1. When the first Gulf War ended in 1991, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, then chief of military intelligence, was asked why the Americans didn't finish off Saddam Hussein. His answer was prophetic: Better a live Saddam, slightly battered, than a dead one. Only he can prevent a battle of Gog and Magog between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites. Too bad Bush junior didn't consult Lipkin-Shahak before invading Iraq.
We are living in a region where outside military intervention triggers earthquakes. Operation Peace for Galilee roused the Shi'ites from their slumber and gave rise to the establishment of Hezbollah. Lebanon War II led Lebanon to the brink of civil war.
And yet the predictions of war this summer are stirring up needless panic around here. If anyone should be worried about Iran it should be Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and, of course, the United States. How many times do we have to get our teeth knocked in before we understand there are some things we need to keep our noses out of?
2. In another seven months, the occupation will be 40 years old. Israel today is the only democratic country in the world that continues to rule over the land of another people. Standing over David Ben-Gurion's grave, Ehud Olmert made a commitment from which there is no return. How right Ben-Gurion was when he declared, the moment the Six-Day War was over, that now was the time to give it all back. But we have been wandering in a desert of illusion for 40 years, and they have been marching nowhere in blood and fire for 40 years. Enough is enough. Let's make Olmert keep his word. He needs that Nobel Prize badly, to pay for his new digs.
3. Olmert did somersaults to prevent the establishment of a state commission to probe who was responsible for screwing up the war. Instead, he established an investigation committee headed by retired judge Eliyahu Winograd. The difference between the two is that a state commission is appointed by the president of the Supreme Court, while the Winograd Committee is government-appointed. Another difference is that a state commission would have binding authority over the political echelon, whereas the government can adopt the resolutions of the Winograd Committee or ignore them, as it sees fit. Last week, the Supreme Court rejected the petition submitted by opponents of the Winograd Committee in a majority vote of 4-3. Between the lines, one could see that the judges were not all that happy with their decision. But if anyone came out badly, it was Winograd himself. He was portrayed as a softy who will never confront the government or declare it responsible for the mess. On this point, the masterminds of the war and its muck ups may be in for a surprise.
4. As it does every year on November 29, the United Nations General Assembly convened and roundly condemned the State of Israel. 157 countries voted against us, and 10 voted in our favor, among them such superpowers as the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Naura and Palau. What the delegates of the international community seem to have forgotten is that this same assembly voted to establish two states ? one Jewish and one Arab. We agreed to accept the little that was offered to us, whereas the Arabs gave up the chance for independence, remaining under Jordanian control, and then ours. Will we ever see the day when the UN assembles on November 29 to condemn the Arab countries for forcing their Palestinian brothers to give up a state of their own and go down in history as compulsive opportunity-losers?
5. The escape of Benny Sela the rapist reminds me of those slapstick scenes from the days of the silent movies where bumbling police officers run around chasing one another and falling out of their cars while the robbers are long gone, lazing around the campfire in another city. The intolerable ease with which Sela made his break is driving the police nuts. They're all over Tel Aviv, spinning like tops, prancing on their horses, flitting around in helicopters, parading in their fancy get-up with their guns at the ready. As if the rapist were waiting for them in Kikar Hamedina, all set to go back to jail. Sela will be caught in the end, of that I'm sure. Arcadi Gaydamak just needs to put a big enough price on his head.
6. What a terrible shame that Uri Geller, the spoon-bender doesn't live in Israel. With skills like his, we have the perfect job waiting for him in the President's Residence.
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