Friday, May 10, 2002

Academic/columnist Barry Rubin is very skeptical about the new US attempt to marginalize Arafat and reform the PA.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

It's Yom Yerushalayim, which is the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. Last night traffic was rerouted thru downtown, which was quite aesthetically lit with white lights above all the streets (a nice touch that I don't remember from previous years). There was also a parade and a concert that I could hear from my apartment.

Obviously, the conquest of the eastern parts of Jerusalem coincides with the beginning of the "occupation" ... so here's a few things worth knowing: In 1948 the Israelis were largely victorious against the combined Arab forces; but 2 regions that fell were the eastern parts of Jerusalem(including the Western Wall, the Jewish quarter of the walled city, the Hebrew University campus) and the Gush Ezyon region, which were essentially annexed by Jordan. The Jewish communities of those regions were forced to flee, but were resettled rather than forced to languish in refugee camps.

The 1949 ceasefire lines were just that - ceasefire lines. They never constituted an internationally recognized border. The period of 1948-1967 was (I think) probably the first time since antiquity that the walled city of Jerusalem was fully off-limits to Jewish presence and worship. Most Israelis feel little connection to the Arab neighborhoods of Eastern Jerusalem: Abu Dis, Wadi Joz etc. but I think I can say that the walled city, and the ancient city of David are central to our collective memory.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Definitely notable: Sources close to PM Sharon claim that Bush favors "reforming" the PA so that Arafat is moved to a "symbolic" role. details
This UPI dispatch describes the anti-Israel resolution in the UN General Assembly last night. It omits a crucial point: that the vote came immediately following the news of the Jihad bombing in Rishon, which is what spurred the Europeans to abstain. (details in Haaretz).
Talk in the Israeli media today suggests a real response to the Rishon bombing is imminent. Things being discussed include: deporting Arafat, launching an "operation defensive wall" in the still untouched Gaza (where last night's bomber reportedly originated), and arresting Gaza "security chief" Mohammed Dahlan. There's also a fair amount of defensiveness among the security services, who are insisting that no, they did not let their guard down, that they have foiled many attacks recently and are receiving alerts on an ongoing basis.

Haaretz reports that the PA is apparently upset about the timing of the attack ie. having it interrupt the Sharon/Bush meeting creates the (accurate) image of Palestinian violence driving the Israeli response.

At the height of the fighting in Jenin there seemed to be a small but increasing number of Israelis who were critical of military actions in the West Bank. But polls now show a very high level of support for the operations, and this is probably because there have been about 4 weeks that have been mostly terror-free. All the op-ed columns in the world won't change the basic perceptions of most people that the operations have been successful.
This just in: another human bomb attack. This time near a group of soldiers at Megiddo Junction(inside the Green Line, near Jenin). One injury reported.

Update: There were no injuries other than the bomber, who survived the blast and then struggled against the "sapper robot" (details)
I'm calling it a night.
Andrew Sullivan wrote regarding Pim Fortuyn:

The vicious rhetoric spouted against him by leftist, liberal and even moderate politicians and journalists no doubt contributed to this outcome. I guess I see this a little personally. But no one should doubt that the far left, just as much as the far right, is now among the most intolerant forces in our society. They do everything they can to shut down the views of others, marginalize, blacklist or simply intimidate them. When all else fails, something like this horrific murder happens. I wonder how many leading European liberals, who are so quick to draw connections between speech and action when it comes to traditional hate-crimes, will now ponder whether their own rhetorical extremism has to be tempered somewhat.

And in the same way, the rhetorical extremism of Kofi Annan, Terje Larsen, Andrea Koppel et al. contributed to tonite's chaos here.
PM Sharon is expected to make a statement before beginning the flight back.
PM Sharon is cutting short his visit to the USA and is returning to Israel presently.

They've found 14 bodies, plus the body of the human jihad bomber.

Army radio briefly broadcast from the site of a post-attack "false alarm" - also in Rishon.
They're saying at least 15 dead in the Rishon Lezion billiard club bombing (details)

Somehow I really did believe that it would stay quiet for a while. I can imagine that this time the Europeans etc. won't just recite that Arafat "must do more" line. They know that we will respond, so the only way to stop the "cycle of violence" is to get the Palestinians to stop pedaling.

Right now Army Radio is switching back and forth between reports from the scene and politicians making fairly predictable comments about the implications of the attack. They're also giving out the phone numbers for the area emergency wards.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Heard on the radio: The PA is saying that the 13 hostage-takers from Bethlehem that are being deported will become "students" in Italy. The announcer quipped: "what exactly they would be studying - Italian 101?"

IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz addressed a group of new draftees and said that the UN Jenin Commission had already decided what it wanted to find out - and that cooperating would have been a mistake "of historic proportions".

Here in Jerusalem, the past few weeks have been quiet.. ie. free of bombings and shootings. Since it's something that's "not happening", I can forget to mention it.

The extra security that they have everywhere is getting to be routine: when I park my car in a garage they go through the trunk and the backseat and I don't think twice about it. I can walk into a building with someone and submit to a pro forma frisking without interrupting my conversation.

At the same time, we're told that the terrorist organizations are intent on pulling something off so as to show they're still around and kicking. I try and mostly succeed in avoiding worry, but each time I see something in Haaretz news flashes about a foiled attack (or the horrible attack on the Adura settlement), I wonder if the "personal" bad times (as opposed to the current "national" bad times) could be on the way back.

Monday, May 06, 2002

Charles Johnson provides an essential first-hand account of media bias in Jenin here.
Next week the Likud party's central committee convenes. According to this report, they are expected to choose Netanyahu over Sharon for the party's leadership. They are also expected to pass a resolution against resurrectimg any variation of Barak's offer to Arafat.

After I wondered out loud about what people in the US and Europe were left thinking about the now-debunked "Jenin massacre", many of you emailed with what you were hearing around you.

You seem divided on the basic question of whether people who are busy and not-so-knowledgeable about the situation put much trust in the electronic media and Arab spokesmen.

Scanning bulletin boards like this one leads me to believe, however, that the powerful images and breathless accusations of 14 days ago have created a lasting impression on many, many people.

I didn't hear much from Europe unfortunately... emails from Ireland and Holland sounded much like the ones below. But I think this fellow expresses a common European opinion.

See more on the letters page.
This just in .. a new poll shows that 90% of Israeli Jews support the now mostly concluded military operations in the West Bank, as do 60% of voters for the left-wing Meretz party. Also: 91% of Israeli Arabs believe that a massacre occurred in Jenin (I bet they watch al-Jazeera).