Friday, August 30, 2002

At this moment, the country feels the calmest that it's been for at least 6 months. That's not saying much, and it could change any second - especially with the trouble on the Lebanese border and the Iraq situation. But the IDF has been successful in rooting out much of the terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian areas. A few weeks ago Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said there were something like 50 suicide bombers ready to go; we're not hearing much of that sort of thing now. Nor are we hearing about foiled attacks on a daily basis the way we used to. The PFLP has been practically speaking neutralized (report).

In the Oslo era, there were periods in which there were surges of Islamikaze bombings (often these were immediately after one of the "phased withdrawals" that turned over territory to the PA). After a period of calm, Israelis would then go back to their daily routine - as well as their routine political dogmas. Cynics thought that we had very short memories. The past two years of chaos will not be so easily forgotten, but if the current relative absence of attacks were to continue various things could happen: downtown would come back to life; tourists, businessmen, and investors would return.

Then it's striking to hear stuff on the radio like: "The curfew in Nablus will be lifted from noon until dusk. Jenin remains under curfew while in Kalkilya the curfew has been lifted", or about the 4 members of a family killed by tank fire in Gaza. The quiet and stability that we are experiencing comes at the expense of the Palestinians (as well as at the expense of the pressures on the IDF and reservists).

But it's foolish (and I would say immoral) to argue that Israel should sacrifice its own citizens (and civil stability) in order to spare Palestinians from hardships necessitated by the failure of their own government (and to a large extent the failure of their culture).

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Some guy got confused and thought that I was Adam Shapiro (here).
Joshua Sharf writes:

Colorado College has invited Hanan Ashrawi to be their 9/11 keynote speaker. A fairly substantial group of us has noticed the irony involved in having the spokesman for a terrorist group lecture us on the proper response to, well, terrorism. We're going to have a nice, peaceful, non-disruptive rally on 9/12 during her speech, and I'm in charge of getting website publicity.

Here's Joshua's website.

Went to a concert tonite by Hamadregot at a place called Haoman 17.

Haoman 17 housed a dance club which (I think) moved to Tel Aviv. The club is said to have had a real international reputation - so that DJs from the UK and Europe were willing to come in even after the "situation" began 2 years ago. Unlike Tel Aviv, Jerusalem is a quiet and somewhat religiously-oriented city, which makes the whole thing quite unusual.

Hamadregot are terrific live. After the concert T. and I stopped at a restaurant called Caffit. We ended up sitting close to the gate: a few steps away from the location of a failed Islamikaze bombing.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Aerial shot of the Temple Mount (from Yediot) shows the location of the Western Wall, al-Aqsa mosque, and shaky Southern wall. Yahoo unfortunately made the picture smaller.

Yediot also provides the following background:

Like other parts of the wall, the Southern wall was built by King Herod in the first century CE. In the course of years, parts were destroyed, and the most recent repair was carried out by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Great in 1517.

The south-east portion of the wall is one of the highest segments of the Old City Wall, and its foundation reaches several tens of meters underground. The protrusion that was discovered is found in the Ottoman section of the wall. Adjacent to the inside face [near the protrusion] is an area called "Solomon's Stables", which was renovated in 1996 and became the large roofed mosque that bears the name "Almoosa Almarwani" - a mosque that was renovated and built by the Arab-Israeli "Islamic Movement".

Jews were accustomed to pray at the south part of the wall in previous centuries because of prohibtions against praying at the Western Wall. In the Second Temple period, stairs were erected on the south wall which led to Hulda Gates (the Double Gate). These wide steps, still visible today, led to the gates.
this article, attention in the Arab world and media has abandoned the Palestinians as it focuses on Iraq. Despite all indications to the contrary, Arab media interprets American hostility to Iraq primarily as cultural and political imperialism. It doesn't seem to register that the US is specifically concerned with Saddam Hussein and the proliferation of non-conventional weapons.

"EU president Denmark wants Palestinian state by 2005"... Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller didn't say "come hell or high water", but it sounds like that's what he means. According to Moeller

"It is necessary through parallel progress on security, economic and political matters to strengthen the Palestinians' faith that an independent state is within reach and Israel's faith that they can finally achieve security within their own borders,"

It sounds like Moeller just came out of a meeting with Yossi Beilin and some other constituency-free Israeli dreamers - signing a few more documents could indeed help buoy their much-challenged "faith", but the rest of us know that stability, let alone security, in Israel won't result from establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank/Gaza.

Here's more on the ongoing attempts to prevent damage or destruction of the wall surrounding the Temple Mount. UNESCO is offering to get involved because the Muslim Wakf responsible for the site refuse to take seriously the assessements of the Israeli Antiquities Ministry - the Wakf says that the assessments are part of a conspiracy against them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Various personal commitments are vying for my attention. And my place of work could use some additional clue density.

"Peace Now" was once a formidable force in Israel. They believed that the policies of the rightist Israeli governments were counterproductive and that compromise with the Palestinians was the only viable option. Two years after the Oslo bubble has burst, "Peace now" is largely a spent force, and probably the most vocal leftist organization is Gush Shalom. Gush Shalom once again proves that they are a bunch of insane conspiracy-theorists by running the following large ad in today's Haaretz:

An Emergency call An Emergency call


Sharon and Peres are urging the United States to attack Iraq.

Israel is the only country in the whole world that supports this war.

All European and Arab states oppose it. In the American political elite and Bush's own party, too, there are voices warning against this adventure - even while unanimously opposing Sadam [sic] Hussein's regime.

Almost certainly, with the outbreak of war, Sadam Hussein will throw at us everything he has got: poison gas, fatal diseases, even nuclear radiation.

Israel is as defenseless as last time. We have nothing but the "sealed rooms", adhesive paper and masks. Now there are tables against nuclear radiation!

Thousands and tens of thousands of Israeli citizens may be hurt.

If this is madness - there is method in it.

Sharon intends to exploit the ensuing chaos in the Middle East in order to realize his real plan: to drive out the Palestinian [sic] from all of the country ("Transfer"). To this end, he is ready to bring disaster on all of us.

A shocking fact: Until now, hardly any voice has been raised in Israel against this disastrous policy. Not a single politician, either in the coalition or opposition, not a single officer in the army has spoken out.

The silence of the lambs

Gush Shalom


Gil Shterzer observes:

Gush Shalom are a bunch of loonies. It sounds that they are more worried about Sharon’s plans (I’m sure what they wrote isn’t really Sharon’s plan) than their prediction that thousands of Israeli might die.

I should really get on top of what's happening with the "Gaza-Bethlehem first" progress. I know the international media is talking about it; it might be that here we're a bit bored with whether the IDF is leaving or going back in to Area A.

The media here is focused on the Israeli Arabs who have been involved in terror attacks recently, statements attributed to British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Saks in the UK Guardian (report), and a "Jenin inquiry" which determined that the IDF soldiers who were sent there in Operation Defensive Shield were inadequately equipped and briefed.

According to Yediot, the 7 Israeli Arabs who of the Bakri clan who assisted in the Meron bus bombing were middle-class and secular.

The British Chief Rabbi reportedly said that Israel has been forced into postures incompatible with "our deepest ideals". Jacky Levy on Army Radio's "Last Word" said cynically that he's sure that in a few hours some spokesman will announce that Rabbi Saks' words were taken out of context. Reading the Guardian's summary of the interview it's easy to imagine how they might have done that. We'll see.

RibbityBlog (aka. the amphibian MEMRI) has a summary of an article in the official Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam which outlines an imagined Jewish conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israeli police procedure is to return confessed criminals to the scene of the crime and have them reconstruct the events (ie. "reenact" the crime). Tonite on the Channel 2 news they showed police reconstructing the bombings authored by the Hamas cell from Silwan.

These included the bombing of the social club in Rishon Letzion, where a member of the arrested ring entered the stairwell to check for a security guard and then directed his friend wearing the explosives belt that it was OK to go up. At the Hebrew University bombing, HU employee Odeh selected the site of the bombing and determined that no suicidalist was necessary. He placed the bomb, ran away, got in his associate's car, and pressed the "call" button on his cell phone to detonate the bomb.

For me the most striking thing is that these attacks just seem so calculated.... that makes them hard to fathom. They don't promote anyone's interests, nor do they seem to be acts of blind rage or revenge.

The Hamas ring is connected to another group in Ramallah; authorities say that their identities are known and it's only a matter of time until they are put out of operation.
UN Middle East Envoy Terje-Roed Larsen is nostalgic about the Oslo period. Evelyn Gordon shows how each of Larsen's assertions about the Oslo era - that it provided peace for Israelis, economic improvement for Palestinians, and a "balanced Palestinian budget" - is simply false.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

I hope that the Jpost article inspires some more Israelis to start blogging. Here is a brand-new blog by an Israeli fellow familiar from my comments section. He goes by the jocular name of RibbityFrog, and he also reads (and hopefully will translate from) the Arabic media.

And Yehudit Weiss, another frequent commentor, is now blogging at Kesher Talk.

My own blogging should pick up again later today.
Madame Tussaud's museum in London has installed a portrait of Arafat making the V-symbol and stationed it among portraits of Queen Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela, and Prince Charles (hebrew report)

The Palestinian Authority has refused a request to bury Abu Nidal in the Palestinian areas. The group that Nidal commanded was a splinter of Arafat's Fatah (hebrew report).

Some people left me good questions in the comments section; I hope to respond soon.
This Hebrew article reports the inflammatory rhetoric of Sheikh Raed Salah who led a 45,000 person rally held in Jerusalem today.

Salah said that the slogan of the rally - "al-Aqsa in Danger" - refers to the fact that the mosque is surrounded by Israeli security forces and that excavations are being carried out underneath it by the Antiquities Ministry. He also mentioned the arson attempt on the mosque in 1969 (apparently forgetting that an Australian Protestant was responsible). In actual fact the Islamic Wakf has untrammeled control over the mosque and the Temple Mount, and have been carrying out excavations which have damaged the site's external wall as well has archeological remnants from the Temple period (report).

This well-designed pro-Islam anti-democracy UK site seemed surreal to me. In the discussions of Islam in Europe I've yet to see mention of a book called "1985" by Anthony Burgess which depicts a UK dominated by Islam and labour movements.

Update: Here's the Haaretz article in English.