Friday, October 04, 2002

Arnold Roth, whose 15-year old daughter Malki was killed in the Sbarro bombing in Aug 2001, has been in attendance at the Marwan Barghouti trial and left a couple of messages in my blog comments (to which I added paragraph breaks).

First comment:

The lead lawyer of the three who addressed the Tel-Aviv district court yesterday on behalf of Marwan Barghouti, spent much of his time developing the argument of "parliamentary immunity" for his client. On this basis, Jawad Boulos said, Barghouti ought not to be tried in an Israeli court. This has serious implications. It implies *no* court could ever try him on terror/murder charges. Immunity -- what a wonderful notion! Sitting there in the over-filled court room, I fantasized trying to explain to my murdered fifteen year old daughter Malki how immunity would work. Barghouti can finance, organize and plan massacres of civilians like the one which destroyed my daughter's life and my family's last year... and then sit back and laugh the cynical, ice-cold laugh I saw yesterday. Anyone know a parliamentary immunity doctrine that works like this?

Contrary to the impression conveyed by press reports, most of the victim families present in court yesteday (outnumbered, in my estimation, by Barghouti supporters and quasi-lawyers) did NOT engage in violent clashes with anyone. I'm one.

Second comment:

Another thought about the Barghouti proceedings on Thursday.

The BBC report quotes Khader Shkeirat accusing "Israeli police of beating and shoving him when he tried to get to Mr Barghouti in the crowded courtroom." Having sat there and seen it all, I know he's bending the facts.

He arrived after proceedings started and gave the impression of itching for a fight. He was decked out in a black legal robe (required dress for lawyers in courts here) as were four or five other Arabs who may or may not have been members of Barghouti's legal team. (These were in addition to the three who actually addressed the court. The adequateness of the man's representation is beyond doubt, at least in terms of numbers.) Boulos, the lead lawyer, who was in the middle of presenting his arguments, advised the judge that Shkeirat is not admitted to the Israeli bar.

On that basis, Shkeirat was told he could not sit at the already-full bar table. Choosing to stand in the aisle near the door at the back, he was visibly edgy and irritated, and seemed intent on picking a fight. Eventually he got into one - not clear to me with whom - which clearly disturbed the proceedings. When the Israeli security men who ringed the court made their move, it was an elegant piece of "social engineering" which got him out the door in seconds.

In general, the security people were polite to the point of walking on eggshells throughout a difficult day's proceedings, at least until bedlam broke out after the hearing itself ended. Hard for me to imagine court officials being quite as careful and considerate in other jurisdictions (I'm thinking of US and Australian court systems, both of which I know fairly well), given the intense hostility of the people passing through their hands.

Thanks Arnold. And please feel free to keep us updated.
There are some people who talk a fair amount about Baruch Goldstein, though his 1994 rampage was really a sui generis event (and who remembers the name Abed Al Basat Uda - perpetrator of the equally deadly Netanya Park Hotel bombing this past spring?).

At any rate, today's Yediot reports that Goldstein's son has been accepted into Air Force pilot's school. This is after the army initially refused to accept him, but relented due to the efforts of an organization called the Citizen's Rights Movement (which is coincidentally also the name of an old political party that became Meretz).
This article by Cameron W. Barr in the Christian Science Monitor casually reports as fact the tired allegation that Israel's killing of Hamas leader Salah Shehade "scuttled a hard-fought diplomatic effort to negotiate an agreement among all Palestinian factions to renounce attacks on Israeli civilians within Israel proper, and led to more violence."
(good article on this topic here, previous entry on this here).

Relying heavily on anonymous sources, Barr also says that the Palestinians have decided to switch to tactics of non-violent resistance, but that this change is not visible because the IDF is still present in Palestinian areas; and anyway this invisible tendency won't last because Sharon is such a butcher and also because Hamas et al really just want to erase Israel from the map.

How loopy can can you get?

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Has the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman at the Barghouti trial - Daniel Taub - appeared at all in the global media?

Unlike many Israeli spokespeople, he speaks English well and has a sense of humour.
According to this article, engineer Adnan Husseini acknowledged to Voice of Palestine radio that the south wall of the Temple Mount is indeed in danger of collapsing.

He went on to repeat his previous (apparently fabricated) claim the Wakf had begun repairs but the Israelis had forced them to stop 20% of the way through. In August, the Palestinian al-Ayyam paper quoted Husseini as saying that the wall was not endangered, as does this BBC article - titled "Wailing Wall collapsing" - which confuses the endangered Southern wall with the stable Western ("Wailing") wall.

Husseini now says:

The Israeli authorities bear the responsibility for any loss of lives resulting from a collapse of the wall,"

Here's an earlier blog entry including an aerial view of the site.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Channel 2 News tonite said that according to the German magazine Die Zeit, some agents of the Mossad were monitoring 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and his roommate in Florida. They reportedly warned the US gov't that Atta was planning a major attack, but their warnings were not heeded and the agents were expelled.


Alis writes:

Here is the original German article:

I guess a computer translation would give a good idea of it.

It does describe a meeting between Mossad and CIA agents under "Langely, 23. August 2001". There is neither a specific mention of Atta, merely of "4 out of 19" terrorists, nor of an expulsion of the Mossad agents.

Channel 2 said that the surveillance was done in December 2000.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

This is unusual, especially if it's true. A 3 yr.-old Chinese book describing a WTC attack? (here)
On the radio this AM there was a discussion with Amram Mitzna, a leftish man who is attempting to wrest leadership of Labor from staid centrist Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. Mitzna actually sounds quite charismatic and is very upfront about his leftishness - he wants an immediate return to negotiations and, if these fail, partial unilateral withdrawal from West Bank/Gaza. (though how flexible would the PA be if it knows that it can just ride out negotiations and then get another round of something for nothing?)
Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Masri of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service says that the PA has the capability to reign in Hamas, but sees no political reason to do so (report).

Some quotes:

"Capabilities and principle are two different things. Besides ending the occupation, our major goal is not to be labeled collaborators," said Masri.

"Why should we be responsible for security in Tel Aviv," asked Masri, "when we have enough trouble protecting our own people against Israel?" For this reason, the GIS is not engaged in roundups of suspects, but is attempting to dialogue with them.

Monday, September 30, 2002

It's well-established that Saeb Erekat tells lies to the global media because he knows he won't be fact-checked.

His latest comes in response to an Amnesty International report which criticizes the PA for not taking action against terrorists who target children.

"The Palestinian Authority has always stood to condemn all attacks on Israeli civilians, not just children. It's really unfair to put the blame on the Palestinian Authority, which is being crippled and systematically destroyed by the Israelis," he said.

Not even PA officials buy this line from Erekat (see blog entry immediately below).

(The Amnesty report is itself disturbing because it implies a moral equivalence between Islamikaze bombings and cases where children have been killed by the IDF in the course of dealing with violence by Palestinians).
Yesterday, Army Radio's morning show spoke to a number of different people and asked them: "What is the way to end the violence now entering its third year?" and "What do you think will happen in the near future?".

One interviewee was a senior Palestinian Authority official who spoke excellent Hebrew. Don't remember his name ("Abuzaida"? maybe it was Ziyad Abu Ziyad), or position ("Ministry of civil authority"?). Here's a paraphrase of the interview:
Interviewer: What is the way to end the intifada?

PA official: Israel should implement, immediately and without negotiations, the plan advocated by King Abdullah - and return to the '67 borders (more or less), evacuate all of the settlements, and create a Palestinian state.

Interviewer: OK. That's what you think Israel should do .... but what about your own government? What should the PA do?

PA official (angrily): The ball is not in our court, the ball is in your court etc. etc.

Interviewer: What about arresting or neutralizing Hamas? That's something that many Israelis ask about..

PA official: You expect us to neutralize Hamas?! And then what?! The government of Israel will go and fund more settlements etc.

Interviewer: What do you expect in the near future?

PA official: We're waiting to see what happens in Iraq and in the Labor and Likud Central Committees. We are in a waiting position for probably the next nine months or so....

So note that when a PA official speaks to the Israeli public, he doesn't say "we try to restrain Hamas and prevent terror attacks, but Israel attacked our security forces". Rather, he is frank about the fact that the PA has no intention whatsoever of reigning in Hamas, much less other groups like Fatah that are closer to the PA.

Most of the other interviewees were not so interesting, though editorialist Dan Margalit said that after the US takes care of Saddam it is likely to try to impose a solution here.

Saturday night I drove past Kikar Paris and saw the Peace Now demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Residence. There were about 50 people. I wanted to stop my car and try to reason with them.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Israeli gov't has in effect issued a total cave-in and is ending the Mukata siege (Jpost, Haaretz)