Dear friends of Israel
Fredi Winkler: A Biographical Sketch
During the last years the demand for group tours has continued to rise. For instance, in 2009 Beth Shalom organized as many as 15 tours through
From 1974 through 1990 Fredi and Beate Winkler were blessed with nine children. With the exception of the two youngest ones all of them have started their own families. Fredi and Beate Winkler already have 16 grandchildren.
Dear Friends of Israel,
The Islamic Revolution celebrated its 33rd anniversary in Iran. One of the top guests at the celebration was Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of the Hamas government in Gaza. On this occasion, the top leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khomeini, assured Haniyeh of full support in the fight against Israel. He stated that Palestine is an issue for all of Islam. Iran will always support the Palestinian issue and the Islamic resistance in Palestine.
Khomeini stated further that the victorious resistance in Palestine has contributed to the Islamic awakening throughout the region, such as happened in Egypt and Tunisia. There is no doubt that the increasing sympathy of people in the region for the righteous Islamic fight and the issues in Gaza contributed to the sudden, mass revolt.
Furthermore, Khomeini issued a warning against anyone who tries to undermine the uncompromising resistance fight of Hamas. That warning was meant for those who try to resolve the differences between Hamas and Fatah and steer them in a more moderate direction.
For his part, Haniyeh thanked the Iranian leadership for its ongoing support of Hamas and the Palestinian issue. He thereby emphasized the three, uncompromising, strategic goals of the Hamas government in Gaza: Liberation of Palestine from the Mediterranean to Jordan, loyalty to the resistance movement and loyalty to the Islamic character of the Palestinian issue.
Dear Friends of Israel,
“An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a blessing for the ayatollahs,” said an Iranian dissident now living in the USA, who recently visited Israel. In his opinion, such a strike would permanently silence the opposition to the Islamic Republic and its leadership. Playing the role of victims of an Israeli attack would guarantee them worldwide sympathy. The regime would also gain legitimacy in the eyes of its own people that it lost after the 2009 elections, when it violently suppressed protests against the contested elections.
For a regime devoted to paranoid conspiracies, blaming Israel for all of its peoples’ hardships, an Israeli attack would be all the proof that Tehran needs to focus the eyes of the public on Israel, effectively silencing dissent within Iran. The Iranian dissident believes that an international boycott would be more effective, because that would remove the financial means that they need to stay in power.
A similar conclusion was reached by the Israeli reporter, Barry Rubin in his article in the Jerusalem Post, entitled, “Israel is not about to attack Iran: Get used to it!” Of course, there are other reports in the media, and even some voices in Israel’s leadership, that have expressed just the opposite. Why? Because that’s a good way—indeed the only way Israel has—to pressure Western countries to work harder on the issue, to increase sanctions and diplomatic efforts.
Furthermore, asks Rubin, “If Israel attacks Iran now, does that mean Iran would never get nuclear weapons?” On the contrary, it would merely postpone that outcome for at most a year or two. Such an attack would give Iran a real reason for the future use of atomic weapons, with the support of many countries.
Dear Friends of Israel,
When Israel was established, David Ben-Gurion granted an exemption from military service to those Jews who lived in strict accordance with the orthodox traditions. Back then they were a relatively small group and were considered the guardians of Judaism, whose contributions in the past had kept the Jews from completely disappearing through assimilation during the Diaspora. Now however, they comprise more than ten percent of the Jewish population. Their high birth rate contributes to the fact that they proliferate much faster than the general population, which also means that their political influence is increasing. That is particularly the case in the current administration.
It is also likely one of the reasons why public tensions are now arising between strictly religious and more liberal Jews. Within Orthodox Jewish circles there is a strict segregation of the sexes, which is particularly visible in the synagogue and in the school system. In the last ten years however, they have tried to spread their philosophy of life even further into the public arena. Thus they have demanded a system of gender segregation on public buses, where the men sit in the front and the women in the back of the bus. In places like Beth-Shemesh for example, where a relatively large proportion of the population is Orthodox, they erected signs that demanded men to walk on one side of the road and women on the other. Women who ignored the demands were spit upon, which in turn led to a nationwide outcry and public protests.
Dear Friends of Israel,
The 64th anniversary of the UN resolution to partition Palestine and the agreement to found a Jewish state was celebrated in Jerusalem on November 29, 2011. The present generation shared the joyful passion of that time in a heartfelt ceremony. One fact that is often overlooked and forgotten amidst all the pleasure associated with that historic event is that in accepting the UN resolution, the Jewish leadership, under the chairmanship of Ben-Gurion, also approved of the division of the country into Jewish and Arab parts. At that time, they saw it as the only way to establish a Jewish state.
Today there are those who feel it was a mistake to consent to partitioning the country, but they fail to offer an alternate solution as to how a single state might have been established. The problem is the fundamental difference between the Jewish and Arab cultures.
From the beginning, one fundamental difference between the Jewish and Arab leadership of Palestine was that the Jews expended everything to make the barren land fertile. Institutions and facilities were created that later served as the basis for a sovereign nation.
By contrast, from its inception, the Palestinian national movement was not concerned with establishing any state institutions for self-government, only the destruction of the Zionist enterprise. While the Palestinian leadership was investing all their energy into hatred and destruction, they failed to build the foundations for state autonomy. The Palestinians showed the same self-destructive behavior the after the creation of the State of Israel.
There are no translations available.
Lange hatte sich Israel geweigert, einen Vorschlag für den zukünftigen Verlauf der Grenze zwischen den Palästinensern und Israel zu unterbreiten. Denn es bestand darauf, dass dies ein Teil der direkten Verhandlungen sein musste. Die Palästinenser hatten 2008, während der Verhandlungen in Annapolis unter der Bush-Regierung, einen detaillierten Plan mit Landabtauschvorschlägen vorgelegt. Mittlerweile erklärte sich die israelische Regierung allerdings bereit, einen Vorschlag auszuarbeiten, wie nach ihrer Vorstellung der zukünftige Grenzverlauf aussehen sollte.
Was hat sich inzwischen geändert? Es sind nicht mehr nur die USA, die als Vermittler auftreten, sondern es ist das sogenannte Quartett: die EU, Russland, die UNO und die USA. Ein israelischer Regierungssprecher meinte, der israelische Vorschlag für einen zukünftigen Grenzverlauf bedeute jedoch keine Bereitschaft zu indirekten Verhandlungen, sondern sei lediglich ein Entgegenkommen gegenüber dem Quartett, um dazu beizutragen, direkte Verhandlungen wieder in Gang zu bringen.
Unmerklich sind die USA dabei, die Führung der Vermittlerrolle im israelisch-palästinensischen Konflikt anderen zu übergeben. Ein Reporter nannte es «Leading from behind». Das bedeutet etwa soviel wie Dirigieren aus dem Hintergrund, und zwar nach dem libyschen Modell. Damit ist gemeint, dass andere beauftragt werden, das zu tun, was sonst von der Weltmehrheit gebrandmarkt würde, wenn die USA es selbst tun würden.
Das Rezept ist einfach: Unter der von den USA unterstützten Politik sollen die Europäer und einige arabische Staaten die delikaten Dinge ausführen. Warum im Alleingang handeln und danach einen teuren Preis dafür bezahlen? Sollen doch andere die Bürden tragen, während man selbst unauffällig die Führung übernimmt. Was mit Libyen funktioniert hat, kann doch auch mit Israel und den Palästinensern gelingen?
Dass nun nicht mehr die USA die Vermittlerrolle im israelisch-palästinensischen Konflikt anführen, sondern die EU, Russland und die UNO, wird der Sache mehr Gewicht und neuen Schwung geben. Und dies wird es den beiden zerstrittenen Parteien schwerer machen, den Forderungen nach ernsthaften Verhandlungen durch das Vorschieben irrelevanter Gründe nicht nachzukommen.
Dear Friends of Israel
Nearly a half-million people throughout Israel took part in the last protest rally for social justice at the end of the summer. Beset by the massive protests, the government had no choice but to take steps toward that end. Therefore Emanuel Trajtenberg, a distinguished professor in the field of economics, was appointed to develop solutions for a more just social policy. When his proposals were presented to the government and the matter came to a vote, there was no consensus on how the government should proceed. A government crisis is now imminent. The primary issue is the dispute over the construction of public housing.
One minister proposed that state-owned land should be distributed free of charge for housing construction, so that the homes would be cheaper. In the past year, the Government has taken in over $8 billion in land sales, but unless there are guarantees that the homes will be cheaper, he will not agree to the "cosmetic" improvement proposals that have been presented so far.
Dear Friends of Israel,
The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has demanded an apology from Israel in regard to the events surrounding the ship Mavi Marmara. As expected, Israel decided not to apologize. Turkey reacted by recalling its ambassador from Israel. To emphasize their displeasure, they expelled the Israeli ambassador from their country too.
Although some Israelis also called for an apology to Turkey (such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak), the government in Jerusalem decided not to apologize, because a careful analysis of the ongoing developments in the region showed clearly that an apology would only bring a short-term easing in the mutual relations between the former allies. Furthermore, an apology would only bolster the position of Erdogan and his party in the eyes of the Islamic fundamentalists, which is important to him politically. Ankara is preparing itself for the time that will follow the “Arab Spring,” when the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, as well as Egypt will likely increase its power tremendously. With all the turmoil in the Arabic world, Erdogan sees a chance for Turkey to become a regional power, even to the detriment of Iran.
Domestically, Erdogan has already been able to neutralize the once influential Turkish Army. He forced practically the entire military leadership to resign and had dozens of other high ranking officers arrested on flimsy accusations. At the same time, he is working to change the nation’s constitution in order to introduce a presidential system of government. That does not mesh well with the previous, secular form of government, but it would give him more strength while helping him solidify his position. These developments in Turkey led Jerusalem to recognize that an apology would only be counter-productive.
Dear Friends of Israel
Just as in the spring, when large masses in several Arabian countries staged surprising protests against their rulers and their unrealistic styles of ruling, an unexpected “summer” of protests has broken out in Israel against social injustice. The protesters, composed mainly of students and other young people, demand social justice. As in Egypt, they have gathered at central squares in various cities and pitched permanent "protest camps" of tents.
In recent years, statistics show that the gap is growing in Israel between the wealthy and those who have nothing. When Israel joined the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in the not-too-distant past, the tables published by the OECD showed clearly that Israel has a low standard in the social field - even though the economy is doing well in general and unemployment is low. There is a fairly large number of those who earn very little however, ... and it keeps getting larger.
The protesters accuse the government, in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of pursuing policies that serve only the rich. Netanyahu is in fact proud of his considerable contributions to a free market economy in Israel. This includes the privatization of many public services. The protesters rightly complain that this policy only helps the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer. Privatization isn’t a panacea for the problems, it simply shirks the responsibility.
The greatest of their demands is the construction of public social housing, to make it possible for the socially disadvantaged to buy an apartment at an affordable price. Thus one of the larger protest rallies took place in front of the office building of "Amidar," the National Association for Residential Construction.
The protesters accuse this government institution of behaving like a profit-driven company, rather than fulfilling the mission for which it was founded: Creating living space for the needy and socially disadvantaged.
Dear Friends of Israel
Even for us who believe in the truth and reliability of the Bible, it is not always easy to understand the true significance or classification of biblical teachings and prophecies. Therefore it is important to always keep the complete testimony of all Scripture in mind. Apparently Paul addressed this issue when he wrote to Timothy, his faithful follower, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15).
This issue is of particular importance when it comes to interpreting current events in involving Israel. Consider this question for example: Are the Jewish settlements on the so-called West Bank a fulfillment of biblical prophecy? The people of the Gush Emunim movement (a religiously faithful group) certainly saw it that way at the time of the first settlements, for they appealed to Biblical references, such as Jeremiah 31:5, “Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.”
When the first settlements were developed, Gush Emunim emerged as a political party of both religious and nonreligious Jews. They were united in their conviction that the west bank must be populated by Jews. That alliance didn’t last very long however, because such an ideology couldn’t stand up to the resistance that the settlement movement encountered without firm religious conviction. Today it is predominantly religious Jews who lead the settlement movement. The amazing inner strength that they demonstrate by the construction of more and more new settlements, must certainly be drawn from their religious convictions.
Dear Friends of Israel
During the state visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. in May, things apparently didn’t go quite the way that he wished. The discord between him and U.S. President Obama could not be overlooked. This was due to Obama's alleged call for Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders. In fact, that wasn’t actually what President Obama called for Israel to do, but he was very clear that the 1967 border should be the basis for a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The future boundary should be determined by a jointly negotiated exchange of land. Netanyahu tried to prevent that, because it would mean Israel would have to give up territories it has possessed since 1948. Furthermore this would actually mean that only the major settlement blocks, which follow the 1967 border, would remain within the future borders of Israel. All the outlying settlements would come under Palestinian rule. This is unacceptable for many in Netanyahu's Likud-Party, and most of their coalition partners.
Although Netanyahu did not hear what he wanted to hear from Obama, he promised to cooperate with the American president. He gave reassurances that he was ready to make painful sacrifices of land to achieve real peace. Thus it can be clearly seen that the government of Netanyahu cannot withstand the challenges ahead much longer. Calls for a national unity government with the opposition are already being heard. The opposition Kadima-Party saw this development far in advance. Therefore it was not ready to join a government that refused to see the inevitable, real consequences of a negotiated peace with the Palestinians.
Dear Friends of Israel
Now that Osama bin Laden has finally been found and brought to justice, ten years after the attack on the World Trade Center, most of the world breathed a sigh of relief and satisfaction. The Arab and Muslim world has held back in this respect. The only ones to condemn the U.S. action immediately were representatives of Hamas in Gaza. Their Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, praised bin Laden as an Islamic warrior and condemned the U.S. policy of killing and repression. Another Hamas spokesman denounced the killing of bin Laden as a crime and state-sponsored terrorism.
When the two Hamas men made those declarations, they probably didn't consider that their statements wouldn't exactly be seen positively throughout the world - especially not in the USA. However, they did show their true colors once again.
In contrast, a spokesman of Salim Fayyad, the prime minister of the Fatah, said that the death of Bin Laden benefits the cause of peace worldwide.
Despite these contrasting positions, the two rival Palestinian factions, Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah in the West Bank, hope to reconcile their differences and reach an agreement on forming a unified government. Attempts have been made to convince the world that Hamas has changed, but their recent comments about bin Laden show that the opposite is true, and are cause for grave concern.
Perhaps this attempt by the Palestinians to reconcile with Hamas, will (once again) spare Israel from the international recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN General Assembly in September. Moreover, any future Palestinian government that is prepared to accept Al-Qaeda ideology should not expect too much sympathy from the United Nations, especially not from the USA , which has veto power in the UN.
Dear Friends of Israel
In his report last year, Richard Goldstone accused Israel of firing deliberately at the civilian population in the war against Hamas in Gaza. He has now acknowledged that report was a misrepresentation, because at the time, he did not know everything that he knows today about the true events. Nevertheless, the fear in Israel is that this acknowledgement will do little to change the change the attitude of the UN General Assembly, whose majority is anti-Israeli anyway. Israel is further concerned that the recognition of a Palestinian state will be brought to a vote at the United Nations annual meeting this coming September. Such recognition requires a two-thirds majority. The situation appears nearly hopeless for Israel, since 118 of the 192 member states already recognize a Palestinian state.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is therefore trying to convince the U.S. and its President, Barak Obama that an interim solution would be best; that is, a provisional state with provisional borders. However, the British Foreign Minister, William Hague spoke clearly against this during a recent visit by Israeli President Shimon Peres in London. On one hand, Hague made a strong case for the establishment of guidelines to resolve the Palestinian conflict by a Quartet consisting of the USA, the EU, Russia and the UN. On the other hand, he spoke clearly of Israel's right to exist within secure borders. There cannot be any debate, or even any compromises over this right of Israel. "The current changes in the Arab world make it more imperative to move the diplomatic process forward," Hague stated, and added, "One of the most important lessons from the 'Arab Spring' is that legitimate aspirations cannot be ignored and must be addressed." Implying that movement on the peace process will help bolster moderates who will be vying for power in the post-revolution Arab world, Hague said, "It cannot be in anyone's interests if the new order of the region is determined at a time of minimum hope in the peace process. This creates a risk that in each country, the politics set with maximum hostility to Israel, rather than giving the new leaders of these countries strong grounds to support the pursuit of peace." It is therefore necessary to act now.