Border Control / A moderate problem
The Israeli government really does have a good reason to be angry with the Palestinians and sentence them to life imprisonment, as it were. Were it not for the restrained approach of their representatives to international human rights organizations, the extremist Muslim countries' resolution would have guaranteed that the Goldstone report went to the paper shredder.
Such things have happened before. On more than one occasion, moonstruck initiatives put forward by countries that are as interested in the fate of the Palestinians about as much as they are in last year's snow, rescued Israel from a tight spot. In preliminary discussions last week in Geneva, the Palestinian Authority representative formulated a draft resolution calling for support for the report to be backed just as it is. With the help of representatives from Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey and Jordan, she persuaded the Muslim countries to support the Palestinian version and not be dragged into supporting an extremist resolution that would lead to the removal of the report from the agenda.
The United States and several key countries in the European Union were able to avert the threatened transfer of the report to the UN Security Council. They agreed that it would "remain in Geneva," in the hands of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Since the UN's only enforcement agencies are part of the Security Council, this will enable those countries to accept the report, feel as if they hadn't, and assure that their army officers and politicians will not be tried for war crimes relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On the other hand, in the West they know that if they bury a thick document bearing the signature of such a respected Jewish jurist as Richard Goldstone, war criminals, for example in Sudan, will demand treatment similar to what Israel received in the wake of Operation Cast Lead.
And if this mess was not enough, the Americans and Europeans have no idea how to handle the Goldstone Commission's recommendation to demand that Hamas also conduct an internal investigation. How is it possible to demand something from someone whom you do not recognize?
For now, Norway is the only Western country that openly supports implementation of the report in all its gory detail.
The Netherlands offered a creative, though unoriginal, solution: tying the Goldstone Report to the wider conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. This would meaning including the investigation process in a restarted peace process as "a bilateral mechanism" of "confidence-building gestures."
Who knows, perhaps in return for freezing the report, Benjamin Netanyahu will agree to freeze settlement construction for another week.
They pray to Jesus, don't they?
In order to grasp the extent of the crisis between religious Jewish settlers in the Binyamin region and their Christian Evangelist benefactors, have a look at the www.frontlineisrael.com Web site. In the middle of the site's home page, between a call to return to the evacuated community of Homesh and request for contributions to reestablish Gush Katif evacuees in communities in Judea and Samaria, the surfer is invited to watch a report aired on Channel 1.
The day after the elections here, Rotem Abrutzki reported on the new alliance of Likud and the Christian Frontline Israel organization. Likud MK Danny Danon who heads the World Likud organization, talks proudly about the new-old alliance with Zionist Christians.
One of the leaders of Frontline Israel claims that Netanyahu told them that they are the greatest Zionists in the world.
The group broadcasts its doctrine from a television studio in the Shaar Binyamin industrial zone located in the heart of the West Bank. Its goals, in a nutshell (according to the official Web site), are: "to establish and to sanctify the Name of Yehoshua in defining His Jewish character and His mission to proclaim the Kingdom of G-d and the restoration of the whole house of Israel ... in power and in truth." All this "based on what was foretold by Moses and the prophets ... according to the order of Melchizedek."
It would be interesting to know if the rabbis of Gush Katif studied this before they signed an enthusiastic letter of support for Frontline Israel. Their colleagues from the Council of Binyamin Region Rabbis had a chance during the High Holy Days to read their neighbors' apostasy and were deeply dismayed.
Receiving tens of millions of dollars annually from Christian preachers and enlisting their support against political initiatives is a great mitzvah. But exposing our children, heaven forbid, to their doctrines? There is a limit.
In a letter released over the weekend, the rabbis expressed their shock over the error of the organizers of the Shaar Binyamin Four Species Fair, opening the day after Yom Kippur there, who allotted a PR booth there to the Christian organization. The committee cautioned residents not to approach the booth because "in addition to displaying support for very firm right-wing political positions, they disseminate Christian idea on their Web site and at events they are associated with ... publication of joint photos may provide them with support from and contact with individuals and organizations across Israel, and also in the communities, unfortunately."
Rabbis Azriel Ariel, Yonatan Blass, Elchanan Bin Nun, Rahamim Berachyahu and Itai Halevi signed the letter with a promise to "meet with all the relevant parties in order to prevent a recurrence of this offense to the sanctity of the faith and the Torah, and to the sanctity of the people and the land."
Talkbackers who found the rabbis' letter on the Arutz Sheva pirate radio station Web site wrote: "Finally Christians who support our positions. As for the concealed missionary work, as you said, don't you trust the strength of the faith of whoever comes to a Four Species Fair?"
Another talkbacker responded to him with a story: "Once they asked one of the rabbis who objected to drafting young women into the army: if your education is so good, why are you worried about sending the women to the army. The rabbi answered: 'We don't want heroines. We want virgins.'"