why not a fish
Sunday, June 30, 2002
What's the British definition of an anti-semite?
Someone who hates Jews more than necessary.
(Sorry Uncle Trev. No offense intended.)
According to Our Lady Peace,
"happiness...is not a fish that you can catch".
Evacuation under fire
Speaking on Israeli radio (“Reshet Bet”) this morning, Knesset Member, Haim Ramon, who is currently challenging Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer as chairman of the Labor party, called for an evacuation of all Jewish settlements in Gaza and the smaller isolated settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) unilaterally, without waiting for a renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians.
Ramon is talking about more than Ben Eliezer’s evacuation today of three tiny uninhabited illegal outpost settlements. The more radical Jewish settlers have a policy of putting up these tiny outposts, which usually consist of two to three defenseless and sparsely populated caravans that are a headache for the army that has to protect them, and a drain on military personnel. The settlers take into account that the army will probably eventually evacuate many of them, as they did when Barak was Prime Minister, and the more there are, the better their bargaining position is.
Unilateral evacuation of settlements, at this time, will be seen as a victory by the Palestinians and will encourage them to continue their terror attacks on civilians.
We’re going to evacuate settlements, in the end, and certainly all the settlements in Gaza, but we mustn’t do it under fire. That would be a rerun of the Lebanon withdrawal fiasco, only worse. We all sighed with relief when we got our boys out of that hellhole, but the hurried, even hysterical withdrawal whetted the Palestinians appetites and gave us this war. Evacuation will prove that they’re on the right road and will give them incentive to continue full speed ahead.
We can evacuate settlements before a renewal of negotiations, but only when the Palestinians are bleeding so hard they won’t even notice we’re gone.
This is probably what we should have done in Lebanon.
What can we do? We’re living in a tough neighborhood here. If we don’t beat up the local bullies, we’ve had it.
By the way, I don’t think evacuation of settlements has anything to do with building the security fence. The sooner the fence is built, the better.
They're closing the zoo
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel is closing it’s little zoological garden in Abu Kabir, between Yaffo and Tel Aviv. This was never a major tourist attraction. In fact, it was always rather shabby and run down. But when the girls were very young we went there every now and then and they loved it there.
I hate zoos. I can’t stand to see animals in cages. But this place wasn’t about making money, it was more about looking after the animals.
I had hoped they’d find some money somewhere to keep it going. I’m sorry to see it go.
Blowing up history
Apparently, the Palestinian government building, the “Immara” in Hebron that the IDF blew up at the weekend, was a Tiegart fortress. These British-built fortresses are an interesting part of Israel’s history (Hebrew link – I couldn’t find anything in English about this). I’m a big fan of these buildings. The British began building them to be used as police stations during the “Great Arab Revolt” of 1936-1939 and they were designed by Charles Tiegart, who was a British terrorist expert of the day. These fortresses are all over the country and most of them are still being used today as police stations. They are famous for being strategically positioned and difficult to conquer and many of the fiercest battles in the 1948 war of Independence were fought over them.
Fred Lapides wrote me
"Stumbled upon your newish site whilst avoiding my family--all sleeping, still. Two things that seem never get fully flushed out:
1. Arab-Israelis can leave if unhappy with citizenship in Israel. If they want to stay and make things better, then they ought to try that course of action rather than destroying the place they seem unwilling to abandon.
2. All those who we seem to label pro-Palestinians forget a basic fact of history: no country in recorded history ever gives back land taken in war unless there is (1) strategic reason for unloading that land, (2) a peace accord that returns the taken land because differences have been settled. Look at the history of,say,America: Germany and Japan were made to surrender, unconditionally, occupied by troops, and had a constitution etc imposed upon them.
Mexico lost much lad to the SouthWest of the U.S. in that war and America compensated them at the price dtermined not in negotiations but at the price they were told to accept. Why would any nation lose its young men in warfare and then simply walk away with the enemy still demanding the destruction of the prevailing army? America did this in the war with Iraq and now regrets and will once again go to war with that country till they get what they want--a chance for peaceful regime in Iraq. Merely longivity in occupation seems insufficient motivation for an "occupying" army to walk away.
3. And a bonus: the Hamas and other groups constantly refer to getting Israel out of Palestinian land. Few interviewers or writers ever pin down what they men by Palestinian land--does that mean the territories? All of Israel? There is, after all, a big difference that the Left of Center folks ought to consider when they state that leaving the territories will bring about peace.
buckle up for safety"
Bish says I’m having a creativity spurt. (I’m not, I’m not! I’m always creative!)
I’m not sure how long I can keep this up. I now deeply admire bloggers for their amazing perseverance.
Until recently, I used to write analysis reports for a living. I used to work a few days or weeks on a piece, because most of the work was research. But this gave me plenty of time for thinking about phrasing before I even started writing. I had a very limited readership and I suspect most of them just skimmed through because they usually did the exact opposite to what I recommended.
This is much more fun. I get to say whatever stupid idea pops into my head. And I don’t have to submit everything I write to censorship by my boss, just because his name is also on it. (So what? What about creative liberty? Civil servant report writers of the world unite!)
More about Azmi Bishara by Gil Shterzer
Gil Shterzer adds to my comments on Azmi Bishara from yesterday:
"Imshin J is not saying that but I will: Azmi Bshara is a dangerous man to Israel. He uses Israeli democracy against the state of Israel. He is walking on a thin line, Incites Israeli Arabs, Palestinians and Arabs in the surrounding states against Israel but keeps it blurry enough to get away. He is now facing charges in Israeli court after when visiting Syria he called to fight against Israel. But I'm sure he'll get away from punishment, the man is a wizard in using democratic measures such as the media and Israeli Justice to get what he wants.
An equivalent to Bshara visiting Syria (an enemy state) and calling there to fight Israel will be an American Senator visiting Iraq and calling to fight the US."
Saturday, June 29, 2002
One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river. "Look at the fish swimming about," said Chuang Tzu, "They are really enjoying themselves."
"You are not a fish," replied the friend, "So you can't truly know that they are enjoying themselves."
"You are not me," said Chuang Tzu. "So how do you know that I do not know that the fish are enjoying themselves?"
Azmi Bishara's views on unilateral-separation.
While perusing (that's a good word, Dad. I bet you didn't know I knew that one) Al-Ahram, searching for that Hafez article, I stumbled on an article by Knesset member Azmi Bishara. This guy is really intelligent and charismatic. But, along with the other Israeli Arab leaders, he’s done unbelievable damage to Israeli Arabs.
The Israeli Arabs are twenty percent of Israel's population. As such, they are potentially a very strong political lobby. They also have a lot of social and economic problems that need to be addressed. But, instead of fighting to improve their situation and help them gain full equality in Israeli society, their leaders have been busy championing Palestinian rights, inciting against Israel amongst Israeli Arabs and all over the Arab world and by words and actions, making Israeli Jews think that Israeli Arabs can't be trusted. The great majority of Israeli Arabs want to stay Israeli Arabs. They know that even if their situation in Israel is not marvelous, it's way, way better than it would be under Palestinian rule. The Israeli Arabs involved in terrorism are still a small minority, but with the help of people like Mr. Bishara, who gets a generous salary from the Israeli taxpayer, they're growing in number.
In his article, he calls unilateral separation - apartheid. "What we have is a new apartheid system that is reshaping Israel's entire political culture, and is spilling over from the ghettos and cantons of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into Israel's own fabric. Once the doctrine of establishing unilateral barriers between the Jews and the Arabs is accepted, it requires no stretch of imagination to apply the same rules to Arabs inside Israel."
I don't get this. Calling unilateral-separation - apartheid, is saying that the Palestinians don't really want to be separated from Israel. The Palestinians say they want a state. The Israelis are worried that a fence would become a political border. States have borders, or so I'm told. Often fences mark these borders. Shouldn't the Palestinians be pleased about a fence going up? Doesn't the popularity of this idea in Israel mean that many Israelis are accepting that a political separation between Israel and the Palestinians is only a matter of time?
The Palestinians should be celebrating. What's wrong with them? (Well, that's a silly question!)
But it seems what Mr. Bishara is doing is just more incitement: "The Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the Palestinian areas, have to come together to defend continuous incursions on their freedom and future. The Palestinians need peace and equality, but first they have to remain steadfast and focused. This is the only way in which they will defeat Israel's apartheid."
This could be interpreted as a call for an uprising of Israeli Arabs, joining their Palestinian brothers in their war against Israel. Doesn't he understand how dangerous this is for his people? Doesn't he see that his words could have horrendous results?
It seems Mr. Bishara is more interested in being an Arab hero, than helping the people he represents in the Israeli Knesset.
Israeli Knesset members, by the way, when sworn into office, make the obligation (swearing is not allowed for Jewish people) to "remain faithful to the State of Israel and to faithfully fulfill (their) mission in the Knesset". (My translation). Being faithful to the State of Israel, as I see it, does not include encouraging citizens of that state to take up arms with its enemies.
More from my mailbox
Lawrence Simon wrote me:
"One phrase jumps out at me... "We Jews have this weird craving for
I know the feeling. Drives me nuts. I want to go off in a corner and be
misanthropic and alone and enjoy the thoughts in my head without
interruption, but every now and then I get a craving for praise and
belonging like my grandfather would suddenly stand up and demand pickled
Added to blogroll, linking in next post, and try to stay sane in all of
this. And if you can't, well, make it a fun sort of insanity. Sometimes I
can get the voices in my head to sing show tunes... it's like having
Broadway in the back of my mind."
His latest post is great fun. As usual.
An Arab intellectual reasons away reform
I used to read the Egyptian Al-Ahram quite a lot, but it eventually got me too annoyed and I had to stop (Eduard Said is a regular columnist there. Need I say more?). Yesterday I thought I'd have another look and I found this article by Usama El-Ghazali Harb named "Reform, so they tell me". While discussing a previous Al-Ahram article by Salah El-Din Hafez (which I couldn't find. Why don't these online papers link?), Mr. Harb (Harb means war, by the way, maybe I should call him Mr. Usama War?) blames American and European interference as the reason the Arabs have not implemented reforms. It's not clear what reforms he has in mind, but apparently Hafez, in his article was talking about calls for reforms among 19th Century Muslim religious leaders, among other things. So maybe the reforms discussed here don't actually entail democratization and that sort of thing.
Harb quotes Hafez as saying: '"We in the Arab world are averse to foreign interference in our internal affairs. We cannot let others tell us what to do. Yet, we know that we need reform in all aspects of our lives...""
Harb gives two reasons why it's the West's fault that the Arabs have not made reforms.
1.The West demanding the Arabs to reform annoys the Arabs and turns them against it.
2.For a long time the West, and especially the U.S., strengthened traditionalists in Arab countries, for the sake of stability in the region, in order to further their interests (such as fighting communism - I like this one - if I remember rightly, a lot of the Arabs went with the Commies; protecting production and supply of oil and protecting Israel).
It seems to me that reason 2 is a contradiction of reason 1.
If the West wants the Arabs to reform - that's no good because the Arabs refuse to be told what to do by outsiders, and will therefore do the opposite, to spite them, even if reform is necessary. If the West doesn't want the Arabs to reform - that's also no good because by strengthening traditionalists they're weakening the reformers. But according to the logic of reason 1, the West supporting the traditionalists all those years should have actually strengthened the reformers, because the Arabs refuse to do what they're advised to do by outsiders (rather like naughty schoolboys).
The main point is, he's managed to wriggle his way out of reform and blamed the West on the way. Perfect.
The whole argument is rather weak. I wonder if this is the best they can do.
Of course, in such articles you always have the fun of reading such passages as:
"Following 11 September, American and European writers and politicians subjected the Islamic and Arab world to close scrutiny. They wanted to know why people from our region had carried out such acts against the United States. In general, they reached the conclusion that it was due to certain negative conditions which exist in our countries, and which are conducive to anti-Western and anti- American sentiments. They therefore want us to implement "reforms" so as to dry up the sources of this "terror", of which they feel themselves the principal target."
"Israel ... a nation founded on religious dogma. In pursuing its own truths, it has violated sacred Islamic principles and places, provoked an acute desperation among the younger generations of Arab and Muslims, and triggered a resistance-oriented religious revival, both inside and outside Palestine."
Friday, June 28, 2002
Doing our Best
Things are getting really bad here, economy-wise. I'm lucky to have a secure job. It doesn't pay marvelously but I know my salary will be paid into my bank account at the beginning of every month. Bish, on the other hand is self employed, and is affected by the ups and downs of the economy. So far, we've been very lucky.
But a lot of people haven't been. I've never known so many unemployed people, from all walks of life. A friend of mine had a shop in the center of Jerusalem. Last October she told me that if they don't have a good winter they won't survive. Since then there were - how many terrorist suicide bombings near her shop? A lot. Last time I spoke to her they were bankrupt and she'd just put her home on the market.
And we're told it's going to get worse.
Bish and I have been making an effort to buy only Israeli stuff. Maybe we can help prevent another factory from closing.
You can buy Israeli stuff through this site.
USS Clueless again
Stephen Den Beste asks "where's the international outrage against "Israeli aggression"? Where are the demands for immediate withdrawal and resumption of negotiations? Where's the condemnation? Where's the rhetoric about how Israeli military action damages the "peace process"? MIA."
He states the Bush speech as part of the reason. But Israel reentered the PA areas long before the speech. So why is it?
Stephen Den Beste sent me an e-mail,
she mentioned nonchalantly.
Who am I kidding? I'm completely in awe of this guy.
"I am the guy who writes "USS Clueless", which you've been kind enough to
link to twice in the recent past. (Thanks!)
I know things are horrible in Israel right now, and I know that sometimes it
seems as if some Americans are blithering idiots about it.
I suspect you do know that the majority of Americans strongly support Israel
in this. Certainly I do, as you can tell by what I've written. But it is the
nature of our society that there will always be cranks and always be
disagreement, and sometimes the minority voices are the loudest.
Pay them no mind; they will not be influencing American foreign policy in
any significant way for the forseeable future."
Thank you for your heartwarming e-mail. I know most Americans are with us. Bish has a lot of professional colleagues and clients in the U.S. and he gets loads of wonderful, supportive e-mails.
We Jews have this weird craving for acceptance. I suppose it comes from hundreds of years of groveling to the local nobleman so he wouldn't kick us out, if we were lucky, or, more likely, slit our throats. So if someone thinks we're in the right, we find it hard to believe!
I appreciate the wide range of opinions freely aired in American society. That's the whole point isn't it? We also have that here. I have friends who are so left-wing they think we should find somewhere else to live and I also have friends in West Bank settlements. You often hear Knesset members yelling at each other in the Knesset, cursing and threatening. And then they go out to have lunch together.
But it can get scary that in Western Europe, for instance, we seem to be seen by ordinary people as so very wicked.
Thursday, June 27, 2002
Naomi Ragen sent this out on her mailing list:
Oncologist Speaks Out
By Dr. Nathan Cherny
That I care for the well being of tens of Palestinian cancer patients and
their families is irrelevant. As a Jew living in Israel, and, more
specifically, Jerusalem, I am a potential target worthy of maiming or
assassination. That is the miserable nature of the Palestinian struggle for
That I am here to recount these thoughts is by sheer virtue of timing.
Minutes after I passed through the Patt intersection en route to the Shaare
Zedek Medical Center, Bus 32 was exploded by a young suicide bomber. Almost
everyone on the bus was killed, most instantly. Shrapnel and flying sheets
of metal killed and maimed passing pedestrians and the drivers and
passengers of adjacent vehicles.
Besides caring for Israeli and Palestinian cancer patients, I teach medical
students a course in Palliative Medicine; the care of patients with
incurable illnesses. At any one time I usually have 10-15 students; Jews and
Palestinians together. Among my current group is a wonderfully bright,
sensitive and caring 24 year old woman: Shelly Nahari. Wednesday's
tutorialwas cancelled. Instead my students were learning the harsh realities
of acute grief as they attended the funeral of Shelly's 22 year old sister,
Shiri, who was killed in the carnage that I had barely escaped.
Jerusalem is small and the circle of my patients, colleagues and their
families is wide. In this week alone, I have shared one degree of
separation from four miserable tragedies.
Dr Eisenman is a young opthalmologist at Shaare Zedek. His wife,
mother-in-law, 5 year old daughter and eighteen month old son were waiting
at the bus stop at French Hill, in northern Jerusalem, under brilliant blue
skies when a terrorist jumped from a passing vehicle and ran toward them.
As his belt exploded he showered all those in proximity with gore and a
malicious salad of bolts and nails. The storm of shrapnel did its intended
job. Dr. Eisenman's young daughter and mother-in-law were killed instantly.
Today his infant son is in intensive care. This afternoon, his injured wife
by his side, he buried his golden haired daughter next to her beloved
Devora Margalit is a community nurse who helps cancer patients, and
others,cope with stomas. Helping people cope with the whole new world of
bags to collect their urine or feces is unromantic but vital work. In her
former days she was a hospice nurse caring for the terminally ill. In the
past days she has needed all of her skills in pain control as she has helped
nurse her 15 year old son who received burns to 50% of his body. His school
(Yeshiva) had an ongoing project tending to a cherry orchard. Last week as
they left the orchard a booby trapped gas canister that was rigged as a
shrapnel laden bomb was set off. In the past week he has had 3 operations as
the surgeons gradually debride his wounds and fight infections. For now,the
pain is the challenge. It is now controlled with a portable morphine pump.
The future holds years of work managing skin grafts and scars.
In the eyes of the Hamas, The Islamic Jihad, The Hizbolah, and Fatah, all of
this is a justifiable expression of national self determination. In their
eyes, the path to statehood is legitimately strewn with the bodies of
children, pensioners, grandparents and bus drivers. If they had here way, it
would be strewn with my body as well.
In becoming the symbols of the battle for Palestinian independence, these
elements undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian cause; for they present
the Palestinians as a fundamentally uncivil, lawless, cruel and undeserving
Suicide bombings, murder and vilification serve only to delegitimize the
cause and distance the prospect of an independent Palestinian State. A
community and a people that tolerates and condones such behavior is
Mr Arafat's denunciations ring hollow. The paper trail uncovered by the
Israeli Defense Forces show, beyond reasonable doubt, that he is directly
and intimately involved with the provision of funding to the militias
responsible for this civilian carnage. You can't call for a million martyrs
to liberate Palestine and still call yourself a peacemaker.
Zero tolerance is what is called for. If there is a responsible Palestinian
leadership, let them join forces with the Israel Defense Forces in
eradicating this sick and pernicious element in their society.
As long as I, my friends, colleagues, patients and their children are
targets; the Palestinians cannot be entrusted to responsibilities of
I know that things can be different. I work with Palestinians; as patients
and as colleagues. Our relationships are warm and mutually supportive.
Indeed, in the awful darkness of the past 18 months these relationships have
been a vital part of my coping. I know, from my first hand experience,that
there is the real potential for love and respect. Though we may have
political differences, we appreciate the potential for mutual benefit
through cooperation. This is the human thread that sustains my hope.
Utlimately then, I support the emergence of a Palestinian state; but my
support is conditional. It is conditional upon the prospect of living, in
security and trust, side by side with a civil and humane Palestinian
society; in respect and cooperation.
The ball is in their court.
NATHAN I CHERNY
Director, Cancer Pain and Palliative Medicine
Dept of Oncology
Shaare Zedek Medical Center
This is brilliant
"Who's sorry now? A scenario by Doron Rosenblum (Haaretz):
The weather was surprisingly balmy in London that day. Bundles of thick clouds scudded across the skies above the National and the Tate Modern on the South Bank, but on the other side of the river, the sun, perched in a gash of blue, painted the leaves of the new trees and the grass in the squares a lush green.
Four elderly gents sat on a wooden bench in Berkeley Square, their eyes closed to the sun's pleasant warmth, though they occasionally watched the toddlers perking along next to their mothers. One of the small-fry, who was just learning how to walk, gripped the handle of his pram. A blue-haired old woman smiled sweetly at the sight, when suddenly something cast a shadow over her. She looked up and saw a young man pulling something out of his coat and smiling at her before everything went dark.
The explosion set off by the suicide bomber was so powerful that the entire glass facade of the nearby building shattered and crashed slowly to the ground, releasing a white storm of documents that floated gently down into the smoking ruins. Even the rescue crews could barely recognize the place. But who could have imagined that this would only be the prologue?"
Read on. It gets better.
Thank you, Bish, for pointing it out.
Please don't remind me of Oslo
I usually really like Dennis Ross' clear analysis on mideast affairs. In yesterday's NY Times he offers a way to implement what Bush was talking about in his speech.
He suggests that we "test whether any part of the Palestinian Authority is willing to act forcefully against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
If the Palestinian security forces do act, a similar effort could begin in different parts of the West Bank. They could start by taking action, for example, in the Jericho area".
Now, why does this sound familiar? Oh, yes ... "Gaza and Jericho first" ... early Oslo... nausea.
Excuse me if I prefer Michael Kelly's article, I mentioned yesterday, and the Telegraph's editorial calling the Bush speech "the most radical address on the Middle east ever delivered by an American leader." These articles really excite me. I know this is emotional and childish, but somehow they give me hope, instead of "Oh, no! Not Oslo again!"
I know Mr. Ross is really trying to look at this in a way which will make this work. But the nitty gritty of how to do it just makes me sick at the moment. We're not ready for that yet.
The implementation of the ideas set out in the Bush speech are unrealistic, unless the Palestinians can be convinced that in order to survive they have to change radically. For this to happen their life has to be hell. Worse than hell. They have to be completely and utterly convinced that they are not going to be able to destroy the state of Israel or conquer all of Palestine. Ever.
This sounds awfully callous and cruel, I know. But I'm not in favor of violence as a rule. On the contrary, I have long believed that a peaceful solution to a conflict, any conflict, building trust, understanding and empathy between the sides, has a much greater chance of lasting. For a while, I really believed I could be a Buddhist and survive in this region. I still don't eat animals. But they're not out to get me. Are they?
There is evidence that many ordinary Palestinians eagerly await the return of the relatively orderly, efficient and fair-handed Israeli administration to the population centers now ruled by the Palestinian Authority. Of course, they can't say this out loud because it would be the last thing they said.
Most ignoramuses (or is it ignoramusi or am I the ignoramwhatever because I can't spell?) in the West, shouting about Israel's wickedness, choose to ignore the fact that the Palestinians suffering, since Oslo, has been mainly caused by the Palestinians themselves. They are completely blind to the "Tunisian" Palestinian's violent and corrupt reign on one hand, and the results of the Islamic Fundamentalists terrorism on the other. (People seem to forget that terrorist suicide bombing began before the ink on the Oslo Accords' signatures were dry). This terrorism forced Israel to fence off the Palestinians, curbing their freedom of movement and making it virtually impossible for them to live normal lives, let alone make decent livings for themselves and their families.
We're forever hearing about Israel's crimes at the checkpoints. Who made those checkpoints necessary? We thought we were getting peace.
I agree that some of the Jewish settlers treat their Palestinian neighbors with unnecessary cruelty. But if the Palestinians had given the majority of Israelis a reason to trust them, we could have started evacuating settlements long before Arafat turned down the Camp David offers.
Where am I leading with this? I don't know. Nowhere, I guess. I'm really tired. I'm tired of guys like Mr. Ross. Busy, busy, busy. Working things out. Making plans. Trying to fix everything.
Just leave us alone.
Spy for Hezbullah caught in Israel
He's apparently a Lebanese Jew, son of a Jewish mother and a Shiite father who "made aliya" ten years ago.
Well waddaya know?
Life After Cal also linked to me. This'll have to stop before it goes to my head.
I'm really amazed by the amount of interesting stuff written about Bush's speech. I don't have time to read it all.
Michael Kelly starts his article in the Washington Post by making some predictions:
a. Yasser Arafat will be gone as the leader of the Palestinian Authority within a year -- probably within six months.
b. The Palestinians will elect leaders...The peace process will begin anew, with some (fragile) hope.
c. Israel and the United States will support Palestinian state. Israel will make major concessions. The Palestinian people and important Arab states will support the process.
d. Palestine and Iraq will be democratic states.
So, I'm reading this stuff and I'm thinking of my very own Bish's famous predictions straight after the Gulf War, boldly made when we were still jumping in response to loud noises (fearing they were the beginning of an air-raid siren). In those days I still thought he could never err. He then stated that Saddam Hussein would be dead within a year, and that we would have peace with the Palestinians within five years. Well, we actually thought he'd got the second prediction right for a while. But he never lived down the Saddam Hussein thing. To this day, whenever he repeats his famous mantra: "Me? I never make mistakes!" our daughters sing out "Saddam Hussein!" (they weren't actually around at the time - our eldest is a "war baby" - but fear you not I made sure to fill them in).
Back to Mr. Kelly's predictions - you know, I wish, I really do, with all my heart, that it will happen just as he predicts. But my ability to believe the unlikely (which was at it's peak during the euphoric early "Oslo years") is sadly eroded these days. It just doesn't seem at all realistic.
Then I continued the article to the part were he throws the bombshell (well it was for me anyway):
"Bush has set the Palestinian issue within the context of a larger approach that is fundamentally, historically radical: a rejection of decades of policy, indeed a rejection of the entire philosophy of Middle East diplomacy.
This philosophy has rested on a willingness to accept a U.S. role as a player in a running fraud. In the interests of "stability" and cheap oil and concessions to American military needs, the United States chose to recognize all regimes (except those such as Iran, Libya and Iraq who openly attacked us or the regional status quo) as more or less legitimate. Successive American administrations looked the other way as regimes established gangster states, police states, fascist theocracies; as they erected democracies that were dictatorships; as they looted and tortured and killed vast numbers of their own; as they provided crucial territorial, financial and logistical support to terrorists who murdered Americans. We pretended that these regimes were honorable and that we could do honorable business with them.
The Oslo peace process, which ended in a self-made disaster, was the perfect fruit of this tree. The administrations of Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin knew of course that Arafat was wholly duplicitous, wholly incompetent and a delusional murderous schemer. They knew his people knew this. They knew he was lying when he pretended to want a workable peace. They knew his people knew this too. Yet they treated him as an honest man upon whom could be built a decent peace and a decent state.
To the Palestinians, this said that the Americans were stupid and weak. It also said that they were corrupt. As they had in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, the freedom-trumpeting Americans were happy to support tyrannies whenever it suited Washington's interests. And so they were doubly worthy of contempt."
Reading this gives me hope that maybe the predictions have a chance. That is, if Bush can see this through.
Another interesting article is by Patrick Bishop, in the British Daily Telegraph. I'm afraid it requires registration. This guy really seems to understand the ins and outs of Palestinian politics, if that's the correct term for what George F. Will quaintly calls a "thugocracy". He explains Arafat's amazing survival instinct and how he will go about staying in power against all odds. Again.
Ah, but Mr. Bishop has hope: "Despite the initial expressions of solidarity, it is possible that Arafat's grip on Palestine might yet be loosened. Palestinians have, until now, accepted the idea that suffering is their most potent weapon. Their victimhood has gained them international attention and sympathy, and brought about near-universal recognition of their right to statehood. But the return on their pain is dwindling. The suicide bomber phenomenon has created a wave of feeling for the Israelis and altered the perception that the Palestinians are suffering uniquely.
[...] The lack of opposition to the Israeli re-occupation of West Bank towns this week in reaction to the latest suicide bombs was perhaps a sign that exhaustion is setting in."
It's worth taking the time to register and read the whole thing.
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
It seems Sharon is off the hook in Belgium.
Even if it's forgotten
In today's Yediot Aharonot (Israel's most read daily newspaper which doesn't have an English translation and appears in part on the net on Ynet) Amos Carmel ridicules the responses of the media and left-wing politicians to Bush's speech.
"On September 14 1998", he writes (the translation is mine), "while up to his neck in the Monica Lewinsky affair, Bill Clinton made a speech about world economy. The next day an Israeli columnist wrote that the impression made by this speech on the history of world economy "will be recognized many years after no one remembers ... what exactly Monica did with the cigar". So far, it seems, the complete opposite has happened. On October 4 2001 Ariel Sharon announced in a press conference that Israel would not be Czechoslovakia (of 1938) ... everone was explaining that the U.S. administration wouldn't forgive Israel for this dangerous and insulting speech. There were even those who maintained that as a result we would have to ask Arafat to use his connections to help us be included in the great anti-terror coalition. Does anyone remember that speech? Does anyone remember that coalition (that never came to be)? [...] Speeches and analysis are just speeches and analysis. In the great majority of cases they are not a non-returnable commitment."
[...] "(Shimon) Peres is the best man to bear witness to that. On Monday he was bitterly saying that Bush was "making a fatal mistake" and that "the area will fall into an abyss as large as the expectations of the speech". Yesterday, he was already explaining that this was a "great" speech."
He says that the columnists and political analysts seem dismayed that "the head of the one superpower in our world did not supply a one-speech magic-solution to a hundred-year-long bloody conflict. And wonder of wonders, he didn't take the opportunity to tell us (Israelis) off. How can we cope with this calamity?"
Hmm, who's first?
"From the moment the State of Israel has the capability to launch a satellite into orbit around the earth at a height of hundreds of kilometers, it established [its] capability to launch, by means of a missile, a payload to any location on the face of the earth,"
What this means is, taking in account Israel's nonconventional capabilities, that we can probably destroy the world if we feel that way inclined. Apparently we've had this capability for about 30 years.
Although we haven't used this stuff, we're still regarded an irresponsible bunch of hooligans.
Bish fixed my mail
So I've decided not to leave him for James at the moment. We girls can be disgustingly mercenary. Not that he was particularly upset. I think he's waiting to get rid of me so he can marry one of those gorgeous blonde Russian girls that seem to be everywhere. They hadn't arrived yet when he met me.
Thank you Tal G.
For putting a link to me on your page! Wow, someone actually read this!
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Natan Sharansky's views accepted by Bush
This is new for me. Eli J. Lake says in JWR that "Bush's speech yesterday echoed Sharansky's call for democratic reforms inside the Palestinian Authority". Apparently he has been "a key intermediary between Sharon's government and the White House" continuously pressing that the U.S. "condition aid to rebuild the Palestinian Authority on democratic reforms."
Well, he always was a great favourite of my Mum's.
Dear Mr. James Taranto, will you marry me?
I'm sorry, Bish. After all these years, I didn't think it would come to this. It's just that... I can't take it any more...the loneliness, the emptiness, every Saturday and Sunday...counting the hours, the minutes, the seconds... two whole days every week without "The Best of the Web Today".
Will you ever forgive me?
The London Times reviews press reaction to the Bush speech.
Merkava Mk. 4
The new tank was launched today (Yesterday I said it would be next week).
Read Stephen (USS Clueless) DenBeste's analysis of the Bush speech.
Interesting Article by David Horowitz in yesterday's JWR called "Know The Enemy
(And What He Believes)".
Whatever Asparagirl may say, I feel a bit more optimistic (or should I say a little less pessimistic) following President Bush's speech.
It's nice to have the President of the U.S. giving an address, which shows such a degree of sympathy for Israel’s interests.
People in the West seem to think that a Western style democracy is the answer to corruption, oppression, extremism and fundamentalism in the Palestinian Authority and among Palestinians. This may not be the case. The Palestinian’s brethren, the Israeli Arabs, have lived in a real Western style democracy for 54 years. If we observe the voting patterns of this segment of the Israeli population, we often see a tendency towards voting as a group, according to family ("Hamoola" - extended family) affiliations and interests. Voting according to individual political views is not necessarily the norm.
Thus, although elected in true democratic procedure, regional government in predominantly Arab areas in Israel is more likely to be corrupt and characterized by widespread nepotism than in regional government in predominantly Jewish areas. (This is not to say that these problems don't exist in Jewish municipalities. Of course they do. Luckily, both Jews and Arabs alike have to answer to the legal system.)
It is quite likely that the new political and economic institutions with separate powers of government, suggested by President Bush for the Palestinians in his speech, would also be ridden with corruption and nepotism.
In view of this, it would be naןve to suppose that full democratization of the Palestinian Authority would solve the problems at hand.
It would prove ineffective to reform the institutions without attempting to transform the population's political and social way of thinking. Maybe this is something the U.N. should be doing - educating children and adults about governmental alternatives - i.e. how democracies work; checks and balances; separation of state authorities; free economy, and correct norms of public administration.
I can only imagine that most Palestinians neither understand nor trust Western concepts of democracy, public administration and free economy, which probably seem to them like anarchy. We can't force these things on them, without sensitive preparation. Furthermore, they would probably perceive Western overseeing of political, administrative and economic measures of reform as demeaning. If these issues aren't seriously and sensitively addressed than even if they actually manage to implement meaningful reforms, they are likely to be a dismal failure.
Monday, June 24, 2002
Jihad according to IslamExposed.com
My Dad has been raving about this Islami-Atheist website. The articles I've read are a bit extreme for my liking, but I've checked some of the Koran quotations in my Hebrew Koran and it's all there. (I have an Arabic Koran as well, but sadly I can't read it any more. I've forgotten most of the little Arabic I knew). There's an essay about Jihad, that although it isn't very politely written says some interesting things. The site seems to have been written by people who used to be Moslems, which makes it even more interesting. (Actually, if I remember rightly from the Islam lessons I took in high school, once you're a Moslem you're always a Moslem, so these guys are taking a great risk by writing this stuff). I apologize if the content offends any religious people.
Not very positive
Have you noticed that the British Independent calls it's opinion page "Argument"? Very fitting for the nasty vicious things said on this page. But I must say I haven't seen much argument on this page, at least about the Middle East. All columnists seem to agree that the Israelis are war criminals and Nazis and deserve to be blown up, and the long-suffering Palestinians have every right to blow them up and the more the merrier.
This is definitely the best photo they could find
Get a load of this photo of Ariel Sharon on the Daily Telegraph's main news page today. It's obvious they just love him!
Update (6/25): The link has gone dead, of course. Sorry, I'm not very good at this.
More about those noble young men with their dynamite belts
Den Beste (USS Clueless) makes some interesting comments about the Matthew Parris article. He points out that: "The problem with his argument is the assumption that we must honor someone who is willing to die for their cause, and should consider their cause to be more noble because of their sacrifice. I'm afraid not. It's true that some causes are worth dying for and those who die for such causes are noble. It's also true that some causes are not worth dying for, and those who die for them anyway are deluded fools...the willingness of Palestinians to kill themselves so as to slaughter Israelis lends no nobility to their struggle. I can and do despise the suicide bombers because of what they do and who they do it to, without reference to why they're doing it."
Sunday, June 23, 2002
Those fine young men, nobly giving their lives to blow up babies and old people. Can’t help but admire them.
Matthew Parris wrote this whole article in the London Times about the moral aspects of suicide bombers. He says: …”Both sides agree that self-sacrifice can be, on the face of it, noble.
Both sides agree that killing other people may sometimes be justified in a violent conflict.
So both sides must agree that encompassing your own death in the killing of other people may sometimes be justified, even noble. If you or I could have brought down the temple in which the Third Reich sat, killing ourselves too, that might (I presume we agree) have been a noble act.
Now we can narrow yet further the disputed ground. The insistence with which Palestinian extremists argue that Israeli civilians are not in the truest sense non-combatants suggests to me that even these Islamist militants would feel morally uncomfortable with the idea of killing people who were not complicit in an enemy’s cause. So do the Israelis: their spokesmen lay great and repeated stress on the wickedness of the murder of civilians, but I have never heard an Israeli spokesmen complain in moral terms about attacks by Arab militia on Israeli soldiers.
Are Israeli civilians, then, by their very presence, aggressors? The argument reduces to this question.
And now we can narrow the dispute one final notch. I do not think that in his heart an Israeli would deny that, if your enemy has taken land that is rightfully yours and occupied it, then not just your enemy’s army but his wife and son and daughter and servants and all who, under his protection, come to live and make their living on the stolen land, are aggressors. By their presence they aid and abet the occupation. If the Palestinian Authority were to enter and occupy parts of Israel proper, for instance, and bus in Arab farmers and merchants and builders to live there, would an Israeli in a refugee camp in Cyprus not see these as legitimate targets?
There is therefore only one question left to resolve: who are the owners of the disputed territory? This is not really a moral question at all.
In history ancient and modern, some great disputes do wheel around real moral differences between the participants. This is not one of them. It is a very Semitic war in which the principal values of all three Semitic religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, are widely shared. The dispute is about the ownership of land, not about what behaviour is justified in protecting that ownership. On that we agree. The moral maze is a mirage. The turf war is real. It will be decided by force.”
Phew! Riveting stuff! Wait a minute while I vomit. Right, I feel much better now.
A few points:
Isn’t it wonderful that Mr. Parris perceives us Israeli Jews to be such a morally superior people. So true. It’s amazing we haven’t yet all committed suicide so as to vacate the land we so inconsiderately stole and stop being such nuisances.
Notice how he very subtly equates Israel with the Third Reich? You wouldn’t even notice it!
Refugees in Cyprus???? Who is he kidding, we’d all be dead!!!! Funny he should mention Cyprus, seeing it was the British who put Holocaust survivors, fresh out of hell, into refugee camps in Cyprus.
I find his neat philosophical reasoning that makes such a compelling moral case for blowing up little babies extremely brilliant.
For some reason, he thinks that “no Israeli would deny that, if your enemy has taken land that is rightfully yours and occupied it, then not just your enemy’s army but his wife and son and daughter and servants and all who, under his protection, come to live and make their living on the stolen land, are aggressors”. Wanna bet, Matty boy? This Israeli denies it. By this logic we should be shooting the children and younger siblings of suicide bombers. If they were formerly under the protection of suicide terrorist bombers and stand to gain money and honor from his noble stand they are obviously aggressors too. Maybe this is what Parris sees as moral and logical given the British behavior in India and their other Colonies. Incidentally, isn’t it funny how Israeli leaders just start talking of taking punitive action against the families of suicide terrorists by relocating them within the PA as a deterrent for future suicide terrorists and there’s an uproar among Israelis and a widespread public debate about the legality and morality of such actions. Strange, I don’t see any public debate among Palestinians about the morality of blowing up Jewish babies, and only occasionally do they say that maybe this is not the right time to use such tactics. But what am I thinking about? If any Palestinian so much as whispered a word about morality they’d be dragged through the streets and strung up in the town square, wouldn’t they?
By the way, I’m sure Five year-old Danielle Shani from Adora was especially aggressive. So was 18 month-old Sinai Keinan from Petach Tikva.
Oh, and which stolen land are we talking about here? Sounds to me like he means the whole thing, from sea to Jordan, don’t you?
I’ll give him one thing. This conflict will be decided by force. We didn’t want it this way. We went out on a limb to make peace. But force is what they want and force is what they’ll get. I’m actually quite pleased he said that because he obviously realizes who’s going to win.
This is awful
58 national parks, nature reserves to be closed
"The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has decided to close Masada, Ein Gedi, Tel Dan, Caesarea, Beit She'an and other sites throughout the country due to a lack of funds ... The majority of funding for the authority comes from income from visitors, particularly tourists, but the various sites the authority maintains around the country have been hard hit by the drop-off in tourists from abroad and from local tourism due to the security situation.
Authority officials warned that the closure of the sites could cause permanent damage to nature spots, antiquities, and other national treasures.
I know government agencies tend to make things out to be worse than they really are, because they know that if they ask for say 80 million they'll probably get 20 million. It's still sad. They talked about it a lot on the radio, today, speaking to experts who pointed out possible damage. They said that the famous sites are the money makers that help them fund all their other activities such as:
Protecting baby turtles that hatch on the beaches and have to get to the sea from poachers and so on; stopping people from stealing sand from the beaches and dunes to be used in construction sites and thus ruining the shore; stopping poaching of the already scarce wild life (common among certain foreign workers from South East Asia); preventing forest fires, to name just afew of their important activities.
Saturday, June 22, 2002
State split in two
John Derbyshire in the National Review seems to think the Palestinian state made up of two seperate parts won't work because of the 30 miles of hostile territory in the middle. But the point is that Israel is not necessarily hostile to a Palestinian state. It's the Palestinian state that is hostile to Israel.
Two points: A. Most Israelis are not hostile to the idea of a Palestinian state. They are hostile to a Palestinian terrorist state out to destroy Israel. They are hostile to a Palestinian state headed by terrorists.
B. If I remember rightly, the road leading from Ghaza to the West bank used by Palestinians was working OK until the Palestinians started misbehaving. What we're striving for here is peace between these two states, like the U.S. and Canada, otherwise it's no go. The Palestinian state will not be able to survive economically, anyway, without cooperating with Israel, so hostilities between the two states are not an option in the long run.
Unfortunately, all this seems highly unlikely in my lifetime.
France's ambassador to the United States, Francois Bujon de l'Estang, tells the Washington Post that he is dismayed by what he calls slanderous and malicious comments made in columns published in the Post, about antisemitism in France.
Haaretz and self-flagellation
Yoel Marcus wrote in Haaretz yesterday that "what is hardest to digest is the self-flagellation here at home: Israelis, with pure intentions, one presumes, turning the accusing finger on us ... These good, high-minded people are helping to demonize Israel in the eyes of the world."
This is all very well, but "Haaretz" is the biggest self-flagellator of all and probably doing the greatest damage, because it’s published in English on the net, is widely read outside Israel and is perceived as a mainstream newspaper instead of a far left pro-Palestinian anti-Israel publication which is what it has become.
Actually “Haaretz” hasn’t changed, but reality has. “Haaretz” and it’s owner don’t seem to accept that previous truths have been proved to be lies, that peace is not possible with Arafat and that further bloodshed is sadly necessary so the Palestinians can see we are not weak and spoiled and we have no intention of going away just because they really really want us to.
So, is “Haaretz” buckling under the pressure to write something its ordinary non-radical, non-leftwing nutcase readers can bear to read? Time will tell.
Back to self-flagellators (I could talk about my dislike for “Haaretz” for hours) – they are damaging not just because they help Europeans feel good about their anti-Israel sentiments. They also help Palestinian leaders and intellectuals completely misread the widespread feelings and sentiment of Israelis, and thus encourage the terrorist attacks. Abd Rabo, for instance, mistakenly believes that Yossi Beilin has a chance of winning the next elections because polls show that the majority of Israelis are prepared to give up most of the territories and many of the settlements in exchange for peace. The guy has got it all wrong. Yes, we Israelis are prepared to do business. Unfortunately our former business partner took us for a ride and no way will we do business with him again. Yossi Beilin will never ever be voted as PM of Israel. No one forgets that he was the main guy to be fooled by Arafat, and there’s no evidence to show that Arafat and his henchmen aren’t still fooling him.
Friday, June 21, 2002
Well, isn't that nice
"Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is prepared to accept a Mideast peace plan put forward by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton in December 2000, the Israeli newspaper"
Too late, buddy.
Now, we're not prepared to accept it.
I feel we're a bit undeserving of Suman Palit's admiration. He posted on his blog the top twenty reasons he's in awe of, and a not just a little bit in love with, the people of Israel and the Jewish diaspora all over the world. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful. But I'm a bit embarrassed. And nervous. I just hope Suman Palit doesn't come visiting one day and discover we're not as wonderful as he thought and then he'll start hating us.
I'm not saying we're in the wrong as far as the Palestinians are concerned. We've bent over backwards trying to make peace with them, taking great risks, even suicidal risks, as it turns out.
Daniel Johnson has an interesting interview with Bernard Lewis , prominent Middle East expert, in today's Telegraph. Registration is required. Here are a few excerpts (I have emphasized a few things):
...Lewis contrasts the Israeli attack on Jenin with the late Syrian President Assad's treatment of Hama in 1976.
"He had the city bombarded by artillery, then moved in tanks, then bulldozers and flattened the whole city, with the loss of tens of thousands of people. He didn't have to worry about booby-traps or snipers. This did not prevent two American presidents, plus many secretaries of state, from meeting Assad; Jacques Chirac walked a mile at his funeral.
"This is something which really infuriates Arabs, who say: 'This means you don't consider us as suitable to be judged by civilised standards.' When Saddam slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own people after the Gulf war ceasefire, not a dog barked in the West - not even an indictment in Brussels. This is deeply insulting to an ancient and civilised people."
Is there a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? "As long as the Palestinians cling to the hope of eliminating Israel, obviously there is no solution. Once it is normalised, then there can be.
"Once you have two states existing side by side, well, there is a border question. I don't think it's all that difficult. Jerusalem is more difficult, but a compromise could be worked out. Settlements: clearly Arabs can live under Israeli rule; about a million do. The assumption seems to be that Jews cannot live under Arab rule. This is probably a regrettable but indisputable truth.
"The 'right of return' of Palestinian refugees: that is clearly a deal-breaker." Lewis points out that both sides had similar numbers of refugees in 1948; the Jews were resettled, the Palestinians were not. Other partitions, such as that of India, led to the resettlement of far larger numbers.
"Arafat, I think, is in no way a partner for peace. In 1991-92, Arafat was in a very bad situation. He had lost his superpower patron, the Soviet Union. He had lost his Arab patrons by his support for Saddam Hussein in the Gulf war: 750,000 Palestinians were summarily ejected from the Gulf states, with not a murmur of protest from Europe.
"At that moment, it seemed a wise and magnanimous gesture to throw Arafat a lifebelt, bring him on board and start on a peace process. I thought so at the time, and said so, and it turns out that we were all mistaken.
"He had no intention of making peace. As long as there is this situation, he is a world figure. If there is peace, he becomes the tin-pot dictator of a petty state, with the prospect that he will sooner or later be assassinated or thrown out."
"...Lawrence of Arabia wrote that it was a stroke of good luck for the Arabs that the Zionist colonisation of Palestine had started, because this would bring them the possibility of acquiring top-level Western technology and science, without submitting to Western imperial domination. He saw Zionism as a stimulus rather than an alien presence."
...(Lewis) finds many (Arabs) are struck by the spectacle of Israeli democracy on television. Some students learn Hebrew just to understand what the Israeli politicians are screaming at each other.
Might the war against terrorism actually increase Muslim respect for the West? "One has to impress people that one is serious and one is strong, yes."
Lewis quotes a classical Arabic writer, Ibn Hassan: "...if you treat your friends and enemies alike, you will arouse distaste for your friendship and contempt for your enmity. The Europeans insult the Arabs by implying that they are not answerable to civilised standards of behaviour, that they are not the same as Europeans, either in what is expected from them or what they can expect.
"At the same time, Europeans behave in a way that looks like self-seeking ingratiation. When democratic regimes do emerge in Iraq and Iran (Lewis says that these two countries are most ripe in the region for becoming democracies - J.P.), they will not look with favour on those who have developed close relations with their present rulers."
..."A lot of people are saying, 'We must do something to settle the Palestinian question before starting on Iraq.' This is, of course, a direct message to Saddam Hussein to make sure that we don't get anywhere on the Palestinian question. There is no doubt at all that the serious worsening of the situation in the past year has been due to Iraq and Iran intervening."
...He asks me whether anti-semitism is a factor in European attitudes to the Middle East. "Bin Laden," he muses, "is usually very eloquent and very clear in what he says. In earlier statements, he gave the Palestinian question a rather low priority.
In more recent ones, he has raised it to a much higher level. And the reason is very clear: he found that by blaming the Jews he could get a gratifying response in Europe."
Thursday, June 20, 2002
Diane E. from "Letter from Gotham" posted this on the 19th, the day of the bus suicide-terrorist-attack which killed 19 in Jerusalem. This was the first thing I read when I got up the next morning and it stayed with me all day and gave me strength.:
From Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity:
Following the first day of the battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862:
As night came, so did a steady rain. Grant and his staff huddled around a fire. McPherson offered his grim report of the day's events, then waited for Grant's response. When none was forthcoming, McPherson spoke up, asking whether he should make plans for a retreat. Grant stirred and looked up at his aide. "Retreat? No. I propose to attack them at daylight and whip them."
The night was an especially difficult one for Grant. At first he sought rest under an oak tree, but the rain and his pain drove him to seek shelter in a cabin on the bluff. Originally designated as army headquarters, it had been turned into a temporary field hospital, and long into the night surgeons performed amputations on wounded men with shattered limbs. Grant, his ankle throbbing, huddled there, slumped in a broken chair, resting his head on his arm. But what he saw and heard in the cabin sickened him, and so he hobbled back outside and made his way back to the tree, where he stood, a lantern in his hand, puffing away at a cigar as the rain came down. Sherman, still pondering the possibility of retreat, appeared. One look at Grant convinced Sherman that it was best to put aside his query; instead, he offered: "Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?"
Grant looked up. Water dripped from his hat. "Yes," he replied, followed by a puff. "Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow, though."