# 56 – Schalit by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 56 – Schalit

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409
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July 8, 2006

First, two observations:

BBC News reported today on the Pope’s visit to Valencia, coinciding with the crisis in Spain between Church and State – earlier this year, parliament passed a law allowing same-sex marriage. If I heard correctly, 80% of France is Catholic, and 20% go regularly to Mass…..

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The 2nd observation is a form of intro into today’s letter. Sky News reported on yesterday’s Men’s semi-final between Baghdatis and Nadal. They flitted over it as if it were a similar massacre as Federer’s win over Bjorkman, referring only to the slight struggle in the 2nd set. That’s subjective and misleading journalism if ever I heard it. That 2nd set was a terrific battle, containing some of the finest moments of this year’s Wimbledon.

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And until a pivotal point half-way through the 3rd set, in which a good shot from Baghdatis was called out, that set seemed to be heading in a similar direction. Drop shots, lobs, crunching inside-out forehands from the Cypriot and unbelievable retrieving from the Spaniard.

For those who did not see the match, Sky totally nullified it.

And that’s what often happens over here in this crazy part of the World.

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[First, a reminder of one of the main causes of this whole mess. I am attaching a map of the Israeli/Palestine region as a result of the UN partition of 1947. Take a 2nd look at it.

On one side, a mixture of Jews who had lived in the region for hundreds of years and a people devastated by the Holocaust, at least as desperate for a country as are today’s Kurd, Armenians, Basques and, yes, Palestinians.

On the other side, the local residents who certainly did not want an influx of Jews.

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With the establishment of Trans-Jordan in 1918 and later Jordan in an area which would have been more logical as a homeland for the Palestinians, the way the UN broke up the French and British mandates was, to put it mildly, unworkable.

Almost 60 years later this unworkable situation has festered.]

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Just today, the Israeli Army suddenly moves out of northern Gaza. One minute they’re there, threatening a long entrenchment. Next, they’re gone. The reporter is as mystified as all others. A few hours later, Palestinian PM. Haniya, calls for a ceasefire from both sides. Is he nuts?

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  1. Israel certainly is not going to heed a man who refuses to recognise it’s existence.

  2. The IDF has already made their move.

  3. The whole reason/excuse for this latest Israeli incursion was the seizure of the Israeli soldier – and he’s still being held.

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  1. And of course, the Kassam missiles, over 700 of which have been fired at Israel since Gaza was abandoned. They have stopped, but, knowing the masochistic tendencies of the Palestinian extremists, they’ll be back. They think this is a game!

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  1. The World community, including UN, Switzerland (and their connection with the Geneva Convention) and Margaret Beckett, UK’s Foreign Minister, is criticising Israel’s disproportionate reaction to the Kassams and the soldier seizure. They’re right, of course. This whole conflict is disproportionate. Firing 1 single Kassam from Gaza, a part of the World free of Israelis is disproportionate. And there have been over 700 of them.

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Over 30 Palestinians dead this last week – and 1 Israeli soldier. Plus, of course, the injured. And, of course, the casualties always include innocent civilians. Israel’s announcement of the deployment this week of more accurate missiles to reduce (that ugly phrase) collateral damage does not lighten the heart.

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Today is the Sabbath – the day to read the weekend newspapers. Let me pick out a couple of subjects featured on their pages:

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Unilateral withdrawal – Few expect this policy to work. You can understand the move from Gaza as clarifying the border and thereby reducing the burden on the army of defending the 8,000 settlers – or a unilateral move towards peace. Either way, the Palestinians should be forced by the international community to take positive advantage of the change. Prove to the World that they can rule themselves. Get the assistance from the World community, especially including their wealthy Arab and Muslim brothers.

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But this did not happen. 700 Kassam rockets, internal feuds not only between Fatah and Hamas, but between the various factions, and interference from ‘potential Palestinians leaders’ in Israeli prisons (Barghouti and his colleagues who made up the plans for a possible referendum) and in some Damascus apartment (Mashaal, the fanatic who many say is the real Hamas leader).

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Israel moved out of southern Lebanon, and missiles have not rained down on Israel – although they have missiles that are far more sophisticated than the Kassams.  There has been some trouble with Hizbullah, but not the same threat as from Gaza. This is because Lebanon and Syria are under much greater pressure from the int’l community to keep back. This is what’s missing in the Gaza situation.

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Perhaps the World really does want Israel to just pull out the 250,000 ‘settlers’ from the West Bank and give up parts of Jerusalem, as a prize for the Palestinians’ ‘peace efforts over the last 100 years or so.

Why not give negotiations a chance and accept the Gaza withdrawal as the positive first step? If peace is to be found, it is ONLY through negotiations and compromise.

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Israel’s current dilemma – It is a fact that Israel has done some prisoner exchanges in the past – even many prisoners for just the bodies of dead soldiers. It is more of a fact that there have been many negotiated unilateral prisoner releases – goodwill.

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There had been discussions about further releases in the near future. But then Corp. Schalit was taken. How can Israel appear to be rewarding hostage-taking? Isn’t it obvious that this only opens the door to further such occurrences?

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The prisoners – ‘Women and children’ was splashed all over the int’l media that I saw while abroad last week when Schalit was taken. Now it’s ‘juveniles and females’… getting warmer! How about ‘youths’ and then we’re getting really warm. Of course we have many such persons in prisons. Since when are criminals confined only to the older male population.

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Should they all be in prison? Have they had fair trials etc. etc.? That’s a fairer question, and I wish this bloody conflict would end.

Stephen Pohlmann

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PS – 60 km. north of Gaza, we watch Wimbledon, the World Cup, the Tour de France and Kylie’s first interview. We order tickets to the next opera season, we try to get tickets to Rita’s current show (you’ve never heard of Rita!!) and last week, Tel Aviv had it’s ‘White Night’. Restaurants, bars, cafes boutiques etc. etc. along Tel Aviv’s long shoreline stayed open all Thursday night. The city swung!

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