Monday, August 21, 2006

Here Comes Bogie

Bogie is the nickname of Maj. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, former IDF Chief of Staff.

General Ya'alon To Return Home Amid Speculation

...With Prime Minister Olmert's government facing trouble after the cease-fire in Lebanon, the man who might just lead its replacement will be arriving in Israel on Thursday.

Moshe Ya'alon, the general who broke the back of the second Palestinian Arab intifada in 2003 only to find himself fired from his job as chief of staff of the military for opposing Ariel Sharon's withdrawal of settlements and soldiers from Gaza, is something like Israel's General Dwight Eisenhower, a popular ex-general who is being pursued quietly by Israel's conservative opposition that seeks a steady hand in what is shaping up to be a long war against Islamic terror.

Just like Ike, the military hero is waiting for the right moment to enter politics. The general so far has not declared his allegiance to any party. In an interview yesterday, Mr. Ya'alon said he was returning from a residency at the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs to take up a post at the Shalem Center, a center-right think tank in Jerusalem, and to write a book.

"I am going back now but I don't want to speak politics. I am ready to speak substance, not to speak about this party or that party, but to speak out my mind," he said.

But Mr. Ya'alon's mind is very much in step with the Likud opposition that has behind the scenes sought to revive its party with his prestige. A poll earlier this year conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs found that Mr. Ya'alon enjoyed a 90% approval rating.

The general, like the vanquished Likud party, warned that Israel's withdrawal a year ago from Gaza would imperil its southern cities. He shares the frustration of Likud leaders that the war in Lebanon was fought in a feckless manner and argues that Israel and the west must eventually confront Iran.

...On Tuesday in New York, the general dropped a powerful hint about his political ambitions. He gave an address at a commemoration of the anniversary of the death of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the Polish Zionist journalist (*) considered the ideological founder of Likud and the most vocal proponent among the early Zionists of Israel extending its borders to both sides of the Jordan River.

In that speech, before an audience from the hawkish Americans for a Safe Israel, he said it was the time ask "hard questions" of Israel's leaders in light of the cease-fire in Lebanon. He was sharp in his barbs against relinquishing land for peace in the case of the Oslo process, and unilateral disengagement in the case of the post-Oslo realignment plan drafted by Ariel Sharon.

"We in Israel prefer to deceive ourselves, to delude ourselves, to believe that by appeasement, by giving up territories, we will reach peace and tranquility," Mr. Ya'alon said. "And we ignore the fact that on the other side in what is called the Palestinian Authority there was no, and there is no, leadership ready to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish independent state."

An expert on the writings of Jabotinsky and a Middle East scholar at the Hudson Institute, Meyrav Wurmser, yesterday said, "I think in choosing to speak there, at Jabotinsky's Yartzheit celebration, he is making a little bit of a political statement. In the world of people from the Jabotinsky right, his birthday as well as his death, it is something steeped in meaning."



I sent this letter to the Sun -

In a report on a recent speech by Moshe Ya'alon, Eli Lake noted that the occasion was the commemoration of the death anniversary of "Vladimir Jabotinsky, the Polish Zionist journalist" (Aug. 21). Jabotinsky, however, was born, in 1880, in Odessa, then Russia.

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