemini captures the paradox that is Israel. Read and enjoy!
“Israel, the state of paradoxes, has a lot to be proud of”
“Sixty-six years ago, when 36 gentlemen and two ladies signed the Proclamation of Independence, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy. They knew that the call for peace with the surrounding nations would be met with declarations of war and destructions. They were not sure that this newborn baby would last.
But there is one thing they definitely didn’t know: That the State of Israel would lead the contribution to humanity and would also become the most hated country by that same humanity.
The State of Israel is characterized by paradoxes.
For more than three years now, young scientists from Israel have been submitting applications to the European Research Council (ERC), and for more than three years now Israel has been in the first place, for its size, in receiving grants. This is the most important foundation of its kind in the world. How does that match Israeli schoolchildren’s poor achievements in international exams? It doesn’t. We are the state of paradoxes.
For almost a decade now, Israel has been leading, or has been among the leaders, in global surveys about negative contribution to the world. When we are not at the top, we are in the same boat with Iran, Pakistan and North Korea . . .
When we move from perception surveys to facts, the picture is reversed.
Israel is one of the leading countries in the world in developing medications and irrigation and water purification systems (the first place in the world in sewage treatment), in patent application (first place in the registration of patents of medical developments) and in scientific publications (second place in the world in the three most important journals).
These achievements are not only a cause for national pride. They are mainly a contribution to humanity.
And the list goes on. The most expensive exports from Israel, according to weight, are more valuable than pure gold. We are talking about Summer Sun tomato seeds – $350,000 per kilogram.
There is no index of ‘contribution to humanity per capita.’ But if there were such an index, Israel would likely take the first place. Millions of people owe their lives to the irrigation systems and agricultural products from Israel. Not just the Third World. Even California Governor Jerry Brown recently asked Israel for research and technological aid in order to deal with the severe drought. How does this contribution match the oh-so-negative image? It doesn’t. We are the state of paradoxes.
Some say it’s not really a paradox, because ‘Israel and the Jews are the biggest players in the culture of violence, and that culture of violence is eventually going to destroy humanity’ . . . These slanderous remarks were made by a person who headed an anti-violence institute in a prestigious university in the United States. They were made, in almost the same style, by a former British minister, Clare Short, and also by a well-known journalist from Israel. The message gets through. Thousands of academics around the world are spreading similar messages.
The fact is that 35 Palestinians were killed in 2013, and most of them were involved in terrorism. This number is less than the daily bloodshed in Syria, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Nigeria, in Somalia. The fact is that 99.9999% of the violent conflicts in the world have nothing to do with Israel.
But the hell with the facts . . .
For 364 days a year we engage in self-flagellation. We have sinned, we have betrayed, we have committed a crime. With all this self-flagellation, which is sometimes legitimate criticism and sometimes self-hatred, we have lost touch with reality.
There are problems. Israel is far from perfect. The gaps and the housing prices are alarming.
But in spite of all the problems, Israel is a miracle.
A state founded from 70 Diaspora communities, most of which did not know anything about democracy.
A state of poor refugees which became a world power in agriculture and irrigation and water purification and high-tech developments.
A state which does not live by the sword, but by research, development and entrepreneurship.
A state in which the talks about boycott and suspending investments conceal the fact that it is the most invested country in the world, and in some fields not even just for its size.
We must continue warning. We must criticize and bite and expose the problems. But once a year we must also present the broader picture. So yes, we can look back with pride. We can look forward with hope.
Happy Independence Day.”