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22 juillet 2008 2 22 /07 /juillet /2008 19:09

Dear Barack Obama

By Yossi Klein Halevi

A letter from an anxious Israeli to the presidential candidate on the eve of his visit to Jerusalem

JewishWorldReview.com |

W ERUSALEM — Dear Senator Obama,

Welcome to Israel. When you arrive here today, you will encounter a people intrigued by your candidacy and, given the current crisis of Israeli leadership, envious of your capacity to inspire. Issues that have worried some Americans about your background have scarcely been noted here. The whispering campaign labeling you a Muslim wasn't taken seriously by mainstream Israelis. Nor are we fazed by your middle name: Half of Israel's Jewish population has origins in Muslim cultures. Despite black-Jewish tensions in America, your color evokes little concern here; Israel rescued tens of thousands of African Jews and turned their arrival into a national celebration. Even Rev. Wright didn't cause much of a stir, maybe because we're used to being embarrassed by our own religious leaders.

Still, as much as Israelis want to embrace you, there is anxiety here about your candidacy. Not that we doubt your friendship: Your description of Israeli security as "sacrosanct," and your passionate endorsement of Israel's cause at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, were greeted with banner headlines in the Israeli press. Instead, Israelis worry that, as president, you might act too hastily in trying to solve the Palestinian problem, and not hastily enough in trying to solve the Iranian problem.

On the surface, the Israel you will encounter is thriving. The beaches and cafes are crowded, the shekel is one of the world's strongest currencies, our high-tech companies are dominating NASDAQ, our wineries are winning international medals, and we even export goat cheese to France.

But beneath the exuberance lies a desperate nation. The curse of Jewish history — the inability to take mere existence for granted — has returned to a country whose founding was intended to resolve that uncertainty. Even the most optimistic Israelis sense a dread we have felt only rarely — like in the weeks before the Six Day War, when Egyptian President Gammal Abdul Nasser shut down the Straits of Tiran, moved his army toward our border, and promised the imminent destruction of Israel. At the time, Lyndon Johnson, one of the best friends Israel ever had in the White House, was too preoccupied with an unpopular war to offer real assistance.

We feel our security unraveling. Terror enclaves have emerged on two of our borders, undoing a decades-long Israeli policy to deny terrorist bases easy reach to our population centers. The cease-fire with Hamas is widely seen here as a defeat — an admission that Israel couldn't defend its communities on the Gaza border from eight years of shelling, and an opportunity for Hamas to consolidate its rule and smuggle in upgraded missiles for the inevitable next round of fighting. The unthinkable has already happened: missiles on Haifa and Ashkelon, exploding buses in Jerusalem, hundreds of thousands of Israelis transformed into temporary refugees. During the first Gulf War in 1991, when Tel Aviv was hit with Scud missiles, residents fled to the Galilee. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the Galilee was hit with Katyushas, residents fled to Tel Aviv. In the next war, there will be nowhere to flee: The entire country is now within missile range of Iran and its terrorist proxies.

Above all else, we dread a nuclear Iran. With few exceptions, the consensus within the political and security establishment is that Israel cannot live with an Iranian bomb. In the U.S., a debate has begun over whether the Iranian regime is rational or apocalyptic. In truth no one knows whether the regime, or elements within it, would be mad enough to risk nuclear war. But precisely because no one knows, Israel will not place itself in a position to find out. As we contemplate the possibility of an Israeli military strike, we worry about the extent of support from you at what could be the most critical moment in our history. When Israelis discuss the timing of a possible attack, they often ask: If Obama wins the election, should we hit Iran before January?

True, you told AIPAC that "we should take no option, including military action, off the table." But that was the one moment in your speech that failed to convince. Last December you appeared to endorse the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which broadly hinted that Iran may not be seeking a nuclear bomb after all — a claim that may have soothed Americans worried about Dick Cheney launching another preemptive war, but appalled not only Israeli intelligence but also French and British intelligence (and that has since been at least partially retracted). In the Iowa debate, you responded to a question about the NIE by stating that "it's absolutely clear that this administration and President Bush continues to not let facts get in the way of his ideology...They should stop the saber-rattling, should have never started it, and they need now to aggressively move on the diplomatic front."

From where Israelis sit, it's clear that Iran temporarily suspended its weaponizations program — which is, in fact, the least important part of its effort to attain nuclear power — for the same reason that Muamar Qadaffi abandoned his nuclear program: fear of America after the Iraq invasion. A senior European Union official told me last year how grateful he was to America and Israel for raising the military threat against Iran. "You make our job easier," he said, referring to European-Iranian negotiations.

I am convinced that you regard a nuclear Iran as an intolerable threat, as you put it to AIPAC, and that, under your administration, negotiations with Iran would be coupled with a vigorous campaign of sanctions. And you've made the convincing argument that you could summon international goodwill far better than the current administration. No nation would be more relieved by an effective sanctions campaign than Israel. We know what the consequences are likely to be of an attack on Iran — retalitory missiles on Tel Aviv, terrorism against Jewish communities abroad, rising anti-semitism blaming the Jews for an increase in oil prices.

We worry, though, that the sanctions will be inadequate and that the Iranians will exploit American dialogue as cover to complete their nuclearization. Unless stopped, Iran's nuclear program will reach the point of no return within the early phases of the next administration. We need to hear that under no circumstances would an Obama administration allow the Iranian regime to go nuclear — that if sanctions and diplomacy fail, the U.S. will either attack or else support us if we do.

The rise of Hamas has only confirmed what Israelis have sensed since the violent collapse of the peace process in September 2000: that the Palestinian national movement is dysfunctional. The bitter joke here is that we're well within reach of a two-state solution — a Hamas state in Gaza and a Fatah state in the West Bank.

In your speech to AIPAC, you intuited an understanding of the Israeli psyche — hopes for peace, along with wariness. But our wariness isn't only a response to terrorism. More profoundly, we fear being deceived again by wishful thinking, by our desperation for peace, as we allowed ourselves to be during the years of the Oslo process. At that time, many Israelis began a painful, necessary process of self-reckoning, asking ourselves the crucial question of how Palestinians experienced this conflict, in effect borrowing Palestinian eyes. Many of us forced ourselves to confront the tragedy of a shattered people, one part dispersed, another part occupied, yet another uneasy citizens in a Jewish state.

Most of all, we allowed ourselves the vulnerability of hope. We lowered our guard and empowered Yasser Arafat, convincing ourselves that he had become a partner for peace. The subsequent betrayal wasn't Arafat's alone: Even now Fatah continues to convey to Palestinians the message that Israel is illegitimate and destined to disappear. Many Israelis have become so wary of being taken for fools again — which this generation of Jews had vowed would never happen to us — that talk of hope seems like unbearable naivete.

Most Israelis want a solution to the Palestinian problem as keenly as does the international community, and understand, no less than our critics abroad, that the occupation is a long-term disaster for Israel. The Israeli irony is that we have shifted from dreading the creation of a Palestinian state to dreading its failure. Fulfilling the classical Zionist hopes for a democratic Israel with a Jewish majority, at home in the Middle East and an equal member of the international community, ultimately depend on resolving the Palestinian tragedy. The Jewish return home will not be complete until we find our place in the Middle East.

But empowering the Palestinians requires renewing the trust of the Israeli public toward them. And that, in turn, requires some sign from Palestinian leaders that Israel's legitimacy is at least being debated within Palestinian society rather than systematically denigrated. Repeating a commitment to "peace" is meaningless: Peace, after all, can include a Middle East without a Jewish state.

For many years, Israelis denied the right of the Palestinians to define themselves as a nation, considering Palestinian nationalism an invention by the Arab world to undermine Israel. We experienced our conceptual breakthrough in the 1990s. Now it's the Palestinians' turn. Admittedly, Israelis, as the powerful protagonists, could more readily develop a nuanced understanding of the conflict. Psychologically, though, we too are the underdog: Israel may be Goliath to the Palestinian David, but we are David to the Arab world's (and Iran's) Goliath. We cannot empower the Palestinians while fearing our consequent diminishment.

You can be a crucial voice in encouraging the transformation of Palestinian consciousness. Perhaps parts of Palestinian society and of the broader Arab world would be able to hear from you what it cannot hear from us: that the Jews aren't colonialist invaders or crusaders but an indigenous people living in its land. Perhaps you can help the Middle East reconcile itself to our existence, and in so doing, help us complete our return home.

As you go through the requisite visits to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the President's House, the Israeli public will be hoping to hear, beyond affirmations of your commitment to Israeli security, that America under President Obama will understand what maintaining that security involves. We hope that you will insist on a peace based on acceptance of the permanent legitimacy of a Jewish state, and on a Middle East free of the apocalyptic terror of a nuclear Iran. We, too, need the hope that you have promised America.

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JWR contributor Yossi Klein Halevi is a contributing editor of The New Republic, from where this appears, and a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerualem. He is author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for Hope with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.

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"we may soon come to regret that the more unilateralist candidate did not win"<br /> MARKO ATTILA HOARE<br /> Monday 21st July 2008<br /> <br /> <br /> Why we should fear the consequences of an Obama presidency for Europe's unstable periphery<br /> The presidential contest currently under way in the US has generated unprecedented interest in the UK and Europe. Were it left to us on this side of the pond, Barack Obama would win with a landslide. On account of his youth, his colour and his relatively liberal views, Obama is the darling of Europe's liberals, while not only they, but also European conservatives widely look forward to his presidency as a welcome departure from the hawkish, abrasive unilateralism of George W. Bush's administration. Yet while Obama as US president would be likely to go down well with the European and, indeed, the world public, this would above all be for the negative reason that - like Clinton before him - he probably would not do very much in the field of foreign affairs. By not rocking the boat or rapping knuckles, a President Obama would appease European liberals and conservatives alike. But by the same token, he may prove inadequate in meeting very real threats to peace and stability in Europe. Nowhere are these threats more real than in the south-eastern borderlands of our continent: the Balkans, Turkey and the Caucasus.<br /> <br /> So popular a hate figure has the unilateralist US hawk become among our chattering classes, that it is widely forgotten just how much damage was done by Clinton's dovish, multilateralist, do-nothing approach to foreign policy - not only to global peace and security, but to democratic Europe's relations with the US. Coming to power as a critic of Bush Senior's inactivity over the bloodbath in Bosnia, Clinton, in the face of the determination of his European allies to avoid military action and to appease Serb aggression, quickly backed away from his electoral promise of tougher action. The result was the worst crisis in US relations with Britain and France since Suez, as Clinton vacillated between Congressional pressure for intervention in defence of Bosnia on the one hand, and Anglo-French resistance to intervention on the other. Where decisive US leadership was needed, the Democratic president was lacking. In summer 1995, Clinton did belatedly opt to intervene against the Bosnian Serbs, and then the Europeans quickly fell into line and the Bosnian war was brought to an end, but only on the basis of the unprincipled Dayton settlement that has bedevilled regional stability ever since.<br /> <br /> Clinton enjoyed advantages in the global arena unprecedented for a US leader since Roosevelt, most notably the absence of a Russian threat. But rather than take advantage of the opportunity of the Soviet collapse to reshape Eurasia, he sat back and allowed the Russians to dismember Georgia, and tacitly supported their brutal assault on Chechnya in 1994. He did not predict that a Russia capable of employing such murderous violence against its own, Chechen civilians would likely prove a danger to the West in the long run, or that, fifteen years later, a beleaguered Georgia would represent the threatened frontline before this threat. So, as in other parts of the world, the Bush Administration in South East Europe has had to try to clear up the problems left unresolved by its predecessor. And it has done so with some success: NATO expansion has been accelerated and US relations with former Communist bloc countries boosted; Kosovo's independence has been recognised; Macedonia has been recognised by the US under its constitutional name; and cooperation with Georgia has been strengthened.<br /> <br /> Nevertheless, the next US president will have a much more difficult job managing South East Europe than either Clinton or Bush was faced with. The principal reason for this is the resurgence of Russian aggressiveness and power under Vladimir Putin. Moscow has successfully prevented a resolution of the Kosovo problem, keeping this sore festering and bolstering Serbia's self-destructive determination to keep the Balkans permanently on the brink of a new conflagration. Moscow has reignited its dormant conflict with Tbilisi over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, making war between Russia and Georgia more likely than at any time since the early 1990s. And it has embarked upon a sustained campaign to obstruct and derail NATO's eastward expansion. The next US president will be faced with a dangerous opponent in South East Europe, one that Clinton did not have.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, just as the threat posed by Russia and its satellites is greater than ever, so democratic Europe's commitment to regional progress has weakened as the West European powers have regressed back toward more short-sighted, selfish policies. Germany is building an axis of its own with Russia, at the expense of the unity of the Western alliance and in contempt of the feelings of Poland and other states that have traditionally had reason to fear an axis of this kind. France under Nicolas Sarkozy is pursuing a traditionally Gaullist policy of apparently gratuitous bloody-mindedness, one that appears calculated to upset regional stability and undermine the US and NATO - almost as ends in themselves. At the NATO summit in Bucharest in April, Germany and France defied the US to veto the granting of Membership Action Plans to Georgia and Ukraine, weakening the ability of these two frontline states to resist Russian bullying. Germany and France also backed Greece in its successful effort to keep Macedonia out of NATO, on account of the unresolved 'name dispute' - a staggeringly irresponsible blow against a fragile, ethnically divided state whose collapse would bring regional cataclysm. Paris is also reverting to its traditionally pro-Serbian policy in the Balkans, undermining any possibility that Belgrade can be pressed to adopt a more responsible attitude vis-a-vis Kosovo.<br /> <br /> Bush was also faced with obstruction from France and Germany, something that is often wrongfully attributed to their opposition to the Iraq war, though this has been more an excuse than an actual reason for Franco-German mischief-making. But Bush at least has had the benefit of constructive support from some key allies. The next US president will have less of this. Turkey, the US's most important ally in the region, has been under the constructive rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the best part of the 2000s. Yet the country is currently undergoing an internal upheaval that could result in a judicial coup d'etat by anti-democratic elements in the old, Kemalist establishment determined not to share power with the new middle class represented by the AKP. This could lead to a turn by Turkey toward an ultra-nationalist, anti-Western path; its realignment with Russia, China and/or Iran; and possibly even a civil war on the Algerian model. These dangers are increased by the Franco-German determination to keep Turkey out of the EU; Paris and Berlin appear less concerned with the geopolitical dangers of abandoning Turkey than they are with maintaining their dominance within the EU and pandering to the anti-Islamic sections of their electorates.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, while Britain under Blair was a stalwart ally of the US on every front that mattered, Brown has been a disappointment in this regard, appearing scarcely to have a foreign policy worthy of the name. At Bucharest, he failed to stand alongside the US in defence of Macedonia, Ukraine and Georgia, and his one initiative of note with regard to the region has been a wrong-footed statement in support of the Greek Cypriots, that appears dangerously to indicate a retreat from the UK's traditional support for Turkey. The one major West European state upon which the US has traditionally been able to rely - except under John Major's disastrous Conservative government - is no longer a known quantity.<br /> <br /> In sum, in the years to come, the burden of defending Western interests and values in the region stretching from the Adriatic to the Caspian and from Ukraine to the Iraqi border will fall more heavily on the US's shoulders alone. And it is precisely at this moment that we are faced with the prospect of an Obama presidency.<br /> <br /> The dangers of this are twofold.<br /> The first is that, at the very moment when there is greatest need for US leadership, and for more US unilateralism to compensate for Europe's retreat into short-sighted selfishness, a President Obama would defer to the West Europeans on issues relating to South East Europe, on account of his own inexperience and lack of interest in foreign affairs. This is precisely what Clinton did, but in Obama's case, there is the additional incentive of desiring to be seen to break with the diplomatic style of the Bush Administration. Obama's policy statements over Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Israel show all the hallmarks of a politician who sees foreign policy solely through the prism of his domestic popularity, and who flip-flops between wanting to appear hawkish and wanting to appear dovish. Such a president would be highly unlikely to overrule narrow-minded but stubborn West European governments over a part of the world that does not readily excite American public imagination; nor is it certain he would stand up to Russia when necessary.<br /> <br /> The second danger is less certain, but potentially greater: it is that Obama is genuinely sympathetic to trouble-making elements in South East Europe. As recently as August 2007, Obama sponsored Senate Resolution 300 in support of the Greek position on the Macedonian name dispute - this after the Bush Administration had already wisely recognised Macedonia under its constitutional name. In a letter to the Serbian Unity Congress, an arm of the US's Serb lobby, following international recognition of Kosovo's independence in February, Obama appeared to endorse the Serbian position on Kosovo - that rejects any solution to the Kosovo question, such as independence, that is not acceptable to both sides. According to US analyst John Sitilides of the Woodrow Wilson Centre, Obama is politically sympathetic to Serbia, partly on account of the large Serb community in his state of Illinois. Obama has recently appointed Lee Hamilton as his foreign policy advisor; Hamilton has received funding from the leaders of both the Greek-American and Serb-American communities in the US. Obama has also prominently supported US Congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide, a move that would damage US relations with Turkey and strengthen the hand of Turkish anti-Western, ultra-nationalist elements (Turks may legitimately wonder why, of all the historic cases of genocide, it is this one alone that inspires the activity of certain US Congressmen, who meanwhile show no readiness to recognise the historical genocidal crimes of which Ottoman Muslims were victims). All this could be rationalised simply as Obama's attempts to maximise his votes among Greek-American, Serb-American and Armenian-American voters, but it does not bode well for the policy his administration would adopt toward South East Europe.<br /> <br /> McCain, by contrast, was a champion since the 1990s of the rights of the Kosovo Albanians, at a time when right-wing Republicans - whether out of hostility to Islam or hostility to Clinton - were widely supportive of Belgrade. Although far from uncritical of Turkey, he has indicated his awareness of its strategic importance, including vis-a-vis Iraq, and opposes Congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide as something that would needlessly damage the US's relations with a key ally. Finally, McCain led a delegation of US Congressmen to Tbilisi in 2006, to express unconditional support for Georgia's territorial integrity and to challenge the presence of Russian 'peacekeepers' in South Ossetia.<br /> <br /> McCain's approach to these issues is to some extent characteristic of a liberal Republican hawk, as distinct from a relatively dovish Democrat like Obama. But the difference between the two is also the difference between an older, more experienced politician with a keen interest in foreign policy and a global vision, and a younger and less experienced newcomer who still sees foreign policy through the prism of domestic political concerns. If Obama wins the US presidential election; if the policy of the EU states toward South East Europe continues to degenerate; if Russian policy continues along its current aggressive trajectory; and if another regional conflagration results, we may soon come to regret that the more unilateralist candidate did not win.


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Magie de la langue hébraïque

A tous nos chers lecteurs.


Ne vous est-il jamais venu à l'esprit d'en savoir un peu plus sur le titre de ce blog ?

Puisque nous nous sommes aujourd'hui habillés de bleu, il conviendrait de rentrer plus a fond dans l'explication du mot lessakel.

En fait Lessakel n'est que la façon française de dire le mot léhasskil.

L'hébreu est une langue qui fonctionne en déclinant des racines.

Racines, bilitères, trilitères et quadrilitères.

La majorité d'entre elle sont trilitères.

Aussi Si Gad a souhaité appeler son site Lessakel, c'est parce qu'il souhaitait rendre hommage à l'intelligence.

Celle qui nous est demandée chaque jour.

La racine de l'intelligence est sé'hel שכל qui signifie l'intelligence pure.

De cette racine découlent plusieurs mots

Sé'hel > intelligence, esprit, raison, bon sens, prudence, mais aussi croiser

Léhasskil > Etre intelligent, cultivé, déjouer les pièges

Sé'hli > intelligent, mental, spirituel

Léhistakel > agir prudemment, être retenu et raisonnable, chercher à comprendre

Si'hloute > appréhension et compréhension

Haskala >  Instruction, culture, éducation

Lessa'hlen > rationaliser, intellectualiser

Heschkel > moralité

Si'htanout > rationalisme

Si'hloul > Amélioration, perfectionnement


Gageons que ce site puisse nous apporter quelques lumières.

Aschkel pour Lessakel.



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