A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
April 13, 2010- Nuclear Summit- Holyland Scandal and Scuds in Lebanon
It seems the paranoids who were concerned President Obama’s nuclear summit would be used as a platform to attack Israel were wrong. While its not clear how much was accomplished, no harm visa-vis Israel took place other than the embarrassment of having a Prime Minister who did not feel comfortable participating. Behind the scenes meetings took place on Iranian sanctions, and by all accounts, those meetings made progress. Iran today responded by saying it would be a nuclear power within a month.
President Obama maade a number of significant comments in the Middle East in his press confernce when he stated: And I remain committed to being a partner with countries around the world, and in particular hot spots around the world, to see if we can reduce those tensions and ultimately resolve those conflicts. And the Middle East would be a prime example. I think that the need for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the Arab states remains as critical as ever.
It is a very hard thing to do. And I know that even if we are applying all of our political capital to that issue, the Israeli people through their government, and the Palestinian people through the Palestinian Authority, as well as other Arab states, may say to themselves, we are not prepared to resolve this -- these issues -- no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear.
And the truth is, in some of these conflicts the United States cant impose solutions unless the participants in these conflicts are willing to break out of old patterns of antagonism. I think it was former Secretary of State Jim Baker who said, in the context of Middle East peace, we cant want it more than they do.
But what we can make sure of is, is that we are constantly present, constantly engaged, and setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts but its also in the interest of the United States. It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.
On one hand the President clearly believes understands that American pressure alone cannot resolve the conflict- but he has also publically stated that it is in the vital national security interest of the US to resolve the conflict. That can be very problematic for Israel.
The continuing scandal dubbed "The Holyland Scandal" (referring to the housing built on the former location of the Holyland Hotel) continued to simmer; with all eyes pointed overseas, as the number one accused (former Prime Minister Olmert) continues to find reasons not to return to Israel. In the meantime, in one of what I have always found to be regrettable aspects of the Israeli criminal justice system, many of the other accused in this scandal remain imprisoned without bail. Under the Israeli system all the police have to do is convince a judge that having a particular defendant out on bail would interfere with their investigation. With all of Israel’s other problems its hard to find time to lament the lack of an almost absolute right to bail that exists in the US, but I have always found it troubling, since this tactic is most often used in white collar investigations.
Additional information was revealed today on the Syrian arms shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It seems the arms include large Scud missiles, capable of hitting any part of Israel; with both large conventional warheads or chemical weapons. These scuds are older missiles that do require fueling enough time for them to, hopefully, be discovered and destroyed. It would seem in recent months Israel has considered attacking some of the convoys carrying the armaments, but to-date has refrained from doing so; keeping its long standing tradition of only pre-empting states that have tried to acquire nuclear weapons.
Finally, London and Kirchenbaum devoted a segment today to a report written by David Ben David on the growing number of Charedim in the school system and the unsustainability of the current trend lines. According to his figures, in the last ten years the percent of Charedim and Arabs in the Israeli Elementary schools has risen from 33pct to 55pct. It will reach 72 in less than 30 years, with only 14 percent in the secular schools. Of course these numbers he points out are not sustainable. Unfortunately, no one has come up with a viable plan on how to change this impossible trajectory.