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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy New Year?

With what's been going on over the past few days, you would think we were right after Yom Kippur and not the solar new year.

First, 13 miners were trapped in a West Virginia coal mine. At one point, the media, with its usual complete disregard for truth and objectivity, ran as fact the rumor that 12 of the 13 miners had been found alive. At one point, CNN even reported that the 12 miners had been seen leaving the mine, ALIVE!! Can you believe that?!? This happened shortly after 12, midnight. About 2-2.5 hours later, the horrific news came through that only 1 of the 13 miners had been found alive but in critical condition. At this point, most of the newspapers had already passed their deadlines and printed, again AS FACT, headlines like, "12 Found Alive", "ALIVE!!", etc. Of course, that was a cruel joke that ended up not being true.

May these 12 miners rest in peace. (Baruch Dayin Emet)
May the families of these 12 miners be able to find peace, find a way to reconcile the horrible mistakes made by the media and those acting out of the goodness of their heart when they mistakenly reported that their family members were alive, and may they eventually find a way to be happy again.
May Mr McCloy Jr. make a full recovery and be able to rejoin his family as soon as possible.

Now, on to our next seemingly Judgement Day result. Last night, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel (Arik) Sharon was supposed to be resting comfortably at home, getting ready for his stent placement heart surgery this morning. However, he started having chest pains. He ended up suffering another, and this time massive, stroke. He also was suffering from cerebral hemorrhaging. He was taken into surgery last night, and those of us up early, woke up to find out that he was still in surgery, in grave critical condition, and was really just fighting for his life. Well, Sharon is a damn stubborn guy. He is also a fighter. He's been a staunch courageous fighter all his life and has served his country admirably for most of his life. So, of course, he survived the surgery. He is now in a coma and will remain so for at least the next day or so. He is still in critical condition. As I am watching Channel 2 (Israel), his condition has not changed. And, we all know that the next 24-48 hours will be the most critical.

I have read a couple of other blogs who have commented that this have said that Sharon should now "open his eyes", and he should CHOOSE retirement and live out the rest of his days with his family. Those that say that he has the option to choose retirement or stay in the government really have no idea of the gravity of what happened. There is no CHOICE. His political career is over. His days as Prime Minister are over. He has been FORCED into retirement. As I have said, there are only three possible outcomes from his grave condition:
1) He dies.
2) He never comes out of this coma and is kept alive by machines. This is a risk for victims of massive strokes and cerebral hemorrhaging.
3) He wakes up but will be severely paralyzed in terms of his physical and mental faculties. His memory will almost most definitely be effected, and he will not be able to act in any official capacity.
Just as an aside, this situation is a testament to how far the media has come. In Russia, when Andropov was head of the Communist Party and Mother Russia, he was a crazy senile loon. He even tried to award Russia's highest medal of honor to some American actor who played a Russian in a movie. He also was so sure that America was declaring war on them that he ordered his government to launch nukes at them. Luckily, he wasn't really in control at his point. A KGB head was doing his work for him. But, again, nobody had any knowledge on this. Well, that's not possible now, is it?

This situation is unprecedented in Israel's short history. When Rabin was shot and killed in 1995, there was a clear cut protocol for how the situation would be handled. Here, there isn't. He is still alive but incapacitated. Right now, Ehud Olmert is the acting Prime Minister. Being an American, I know very well how the United States handles these kinds of situations, as stipulated by the Constitution. There are two sets of protocol. For example, when President Bush had his Colonoscapy during the first year of his Presidency, he signed over Presidential control to Vice President Cheney for as long as he was incapacitated. In the case of his death, the second set of protocol is that Vice President Cheney automatically becomes President. The same thing happened when President Reagan went into surgery after his assassination attempt. In the case the Vice President must take over the Presidency, there are no special elections held. He remains president until the term is up. Now, many have said that a similar type of protocol exists here. Of course it can't be the same. There is no Constitution here. Apparently, Sharon signed over control to Olmert when he was supposed to be scheduled to go into surgery to have his stent put in. However, in terms of what happens next, and what happens with the government and elections is anybody's guess.

Of course, I must add the side-note that when it was found out what Sharon's situation was, there was mass celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There was also celebrations around the Arab world. The head of PFLP in Damascus, Syria called this a "gift of god and revenge" against the "butcher". Well, we all know where the Palestinians' sentiments lay. But, they have to quit celebrating soon. They're blowing into all out civil war, as predicted. They have better things to do than celebrate in the streets. They got them some killings and kidnappings to do. By the way, did y'all hear that Rachel Corrie's, may she rest in hell, parents were almost kidnapped in Gaza yesterday? By almost, when the kidnappers recognized who these guys were, they let them go. Really funny stuff.

Even though I'm a novice in the workings of the Parliamentary System, I know enough about
politics to be able to ask some important questions and know that these questions and strategies are being asked within the Knesset right now. Questions like, will Kadima fall apart or will they decide it's best to stay together since the defectors will not be able to get back into their former parties? If they stay intact, will Kadima hold primaries to decide who the top dog will be, or will they just allow some-one like Ehud Olmert or Peres to take the reigns? (My money would be on primaries with the hopes that Tzippy Livny gets elected as the head of the party. Olmert is not cut out to be a leader, nor will he be elected Prime Minister. And, we all know what would happen if Peres ran as head, "Ani Loser?" "Kein!!!".) If there were primaries held, would the elections be pushed back to say, November? Can, and if so, will Katzav decide to overturn the order to disban the government? If Kadima were to fall, how would their predicted seats be divided? Would Likud be a sure bet to take the Knesset and have Bibi be back in control as PM? Or, does this bring us to the threat of having Peretz and Labor picking up the lead and having Peretz as our next PM? (G-d forbid that happens. There won't be an Israel left. We'll be the USSRI.) Where do the advantages lay? Are there any members of Knesset seeing this as a perfect opportunity to gain power or build a new coalition in their favor? How would a new coalition work? What would it look like?

These are just but a few of the questions circling around the table today. These are questions that, as of yet, nobody knows the answer to, yet we will have to have answers to them in the coming days and weeks. I certainly don't have the answer to most of them. I still don't completely understand why Israel doesn't have a constitution. I understand that this event is unprecedented, but why doesn't Israel have a protocol for it, anyway? For a country, who's army basically has the motto of: "Think up your worst nightmares, and we prepare for it", why doesn't that flow through to the government? If they do have a protocol for this kind of situation, does anybody know what it is?

Anyways, that's all that's going on so far. It's been a hell of a day. I hope the past few days aren't an indication of what's to come for 2006. I'm optimistic that it will be a good year. The American and Israeli economies are doing very well and only getting better. (Of course, today's stock indexes aren't really an indication of it. I figured the events of today and the past few days would negatively effect the Dow.) Israel's economy is slowly but surely moving more towards a full capitalistic system. Tourism is increasing. There are more jobs. More money is being put into hotels and resorts. One great example is that near the French Hill, right down the street from the entrance to the Kotel are 4-5 star hotels like the Olive Tree and Novotel. There is also another hotel right next to it, whose name escapes me right now. Construction on this hotel began before the Intifada, on the wave of the tourism boom of the 90s. Then, when the Intifada got into full swing, and being that this hotel is in East Jerusalem, they stopped construction due to the steep drop in tourism. When I made Aliyah last year, construction on it had still been halted. However, over the year, tourism steadily increased and there was a huge demand for hotel space and lack of supplies of rooms. In response to this, the hotel restarted construction and restarted it with ferocity. The hotel was completed a few months ago and is already up and kicking with capacity. The Palestinians in Gaza are on the verge of all out civil war and a complete return to tribal rule and warfare. This is good for Israel. They'll be too busy with trying to wrest control to try to attack Israel in any significant way. Of course, there are analysts and strategist that believe, with validity, that what's going on now has been the goal all along and that Israel has nothing to do with it. Looking at all the facts on the ground, I happen to agree with that assessment. If, as some have predicted, a third intifada breaks out (I really don't believe the second intifada has ended), I don't think that it would be capable of being as intense. One, the only real intensity could come from the West Bank and not Gaza. Second, the IDF has immensely evolved in its close combat "street" warfare fighting skills since 2000. This is not the same army as the one that existed when the second intifada started. The reason that some people believe that is really a calm right now is due to the incredible work carried out by Tzahal. They have prevented so many terrorist attacks, you can't keep count, and you certainly never hear about it. While, these small scale clandestine offensives are taking place and are increasingly successful, the larger strategy is somewhat different. The fact that the threats and warnings that the government issues to the PA and the rest of the terrorist groups have gone unheeded by action carried out behind them, they are just empty threats that make us look bad and weak. That is just stupid. This Dead Zone that was created in northern Gaza is ridiculous. If you're going to create a perimeter in which if you enter it, it is a shoot to severely wound or shoot to kill policy, then you have to follow through on that warning. But, that's not what they're doing. Farmers or scrap scavengers are entering the zone all the time and are not being shot at. Well, there are some that believe that pulling out of northern Gaza was a mistake, because it created a line of defense, a very defensible line of defense. I'm not completely sure about that, but I haven't gotten up to that yet in my studies, so I won't agree or disagree on that point just yet.

I've gone on a bit of a ramble, but I think that 2006 will be just as good or better than 2005. I just hope that this week's events are not indicators of what's to come. In any event, it's going to be interesting to see what's going to happen next. Who knows?

I wish a Refuah Shleima to PM Sharon. Our thoughts and prayers are with him
I hope that he will be able to make it through this enough to live out his life, peacefully, with his family.


At 6:02 PM, Blogger menachem said...

roosevelt died about 2 hours after he had a stroke, and the public was informed the same day.


At 6:57 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Oops, my bad. I'll correct it. But, the Russian story is true.

At 1:36 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

OC: How in the world do you expect me to comment on a posting thats SO LONG?!

My mind can't handle all the points to comment on at the same time.

So here's one point for tonight. A serious constitution is being worked on. By different groups.

That's it. I'm off to bed.

Shabbat Shalom!

At 1:55 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Haha. I didn't mean for it to be that long. I had all this stuff rambling on in my head, so I had to write it down. Thanks for the update on the constitution. It's really interesting to hear.
Shabbat Shalom to you too.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger menachem said...

israel has the Basic Laws, which are functionally a constitution. when we do finally get a constitution, it's just going to look like all the Basic Laws we already have, with the word 'and' stuck between each one.

the president you were thinking of was woodrow wilson.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

OK, thanks for that. There have been so many presidents. Who can keep track? My point was that before the invention of 24/7 news, there have been many Presidents whose ailments were kept secret from the public. That's no longer an option.

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At 1:51 PM, Blogger Chai18 said...

nice post

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Thanks. I hope things are going better by you.


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