Friday, July 19, 2002

Media Stuff Here's an interesting article about the reaction of the global media to the Wednesday Tel Aviv bombing. The BBC determined that Israelis were living in a "virtual curfew" (that's news to us) and that "Israeli sources", not simple facts, had indicated there had been a terror attack. CNN as well said that "Israeli sources are calling this a terror attack".

The BBC "virtual curfew" remark might have been due to the fact that Wednesday night was a bit quiet since it was the "9th of Av", on which Judaism commemorates the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. But the Western Wall was crowded.

A couple of articles think that the international media, NGOs etc. are giving more consideration for the moment to the Israeli point of view (here's one). He thinks that the Bush speech is a factor.

The French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur addresses its misreporting of events in Jenin:
Journalists are only human and they can err. The same is true of interviewees. Abu Ali had related that his children were dead, because he really believed that.

"It is our task to publish. There is no call to publish a correction or a denial
What is the real story about the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR)? The CFR is some kind of thinktank which includes Henry Siegman and former Mossad official David Kimche - two well-informed individuals who write disingenous-sounding pro-Palestinian op-eds in Jpost and elsewhere .... (Daniel Pipes is also a member).

Zeev Schiff says that the US State Dept. has enlisted the CFR to produce a study on how to bring about a Palestinian State according to the scheme outlined by Pres. Bush.

The CFR study ignors the violence of the past 2 years (except for the Palestinian demand for a "veto" over IDF reserves callup). Demilitarization is termed "political aggression" etc. etc.

Schiff also says that Yossi Beilin, is "negotiating" with Palestinians over the fate of Palestinian refugees (perhaps in the context of the anti-democratic "shadow cabinet" described by the UK Guardian). This man has more nerve than is imaginable.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Zeev Schiff writes about two incidents that apparently started rumors about a massacre in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield and some related topics.

Tomorrow is the day commemorating the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Each year there is a small group of whackos who try to go to the Temple Mount to "lay a cornerstone". They're usually barred from doing so, but get a disproportionate amount of media attention.

An IDF soldier was killed today near Emanuel, apparently by the same gang that attacked the passenger bus yesterday.

Blogging will be light for the next day or two.
Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara says that he doesn't condemn yesterday's bus attack in Emanuel which killed 7. He sees the attack as proof of the capability of the Palestinians to continue "resistance".
Dying2Live is a glossy ad campaign that wants to create sympathy for Islamikazes. (via Middle East Realities)

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

A reporter from Jpost accompanied Labor Party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on his degrading trip to Egypt (report) - and got a glimpse of the place where Mohamed Hadayet grew up:

..."Israel" and "Israelis" don't even exist there. Except for a polite few, the Egyptian security and journalists all referred to us as "the Jews."


An Egyptian Television reporter who gave her name as Annette Simeri took the microphone and with a straight face asked: "Is it true that the Israeli government reached an agreement with the American administration based on freezing the situation on the ground until the American elections take place in November, in return for Republican Congressmen getting all of the Jewish support?" The Israeli journalists laughed.
.... Our supposed ally in the struggle for Middle East peace demonstrates its hostility to us at nearly every turn. Often, it does so in extraordinarily petty ways. Contrary to ordinary protocol, Israeli flags are not flown when Israeli diplomats confer with their Egyptian opposites at Sharm el Sheikh. The Israeli embassy will not be serviced for its workaday needs by Egyptian plumbers, bricklayers and the like. Israeli doctors must be flown to Cairo to treat embassy personnel, as Egyptian doctors refuse to do so.
Palestinians in Gaza discuss what motivates Islamikazes:
Hamas activists argue against the assertion that human despair is what drives the suicide bombers. It is not true at all, says M., who joined the intifada a couple of months ago as part of Izz Al-Din Al-Kassam, the military wing of Hamas. Seconding this opinion is S., a Hamas activist who opposes suicide terrorism inside Israel, but who doesn't dare say so in public. The same belief is expressed by Osama Mzeini, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the Islamic University in Gaza. All three are convinced that the national objective, the general feeling of rage and the patriotic desire for liberation and independence are the strongest motivations of those called - in the local vernacular - "fighters."
The new Israeli ambassador to the UK is Dalia Itzik, whose command of English is "rudimentary" (report). Right now Shimon Peres is on Army Radio defending the appointment - he says that a lot of the ambassador's work involves trade and other matters that don't require fluency.

The consensus here is that the main reason for the appointment is to provide Itzik with a pleasant sabbatical.

Monday, July 15, 2002

Yossi Beilin has responded to Ari Shavit's argument that the Taba understandings must be repudiated (Hebrew version).

Beilin says he's attempting to "set straight the record", but after reading his piece it's still far from clear what he claims the Taba Understandings actually entailed.

After some self-righteous flourishes, Beilin says that the actual Taba document is not the one that Shavit presented, though Beilin cannot present the actual document.
Well, OK....

The rest of the article is a bit obscure and also a bit shocking, but I will attempt to paraphrase and critique the main points:

As for the other aspects of the argument: Shavit regards the statement that the agreement would be recognized as implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, acceptance of the Palestinian demand for implementation of the right of return, and therefore a terrible precedent. First of all, UNGAR 194, promulgated in December 1948, refers to Palestinian refugees "wishing to return," and not to their right to do so. That is why the Palestinians and all the Arab states opposed it at the time. Ever since the 1980s, UN decisions have referred to the right of return, which the Palestinians obviously preferred. An agreement between the sides that the solution to the refugee problem is to be found in implementation of UNGAR 194 would, in effect, close the book on the refugee case - an obvious Israeli interest that also answers the Palestinian need to solve the refugee problem without the need to declare that their right of return has been recognized.

Here's the relevant clause of Resolution 194 (which unlike Security Council resolutions, does not have the binding force of international law):

11. Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

Perhaps what Beilin means is that this clause uses the term "should" rather than describing a "right". But including the clause in the memoranda clearly pushes forward the maximal Palestinian agenda.

Secondly, if Shavit had read the Clinton Framework, which was accepted by the government of Israel on December 28, 2000, he would have discovered that in the section on the refugee problem its says, "The sides will agree that this is an implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194." The Clinton Framework was known as the basis for enabling the Taba talks and it served as the mandate for the Israeli delegation.

The last sentence:

Tokhnit Clinton hayta, k'yadua, ha-basis she'ifsher et sihot Taba, ve'hee shimsha ke'mandat le'mishlahat ha-yisraelit.

I would actually translate as:

The Clinton plan was, as is known, the basis that made possible the Taba talks; and it served as the mandate for the Israeli delegation.

Is Beilin saying that Arafat accepted the Clinton Plan? One of Arafat's specific explicit objections to the Clinton Plan was that it did not provide for the "return" of refugees. And that was the point where negotiations did finally collapse .... Did Arafat do an about-face at Taba that was never noticed till now? Or is Beilin just saying that the Clinton Plan was the guiding principle for the Israeli side, even if that entailed a certain amount of solipsism?

A couple of days before Bush's "vision speech", Nabil Shaath said that the PA was willing to negotiate on the basis of the Clinton Framework. But this was dismissed by most people as a late move of desperation. It was kind of like when Arafat used to call for a ceasefire right after a major Islamikaze bombing.

I am convinced it is possible to reach an Israeli-Palestinian agreement without granting the Palestinian refugees the right of return. We were very close to such a solution at Taba in January 2001, where it was proved that it is possible to reach a fair agreement without Israel agreeing to what it could never accept - unlimited entry for refugees to its borders. It's no accident that only after the Taba talks did leaders from the Palestinian Authority begin making clear that they would not press for implementation of the right of return.

How was it proved that it was possible to reach an agreement without unlimited return for refugees? From the Hebrew text it's clearer that Beilin's proof is in his last sentence. After Taba there were supposedly public statements by PA officials that indicated that the PA was no longer demanding full right of return. So Beilin's overall point seems to be that at Taba the PA "came close to" or "implicitly" embraced the Clinton proposals.

But what public statements in Beilin talking about? by whom? In fact there have been plenty of public statements by PA officials that the right of return can never be conceded. Which PA figure (aside from Sari Nusseibeh) ever said that the "right of return" was negotiable? Why does Beilin leave out information that would be crucial to convince a skeptic?

Here's another account of Taba.

And here's a version from the Palestinian media.
There's some incentive for you... "Members of Congress tried to lure me with a Nobel prize if I agreed to their wish for me to visit Jerusalem to achieve a breakthrough in the crisis," said Hosni Mubarak to a Kuwaiti newspaper (details).

You don't need MEMRI to see the nonsense that Arab newspapers feed their readers. This article claims that "Israeli analysts" say that Ariel Sharon is trying to provoke a war with Syria so that he can implement "transfer" (no Israelis are actually quoted).

The same site has an interesting interview with Sari Nusseibeh where he gently recommends that Palestinians limit attacks on Israeli civilians to the West Bank/Gaza; and grudgingly accepts that Israel will never accept large numbers of refugees into its pre-1967 borders. But he recites the same old mantras about Palestinian victimhood:
To make things clear, I said what is going on is partly a Palestinian action but mostly is an offensive war launched against the Palestinian people.
I think we should notice that we are facing a real Israeli offensive war, which aims at destroying the Palestinian project.
I said many times before and repeat it here that what is going on now is mostly an Israeli action; it is an offensive Israeli war and what we do is just an attempt to defend ourselves.
Here's an interesting article about a westernized Arab woman's reactions to IDF actions (especially roadblocks) at the edge of Jerusalem. I think that the article tries to create sympathy for her while mocking her shallowness, but what I find interesting is that she still doesn't see Arafat or the PA as being in any sense responsible for the current situation, and that she has the familiar "you go first" attitude:

"Peace is dead. I don't want peace anymore. I want freedom. I want freedom first of all. That's what I need. I need freedom. Only after I get it can I decide if I want peace and how to behave with my neighbor. But first, my freedom. After you give me my freedom, maybe we'll talk about peace."

I haven't had much to say about the Sari Nusseibeh affair - that's partly because the media here hasn't been giving it a lot of attention. The weekend papers were much more interested in the now dead "Jewish village" bill. It might be that Nusseibeh has a higher profile abroad than he does here.

Sunday, July 14, 2002

Storefronts on Emek Refaim are displaying letters and drawings of support for Israel from Jewish kids in the USA.

In Katamon I saw a homemade banner inspired by an advertising slogan: "When the IDF is in the field / Terrorists are under pressure / When the IDF is out / Terrorists go 'boom' ".

That succinctly expresses what I think is a general sentiment currently ... We're hearing about the IDF apprehending Islamikazes and intercepting car bombs (I'm not even bothering to blog these) - and in spite of high alerts there have been no successful major attacks since the IDF went back into area A.

At the same time we do hear all about the curfews in the West Bank cities - on the radio each of the past few days they've been say things like "The curfew in Kalkilya will be lifted from noon till dusk; while in Jenin it continues". Today on Army Radio there was a (surprisingly dull) interview with fellow named Ashraf who is stuck inside his house in Jenin and has nothing to do but watch al-Jazeera. The latest news is that the IDF is expected to leave some West Bank cities by the end of this week (report).

An acquaintance of mine is running for a position on the Likud Central Committee, which is holding elections in a couple of weeks. He tried hard to get me to join the Likud (and then vote for him of course), but I decided I'm not interested in joining currently.

The reason is the following: Israeli politics is traditionally very ideological. Around the '88 elections, I went to a symposium where each of 3 right-wing candidates tried to convince the audience that he was the one who most authentically subscribed to the ideology of the right - and that his opponents had hidden tendencies in other directions. I get the sense that some Likudniks are still like that, even though I think Sharon is doing a good job and the Likud is currently the party most capable of running the country.

A friend who works in sales tells me that in Spain and Italy they avoid talking politics with him, but when the topic does comes up, he often hears Sharon described as a "dictator". I frankly find that puzzling.
A few days ago I wondered out loud if the Amnesty report condemning Palestinian murder of Israeli civilians represented a sea change. Apparently not.. Imshin (quoting a Haaretz article that I must have missed) says that there are Amnesty reports in the works on IDF activity in Jenin and Nablus. It's not inordinately cynical to think that the anti-Islamikaze report was just some token even-handedness to prepare the ground for these next ones.

One hopes that the Amnesty report takes into account that there was a war going on ...