Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Welcome to those who arrived from this Belgian portal. Please leave me a message or email me to let me know what you think of my weblog.

I haven't been writing as much as I used to, so you might want to look at some archive postings.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

This article follows an IDF unit as it destroys the Tul Karm apartment belonging to the family of Sirhan Sirhan. Sirhan entered Kibbutz Metzer on Nov 10 and went on a killing spree; he murdered 5 civilians, including two toddlers who were killed in their beds.

IDF demolitions are currently conducted with a kind of bureaucratic coldness (soldiers are now prohibited from vengeful or emotional flourishes).

In the print edition there are photos of Sirhan's father and mother, who look like they are just then being told of the operation; and of the apartment - which looks modern and roomy. Sirhan's father says that he opposes all terrorism, but hung pictures of "martyrs" in his living room.

The uncertain threat of missiles from Iraq during an American offensive is less serious to Israel than the almost certain threat of attacks by Hezbullah from across the Lebanese border. The IDF is likely to respond or launch a pre-emptive operation against Hezbullah, and is also likely to move against the largely untouched Hamas infrastructure in Gaza. This is according to Amir Oren, who also records that an Arrow missile interceptor (successor to Patriot) is launched by pressing the F2 key on a PC keyboard.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Bret Stephens fisks an NY Times op-ed by Saeb Erekat called "Saving the two-state solution" here. As usual, Erekat lies and misrepresents everything from Palestinian intentions to the number of settlers and settlements and Israeli water use - and noone seems to care.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

This isn't good news: IDF predicting new terror wave prior to U.S.-led attack on Iraq
Zeev Schiff on what the war with Iraq is likely to look like. People who I speak to seem to be keeping calm, no doubt partly because in 1991 Saddam didn't fire missiles on Jerusalem. But the possibility of war comes up when T. and I need to make mundane decisions about what we are doing in Jan. and Feb.
Not much attention here to the death of Joe Strummer. The closest thing that Israel had to a punk rock scene In the late 70s / early 80s was a bunch of synthesizer groups like Jean Conflict and Minimal Compact that played at the Penguin Club in Tel Aviv, but "Rock the Casbah" was actually a radio hit.

Monday, December 23, 2002

In the latest "roadmap" proposal (see here), the Palestinians are supposed to start a democratic society, "confront" terrorists, and establish normal relations with Israel after a withdrawal from West Bank/Gaza.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Friday's Yediot also interviews American author John Irving. Irving visited Israel in 1982 and is one of those people who blames "fundamentalism from both sides" of the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Also he said:

F--- intellectuals. In the last 2 years, in my travels to Europe, there's a heavy and unpleasant atmosphere of hostility to you [Israelis], which in my eyes amounts to antisemitism in sophisticated language. I don't understand why every runny-nose sees an obligation to blame Israel for all the world's ills - after he finishes blaming America. Regarding my country I understand the controversy... But Israel? its actual existence? after the Holocaust and everything? How can they be so arrogant?

(my translation of Yediot's translation of Irving's words)
Yesterday's Yediot reports that Amazon.com has suddenly stopped shipping to Israel. Longtime customers now receive emails stating that "current federal regulations" prohibit shipping books and CDs to Israel.

Update: This only applies to "Amazon Marketplace" (Gil has details).

Friday, December 20, 2002

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for gunning down a father of 6 in his car in Gush Katif (report). Police defused a large bomb near a mall in Netanya (report).
Jane Fonda visited terror victims at Hadassah hospital here in Jerusalem instead of just going to visit Palestinians. Good for her ... but today's Jpost shows her meeting with leftist MKs Naomi Chazan and Yael Dayan. She should also try to hear from Israelis who have a more "typical" perspective.

Here's an article about a training course for foreigners who come here to support the Palestinians against the IDF (ie. what the media calls "peace activists"). They sign an agreement committing themselves to non-violence, are told to avoid drinking and other behaviours that could offend the Palestinians, and be
"sensitive and respectful" about suicide bombing. They call the IDF the "Israel Occupation Force" and refer to the under-construction security fence as the "wall of apartheid".

Some of the volunteers sound incredibly naive. A 25-yr. old convert to Islam wants to go to Gaza because "that's where the action is". A 26 yr. old from Cambridge, England came to Israel to visit the Temple Institute (a Jewish organization that studies Temple rituals in order to be ready for the Messiah) - while he was here he decided to volunteer with Adam Shapiro's loony International Solidarity Movement.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

This report says that Antoine Lahad, the former leader of the South Lebanese Army, will be opening an Irish-style pub in Tel Aviv.
Last Thursday I went to meet someone in Efrat, which a large settlement in the West Bank that lies just south of Jerusalem and adjacent to Bethlehem.

I caught the route 160 bus by the old train station in the German Colony (Hebron-bound - on the day that 2 Israelis were killed in Hebron). It's a half-hour-or-so ride through the Talpiot industrial zone and the Arab village of Beit Safafa and Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, through a tunnel that runs beneath the area that separates Gilo from Beit Jala, then down the wide-open sunny Route 60. Since the bus was going to Hebron, I got off at the entrance to Efrat and hitchhiked (very common there) to my destination.

It's been two years since the last time I was there. One difference that I noticed is that there is now a paved road to the cluster of portable homes (ie. illegal outpost) called Dagan. New apartments are being built in the Zayit neighborhood.

The bus and the hitchhiking was sufficiently inconvenient that I wondered if it would have been better to drive. On the way back though, my bus was stoned: it was just a loud thump on the reinforced (very sturdily I noticed) window. Everyone looked up. Someone remarked that the driver is supposed to report it, but he didn't seem to.

Whereas 6 or 9 months ago, this kind of thing was happening on a regular basis. Freezing settlement growth as a goodwill measure wouldn't have made a difference, and unilaterally evacuating would only cause the frontline to move elsewhere. The IDF made the difference.
Talking about the British academic boycott of Israel as if it were a growing thing could contribute to making it so. That's probably why the Guardian is making a big deal out of a loony left publication boycotting a loony left Israeli.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

From Friday's Yediot Ahronot: Here's a partial translation of an article/interview with European Parliamentarian Francois Zimeray.

I'll try to translate the rest soon.


Thanks to Miranda for this link to the site of Ilka Schroeder - a German MEP from the GUE ("United European Left") - which includes the petition for the investigative committee described by Zimeray. Schroeder offers some surprising (and sarcastic) rhetoric that might have come from a Jpost op-ed.

And today's Jpost describes a conference in Berlin where Per Ahlmark, Friedbert Pfluger, and other European officials criticized the EU's Middle East policy.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

What's wrong with these people? NGOs and journalists that is. This AP dispatch describes a poll conducted by the "Washington and Brussels-based Search for Common Ground" organization, which finds that
72 percent of the Palestinians would be willing to renounce violence if Israel would be willing to agree to the creation of a Palestinian state on terms acceptable to the Palestinians.

The phrase "terms acceptable to the Palestinians" is what's weasel-y. If there's anything that's been learned from the Oslo debacle about "terms acceptable to the Palestinians", it's the following 2 points:

1. Palestinian leadership will not consent to any agreement that stipulates that most descendents of 1948 Palestinian refugees will be permanently settled outside of pre-1967 Israel, even with humanitarian monetary compensation (notwithstanding the imaginations of people like Yossi Beilin).

2. Palestinian leadership will not take action against terrorists who kill Israelis unless their own vital interests are at risk.

But "Common Ground" and the AP are (intentionally?) oblivious.

I'm also highly skeptical about their finding that only 21% of Israelis doubted that Palestinians would halt violence after receiving a state roughly along 1967 borders.

You have to wonder about these polls. Tonite I received a phone call from a pollster of some institute who asked me a series of questions about Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert. I answered the questions sincerely, but many of them had an agenda behind them, eg. "Do you think Mayor Ehud Olmert's run on the national Likud list detracted from his running the city?". Perhaps this institute was working for Olmert's high-tech millionaire opponent Nir Barkat and looking for Olmert's soft spots.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

This article says that the father of of Saudi princess Haifa al-Faisal was not killed by Islamic militants, notwithstanding the fact that CNN etc. uncritically accepted claims to that effect made by Saudi spokesmen while defending her from accusations of funnelling cash to the 9/11 hijackers.

An interesting article by Amnon Rubinstein says that human rights law treats collective rights of minority groups differently according to whether the collectives are "native" or "migrant". While native groups are generally entitled to recognition of their language and culture (as with the Arabs in Israel), migrant minorities (such as Arabs in Belgium) are expected to integrate into the culture at large. Hence the demand by Arabs in Belgium to have their language recognized as an "official language" is a groundbreaking event.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Michel Visser writes that Gretta Duisenberg has been awarded the Flemish Human Rights Prize. Duisenberg is an uncritically pro-Palestinian activist who keeps tossing off tasteless anti-Jewish remarks.

Can someone in Belgium describe how Duisenberg is viewed in the Flemish media?

Thursday, December 05, 2002

American researchers invented the Internet. Instant Messaging (ICQ) and the first commercial firewall (Checkpoint) were developed in Israel. Europe hasn't done much in the Internet field, though Scandinavian companies lead the cellular industry.

But here's a (jealous?) European fellow on a technical email list using the now familiar anti-american boilerplate to blame the US for slow changes in the global data network.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

The EU is threatening to end its diplomatic relations with Hamas (report). This expression of basic decency would actually be "brave" of the EU, since carrying it out would encourage terror attacks by Islamic groups - so I doubt that they will follow through.

Moratinos added the EU "has reached the conclusion that there can't be any dialogue between the sides while terror and suicide attacks are taking place in Israel."
My gosh how sensible.. Is that now the EU's policy? Funny thing is that Amram Mitzna - the first Labour leader to advocate negotiations "under fire" and unilateral partial cave-in to Palestinian demands (ie. without a peace agreement or "end to the conflict") - is soon to be warmly fete-d in the UK at the invitation of Tony Blair (report)

Hamas faces a clear choice between the Turkish model, of democratic Islam, and the Al-Qaida model. If it chooses the second model, the EU will cut its ties, drop out support and end our aid to it."
"end our aid" ? To Hamas ?!? Doesn't Moratinos realize that Hamas "chose the second model" by 1994 or earlier.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Here's a detailed report on what is now known about the accidental shooting of UNRWA worker Iain Hook by the IDF.

Hook and the others in the building had been huddling on the floor in a "container" building while the IDF exchanged gunfire with Palestinian gunmen hiding near the compound (the account knows of no Palestinian gunfire originating from within the UNRWA compound). At one point, Hook stood up, lit a cigarette, and exited the container while carrying his cellphone - at this point he was shot by the IDF sniper. Hook arrived at the hospital within half an hour of being shot, and there seems to be little basis to accusations that the IDF delayed the ambulance.

Saturday, November 30, 2002

There's a "high level of warning" abouit terror attacks today in Jerusalem. So my wife T. has asked me not to spend my unemployed day in a cafe.
Weekend Papers I Mathew Gutman in the Jpost print edition describes the day-to-day relationship between Israel/the IDF and UNRWA (which is the UN agency that began supplying education, health, and social services to Palestinian refugees in 1948 and now services their descendents).

While the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has the mandate of solving refugee problems (via local integration, resettlement, or repatriation), UNRWA is only to supply humanitarian services. This is why it does not provide "permanent" housing for residents of refugee camps despites its huge annual budget ($100 million for Gaza alone in 2002). Essentially UNRWA exists to perpetuate the refugee problem and ensure that it causes problems for Israel. In 1952 UNRWA director John Blandford Jr. said that UNRWA should be shut down because "sustained relief operations inevitably contain the germ of human deterioration".

UNRWA schools teach the "Palestinian narrative"/ mythology about how the Jews massacred/expelled them but that they will eventually return home to what is now Israel; it also permits the culture and recruitment of martyrs to flourish in its camps. However no UNRWA employees have ever been known to actually collaborate with a terrorist organization, and the IDF finds UNRWA provision of education and social services to be preferred over the alternatives: the now-barely-functioning PA (which channels as much money as it can into the intifada), or a new Israeli civil administration (as in the pre-Oslo era). On an hourly basis there is a lot of coordination between the IDF and UNRWA on issues like ambulance passage and electrical repair.

Friday, November 29, 2002

Nelson Ascher writes:
Do you all know why Bush isn't more agressive toward the Saudis? Because of the JEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If anybody thinks I'm kidding, here's the link that clarifies it: http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,849670,00.html
According to Simon Tisdall in today's Guardian:

"Another priority is Israel. Without US protection, military aid and financial backing, Israel's very existence would be in continuing doubt. As it is, with the rulers of Saudi Arabia (and Egypt and Jordan) on America's diplomatic team, the enmity of rejectionist Arabs and hardliners in Iran can be kept at bay and the illusion of a peace process maintained.

This also means that Israel's current government, led by Bush friend and ally Ariel Sharon, can continue its repression of the Palestinians almost with impunity. This is why Bush listened politely to Abdullah's peace plan in Texas (and then held out the prospect of a Palestinian state one distant day). The US needs to keep the Saudis sweet if a lid is to be kept on the intifada, and if Jewish interests, in Israel and the US, are to be maintained. "

Nice, isn't it? According to this idiot the US protects the philosemitic antifundamentalist house of Saud in order not to endanger Israel and (he says it withour blushing) not even Israeli bu JEWISH INTERESTS!!!!!!!!!

Thus, if the Jews weren't directly responsible for the spilling of American blood, they surely are obstructing the punishment of the guilty. But there's no antisemitism here, of course.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Here's an article titled "IDF struggles to avoid civilians casualties in Nablus".
Three terrorists attacked the Likud polling station in Beit Shean with guns and grenades. The one with the explosives belt didn't manage to blow himself up. Many injured and apparently some dead (report).

And this is in addition to the carnage in Kenya.
Frimet Roth is the mother of Malki Roth, who died in the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Aug 2001. Here she describes and harshly criticizes (and psychoanalyzes) an apparently small organization of bereaved Israelis and Palestinians who express sympathy and understanding for the killers of their children (or at least the Israelis do).

What outrageous though is the support and favorable publicity that the organization, called Parents Circle Family Forum, received from the European Union. It seems so glib and condescending. It's like they're saying: "Yes, we understand that you are angry and demand action from the PA (and the EU which funds it) - but listen to these people, who are so nuanced and deep".

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The Likud primaries are on Thursday; lots of ads around Jerusalem for Netanyahu.

This one says:
Netanyahu will bring back security. He already did in his gov'f of 1996-1999. 4 suicide attacks in 3 years
Not that I support Bibi or accept this claim of his.
When you read that UNRWA official Paul McCann says that "this report of firing from the [UN] compound is totally incredible", recall this exchange from the Weekly Standard.

Eventually more will be known about the IDF's accidental shooting of Iain Hook, but Paul McCann and Peter Hansen of UNRWA have no compunctions about lying outright to damage Israel and protect their own reputations.
Evelyn Gordon argues that the Israeli electorate must overwhelmingly reject Amram Mitzna if it does not want to encourage further killings and extremism.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Nelson Ascher sent me this link about a novel for teenagers published by Flammarion, a major French publishing house. The novel extensively sympathizes with Palestinian suicide bombers.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

I was at the bank this AM when the report came on the radio about the Islamikaze from Bethlehem bombing a bus in Kiryat Menachem, which is a blue-collar neighborhood in the southern part of town. A lot of schoolkids were on the bus. Current word is 11 dead. (report).

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Palestinian myth-making Before a crowd of 10s of thousands of worshippers, Jerusalem mufti Ikrima Sabri told a made-up story about the IDF forcing Muslims at a checkpoint to violate their Ramadan fast. (report).

Meanwhile, Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu-Ragheb is appearing to take seriously a story that is often repeated in the Arab world - that Israel is planning a massive expulsion of Palestinians into Jordan (report).

My opinion is that these stories are actually a kind of reflection of what the Arabs would be doing to us if the tables were turned.
The Olof Palme Memorial Fund for International Understanding and Common Security (of Sweden) has awarded its annual prize to Hanan Ashrawi (report). Apparently Ashrawi's habit of telling baldfaced lies to the international media doesn't disturb the foundation, who are presumably see her as a Palestinian moderate despite her rejection of Israel's existence as a Jewish state.

In 1995, the Palme award was givento the Israeli group Peace Now together with Fatah Youth. Fatah now launches a lot of bombing and shooting attacks at Israeli civilians. I wonder what Fatah Youth is up to these days....

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

According to this article, some elements of Arab leadership (notably Sari Nusseibeh and Hosni Mubarak) are trying to encourage expressions of moderation by Palestinians in the belief that this can help Mitzna and the Israeli left in the upcoming election (this would be true if Palestinian moderates had any credibility remaining with the Israeli public).

But, relying on a twisted logic that the sympathetic article doesn't really succeed in understanding, most Palestinians actually prefer a right-wing Israeli gov't. For them, when an Israeli government declares its goal to be suppressing attacks on its civilians, each terror attack is a victory and source of national pride.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Ynet says that a passenger on an El Al flight from Istanbul to Tel Aviv tried to stab a flight attendant, but was overpowered by security personnel. An El Al spokesman says it was likely a hijack attempt (Hebrew report).

I'm still too busy/preoccupied to blog much.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Amusing report in The Onion on Israel's founding. And look at the map...
Apparently the international media often confuses the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the Dome of the Rock - the latter being a distinct structure also on the Temple Mount. These Muslims think that the confusion was perpetrated by a "Zionist conspiracy" that aims to demolish Al-Aqsa.

Mike Shuster of the American NPR network included some outrageous misrepresentations in a documentary on the Yom Kippur war and the Begin-Sadat peace talks (report).

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Miguel Angel Moratinos, the EU Middle East Envoy, will attend the funeral of the mother and 2 children murdered by Fatah at Kibbutz Metzer (report)

Kibbutz Metzer is affilliated with the hard-left Hashomer Hatzair movement. The only other occasion that I recall the EU sending an envoy is after the bombing at Hebrew University - itself an enclave of the left.

Were there other occasions when the EU sent representatives? Or are they sympathetic only when its their "friends" who are the ones killed?

Monday, November 11, 2002

I'm now between employers and still not quite back in the blogging state-of-mind. Here's a couple of interesting links:

The disruption of the Palestinian olive harvest by settlers from Itamar caused a stir in many European foreign ministries. IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon personally visited the area and organized the IDF's successful action to stop the harassments. This according to an article from today's Haaretz by Ze'ev Schiff that doesn't seem to be on the Haaretz website.

This rambling article from Friday's Haaretz mentions that the magazine ARTnews - based on a spurious report by UNESCO - falsely reported that an ancient mosque in Nablus had been 80% destroyed during Operation Defensive Shield and imputed malicious intentions to the IDF.

People associated with the settlers who encamped at Havat Gilad have set up a website alleging abuse at the hands of the IDF (I note this because it's interesting, not because I necessarily agree).

Thursday, November 07, 2002

From the Weekend Jpost:

Good article on what the now-dominant Turkish AKP is about and how it well affect Turkish-Israeli relations.

Informative piece on the IDF and ambulance emergency services in the West Bank.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Electioneering has begun here with the potential Labor leaders (Mitzna, Ramon, and Ben-Eliezer) claiming that they won't be willing to join a unity government with Likud. Don't place any bets on that if you ask me.

One popular Islamic radical site is accusing another of being a front for the CIA. The latter claims that they are being harassed for selling cut-rate Islamic videos and other things..

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Israel will be holding elections in February (report)

The Amnesty International report that accuses the IDF of war crimes in Jenin understates the number of Israeli civilian casualties during March 2002 - the month which preceded Operation Defensive Shield and included daily bombings of Israeli civilians by Palestinians. Amnesty says there were 40, the real number is at least 96 (report)

Update: The report on the Amnesty website currently gives a casualty figure of 80
The IDF has trained American soldiers for urban combat (report). What does that say about Sherard Cowper-Coles and others who suggest that the IDF is reckless and imply that other armies would do a better job at protecting civilians?

The IDF chief of staff relieved from duty an officer who was deemed to have violated rules of engagement in an incident where a Palestinian teen was killed. Additionally the IDF has investigated 35 cases of accused looting by soldiers this year and convicted 11 (report).
The current toll from the bombing at a mall in Kfar Saba is 2 dead and 2 seriously injured (report). The Islamikaze apparently blew himself up prematurely because a security guard was nearby.

Channel 2 said that there are many "specific warnings" right now. Last night there were a lot of soldiers out on Emek Refaim - the main street in my neighborhood.

A car bomb in Ashdod caused no injuries (report).

Monday, November 04, 2002

From Army Radio's Last Word this morning:

Avri: The Amnesty report, I must say, didn't make my morning. Even if I ignor all the regular Amnesty flaws ... like, say: removal from context, and uh, "removal from context" we said already, what else?

Uri: Lies, slander ...

Avri: "Lies, one-sided testimony from the Palestinians only, falsified ?, and a worldview that ... again it's "removal from context", but not looking at ...

Uri: ... Accusations of crimes that they didn't do there ... but beneath the banner of a human rights organization with all the prestige of Amnesty and all of the usual ?? like Zahava Gal-on and Peace Now are already calling not to appoint Mofaz to Defense Minister... Beautiful, hitch a ride - this time on the backs of the IDF and on the back of Mofaz - because the sacred Amnesty put out a report...

Avri: "Amnesty's not sacred, but what you're doing now is exactly the same automatic ritual the leftists do, as you are noting.....you're doing the mirror-image ... because dismissing the report is also ..... As soon as you say "there were no crimes" you give a stamp of approval of the crimes that were in fact.. and it's clear that there were crimes ... here's an example from today - small, not connected, but nonetheless: the charavot from the Mukata ... The commander who judged the soldiers for a charge of looting - he himself divided loot from Mukata to his officers ...

Uri: What are you talking about? You're not making distinctions among crimes ....

Avri: Looting is a war crime ... looting is a serious war crime ... not just a war crime but a serious one ...

Uri: There exist [categories of] misdemeanours, felonies, crimes, war crimes ... I don't think Amnesty is talking about that type of thing [ie. looting from Mukata]... When Amnesty talks about "war crimes" they have other things in mind ..

Avri: They're talking about stories where despite my desire to say "No it can't be.... Our IDF is always ethical... Your testimonies are all false", when I hear about parents who are sitting with a seriously ill child, for example over several days, and in the interim there are negotiations between the Red Cross and the IDF about admitting an ambulance and the IDF doesn't admit the ambulance and the child dies.... then I can say "OK, it's their fault, they brought it on themselves..." on the other hand I say: maybe, among all the other actions that were appropriate, or were unintentional, or in the middle of warfare they brought it on themselves, it's plausible that under that umbrella, problematic people concealed actions that constituted war crimes... And you can't just put it all in a package and say nothing at all happened - you have to investigate each case....

Uri: If Amnesty were to say ".....in the course of IDF operation in Jenin, there also occurred problematic incidents, also crimes, and even on certain occasions actions that enter the definition of 'war crimes' " - then maybe ... But they don't say it that way... they stamp the entire operation in Jenin, and the IDF, and you, and me as war criminals...

Avri: What I say is that when Amnesty comes with their good intentions to correct etc. they do bad. ...As soon as they put us all in the same package and say we're all war criminals, and [describe] the IDF as the biggest ??? ever, they do the reverse, because immediately the opposition .... exactly like Peres yesterday defended Sharon on the BBC, as if he was speaking about some guy from the Mapai... it won't work if they do it that way...

Uri: The other side works that way ... you think that Amnesty is organization of righteous people for whom all that interests them is only human rights, but you have to understand that within these organizations, there's a "recurring spirit", there's people from the European "progressive left" as it's called ....

Avri: .. and there are many good people, for whom human rights is the candle by their feet and the pillow by their heads, morning and evening ... there's both types....

Uri: But when they release a caustic report like this one on what happened in Jenin - for which we have more or less testimony [of our own] ... There are other human rights organizations - that I don't fall to the ground and worship the dust of their feet - that say different things.. so it's possible to be skeptical also if it's Amnesty and not just say "Wow how guilty we are and how much bad are we doing to them". I remind you that 13 soldiers died in Jenin - and several more a few days earlier - just because we didn't do what we maybe needed to do: to say "if you don't come out, then we start shelling" .... and there were armed people there and our soldiers went in and ...

Avri: You're using a single "merit" - if you can call it that of course - in order to say "all of the sins never were". And that's not the situation... You have to look at the details of the situation and not general statements like that. True that in one circumstance we sacrificed 13 soldiers ... it's plausible that in a different circumstance different things happened. I'm just saying that in each instance it's necessary to investigate ..

Uri: Why does this get me so upset? Because I hear these responses - not just from some pro-Palestinian spokesman from the Arab League or something..... I'm talking about MKs [from] Zionist [parties] like Zahava Gal-On, like Peace Now: Important institutions which I value according to their worth - that's the way to say what I think of them ... . how they jump immediately ..automatically... Don't appoint him Defense Minister .. ....

Friday, November 01, 2002

Good article by Zeev Schiff on the ways in which Labor provided "checks and balances" in the unity coalition.

Apparently if there had been a narrow gov't previously, Arafat would have been expelled earlier this year.
Blog entries about Khirbat Yanun are here, here, and here.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Blogging should pick up again by Sunday.

On Army Radio they were joking about potential (though unlikely) "nightmare cabinets" that could arise now that the far-right is taking the place of Labor in the governing coalition: Avigdor Lieberman as Defence Minister, Effi Eitam as Information Minister, Benny Elon as Tourism Minister. Instead of a "separation fence", there could be a promenade from Hebron to Rosh Pina.

Uri Orbach said that it would be worth inviting these people into the cabinet just to show Labor supporters how foolish their party is for leaving the coalition.

Note that the above paragraphs consist of jokes. If people think the above is serious I will delete it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Sunday's Islamikaze attack in Ariel was carried out by Hamas, not by Fatah as was originally thought.

After Fatah mistakenly announced that Muhammed Shakir had carried out Sunday bombing, the IDF found would-be-bomber Shakir and arrested him (Hebrew report).
The IDF effortlessly cleared out the 20 settlers from the Havot Gilad outpost in the middle of the night. The IDF blocked cellphone communications so that the settlers couldn't call their friends. On the radio this AM they interviewed someone ("Itai Zar"?) who had returned to Havot Gilad after dawn. He said that the settlers were only doing farming there now, but he essentially agreed that they were playing cat and mouse with the IDF.

The whole outpost-clearing thing will become a moot point if Labor leaves the gov't - as currently appears likely. Labor apparently thinks that being the weak second fiddle in the gov't is less desirable than their new direction: asserting their independence, letting the far-right take Labor's place in the gov't, and getting devastated in the next election.

I'm less focused on blogging right now because I'm looking to switch employers. There's a one or two recruiters that have been good to deal with, and some others that have not been.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Apparently following today's suicide bombing in Ariel, "between 5 and 7" settlers from Itamar went to a nearby olive grove and struck 5 Arabs and leftists with stones and rifle butts - giving them "deep cuts and bruises" according to the mayor of Yanoun, though Adam Shapiro's International Solidarity Movement claims that the settlers inflicted "possible" broken limbs on 2 American senior citizens - but I think they're full of it. (Haaretz, Jpost).

Not to defend the attackers from Itamar, when a group of Arabs gives an Israeli "deep cuts and bruises" it's not considered news. Ynet reports another incident where a settler says he was attacked by a group of Arabs - the IDF arrived and separated the two groups.

Also, the IDF exchanged fire with some terrorist types in Nablus, killing Ahmad Jawad Allah (Jihad), and Allah Muflah and Ayad al-Kutub (Tanzim) and wounding 2 soldiers (report). Palestinians say a 15-yr. old was killed by the IDF in Jenin, no other details.

There was a lot of additional "minor" violence today, just like most days: Israeli woman injured by a Molotov cocktail, 30 Kg bomb defused....
Another suicide bombing This time at a gas station in Ariel - half an hour ago (Haaretz, Jpost)

Update: Current info is 3 killed, 30 injured, 15 seriously. The attack was claimed by Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigade, which some people have claimed was observing a halt to suicide operations.
A friend of mine just returned from the reserves. He and his aging co-reservists are in a tank unit, but this time around they did guard duty at Megiddo prison.

Megiddo is run by the IDF, but will eventually be transferred to the Prisons Authority - in the meantime it is lacking in infrastructure. The prisoners (all are there for terroriism and security offenses) stay in large tents with about 25 prisoners in each one. They make their own meals with food that's provided to them; they also build their own beds from bedframes and mattresses that they are given. The beds that they build resemble couches and have a Middle-Eastern look to them. The prisoners have satellite TV and watch al-Jazeera frequently.

Says my friend: seeing a little girl all dressed up to visit her father, and then having to pull the family away from him could almost make you into a leftist. But my friend puts sense before emotion and is definitely not a leftist.
This article describes how workers for foreign NGOs in Israel and the Palestinian areas relieve their pent-up stress by drinking and sleeping around. Workers for Oxfam UK and the like don't socialize with Israelis because they regard it as politically incorrect. An Australian woman says that leftist Israelis are no longer welcomed because they "taken on a more Israeli government-oriented rhetoric" - that is to say that they've changed their opinions.

Occasionally I see these types (or more often their vehicles) around. I'm inclined to talk to them but never really have. Once at Ben-Gurion airport someone was getting into a car labelled "UN TIPH" (which stands for Temporary International Presence in Hebron). As I walked by I said "Temporary?!?!". He said "Yeah, it's been 6[?] years already".

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Reporter-centric An anonymous person forwarded me this email exchange with Reporters Without Frontiers about their report which ranked the Palestinian Authority's respect for press freedoms higher than those of Israel.

To: Reporters Without Frontiers

Just 1 or 2 questions: is it possible that some countries are nice to journalists (and receive a high score) because they are generally getting good press?

And that these same countries would be much more repressive if they were getting bad press, or in the middle of a war?

Or that these same countries leave media intimidation to freelance groups (eg. Lebanon and Hezbollah)?

From: RSF - Afrique [mailto:afrique@rsf.org]
Sent: Wed, October 23, 2002 6:10 PM
Subject: Re: World Press Freedom Survey


I dont think countries like Benin or Senegal (more than 1000 people recently died in a ferry accident and a war is dividing the country for more than ten years) are getting a good press. And there is a real press freedom there. They have a good rank in our index.

On the other hand, when there is a war in a country of course journalists are often victims of it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

4 more families have returned to Khirbat Yanoun (report)
Please inform me of any European media reports on Shimon Peres' European Parliament speech ....
The NYC Transit Commissioner thinks/fears that suicide bombings will eventually take place in New York (report via Alis)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

I agree with Gil and Imshin, that there is now a disturbing sense of fatigue and jadedness about these terror attacks. A tabloid paper today had the headline "Fiery Deathtrap" accompanied with pictures of the bus and victims. But how upset or outraged can you be when you've seen it so many times?

Some OK analysis pieces on the attack by Ze'ev Schiff and Gerald Steinberg.

RibbityFrog informed me that he is busy now with Wisdom and Eschatology, but hopes to blog more soon.

I was in the elevator with a co-worker who lives in the settlement of Beit Horon. I asked him if any of the teenagers in his locale had been camping out in Havat Gilad. He smiled as he said dismissively "No, our settlement is close to Jerusalem".

Much of what Palestinians think about Israelis comes from imagination and rumor-mongering. Today's Yediot Ahronot included a letter to the editor by a Palestinian from the town of Dura near Hebron. He wrote that we wanted to inform Israelis of what is happening in Hebron (here I paraphrase): "Every few days Israeli soldiers gather up a group of men and take them away, supposedly to be questioned. In fact they are taken into a settlement, where the soldiers force them to work for the settlers. They ask each man how old he his and force him to do an amount of building work according to his age. Then they free them without questioning."

Israeli companies are continuing layoffs, including some companies that are doing comparatively well (report)
Palestinian Satellite TV's English broadcast just announced that the IDF has circled Jenin anew - but without any mention whatsoever of today's bus bombing at Karkur that was launched from Jenin.

They just go on and on about how oppressed they are and talk like the IDF just acts at random.

Monday, October 21, 2002

A car bomb hit a bus north - word now is at least 7 dead and 30 injured (report).

Update: Now 12 dead + the 2 bombers.

Iyad Sawalhe of the Jenin branch of Islamic Jihad is almost certainly behind the bombing (report). Israel is in a bit of a bind - responding to the attack could displease the Iraq-minded Americans; not responding sends a message.

Ehud Yaari on Channel 2 said that there were something like 45 "specific warnings" in the past 2 weeks, and also numerous arrests and several foiled attacks. He also said that there is discussion among Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and some other groups to renew the intifada in a way that is arm's length from the PA. Fatah is largely quiet for now.
Near Nablus, mosques have been fancifully broadcasting that settlers killed a Palestinian, and this set off riots. Settlers harrassed olive harvesters and some settlers were arrested. (report). Oh and there was yet another terrorist infiltration attempt besides.

Settlers write to Jpost to describe their side of the olive-harvest/warning-shot mess (here).
The IDF is exiting Hebron today. The conventional wisdom is that this and other moves are connected to the imminent US attack on Iraq. But why exactly? These measures won't make Israel or the US more beloved to the Arab or Muslim world. Are they part of some conditions being imposed by Qatar (where the US is setting up bases) or other Arab/European allies? Maybe the US is planning for something to get a lot of attention on al-Jazeera.

Here's an article from the AP on Kfar Yanoun. It's written in that antiseptic wire service tone, but the allegations are more imaginative:
Groups of masked Jewish settlers have charged into the village, coming at night with dogs and horses, stealing sheep, hurling stones through windows and beating the men with fists and rifle butts, Palestinian residents said.
The Itamar settlement has a web page.
Palestinian Satellite TV just a minute ago claimed that (approximately) "the settlers are continuing their ethnic cleansing that they have been talking about for the past 6 months and have forced the entire 160-person population of El Yanun from their homes".

Now, they just said that today Israeli forces shelled a residential neighborhood in Khan Yunis, injuring 4; and that settlers from Neve Dekalim fired artillery randomly.

All of the above is fabricated, in case you didn't know. The 10 residents of Yanun who were harassed while harvesting olives have returned to their homes. The shelling, 6 months of ethnic cleansing threats, and artillery stuff is totally made up.

They had a British woman call in and talk about how horrible the Israelis are. Then she said something about how if there's a criminal hiding somewhere they should send in troops and go house-to-house "which is what any other country would do". This left the program's hosts speechless, since they couldn't say they agreed that Israel should actually attempt to apprehend their beloved resisters.

Update: davidbak provides this NYtimes link about Yanun which restates Palestinian allegations, but with less inflammatory language and more nuance than Palestinian TV. Last night's Haaretz bulletins said that the 10 residents described had returned.

Joel Greenberg's NYTimes article claims that 140 other residents were harassed into leaving over "recent years", but I can't find any record of this. Greenberg writes:

But settlers have also made violent forays into Khirbat Yanun itself, coming with increasing frequency over the past year, especially on the Jewish sabbath and holidays, villagers said. The settlers would threaten residents at gunpoint, hurl stones from rooftops, smash windows and vandalize property, according to the villagers. They described huddling in their homes with frightened children as settlers pounded on doors.

This statement is suspect. Itamar is a religious community: while it's unfortunately conceivable that some residents could flout Jewish law's prohibition of threats, vandalism etc. it's not conceivable that they would travel 6 miles to do so on the Sabbath and holidays.

Update: An August article by Mathew Gutman in Jpost describes the Itamar/Yanoun situation and quotes an Itamar resident who seems to acknowledge the generator incident. Today's Maariv has a long article also. Again, what actually happened was obscured by Palestinian TV's brief and lurid account of "ethnic cleansing" etc.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Zeev Schiff lists the "humanitarian" issues that the US is bringing up with Sharon (here). Schiff says that there will probably soon be a change in the IDF's rules of engagement in Gaza - prohibiting firing from tanks and mandating use of small forces instead.

Friday's Yediot has a very interesting long article on how the chaos at the Havat Gilad outpost this week illustrates a generation gap in the settler movement.

This article about the Hezbollah TV station al-Manar (in Lebanon) is the usual about the exhortations towards martyrdom etc. But it mentions that the Lebanese subsidiaries of Pepsi and Proctor & Gamble advertise on it.
More on Rafiah

On Channel 2 news, the announcer asked the military analyst (Moshe Nussbaum I think) "Was this a case of light fingers on the trigger? or is it an unavoidable result [of the circumstance]?". The analyst very quickly said "a bit of both I guess" and then went on to describe the IDF's initial findings: The IDF fence/tower builders were fired upon (no mention of RPGs or anything) from an area where Palestinians try to dig tunnels for smuggling arms and people in and out of Egypt.. Shooting from this area, which is directly adjacent to private homes, is commonplace.

The IDF responded with gunfire towards the source of the shooting. Additionally, the tank fired at the area next to the source of the shooting and also fired several shells rather than one. Nussbaum said that these last 2 points (ie. about the tank's behaviour) will be investigated further by the IDF.

Channel 2 also had some Palestinian spokesman saying approximately (in English): "Everytime we try to revive the peace process, Israel strikes us again with all this firepower". Oh if only the world were a place where people would see this statement for what it really is ....

Interestingly, Haaretz said from the beginning that the IDF had encountered gunfire - unlike the other papers they said nothing about an anti-tank weapon.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Jpost reporter describes a meeting with the IDF's primary spokewoman here. He says that the "broad inoffensiveness of [the interview] dissuades me from publishing the transcript", and follows with a good description of the need for more transparency from the IDF and examples of where transparency has been employed (here). He mentions in passing that Palestinian allegations that an IDF helicopter fired into a group of people in Khan Yunis last week have been disproved.
Rafah incident:

Currently Ynet has the most details. 7 Palestinians dead from gunfire from an IDF tank. Palestinians say the tank spontaneously opened fire on houses after some rock/Molotov throwing at an under-construction lookout tower. The IDF says that they were fired on with an anti-tank missile.

Ynet quotes "sources" within the PA as saying: "this is the immediate consequence of the meeting between Ariel Sharon and Pres. Bush yesterday".

Maariv says that the tank fired 5 shells, adds that "exchanges of gunfire" are continuing.
The always maddening UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen wrote an op-ed in Today's Haaretz. Here's a partial fisking:

To understand this better, consider two competing views found on both sides of the conflict - the constructionist and the destructionist. In simple terms, the constructionists believe in a two-state solution and the destructionists do not.

Israeli and Palestinian constructionists have similar outlooks. They say the best way to foster peace, security and prosperity for both sides is through the creation of a democratic Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This state would work for the benefit of its people, and in the process control and stop violence against Israel. In this scenario, both sides win.

Israeli and Palestinian destructionists both seek total control of the land at the expense of their adversaries, and are in a kind of unholy embrace that is fueling today's downward spiral. For them, only one state can emerge west of the Jordan River: Israel or Palestine. It is a zero-sum game.

So Larsen's sees (or claims to see) two distinct groups of people: the "constructionists" and the "destructionists". Of course he then sides with the "constructionists". This is a nice, neat, view of the situation (and the basis of his whole argument). Do Europeans really see things that way?

In reality most Israelis today are - using Larsen's terms - "constructionists who realized, post-Camp David, that there's no partner for construction on the Palestinian side".

If Larsen has the opportunity to express himself in an Israeli paper, he should at least spend a few lines to try to convince Israelis that peace along the 1967 borders is possible - after all, not even the Palestinian Authority will say so.

The fourth trend is perhaps the most significant of all: Israel's continued expansion of West Bank settlements, and the land confiscation that goes with it. Even as the world repeatedly calls for a freeze to all such activity, it continues apace. The settlements, and the highways that serve them, could soon envelop East Jerusalem, cutting it off from the rest of the West Bank, which would then also be split in half. Other settlement projects will bisect the northern West Bank and encircle Bethlehem and Hebron to the south.

Larsen's alarming description conjures images of vast gov't-sponsored building projects surrounding and isolating Palestinian enclaves and snapping up all the land. On the ground however, we have settlers stealthily setting groups of mobile homes on hilltops. Yesterday the IDF cleared one "illegal outpost" called Havat Gilad which consisted of scattered mobile homes; and another one called "Nofei Nehemia" which consisted of 6 families.

Netanyahu started building Har Homa (which Israelis regard as part of Jerusalem) because Bethlehem and Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem are growing towards each other. When they meet it will be impossible to draw a border between them.

Why does Larsen think the settlements are "most significant of all" as a cause of the unresolvability of the situation? More significant than the PA's insistence that millions of Palestinians be permitted to move into pre-1967 Israel? More significant than the PA's acceptance of murdering Israelis as an acceptable pressure tactic? More significant than the IDF's return to the Palestinian cities?

A good question is: does the Palestinian media mostly castigate Israel for building Har Homa and permitting 6 caravan hilltop outposts? Or do they instead focus on their casualties, imagined offenses against Islam, and real and imagined humiliation?

Focusing attention on the settlements is done primarily because it facilitates blaming Israel for absolutely everything...
Why is Lebanon is drawing 10 million cubic meters/year from the little Wazzani rather than the mighty Litani? Or rather ... what's the reason given by the Lebanese? According to PM Rafic Hariri's official website, the UN and US suggested using the Litani ....:

But the Prime Minister added, from "day one," he made it clear that the Litani River hardly satisfies the demands of the region and the Wazzani waters are needed for vital projects. Mr. Hariri said while Lebanon entrusted the United Nations with the issue, the country has also been in contact with the United States, the European Union, and the international community, to counter Israeli claims.

Haririi says the Litani "hardly satisfies the demands of the region", but the Litani discharges about 700-900 million cubic meters per year into the Mediterranean Sea (source).

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Palestinians often seem to convince themselves that Israeli defensive (or retaliatory) actions are actually acts of unilateral aggression .... but they can't beat this statement from an Iranian newspaper:

"It's worth pointing out that, contrary to what the Nobel Peace Committee announced about Carter's pacifism, he launched a military attack against Iran on the pretext of liberating the U.S. hostages," the paper said.

(via Moira Breen)
The Arrow is the Israeli successor to the Patriot missile. It has been deployed in 2 secret locations in Israel and is said to work, but less than perfectly (report).

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

More on the Wazzani River Dispute

This AM on the radio, Prof. Dan Zaslavsky described the impact of the Lebanese diversion of the Wazzani River. The Wazzani provides about 10% of the inflow to Lake Kinneret, and that amount is endangered as Lebanon drains progressively more water.

Zaslavsky says: Reducing the flow of the Wazzani will increase the already-high salinity of the Kinneret by a third. The Lebanese can easily use the Litani River for their domestic needs, but they are testing us and our response. Egypt is hypothetically vulnerable to a similar move by Sudan on the Nile, and much of Syria's water comes from Turkey - so other Arab countries are largely staying quiet on this.

Here's a 1996 article from a legal journal on water disputes in the Middle East. According to it, the 1994 Draft Articles of the International Law Commission "have a significant de facto impact" on water disputes.

According to Article 7, a state must "exercise due diligence to prevent causing significant harm" to a downstream state, where "significant harm" is defined as "“real impairment of use”. I am not a lawyer, but "due diligence" in this context apparently means that the issue must be resolved through negotiations.

As an aside, it's interesting that lawyers speak of "theories" for these things rather than "proposals".

Note the way this AP article takes a few words from Zaslavsky to make him sound like a warmonger while this pious 1997 NPR report portrays him as an environmentalist.

Update: Report on the official opening of the pumping station.
People are talking about: Iraq, the civil servant strike, the Labor/Likud committee elections, and Bali.

This Hebrew article says that an Israeli woman was visiting Bali 2 months ago and alerted authorities because she was certain that she saw Osama Bin L... Right...

The IDF is planning to withdraw from Hebron by the end of the week. Due to intense American pressure?
Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British Ambassador to Israel, acknowledged that in an a private conversation with IDF official Amos Gilad he called the West Bank/Gaza the "biggest detention camp in the world" and scolded the IDF for a lack of professionalism (report), and says he is "proud" of the remarks.

It would be a cheap shot to suggest that Cowper-Coles is proud because the "detention camp" remark will get him invites to some posh dinner parties back in London - his remarks are actually mostly sane and considered, something which is exceptional and praiseworthy. But if he really thinks that the IDF is unprofessional, and that the hardships created by checkpoints etc. are broadly unnecessary, it follows that:

1) It's the details, rather than the basic fact of the IDF's presence in the PA areas that are problematic. Better training and administration is what's needed, not immediate withdrawal or other moves that constitute concessions to the PA.

2) There should be an example from somewhere in the world where a military force did a better job of maintaining order among a hostile population.

But I doubt that Cowper-Coles would actually come out and agree with what are the clear implications of his criticism.

As an aside, it's quite admirable that Cowper-Coles is learning Hebrew. Here's an op-ed where he proudly flaunts his ability to read bumper stickers.
Masters of the Obvious This Barry Rubin column presents 20 questions and concise answers about the "situation".

Monday, October 14, 2002

Gary Farber linked to this article in the UK Independent in which a number of Britons are asked:

Who have most justice on their side?
a) The Israeli people and their leaders.
b) The Palestinian people and their leaders
c) Don't know..

Most of the respondents object to the formulation of the question; the others just think that the Palestinian position is self-evident - no real explanation or justification needed. That's probably because there are some people who see a picture like this one or headlines like this one and think that's all that they need to know.
The Israeli media is talking about preparedness for a strike by Saddam after the Americans attack. Some Tel Aviv residents especially have been making plans to go elsewhere in case of war. I haven't heard much talk from the people around me though... that's probably because Saddam never fired at Jerusalem in '91.

If I had the time and energy right now, the 2 topics that I want to get a handle on are: 1) what is the IDF doing now in Gaza? 2) What's up with the various reports of secret negotiations between Israel and the PA and the informal halt on terror attacks by Fatah.

To me it seems likely that any attempt by Fatah to halt attacks is motivated by the desire to preserve whatever infrastructure that remains. Israel is continuing to hit hard nonetheless, as tonite's surgical hit on Al-Aqsa member Mohammed Abayat in Beit Jala shows. And at the same time the IDF is being very aggressive in Gaza, leaving the impression (only recently - since the Shehade hit in particular) that its desire to eliminate Hamas is leading it to endanger civilians more than it has until now. Though operations in Gaza are probably much more complex than in the West Bank.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

I suspect that this is not true.
Zeev Schiff on what's going on between the White House and PM Sharon (here)

Army, Shin Bet split over Fatah's terror strategy
The "Gaza and Bethlehem first" plan never got off the ground - just as many predicted. But Bethlehem has been mostly quiet, and the IDF has stayed out for almost 2 months.

This article describes the situation there. The local leaders of the Tanzim/Fatah militia are either dead or in Israeli jails. Visitors have returned to the Church of the Nativity. Many residents of the town, which used to have a large tourist industry, desire a return to normal. Political leaders admit the defeat of their violent struggle by the IDF but make vague suggestions that it might resume - they say if the IDF returns.
From Friday's Yediot Ahronot:

Covers from anti-semitic books from various Arab countries:

The above is called "Dialogue with a Jew".

"Mein Kampf"

Henry Ford's "The International Jew"

A children's book

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Please bear with me while I deal with various issues that demand a lot of attention.

On the Channel 2 news tonite they described today's scene where 2 men pinned down the suicide bomber but then released him, enabling him to complete his attack which killed a 71-yr. old grandmother. Channel 2 talked about how difficult it is for security officials and bystanders to decide what to do. What would have happened if someone had shot the would-be bomber while he was pinned down?

I didn't manage to piece together what happened in Khan Yunis earlier this week - maybe the weekend papers will do that.

Question to my regular readers: Do you read Jpost and/or Haaretz on a daily basis? To Dash: can you send me your email address?

One of the best segments at last night's concert (see immediately below), was Steve Hancoff doing a steel guitar rendition of the old Hebrew folk song Shir Haemek.
Peter Himmelman, Steve Hancoff, and Andy Statman performed an "appreciation" concert tonite for a large audience of IDF soldiers, Magen David Adom workers, volunteer organizations, and 5 yuppies from Katamon who managed to talk their way in.

They're also doing concerts in a bunch of out-of-the-way places like charming desert town Mitzpe Ramon and terror-stricken Hadera, which I think is pretty neat. Included on the bills are well-known Israeli musicians like Matti Caspi and Shlomo Gronich - which in addition to being charming makes the show more accessible to people who don't like improvisation.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

This really shouldn't be necessary, but Saeb Erekat's April 10 assertion on CNN that 500 Palestinians were killed in Jenin appears here.
MIDDLE EAST (Cnn) -- In the "profughi slaughter" to the field of Jenin they have been killed more than 500 Palestinian. Saeb Erekat, the head of the Palestinian negotiators has asserted, in a declaration to Cnn
(from CNN Italy - Translation by Google)


Here's Erekat on CNN on April 15 where he clearly alludes to his earlier accusation:
Look, Bill, I told you yesterday, if the number of Palestinians who were killed in that refugee camp is as small as they say, I'm willing to come to Jenin and say we made a mistake. But when Sharon tonight says it's not dozens, but it's not 500, what is it, 400, 300? What is it? And the point is about the civilians. Where are the civilians in this refugee camp? Is there a refugee camp left?

You know, I have a list of 1,600 Palestinians now from this refugee camp who called me. People are missing their mothers, their fathers, their daughters, their husbands, their wives, their little children, families that were fragmented, families that haven't seen anything other than the atrocities and war crimes in this refugee camp. And I stand that there were crimes committed in this refugee camp. This was a flagrant violation of the international law. And I stand by the term massacres were committed in the refugee camps. And I know for sure that witnesses told me that they dug various graveyards and had buried a lot of people...

Ali Abunimah and Nigel Parry at the "Electronic Intifada" say that "no Palestinian ever made the charge that 500 people had been killed in Jenin" - but it can't be that they are unaware of this CNN transcript.... so what does that make them?
Evelyn Gordon surveys Palestinian speeches to determine what they consider to be the accomplishments of the two-years of violence (here), and reaches the conclusion:

Israelis, Americans and Europeans have frequently found the ongoing Palestinian support for the violent conflict inexplicable. Over and over during the last two years, statesmen, journalists and ordinary people have asked the same question:

How is it that the Palestinians have failed to realize that violence undermines their cause? But if the "cause" is to hurt Israel rather than to promote the Palestinian welfare, the deep commitment to the intifada makes perfect sense.

Monday, October 07, 2002

The film "Jenin Diary" was on TV tonite. It was interesting but not pleasant to watch ... The film was made by an IDF reservist who filmed members of his reserve unit as they conducted repeated operations in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield last spring (my weblog entry from then). It's a series of vignettes, starting a day or so after the ambush in the Jenin refugee camp in which 13 of the reservists were killed, and ending when they finally go home a several weeks later.

There's a small amount of context provided for the various clips, but no description of the "larger picture". Everything is shown from a single perspective - that of the soldiers. Most of the clips are interviews with or discussions between the reservists - who mostly come across as very human - or frail even. The themes that are repeatedly dealt with are: what it's like to be in a war, war is hell, what it's like to see your friends die, why were reservists sent to do the work of an elite unit, why were they so poorly prepared, why did they just follow orders.... There's lots of arguments among the soldiers, but very little of it is about politics.... once they are there, the soldiers are concerned about performing their mission and getting out alive.

There's scenes of tanks moving through wrecked Jenin, a bulldozer bulldozing something, soldiers talking over a radio about what to fire at and then firing, and a brief scene that I think was a sighting of Palestinian "militants" over night vision gear. Early in the film there's a fellow saying "If Sayeret or Duvdevan [elite units] were doing this, they would be equipped with ...." followed by a list of military equipment, of which about half was beeped out. Then he says something about how they have a new method - which is to bring in the D-9s (bulldozers) and reduce the risk to the soldiers.

Towards the end of the film, several soldiers vividly describe their experience with urban combat: one describes being perched on a roof and opening fire on 2 terrorists discretely trying to exit a house; another (from his hospital bed) describes being caught in an ambush and hearing voices speaking Arabic coming from the bathroom.

After it's all over, a religious fellow says that he feels he has been given a second chance to live, and that he has to change himself as a consequence. Two hippie-ish fellows both say that they won't come back to serve in a combat unit (though I'm not sure how they intended to decline): one said "there's nothing in this world that worth losing your life for"; the other said "I came hear for Eyal [comrade who died], or rather because of Eyal; other people believe in doing this so let them, but I don't". And a fourth fellow says that he understands and respects those who don't want to come back.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Channel 2 News just reported that the Palestinian Authority has been trying to financially assist the campaign of Amram Mitzna for leadership of the Labour party.

Mitzna is the leftist candidate who favors immediate to return to negotiations with the PA and unilateral withdrawal/settlement dismantlement from portions of the West Bank/Gaza if negotiations fail.

If Mitzna were nominated he would have little chance of getting elected, IMO.

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 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2296113.stm) "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)

Friday, September 27, 2002

Jpost (print edition) says that one of the attacks whose planning is attributed to Mohammed Deif is the attempted car bombing of a bus full of Israeli schoolchildren in October 1998.

To see how times have changed, take a look at what Time magazine said about that attack:

Later that week, a member of Hamas, the largest Palestinian Islamic group, nearly blew up a bus filled with the school-bound children of Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip. (An Israeli army jeep escorting the children cut him off, absorbing the blow of his 170-lb. car bomb. The bomber and one soldier died.) "[Arafat] was really panicking about it," said an official who saw him afterward. "Had it been the 40 schoolchildren, it would have been the end of the peace process as we know it."

Back in 1998 people had higher expectations of Arafat.... Nowadays what would it take to force the EU or the columnists in the IHT to concede that the Palestinians have torpedoed the "peace process"?

This photo might shed light on what happens in some cases where Palestinian kids get hurt or killed by the IDF (via LGF)

Thursday, September 26, 2002

There are conflicting reports about whether the IDF helicopter strike in Gaza killed Mohammed Deif. The IDF is saying that they got him (report).

Update: Currently it looks like Deif was only injured but 2 Hamas fellows in the car with him were killed (report).

Palestinians say that 40 bystanders were injured, including 15 children - but see Imshin. 6 people were said to have been seriously injured. This wasn't the Shehade hit, but it wasn't exactly the Yihya Ayash hit either.

Here's a background article on Deif. He organized the Hamas "military" branch into a secretive and cell-oriented command structure, and had personal connections with Mohammed Dahlan that enabled him to stay out of jail even when the PA was doing its revolving-door terrorist roundups. Deif is an expert bombmaker, and is said to have had advance knowledge of all attacks conducted by Hamas from Gaza and given instructions and briefings in at least some cases.

Ynet (Hebrew link) adds that Deif planned the kidnapping of soldier Nachson Waxman and the murders of soldiers Aryeh Frankenthal and Shahar Simani. Israel repeatedly asked Arafat to incarcerate Deif; Arafat's customary response was to ask his assistants: "who is he?".

Hamas spiritual leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi seems a little dense. How does Rantisi react when Israel rockets a car carrying a senior terrorist leader and 2 other Hamas officers?
"We are determined to wipe out Zionist terrorism. They are targeting civilians. They are targeting children. There are at least 15 children among the wounded here," said Rantissi.

This article on "radical left" group Gush Shalom is good but misses the basic lack of sanity that floats around Uri Avnery/GS, with its conspiracy theories and disingenuous accounts of Camp David/Taba et al.

As a student I came across Uri Avnery's old magazine Ha'olam Hazeh from the 60s at the University library. The one thing I remember is a sarcastic interview with a little girl who said that she wants to grow up to be a mother in a big city - the point was that she was bourgeois and didn't have good socialist values.

Barry Rubin thinks that optimism about democratic developments in the PA is premature (here).

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

At the moment, I've got nothing to say about Muqata or the Security Council. Here's what I did today ...

Visited the Sorek Stalactite Cave near Beit Shemesh.

Went to visit a friend who lives in a small community just over the Green Line (ie. in the West Bank) near Modiin. From his 3rd floor balcony there was a nice, hilly, and (of course) rocky view which includes 2 nearby Arab villages (Bilin and Kafr Niame maybe). My friend bought his apartment there because it was affordable; today he would have bought elsewhere, but if his community were evacuated he thinks that would probably be decently compensated. Travelling in the area is mostly safe, but there is one highway that passes Arab villages and is avoided at night.

A road was plowed on the first of the few hills that separates the settlement from the nearest Arab village. My friend says that this is to "claim" the hill so that Arab villagers don't begin building on it. I saw an article in the UK Independent that about an Arab who was - they said - being evicted from his home to make way for a settlement, but that's not what generally happens. The largest settlement (and the one I'm most familiar with) is called Maale Adumim - meaning "red cliffs", which is what was there beforehand.

In the evening T. and I went to see a concert by an American-Israeli group who were trying to channel Pearl Jam and had a couple of songs that were vaguely political (after the fashion of vaguely utopian political rock songs) - one about a child killed in crossfire and another one about "not giving up" (ie. hope).