Wednesday, December 10, 2003

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

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

Sunday, December 07, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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