Saturday, June 08, 2002

Palestinians started shooting into mobile homes in Gush Etzion, killing 3 Israelis including a pregnant woman and wounding 6. (report)

Also, the IDF thwarted 2 other attacks in Gaza, killing 5 terrorists (report)

Friday, June 07, 2002

Haaretz editor-in-chief Hanoch Marmari addressed the World Editors' Forum in Belgium. Here's the transcript, in which he circumspectly criticizes the performance of international media in its Middle East reporting. He cites yet more examples of shoddy reporting from Jenin and enumerates what he considers to be a journalist's four tragic (but avoidable) flaws: obsessiveness, prejudice, condescension, and ignorance.

He defends Amira Hass as someone who has the ability to distinguish the truth from rumor and propaganda (I disagree, and Marmari acknowledges that sometimes she simply juxtaposes the Israeli and Palestinian version events). But he resents her work being taken out of context and Haaretz' reputation being used to legitimize anti-Israel propaganda.

Marmari opines:

A more professional approach [to evaluating what happened in Jenin] would have factored in the five million cellular phones in Israel, and half-million more in the Palestinian areas, which would make a cover-up impossible. Even before the first reporters were on the scene in the Jenin camp, it was obvious that there had been no massacre there. Hundreds of soldiers who were involved in the operation are reservists, meaning reasonable and opinionated civilians, many of them are among our readers, and each one had a cellular phone in his pocket that he used constantly.

This is very well-put. By the same token it's now fully established that Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat, UNRWA officials Peter Hansen and Paul McCann, and many others are liars and cynics, and a professional approach requires doubting everything that they say. And don't buy a used car from Terje Roed-Larsen either.
Weekend Papers

Finally: an informative article on the plans for a "security fence" along the edge of the West Bank. Fence plans aren't new, but they were so far never carried out for some reason. There is a fear that the fence will just cause terror attacks to move to areas near the gaps in the fence.

This poll says that only 24.1% of Palestinians would accept a peace agreement that didn't include resettling the refugee camps into Israel proper.

Israeli leftist leader Yossi Beilin is not worth taking seriously. But here's a takedown by Amotz Asael.

The IDF has been searching cars of diplomats as they cross in from Gaza. Diplomats say this violates international law (details ) .

This article details what's up with the Church of the Nativity exiles in Europe.
An Israeli 18-yr. old was shot dead today while riding in a car in the West Bank (details). Am I right in assuming that incidents aren't noted much by the international media?

Thursday, June 06, 2002

The US State department has a new "political horizon" draft which calls for Israeli withdrawal to the lines of June 4, 1967 and acknowledgment by Palestinians that refugees won't be settled into Israel. (details)

I find that offensive.... if the Palestinians violate more agreements and murder more civilians, will the State Dept. then sweeten the deal even more?

Arafat's response to the draft will be: "Yes, except for the part about the refugees. ... and except for any other obligation on the Palestinian side. You can't ask a people to give up their rights after all."
Great moments in CNN typos via Dr. Frank.
Today is the 35th anniversary of the Israeli sweep into Old Jerusalem. It's very moving to hearing the old radio reports and interviews from then (transcribed here). Naomi Shemer's singing Yerushalyim Shel Zahav sounds quaintly innocent and of an entirely different era.
This article makes some good points about what Israeli spokespeople should be saying:

WHAT SORTS OF arguments should Israel should be making?

The first step amounts to a kind of reclamation project. Israeli spokesmen must stress that, pace Kofi Annan, the terrritories are not "occupied" but disputed, and that the presence of Israelis on them does not violate the one applicable article of international law as set down by Geneva Convention.....

If this seems a stretch, the next line of defense might go as follows: "Yes, the territories are occupied. But Israel came to occupy them in the course of a war it did not start. It continued to occupy them after their return was rejected at the Arab summit in Khartoum. And Israel still occupies them because Israelis have not yet seen on the part of the Arabs any serious sign that a return of the territories will genuinely guarantee our security within the pre-1967 borders. In other words, the occupation is not something Israelis have forced on the Palestinians. It is an occupation they have forced on us."

For the second step, Israeli spokesmen must speak of the conflict not as a battle between Jews and Arabs, but between democrats and dictators. Consant attention must be called to the fact that the PA abides neither by the rule of law nor by the ordinary strictures of human rights, that it suppresses political dissent and press freedom, and that Arafat, far from being the champion of his "people," is just another garden-variety Arab despot foisted on a nation that deserves better.


Finally, the argument against terrorism must be placed in the context of an argument for the legitimacy of the state of Israel. For most Israelis, as for those in the West, this may not seem much in doubt. But that legitimacy is very much in doubt among too large a percentage of the Palestinian population, and people in the West need to understand that the dispute over the territories is merely a proxy argument over this larger question.

WHY DO THEY murder us in Tel Aviv? Why do they massacre us in Netanya? Why are they blowing up buses at Meggido Junction? Why are they wiping us out in the cafes of Rehavia? And why do such attacks enjoy widespread popularity in one survey of Palestinian opinion after the next? The people who conduct Isael's hasbara efforts must begin to put these questions into the minds of their Western audiences. And they must awaken the West to the danger Israel faces by constantly supplying the answer.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

The bus bombing today was on Route 65, near Afula. Route 65 runs from the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway through Hadera and Umm-al-Fahm (an Israeli Arab town with a 'militant' reputation). At the end it reaches the little town of Afula, which is close to the Green Line and north of Jenin.

It's probably the most dangerous of any commonly-travelled stretch of road here... The driver of today's bombed 830 bus had witnessed 3 other suicide bombings previously. Last year, my spouse and I returned from a weekend in a kibbutz Guest House near Afula via the most direct route - which is the Jordan Valley road straight through the West Bank. When we got home, we decided that we wouldn't take that route again (it was desolate) - then we heard that someone had been shot and killed on Route 65.

If you read Hebrew (and have Hebrew fonts), you might want to look at this message board (there's a few comments in English from Palestinians who come straight from CNN central casting).
Many weblogs that discuss Israel haven't mentioned the Megiddo bombing. Could it be that, like the Israelis, they've run out of things to say about them?

Army radio reported that Al-Jazeera TV said that Jews had carried out the Megiddo bombing. Army radio also said that the BBC reported the incident not as a terror attack but as something "random". Did anyone who saw the BBC coverage know what they meant?
When I got up this AM I went to check my email and read about the bus bomber in Afula that killed 14 (details).

Just below the Post article about the attack there's a report of comments from PA security chief Jibril Rajoub, who remarked that peace would be attainable if not for Israel's "unilateral aggression against the Palestinian people" and US support.

Many Palestinians have developed the ability to convince themselves of blatantly self-serving falsehoods like this one. To them, Israeli attacks on terrorists like the ones who launched this morning's attack are really attacks on ordinary Palestinians. They put attacks like this morning's into some sort of psychological parentheses (after they finish celebrating) so that Israel's response can be called "unilateral" rather than the preventative retaliation that it is. And they convince themselves that they want "peace", when the only thing that they will accept is Israel's full acquiescence to their maximal demands regarding Jerusalem and "refugees".

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Unlike Rishon etc., Jerusalem has been quiet (ie. free of terror attacks) for several weeks now (unless I'm forgetting something). Previously, we were getting the message that Operation Defensive Wall had seriously undermined the infrastructure of the terrorist groups, while increasing their motivation to let us know that they're around and kicking.

The message now is: major attacks are being attempted; the active steps being taken by the IDF (report) are necessary to prevent them; a security fence close to the perimeter of the West Bank is now being constructed (report).

Today in Tel Aviv, there's a drill (including a tall smoky building) to prepare for a large scale attack which I pray will never happen.

Lots of diplomatic activity going on: Sharon and CIA chief George Tenet held a meeting and are said to have discussed "security and intelligence". Arafat is said to be showing Tenet his plan for reform of the Palestinian security apparatus. Arafat apparently snubbed both the pragmatic Jibril Rajoub and the suave and well-dressed Mohammed Dahlan as security chief (though from this report it seems that Dahlan himself decided to resign). And now Sharon has been invited to Washington.

The people around me are talking primarily about the Mondial ... but I think it's accurate to say that Israelis don't expect much from either the diplomatic flurry or the PA reforms.

It strikes me as strange how some people (eg. the Europeans, Haaretz) are fond of pushing for "diplomatic initiatives". At this stage, the facts and attitudes on the ground are what matter - ie. the two sides must have broadly reconcilable goals and mutual trust - and of course they don't.

There a lots of reporters on the diplomatic beat, but not too many on military affairs: the good ones are Ze'ev Schiff at Haaretz and Arieh O'Sullivan at the Jerusalem Post. I'd like to see an explanation of the "security fence". This morning I was listening to the clowns on youth-oriented Army Radio joking about a security fence which could open and close to catch the rumored glider attacks. Then they cut in with news of the Hebron shooting/truck wreck. (details)

Separately, the IDF is now conducting an investigation into the Jenin events and speaks of "failures in coordinating aid" with international agencies (details).
This just in: Syria has been arming (Lebanese) Hizbullah to the teeth and they are expected to launch a cross-border attack in the coming days (details)
A far-right Knesset member claims that Yossi Beilin's new leftist movement has received funds from the EU (details) Not that there's anything illegal about that.

The EU has previously funded various leftist Israeli organizations including the "Four Mothers" movement (for unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon) and an organization aimed at moving the Russian immigrant vote leftward (details, more).

Max Power says that multi-blogger blogs -- like Samizdata, the Brothers Volokh, and Hoosier Review -- are the way to go, if he could start all over again.

Max, had I known how much time this thing was going to take from me, I'd have brought in partners, too. That goes double if Melissa had known.

Apropos the above remark from Stephen Green, my beloved spouse announces that she is starting And she's looking for blog-partners ...

Monday, June 03, 2002

Yossi Beilin, the co-architect of the Oslo process and about the only Israeli politician who still believes in negotiating with Yasser Arafat, does have admirers. Not that I know any of them.

Today I saw banners for the "Run, Beilin, Run" rally tonite in Tel Aviv. Beilin won't announce anything tonite, but he is considering leaving the Labour party and starting his own party in conjunction with the left-wing Meretz.

I would actually like to see him run as this would show the extent to which most Israelis view Oslo as a failure. It might even be a mistake for Meretz (which is supported by many for its strong stance for Arab rights and against religious coercion) who could get dragged down with him.

But Beilin is dangerous because he'll appear in foreign media and attack our gov't. He'll say that Arafat is a peace partner. He'll be portrayed as a "lone voice for peace".

Army Radio this AM had some witty banter:

Leftist : I used to think he was a formidable politician, but now I can't abide the idea of urging "Run, Beilin, Run" without adding "but apologize first"


Rightist : [His supporters think] that it's not him that's the problem, but "reality"

Leftist: He hasn't done any introspection [about Oslo] or faced up to the situation we're in.

Update: Beilin is expected to announce formation of a new political party "to unite all leftist movements", but is not now resigning from Labor (details).

Sunday, June 02, 2002

This just in: Avi Dichter of the Shin-Bet (= Israeli FBI) says that if the IDF fully exits the Palestinian Authority areas there will be another spike in terror attacks. He said that about 40 attacks have been prevented in the past few weeks - most of them planned by the Tanzim militia. The terror fellows who are in jail and being observed by American and British wardens are being permitted unlimited visitors.

Haaretz and Jpost differ over whether Dichter advocated erecting a security fence around the West Bank or merely "buffer zones".

Some people oppose the "security fence" because it isolates the settlement communities. Also it's not clear exactly what the "fence" accomplishes, since terrorists often attempt to sneak through (rather than "around") checkpoints. I'll try to write more on this soon.
A personal anecdote: several years back (might have been 1997) I went on a couple of dates with a woman whose mother was a Jewish Israeli and whose father a Palestinian Muslim (and a "militant" according to a rumor). Her family went to live in Jordan when she was young and she attended an Islamic girls' school. Speaking both Hebrew and Arabic fluently, she began working for the Jordanian trade ministry after the Israel-Jordan peace agreement and eventually moved back to Israel.

After we had gotten to know each other a little (and this having been the bumpy middle of the Oslo period), I asked her if she thought peace with the Palestinians was possible. She immediately broke into tears - and I felt horrible. I quickly apologized, and I understood that yes, she did think peace was possible. Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that she wanted and believed in peace.
The Israel Festival has been going the past week here in Jerusalem. This year there's fewer musicians, theater troupes etc. from the USA and Europe and more from Korea, Argentina, etc. Andrew Hill played tonight - would have gone to see him if he done a band performance rather than solo piano.
More sanity from Europe

"This dispute [ie. Israeli-Palestinian] cannot be solved by military means and certainly not through acts of terrorism in which innocent individuals become victims of terror. Not only is it a solemn duty to condemn and oppose such acts, measures must be taken against them. "

- Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan

Kavan sounds clear and principled, but remarks like that have not made the Czech Republic popular in the Arab world recently. Kavan cancelled a meeting with Arafat and had meetings cancelled in Egypt. See the not-so-clear details here.