Friday, August 09, 2002

I am now on vacation ... See you all Wednesday...

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

There are roadblocks up in Jerusalem. Today they're serious: my very innocent-looking wife T. was pulled over.

Don't know if this is true, but a strange poster on the street says that Knesset Member Michael Kleiner is going to visit the Temple Mount today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

The Cairo-based Arab Lawyers Union has taken up the cause of Palestinians being detained by Israel. But they don't care whether the detainees are innocents or would-be-Islamikazes. Nor are the lawyers interested in technical issues of jurisdiction...
"We have to liberate this army," [Arab Lawyers' Union Secretary-General] Abu Issa said, saying the detainees were needed to sustain the Palestinian uprising.
There are some American jurists who think likewise:
Lawyer Nancy Hormachea of Berkeley, California, said in Cairo Tuesday that the international legal campaign was launched "to provide legal support for lawyers working inside the occupied territories to defend rights of the detained, secure release and to end occupation. That's the bottom line: to end occupation."

Do the lefties of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers have any problem with the ALU's distributing anti-semitic cartoon pamphlets at the UN's "anti-racism" conference in Durban ?
Good article by Evelyn Gordon on the supposed readiness of Fatah and Hamas for a ceasefire.

Some Muslim American teens chat about their weapons. (more chat). This site is interesting because it's a real glimpse at what some young Muslims are thinking about: parents, sports, Masjid etc. peppered with discussion of conspiracies, killing Jews, Hindus, Russians, and the Pope and Donald Rumsfeld. There are rumors on the boards that the FBI is watching, and some kids are using anonymizer software.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Stefan Sharkansky describes what the FBI team investigating the Hebrew U bombing is probably up to.

Imshin tries to understand mindset of the small number of Israelis who are still leftists. She thinks that their dogmatism ultimately stems from their being naive, which is probably true much of the time. I heard an interview on the radio with someone who was asked if it would be morally acceptable to eliminate a terrorist who was on his way to kill her family. Her response was to deny the legitimacy of the question - "You have to ask why he wants to kill my family", she said.

There's also those who think that "the occupation" and acts of self-defense automatically violate some kind of Kantian moral code - regardless of the consequences of the alternatives. The most prevalent type, in my opinion, are the people who can't accept the ugliness of political violence (ie. war) even when it's necessary for self-preservation.
Another Islamikaze blows himself up prematurely near Umm-al-Fahm (report).
Summary of yesterday's terror attacks.

In Europe particularly, Ariel Sharon is often thought of as a bull in a china shop. This article explains how and why he is now following a policy of restraint.

The IDF's working plan, approved by the political echelon, is to avoid escalation and wait for developments that will have far-reaching implications: sun setting on Arafat, the war against Iraq, and the completion of the security fence. The basic assumption is that the global tendencies of today are working against Arafat:
By the spring of 2003, says this plan, Saddam Hussein will be gone, Arafat will be sidelined to a ceremonial role without much influence - much like Shimon Peres - and the residents of Tul Karm and Qalqilyah will wake up to a view of the wall, not the Mediterranean. That wall will mark the end of Arab expansion westward - and Israeli expansion eastward - and its psychological importance will have ramifications far more important for both sides than its practical purposes.

The operative question, therefore, is how to get through the coming six months with a "tolerable" level of terror. That's a vague concept, which does not lend itself easily to measurement, and it changes - what was considered two years ago to be intolerable and necessarily requiring an escalation, mortars flying out of Gaza, for example, are now nearly routine.
Israeli husband and wife were shot dead near Ramallah and their children were injured (report).

Sunday, August 04, 2002

On the Channel 2 news tonite, they visited the scene of today's Jerusalem shooting. The reporter spoke for a minute or so to an American fellow who saw the shooting, then said "and as usual, local shopkeepers say that they saw nothing" followed by a few Arab shopkeepers saying "I just heard a rat-a-tat-tat".... The gunman was a 19-yr. old from Hebron.

The bus bomber was a well-known Hamas member from Jenin and was apparently able to exit Jenin because IDF forces have been diverted from there to Nablus. To have arrived where he did he needed to have received help and transportation, probably from an Arab Israeli.

In civilian areas of Nablus the IDF uncovered several bomb factories (report).

There seems to be consensus here that nothing will come from any of the upcoming diplomatic meetings with PA officials. There's similar consensus that the relaxations of conditions on Palestinian towns are due to American pressure.

Tonight on Channel 2 commentator Ehud Yaari gave a different interpretation to the latest terror wave than the one that I offered earlier. He says that Hamas' communiques indicate that their current strategy is to continue attacks on civilians while the IDF operates in Palestinian cities in order to gain leverage. They would then offer to give up attacking civilians (ie. what the media calls a "ceasefire") in exchange for a promise from Israel not to operate in Area A. This would enable Hamas to regroup, focus its attacks on the IDF and settlements, and portray suicide bombings as a means to liberate Area A from reoccupation.

Channel 2 (I think) said that Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer claims that the new policy of destroying homes belonging to families of Islamikazes is having a deterrent effect. Israel actually used to do that in the 80s (and inherited it from the British I think). There has been surprisingly little discussion about it here recently. When it was first proposed a few weeks ago, there was some discussion and most sane people (as well as people like Yossi Beilin) seemed to oppose it. My initial thought was that it was cruel and wouldn't be much of a deterrent. But when I see something like this bulletin board for Muslim teenage girls (free registration required), I start to wonder ("SUBHANALLAH!!..the mother has soo much courage..May Allah make us the mother of shaheeds Ameen")
It's thought that Saddam Hussein might, when pushed against the wall, launch at Israel whatever he has in his arsenal in a final act of defiance.

I think that killing Hamas leader Shehade is comparable to attacking Saddam - in the sense that it puts Hamas with their backs against the wall. Though Hamas replaced Shehade with Mohamed Deif and is far from finished, they're concerned for their continued viability - as Ehud Yaari noted:

Rantisi is introducing for the first time the argument that unless suicide operations continue, Hamas and its allies will be submitted to “encirclement” by what he describes as “The Axis of Evil and Corruption” e.g., America and Israel. It is interesting to note that for the first time since the movement has adopted suicide tactics as its main modus operandi, a top leader of Hamas depicts these attacks as aimed at preventing destruction of the Islamic forces. Apparently, this new argument has been introduced in view of growing resentment amongst the Palestinian public which tends to see suicide operations as counter-productive or at least futile as indicated in various public opinion polls. Rantisi cannot claim anymore, as he used to do, that suicide operations will cause Israel to withdraw or collapse, so his new memo to Hamas members has a new tune: suicide operations are a guarantee for the existence of the movement.

Friday's Haaretz had a photo of a memorial from the scene of the Hebrew U. bombing. Visible in the photo was a wreath that said "European Union".

"Condemning" is a much stronger word that "understanding". This fact misleads ... It's so easy to condemn bombing innocent people and mostly meaningless. People who say they "understand" the bombing are the ones who are making the strong statement that puts to lie any condemnation that they happen to issue.

An editorial cartoon in the Friday Jpost had Sheik Yassin of Hamas posed in front of the exploded Frank Sinatra center. Yassin is grinning and singing "I did it my way".

Yediot Ahronot reports that the Israeli mission in Paris has asked L'express to print a retraction of their report that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said (in private conversation): "Arafat needs to be shot. Just not by our hands". Peres says that he never made any such statement to anyone.

Yediot also reports that new PA Finance Minister Salam Fayed has conveyed messages to both the US and Israel asking them to stop praising him. Praise such as that conferred by Colin Powell causes Palestinians to treat him as a collaborator.
2 Israelis killed and 14 injured by a Palestinian shooting near Damascus Gate in the Old City (report).

What is left to say about these attacks? There hasn't been much violence in the Old City, but Israeli Jews do largely avoid the Muslim Quarter and the Damascus Gate. Today the initial shooting was aimed at a telephone repair vehicle.
20 minutes ago there was a bus bombing in the north (near Meron). It was a large explosion; now word on casualties as yet.

Update: "The roof of the bus was blown off". The bus was going from Haifa to Tzefat via Arab villages in the Galil. Initial estimate is 30 casualities.
More here.

PA official Ahmed Abdel Rahman says on al-Jazeera that he "understands" the bombing (report).

Update: Latest is 9 dead. 45 injured. (report)