Written by Right Side News
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkemazi said last night that Israel prefers to solve the Iranian nuclear problem through diplomatic means, but acknowledged that the Jewish state must also prepare for the scenario of a military strike.
Ashkenazi, who is on an official visit to Washington, met Wednesday with US Vice President Richard Cheney and with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.
Major-General Benny Gantz, the military attachÃ© in the United States, hosted a reception for Ashkenzi on Wednesday night, which was attended by senior officials in the American army.
This morning, the IDF chief will be at the Pentagon for a series of meetings with senior US army officials, headed by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen.
"We are all united in thinking that Iran should not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, and there is no doubt that the preference is for diplomatic activity and for sanctions," Ashkenazi said following his meetings Wednesday.
"This is the preferable way, in terms of international activity as well. This is the Israeli preference and the American preference. In addition, everyone understands, both the Americans and certainly us, that we must prepare for all options."
Ashkenazi said the goal of his trip was "to understand the American outlook on the issues and problems in the Middle East. This is an excellent opportunity to make it clear to them how we see things. In this sense we see things eye to eye. We have no disagreements. The cooperation is very good."
Barak, Netanyahu Meet on Security Issues
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met this morning with Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) at his Tel Aviv office. Sources at the two officials' offices said Barak briefed Netanyahu on security issues.
Despite the official statement, it was believed that the two would also discuss political issues. The meeting was also attended by the defense minister military secretary, Brigadier-General Eitan Dangot, head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau Amos Gilad, and Barak's chief of staff, Mike Herzog.
Sources at the defense minister's office said that the two would not converse privately, although this may take place at the end of the security briefing for several minutes. "The two connect on security issues and often discuss these issues," said a source close to Barak.
At this very moment, Netanyahu and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) are meeting at a Tel Aviv coffee house, fueling speculation of a political deal in the making, this being the second meeting of the day between Knesset leaders. Interior Minister Sheetrit is running to lead Kadima in September's leadership primaries, but he is far behind in the polls.
Netanyahu has previously met with Kadima MKs and ministers in an effort to bring them back into the Likud party, where most of them were members before breaking off to follow former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when he founded Kadima.
Heightened Security in Jerusalem
After two consecutive terrorist attacks involving bulldozers, Jerusalem police have heightened security at major building sites in an effort to prevent further copycat attacks.
The new measures include spot checks of Arab workers from east Jerusalem and a review of workers' criminal records, Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco said.
The heightened police presence, which is clearly evident, came a day after 22-year-old Ghassan Abu Tir from east Jerusalem's Umm Tuba neighborhood used his bulldozer to wound more than a dozen people on King David Street before being killed himself, and three weeks to the day after Husam Taysir Dwayat from the city's Sur Bahir neighborhood used a bulldozer to kill three people and wound three dozen across town on Jaffa Road.
The Complaint that Boomeranged
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has complained several times about leaks to the press of information pertinent to the criminal investigations against him. Finally Attorney General ordered an investigation but no doubt, not the one Olmert wanted. Mazuz ordered the questioning of ALL of Olmert's aides, staff, and his lawyers.
The police have been convinced that the leaks were coming from Olmert's cronies - anyone who had access to the information discussed during the various questioning sessions. Apparently this is exactly right!
"This is how the leaking process works: Material from the investigation is passed on to lawyers of all parties involved in the form of a CD. The lawyers have the CD transcribed and they leak it as part of a media war," said Cmdr. (ret.) Yaakov Borovsky, former head of the police's northern district.
On Wednesday, Yediot Aharonot published the content of the police's interrogation session with Uri Messer, Olmert's close associate, who admitted to keeping large sums of cash for the prime minister.
"What happened when Ehud Olmert or Shula Zaken [Olmert's longtime bureau chief] wanted money?" a detective asked Messer.
"I would take it out of an envelope and count the amount Shula asked for. Usually I would drive to the [Ehud Olmert's] bureau and give it to her there," he replied.
Asked why Olmert's lawyers would release leaks that damaged their own client, Borosky said: "To distract from the police investigation. If they get an investigation launched into the leaks, this would serve Olmert's claims that leaks from the police are taking place."
Borosky addressed the decision of Attorney- General Menahem Mazuz to open an investigation into the leaks, saying, "It has been launched to show that the leak does not come from the prosecution."
Meanwhile, the Israel Police's chief investigator, Cmdr. Yohanan Danino, addressed the leaks for the first time, saying they created "a situation intolerable and unprecedented in its severity." Danino said the leaks were systematic, and were "significantly perverting both the investigation and legal processes."
"The claims and hints that law enforcement is the source of the leaks are completely unfounded, as the leaks seriously harm the investigation," he said.
A few days ago I told you about Frances Greenberg, the 88 year old new immigrant who arrived here in Israel on Tuesday. Mrs. Greenberg tried to come 60 years ago as a passenger on the famous Exodus ship in 1947 which was turned back by the British.
She is the only member of her entire family that survived the Holocaust.
I thought you'd like to see her picture. Sitting next to one of her grandsons, Frances seems to be thoroughly enjoying her historic arrival to the Land.
Obama Departs After 5:00 am Visit to Kotel
Barack Obama wound up his brief visit to Israel by rising very early this morning to pray at the Western Wall at 5:00 am, as well as to meet with the Western Wall Rabbi.
Obama inserted a prayer in a crevice of the wall and then prayed Psalm 122 with the Rabbi, the Psalm that enjoins all of us to 'pray for the peace of Jerusalem.'
Obama - followed by a slew of reporters - donned a white kippa (skull-cap) and met with the Wall's rabbi, who explained to him the historic and religious significance of the place. "I explained to him how this holy place is what connects every Jew all of the Jewish people's past generations," Rabbi Rabinowitz told reporters.
Yesterday, Obama visited Yad Vashem and met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, and Prime Minister Olmert. He also flew by helicopter to Sderot, saw the "collection" of hundreds of Kassam rockets that have been fired on the city, accepted a special T-shirt from the mayor, and declared, "If someone was firing rockets on my home, where my two little girls are, I'd do everything to stop them." He was accompanied on the helicopter trip to Sderot by Defense Minister Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
During his meeting with Olmert, the Iranian threat was at the top of the agenda.
Obama left this morning for the European leg of his trip abroad.
'Change' or 'Transformation' - Just Thinking
Like many other Israelis, I watched the press conference given yesterday by US presidential candidate, Barack Obama. Among his comments, many of which focused on Israel and the Iranian threat, he re-iterated his 'mantra' of CHANGE.
"Change" can be a funny word. You can change jobs, change your hair style - or your hair color; you can move to a different city, paint your house a different color and trade in your old car for a newer, shinier model. Lots of change - but what has truly been accomplished of signifcant or international value?
"Transformation", on the other hand, is defined as a "qualitative" change - something that happens within the soul or character of a human being that may effect certain outward changes but only because of an inward adjustment.
Some people 'change' jobs because they don't like their present situation. Fair enough. However, too often, the next job turns out equally unsatisfactory. Why?
Because while they changed location, they took the same person (themselves) into the new location without any inner adjustment.
Perhaps you'll think this is splitting hairs. Maybe so.
My concern, however, as I look at the United States as well as Israel, is that without genuine transformation in the souls and hearts of people within each of these nations, just "change" for the sake of change will prove disappointing and ineffective at dealing with the real issues of national and international life.
Real change in Israel must arise from the hearts of our people; the same is true in the United States. A new individual in the Prime Minister's office or in the White House is never enough.
Faith, courage, moral backbone, integrity, humility, repentance and renewal - these are the issues.
May we all address them within ourselves so that transformation can result.
It starts with you and me, humbled in the presence of our G-d.
Shalom and many blessings,
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says Hashem. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.