Friday, September 13, 2002

Weekend Papers III This article says in passing that the US National Security Agency has been conducting Denial of Service attacks on radical Islamic websites.

Yediot Ahronot describes a study by Prof. Nissim Danah which claims that the text of the Koran recognizes an association between the Jews and the Land of Israel. His evidence is that twice in the Koran, Moses is quoted as referring to Israel as the Promised Land. Perhaps more convincingly, chapter 17 includes a description of the "end of days" in which Allah tells the Children of Israel that they should go to live in the Land of Israel, and that Allah will bring them in "tribe by tribe".
Weekend Papers II Analyst Zeev Schiff is a guy who doesn't just talk out of his hat. And here's his assessment of where things stand following Operation Determined Path

.....The Palestinian security organizations collapsed, and terrorists from all the various groups are on the run and in hiding. Hundreds of them were killed and thousands more are under arrest. The IDF proved its strength and determination to the Palestinians and to the Arabs in general.

The Palestinians have a sense of failure and are doing some serious soul-searching about the violent path Arafat chose. The criticism is coming from the grass roots and the mid-level leaders. New channels of negotiations with Israel are opening. But there is still a danger of terrible terror attacks by those opposed to the change.

Schiff also says: there are currently 91 "settlement outposts", of which 21 are illegal in the sense that they had not been approved by the Netanyahu or Barak governments (as an aside: remember that the Oslo Accords did not freeze settlement growth; the post-Oslo Mitchell Plan included a settlement freeze after the establishment of a ceasefire); Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer thinks that Israel should now begin a new diplomatic initiative and is likely to leave the gov't soon.

My own view is that "diplomatic initiatives" belong to the world of pie-in-the-sky diplomats. When there is a Palestinian leadership that wants to reach a real rapproachment with Israel, there will be communications - with both the gov't and also with the media and the left.
Weekend Papers Good background article on the row over the Lebanese pumping from the Wazzani River (here). Initial pumping began 3 years ago but is now being increased substantially. The waters of the Wazzani server to reduce the salinity of the Kinneret Lake.

Lynn B. provides background to a Haaretz article on a new Palestinian "spin" - according to which it's the Israelis who fabricated a report that Palestinians claimed that there had been a massacre in Jenin [got that?].

The Arab News Network is a London-based cable channel which host interviews with Israelis - provided that the Israelis are far-right extremists (report)

Thursday, September 12, 2002

This article describes how Israel's very public murder/terror trial against Marwan Barghouti has mega-boosted his popularity among Palestinians. There is speculation that the whole Mandela metaphor is being encouraged by Israel, as some Israelis (eg. the always naive Shimon Peres) think Barghouti is a desirable negotiating partner.

Barghouti and his lawyers are not claiming innocence, but have a creative argument about jurisdiction. Assuming that they're not dry legalists, Barghouti's international supporters are thus pretty much admitting that they think killing Israeli civilians is A-OK by them....

This and other articles say that some in Fatah are pushing for a "unilateral ceasefire" - they keep losing sight of the fact that what is actually being discussed is a halt to attacks on Israeli civilians (ie. a "shaheed-o-pause"). Such a halt can only be unilateral, since Israel doesn't target civilians .... or maybe that means that it's automatically bilateral.... whatever..
Some more thoughts about the attempted food poisoning.... The targeted Cafe Rimon is on the central Ben-Yehuda mall. If, when I was single, it had been open 24 hours/day as it is now I probably would have gone there a lot. The Cafe recently received a citation because the anti-bomber fence around the sidewalk cafe was built without a permit.

Imshin says that she is concerned about the next terror attack. Perhaps naively, I think the Islamizake lull will continue. The terror groups are now changing their tactics and I'm more afraid that they will do something that we haven't seen yet.
This AM on the radio there were a lot of comments about Fatah essentially forcing the removal of Arafat's cabinet.

Shimon Peres said that this was not democracy, but a positive step towards it; he didn't mention whether this seemed to disprove his previous contention that the attempt to marginalize Arafat was dangerous and doomed to failure.

A woman associated with the left-wing Meretz party said that this was very dangerous. Israel should neither try to affect the Palestinian political process nor be positively inclined about the latest developments. The weakening of Arafat's position could lead to a more official presence by Hamas, which would be a step backwards, or even to total chaos - she said. Though chaos is actually what Sharon desires, she contends, since he has no diplomatic strategy and would love nothing more than for there to be noone to talk to.

What's fascinating is that Peres and Meretz have this emotional and intellectual investment in Arafat. What's really funny is that Meretz can't deal with an event which seems to contradict their worldview - this woman was not quite hyperventilating as she described the satisfaction that she imagines Sharon would have with her imagined Palestinian chaos. The simple indication is, of course, that the resignations are a step away from Palestinian chaos.

I wouldn't care if Hamas officials attained positions in the PA. It would just give an official veneer to the policies that the PA has had till now.

My concern is that the next PA leader will be an Oslo-era Arafat, who has no real change of goals or attitude, but keeps the lid on the violence just enough so that the USA, Europe, and the Israeli left will push for unilateral concessions.
I'm sure this will everywhere soon, but Israel radio says that the al-Qaida website says that Osama died on December 9 in Tora-Bora.

Endowments from the Persian Gulf ensure that academic works that term Israel the "Zionist entity" and bemoan conditions in the "occupied territories" are ones that get funded - according to this article.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Ynet quotes (in Hebrew) Israeli reactions to the resignation of Arafat's cabinet: the head of IDF Military Intelligence Ahron Farkash said that it marks the Palestinian people for the first time breaking with Arafat; Labor leader Ben-Eliezer said that it means that Palestinians are realizing that terrorism is not the means to accomplish their goals.

Ben-Eliezer's point is doubtful as it seems that the PLC delegates are dissatisfied more with the corruption and incompetence of Arafat's folk. I'll tell you more if I manage to catch the Channel 2 news.

Compared to some European reactions to the 9/11 anniversary, the discussions here in Israel are straightforward: some clips from the American ceremonies, descriptions of precautions against anniversary attacks, lots of sympathy and identification. There's plenty elsewhere about the Palestinian response. Gratuitous Clearguidance link..

Never saw this amazing picture before.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

The newest Israeli blogger - RibbityFrog - has translated the Palestinian and Lebanese news reports on Arafat's speech to the Palestinian Legislature (here). Link to it you uberbloggers.
Within a year, aircraft that fly in Israel will have equipment to enable them to dodge shoulder-fired missiles (report).

Masters of the Obvious Evelyn Gordon concludes that there's no serious argument to be made that international law prevents Israel from relocating Kifah and Intisar Ajouri from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. She regards as hypocritical the remarks by Amnesty International (that the pair's "fundamental rights" were violated because their trial was not open) and the US State Dept. (who termed the expulsions as "punishing the innocent" despite the relocatees having behaved as accessories to murder).

A bureau of the Israeli defense ministry has issued advice to travelers that includes things like keeping hotel doors locked at all times and not flashing Israeli passports.

So ... concern about food poisonings, rocketing civilian aircraft, travelling abroad.... The dominant Israeli (and probably American) attitude is: take preventative measures, including pre-emptive measures. Terrorist failures, punitive measures, and eradicating incitement will eventually discourage these kinds of attacks.

The [smug?] European response is probably: Israel eradicated Hamas and Fatah in the West Bank/Gaza, so they're switching tracks and using Jerusalem Arabs and trying to attack Israelis and Jews abroad. This shows that force doesn't solve anything. Hence partial capitulation is the only solution even though all significant Palestinian factions (eg. Arafat, Fatah, and the PA; though possibly not Sari Nusseibeh) insist that the West Bank/Gaza is not enough for them to give up their struggle.
Al-Jazeera has a video in which the voice of Osama Bin-Laden is said to take responsibility for 9/11. This was mentioned in Maariv; I didn't see it anywhere else.
Today on the radio there was a lot of discussion about the foiled restaurant poisoning.

They interviewed some professor of Pharmacy or something who said several other prescription medications can be fatal and undetectable when administered in quantities as small as a milligram or two. There was lots of talk about what kinds of security measures can or should be taken.

Some restaurant owners said that they thought their business might drop off for a few days but would not be affected for long. The restaurant critic for Kol Ha-ir (Jerusalem's equivalent of the Village Voice) said that panic must be avoided because it's not justified (he knows many Arab chefs and food workers), and is precisely what the terrorists want, and recommends that people continue to eat out("at good restaurants, obviously").

Chef Zaid Amram (an Arab) of the Guest House at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, said that when he and his employees heard about the attempt they were worried about what it would mean for them, but that he felt no suspiciousness from his employers or the kibbutzniks.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Time Magazine said Monday quoted Israeli intelligence officials as saying that 98 percent of known members of the Hamas military wing have been arrested or killed over the past five months, leaving the terrorist organization in a state of disarray. (report).

Arafat condemns "every act of terror against Israeli civilians", but stopped short of saying that the attacks must be halted (report).

3 Jerusalem Arabs were arrested for planning to poison drinks in a downtown restaurant where 1 of them worked(report). This type of thing unfortunately motivates businesses to avoid hiring Arabs - legal and ethical issues notwithstanding.
Thanks to those who contributed to some interesting discussion on the Stig Moeller thread below. It's wonderful when people try to refrain from ad hominem attacks, and also when people realize that they can't change someone's entire world-view in a single posting.

I'm quite occupied at the moment with reallife and (especially) job-related issues.