Friday, September 20, 2002

The IDF is "isolating" Arafat. Haven't we been in this movie before?

Erekat lies; Reuters doesn't care Reuters is carrying Saeb Erekat's line that ""Six weeks have passed without any suicide attacks but during that same period Israeli troops killed 71 Palestinians" (on the BBC he said "71 Palestinian civilians").

From Aug 6 (after the Hebrew U bombing - which was not a suicide attack) up to Aug 31, B'tselem lists a total of 34 Palestinian casualties (including many killed in "exchanges of fire" etc.). For September, this Arabic site seems to list 20 casualties total - for a total of 54.

Of the B'tselem August list, 22 are described in a manner that is "civilian-like". I can't read the September list to determine which of the "martyrs" are civilians, but it's clear that there were fewer than 42 Palestinian civilian casualties for the entire six week period - perhaps as few as 28.

This count comes at a time when the IDF has been imposing curfews and conducting extensive operations in the Palestinian areas - and Israelis have been distraught over failed IDF operations to the extent that a probe was launched (not that Israel's detractors were impressed).

All civilian casualties are tragedies, but the BBC and Reuters must not allow Erekat and other Palestinian spokesmen to lie baldfacedly.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Whoa ... IDF is in Yasser's compound .... a "wanted person" was shot dead .. maybe it was Intelligence head Tewfiq Tirawi..

Haaretz reports.

Ynet quotes Said Erekat as saying that Arafat telephoned him and said that 2 of Arafat's guards have been lightly injured.
Take a look at the summary that RibbityFrog gives on al-Jazeera's coverage of today's Tel Aviv bombing. Then you can leave your thoughts at al-Jazeera's feedback section at the URL that Ribbity provides.
Khaled Abu Tomeh says that there are plenty of indications that the "al-Aqsa intifada" was planned in advance. (here)

Good article on the role of reservists in the IDF here.
Sayeth the BBC:

The Palestinian leadership responded by condemning all attacks on civilians. Senior negotiator Saeb Erekat said that in the six-week period in which there had been no suicide attacks, the Israeli army had killed 71 civilians, including the child killed on Thursday.

I think that number (71) is much much higher than the actual number (anyone feel like going through 6 weeks of Haaretz archives?). Erekat knows that he lie through his teeth and the BBC/CNN will just pass it on.
Why now, again? Bus bombing in downtown Tel Aviv . 5 dead, 40 injured(report)

Ribbity has more.
The BBC writes about the tragic shooting of a 12-yr. old Palestinian boy in Ramallah who was (according to his mother) sent to buy cigarettes for his father. The BBC leaves out the fact that a curfew was in effect (mentioned in the AP report).

From the same article:

An Israeli inquiry found Mr Sharon responsible for the slaughter in the Beirut camps, which saw Israeli-backed Lebanese Christian militiamen kill hundreds of Palestinians.

See here for what the inquiry actually said and other background.
Lots of billboards around with red letters on a black background: "If Sharon is like this (no peace, no security, no economy), then even Bibi is better". If this is part the Netanyahu campaign then it's not going to be very effective. :}

Regarding responses: I'm glad to have Kalle, Joe, Andrew, etc. as regular readers even though (well, actually because) they don't entirely identify with my perspective. Guys, please stick around, continue to respond, and please be patient with the occasional harsh responses that happen. Also, since you have access to media sources that I do not, please feel free to supply links or summaries.
A fellow in Iceland who repeatedly wrote to me about the "Jenin Massacre" (see here), has written me again:

These days there are 20 years since the mass murders in Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon.They were committed by Israeli troops under command of Ariel Sharon.Have anice anniversary.

Here's a long article about Elie Hobeika, the Lebanese Christian Phalangist leader who is acknowledged to have authorized the Sabra/Shatila massacres. According to the article, in 1985 the CIA recruited Hobeika to launch an assassination attempt on the head of Hezbollah. The assasination was botched with horrific consequences, leading the CIA to break its ties with him. Quite incredibly, despite all of this Hobeika was appointed to various cabinet positions in the Lebanese government from 1991 onward. Hobeika died in a car bombing a few months ago - Syrians are thought to be responsible but of course in the Arab world it's easiest to blame Israel. Hobeika's militia actually has its own website.

Here is the Kahan Commission report which imputes "indirect responsibility" to Ariel Sharon for not anticipating what the Christian militia would do in the camps. More recently, the situation has been to Dutch complicity at Srebrenica(long article, summary).

The world at large is much more concerned about the "indirect responsibility" of Sharon than the very direct responsibility of Hobeika, who was until recently a Lebanese minister.

Interestingly, I think that a lot of Israelis (myself included) are much more sympathetic to Sharon than we would have been a few years ago. After Sabra/Shatila, Sharon was disgraced and his political career was regarded as over. But after his comeback (which was brought about by Arafat's humiliation of Ehud Barak), Sharon has been a much more effective Prime Minister than his two predecessors. It's not just that we appreciate Sharon now .... we do see a sense of judgement and humanity about the man ...

Comments policy: Comments which supply additional information are welcome. Well-thought-out responses are also welcome, especially when they disagree with me. Making broad generalizations and ex-cathedra pronouncements is not encouraged. And posts including personal attacks or lots of naughty language will be deleted.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Jpost: Lebanon scorns US mediation efforts over Wazzani
BBC: Israel hardens stance on water

BBC says that 10 million cubic meters a year will be pumped; Jpost quotes an Israeli official who says it's 50 million cu. m.

Jpost also quotes experts as saying that the Litani River could easily supply all of south Lebanon - and its waters are now simply flowing into the ocean; the diversion of the Wazzani is to create a provocation. Jpost quotes the same Israeli official to the effect international law dictates that agreements between countries have to be reached over water use when upper levels flow into lower ones.

Jpost says:

US officials visited the site on Monday, and an expert on international water law is due to inspect the area today and then shuttle between Beirut and Jerusalem to try and resolve the issue. The Lebanese stance [that the UN rather than the US must mediate] has basically torpedoed the efforts before they begin.

BBC's "harder line" is pure bias, since there has been no change at all in Israel's stance.
PM Sharon opened a cabinet meeting this AM by saying that he hopes Macabi Haifa will beat Manchester United (IDF Radio).

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

The US has expressed opposition to the Danish/EU "peace plan" (report).

The Americans say it is "too detailed" and that they weren't consulted sufficiently, but my interpretation is that the US justifiably objects to an initiative now while Arafat is on the way out and there are indications of reforms within the PA. Also, since the "Bush speech", the US is no longer sympathetic to the European inclination to give the Palestinians real gains in exchange for vague promises.
5 Palestinian students were "lightly injured" (according to ynet) when a bomb exploded in a schoolyard near Hebron (report). Ynet says the injured were mostly 8-yr. olds and that the school ("Zif") is coeducational. Israeli police are searching the scene and the pupils have been evacuated.

The presumption is that a bomb was placed by a "Jewish underground" group, but police say all possibilities are being investigated. Finally seeing something which correlates a bit with the fabrications that float around in their media, Palestinian residents are blaming the IDF and "settlers".
An article in the Christian Science Monitor reports that young Israelis have started singing old folk songs as a response to the current turmoil.

If this is supposed to be a trend, I haven't noticed it here. But Gil would know best.

To provide the "deep meaning" of the trend, Prof. Jeff Halper is quoted. The CSM thinks of Halper as a "peace activist" - actually Halper writes dogmatic pro-Palestinian articles for publications like Counterpunch, and advocates replacing Israel with a binational entity.

Gil writes:

In the last two years singalongs nights became very popular among people aged 20-30 in Israel, I didn’t go to one yet, though I plan to do so. I didn’t like the article in the Christian Science Monitor, I’m not sure that “singalongs have become a way of escaping from the harsh realities of today's Israel”.

During the late 90’ old Israeli rock songs from the 70’ became popular again and they were played in almost every party and that was during the peaceful years when things were looking just fine. So today it’s a different group of old songs that gained popularity.

Ari Shamai, who is behind many of these singalongs evenings, says that the singalongs would have picked up anyway even if there was peace today but then people would have said that it’s peace and the good atmosphere that made the singalongs so popular again.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Palestinians have developed longer-range mortars and have fired them a couple of times at small Israeli communities. There is concern that they will be able to reach population centers (report).
This is said to be an al-Qaida recruiting video.
This article details two versions of the incident where the IDF shot dead 4 Palestinian men in the middle of the night near Bani Naim a couple of weeks ago. Often Haaretz presents a vivid attachment to the Palestinian perspective - together with a more sober account that doesn't really connect with the first.

But in this instance there's only the accounts given by Palestinians (who claim that soldiers came into a factory where men were working and then dragged them off and shot them) and the totally different version given by the IDF (that the men were shot after breaking in to a fenced area that was the site of several violent attacks previously).

One side is deliberately lying, and I see no reason to doubt the version of the IDF. Though the men are said to have no known association with violent groups, the amateur video of their funeral shows the father of Ala'a Ayayda crying "A month ago you said that you want to be a shaheed [martyr] ....".

The funeral video showed the victims wounds in gory detail (something that's common on Islamic sites like Clearguidance ). Villagers expressed their desire for revenge, and of course...

There is no solution to the cycle of bloodshed without an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state within the `67 borders," the young people of the village repeated with determination...

If Haaretz' Ada Ushpiz had studied math, she would know that the villagers were describing their view of a "necessary" condition rather than a "sufficient" one. "There won't be peace unless X" does not mean "There will be peace when X". It means "Give me at least X; and then I'll demand more".