Tomorrow eve ushers in the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It is a day of personal soul searching and repentance, which we are told seals our fates for the year ahead. If we have repented and prayed in earnest (and made things right with our fellow human beings, and given charity), by the time the Gates of Repentance close, we can rejoice that we will have been forgiven.
May each of us be sealed for a year of blessing.
Today, then, I will post and — barring something extraordinary — will not do so again until after Yom Kippur. To be whole, sometimes it is essential to turn away from all of the politics and craziness.
My posting yesterday elicited a barrage of comments from readers. Let me be as brief here as I can:
 I am convinced that it was the Assad regime and not rebels who instituted the gas attack that killed over 1,000. Not only was information with regard to this picked up by Israeli intelligence, the rebels do not possess the equipment to launch an attack of that size. This is not to say that rebels may not possess some wmd
 I am well aware that over 100,000 have died in Syria’s civil war (not all killed by Assad’s troops, some dead at the hands of the rebels). While this itself is a horror that might have (or should have) been responded to by the international community, I do see use of gas in an attack as qualitatively different. When these weapons, forbidden by humanitarian international law, are brought into play, it is appropriate for the international community to intervene/send a strong message about repercussions. This is particularly important now with Iran on the brink of developing nuclear capacity. If renegade nations imagine they can proceed with impunity, no matter what they do, the world will be in even greater trouble than it already is.
 I take the issue of deterrence very seriously. From where I sit, here in Jerusalem, I understand very very clearly that it is Israel’s deterrence power that protects us: That is, our enemies know what would be unleashed upon them if they acted against us, or if they crossed a red line that we’ve set.
See this, regarding Israel’s red line:
“Our red lines have not changed,” said an Israeli official [last night]. “Assad should understand already that he should not play around with us on this issue. Our policy has not changed, despite what is happening in the international arena. If something looks to us like an unusual step, it will be dealt with.”
As Obama set a red line regarding the use by Assad of gas, it was imperative for him to respond. Without an appropriate response, the US is seen as a paper tiger, and enemies of the Western world are empowered. I grieve for this state of affairs.
 I know full well that Obama does not have our back. He would gladly throw us under the bus for any of a variety of reasons. What is important is that our leaders know this, and they do. We will depend on our ourselves, our own deterrence power, and our own mighty military power, which will be released if need be.
 There are no good guys in Syria. We all understand this. But a case can be made for weakening Assad — if not taking him down — because of his linkage to Iran. His weakness renders Iran less powerful and undercuts support for Hezbollah. What is more, it allows the Iranians to ponder whether they might not be next. Thus, another reason to hit Assad.
 And then, lastly, as to a weakened America. Yes, I know that this is what Obama prefers. He made that clear from the beginning — he’s an ‘internationalist’ and quick to apologize for the US. He overtly courts the bad guys and works against the (relatively) good ones — as he did with his support of the Brotherhood in Egypt. Time and again I have written about this. I certainly do not delude myself: Not long ago, I shared an enormously powerful expose of his penchant for bringing MB people into the government. He has socialist associations and powerful radical Muslim associations and some exceedingly dubious family relations.
However, I also believe that he’s an incompetent who is way over his head. I do not interpret every single thing he does as part of a sinister and well thought-out comprehensive plot against America, or as part of a conspiracy. He is also a coward who makes stupid decisions, or, perhaps more accurately, prefers not to make decisions. He is not equipped to be in the White House. I may be wrong. But as we do not know with certainty that his every act — however bumbling and cowardly it seems — is really part of a deliberate plot to destroy America, I will not write as if I know this to be the case. Whatever evidence it pleases various readers to send me, I expect that I will continue to write as I have been.
I will add now that Putin, who is as wily as they come, with his old KGB skills, is running rings around Obama. What we’re witnessing is not a case of Obama being “smart” in his intentions to make the US weak. In terms of maneuvering the situation, Putin simply has Obama considerably outclassed and it’s a pathetic sight.
I will continue to follow this…
But now on to another situation, another concern: Our relationship with the PA and how the “negotiations” are going.
It’s not simply a matter of the Palestinian Arabs not having good intentions with regard to truly negotiating a “two state solution.” It has become quite clear that they — as wily as they also are — are attempting to use the pretense of negotiations to squeeze Israel into a corner. Here, again, what matters is the strength of our leadership.
It was specified within the terms of the negotiations that only Kerry would make public announcements about what was transpiring As was fully expected, the PA is not playing by the rules and is using leaks for its own purposes. Israeli officials have been badly irked by this, and have registered protests. Whether they’ll do more than protest (e.g., refuse to release additional prisoners) remains to be seen.
Here I share what Khaled Abu Toameh (pictured below) wrote this week in “Peace Talks: What Is Behind the Palestinian Message?” (emphasis added):
“The officials who have been talking…include the chief PLO negotiator, Saeb Erekat, PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo, PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yusef and Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath.
“Others have also been briefing reporters ‘on condition of anonymity’ — in violation of understandings reached with the Americans…
“…the Palestinian officials’ comments about Israeli ‘intransigence’ and ‘arrogance’ are aimed at paving the way for holding Israel fully responsible for the failure of the peace talks. The message that the Palestinian officials are trying to send out to their own people and the international community is that the Israeli government, contrary to its public stance, is not interested in peace.
“By sounding the alarm bell already, the Palestinians are hoping that when the talks fail they will be able to tell the world, ‘You see, we told you from the beginning that these Israelis do not want peace’…
“Asked why the Palestinians are not making good their threat to walk out of the ‘unproductive’ talks, a senior Palestinian official explained: ‘We cannot pull out at this stage because of American and European pressure. We will continue with the talks for six to nine months in order to show the world in the end that Israel is not interested in peace.’
“For now, the Palestinian Authority’s strategy is to continue talking while at the same time blaming Israel for the lack of progress.
“Palestinian officials are hoping that by the time the talks fail, the world would have absorbed their message: namely, that the Israelis are not interested in peace. The Palestinian Authority’s next step would be to seek international intervention and pressure to force Israel to accept all its demands, including a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.”
Now, I ask you to consider very carefully what is described here, for this is the routine pattern of PA officials: They do not take a stance. They take it again and again every few minutes. How many times have you read about Abbas demanding that we return to the “’67 border.”? It’s because he has said it perhaps ten thousand times that the world has absorbed this terminology as if it were truth.
What I suggest here, and what I hope to focus on in the weeks and months ahead, is the need for us to emphasize the facts, again and again and again. To talk about our rights until an obtuse public begins to absorb the reality of those rights. “The ’67 line was only a temporary armistice line. When Jordan signed the armistice agreement with Israel in 1949, it was agreed that the line would not prejudice final negotiations on a permanent border.” “The ’67 line was only a temporary armistice line.” “The ’67 line was only…” In talks, and op-eds and radio call in shows, and talk-backs on the Internet. Time to take the offense across the board. We’ve been too passive, too Western, in dealing with people who readily distort truth.
At the same time that the Palestinian Arabs are stepping up their propaganda war, they are also heating matters up with regard to violence.
Al-Aksa Brigades, the “military” arm of Fatah (the PA’s majority party), has announced that as of this Friday they will once again be endorsing terror acts against Israelis. Why?
“The invasion of the compound by hordes of settlers, and the harm to [Muslim] worshipers, with no intervention from the international community.”
Something else to deal with in the weeks and months ahead. Mark my words: the Temple Mount is at the heart of the battle for this land. While Muslims have chosen to behave as if it is exclusively theirs, Jewish leaders and some rabbis have been encouraging more frequent Jewish visitation to the Mount, to make a clear declaration of the Jewish claim to this holiest of sites.
I urge every Jew, whether a resident of Israel or a visitor, to go up on the Mount, with an appropriate and knowledgeable guide.
Friday, with everything else, is also the twentieth anniversary of the Oslo Accords, that ill-begotten diplomatic error — founded on dreams rather than reality — that has brought us so much grief.
I share here an article Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beitenu) has just written on this subject (emphasis added):
“Twenty years after this agreement was signed, we must admit that it has been a historic failure.
“The Oslo vision stated that in the New Middle East, there would be no more wars, that the conflict was not about the existence of Israel, but about territory. It claimed that if we would just give the Palestinians a state, there would be peace.
“We took Arafat the terrorist and transformed him into a partner for peace. The Palestinians are no longer our enemies who want to kill us, but our neighbors. And terrorists became ‘freedom fighters’ who were protesting the ‘occupation,’ the cause of their terror. The Israeli people were told that a peace agreement would bring security, instead of security bringing peace. And above all, if no agreement was reached, then we would be the guilty party because we did not give up enough. We were promised a day of celebration, but instead it turned out to be a day of mourning. Instead of sanctifying life, we’ve buried our dead and cared for our crippled and injured.
“In retrospect, the Oslo Accord does not reflect political wisdom or even a calculated risk. It was simply a dangerous gamble.”
We’re headed down a slippery slope if we continue as we’ve been going. Says Landau, “a Palestinian state should not be allowed to be formed under the current circumstances.” What he proposes is a long-term interim agreement — “based on facts on the ground” — “that would allow the Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side and address any security problems and implement any necessary economic improvement.”
I wouldn’t go where he is going. I see it as also dangerous, because the Palestinian Arabs are encroaching daily on Area C; the land is ours and must be safeguarded. But I give him credit for renouncing Oslo as a possibility and seeking another alternative. That’s the beginning of new thinking: seeking other alternatives.
Landau is now the second minister in the government, albeit not nearly as powerful as Moshe Ya’alon, to come out within only days against the formation of a Palestinian state, even as the government is still involved in those negotiations.
What we are seeing, just possibly, is that certain elements within the government are beginning a campaign of truth telling: This will not work!
And so my last word before Yom Kippur on this political subject is that it does appear we’re in for changes. In 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave his “Bar Ilan speech,” in which he embraced a “two state solution.”
It has now been announced that he will be speaking at Bar Ilan University again on October 6, at the opening of the 20th anniversary international conference of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
His talk: “The State of Israel’s Challenges, 2020 Vision: Israel’s Perils and Prospects.”
It would definitely appear then that the Palestinian Arabs will not have the last word; they may have imagined that they were operating in a vacuum, but they most decidedly are not. “2020 Vision” implies that our prime minister is seeing matters clearly. Let us pray that this really is the case.
Maariv has said that the prime minister’s speech “will have a significant impact on government policy regarding the Palestinian issue in the coming years.”
I will not share here rumors I’ve heard, which are very tentative, and suggest half-way solutions. We will have to wait until October.
And now? Let us pray that Netanyahu will be guided by Heaven, to come to a place that is good for the people of Israel.