Wednesday, January 22, 2003

A car laden with half a ton of explosives, as well as cooking gas canisters connected to a detonator was seized by the IDF yesterday. The four men in the car fled. Two back into Palestinian Authority area, two apparently hid in nearby Israeli Arab town Umm El-Fahm. The car was blown up in a controlled fashion. It made a nice big bang. Of course, the idea was to have people blow up as well.

Hizbullah have been busy on the Northern border too.

Interesting article by Amira Hass in today's Haaretz. She writes about the great interest the Palestinians have in the Israeli elections. They are apparently all following them very closely, not just the leadership and the intellectuals, but regular people, as well. They see them, she says, as their only hope for change. They are hoping Mitzna will win. It seems they find it hard to understand why he won't.

“Almost without exception, Palestinians begin every conversation with the question: "Does Amram Mitzna have any chance of winning?"

Everyone - smiling secretaries in the offices of Paltel (the Palestinian telephone company), the greengrocer who has relatives in an Israeli village, the psychologist who treats children for trauma, a member of the Preventive Security Force who spent 15 years in an Israeli jail, the shopkeeper who bought his grocery with the money he saved in the United States. Some do not even bother to wait for an answer and respond on their own: "Isn't it logical for Israelis to vote for Mitzna after Sharon failed to bring them peace and security?"”

But as I see it, Sharon didn't bring peace and security because peace and security were sadly not to be had. This, of course, was greatly due to the actions of the Palestinians themselves, during the last two years.

If the Palestinians gave me any reason to believe that they were seeing things differently, I would maybe thinking again about who to vote for, although I must admit, the more I see and hear of Mitzna, the less I approve of him.

What could they do? You may ask. Well, if I could see some sort of move in Palestinian opinion polls against terrorist attacks, for a start, or some sort of popular call to put an end to them; some serious attempts to discipline Islamic organizations would be nice, as well. But how can they do these things? You ask. They are under curfew and closure, after all. Well even in the West Bank they are not under curfew and closure all the time, they seem to have plenty of opportunity to rebuild weapon workshops and organize terrorist attacks the minute the tanks roll out. And in Gaza they have always been free to do something to change the situation, but chose not to. On the contrary, no one prevents the Islamic organizations there in their attempts to provoke us into reoccupying Gaza’s cities by daily launching rockets and mortars on Israel towns and villages, in the Gaza Strip and inside pre-67 Israel alike. They are busy fighting each other there, but not because of the attacks on us.

The Palestinians could have made a marked difference in these elections, at least as far as I'm concerned, if they had wanted. Not by winking towards the party of their choice, but by starting a popular movement calling for peace and compromise with Israel. Couldn't do it? Well, that's just too bad, because my fingers can't put the piece of paper saying "Emet" (the letters representing the Labor party) in the envelope next Tuesday, either. They've missed yet another chance to better their situation. So what else is new?

Update: Miranda sees the Amira Hass article as no more than part of the Haaretz pro-left election campaign. Could I have been completely led astray by my fascination with how the other side sees us? Could be. The thing is, I may not appreciate Amira Hass’ bias, but I don’t think she completely lacks journalistic integrity. I don't see her inventing a story, although her Palestinian friends and neighbors probably say one thing to her and another to each other. I once saw a documentary about her and her life in Ramallah. One scene showed her during a Palestinian Authority press conference. I think it must have been before The Terror War. She was the only one to ask them the difficult questions - about reform and democratization. I usually don’t read Amira Hass’ articles. I know the Palestinians are suffering and I’m sorry for them. I just think it is them who hold the key to change and, unlike the Intifada in the 80’s, this time I feel no guilt. I wrote a post about this in September but my archives seem not to be working again. Anyway I can’t be bothered to be lectured to, although Hass is less of a whiny moralizer than Gideon Levy.