Had I spent a very long time trying to compose a post to honor our fallen soldiers, I could not have done better than this post by Rick Richman at Jewish Current Issues.
Political and social observations from two aspiring hedgehogs who love the Isaiah Berlin essay.
"At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop." [Emphasis added.]
"The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated." [Emphasis added.]
"The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states."
"Palestinian officials said they would not resume peace negotiations unless Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts President Obama's 1967 border guidelines.
"'If Netanyahu agrees, we shall turn over a new leaf,' Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians' chief negotiator in peace talks, was quoted as saying Sunday in Ynet. 'If he doesn't, then there is no point talking about a peace process. We're saying it loud and clear.'
"Erekat, a member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party central committee, repeated similar statements to the KUNA Kuwaiti news agency and others that were rebroadcast on Israel Radio.
"'Once Netanyahu says that the negotiations will lead to a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, then everything will be set,' Erekat said, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA."
It is a covenantal act that Jews have practiced since the time of the Patriarch Abraham more than three-and-a-half millennia ago. It reflects a commitment to monotheism that reaches back to the dawn of observance practiced even under religious oppression. The holiday of Chanukah emerged after the Greeks banned circumcision, which led to a bloody revolt. The Romans banned circumcision after the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. Defying death, Jews secretly followed their tradition.
George Mitchell, appointed by President Obama as the United States Special Envoy to the Middle East, has resigned his post. The man who successfully brokered peace in Northern Ireland was unable to even bring the two sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the table. One may safely predict that in the coming weeks many pundits will attribute Mitchell's failure to insufficient American diplomatic pressure on Israel to suspend settlement activity.
In the Bible, we have two almost opposite reactions to the fall of an enemy. On the on hand, we have the famous verse that says, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.” (Proverbs 24, 17) On the other hand, we have, among many others, the verse, “When the wicked perish, there is joy.” (Ibid., 11, 10)
In fact, there is no contradiction between those two verses. The first one refers to a situation in which there is animosity or a quarrel between two people. In such a case, a person may have an enemy, but his downfall shouldn’t be any reason for rejoicing. Whatever the quarrel – commercial, political or any other kind – the enemy is just a person in opposition. Such people may cause discomfort to the other side, but essentially, both parties are equal to each other. Therefore, one should not rejoice when one’s enemy has fallen.
The other verse does not deal with personal or national disagreement, but with an objective fact: there indeed are in the world wicked people. And when the wicked are destroyed, others should express their approval and their joy that some vicious object or person has disappeared from the world. Osama bin Laden created for himself a very clear position as one of the wicked, and therefore the world should be happy when at least one element of evil is no longer functioning.
The New York Times is reporting that the information on bin Laden's courier that led to his compound and the al-Qaeda leader's death was derived from interrogating Guantanamo Bay detainees. According to Marc Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute, those detainees were Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi, and the courier's name was disclosed during CIA interrogations using enhanced interrogation techniques - techniques the Obama administration banned the CIA from using. Thiessen writes:
Before coming to Gitmo, both [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi] were held by the CIA as part of the agency’s enhanced interrogation program, and provided the information that led to bin Laden’s death after undergoing interrogation by the CIA. In other words, the crowning achievement of Obama’s presidency came as a direct result of the CIA interrogation program he has denigrated and shut down. Something the president forgot to mention last night, when he claimed credit for “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.” The president owes some thanks—and apologies—to the men and women of the CIA’s interrogation program.Adds the Jewish Policy Center:
If Thiessen's statement proves true, not only would bin Laden's death be a feather in Obama's cap, but former President Bush's as well for instituting those techniques.[Hat tip: Jewish Policy Center]