Friday, June 14, 2002

Weekend Papers II This article describes severe societal and tribal pressures experienced by the small number of Israeli Bedouin women who pursue higher educations. Particularly interesting is an account of a symposium at Ben-Gurion University where academics concerned with preserving the structure of Bedouin society are berated by a Bedouin woman doctoral student.

When pro-Palestinian activists come here from abroad, what do they think is happening here and what are they trying to accomplish? According to this, one group entered Balata camp while the IDF was operating there. The activists became upset when the IDF began moving from house-to-house by breaking walls (which is what the IDF does when they suspect - as in Jenin - that houses have been booby-trapped). The activists offered to walk into the houses first ("the Palestinians wouldn't blow up their own houses" said an American woman from the group). The soldiers decline their offer and arrested them.

Haaretz includes an insane 2/3 page ad from the Gush Shalom ("Peace Block") movement. You can't tell from the ad what the group is advocating or who its members are. Apparently, Gush Shalom thinks that the way to win people to the Left is to tell them that Ariel Sharon has a secret plan to reconquer the Palestinian areas and eject all Arabs from the country. Gush Shalom believes that Israel deliberately encourages suicide bombings and that the US provides unlimited and unqualified support for the plan. Apparently Arafat's war has succeeded in driving all but the raving lunatics out of the peace movement.

If you are at Tel Aviv University at Sunday around 6PM, you can go to hear Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt of the German Liberal Faction discuss "Goals of German Foreign Policy" (Malka Brender Hall of Justice). If someone goes, please email me a brief.
I woke up in the middle of the night and have been reading tomorrow's papers online. I now hear the Muezzin calling Muslims to morning prayers.
Favoring legalisms over common sense, Amnesty Internatiomal has called on the Palestinian Authority to release Ahmed Sa'adat, who Israel says is responsible for the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavaam Ze'evi. The PA quickly prosecuted and convicted Sa'adat while he was taking refuge in Arafat's under-siege Ramallah compound. Sa'adat was then jailed under US/British wardens as part of a compromise with the Israelis, who wanted to put him on trial themselves.

A PA "reverse-kangaroo" court later declared Sa'adat innocent - and that's good enough for Amnesty(report).

The plan for a security fence is being criticized - an Israeli settler organization wants to ensure that the fence is not construed as a political boundary; Arabs in the Umm al-Fahm area are concerned that the fence not cross into their municipal jurisdiction (report).

Current reports are that Bush now favorably views the idea of a "timeline" towards a final agreement with the Palestinians (report). This would basically mean assigning dates by which concrete concessions would be offered by Israel, regardless of Palestinian behaviour or diplomatic progress - which is why I don't understand it. It's also bizarre how when Sharon visits Bush, US policy seems to be favoring Israel; a few days later the Saudis visit and they come out with this. "Eight weeks to a state and a year to finish negotiations on refugees" would mean 8 weeks of Palestinians insisting on fully open borders etc. followed by a year of Palestinians demanding full Israeli absorption of the Palestinian refugee camps.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Weekend papers Jpost interviews a soldier who served jail time for refusing to perform reserve duty in the West Bank/Gaza (as the article makes clear, the refusers are neither numerous nor generally well-regarded here).

The soldier (called only "A") began leaning towards refusal during the intifada of the late eighties because he saw humiliation (though not "brutality"), and sensed futility ("by the time we left, they were coming at us worse than when we'd arrived").

The interviewer asks a lot of good questions, but A seems to be answering different ones... Did A feel an obligation to protect his country in Opeation Defensive Wall? He seems to say he would have felt an obligation if the operation were a minimal one followed by unilateral withdrawal... but then he says that he believes that withdrawal won't bring peace, and that Israel will have to continue to "live by the sword" for "scores of years".

What about Arafat's remark that the soldiers' refusal movement is sign that Israel is "cracking" under the strain of the hostilities? A considers it irrelevant.

Does he think that the refusers could encourage other kinds of insurrections within the army, say from the right? A dodges this question twice, and keeps emphasizing how we was "forced" to refuse. Being "forced" is now the standard excuse for quite a lot of things.
This just in Al-Aqsa Brigades, which is part of Arafat's Fatah group, claimed responsibility for Tuesday's bombing in Herzliya that killed a 15 yr. old Israeli girl (details)
Iran is now broadcasting the news in Hebrew on shortwave. I listened to it at - and it's actually very tame. It starts with a lot of techno music, then there's an inoffensive newscast, more techno music, and then two "messages" from leaders of the Iranian Jewish community about how they able to practice their religion in freedom and get along with everyone.

The announcer has a heavy accent that made it difficult to understand anything that I hadn't already heard about, but the text that he was reading from was in almost perfect journalistic Hebrew. The newscast led with something about a meeting between EU and Iranian officials; other than that it was all short Israel-related items. Actually it sounded like a professional translation of a wire service. The other strange thing was that instead of saying "Yerushalyim", they would say "the holy city".

Update: Not to be paranoid or anything, but maybe the Iranians are concerned that Israel is about to knock out their nuclear weapons program - and are trying to charm us out of it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

A Dubai newspaper reports that a Palestinian delegation (including Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi) has left for France and Belgium to convince members of the European Parliament that there really was a massacre in Jenin (details).

If Tibi and his fellow Arab Knesset members focused on things like alleviating unemployment and improving infrastructure for Arab Israelis, they could have significant leverage in the government. By doing this kind of thing, they guarantee themselves the contempt of the average Israeli and permanent exclusion from the governing coalition.
A good article by Ze'ev Schiff addresses what to do about a) the small Israeli settlements in remote parts of the West Bank and Gaza; and b) the "unauthorized" settlement outposts that ideologically-oriented folk periodically set up. These communities necessitate a significant army presence, and while some people (like the professorial Council for Peace and Security) want to dismantle them, the consensus among the IDF, analysts, and moderate Palestinians is that doing this in the current circumstances would be perceived by the Arabs as a major victory and encourage further violence.

Regarding the "unauthorized outposts" .... In spite of the international ruckus, government-sanctioned settlement activity at the moment is pretty much limited to expansion (or "natural growth" - I'm not qualified to judge) of the large communities near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. As always, it must be pointed out that the Oslo framework specifically did not prohibit this. The "Mitchell Plan" provided for a settlement freeze following a ceasefire, but Arafat preferred to keep firing.

From time to time, a group of right-wingers who are opposed to the settlement freeze sets up a little village of mobile homes on a hill next to an established settlement. Sometimes the army shuts them down, but other times they don't bother. These settlers are fond of comparing themselves to the leftists who used to go to meet with the PLO when it was illegal to do so.

One time (before the "post-Oslo war") I went to visit someone at one of these caravan outposts. I rode the bus into Efrat, and then hitched a ride with someone who I thought would take me where I was going. The fellow who picked me up telephoned his teenaged daughter, who described where the place was ... "at the end, beside the Palestinians". The guy quite kindly drove me out of his way, and down a short dirt road, to my destination. The caravans had a private security guard rather than the IDF. There were no Palestinian villages nearby, but when my friend drove me home, we went via Bethlehem.

Update: The gov't is dismantling one of these caravan outposts in Maon (report).
Last night, in downtown Jerusalem, there took place what was probably the first ever Israeli blogger get-together. Present were Gil, Abra + spouse Mitch, Randy, "Cookie goddess, and Tal G. + spouse T. It was a meeting of the Israeli and Berkeley blogging cultures. It was also a meeting of a generation that remembers the Soviet Union and the era before the Oslo accords with a generation ... well .. never mind. It was a nice opportunity to meet some friendly, sharp, and interesting people.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

From a Haaretz article yesterday headlined "Israel convinces Europeans Arafat is financing terror"
The European Commission has accepted Israel's claims that the Palestinian Authority is supporting terrorist attacks, but is rejecting Israel's demands that it suspend financial aid to the PA. The commission says Israel has failed to prove that European Union funds are being used to finance terror.
Meanwhile, in the shadow of the Israeli accusations, the European Parliament's budgetary committee last week delayed the transfer of 18.7 million euros in financial aid to the PA until the EC reports how the money is to be distributed.

Commissioner Patten, and the EC's budget commissioner, Michaele Schreyer are scheduled to address the committee on the matter on June 19.

The EU is the PA's largest donor, providing about one-tenth of the PA's annual budget. EU aid to the PA totals around 10 million euros a month and is subject to IMF supervision, but a member of the delegation to Israel said there would be no choice but to tighten supervision. The aid is meant to finance salaries for teachers, health officials and PA police.

The Haaretz article does not indicate that the EU budgetary committee's decision was related to the civil suit filed against the EU by Steven Blumberg and attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner as claimed here. (link from Charles Johnson). From the Haaretz article, the sound of it is that the EU will take steps so that it funds only specific "financially transparent" projects. Of course, that just frees up other money to fund bomb and mortar factories etc.

According to an article by Zeev Schiff about 2 weeks ago in Haaretz, Arafat micro-managed PA finances to the extent that his personal approval was required for air travel for senior PA officials. Also ...
Arafat's involvement [in terrorism] is at the ideological and financial level, including making out checks to the Al-Aqsa Brigades and the Tanzim militia when it began to carry out suicide attacks.

Update: Arutz-7 says that EU funds were specifically designated for the PA's "Preventative Security Forces", whose recruits included many veteran terrorists active in the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Brigades. The US Congress then withdrew funding for the organization but the EU continued to contribute. (report)
The Knesset has passed a resolution asking the EU to cease providing financing to political organizations in Israel (details). In the past the EU has financed various left-leaning parties and organizations.

Does the Palestinian Authority have Observer status at the EU?

Monday, June 10, 2002

Andrew Sullivan posted a transcript previously, but it's definitely worth hearing this audio of a woman named Chen Keinan whose mother and infant daughter were killed in the Petah Tikva bombing the week before last.

It's obvious that CNN would never broadcast this part of the interview and interesting to think about why (here's the part they did broadcast)

Update: Yediot Acharonot reports: CNN initially asked Chen and Lior Keinan to be interviewed for the "International Hour" program. When the Keinans tuned in to the program (on CNN Europe), they saw that the network had decided to broadcast an interview with the bomber's proud mother instead. In response to repeated complaints, CNN said that the interview with the Keinans had been shown in the US, and would later be shown on CNN Europe on the program "Questions and Answers".

The interview with the bomber's mother was 5 minutes long and was broadcast twice in primetime whereas the interview with Keinan was edited down to 2.5 minutes and not shown in primetime.
There's been a fair amount of discussion here regarding the "security fence" around the perimeter of the West Bank whose construction is said to be underway. The gist is:

- There's consensus that it's a good thing to do, but will only prevent a fraction of the Palestinian attacks. The terror groups will likely shift their attention to the unfenced parts of the border and the settlements in the West Bank. The only real solution is to prevent the attacks before they're launched though that's pretty much impossible with the PA as it is now.

- Some people are asking why it wasn't done before, and others are saying that it's been long underway.

- the Left is saying "Hah! Sharon has finally rediscovered the Green Line"; the Right is saying that the fence does not constitute a political boundary.

There haven't been a lot of details about where the fence will be and what it will look like. I imagine that the IDF isn't too interested in publicizing that information.

Steven Den Beste suggests a double fence with a mine field in the middle. That would have a real psychological and political impact that noone wants.... after all, we're talking about a long, twisty seam-line that goes near or even thru populated areas..... and someone could just cut a big hole in the fence and leave an exposed minefield for someone else to walk in to.... It's unfathomable..

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Last night I was at the annual Book Fair - this year on the grounds of the Israel Museum rather than the square next to City Hall as it was previously. In spite of the general hesitation to venture out, there were a lot of people there - mostly young.

Since I don't have too much time for serious reading at the moment, I got a couple of "reference-y" and essay books. While looking for hiking books, I came across a new map of the West Bank and Gaza which included locations of medical stations and region-by-region emergency phone numbers.

Novelist David Grossman was there autographing his books. If I had known that he had been a participant in the UK Guardian's "peace conference", I would have asked him if it's really true that he and his lefty friends set up a "shadow government" as an alternative to the democratically elected Knesset and Cabinet. Actually there's quite a lot of things that I would want to ask him about ....

Last week my wife T. went to see some Cuban music at the Israel Festival - she said it was pretty good. Thursday night we went to the final evening of jazz but found that it had been cancelled due to the Megiddo bombing on Wednesday. Until the last year or so, the country would enter low-key mourning for about 24 hours if there was a serious terror attack- restaurants and plays would close, and the radio would play sad music. These days that's not possible of course, and the sad music generally lasts until the news reports from the scene are finished.

Palestinians are shooting on civilians in the West Bank community of Yizhar. Current reports say 3 people are wounded. (report)

Update: Current word is 6 wounded - 2 seriously. A single gunman opened fire on homes and was shot dead by security forces.

Update: There were 4 wounded soldiers in the attack - 2 seriously. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) has claimed responsibility for the attack.