Friday, June 28, 2002

Ze'ev Schiff writes today about the emergence of a "Sharon plan". Though of course It's not a plan-with-a-capital-P, but an approach to the current situation which, at the most basic level, includes the conviction that the current conflict must be managed rather than resolved.

Tactics for effectively managing the conflict include extended stays by the IDF in Area A and "security zones" - the latter being Sharon's conception of the much-discussed security fence. The "security zones" idea is that Israel will control a few zones that will help keep Islamikazes from entering Israel (there's no doubt the fear that these lines would be construed as a political border is what caused Peres to oppose the fence).

This seems extraordinarily sensible to me - much more sensible than all the other "plans" that get floated around that have little possibility of being implemented on the ground, and even less chance of actually working.

Schiff adds that Sharon has learned a lot over the years - he refrains from bombastic statements and speaking too bluntly, and appreciates the need to work with coalition partners and with the US. Sharon also thinks that the Palestinians could eventually be forced to consent to a long-term interim agreement.

Mark Heller in Jpost points out that there is still a gap between the US vision and Sharon's - the US is on record as supporting a Palestinian state in the medium-term.

All this is of course anathema to various persons including Shimon Peres, Knesset Member/Arafat advisor Ahmed Tibi, and all the op-ed writers in today's IHT. When they say that the Palestinians will remain intrasigent without a short-term "carrot" (like immediate statehood), I believe that they are in touch with Palestinian thinking - which is why negotiations are not possible now.

Some particularly annoying sophistry by Malley/Evans in the IHT - they believe that "incremental solutions have had their day". What they really mean is that having any expectations at all from the Palestinians will never work.
Reading both Jpost and Haaretz is a good combination for getting hard news. If Jpost has an eentsy leaning towards shrill reporting once in a while, I still prefer it to the antiseptic, foreign media style that shows up in Haaretz. When it comes to analysis, however, Haaretz is increasingly tedious (aside from Ze'ev Schiff) - I'm now giving Yediot Aharonot a shot and it actually seems to be a better source for a left-wing perspective even though it's a tabloid.

Haaretz TV critic Benny Ziffer describes a documentary on suicide bombers broadcast on the French/German Arte channel:
To begin with, it is sad to the point of tears that we had to wait for a French director - Simone Bitton, whose 1999 documentary film "The Bombing" is about a terrorist attack in Jerusalem - to take me, in my country, to see things I could not have seen before. I never heard the composer Zvi Avni, for example, tell about the human head he saw on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall, not far from the cafe where he was having coffee with the director, a head as perfect as a classical sculpture, the sight of which seemed to transfix him. I never heard that, because the head belonged to the terrorist who blew himself up.

Nor have parents of victims of terrorist attacks been heard much to say in public that they do not hate the murderer of their child. In Israeli eyes, these parents are insane for traveling to the village where the terrorist lived, the village of Asira al-Shamaliya, which has produced four suicide bombers, and meeting with the family of one of them in an attempt to understand. And when that proved insufficient, they went to a Palestinian psychiatrist for further insight. The only answer the psychiatrist could offer was that the suicide bombers are people who feel that they are bearing the burden of the national defeat on their shoulders.

And the image of the four suicide bombers holding hands on the roof of the Palestinian prison in Nablus. And the parents of the suicide bombers: four pairs of bereaved parents, all of them no less tragic than Nurit Peled and her husband, whose daughter Smadar - granddaughter of Matti Peled, the army general who became a peace activist - was killed by a terrorist. And we heard the journalist Amnon Bierman, whose daughter was critically wounded in a terrorist attack, accuse Hamas and Benjamin Netanyahu in equal measure for what happened to her.

"Sad to the point of tears" that the Israeli media doesn't describe the transfixing head of the bomber? Is Ziffer being sarcastic?

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Here's an interesting article about CNN's Israel reporting and its Israel bureau. The Atlanta and website staffs are said to be less prejudiced and more inclined toward balance than the CNN correspondents stationed here in Israel. The latter are often uninformed and bring their attitudes from wherever they were previously stationed. There are also some choice anecdotes of malicious reporting.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

An Australian radio/TV network has attributed some suspiciously outlandish statements to Shimon Peres. For details + my opinion, see Tim Blair's weblog.

Update: Imshin quotes a Amos Carmel column in Yediot Ahronot that includes part of the same text. But where did it come from originally?

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

More pictures from a Hamas kindergarten graduation. (via Mideast Truth blog).
There's now a new response by Benny Morris/Ehud Barak to the Camp David revisionism of Robert Malley/Hussein Agha.

Malley/Agha's response to the response is mostly ad-hominem/straw man.
According to this article, the Bush speech was a compromise intended to satisfy the contradictory demands of different elements of the US administration. Powell is said to have favored immediate creation of a "provisional" state.
This AM on the radio, Palestinian official Ziad Abu Diad said something to the effect of "Bush's speech gives no hope to the Palestinian people; it gives us no place to start to achieve our state". The parts of the speech about democratization and halting the murder of Israeli civilians obviously didn't register with him. Arab MK/Arafat associate Ahmed Tibi told Israelis that the tough nature of the speech will just impel his Palestinian friends to kill us more - "The speech will just raise the level of violence on the ground", he said.

Interestingly, the Israeli left is also not enthusiastic about the speech. In my view, that's because the Left hasn't absorbed the message of the past 2 years, and still believes in a fast solution that involves Arafat. MK Haim Ramon, of Labour Party's left wing, says the speech shows that the US has no diplomatic direction. Camp David negotiator Shlomo Ben-Ami said that it's inconceivable that the Palestinians would replace Arafat as a consequence of the speech.

In a clear and convincing piece here, Barry Rubin says that the purpose of the Bush speech was mainly to "change the terms of reference" and show involvement. Regarding how the speech will sound to the Palestinians, Rubin writes:
And Bush's ideas will be so distorted that by the time they arrive at the doorstep of the Palestinian masses they will seem to be the worst type of imperialistic opposition to their aspirations. Most Palestinians, and especially Islamists and leftist groups like the PFLP and DFLP, will see this as a trap to force them to accept the 40 percent of the West Bank they now control as a permanent solution.

Second, it will be seen as a pull-back from the Camp David and Clinton plans which offered instant and full statehood as part of a peace plan. The idea that the Palestinians would not have to make any concessions on borders, Jerusalem and refugees in order to get an "interim state" is the kind of argument that sounds good in Washington but will not play in Ramallah. Opinion there, after all, is that the Palestinians should get full statehood, right now, without any concessions whatsoever.

Update: Not that long ago, the PA claimed that it was trying to stop terror attacks aimed at Israeli civilians (and the EU claimed to believe them).

Now Palestinian Cabinet Secretary Ahmed Abdel Rahman says that Bush "mixed up" the concepts of terrorism and resistance to Israeli occupation. That is to say: Rahman and the PA now endorse bus bombings and the like and are just a little careful with their language.
Earlier this week, my wife T. visited a government building. Standing in front of her, in line for the standard security check, were 3 Arabs - 2 of them women in hijab.

One of the women held a baby that was completely swaddled - so that not even its face was visible (note that it's quite hot here right now). The guard seemed hesitant to "inspect" the baby, and T. got a little nervous. Finally, the guard said "This is just a baby, right?". Then he quickly ruffled the blankets a little - and confirmed that yes there was a baby in there.
Some folks over at the Guardian chatroom sincerely think that Ehud Barak's offer at Taba aimed to create Palestinian "bantustans".

Monday, June 24, 2002

What I'm wondering is whether the "provisional state" thing was supposed to have been a carrot to get Arafat to crack down on terror.
Sometimes I think that Israel is starting to get its message across - but then I see something like this.

Arafat lost some prestige once Europe could no longer pretend that he wasn't behind the murder of civilians. But now the shock is wearing off, and as a consequence, some Europeans are finding these tactics increasingly acceptable. I think that as soon as the Palestinians openly give up on the "2-state solution" and express their desire to wipe Israel off the map they'll eventually find support for that also.
NYTimes reporter Chris Hedges has a full CV of shoddy, malicious, and fictitious reporting on Israel. But NYTimes news editor William Borders doesn't care.
Trouble is brewing on the Lebanese border. Syria and Iran have been arming Hizbullah, who are expected to try to kidnap soldiers or create another provocation to force the IDF to retaliate (report)

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Arutz-7 says that CNN has decided to refrain from airing statements/videos made by terrorists and their families (report) (more)
Last week, Israel was reeling from some of the most horrific atrocities that it has seen in a while (ie. since April). The sentiments that I saw included a lot of resignation and denial, as well as some inarticulate rage (particularly on the radio).

The Friday IHT, my window on the West, missed all that I think. It had an editorial disingenuously headlined "More Palestinian Suicides", and it put on its front page a "concerned" treatment of the disagreement between Peres and Sharon regarding the extent of the Israeli response.

On this second point, Zeev Schiff has a good summary of what's likely (demolishing homes and deporting the families of bombers to Gaza) and what's unclear (how long the IDF will actually stay and what the American response will be).

Schiff also notes that the IDF is continuing to stay out of Jericho, since no attacks have been originating from there; also there is intelligence that indicates that Fatah and other groups are now attempting to execute "group bombings", in which up to 6 Islamikazes would detonate themselves simultaneously.

I haven't heard anyone here - even on the left - attempt to draw any kind of moral equivalence between the 4 Palestinians killed in Jenin on Friday and the 33 civilian Israelis murdered in 3 separate attacks earlier in the week.

If I went to places like the blue-collar neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv, or the more ideological West Bank settlements, I could probably hear views similar to the more extreme ones on my comments forum (these latter usually from Americans). But as I said, most of what I hear is denial, resignation, and inarticulate anger. It's hard to see that our government's latest steps will make a significant difference; increasingly it seems that what's needed is to cure Palestinian society of its deepening radicalism and obsession with martyrdom.
Here is a picture of a Palestinian kindergarten student with her hands raised and dyed red to recall the lynching of 2 Israeli soldiers in Ramallah.

The article describes the kindergartens run by the "Islamic Charitable Association" in Gaza, which are attended by about 5000 Palestinian children.

The article describes a "graduation exercise": The kids burned and Israeli flag and recite: "in the name of the martyr Muhamad Al-Dura and the infant martyr Iman Haju, we pledge to continue the Jihad in resistance and in intifada" A girl raised her "bloody hands", then a child dressed as Hamas leader Hassan Nasrallah recited a few lines about how the Hizbullah fought the Israelis and were rewarded from above. The kids carry toy rifles.

I'll try to translate the full article later on if I have time (someone else want to volunteer?).

Update: Thanks to Ester for translating the full article below.

Gil has the Maariv photo and the original photo from after the Ramallah lynching. Worth seeing even if you're not one of those people who got here by Googling for Islamikaze photos.

From Maariv (June 24, 2002) [Click here for Hebrew article/photo]
Translation by Ester


This is how the graduation ceremony goes at the kindergartens of the "Islamic Charitable Association" in Gaza

By Jackie Hugi

Kindergartens in Gaza teach children Jihad against Israel, justification of the Ramallah lynching [in Oct 2000], admiration of the Hizbullah, and the continuation of the Intifada. The children receive these lessons in Israel-hatred at the independently-run education network of the "Islamic Charitable Association", which is responsible for the education of some 5000 children.

At the graduation ceremony of one of the most recent kindergarten classes, the children burned the Israeli flag and cried: "In the name of the Shahid (martyr) Mohammed al-dura and the Shahida, the infant Iman al-Haju, we promise to continue with the Jihad, the resistance and the Intifada". One of the girls raised her hands high, hands dipped in red paint, in the manner of one of the perpetrators of the Ramallah lynching, whose hands were covered in blood. One boy, dressed as the secretary-general of the Hizballah, Hassan Nasrallah, made a speech in which he said: "The Palestinians will not be alone in their battle against Zionism. Hizbullah is with them, always" - which earned him much applause. Children carried toy rifles, and some had Keffiyehs over their faces.

An internal document of the (Israeli) Government Operations Coordinator in the territories, which came out recently, analyzed the expressions of hostility in the Association's kindergartens. The document determines that the Islamic Association's network of kindergartens serves as a firm base to incite young children against Israel. The document warns that these kindergartens constitute for the Hamas the ideological basis for future suicide bombers.

The Association's website documents the ceremony of the 11th class to graduate these kindergartens. Participating at the ceremony, which took place at the Shati refugee camp on the Gaza coast, were 1650 children and thousands of adults.

The children were dressed in army fatigues. Around the podium where the ceremony took place hung flags of Hizballah and the Islamic Association, pictures of martyred children, and slogan. One of the latter cried: "The blood of the children and the martyred of Palestine will be a curse to haunt to Zionist criminals".

The ceremony started with the reading out loud of passages from the Koran by one of the children. Afterwards, a platoon of five-year-olds staged a military parade, armed with plastic rifles. Two of the children carried a model of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. One of the marchers stopped and cried, "Do Sharon's tanks, missiles and mortars frighten you?". His friends answered in unison: "No, no". He continued: "The Zionist bombings do not frighten us. Our people will not bend". Later, the children burned the Israeli flag, and one child impersonated Hamas' leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

The Islamic Association of Gaza is the largest charitable organization in the Gaza Strip of the religious stream. It was founded 26 years ago, and at its head is Sheikh Ahmed Bahar, a member of Hamas. It operates tens of kindergartens in Gaza, helps needy families and orphans, and supports poor students and martyrs' children. Additionally, the Association facilitates blood donations, operates a medical clinic for a nominal fee, and also a sports club, best known for its successful volleyball team.

The Association subsists upon donations and the nominal dues of its members.

Last year, their institutions were visited by representatives of a Swedish NGO and of an South African Islamic delegation. Non-profit organizations in Italy and the US donated computers and VCRs.

Sheikh Bahar said at the ceremony that he places the responisbilty on the shoulders of the Palestinian mothers to "Raise the children on the teachings of Islam, love of Jerusalem and Palestine, and love of Jihad and resistance"