Wednesday, December 31, 2003

"More than 100" ISMers and Israeli anarchists tried to obstruct construction of the security fence near a village called Bodros by blocking bulldozers and subsequently throwing stones at police and soldiers. The IDF dispersed them using tear gas and rubber bullets, and arrested 8 including the 20-yr. old Swedish parliament member Gustav Fridolin (Jpost, Haaretz).

Bodros is right on the Green Line - not that these know-nothings screaming about the "Apartheid Wall" would care one way or the other. Between 8 and 19 of the mob were lightly injured, including at least one from a rubber bullet.

According to Ynet, Fridolin claims to have been hit by a Border policemen before he was arrested.

Update: The more up-to-date reports put the size of the crowd at around 500.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

A good article on recent changes in the planned path of the security fence (including the 'before' and 'after' considerations) here.

Qalqilya will no longer be fenced in from both sides; and the fence will now separate Baka al-Garbiyeh from Baka al-Sharkiya, rather than including the latter on the Israeli side (Look forward to the inevitable articles portraying the hardships created by the fence partitioning the adjacent villages).

I doubt that these changes make any impact at all on the fence's shrill and strident critics, but perhaps readers will find examples to the contrary.

Friday, December 26, 2003

How did today's Tel Aviv bombers get around the security fence? We will be hearing about it, no doubt.

The real indication of the success of the fence will be if and when the terrorist groups start trying to shift their tactics away from the Islamikaze bombings and towards things like firing things over the fence or attacking settlements.
The latest in evil spam seems to be mail messages that just contain a lot of random words. The spammers figure this will mess up Bayesian spam filters and force providers to stop using them.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Soon I will write about Sharon's Herzliya speech.

Regarding the rumors of a suicide bomber in New York: of course it's impossible to know if there's anything to the rumor (and let's hope not); and New York is so big that anyone's chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time are small.

Nonetheless from a purely selfish perspective - here in Israel it's possible to keep relatively safe by avoiding crowds and premises that don't have security guards (assuming you and your family have the luxury of not needing to ride public buses). But you can't avoid crowds in Manhattan.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Repeating lies often enough seems to make them a commonplace. Christopher Hitchens:
Meanwhile, leading Israeli conservatives speak openly about a “transfer” or mass deportation of the remaining Arab population, and boast that this is no more than what they began doing in 1947/1948.
"leading Israeli conservatives"?? As I've often noted, you'll have to go out to the Kahanists or the far-right of the settlement movement to find "speaking" like that.

Someone please tell Hitchens, Judt et. al that their failure to provide names and hard facts when they conduct their malicious smears is leading people to conclude that they are the zealots and demagogues.

In fairness, Hitchens makes many sensible points that conflict with the leftist conventional wisdom on the situation (not that I generally agree with him); it's when he gets to discussing Sharon and the current political dynamic that H. loses good sense.
ISM leaders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro have received funding from an organization called Echoing Green. Echoing Green was set up by several hi-tech VC types and backs leftwing causes that it sees as "start-ups" - Shapiro and Arraf are two of the "visionaries" they've chosen to supply with cash. Their project is described as a training program for Palestinian youth - quite likely it will support the activities of the ISM's Palestinian coordinators like Osama Qashoo or the al-Titi family.

The other projects funded by EG seem to be leftish and unusual but nothing quite comparable to the ISM (though a description of another project claims that Arabs can't lease housing on Israeli state property - which is a lie).

As an Israeli I'm not pleased about "charitable efforts" aiding groups who cooperate with terrorists and ultimately aim to wipe my country off the map.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Blogrunner is a nice blog search engine.
Tony Judt responds to critics here. He moderates his early "dissolve Israel" remarks a bit, but still smugly tosses off stuff like this:
I am not the first person to remark upon the distressing state of Israeli public life, increasingly dominated by zealots and demagogues; the subject is commonplace in Israeli writing, as Amos Elon notes. It is mainly Israel's American defenders who seem blithely unaware of this state of affairs. Lenin used to describe Bolshevism's foreign admirers—fellow-traveling progressives who resolutely heard and saw no ill in their promised land—as "useful idiots."
Judt has not visited here (his observations are so way off and anyway he would have mentioned it). He can't be reading much of the Israeli media either (even Haaretz) if he thinks that "public life is increasingly dominated by zealots and demagogues". So where are these ideas (and venom) coming from?

Afterthought: Could well be that Judt would apply the term "zealot" to me (or Gil or Imshin) and only Beilin, Burg etc. are "within the pale" for him. At some British blogs there seems to be an unarguable sensibility under which expressing support for Sharon is regarded as akin to supporting Mugabe.
A few more worthwhile Geneva articles:Gordon Singer Rubin

Sunday, December 07, 2003

I'm still not sure what to make of Ehud Olmert's statement in favor of unilateral withdrawal.

This article says that the statement is a "trial balloon" from the Sharon camp - which would be really shocking, and also suggest that the idea was hatched at the same time as the decision to go ahead with the security fence. Obviously, withdrawing without a peace agreement is a form of surrender - noone should pretend otherwise. And it would increase the PA's determination to fight for everything else that they are demanding (ie. Jerusalem, settling millions of Palestinians into pre-1967 Israel, whatever's after that), while in no way reducing international pressure.

The weekend Yediot had an article called "Korbanot Hagader" ("casualties of the fence") - a play on "Korbanot ha-shalom" ("casualties of the peace") which was the term applied by Oslo supporters to the casualties of "first-generation" suicide bombings. The article by Tsadok Yehezkeli is both informative and melodramatic in that it contrasts the initial successes of the fence with the hardships endured by Palestinians in Jayyous, Jabara, and a third village.

Yehezkeli tries to describe the situation from the first-person vantage point of those affected (including the standard baseless bit about how they think malicious land confiscation and "transfer" are in the offing), asserting (mistakenly) that this aspect is lost in the "sterile" language of Israeli discussion of the fence. I actually want more "sterile" information ie. how many people are really going to be substantially affected (the article quotes an untenably large estimate from B'tselem) and what possible alternatives exist.

I will try to write more from this article later, though real-life may well end up taking precedence.
More on 'Geneva' Another right-on evaluation from Yossi Klein Halevi:
The Israeli initiators of the Geneva Accord are guilty of multiple outrages. They've summoned a campaign of international pressure against their own democratic government, hampering its diplomatic maneuverability. They've undermined the legitimacy of the Sharon government while strengthening the legitimacy of Yasser Arafat's. They've lied to the public about the accord's supposed renunciation of the right of return, when in fact the accord reaffirms it. They've negotiated away Israel's most basic assets, not least its right to defend itself, and gotten vague Palestinian promises in return. And, hardly surprising, they allowed the Geneva signing ceremony to be overtaken by a blame-Israel atmosphere without offering any defense in response.

But perhaps their greatest damage is domestic. In the past three years, Israeli society has managed two extraordinary achievements. The first is to withstand a planned, systematic terror campaign whose purpose was to break our will and slowly erode our viability. Shortly after the outbreak of the Terror War in September 2000, Ehud Barak warned that, in a contest of wills between two societies, the loser will be the one who blinks first. Now, with Geneva, a part of Israeli society has blinked.

No less serious is Geneva's erosion of Israel's second great achievement: the marginalization of both the ideological Right and Left and the end of the no-win debate between them. The combined effects of the first and second intifadas on Israeli consciousness was to convince the majority that both Greater Israel and Peace Now were delusions. And so, arguably for the first time since the 1967 Six Day War, most Israelis were no longer viewing the territories through an ideological prism of wishful thinking but facing reality, however grimly, on its own terms.

This article says that Arafat's last minute decision to ambigously smile on the Geneva ceremony was the result of pressure from Egypt.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Haaretz writer Sara Leibovich-Dar levelled some criticisms at Jpost. Jpost editor Bret Stephens responds that Leibovich-Dar is a tendentious interviewer and a plagiarist.

I variously read Jpost, Haaretz, and Yediot - all of them have good and bad writers (at Haaretz: Ari Shavit, Zeev Schiff, Amos Harel, and Amir Oren are the best ones). In 2002, Jpost and Haaretz both interviewed me about my blog, and Jpost was the more professional of the two. The Haaretz article has a lot of sloppy misquotes, including an anecdote told by Sgt. Stryker that was attributed to me. The Haaretz interviewer was also quite envious of my ability to say whatever I want on my blog.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

On the off chance that you were thinking of going to see the excellent musicians (like Omri Mor, Daniel Sarid, and Daniel Zamir's Ad Matai) at the Tel Aviv"Fringe Jazz Festival" , you might take a look at the home page of the Communist Party-sponsored arts space that's hosting it and have second thoughts.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Palestinian 'Geneva' negotiator Jamal Zakot on why Palestinians shouldn't fear that the plan would eliminate unlimited "right of return" to pre-1967 Israel for descendents of refugees from 1948:
"The document does not promise a full and collective return for millions of Palestinians, but it also does not cede this right. On the contrary: the proposed time frame for the solution of the refugee problem is five years, while the time frame for the Israeli retreat from the Palestinian lands [sic], evacuation of settlements and completion of installing Palestinian sovereignty on its lands according to the maps - which are more important than the texts - is only three years."
So Zakot is saying that the PA will first get everything that it wants in the West Bank/Gaza, so it will be able hold out and stay maximalist. And don't think that they wouldn't.

Arutz-7 translates the above from PA daily Al Hayat al Jadida. Perhaps Ribbity will take a closer look.

In the course of a discussion about an assertion by Norwegian Television that Israel's security fence is creating "apartheid", Bjorn Staerk enunciates the real issue regarding "antisemitism" among European media and intelligentsia:
We don't have to call it anti-semitism or Jew-hatred. Those words are so intertwined with modern history that their defining qualities have been pushed aside. But "irrational fear of and attribution of malicious intent to the only country in the world that is dominantly Jewish, and Jewish influences in other countries" covers it. It highlights the sinister part without strawman-friendly diversions like whether this is hate, or whether Hitler would have approved.

I've been thinking along similar lines for a while. We just need a good name for this phenomenon - eg. where Tony Judt will wave away physical and verbal attacks on Jews by Europeans as "misguided", while castigating (with comparisons to Pontius Pilate) Israeli leftists who have become (understandably) disillusioned.

Standard liberal gestures - ie. trying to "understand", suspending judgement, trying to "build bridges" - just seem to be absent. Although the Guardian seems to have started changing in the past week or two.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The Swiss just wouldn't risk offending the Palestinians (report):
It had been agreed beforehand that a message from Arafat would not be read aloud at the ceremony - but at the last moment the PA delegation demanded and threatened, and the Swiss hosts gave in. The message from Arafat, considered to be the father of modern-day terrorism, stated, "While Israel continues to build a Berlin Wall, we hold an olive branch.
So apparently in Geneva they blamed Israel for everything, cursed at the fence, and called Sharon a "fascist". And no criticism at all for the Palis.

The one-sidedness is partly because that's how many of these people actually think. But it's also because any criticism of Arafat or the Palis would "offend" the Palestinian delegation. Castigating Israel and giving Arafat a free ride is part of trying to drum up Palestinian support for the Geneva enterprise.

Similarly, if some peace plan gets support from an Israeli gov't (whether Likud or Labor), Palestinian support for it is then likely to decrease. The thinking is: "if the Israelis are willing to accept it, then it's probably a trick and we should be demanding more".
Heard the Geneva affair (including some of the Carter speech) on Channel 2 news. I bet most of the people there never actually read the "accords", and have no recollection of the Camp David or Taba negotiations (except for Beilin & co. of course, who were present at them).

Carter apparently called repeatedly for "return" of refugees to the territories beyond what the "accords" call for. He obviously hasn't read the documents, which call for unlimited settling of refugees into the "territories" and an additional "limited" (but TBD) number of refugees to be settled in Israel proper.

More: This article describes how Carter and Arafat have a longstanding close relationship (via Kesher Talk). Carter is not disturbed by Arafat's support for Al-Aqsa Brigades etc.

Monday, December 01, 2003

I will eventually force myself to read the reports of the Geneva "signing". Most normal people would probably not be able to participate at this thing in an official capacity (eg. by making a speech) without somehow noting that it's basically meaningless.

But professional politicians (and ex-politicians) aren't normal people, and will largely ignor the fact that Beilin etc. have no mandate from the Israeli public, and that the hypocritical Palestinian delegates don't even represent themselves, let alone Arafat or the Palestinian public.

The real evidence of the shallowness of the sponsors (ie. Blair, Carter et. al. ) is that none of them will actually try to treat the Palestinians' ostensible (though mega-ambiguous) blessing of the Geneva document as readiness to make the single concession that it apparently requires of them - ie. giving up their demand that millions of descendents of refugees from the 1948 war be settled in Israel proper.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Still on the very local side of things: Jpost print edition has more info on the Templer cemetery in Jerusalem's German Colony neighborhood and Beilin's plan (ie. 'Geneva') to provide the PA with "access" (which is not defined within the Geneva document).

The area actually contains two burial grounds - the one belonging to the Templers has been unused for about 50 yrs; a second one belongs to an evangelical Christian movement, whose administrator expressed surprise that the PA had expressed any interest in the site. This confirms to me that the provision was a not-particularly-well-considered "tit-for-tat" in exchange for Israeli access/sovereignty of the large and centuries-old Jewish cemetery on Mt. Scopus.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Mazal Tov to Ribbity Frog + spouse on the addition of a new tadpole.
Apparently pandering to Arab and Muslim sentiments, BBC World Service Radio broadcast an all-Muslim panel discussion on whether Israel has a right to exist. The consensus of the panel was not surprising.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Norman Geras links to this this article on the situation. This article from Haaretz has similar sympathies. This other Haaretz article.

It's tiresome to fisk articles in the Independent and the Guardian because to me it seems that the loaded language and one-sided presentations in those publications should be obvious to everyone. But since this article has made such an impression on a sensible liberal blogger it seems like a good time to respond.

There are yellow steel gates in the barbed wire [at Jayyous] but they are closed. Farmers are busy making phone calls, some are going to see the Israeli military to demand that the gates be opened. Eventually, soldiers arrive. Harvesting is a family affair so the soldiers face a crowd of men, women and children. What they do is this. First they collect all their identity papers.

Then they call the people out one by one. Today they have decided that no male between the ages of 12 and 38 will be allowed on his land. Also, no woman will be allowed unless she is over 28 and married. So the majority of the farmers - men, women and teenagers - stand at the gate, the Israeli soldiers and the barrier between them and the harvest that is their sustenance and income for the coming year.

Two men set off to try and find a way of infiltrating their own land. The rest make their way back to the village hall. On the mayor's desk lie some 600 permits that appeared in the village this morning. They are issued by the Israeli authorities and made out to individual farmers. About half of them are in the names of people who can't use them: babies, infants, a couple of men who have been in Australia for 15 years. But that is not the point. The point is that the people know that if they use these permits they are implicitly accepting their terms: three months' access with no recognition of any rights to the land. They suspect that after three months Israel will start playing games with them. Permits like these were one of the mechanisms by which their parents and grandparents were dispossessed of their land in 1948. What should they do? Use the permits and try to salvage their crops and deal with the rest later? Boycott the permits and starve?
More lies from the Guardian

An Egyptian writer tours the West Bank for the Guardian:
The next day a Jewish Israeli woman gives me a copy of the military order on which the permits are based. It names the West Bank land now trapped between the barrier and Israel's borders the "Seam Zone". It states that the people who have the right to be in the Seam Zone without permits are Israelis or anyone who can come to Israel under the Law of Return. That is, any Jewish person from anywhere in the world. But in this district alone, 11,550 Palestinians have their homes in the Seam Zone. "It is Nuremberg all over again," she says.

That whole paragraph is baldfaced fiction - nothing unusual for the Guardian, I know. But it's also disturbingly provocative and inflammatory.

More later.


To clarify:

- the assertion that the seam zone is "Jews only" is simply bunk

- the wacky-left and mainstream British press have also stated that the villagers were told to get permits or face expulsion. Those reports don't describe how the orders were supposedly promulgated (or offer an Israeli response). I haven't found anything vaguely similar in the Israeli press (and there should have been something).

- I have read about permits being required for crossing the fence

Don't know if I'll have any more info today, but I'll try (the Nuremberg bit is obviously obscene but apparently goes over well in Europe).


It's another instance of the "Jenin Effect" (ie. Palestinian rumors becoming international news):
The Palestinians of Jubara were alarmed when Israeli soldiers began posting notices on telephone poles and at checkpoints around their small West Bank village.


The notices told of an unprecedented new order: everyone must apply for a special permit to remain in Jubara -- the village has about 300 residents. The notices did not specifically mention expulsion, but Palestinian officials and villagers said they understand this to be the implied threat.

Suffice to say that this "implied threat" is either Pali propaganda or subconscious projection (or both). The IDF is trying to prevent non-locals from crossing the fence easily - an unpleasant consequence of maintaining a quasi-open border with Arafatistan.
I'm a bit weary of the whole 'Geneva' thing, but: A recent Jpost article mentioned that under 'Geneva' the Palestinians would be provided with "access" to the Templar (German Protestant) cemetery, which is right in the middle of my neighborhood. This was apparently a spur-of-the-moment concession demanded in exchange for Israeli access to the old Jewish cemetery on Mount Scopus.

Update: More background on the cemetery here. Apparently they're the Templers, not the Templars.

Monday, November 24, 2003

The text of the "Geneva accords" were mailed to all Israelis a week or so ago (though I was in the US, and T. didn't keep the brochure for me). The mailing was funded by gambling website operator (and Beilin associate) Avi Shaked, together with the Geneva-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (report)

Friday, November 21, 2003

"What's your solution then?" While some are still saying that "we just have to believe in the possiblity of peace", Yossi Klein Halevi is a realist:
In a week when the Sharon government announced negotiations with the new Palestinian government for a second hudna, or cease-fire, and when the text of the "Geneva Accord" appeared as a pamphlet with our morning newspapers, it is useful to remind ourselves what we've learned about the conflict over this last bitter decade. And that is that the Oslo-era notion of a comprehensive peace needs to be wiped from our lexicon.

Instead, we should conceive not of resolving the conflict but of managing its intensity. A hudna isn't merely a means to an end but - at least for the foreseeable future, and possibly for this generation - the end itself.

There are several compelling reasons why a comprehensive peace is now unattainable. The first is the near-total absence, among mainstream Palestinians and the Arab world generally, of the notion that Jewish sovereignty over any part of this land is legitimate.


Many of us who initially supported Oslo assumed that a reciprocal realization had occurred among Palestinians. In fact, no such transformation of Palestinian consciousness occurred. The opposite: One of Oslo's many ironies is that, by entrusting the education of a generation of Palestinians to Arafat's pathological regime, the Palestinian people are far less emotionally and ideologically ready for peace than they were before the Oslo process began.


At the same time, we need to recognize the fluidity of this moment and stay open to new possibilities. In balancing the contradictory insights of politics and faith, our challenge is one of timing: how to avoid premature hope that could once again lead us to disastrous political initiatives, while not missing sudden openings for change.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I hope to resume blogging next week.

Last week I was in the US at an often boring wi-fi enabled conference. I can imagine how people living generallly peaceful surroundings could catch a glimpse of LGF and see it as obsessive or even intolerant.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Interesting: a roundtable discusssion on "The New World Order" featuring the very insightful Mark Lilla as well as Tony "Dissolve Israel" Judt - sponsored by batty-sounding graduate programs at the U. of Illinois.

Lilla's article "The End Of Politics" offers an explanation of the depressing European trends embodied by Judt's clumsily argued and clearly agenda-driven article in the NY Review of Books (excellent responses to Judt by Bret Stephens and Victor David Hansen have been heavily blogged already).

The question that I would like to put to Judt: "Suppose that your 'binational state' idea were actually attempted and just made matters worse. Would you then support international 'encouragement' to get Jewish Israelis to emigrate?" Like many leftists, Judt pretends that the Israeli gov't contemplates transfer of its Arab population and gets outraged; but his answer to my question could only be 'yes'.
T. and I had brunch on Friday morning at Cafe Hillel. It was a bit less crowded and somewhat more secured than before it was blown up. The less crowded part made it more pleasant to be there. It doesn't strike me as a big deal to visit a place that was recently Islamikaze-d.
This article by Australian parliamentarian Michael Danby provides good context to Mahathir's OIC speech. Mahathir is strongly and pragmatically anti-Western as well as anti-Jewish, but realizes the counterproductivity of terrorism and seeks (or seeked) to develop Islamic strength through economic and military power.

This might mean that Thomas Friedman's "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" should join Shimon Peres' "The New Middle East" as one of the most quaintly naive books of the 90s.
Like most Israelis I'm appalled by the reports that supposedly 59% of Europeans think that we are the leading threat to world peace.

The actual data of the poll (which also asked about the Iraq situation) are supposed to be released tomorrow. My admittedly conspiratorial idea: the results are deliberately engineered by European Commission bureaucrats to promote the "Geneva initiative". The "initiative" has little support among the Israeli public as I've described previously, but from the EU perspective the poll result could be a way to pressure Israel and indicate that they don't respect or recognize our reasons for skepticism.

I imagine my European readers are likely to jump in here and say that the 59% figure is actually plausible. But I haven't seen a good description of what these polled people are likely to be thinking.

Update: Miranda from Germany responds that I'm way off, and that the EU doesn't support the 'Geneva Initiative'.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

A possible reason that the James Reynalds at the BBC and Justin Huggler at the Independent seem to just regurgigate the Palestinian versions of events: they're too busy looking for oddball Israelis to mock.

Monday, October 27, 2003

European parliamentarian Francois Zimeray is leading a group of 150 MEPs on some sort of "interparliamentary forum". Today they met with PM Sharon; their meeting w/ Abu Ala was cancelled but it's not clear why.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Interesting article on the IAF's internal response to the events in Rafah.
There's a politician who wants to rename Jerusalem's Aza (== "gaza") street for some reason.(report). Beats me why that bothers him more than "Derech Beit-lehem" and "Derech Hebron".

Sometimes it strikes me as strange when I see road signs that say "Bethlehem 10 km" etc. (and there are not a small number around).

Thursday, October 16, 2003

There was something fishy about Beilin-Abed Rabbo's "solution to the refugees issue" as reported in the initial descriptions of the "plan".

Now it's clearer what's actually going on: At Taba, the Palis strenously attempted to force their interpretation of UN General Assembly resolution 194 as the basis for dealing with the refugees of 1948 and their descendents (despite the non-binding nature of the resolution and other issues). As described in this important article, Beilin essentially consented by presenting some draft language which included the text "The realization of the aspirations of the Palestinian people, as recognized in this agreement, .... the comprehensive and just solution for the Palestinian refugees, based on UN General Assembly Resolution 194, providing for their return". In a laughable attempt at consideration for Israeli interests, Beilin also included language that stated that the "return" will preserve the Jewish identity of Israel and that the influx of refugees would be limited to a specific but unspecified number of returnees. (See here for Beilin's response to Ari Shavit's article)

According to this report, (by Akiva "it's all our fault" Eldar), the still-secret "Geneva documents" address the refugee issue along the same lines, but with some significant differences.

First, since the notion of a Palestinian "right of return" to pre-67 Israel is anathema to the Israeli public (as is the explicit reference to UNGAR 194), the new documents don't mention them, but instead they (or rather their Palestinian interpretation) are incorporated into Article 7:

Second, the stipulations about retaining the Jewish character of Israel and capping the number of "returnees" are still present. Thus far, the contradictions of the Taba proposal are still present. But a single sentence seems to resolve everything in Israel's direction :

On the face of it, that means that there is no mandated "return" of refugees whatsoever, while fully erasing Article 7. But if so, why is Article 7 there at all? Clearly Israel is expected to accept some non-trivial number of "refugees".

Note: The above is in the middle of being rewritten.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Backseat Drivers blog wasn't impressed with a play performed in Dublin by Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater ("a cast of fourteen Israeli, Palestinian-Israeli and Ethiopian-Israeli actors")

Monday, October 13, 2003

On Army Radio this AM, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was doing his best to dismiss the whole "Geneva discussions" business: it's "entirely virtual", the Israelis involved are not elected representatives etc. He's correct of course, but that won't matter at all to the Europeans, Kofi Annan etc.

Oslo architect Ron Pundak was asked how these "agreements" managed to attain consent from the Palis when the Clinton plan did not. Pundak's answer was that the Clinton plan was 1) too general on issues like Jerusalem 2) had Israel receiving 3% of territory for which it offered nothing in return. Pundak's response is preposterous: if such were really the case, Arafat would have had no reason to walk away from Camp David. Moreover Clinton would never had permitted him to do so. And it's well known that the Pali list of objections to the Clinton plan included foremost what the Palis call the "right of return" for descendents of 1948 refugees.

And Pundak was evasive when interviewer Udi Segal tried to understand the details in the "agreements" regarding the refugee issue. As I wrote yesterday, it sounds like their solution is that Israel should accept an unspeciifed number of descendents of 1948 refugees into its pre-1967 borders, without it being called the "right of return". I'm certain that if Palestinian officials describe these discussions to their own people, they will insist that the "right of return" has been preserved.

When (or if) at sometime in the future there is a "real" attempt at a permanent solution agreement, it will involve a certain amount of ambivalence and risk-taking. The fact that Ron Pundak ecstatically describes the "agreements" as "a classic win/win situation" and seems to harbor no doubts whatsoever about Pali intentions makes the whole thing even more questionable.

More: In the US there is apparently a law called the "Logan Act" which specifically outlaws the type of thing that Beilin and co. have done here.
Ultraleftists Yossi Beilin and co. have been play-negotiating again with a Palestinian team in Amman, and - as they did in real negotiations at Taba - they're "offering" outlandish concessions that would never receive a mandate from the Israeli public (report). These include settling an unspecified number of residents of refugee camps into pre-1967 Israel, and relinquishing border control to an international force, no Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. For years Beilin has been saying that Israel must accept in principle what the Palestinians call the "right of return" in order to strike an agreement; now he's saying that we should accept it only in practice and not in principle.

The Pali team say they "will pledge to prevent terror and incitement and disarm all militias" ("and we really really mean it this time") and agree that their state will be demilitarized (yeah right). I don't see that the Palis anywhere agree that this package would "end the conflict", rather than (as in the past) merely being the stepping stone to their next set of demands

Beilin and co. have provided a major propaganda coup for the Palis and have complicated any attempts to establish stability or agreements through other mechanisms. Good going Yossi.

More: Ynet adds (Hebrew link) that the 4-day discussions were quite tempestuous and that last-minute Swiss intervention and an Israeli threat to walk out rescued the discussions. Doesn't sound like a considered piece of statecraft if you ask me.

Oh, and the "signing" is going to be on the anniversary of the Rabin assassination in the presence of luminaries including Bill Clinton.
Adrian says he heard an apparent bombing in Haifa.
Shoom is an interesting world-music type group based here in Jerusalem.

Avant-garde saxophonist Daniel Zamir has a new ensemble called "Ad Matai" that will be appearing at a jazz festival in Mizpe Ramon in late October.

The pop group Hamadregot will have a new CD out soon.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

The pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement pretends to be a "peace group" and often gets away with it. Read the group's Orwellian response to Islamic Jihad's bombing of a Haifa restaurant that killed 19 yesterday. Sort through the various self-serving ISM garbage to get to the punchline paragraph:
ISM is unequivocally opposed to the killing of all innocent civilians, and sees the perpetuation of violence as a direct result of the Israel's military occupation of Palestinian land.....
Note to Independent columnist Johann Hari and others: the second half of that sentence unequivocally renders the first half meaningless. Does the ISM somehow object to the bombing or its perpetrators? "no, the bombing is a direct consequence of Israeli policies" and you can't object to or complain about natural consequences. The ISM has no complaints about Islamic Jihad (and Hamas) or objections to being buddies with them. If anyone has any doubts on the matter, see a previous Huwaida Arraf rant. The ISM continues:
...Earlier this afternoon two Palestinians, one a 9-year-old Mohammed Daraghmeh al-Nouri, were shot and killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Tulkarem.
"two Palestinians" ... hmmm... one of them was Sarhan Sarhan, who shot 5 Israeli civilians dead (including a mother who was reading to her 2 children) at Kibbutz Metzer in November 2002 (report). Strange for the ISM to be mourning someone like him right after they claim that they're unequivocally opposed to the killing of civilians. The death of the 9-yr. old in crossfire, tragic if true, has not been confirmed by non-Palestinian sources.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

This very informative article describes the impact of a recently-completed segment of the security fence near Umm al Fahm.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Israel has approved plans to build 530 houses in the ultraorthodox Betar Illit settlement and a 3 dozen more houses in 2 other settlements near the Green Liine.

This is a big deal only because such building had been frozen for the duration of the "performance-based roadmap" and prior to it. Not that you would have known that based on comments from Palestinians and the global media who had made so much noise about the hilltop trailer "outposts".

The imove isn't wise - my guess is that there is high demand in Betar Illit because housing there is so cheap and the ultraorthodox are currently more cashstrapped than ever.
People sometimes write letters and address them to "God" without any additional address. Postal clerks around the world send these to Jerusalem, and the "dead letter office" here inserts them in the cracks of the Western Wall (article).
Walked by Cafe Hillel today. They're well along into the rebuilding, and the place will look pretty much the same as it did before the bombing.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Thanks Stefan! I really would like to be writing more these days....

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

A comment at LGF notes that two of the MEPs who were present at (and apparently applauding) Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti's trial appearance were Luisa Morgantini and Grazia Mascia of the Italian Rifondazione Comunista party.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I think that this piece by Amir Oren (about the letter from 27 IAF Reserve pilots who have signed a letter refusing to participate in the targeted killings of Jihad-oriented folk) is meant to be sarcastic. This older piece - scroll down to "Reducing the Risk" gives some background to the IDF's decision to demolish a house in Hebron rather than attempt to arrest Hamas man Ahmed Bader who was hiding inside.

Jpost publisher Bret Stephens was one of a dozen Israeli and Palestinian journalists flown on a luxurious British-gov't sponsored peace junket. Tony Blair spoke banalities. The Guardianistas were shallow know-it-alls. The Palestinians dodged a lot of questions but were on occasions sincere or interesting. (article).

Haaretz really really wants you to read this speech that publisher Hanoch Marmari made on the topic of "embedded journalism" to the International Press Institute.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Johann Hari of The Independent kindly responds to my remarks below:
You have, I fear, willfully misread my article. When paraphrasing what I say, you ignore the rather massive if: "IF you don't know about the terrible history of anti-semitism, THEN..." the events of 1948 seem unjustifiable. Of course, all educated people DO know this history. I am a strong defender of the right of the Israeli people to self-determination and safety; I support the creation of a Palestinian state precisely because Israelis will never be safe so long as they are denying Palestinians their safety and freedom.

I have repeatedly argued against English anti-Semitism in print, and taken a hell of a lot of flak for it; I have Jewish relatives and, as a gay man, would have been killed by the Nazis (and, yes, Hamas) myself; and as for having "no evidence" for my criticisms of Israel, I spent over a month on the Occupied Territories this summer. Your accusation of anti-Semitism is disturbing, libellous and extremely upsetting. I hope that on reflection, you will retract it, not least because we cannot expose real anti-Semites (and believe me, there are many) when such foolish accusations are thrown around against transparently non-racist people.

Yours sincerely,

Johann Hari.
The full paragraph in contention:
Of course, if you don't know about the Naqba, Palestinian anger at Israel looks simply like a disembodied, crazy loathing. And if you don't know about the terrible history of anti-Semitism, the creation of the state of Israel looks like unjustifiable wickedness.

You write: "When paraphrasing what I say, you ignore the rather massive if: "IF you don't know about the terrible history of anti-semitism, THEN..." the events of 1948 seem unjustifiable. Of course, all educated people DO know this history." But you don't address your use of the term "wickedness" - the simple implication of what you wrote is that creation of Israel is a kind of sui generis wickedness that only anti-Semitism climaxing in the sui generis Holocaust can justify.

Moreover, you believe that the Naqba explains (and in a partial sense legitimizes) the implacable Palestinian antipathy to Israel. But the term Naqba signifies the events of 1948 in a national-mythical sense, and the relationship between the Naqba and the actual creation of Israel (and flight of refugees) resembles the relationship between the "Jenin Massacre" and the events of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. So it's really the mythologization of the events that causes the implacability of Palestinian anger. Perhaps your actual view is that it's this Palestinian view of the Naqba that makes the creation of Israel look like unjustifiable wickedness, and not their unawareness of the history of anti-semitism.

Elsewhere in the article you write that in "their desperation to feel safe" the Levantine Jews committed "an atrocity against the Palestinians" - what is intended? Deir Yassin? The refugee problem as a whole? That the Mandate-period British and the Arabs (or the Turks for that matter) committed more frequent atrocities of their own does not justify what happened at Deir Yassin, but clearly reduces its significance as a historical event. If you'd like to discuss the specific events of 1947-49 (eg. UNSCOP declaration, ensuing riots etc.), I'd be pleased to do so - and I'd also be interested in hearing what similar conflicts you believe that the Levantine Jews should have used as their "role models".

I do recognize and appreciate that you are trying to give a just hearing to both sides of the current dispute (and I'm giving short shrift to other points that you make in the column). But this context makes the apparent proposition that Israel's right-to-exist somehow derives from the Holocaust all the more disturbing. There's not much daylight between that approach and the idea that the Palestinians are suffering because Europe dumped the Jewish problem on them. In the basic sense, Jewish national rights should be regarded as legitimate - though I think that in Europe this point is not regarded as at all obvious.

I do sincerely regret having made mention of the term anti-Semitism - both because it has been interpreted as an attack against you and because it detracts from the main issues that we are discussing. You will note that in my original message I stopped short of directly accusing anyone of anti-Semitism, and that my ponderings on that score also had much to do with the audience that you seem to be addressing as well some of the opinions expressed in the British Medical Journal. So perhaps to could modify the description of the "accusations" that I made.

Update: Johann Hari responds that the above is "thoughtful" and "well-argued" but that he disagrees.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Several blogs have praised columnist Johann Hari; they think that he seems to be a sane liberal despite his working for the Independent. But in an article titled How do we move beyond 1948? Hari writes:
And if you don't know about the terrible history of anti-Semitism, the creation of the state of Israel looks like unjustifiable wickedness.
"unjustifiable wickedness" ?! That Hari can just toss off a line like that is amazing - he actually thinks that he's being reasonable and conciliatory as he declares that from his perspective defending Israel's existence amounts to justifying the unjustifiable. His statement says more about him (and the circles that he moves in) that it does either about justice or about the situation of the region now or fifty years ago. He also writes an incredibly uncritical piece on the ISM.

(via comments at "Harry's Place"): a (similarly) depressing dialog from the British Medical Journal.

I'm not one to make accusations of anti-semitism, but it seems that there's not a small number of educated people in the UK who have a strong desire to believe the worst about Israel... and on no evidence at all or on the flimsiest of accusations.

More: I'm flattered but not convinced by Johann Hari's response in the comments section. I will post a reply of my own soon. At the moment I'd just note that in my original message I stopped short of directly accusing anyone of anti-Semitism, and that I regret having made mention of the term anti-Semitism - both because it has been interpreted as an attack against Hari and because it detracts from the discussion of what he has written in the columns that I mentioned.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Shai's surgery went fine and he's gone home. I don't know if the doctors gave him the piece of the suicide bomb that was lodged in his shoulder. When Norwegian TV interviewed him, the questions included "Will this change your life?", "Will you now move out of the country?" ("No" and "No").

"Do you have a message for the new Palestinian leader Abu Ala?". Don't know what Shai replied, but I think there's nothing to say to him because his policies will be determined primarily by the rigid Palestinian mythology and secondarily by Arafat.

Victims of terrorists receive a lot attention and sympathy (as do injured soldiers). Shai's friends were ribbing him about how he was being treated like a hero.
Arafat is supposedly talking about an wholly unilateral ceasefire (report). Anyone remember when Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire? I think it was shortly after the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement fell apart in 2000; the Palestinians dismissed it as a propaganda measure.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I was just talking on the phone with our friend Shai, who my wife Tova is visiting in the hospital. Suicide bombers pack nails and screws into their bombs to make them more deadly. On Tuesday night Shai was hit with two pieces of the "shrapnel": one went straight through his leg; the other broke his collarbone (?) and lodged near a major artery in his chest - making it dangerous and tricky to remove. And the boom of the blast has impaired his hearing. His surgery has been postponed as the doctors figure out the best way to remove the debris.

Shai is otherwise in OK shape and sounds like his regular self. Tova printed out the global "get well" wishes from the comments below, which he appreciated.

He wasn't reluctant to tell me details. He was sitting in the middle of the cafe with his back to the door when the Jihadi blew up, so he heard the boom and saw people opposite him panicking. When he was hit in the leg and shoulder he fell to the floor, and consciously avoided looking behind him. Someone shouted a people to stay down because there might be another bomb. After someone smashed a glass pane near the back of the restaurant (which was walled with glass on 2 sides), Shai managed to pull himself out with the help of his dinner companion. They distanced themselves from the restaurant (again consciously to avoid trauma) and then returned and got ensconced into an ambulance.

The governor of Oklahoma visited Shai in the hospital, and he was interviewed by a newspaper called "The New Mexican"[?].

A Norwegian TV network filmed and interviewed him for 20 minutes and intends to juxtapose him with a Palestinian terrorist. But why would they choose to focus on a mildly-wounded, not-so-traumatized unmarried well-off guy in his 30s? Why not describe the story of Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter who would have been married last night? Why not speak to their families? Wouldn't it make a better human interest story?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

24 hrs. afterward

Sh. - one of my wife's old friends - was hurt by shrapnel in last night's bombing. Doctors say there is a screw lodged near a major artery, which requires removal via a delicate procedure. He's been moved to a different hospital and will be undergoing surgery tomorrow. Get better soon Sh.
Currently they're saying 4 dead and many injured. Our friends in the neighborhood all seem to be OK. Report in Haaretz, Jpost.

I'm signing off for the night.

Hamas are evil, but it's hard to think much differently about the people in the PA and abroad who demand that we just accept this and give the Palis more and more in the hopes that someday they won't dislike us anymore.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Right now I heard 2 dead. There's a security guard at the door of the cafe, so my guess is the guy blew himself up in the sidewalk cafe.

All of our friends are calling us to make sure we're OK.
Apparently it's on CNN. That's quick.
Radio says bombing at Cafe Hillel - just down the block from me. Sounds like lots of casualties.

Hillel is usually crowded even at night. It has a lot of tables set up in the alley next to it.
Lots of sirens now.

I'm in the Emek Refaim area of Jerusalem.

Nothing on the radio yet. But sirens from every direction.
Big bang outside 15 seconds ago.

Now a siren.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

security fence in Jerusalem (report).

These days when I see on a website or hear on the radio that the IAF has hit a Hamas operative in Gaza, I'm never sure if there's been a new hit or if they're still talking about the last one.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Interesting article about

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Huwaida Arraf is a co-founder of the group of pro-Palestinian volunteers called the International Solidarity Movement. From the ISM Central blog:

Huwaida Arraf today sent an email that can be said to constitute the ISM's official reaction to last Tuesday's bus bombing in Jerusalem.

Let's try to step inside her mind and see things "the ISM way" - if we dare:


After the August 19 bus bombing in Jerusalem, the ISM received a number of emails asking if the ISM was going to make a statement and we received some of the usual, "why isn't the ISM riding Israeli busses?" comments. One email suggested that if we don't speak out against this bombing, we are "party to it".
These are good questions. The messages on the ISM mailing list agonize daily over Palestinian suffering (both real and otherwise) but made no mention at all of the Jerusalem bombing. The ISM's "actions" interfere with the IDF's operations against terrorists, which leaves the impression that the internationals tacitly support such actions. So I look forward to hear Arraf's responses to these questions even as she sneers at them.

Again our response is that we are working to stop all violence in the region, not by issuing statements, but by working to end the root cause of the violence against Israelis and Palestinians - the ongoing, brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and lives ......
Hmm. "Blaming it on The Occupation". But she's supposed to make a ritual condemnation first .. You know, like, "We condemn these attacks, but ..."
In the few short weeks after the hudna was announced on June 29, 2003, up until August 9, 10 days before the bus bombing in Jerusalem, the Israeli military killed 10 Palestinians, 5 of them children, wounded 348 Palestinians, 65 of them children, arrested 435 Palestinians, damaged or completely demolished/destroyed 211 Palestinian homes, and uprooted or destroyed over 10,050 Palestinian fruit and olive trees. This is not to mention the vehicles and businesses damaged and/or destroyed, the thousands of dunams of Palestinian land confiscated or isolated from its owners, the number of new settlement structures that were built, the bypass roads created, the Israeli military outposts erected, the continued work on the apartheid wall, the continued denial of access to Palestinians to their land, and the ongoing daily abuse at checkpoints
CBBTFTP = "Can''t be bothered to fisk that part....
We are not going to issue statements.
She said that already, but OK.
We stand against the killing of all civilians and are saddened for the families of the victims of that bus bombing.
If Arraf had said "We stand against the killing of civilians under all circumstances", I would understand her to be expressing an objection (and taking a moral stand) against the Islamikazes. But she's taking pains to say that she's not "making a statement", so I can only understand her to be saying that the ISM opposes killing civilians "in principle" - the same way that she's for peace on earth.
At the same time we're frustrated with the politics of governments and the complacency that is allowing this to continue. Without a check on the Israeli government and military, this will continue. There can be no hudna or "road map" without restraints put on the Israeli military and government.
I thought you just said that you guys weren't going to issue statements. To me this sure sounds like a statement to the effect that the ISM thinks that the suicide bombings should continue until "The Occupation" ends.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Zeev Schiff writes that there is consensus in the Israeli security establishment not to return to a "truce" that does not include direct Palestinian action against terrorist infrastructure (deja vu)

Additionally, the Shin-Bet (internal security) regards the latest actions of Gaza security head Mohammed Dahlan as a familiar public relations exercise, while the IDF sees some significance in his arresting arms dealers and taking action against Qassam missile launchings - though there have been no steps taken to dismantle weapons workshops or arrest suspected Islamikazes.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Well, one accomplishment of the hudna is that Hamas managed to improve the range of the Qassam missiles that they fire from Gaza. Previously they could only hit Sderot - now the thankfully inaccurate projectiles can reach Ashkelon (report)

Friday, August 22, 2003

New blog: ISM Central

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Haaretz news flashes says: "IDF sources say military operation in West Bank cities will last three to four weeks".

If the IDF operations are serious enough, the PA might opt for another hudna afterward.
The late Ismail Abu Shanab answered called-in questions at IslamOnline in May.

I notice that MSNBC and Reuters are calling him a moderate. Israel says he was involved in the planning of Tuesday's bombing.
This article addresses the question of to what extent the PA is capable of cracking down on the "factions" (as they call them). Many think that Mohammed Dahlan is strong enough to do a lot in Gaza, elsewhere the PA/Abu Mazen is less strong but can still take action if Arafat were to approve.
The IAF killed Hamas leader Abu Shanab in Gaza(report). Ynet says that the 2 others killed were apparently his bodyguards Abu el-Omrein and Muamad Ravoud.

This article claims that Abu Mazen has threatened to resign if Arafat doesn't approve a plan to crack down on the various Islamikaze groups.
On Tuesday the IDF captured an Islamic Jihad cell on its way to Haifa, where they had apparently prearranged a hidden explosives belt. (report)

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The responses I've seen around the web to yesterday's bus bombing are remarkably sensible for the most part.

But this report by the official Palestinian Authority news agency confirms Amos Harel's assessment that the PA really perceives itself as free of any responsibility to control the terrorists. And Helena Cobban - best known for her error-filled mega-fiskable columns in the Christian Science Monitor and her sycophantic history of the PLO - manages to calmly mention the bombing (and misuse the word "intentionality") in the middle of a ramble about "international humanitarian law".

I don't think that Charles Johnson has linked to Cobban's blog yet (but I'm sure he will soon).
Moods right now: anger and nausea

T. and I were in our car at a red light on King David Rd., just below Yafo Rd., when the sirens started. We knew there had been a terror attack after about the 3rd or 4th emergency vehicle passed by. The bombing had been several minutes drive ahead of us - the ambulances were evacuating the victims.

18 dead at the moment, scores injured, lots of children (Jpost, Haaretz). Israel Radio said that Abu Mazen met with members of Islamic Jihad after the attack and asked them to "continue the hudna". But this is it for the hudna because Israel isn't going to soak it up this time.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

At a news conference in Beirut, Palestinian Authority External Affairs Minister Nabil Shaath asserted that the US-sponsored roadmap plan guaranteed the millions of descendents of 1948 Palestinian refugees a right to settle in pre-1967 Israel (report).

It sounds like Shaath was making this claim so as to gain support for the PA's roadmap stance from hardline Palestinians in Lebanon. But when Palestinians blame Israel for not meeting its"roadmap" obligations, remember that they likely have in mind things like prisoner releases, the security fence, or accepting refugees - as distinct from the committments that are actually in the roadmap.

The consensus in the weekend Israeli newspapers was that the hudna is not likely to last much longer.

More: The updated version of the article above also quotes PA Information Minister from an interview on Israeli Army Radio this morning. Amr said that the PA does not seek to change the Jewish character of Israel and that a pragmatic solution to the refugee issue will be found. In my opinion there's no reason to think that this moderate view is much more than flattery. Plenty of Israeli leftists have presented to the Israeli public the claim that the Palestinian leadership is secretly moderate - only to have been thoroughly humiliated afterward. The most notable example is the unrepentant Yossi Beilin (see here).

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Daniel Zamir (John Zorn's Israeli saxophone protege) has a new ensemble called "Talmaists in Action" (whatever that means). Zamir is now a Habad hasid, so it's unusual that he would choose to perform at Hagada Hasmalit (The Left Bank), which is an arts center run by (and in the headquarters of) the Israeli Communist Party.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Thanks to Ernzy for some thoughtful feedback:

Is it not at least somewhat rational to correlate the Hamas bombing with the killing of the Hamas activists last week? The IDF is feeding the same line they did after the bombing following the attempted Rantisi asassination. That the bombings were planned in advance and were not a result of the asassinations.


To Ernzy,

"somewhat rational"? The answer to your question is "yes".

But Israel has mostly sat idly while the PA (in open breach of their "roadmap" commitments" blah blah) permits Hamas etc. to pursue rearming/regrouping/missile testing in many places.

If after several weeks of doing nothing the IDF determined that one facility in Nablus must be eliminated, who is "responsible" for the breaking of the "hudna"?

It's a bit surreal that we're discussing it in terms of "who started it?". ie. since attacks on civilians are supposed to be crimes against humanity etc.

Also I think it's pretty well established that the post-Rantisi bombing was planned in advance.

Tal G.

I was not referring to previous attacks. All attacks against civilians are despicable IMO.

Tal, I think it is a bit disingenuous to say the IDF has "done nothing" or "sat idly" until last week. It is well documented that about as many people have been arrested as were let go in the prisoner releases.

And while it is plainly stipulated in the roadmap that the PA disassemble the "terrorist infrastructure" we all know that a full assault against Hamas et. al will do more damage to Palestinian society and in effect Israeli society than benefit it. Speaking of which, the roadmap also clearly states that Israel cease form all settlement building immediately which it has not .. so let's be fair about this. Both sides, for a change, are doing as little as possible while demanding the world from the other side.


Aug 12 2003, 03:50 pm

>Tal, I think it is a bit disingenuous to say the IDF has "done nothing" or "sat idly" until last week. It is well documented that about as many
>people have been arrested as were let go in the prisoner releases.

The arrests were AFAIK not attempts to seriously damage the infrastructure of the "militant groups" (I can use sneer quotes myself). In at least some instances the arrests were to prevent planned attacks (and hence strengthened the "hudna").

>And while it is plainly stipulated in the roadmap that the PA disassemble the "terrorist infrastructure" we all know that a full assault against

>Hamas et. al will do more damage to Palestinian society and in effect Israeli society than benefit it.

That's the view more associated with the Clinton/EU approach to things than the "Bush speech July[?] 2002" approach. Those (like yourself) who keep saying "withdrawal first, peace later" need to address the quite justifiable question of the average Israeli:: "when is 'later'?"

The usual or implied answer to this question is always "after there's peace", which is a kind of circular answer. To mention "taking risks for peace" reminds Israelis of Clinton (and Arafat). The view that national rights are unconditional is popular only when applied to Palestinians. Noone advocates regional destabilization as a necessary price for Kurdish, Chechen, or Kashmir national rights.

> Speaking of which, the roadmap also
>clearly states that Israel cease form all settlement building immediately which it has not .. so let's be fair about this.

I've talked about the outposts issue below. Is there still any construction or expansion of Efrat, Ariel etc. going on? I don't think so. Granted that the decision to build 22 units inside the existing perimeter of a Gaza settlement (don't remember which one) was defended by a tortured reading of the "roadmap" clause. But the Palestinians (and hence the world) are much more concerned about prisoner releases and the security fence.

>Both sides, for a change, are doing as little as possible while demanding the world from the other side.

I disagree. Very significant Israeli actions include: IDF withdrawals from Gaza and Bethlehem, transfer of tax revenue, limitation of operations against "militant" infrastructure. Significant Palestinian actions include a serious reduction in the amount of anti-Israel incitement in the media.

Tal G
Today's bombings probably do not indicate the end of the hudna and the roadmap. Like the Oslo process, these things have a life of their own.

If things work according to the established pattern:
1. Israel will be widely blamed for provoking today's Islamikaze attacks
2. There will be intense pressure on Israel not to respond to the attacks combined with familiar calls on the PA to take action against Fatah, et. al. The latter will be ignored.
3. There will be another plan, with a name of its own, intended to resurrect and strengthen the hudna and roadmap
2 Israelis dead in 2 suicide bombings (jpost, haaretz).

A prisoner release was halted in the middle. The bus just turned around.

Police says that 10 suicide bombings have been prevented in recent weeks.

I'm just waiting for the international blah-blahs to claim that the hudna would have gone on forever if only the IDF hadn't acted against a Hamas bomb-factory in Nablus.

The bombings (and the apparent end of the "ceasefire") was not big news in my office. I didn't here about them until a couple of hours after.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

This article from WaPo is the first that I've seen that describes what is really meant by "settlement outposts":
Outposts generally begin as a dirt road to a single cargo container, cell phone antenna or water tower. Then houses are erected, but infrastructure typically remains rudimentary for the first residents. It is only when such additions as a community center, nursery school, playground area or paved roads emerge that an outpost begins to take on the characteristics of a settlement, though some settlement opponents consider any outpost with people living in it to be a settlement.

The "homes" are generally portable trailers. The one "outpost" that I've seen was on a hill just outside of Efrat and had about half a dozen trailers from what I remember. The first time I saw it there was a dirt road. About a year later it had been paved.

When the IDF takes the outposts down, it's not difficult for the settlers to put them back up on a different hilltop. That's the reason I personally don't appreciate why the outposts are such a major political issue ...

So how many of the 105 outposts that are said to currently exist actually have what WaPo quite reasonably considers "characteristics of a settlement"?

Huwaida Arraf responds to accusations that the International Solidarity Movement has used violence and cooperated with terrorists. Her central point is the bit about how "Palestinians are resistors, so they can't be terrorists. ... the IDF are terrorists" (and note she is addressing an Israeli audience). The rest of her self-righteous posturing can't conceal her lack of objection towards what most people would term terrorist groups, or her support for destructive behavior.

Interesting article by Zeev Schiff on the attempts to get Egypt and Jordan to return their ambassadors to Israel.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Did he really say this?

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians can carry out all the terms of the road map peace plan, due to political constraints on both sides, Interior Minister Avraham Poraz told the Foreign Press Association yesterday.
The IDF shot and killed a Palestinian who was planting a bomb roadside near Tulkarm (report). Here's the official Palestinian news agency report on the incident, which neglects to mention the bit about the bomb, and makes it sound like the IDF just shot him at random.

The PA also claims that Fatah's gunning down of an Israeli family driving near Bethlehem on Sunday was its "reaction" to a supposed Israeli police killing of a Palestinian taxi driver earlier in the day - though the Israeli and foreign media have absolutely no mention of any such incident.

When ISM-types talk about all the supposed Israeli atrocities and then can't name a single specific incident, it's probably because they've been hearing a lot of this kind of stuff.

More: The fellow who was shot near Tulkarm was a longstanding member of the Tanzim named Nihad Qassem (report).

Monday, August 04, 2003

Translation of the Israel Prisons Service webpage that links to the list of Palestinian prisoners whose release is scheduled:
A Security Organization with a Social Purpose

Notice regarding release of Palestinian prisoners who are residents of the Judea/Samaria [ie. West Bank] and Gaza regions

In the process of the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority the government has decided to release Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees. Below is the list of those who are marked for release.

The list includes the name of the prisoner, ID number, sentence, chapter under which he was sentenced, court case number, name of the court, and date that he would be released were it not for the reduced sentence. Additionally, the list contains the names of administrative detainees who are marked for release.

It is to be emphasized that this list does not include any prisoner or detainee with "blood on his hands" and that release of prisoners and detainees is conditional upon their signing a form of obligation not to return to violent activity in the future.

[phone numbers for further information]

Attorney Hayim Shmuelivitz
Legal adviser to the Prisons Service
Haaretz bulletins says that there was a gunfight between the IDF and the PA near the Egyptian border in Gaza. Earlier 4 anti-tank missiles were fired on an IDF position there. Also, Palestinians opened fire on the IDF near Ramallah.

The Guardian ("Palestinians condemn Israel's prisoner release list"):
The figure includes 183 inmates convicted of activities ranging from stone-throwing to membership of "terrorist organisations", and 139 "administrative detainees" held, without charge, on security grounds

In truth, the list (Hebrew link) includes plenty of people charged with owning and distributing bombs and weapons (eg. "#137 Marzuk Awud Mahmoud Abu Naim - possession of a bomb, contact man for placing a bomb", "#166 Wadia Mahmad Hasin Kabaja - Firing a gun at a person", etc.).

Not to suggest that the rest of the Guardian article is any less vile.

Why should Israel release these dangerous people? Certainly it doesn't work as a "confidence-building measure" or indication of good will....
Israel has released the names of the latest set of prisoners that it is releasing. Who are they?

Reuters says:
Israel has said it will not release those involved in attacks on Israelis, although it has agreed to free 210 Islamic militants who were involved in political activity.
"political activity"?!? According to the Associated Press :
Israel has agreed to free only a few hundred, and has said it will not release prisoners directly involved in violent attacks.

The majority of those being released were convicted of stone throwing, membership in an illegal organization or harboring fugitives...
Note those two words "the majority"...

Haaretz, unlike the AP and Reuters, may have actually looked at the list (provided in Hebrew HTML and Excel for families of victims who wish to appeal the releases):
Despite the ministerial committee's decision that no prisoner with "blood on his hands" would be released, some of those slated to be freed on Wednesday were convicted of participating in attempted terror attacks, shooting attacks, planting explosives devices and throwing grenades or Molotov cocktails.
Abroad there seems to be hudna-euphoria. Apparently in the IDF also, but I don't think there's a palpable sense of hudna on the Israeli street. One factor that's keeping the terrorists in check is the imminent prisoner releases (which they don't want to endanger).

Meanwhile, in addition to yesterday's shooting of a family by Fatah, two Israeli teenagers are missing, and a third claims he was almost kidnapped.

Why does the media refer to the hudna as a "unilateral ceasefire" (eg. here). It's a bilateral truce agreement between the PA and the bloodthirsty jihadis; and it includes a tacit agreement from Israel to refrain from operations against the leaders of Jihad/Hamas/Al-Aqsa Brigades.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

This is quite remarkable: Gil Shterzer has determined that the much-hyped joint Israeli-Palestinian "grassroots" peace initiative promoted by Sari Nusseibeh and Ami Ayalon is apparently being described differently to Palestinians than it is to Israelis. Specifically: points that make it acceptable to Israelis (Israel is a Jewish state, no mass influx from refugee camps into pre-1967 Israel) are omitted from the Palestinian version.

Moreover, the Palestinian version of the Statement of Principles removes the clause that declares an end to the conflict.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Good article on the conflicting establishment opinions that Israelis are hearing regarding whether the current "lull" in violence (and thus the roadmap) is likely to continue. A Hebrew article Hamas' recruiting and the new Kassam missile they're trying to build.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Council of Europe has passed a resolution calling for the residents of Palestinian refugee camps to be settled in their current locations and in Europe (rather than in their grandparents' villages in Israel)

Also, the French Doctors Without Frontiers has stated that suicide bombings are planned and oganized and are not sporadic acts of despair, and criticizes the PA for creating "a climate of immunity". (report)

Monday, July 28, 2003

In a Jpost op-ed, two spokesmen from the International Solidarity Movement write:
Opponents of ISM claim that the movement's goal is to impede the army's job in stopping terrorism and even act as an accomplice to terrorist activities. Does anyone honestly believe that thousands

thousands ?!?
of volunteers from Tel Aviv to New York City, many Jewish,
"from Seattle to San Francisco" would be more accurate
would spend their vacations
ie. leave their insular campuses
to come and spread terrorism?

Well, yes .....

More precisely: to spread terrorism while all dressed up in the garb of naive self-righteousness and being economical with the truth...

More: Good article from a while back by an initially somewhat sympathetic Israeli who tagged along with them.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

A Fatah cell has been apprehended while planning a suicide bombing in Netanya (report). With the IDF withdrawing and the border becoming more porous - it's going to be easier for these people to get in. And of course the PA refuses to take action against them.
People here seem to be more interested in the Hamas/Jihad prisoner release business than in Abu Mazen's visit to Washington. A fellow on a call-in radio show expressed what is probably the most common sentiment: After the IDF has spent the past 15 months successfully dismantling the terrorist infrastructure, why are we releasing all these people who will no doubt build it up again?
A Jpost reader quotes from a BBC brochure promoting a classical music program:

The orchestra was founded "... when President Clinton was bringing Israel, under Prime Minister Barak, and Palestine, under President Arafat, to near-agreement and there seemed to be the possibility of an end-of-millennium settlement. But when Ariel Sharon came to power and the intifada re-erupted, all optimism fell away."

The BBC's description of the end of Oslo is preposterous, which is why it's always just asserted and never argued for.

Apparently someone at the Beeb could not abide the prospect of describing an ensemble that includes both Arabs and Israelis without making some kind of sneer gesture.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Afif Barghouti was severely beaten by the PA and then claimed he had been detained and beaten at an IDF checkpoint. Interesting report on the incident and the ensuing IDF investigation here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Evelyn Gordon provides the bigger picture on the survey of Palestinian refugee camp residents here.
Another good article by Mark Lilla on the EU and Israel here.

Monday, July 21, 2003

It's nice to see people around the world asking intelligent questions about the situation here. Too bad that Arnon Regular gives mostly non-descript answers.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Over my 10 day visit in the US I was asked several times if I thought that the "roadmap" would finally lead somewhere. Actually people usually asked if it would finally lead to peace, or other phrasings much less cynical than mine. I confess being surprised that it has "held" as long as it has. I do think that no matter what Israel does - ie. withdraw from Bethlehem/Gaza, free murderers, endanger citizens by removing roadblocks, freeze the security fence etc. - noone will be particularly appreciative and the Palestinians will continue to demand more and receive international backing.
T. and I happened to share a gondola in the Rocky Mountains with a woman who had been a nurse in a Gaza hospital from 1968-1970. She said that she thought that "something" had to be done for the people in the refugee camps there before there could be peace, since they were (and apparently are) so without hope. But that results, of course, from what they have been taught to hope for - ie. settling in pre-1967 Israel - and their refusal to be resettled.

Here's a good summary of the situation regarding the intractability of the "refugee" issue (via William Sjostrom).

I don't put much stock in the survey that claims that most residents of refugee camps in outside the West Bank/Gaza aren't interested in settling in Israel.
Norwegian blogger Bjorn Staerk has some good posts on PM Sharon's visit there (here and here).

Seeing the pictures of Sharon's meetings next to Tony Blair reminded me of how unphotogenic our PM is.
Talisker is good scotch. But " the sharp tang of seaweed but also an explosive blast of salt and pepper" ?!?

Monday, July 14, 2003

Fit and working again Back from vacation in the US. More blogging soon.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Abu Mazen and the PA have said unambiguiously that they will not take any action against Fatah's al-Aqsa brigade, Hamas etc. This article describes the PA's earnest attempts to get the US to finance their alternative approach: bribing the terrorist groups and enlisting their members in the PA security organizations.

In an interview for with the Lebanese newspaper al-Nahar, PA official Abu Ala criticized Bush's description of Israel as a "Jewish state" at Aqaba and casually stated that the Camp David talks failed because of the refugee issue (report). The linked article also summarizes an account by the Saudi ambassador to the US according to which the Saudis pressured Arafat to accept the Clinton peace plan in 2001 ("you won't get anything better").

This article interviews family members of Israeli Arabs who have died in Palestinian suicide bombings.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Fatah is one of the groups that supposedly announced a 3 month ceasefire of sorts (report). Fatah also claimed responsibility for today's fatal shooting of a Bezeq technician who entered the Israeli Arab town of Baka Al-Gharbiya to repair a phone line (report)

Monday, June 23, 2003

The Israeli media pretty consistently describes the topic of the current Hamas-PA discussions using the same Arabic word as Hamas itself: hudna. Using the term hudna maintains the allusion to Muhammed's tactical truce with the Quraish tribe that he eventually violated.

On Army Radio this AM a PA "coordination committee" official named Soufiyan Abuzaida was asked whether the PA would take actions against terrorist activity by Hamas etc. Abuzaida's response (paraphrased) was "once there's a ceasefire [he didn't say hudna], why would there be any need for action against Hamas". And what exactly does the PA want in the context of an IDF withdrawal from Gaza? Not just withdrawal from the Arab areas: "If the IDF is maintain its checkpoints around the settlements what kind of withdrawal is that?"

Given a podium to appeal to an Israeli audience, the PA responds to what Israelis see as the basic questions with derision and sarcasm.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Moledet or Gush Shalom? Received a wacko postcard in the mailbox today. Ostensibly from an organization called "Lions of Jerusalem" that seeks to maintain Jerusalem's Jewish majority, it calls on people to report on Arab residences available for sale, Arabs living in Jewish neighborhoods, and for other ideas to get Jews in and Arabs out. A PO. Box is provided.

The card is made out to look like it's from a far-right wing group like Herut or Moledet, but it praises the Likud gov't (which the far right would never do) and uses leftist rhetoric about zoning and "home demolitions". So it's more likely from some left-wing group (like Gush Shalom) who want to collect some extremist remarks for a smear campaign.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

This article makes the long overdue evaluation of the IDF's conduct of urban warfare in Jenin with reference to similar circumstances faced by NATO and UN troops in Kosovo and Somalia.
The Egyptian paper Al-Ahram was tremendously offended when Bush referred to Israel as a "Jewish State".
"Oslo Lives": A fisking Unlike some similar writings from others, this Jpost op-ed by German parliamentarian Friedbert Pflueger actually precedes each of his EU platitudes with a mild attempt to address the concerns and beliefs that most Israelis have regarding the current conflict:

Was it a mistake for Joschka Fischer to visit him in April 2003, thus bolstering his position in the midst of an internal Palestinian power struggle? This may well be the case. But there is also an argument in favor of Fischer's meeting with Arafat namely, that Arafat's engagement, as pater patriae, remains an essential part of the peace process.

Assuming that Pflueger maintains some awareness of the situation here, he can't really believe that Arafat "remains an essential part of the peace process". More likely that Fischer was seeking either to placate German Muslims and Arab nations; or to demonstrate that Europe doesn't simply follow Washington's diplomatic steps.

In any case, there must be greater transparency within the Palestinian executive branch. In the first months of 2002 the Israeli army discovered documents in Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah indicating that EU funds had been misappropriated to sponsor terrorist-related activities. Two journalists from the German weekly Die Zeit traced the flow of EU funds to the radical movements in a remarkable dossier ("Arafat bombs, Europe pays," June 6, 2002).

At that point the European Union should have suspended direct payments to the PA.

Although it is still important that we provide assistance, particularly humanitarian aid, to Palestine, transparancy is critical and examples of the detrimental impact of this type of support are many.

One particularly problematic example is Palestinian schoolbooks. These educational materials, partially funded by the EU, continue to preach hatred. In these texts the state of Israel does not even exist, nor do Israeli towns appear on their maps.

Rectifying the EU approach to Palestinian rejectionism and extremism requires a real policy shift, not a call for "greater transparency". Pflueger speaks like a true bureaucrat. Can Europeans really wonder why Israel abhors the idea of "international monitors" who would respond to Palestinian shootings and Kassam rocket firings with (at best) appeals for more bureaucracy?

In truth, Pflueger probably intends these paragraphs as a prelude to what he thinks the real problem is:
Israel's settlement policy is one of the biggest barriers to developing mutual trust and creating an atmosphere in which negotiations can take place. The destruction of Palestinian homes to make room for additional settler housing must be halted. The Israeli government must take action on, and be willing to consider difficult solutions to, the settlement question. Furthermore, Jerusalem should grant the Palestinians their own state. Palestinians must also regain the right to earn their living in Israel.

So there you go: the settlements are the issue - not Palestinian (and Arab) rejectionism.

And notwithstanding Pflueger's sympathetic warmup, Israel must withdraw from the West Bank/Gaza (without conditions it seems) to create a Palestinian state and maintain open borders. Why not make an attempt to convince skeptical Israelis how this could possibly work as long as the Palestinian Authority "combats" terrorist groups by offering to share power with them?

What is Pflueger's remark about the "destruction of Palestinian homes to make room for additional settler housing" referring to? Is he talking about the IDF's punitive destruction of the homes of suicide bombers? Is he talking about the separation of Palestinian farmers from their land by the security fence? Conceivably he could mean this (to my knowledge unparalleled) IDF action in Hebron, but more likely he gets too much of his information from pro-Palestinian prevaricators.