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The Lekarev Report: Israel News August 11, 2008

10 Av 5768
August 11, 2008
georgia.jpgFirst Georgian Refugees Arrive in Israel

An anxious crowd gathered at the arrivals area inside Ben-Gurion Airport last night as a flight from Tbilisi was about to arrive carrying a load of Georgians and Israelis who had made it out of the war zone.

"I'm waiting for my husband," said Manana Aloni, as she stood with her eyes fixed on the entrance to the arrivals lobby from the baggage control area. "He went to visit his parents' graves in Tbilisi and was caught in the middle of the fighting."

Both she and her husband were born in Georgia and immigrated to Israel in the 1990s. "When the war broke out, I called my husband and told him there's no two ways about it, you're coming home immediately."

Her husband heeded her call, but had phoned Aloni from the airport in Tbilisi two days ago and told her there were explosions going off in the area.

Nearby, Guram Ghanshvili waited with his wife, his face betraying nervous anticipation.  "My wife's family is on their way here," said Ghanshvili, who is from Ramle. While his family made aliya when he was a young boy, he was minutes away from witnessing his in-laws' first arrival to Israel, where he hoped they would stay.

"My nephew desperately needs throat surgery," he said, "it turns out that the two best places in the world for his type of surgery are England and Israel, so that's good, we're going to get him sorted out. But I hope they don't try and go back, there's no telling what to expect next from that bastard [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin."

Minutes later, the passengers from Tbilisi started pouring into the lobby, and the tearful reunions began.

russians.jpgBack to the USSR?

The outbreak of war between Russian and Georgia has captured the attention of the world, as some analysts wonder if this is the beginning of a return to the old USSR.  Most of you are probably familiar with what is going on there as it has been top of the news around the world this past weekend.  I hope the following will help give some perspective about what's going on in that region.

Intermittent fighting continues in South Ossetia and the Russians are heating up the situation in another Georgian breakaway region, Abkhazia, in order to intensify pressure on Georgia, even as they are creating military options for further operations inside Georgia proper.

But the primary issue now is a political one.

With its South Ossetian operation, Russia has demonstrated three things. First, it has shown that its military is capable of mounting a successful operation - something that outside observers had expressed doubts about.  Second, the Russians have shown that they can defeat a U.S.-trained force. And third, they have demonstrated that the United States and NATO are in no position to intervene militarily.

Moscow's primary audience in this conflict is the rest of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine, the rest of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Russia is also warning Poland and the Czech Republic, who are hosting U.S. ballistic missile defense systems.  It is not that Russia is necessarily threatening to invade anyone else; rather, it is demanding everyone to reconsider their allegiances and alliances with forces within the region and abroad.

The real issue now is what comes next. There are indications that the Russians do not intend to invade Georgia proper, but that they are asking for a regime change in Tbilisi as the bargaining price. (Or, if not a regime change, then at least the replacement of Georgia's president and other figures Moscow dislikes.) The Russians can achieve this only if they appear ready to attack - and the Georgians will test them to find out whether they are bluffing. Therefore, the Russians can't afford to bluff.

The situation remains extremely volatile, and it is not yet clear whether Russia is satisfied with the outcome.  Moscow might want more, and it might use force in the process of going after it. The bombings continue as Russia seeks to utterly destroy any remains of Georgia's military.

Various diplomatic initiatives are under way, including French and German attempts at mediation. But the more diplomatic initiatives that emerge without being backed by threats of force, the more credible the Russians will be.

"Active fighting has been going on in several zones," the Interfax news agency quoted Maj. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov as saying. He is commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent that has been in South Ossetia since 1992.  It is reported that some 2000 people have died since Friday.
Russia also sank a Georgian boat that tried to attack Russian vessels in the Black Sea.  Russia has continued to ignore a wave of calls to observe Georgia's ceasefire, saying it must first be assured that Georgian troops had indeed pulled back from South Ossetia.
President Bush on Monday sharply criticized Moscow's harsh military crackdown, saying the violence is unacceptable and Russia's response is disproportionate.

One Israeli commented wryly, "And just think - the people of South Ossetia had not been carrying out regular terrorist attacks against the citizens of Moscow for the past 7 years!!!  Imagine that! 

Yet Russia deals harshly and swiftly without worrying about what the rest of the world thinks."

queria.jpgNew Twist to the Palestinian Approach to Israel

Ahmed Qurei, who heads Palestinian negotiators in US-brokered talks with Israel, told Fatah party loyalists behind closed doors that a two-state solution could be achieved only if Israel met their demands to withdraw from all occupied land. 

"The Palestinian leadership has been working on establishing a Palestinian state within the '67 borders," Qurei said, referring to land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that Israel captured in a 1967 war, which Palestinians seek for a state. 

Then he added something new:   "If Israel continues to oppose making this a reality, then the Palestinian demand for the Palestinian people and its leadership (would be) one state, a binational state," he added at the meeting held in the West Bank town of Ramallah.  "If Israel continues to reject our propositions regarding the borders [of a future Palestinian state], we might demand Israeli citizenship," top Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) was quoted by Reuters as saying overnight Sunday.

Apparently, the unsuccessful efforts to realize the goal of a separate state has touched off a new debate among Palestinians; i.e. whether they should seek instead to merge into a joint state with Israel.

migunz_new_wh.jpgFortification of Southern Region

The Defense Ministry is working hard to complete the project of dispersing 500 hollow concrete structures for protection (bomb shelters) against rocket fire in Sderot and other Gaza-vicinity towns by the end of 2008.
The project is expected to be implemented at an accelerated pace despite the ongoing ceasefire between Israel and the terrorist groups in Gaza.
The first phase of the project was completed this week with the distribution of 200 hollow concrete structures in the south. The State has recently approved the allocation of NIS 15 million ($4.2 million) toward the project, and the Defense Ministry will select three companies to manufacture the structures simultaneously. 

"Despite the calm, it is our duty to help ease the daily lives of the residents of the Gaza-vicinity communities, and therefore we are working to finish dispersing the hollow structures as soon as possible," a Defense Ministry official told Ynet, adding that the structures increase the residents' sense of security and serve as a shelter during rocket attacks from Gaza. 

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai (Labor) is working toward placing additional protective structures near every school in the Qassam-battered south before the beginning of the school year. These structures, which have been developed over the course of the past few months, can hold 60-70 children. 

"I hope the other ministries will help advance the project, because the reality can change tomorrow morning," Vilnai said, adding that he and Defense Minister Ehud Barak would continue to seek additional funding for the fortification of 4,700 housing units in the south.

Meanwhile, here in the North, there is also progress.  I expect to be seeing the mayor this week and to give you an update afterwards.  

It is precisely because so much of the budget for this type of work has of necessity been focused on Sderot and other areas bordering Gaza, that northern communities here in the Galilee so deeply appreciate those who have come forward to help fortify the northern region as well.  Your support of Operation Issachar has been wonderful and we expect, with your continued assistance, to reach our goal.  Thank you SO much!

Please stay with us throughout this project.  Donations can be mailed to Lekarev, PO Box 410580, Melbourne, FL 32791-0580

swastik.jpgSwastikas on Jewish Buildings on Tisha B'Av
"Jews get out," said the graffiti found by Israelis yesterday, on the wall of the Jewish community center in Vilnius, Lithuania, along with black painted swastikas.
The building, in which Judaism is taught, and the community's museum adjacent to it, were both covered in swastikas, a Star of David on which a hanging man was depicted, and drawings of concentration camps besides the awful inscription.
Twenty-five-year old Daniel Kirshner from Jerusalem is residing in the city. He told reporters,  "We were walking in the Jewish quarter and suddenly we saw this. Our first thought was that we were back in 1934," he said. 

He added that he was surprised at the locals' indifference to the spectacle. "It seems no one here is making a big deal out of it. The guard at the center said he hadn't seen a thing and that it must have happened during the night. They don't have a clue who did it, but I myself saw a gang of skinheads lurking nearby. Maybe it has something to do with them," he said.  

Kirshner is in town for the opening of a tourist agency he plans to run from Israel with the help of a Jewish colleague living in the city. He claims that the fact that the graffiti was sprayed on the eve of Tisha B'Av is not a coincidence. "I think that the fact that it happened on Tisha B'Av is symbolic," he said. "They knew exactly when and where to do it. In any case the community has no plans of taking it off, so that everyone can see what's happening." 

Kirshner was shocked at the anti-Semitic expressions in Vilnius. "According to my knowledge there is not much anti-Semitism here, except for the annual Nazi parade on March 16, but it's coordinated with the police," he said. "My colleague is as surprised as I am."

russians1.jpgFresh Attacks This Morning - Breaking News

There is no sign of any ceasefire in the Russian-Georgian war in South Osettia on the fourth day of the conflict Monday, Aug. 11.

The latest news is that Moscow is continuing its bombing campaign at this hour despite Georgia's offer of a cease-fire.  Witnesses on the ground say that more than 50 Russian military planes are bombing its territory as fresh explosions are being heard and seen in the devastated Georgian town of Gori.

President George Bush has again condemned Russia's "disproportionate" use of force and called for mediation.

Russian planes bombed Tbilisi international airport and a military airfield near the capital Sunday night Aug. 10, after Georgia, beginning to crack, handed the Russian embassy in Tbilisi a desperate message offering to halt military action in South Ossetia and withdraw its troops from the region. Russian forces were then reported to be on the way to invading the Georgian town of Gori after moving in on the second Georgian breakaway province of Abkhazia.

The Russian president Dimitry Medvedev rejected the Georgian appeal and said the war would go on until Tbilisi withdrew its forces unconditionally from South Ossetia and pledged never to attack the region again. This is tantamount to Georgia unconditionally surrendering to Russian rule.

Russian jets have pulverized Gori, leaving hundreds dead, to punish Georgian for invading the South Ossetian capital of Tskhvingali last Thursday.

In the face of President George W. Bush's demand for an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and support for international mediation, Moscow instead has poured an additional 10,000 men and armor into South Ossetia and Russian jets bombed a military airfield outside the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

Adding to what my earlier article above already said, by flouting US demands to accept mediation, Russia wants to deliberately highlight America's lack of leverage for helping its embattled Georgian ally. The Bush administration has trapped itself in its foreign policy commitment to dialogue and international diplomacy for solving world disputes instead of using force.  Russia is following Iran's example in exploiting Washington's inhibition to advance its goals by force.

Therefore, the Caucasian standoff has profound ramifications for the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Moscow's disdain for Washington's lack of muscle will further encourage Tehran and its terrorist proxies to defy the international community and the United States in particular.

olympics_swimm.jpgIsrael at the Olympics

Three Israeli swimmers set new national records Sunday in the second day of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Nimrod Shapira-Bar Or (photo) came in first in the the 200m freestyle qualifying match with a with a 1:47.78m time, becoming the first Israeli swimmer to advance to the semi-finals.

"I'm more than happy. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was not sent here for nothing," said Shapira Bar-Or, who was the last Israeli to join the Israeli team of 43 members.

Guy Barnea was next to jump into the pool, duplicating Shapira Bar-Or's achievement with a new Israeli record, and advancing to the semi-finals in the 100m backstroke category. Barnea came in 15th overall with a 54.50 second time.

Israelis are quite proud of our team and the fact that they've already set new Israeli records is an achievement in itself.
Shalom and blessings,



To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens.

Eccles. 3:1
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