Aug 30, 2009 Olmert Indicted, Leviov Almost Bankrupt Shalit Deal Stalls, The Future Face of Education in Israel

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

Sept 15, 2009 UN Report Slams Israel- Iran and Some Interesting Ideas on Israel's Future

Today the UN commission investigating Israel's actions in Gaza during the war in December 2008 issued a blistering condemnation of Israel’s actions, accusing the country of war crimes and even possible crimes against humanity. Israel had refused to cooperate with the commission since its mandate was limited to the events of the war and did not deal with the events that led to the war. The report also accused Hamas of committing crimes by firing rockets at Israeli civilian targets. The lack of Israeli participation no doubt led from what would have been a critical report to be that much worse, since Israel was not able to respond to any of the specific criticism directed against it. The commission primarily heard from Hamas and other Palestinians about Israel’s actions.
Without defending Israel and the actions that are depicted in the report, which I cannot since I have not read the report yet, nor was I on the ground in Gaza, but looking at the war and its history I cannot be struck by some of the absurdities of the report. According to the New York Times, Israel was responsible for engaging in collective punishment by, "In one case, armored bulldozers of the Israeli forces systematically flattened the chicken coops of a farm that reportedly supplied 10 percent of the Gazan egg market, killing all 31,000 chickens inside. In another, the forces carried out a strike on a sewage plant wall, sending 200,000 cubic meters of raw sewage into neighboring farmland, the report said. The panel did not find a justifiable reason for the Israelis‚Äô actions in either case.‚ĝ
I wonder what a commission would say about the US carpet bombing of civilian targets in Germany and Japan during World War II - or many actions since including the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report discussed specific incidents of civilian deaths that it claims was not warranted, but of course none of this would have happened if the rockets had not been hitting Sederot.
Iran is once again maneuvering the United States and the world community. After the US announced that it would have until the end of September for meaningful progress to be made on curbing the Iranian nuclear program, Iran agreed to begin talks on October 1. Of course they have stated in advance that they will not agree to any significant curbs on their nuclear program. It does not look particularly promising.
A poignant story was shown on Israel‚Äôs evening news tonight, with the ‚Äúshiva‚ĝ visit of Ilan Ramon's astronaut friends to the Ramon home. One of them told the story how he was the first to take Assaf on a flying lesson after his father's death. For the first few months after the tragedy the family remained in Houston and was adopted by the larger astronaut community. The astronaut told how Assaf was an absolute natural. On his first flight his instructor allowed him to land the plane.
Dan Margalit, the noted Israeli journalist came out with a new book Hit'pahechut, which means becoming sober. Much of it is devoted to stories of contemporary Israel and its leadership since he was until recently a very close friend of former Prime Minister Olmert. But in one of his closing chapters he presents a unique idea on how t o change the demographic problems facing Israel and to some extent the larger Jewish people- and that is to make it easy for people to convert to Judaism. He believe one should start with the few hundred thousand (yes I said hundred thousand) illegal and short term immigrants living in Israel, most of which would happily convert and find a way to become part of the mainstream Israeli society if presented with a direction. It is an interesting and provocative idea but you would first have wrestle control of the conversion process from the Haredi rabbis, who at their core are racist in their approach to the Jewish people. A view, of course, that is in total contradiction to what was written the Torah about converts.

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