Monday, December 22, 2003

Doomed to Repeat
Expressing his frustrations with the peace process, Lenny Ben David suggests, not learning from the past, but returning to it in "After the Roadmap" Arafat's return to Gaza was a portent of the failure to come:
When Arafat rode into Gaza from Egypt for the first time in July 1994 — another great "moment" in modern history — Israeli intelligence officers noted how low the car was riding and how high up in the seat Arafat was sitting. Crammed into the Mercedes with (and under) Arafat were contraband weapons and terrorist operatives who were banned from entering the Palestinian territories. Israeli security sources also believe Arafat smuggled weaponry in his private jet after the Gaza airport opened with much media hoopla.

(Another similar view of this event was provided by the late Michael Kelly in "Promises but Never Peace."
Ben-David summarizes his conclusion in a neat paragraph.

Yasser Arafat has spoiled, poisoned, corrupted, and undermined every peace proposal presented over the last decade. Every envoy tasked with advancing the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in recent years — George Mitchell, Anthony Zinni, and most recently John Wolf — have all returned home empty-handed. No wonder the late King Hussein of Jordan said of Arafat, "He never came to a bridge he didn't double-cross."

What to do? Ben-David suggests some sort of an arrangement with Gaza, Judea and Samaria reverting in some way to their previous owners, Egypt and Jordan.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
How Saddam was caught
The New York Times carried a fascinating article about how the army tracked Saddam. Apparently back in June, the army stopped looking for the most notorious people in Iraq and started tracing clans. The article "How Army Sleuths Stalked the Adviser Who Led to Hussein" by Eric Schmitt informs us:

But interviews with several officers here over the past two days revealed new details about the informant and the detective work done by military intelligence analysts here to identify a complex web of relationships linked to Mr. Hussein.

"The tribal clans here are all based on interpersonal relationships, so what you have to do is build yourself a map of those relationships," said Lt. Col. Todd Megill, the chief intelligence officer for the Fourth Division.

The fruit of this analytical effort, first described Thursday in The Wall Street Journal, is a highly classified, color-coded chart that depicts Mr. Hussein's family and organizational tree. Centered in the chart in a yellow circle like a bull's-eye is Mr. Hussein. Links to other people radiate out, based on familial and functional ties. The names of those killed or captured are written in red.

Recently it's come to light that Israel has been advising the U.S. as how to occupy Iraq and how to run counter-insurgency operations. I'm wondering if the clan tracking came as a result of an Israeli suggestion.
About the Raven
Brian Billick came to Baltimore with a reputation as an offensive genius. Still since he's been here the Ravens have had almost a dozen quarterbacks and not one seems to stick more than a few games. In fact the Ravens' championship year it seemed that the team won mostly on defense and special teams. It looks like that's happening again this year.

This year, though, Jamal Lewis is providing plenty of offense on his own; he's almost at 2000 yards rushing. Very near some very select company. An article I saw on Sportsline makes me wonder if maybe this is a good sign. In "Three contenders running into trouble," writer Pete Prisco argues that three of the top teams in the NFL - the Colts, Chiefs and Eagles are having trouble stopping the run.

As things stand now the Ravens (if they win next week) would face the Titans in the first round of the playoffs. If they could get past Tennessee then they'd probably see either Indy or KC. According to Prisco, in the second round, the Ravens would have an edge due to Jamal Lewis. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I don't follow football closely enough to know if Prisco is onto something or simply blowing smoke like so many other sportswriters. For now, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, December 19, 2003

The Sylvius Trick
In what is considered by some to be the worst Sherlock Holmes mystery, "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone," Holmes confronts the villain, Count Sylvius and recites a number of unsavory episodes that the Count was involved in. Finally we get to:
"Plenty more here, Count. Here is the robbery in the train de-luxe to the Riviera on February 13, 1892. Here is the forged check in the same year on the Credit Lyonnais."
"No, you're wrong there."
"Then I am right on the others! ..."
Holmes adds a fake incident at the end of his litany that elicits a denial. He deduces that he is right about the other charges

Ron Pundak in "Read it before you criticize it" reminds me of Sylvius when he criticizes Prof. Shlomo Avineri's critique of the Geneva Accord (or here. Pundak writes:
Prof. Shlomo Avineri, for example, claimed in Yedioth Ahronoth that "the Jewish people is not mentioned in the document" and raised the possibility that "among the Palestinian signatories are those who think there's no such thing as a Jewish nation." Avineri, one of Israel's leading academicians, is wrong and misleading,.
First of all the second half of the statement is correct that "among the Palestinian signatories are those who think there's no such thing as a Jewish nation," but Pundak is correct that the Geneva Accords do mention the Jewish people. But that might be all the he is correct about.

One of Avineri's complaints is:
Not only the Arab refugees will be entitled to compensation, but also some Arab countries - for the expenses they incurred in "hosting" the refugees
since 1948. The Israelis public has not been told this.

Indeed, Pundak does not dispute this because it is true:
3. Compensation
(a) Refugees shall be entitled to compensation for their refugeehood and for loss of property. This shall not prejudice or be prejudiced by the refugee's permanent place of residence.

(b) The Parties recognize the right of states that have hosted Palestinian refugees to remuneration.

The only refugees that the Accord acknowledges are the Arab refugees from the theater of war, not the greater number Jewish refugees who were kicked out of Arab lands.

Another item that galls me is that in its discussion of religious places is the use of the term "Wailing Wall" but I discussed that earlier.

When I first read the Geneva Accords, I was surprised at the number of items that referred to "Annex X". So I e-mailed the heskem people asking them to tell me what was in "Annex X." I didn't ask it in a confrontational manner or in any way to make them suspect that I was a critic. I still haven't received a response. It makes me think that they don't want to publicize "Annex X" more than they have to. All items that refer to "Annex X" have to do with the international oversight to which Israel (and the PA) will have to submit to resolve differences. But this brings up another problem that Avineri addresses:
A careful reading of the document shows that in the matter of the refugee problem and certain other matters Israel will in effect be placed under the supervision of an "implementation" group and a commission comprising not only the U.N., the U.S., Russia and the European Union, but also the Arab states. In effect, Israel will cease to be a sovereign country regarding substantive matters and will turn into a kind of international mandated territory. It is clear why this is not being told to the public.

Again, Pundak doesn't address this. While it's clear that Avineri made a mistake about the term "Jewish," it's clear that he did read the Accord. And it's also clear that Pundak refuses to address the substantive issues that Avineri brought up.

Read the security section of the Accord and you see all sorts of nice sentiments:
Palestine and Israel each shall ... refrain from joining, assisting, promoting or co-operating with any coalition, organization or alliance of a military or security character, the objectives or activities of which include launching aggression or other acts of hostility against the other;

I'm sure that will assure Israel's security just like Arafat's letter to PM Rabin assured that he would forswear all terror forever and ever.
The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.

What makes it more likely that the PA will abide by a future agreement when it didn't abide by the previous one?

Finally Avineri (actually this is in the beginning of the article) notes:
The initiators present themselves as independent political and intellectual figures from both sides. Not so. Indeed, the Israeli side includes opposition figures and independent intellectuals; the Palestinian side is headed by the former Palestinian Minister of Information, who said the document has Arafat's blessing. The Palestinian Prime Minister says he personally agrees with the document. The Palestinian initiators do not include any opposition figures - because there is no real opposition in the Palestinian Authority, except for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who, as is known, are not partners to the initiative. This is a document of part of the opposition in Israel and of the Palestinian ruling establishment.

This is exactly right. The PLO's english version of the Geneva Accords is posted on the PLO's official website. The Israeli version is up at Ha'aretz or at the "Heskem" organizations website. Again, it is something the Pundak refuses to address. He lataches onto Avineri's one careless claim and leaves all the substantive claims unchallenged. I would say that Pundak is guilty as charged by Avineri.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
The second amendment in Maryland
Shortly before the 2002 election it was reported that the Glendening/Townsend administration Maryland hadn't fulfilled it's federal obligations in doing background checks. Perhaps that's one of the reasons that Townsend's attempt to run an anti-gun campaign fell flat.
Now Instapundit notes that the Democratic party is reconsidering it's position on the second amendment. Did the failure in Maryland last year in any way contribute to this re-thinking?

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Humiliating 41
The New York Times had an article about how the capture of Saddam closes a chapter for the Bush family. The war against Saddam started under the first President Bush and has now ended under the aegis of his son. The article contains this little nugget.
For his part, Mr. Hussein used to refer to the 43rd president as "little Bush," and "son of the viper," and his government built a mosaic of the 41st president's face into the floor of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad so that thousands of people would have to walk over it every day, in one of Arab culture's worst insults. American soldiers broke the mosaic to bits in April.

What's interesting is that this article simply notes that that walking on someone's image is "one of Arab culture's worst insults." In so much other reporting the idea that humiliation breeds violence has gained a good deal of currency.

Israelis live in fear of the next suicide attack. Palestinians suffer army raids and the humiliation of Israeli roadblocks. And as this latest intefadeh, or uprising, reaches its third anniversary Sunday, with 2,477 dead on the Palestinian side and 860 on the Israeli side, few hold out hope for a change.

So why didn't the Times simply conclude that W. went to war to avenge the insult to his father who's image was made into the floor of the Rashid hotel?

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Bad Dates
One of my favorite scenes in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" takes place at the home of an Egyptian archaeologist, Sallah, played by John Rhys-Davies, who is a friend of Indiana Jones. A bad guy has poisoned a tray of dates that the Sallah has placed for his guest. Before Indiana Jones takes one, a monkey, planted by the villain takes one. Indiana takes one, too, tosses it into the air, opens his mouth and turns his head upwards. Sallah reaches out and grabs the date before it drops into Indiana's mouth. Disappointed, Indiana looks at his friend quizzically. Sallah points to the greedy monkey, now dead, on the floor and says simply, "Bad dates."
John Rhys-Davies is now in another blockbuster series of movies, he's the dwarf Gimli in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. LGF points out that Rhys-Davies takes some lessons from Tolkien's trilogy for our time. In the National Review Rhys-Davies' views are given in greater detail:

As the conversation continued on that warm summer day, his father said, "Look, boy, there is not going to be a world war between Russia and the United States. The next world war will be between Islam and the West." "Dad, you're nuts," Rhys-Davies responded. "The Crusades have been over for hundreds of years!'" (Precocious as it sounds at age 11, he points out that he did indeed know a "bit about history.") After all, it was 1955. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States and the Cold War was front-burner foreign policy.

His father responded, "Well, I know but militant Islam is on the rise again. And you will see it in your lifetime."

Although his father has passed on, Rhys-Davies said that "there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him and think, 'God, I wish you were here, just so I could tell you that you were right.'"

Another celebrity, a science fiction writer, Orson Scott Card tackles the question of patriotism and dissent in Opinion Journal:
In other words, the Iraq campaign isn't over--and President Bush has explicitly said so all along. So the continuation of combat and casualties isn't a "failure" or a "quagmire," it's a "war." And during a war, patriotic Americans don't blame the deaths on our government. We blame them on the enemy that persists in trying to kill our soldiers.

Am I saying that critics of the war aren't patriotic?
Not at all--I'm a critic of some aspects of the war. What I'm saying is that those who try to paint the bleakest, most anti-American, and most anti-Bush picture of the war, whose purpose is not criticism but deception in order to gain temporary political advantage, those people are indeed not patriotic. They have placed their own or their party's political gain ahead of the national struggle to destroy the power base of the terrorists who attacked Americans abroad and on American soil.

Patriots place their loyalty to their country in time of war ahead of their personal and party ambitions. And they can wrap themselves in the flag and say they "support our troops" all they like--but it doesn't change the fact that their program is to promote our defeat at the hands of our enemies for their temporary political advantage.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Where No Man has Gone Before
I remember reading a David Gerrold book about the Star Trek universe. When he covered the episode "Where no Man has Gone Before," in which the Enterprise finds itself on the edge of galaxy (synopsis below):

As the Enterprise attempts to broach an energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy, crewman Gary Mitchell a close personal friend of Kirk's is transformed into a god-like being who must be killed before he can inflict his power on the universe.
he wrote that he was skeptical that there was a border to the galaxy. (I think he called it a "load of peanut butter.") Guess what? Astronomers just found a border to the Milky Way.

Astronomers at scientific research group, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), hope the find will help paint a better picture of the Milky Way galaxy, which is home to Earth.

CSIRO scientist Naomi McClure-Griffiths said the gas border, which is 6,500 light years thick, showed the Milky Way had a structure similar to those of most other galaxies, which have gassy spiral arms extending beyond the more central stellar spiral arms.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The Price is Wrong
Baltimore Sun Editor G. Jefferson Price III took advantage of today's column to rail against his two favorite targets: President Bush and Israel.

Also in that newspaper last Sunday, an article by Dexter Filkins described the tactics being used by the U.S. military in its intensified campaign to get at the Iraqi insurgents.

These tactics include surrounding Iraqi communities in barbed-wire fences. They include arresting the relatives of suspected anti-coalition insurgents and destroying buildings they may be using.

If these methods seem familiar, it is because they are the same as those Israel has used against the Palestinians under every government since the founding of the Jewish state. In fact, the Israelis took those tactics from the British, who used them against Jews and Arabs when they were trying to govern what was then known as Palestine. The tactics did not work for the British (in Palestine, or later in Northern Ireland) and they have not worked for the Israelis.

But U.S. military authorities quoted in the Filkins article not only acknowledge the similarity, they say they have taken lessons from the Israeli experience in the West Bank and Gaza and turned to Israel for help.

Filkins quotes an article in Army Times in which Brig. Gen. Michael Vane reported that "we recently traveled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counterterrorist operations in urban areas."

That's scary.

According to a military official I just heard on CBS, the successful effort to nab Saddam started about ten days ago, about the time Israel's involvement was revealed. Is it possible that Israel's help in counterterrorism helped accomplish in two weeks what the Americans weren't able to do in half a year?
UPDATE: Here's an item on the briefing given by Gen. Raymond Odierno to which I'm referring:

"What we realized early on in the summer was that we believed the people we had to get to were the mid-level individuals, his bodyguards and other individuals who we knew were close to him," Odierno said. "In addition, … we tried to work through family and tribal ties who might have been close to Saddam Hussein.

"As we continued to conduct raids and capture people, we got more and more information on the families that were somewhat close to Saddam Hussein," the general continued. "Over the last 10 days or so, we brought in about five or 10 members of these families, who then were able to give us even more information. And finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals."

Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Rubinstein Jumps the Gun
Danny Rubenstein of Ha'aretz couldn't wait to tell the world. The Palestinian terror groups were about to declare a truce with Israel and this would be a great victory of Ahmed Qureia, the new Arafat approved flunkie, um, er Prime Minister.
Despite the disagreements, a spokesman for the Islamic opposition, Muhammad al-Hindi, expressed optimism that the talks will be concluded successfully. The Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip said there is a common view that no attacks will be made against civilians.
The expected success of the talks will be interpreted as a victory for Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), who arrived in Cairo last night to attend the concluding session. Qureia managed to steer the different factions into cease-fire negotiations without any criticism from the opposition groups.

Aside from the fact that there's no evidence that a hudna saves Israeli lives. Rubinstein's enthusiasm didn't last too long.
A day after the collapse of talks among Palestinian factions on a complete cease-fire with Israel -- which Hamas opposed -- Rantissi said Palestinian militants were emboldened by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's domestic woes and U.S. problems in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of course, if Rubinstein was surprised the IDF wasn't:
Israeli security officials are not surprised by the failure of Egyptian-brokered efforts to secure a cease-fire between the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah, they said Monday, and raised doubts as to whether new attempts by the Palestinian Authority will succeed.

However, they stressed, the attempts are an internal affair, unconnected to Israel. "The entire issue depends on the Palestinian Authority's decision to act once and for all and crack down on the terrorist infrastructure," an official told The Jerusalem Post.
What's disturbing about Rubinstein's effort though is that it ignores the recent history that shows that the hudna was detrimental to Israel's security. Before it really got bad, Israel's MFA noted:
Five Israeli civilians and one foreign national have been killed, and 28 civilians injured, since the declaration of the 'Hudna' temporary terrorism cease fire agreement reached between the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian terrorism groups on June 29, 2003.
Not only that but Evelyn Gordon noted (and it's been noted in Israpundit) before:
Second, Israel has repeatedly made the mistake of agreeing to "give peace a chance" by temporarily suspending its military activity and the terrorist organizations have exploited every such respite to regroup. There is, however, reason to hope that the lesson has finally been learned: Not only did Israel reject the most recent Palestinian cease-fire offer out of hand, but the United States, which pressured Israel into most of the previous truces, fully supported this stand. In fact, even Britain, hitherto a staunch Palestinian supporter, admitted that another truce is a "non-starter" (to quote its new ambassador, Simon McDonald) absent serious anti-terror activity by the PA. If Israel can refrain from falling into the truce trap again, its war on terror is likely to be even more successful.
In fact recently, Avi Dichter, head of GSS recently observed:
"Hamas chiefs spend 90% of their time hiding and 10% of their time planning attacks," Dichter said. "They are interested in a Hudna [temporary cease-fire] so they can come out of underground and strengthen their terror infrastructure."
In other words, the "victory" of Ahmed Quriea that Rubinstein pines for would cost Israeli lives. This is truly perverse.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Alternative to League of Democracies
Occam's Toothbrush and GedakenPundit weigh in on the idea of having a League of Democracies to replace the U.N.

While there is merit to this idea, it is not a new one. I remember The New Republic in late 1984 or early 1985 suggesting that the Democrats adopt a platform in favor of such an organization.

An alternative to founding an LOD, would be to change the voting rules at the U.N. (yeah, right) to giving countries votes in proportion to the percentage of the vote received by the opposition (up to a maximum of 50). How would
this work?

The President of the United States was elected with 50% of the popular vote (roughly) so the oppostion got 50% also. So the U.S. gets 50 votes. Israel's ruling coalition represents roughly 58% of the voters, so Israel
gets 42 votes. etc.

Obviously rules have to be developed for such a voting scheme. (That's right, I'll leave the hard work to someone else!)

Of course dictatorships (subscribing to Morton Kondracke's "Tirana Index". I know that Jay Nordlinger credits Charles Krauthammer, but Krauthammer borrowed from Kondracke - and credited him properly. ) have only token opposition. The more dictatorial the less opposition in "elections." Of course why would China or any of the Arab countries support a scheme that would leave them with little to say in U.N.? That's why this will never

Saturday, December 06, 2003

First Eskimo Joins the IDF
Israel, contrary to the impression conveyed by its many critics and enemies, happens to be an incredible melting pot. From spending all too much time at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "In Memoriam" section, I know that there have been Israeli soldiers (and civilians) born all over: Ethiopia, Nigeria, Algeria, Australia, France, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Siberia, the United States and more. I suppose there have been Israelis born in Alaska; maybe even members of the IDF, but never before has an Eskimo joined the IDF, unitl now:
Eighteen-year-old Eva Ben Sira is training to become a squad commander in the Negev desert - a far cry from the frozen wastes of her homeland.

Eva was born to a Yupik Eskimo mother and a Cherokee American father before being adopted by an Israeli couple.

Her twin brother, Jimmy, will become the army's second serving Eskimo, when he joins the force next year.

Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.

Friday, December 05, 2003

American Nazis
Do you remember how the media made a big deal over an accusation by Yasser Arafat that Israel was behaving like Nazi Germany by writing numbers on prisoners for questioning purposes?
"You saw what they put on the detainees from Tulkarm refugee camp - those numbers on their arms?" Arafat told Abu Dhabi television, referring to a three-day sweep of the West Bank camp last week, during which troops detained hundreds of Palestinians for questioning over suspected links with terrorist groups.

"Is that not what they say the Nazis did to the Jews? What do they have to say about this matter? Is this not a new Nazi racism?" he said in the interview, recorded in his headquarters in Ramallah.

Extracts were shown on Israeli television.
If I remember correctly the media had quite a field day with this additional proof that Hitler's victims learned his behavior. I don't recall that much attention was given to the Israeli side as presented here in the Jerusalem Post:
A military source said many of the 1,200 detainees in Tulkarm had been given numbers to facilitate the questioning process. He said the numbers were written on their arms in ink that would wash off. It was the same procedure soldiers used on themselves when entering Lebanon in a convoy, the source added.

I believe that Israel gave up the practice after suffering a huge PR hit. Well guess what? American soldiers are doing the same thing in Iraq! The difference is that no one is saying a word.
Photographs of Iraqis detained in the raids in the Hawija area showed the words "black list" and numbers written on the backs of their necks. Military officials said the notations were probably intended as guidance for American interrogators. Before the American invasion, intelligence agencies drew up lists of most wanted Iraqis, including a classified "black list" in which individuals were assigned particular numbers.

The officials said it was possible the notations signified that the Iraqis in the photographs were on that "black list," but it was more likely, they said, that the arresting officials believed that the detainees had a connection to those individuals and that interrogators should pursue that line of questioning.

Reporters are all too willing to find fault with Israel's behavior even when Israel behaves as any other country would. (When the US targetted Ayman Al-Zawahiria in Afghanistan and reportedly killed some of his relatives there was no word of protest. But when Israel targets a Hamas leader and kills bystanders, Israel gets judged.) We see that, in this instance, writing marks on prisoners helps authorities with their interrogations. Yet Israel faced plenty of comparisons with Nazi Germany because of Arafat's false comparison.

UPDATE: Courtesy of Malka Young:
Actions that are not commented upon or even praised by other counties, becomes something sinister when Israel is involved. There's a separation fence in Belfast, and apparently it gets good reviews.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Palestinian War Crimes?
Yesterday Jalal Talabani a member of the Iraqi Governing Council wrote a very interesting op-ed in the Washington Post, "Why Al-Arabiya Was Restricted"
On Nov. 23, I took an important step in protecting the fledgling democracy we are nurturing in Iraq. On behalf of Iraq's Governing Council, I temporarily banned the Arab satellite channel al-Arabiya from using satellite uplink facilities to transmit news reports from its Baghdad bureau.

Since then I have heard a hundred variants on this question: "How can you claim to be promoting democracy while stifling a free press?"

The answer is quite simple.

We are not acting against legitimate and objective journalistic activities. We are taking steps to prevent psychological warfare and, more serious, incitement to murder. No country would do less.
Well said. And in fact there's another case recently where "reporters" were punished for crossing the line between journalism and criminal incitement.
Rwandans welcomed the war crimes conviction of two broadcasters and an editor for their roles in the 1994 genocide, saying it showed that those who helped organize the mass slaughter were as responsible for the killing as those who wielded the machetes and the guns.
The three convicted men worked for a radio and newspaper that were used to incite members of Rwanda's Hutu majority to kill their neighbors from the Tutsi minority.

I realize that restricting a free press or punishing people for incitement are problematic. At what point is taking these actions justified and at what point is taking these actions violating the principles of freedom that we hold dear?

What does this have to do with Israel? The Palestinian media has been a bastion of encouraging antisemitism and violence for years now. Are there grounds for bringing their editors and writers up on war crimes charges for their role in fomenting and maintaining the current violence?
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Jacoby too
I noticed earlier (along with some others) that it seemed perversely appropriate that Jimmy Carter referred to the peace process as a "final solution." So does Jeff Jacoby:

That is exactly right. All the cheering in Geneva notwithstanding, the Beilin-Rabbo plan is a blueprint not for peace but for a cataclysmic war. It would force Israel back to what the late Abba Eban called the "Auschwitz" borders of 1949. It would compel the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Jews. It would create a 23d Arab state by jeopardizing the existence of the world's lone Jewish state. It would put Arafat and the Palestinian dictatorship in position to accomplish at last the goal they have never abandoned: the liquidation of Israel.

In Geneva on Monday, Jimmy Carter lavished praise on the agreement, and suggested that if he had been re-elected in 1980, he could have pushed something like it. "Had I been elected to a second term, with the prestige and authority and influence and reputation I had in the region," he said, "we could have moved to a final solution."

*Final solution.* If that is Carter's term for what Beilin and Rabbo have put forth, he speaks more truly than he knows.

Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Israel and the Arab World
Just to let you know that this month's Commentary Magazine has four articles about the Arab world (and how it relates to Israel.) Get there before the month is up and these articles go into the paid archive.
Listening to Arabs
by Joshua Muravchik
What Do Arab Reformers Want?
by Robert Satloff
Baghdad, with Victims
by Steven Vincent
Israel’s Arabs v. Israel
by Efraim Karsh
The Karsh article is pretty good and the Satloff article started off well, but I haven't yet had the opportunity to read more. (The Satloff article probably will have a longer shelf life because his organization the Washington Institute for Near East Policy posts most articles by its members.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The Wailing Wall

According to today's New York Times Secretary of State Powell rejected Israeli criticism of his meeting with the creators of the Geneva Accord.
Mr. Powell, speaking in Tunis on Tuesday, rejected the Israeli criticism. "Why should we not listen to others who have ideas, such as the ideas that were presented in Geneva yesterday, and other ideas that have been presented?" he said. "What people are saying is that the current situation has to change."
Maybe people are saying that the situation has to change. But to give tacit American approval to a group that is undermining Israeli democracy and intent on rewarding the Palestinian masters of terror is unconscionable.

The current situation started when Yasser Arafat rejected PM Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David. He followed the rejection up by starting a war against Israel two months later. Any agreement that is based on what was on the table at that time essentially excuses the violence. That is not how to fight terror; it is how to encourage it.

But the deeper problem with the Geneva Accord is not that it entails indefensible concessions on Israel's part; it's that it ignores history. The fight between Israel and the PLO is not about land but about history.

Late in Bill Clinton's presidency he was shocked to discover that Yasser Arafat believed that there never had been a temple. Only the truly uninformed would find this to be surprising. Article 20 of the PLO's covenant reads:
Article 20:
The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.
But the covenant or at least the sections denying Israel's right to exist have been cancelled you say. There's no evidence that the PLO has a new set of operating principles. Second of all, this the denial of the Jewish connection to the land of Israel (not just Judea, Samaria and Gaza) is not some political position that can be changed with a superficial vote, but a deeply held belief that is the fundamental premise of Palestinian nationalism. Changing such a belief would require years of re-education, but for the past ten years the PA has used its various offices for the perpetuation of the grievance not for achieving peace.

It is true that the Geneva Accord uses the term Temple Mount to go along with al-Haram al-Sharif but when it comes to describing the Kotel or Western Wall, as a religous site, the accord calls it "the Wailing Wall." The term "Wailing Wall" is probably no more ancient than the twentieth century, so to use the term in this context, is to deny Jewish history. (There is a reference to "Western Wall" but that is referring to the Hashmonean tunnel and it is not the main reference to the wall.)

By giving his approval to this document that only serves to promote the Palestinain grievance against Israel, Secretary Powell is helping to prolong not end the conflict.

Finally it's worth noting that the Palestinian Arab group promoting the Geneva Accord is an official delegation of the PA, as the Accord appears on an offical PA website. That undermines any pretense that the group wasn't approved by Yasser Arafat. So Secretary Powell has elevated Beilin and his cronies to the level of Palestinian officialdom at the expense of the democratically elected government of Israel. This is so Clintonesque, one would hope that President Bush would put his foot down.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Freud on Seuss
With the recent release of the "Cat in the Hat" movie, I got to thinking about this hilarious e-mail I received years ago from a friend. It was called "Freud on Seuss" It is still hilarious and worth reading in its entirety. In the beginning we read:
The Cat in the Hat is a hard-hitting novel of prose and poetry in which the author re-examines the dynamic rhyming schemes and bold imagery of some of his earlier works, most notably Green Eggs and Ham, If I Ran the Zoo, and Why Can't I Shower With Mommy? In this novel, Theodore Geisel, writing under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, pays homage to the great Dr. Sigmund Freud in a nightmarish fantasy of a renegade feline helping two young children understand their own frustrated sexuality.

The story opens with two youngsters, a brother and a sister, abandoned by their mother, staring mournfully through the window of their single-family dwelling. In the foreground, a large tree/phallic symbol dances wildly in the wind, taunting the children and encouraging them to succumb to the sexual yearnings they undoubtedly feel for each other. Even to the most unlearned reader, the blatant references to the incestuous relationship the two share set the tone for Seuss' probing examination of the satisfaction of primitive needs. The Cat proceeds to charm the wary youths into engaging in what he so innocently refers to as "tricks." At this point, the fish, an obvious Christ figure who represents the prevailing Christian morality, attempts to warn the children, and thus, in effect, warns all of humanity of the dangers associated with the unleashing of the primal urges. In response to this, the cat proceeds to balance the aquatic naysayer on the end of his umbrella, essentially saying, "Down with morality; down with God!"
The rest of it follows in this absurd pseudo scholarly vein.

I have no interest in seeing the movie. Mike Meyers as the Cat in the Hat looks like a badly made up Star Trek alien. I suspect that movie is as charmless as the disguise. The fact that the Washington Post's Family Filmgoer warned:
"The Cat in the Hat" contains so much crude humor that the Family Filmgoer can't in good conscience recommend the movie for kids under 8. That doesn't mean littler ones won't enjoy the Cat in the Hat's punning on swear words, his briefly bare derriere, his getting pounded in the crotch by kids who think he's a pi?ata, his near-lewd sexual innuendo, his hairball regurgitation and other grace notes. But parents sitting next to them may cringe, even while laughing at the not-unfunny goings-on.
doesn't give me much hope. If it isn't fit for the little ones. what point does it serve?
Closing their Eyes to the Eye Doctor
The New York Times just published a complete interview with the British educated eye doctor who currently serves as Syria's despot, Bashar Assad. There were a number of omissions that I found. (It's very long and I won't pretend to have read the whole thing. I just did searches on certain words of importance.)
(Earlier Fred Lapides cited the news article apparently distilled from the interview.)
First of all the Times starts off with an interesting admission:
The president's office transcribed and translated the interview, during which the president spoke in Arabic and English. The Times trimmed some text from the questions.
So the Times apparently trusted the translation of Assad's office. Furthermore it made some unspecified changes, apparently to the questions asked. Hmmm. If another organization tried something like that wouldn't the Times wouldn't the Times be demanding "full disclosure" and talking about "the public's right to know?" Is the Times covering up for a dictator and waiting for an Eason Jordan moment?
I was most curious if the Times broached such indelicate subjects as the Syrian occupation of Lebanon or the justification for continued Hezbollah attacks against Israel in light of Israel's UN certified withdrawal from Lebanon. Here's a question or two about Syria's ties with Hezbollah:
Question: Do you feel that your relations with Hezbollah, your backing for Hezbollah, has become a liability at a time when the United States, after 9/11, terrorism as its framework for judging its relations?

Answer: Let me explain first how we see this point. Syria does not support a party or a state or a government in general. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978 and then, more widely, in 1982, we said we support Lebanese resistance to liberate their country from occupation. There was neither a party called Hezbollah nor any other party at that time; there were groups of people who were resisting occupation. We were supporting resistance that aimed to liberate Lebanese territories. We didn't support at any point a party that is carrying out operations outside the Lebanese territories for different purposes, and this is what Lebanese resistance always states, and Hezbollah in particular, that they only fight occupation on their own territories.

Question: But Sheba' farms are outside Lebanon, right?

Answer: It's a small part inside Lebanon. They say it's Syrian and we say `No, it's Lebanese and not Syrian.' It's a very small area. All the operations of Hezbollah now take place on Lebanese territories not outside, while the Israeli airplanes violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis. There is no exchange of shelling between the Lebanese and the Israelis although Israel, unlike the Lebanese, every now and then shells Lebanese territories.

There is a misunderstanding of Syrian relations with Hezbollah in the United States. Not only regarding this point, but there is a misunderstanding regarding Syrian politics that led to probably not good relations between Syria and the US.
The only misunderstanding here is Assad's insistence that Hezbollah is operating out of Lebanese territory to dislodge Israel from Lebanon. The UN has confirmed that Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon is complete.
Confirming Israeli compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978)

15. As soon as the Security Council endorsed my report of 22 May, UNIFIL began using mobile patrols of observers to determine that positions previously known to be held by IDF and SLA were no longer occupied. By 16 June, UNIFIL was in a position to confirm that Israeli forces had withdrawn from Lebanon in compliance with the line of withdrawal identified by the United Nations.

16. Further, UNIFIL reported on 16 June that it had observed no incursions into Lebanese air space or territorial waters.

17. Concerning SLA, my report established that it was the responsibility of the Government of Israel to ensure that the de facto force, known as the South Lebanon Army (SLA) ceases to exist. In this connection, three requirements were identified: (a) the command structure of SLA must be dismantled; (b) logistical support and supplies of any type from the Government of Israel must cease; and (c) heavy weapons in the possession of SLA, including tanks, artillery and mortar, must be removed or destroyed. UNIFIL has confirmed that SLA has disbanded. Many of its personnel and their families have gone to Israel; others have given themselves up or have been turned over to the Lebanese authorities. Some of the SLA's heavy weapons have been taken to Israel or destroyed by the Israeli forces; the Government of Lebanon informed my Special Envoy that the remainder of the weapons have been collected by the Lebanese authorities or turned over to the authorities by Lebanese who had taken them.

18. Concerning the detainees held at Al-Khiam prison, all were freed when the prison was opened by the local inhabitants on 22 May.
Why doesn't the reporter from the NY Times follow up with a question on this subject? (It's also worth reading the Israeli version of the situation, which notes "The Mount Dov area, or, as it is known by the Lebanese, the Shaba'a farmlands, is an excuse that ostensibly makes it legitimate for Hizbullah to continue its attacks on Israel.")
Assad talks about the American occupation of Iraq and Isarel's occupation of Arab lands but doesn't utter a word (that I could find, anyway) about Syria's occupation of Lebanon. No doubt President Assad would deny that, just as he denied a report from the NY Times that two thirds of the axis of evil were conspiring together in his country.
Question: Mr. President, there are some documents--the story has not come out yet-indicating that Saddam was negotiating with North Korea to try to build a factory for missiles and get the production facility in Iraq. The documents that have been found in Baghdad indicated the negotiations took place in Syria and the Syrian government may or may not have known about it and there are some people who conducted the negotiations who are still here?

Answer: Between Saddam and North Korea?

Question: Yes and they took place in Syria.

Answer: This is the first time I have heard this story. We heard a lot of stories about Syria, but this is the first time to hear such a story. He was never able to trust Syria and he never tried and we never tried to make any relation between him and any other country because he did not trust us in the first place. We did not have this kind of relationship with Saddam Hussein at all.
Like I said, I didn't read the whole interview. But from the parts of the transcript I read it looks like the Times went much easy on the boy dictator. It's a shame that the interviewer doesn't seem to have tried.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Geneva Discord
Khaled Abu Toameh releases this bombshell:

Those who decided to boycott the ceremony include Fatah officials Hatem Abdel Kader and Muhammed Hourani, who played a major role in the behind-the-scenes talks that resulted in the Geneva Accord.

Abdel Kader told The Jerusalem Post that the main goal of the Geneva Accord was to create a schism inside Israel and undermine the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Our aim was to create divisions inside Israel and block the growth of the right-wing in Israel."
So the Geneva Accord is a Trojan horse. And ...
... Ha'aretz sees no problem using its news pages in supporting this effort whose admitted goal is to undermine Israeli democracy. Yossi Verter reports in a particularly snarky article that the Geneva Accord is supported by nearly a third of the Israeli public:
According to a Haaretz survey published Sunday, a day ahead of a planned launch of a public campaign endorsing the Geneva Accord, the gap between supporters and opponents of the accord is rather small, with 31 percent of those polled in favor of the Israeli-Palestininan peace-plan outline, and 38 percent against it.
(This article appears to be part of that public campaign!) I have no idea of the methodology that Ha'aretz used, but I'd be very surprised if these results weren't skewed by dishonest questioning. IMRA's interview of the poll's designer confirms this suspicion.
IMRA: Unlike other polls, there is no description of the Geneva Initiative
in your poll for Haaretz. Do you think that this may have increased the
number of people who either declined to give an answer or take a position?

Fuchs: I didn't see any polls in which there is a description.

IMRA: The Dahaf polls for Yediot Ahronot, the New Wave polls for Maariv,
the Peace Index polls for the Tami Steinmetz Center all have descriptions.
In fact, I am not aware of any other poll that asked the question the way
that you did, simply asking "are you for or against the Geneva Agreement"
without any details. You are the exception, not the other way around.

Fuchs: What I am saying is that I don't know how you can describe the Geneva
Agreement in one question.

The responses from Prof. Fuchs, as the questions get more specific, are quite instructive. They show that the Yossi Verter article (linked above) that promotes this poll uncritically, is not so much a news analysis as free advertisement for Beilin and co.
As loathsome as I usually find Aluf Benn he had a few interesting responses in his Q & A:
A question to the 39 percent of Israelis, including you, who support the Geneva Accord. According to recent polls, 59% of Palestinians support continuation of terror after their state is created. There are two possibilities. Either you believe that the Palestinians are lying, or you have suicidal tendencies. Which is it?
Mladen Andrijasevic
Beer Sheva, Israel

Aluf Benn:
Well, how do you know that I belong to these 39 percent? I wasn't taking part in the poll, and in fact, I have my reservations about the Geneva accord. For instance, while its Israeli promoters declare that the Temple Mount is a useless burden, their Palestinian counterparts have never reciprocated by declaring the "right of return" as an obsolete claim.
Never reciprocated? That's not what the latest Ha'aretz news story says:
As Israeli and Palestinian representatives prepared to join world figures for the formal launch Monday evening of the Geneva Accord, a Fatah leader in the West Bank assailed the unofficial peace plan, saying that his organization opposed it.
"Fatah's stance is clear and public: We are opposed to this document," West Bank Fatah leader Hussein A-Sheikh told Israel Radio. "This document does harm to the historical rights of the Palestinian people, the right of return (of Palestinian refugees) and of the return of Jerusalem."
That's right even as Ha'aretz is reporting (without comment) that a Fatah official claims that the Geneva Accord gives up the Palestinian "right of return" its own diplomatic correspondent claims that the document does no such thing! I suspect that Benn is the one who read the accord and knows its contents.

This Ha'aretz article reporting on Fatah's (apparently) official rejection of the Geneva Accord should be another blow to the credibility of Yossi Beilin. In an op-ed in today's NY Times
Beilin and co-conspirator Yasser Abed Rabbo write
Hard-liners in Israel have criticized the details of the agreement as well as the private, diplomatic process we used for reaching it. In the West Bank and Gaza, meanwhile, rejectionists in Hamas and Islamic Jihad have held angry rallies attacking the initiative and those who shaped it.
It's nice of them to acknowledge that many Israelis have criticized the "diplomatic process" (note how Beilin and Rabbo call this a "diplomatic process" implying official capacity even as they protest that this a "private initiative?), but the real news here is that they are claiming that only the "rejectionists" in the Palestinian polity reject the Geneva Accord, when in fact Fatah, the supposedly moderate center party rejects it too!
Unable to command the support of any substantial portion of Israeli public opinion Beilin, once again, shamefully exploits his popularity in the worlds of the political, diplomatic, academic and journalistic elites. And he does it quite dishonestly to boot. I argued that Beilin was unfit to be Justice Minister in PM Barak's government because of the way he subverted the rule of law in pursuing the Oslo Accords. Over a decade later Beilin shows his dishonest contempt for democracy remains as strong as ever.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Shark Notices the Irony
The British Political Cartoon Society has awarded its top award to a vile antisemitic caricature of PM Sharon eating an Arab baby. Stefan Sharkansky notices the irony.
Et Tu Dr. Krauthammer?
I'm surprised that no one else has mentioned Charles Krauthammer's excellent column this past Friday, "Geneva Sellout" By all means read the whole article but a few of his paragraphs were devastating:
Moreover, this "peace" is entirely hallucinatory. It is written as if Oslo never happened. The Palestinian side repeats solemn pledges to recognize Israel, renounce terror, end anti-Israel incitement, etc. -- all promised in Oslo. These promises are today such a dead letter that the Palestinian side is openly bargaining these chits again, as if the Israelis have forgotten that in return for these pledges 10 years ago, Israel recognized the PLO, brought it out of Tunisian exile, established a Palestinian Authority, permitted it an army with 50,000 guns and invited the world to donate billions to this new Authority.
... and ...
Not satisfied with having given up Israel's soul, Beilin gives up the body too. He not only returns Israel to its 1967 borders, arbitrary and indefensible, but he does so without any serious security safeguards.

and finally
This is not a peace treaty, this is a suicide note -- by a private citizen on behalf of a country that has utterly rejected him politically. That it should get any encouragement from the United States or from its secretary of state is a disgrace.
And what's up with the title. I know I wasn't the first to observe:
Once again Beilin, having been voted out of office because he could not win in the marketplace of ideas has decided to subvert the democratic process by going outside of the government to negotiate with foreign entities. This is what brought the Oslo Accords and the many associated deaths to Israel. Beilin and friends who represent no one are participating in talks with officials of another government.
It was nice to read something similar in Krauthammer.
After helping bring his Labor Party to ruin, Beilin abandoned it for the far-left Meretz Party, which then did so badly in the last election that Beilin is now a private citizen.

There is a reason why he is one of Israel's most reviled and discredited politicians. He was the principal ideologue and architect behind the "peace" foisted on Israel in 1993. Those Oslo agreements have brought a decade of the worst terror in all Israeli history.

Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Iraqis and Israel
An article in the Asia Times by Nir Rosen "Iraqis wrestle with Jewish factor" finds that Iraqis are not terribly tolerant of Jews.
A common belief in Iraq and the Arab world in general is that when held to a mirror and reversed, the Coca-Cola logo says "No Mecca No Mohammed". This is attributed to the alleged Jewish ownership of Coca-Cola. It is said that all night long trucks smuggle Iraqi oil through Jordan into Israel. And the rumors continue ad nauseam. The fact that the Old Testament contains references to Jewish hegemony over the lands between the Nile and the Euphrates does little to ease concerns.

Works purporting to be scholarly are available in every book market, elaborating on themes of the Jewish threat. The ubiquitous Protocols of the Elders of Zion detailing a Jewish plot to rule the world, long proven in the West to be a fabrication written at the behest of a Russian czar, is sold in Arabic. Volume one and volume two. Another book called The Crimes of the Jews is on display on Baghdad streets alongside a book about Drugs and the Sons of the Devil. On further reading, the book reveals that the Jews are the "sons of the devil" the title refers to. A book in Kurdish is also available, its cover bearing a Star of David, and inside it a monster with blood dripping down its fangs. The book is called In the Jaws of the Jews.
Maybe this would change some minds:
Bayan, a Kurdish-Iraqi week-old infant with a deadly heart defect, will be brought to Israel in the coming days for an operation, thanks to the help of Israeli doctors, international human rights workers, Foreign Ministry officials, and their American and Iraqi counterparts, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Split-second decisions between Iraqi doctors and their Israeli counterparts were made over U.S. satellite phones, Bayan and her family were issued travel permits, and a flight was arranged. Iraqi officials provided Bayan's family travel permits for the journey to Israel via Jordan. After arriving in Amman on Friday, Bayan is waiting for permission to enter Israel from the Israeli Embassy in Jordan.

The operation, to be conducted at Holon's Wolfson Hospital, is highly complex, hospital staff said. Doctors working under the aegis of Save A Child's Heart - an Israeli non-profit based at Wolfson that has provided free treatment to about 1,000 children world-wide since 1995 - are to operate as soon as Bayan arrives.

Getting back to the original article though, the author makes some disturbing claims that seem to be his own.
As the oldest of the three monotheisms, Judaism was viewed with derision by the other two for its rejection of their newer prophets. In the Christian West, this led to anti-Semitism, the belief that Jews are a race or nation to be disparaged. Judaism was a stain that could not be removed by mere conversion. Martin Luther lamented the existence of Jews whom he viewed as a "damned, rejected race". In Islam, with its explicit rejection of races, it led only to anti-Judaism, the belief that the Jewish religion was the problem and if individual Jews became Muslims and recognized Mohammed, then they were no longer Jews and these individuals would be treated just like any other Muslim.

With the creation of Israel, the Jewish state, and with its successful defeat and occupation of Arabs and Muslims, as well as its oppression of occupied populations, Jews became a threat rather than an anachronistic and vestigial relic. Arab and Muslim authors incorporated European racist and anti-Semitic theories about Jewish conspiracy theories to explain the existence and strength of Israel, as well as its influence over American policy. While the Koran is a vast book with statements that can lead to variegated interpretations, those seeking them can find many verses in the Koran to give these theories religious blessing and validity.
The term antisemitism goes back only to the late 19th century. It was invented by Wilhelm Marr, a German antisemite. He wanted to differentiate between old church based superstitious hatred and his new superior "scientific" hatred. Antisemitism is just another name for antijudaism. It's a mistake to distinguish between them by claiming that antisemitism is a form of racism. Antisemitism is hatred just as racism is a hatred, but that doesn't make antisemitism a special form of racism.

Worse, Rosen with his words about occupation and oppression explains nothing. All he does is excuse Arab antisemitism (or if he prefers "antijudaism.")
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Jerusalem Distort
I like reading the Jerusalem Report. Sort of like why I reading the comics. It often provides me with a sense of unreality. Sometimes it's even amusing. More often than not its merely frustrating. There are, though, occasional glimpses of sanity.
(Warning the Jerusalem Report doesn't have set links, so after the next issue, all of these links will change.) Ehud Ya'ari tells us what he thinks is going on between the PA and Israel.
So Abu Ala’s government is not a revamped version of Abu Mazen’s. It represents a worrying step backwards, to a format dictated and directed by Arafat. What we are left with is a cabinet that in many respects is just another of the chairman’s executive branches. And a problematic branch at that, very unhappy with Arafat’s actions but at the same time powerless to oppose them.
He writes that Abu Ala offers even less than Abu Mazen did. And that Israel's willing to accept that for now.

That's worrying.

Then there's Hirsch Goodman. I remember a few years ago he wrote that on a trip to the PA casina in Jericho he came to the conclusion that peace was irreversible. I remember the date he wrote it too. It was September 2000. In fact I believe I read it as the latest intifada started. If I ever wrote something that was so thoroughly refuted so quickly, I'd be ashamed to write anything for quite awhile. That setback, of course, hasn't bothered Goodman much. Read this screed.
When Amir killed Rabin, he set into motion a series of events that began with the decision to kill Hamas bomb expert Yihya al-Ayyash, which, in turn, led to a series of bus bombs in February-March 1996 that shattered Israelis’ faith in Oslo, paved the way for Benjamin Netanyahu’s election victory that May, and began the dynamic that has led us to where we are now. Since Rabin’s death, the most consistent factor in Israeli politics has been failed leadership, culminating in the disastrous reign of the Sharon dynasty, notable for its ever-expanding assets and the ever-more effective wall of silence surrounding them. If Ariel Sharon looks like a balloon, it is because he is full of hot air, unable to deliver on a single promise. Not one. From being a consensus figure he has become a pathetic one, manipulated by those around him, allowing Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to run wild, while pursuing no diplomatic initiative to change the course of mutual destruction we and the Palestinians are following. What a total lack of leadership to have a policy based on Yasser Arafat's life expectancy, to have no initiative, no ideas and no gumption, but to survive by allowing Efi Eitam, the housing minister, to add another 333 homes to the already empty houses on West Bank settlements and Tommy Lapid, of the radically secular Shinui, to become responsible for the rabbinic courts.
That first sentence is so dishonest. Doesn't he recall that immediately after Amir assassinated PM Rabin that PM Peres subsequently withdrew Israel from six cities? And despite Peres's rush to keep the peace process going Arafat did nothing. That is why Israel, apparently, killed Ayyash. The subsequent terror was not revenge. It was merely delayed because Israel killed the brains behind the terror.

For everyone screaming that PM Sharon is making the Palestinian's life miserable they forget that PM Netanyahu made it better than it had been even under his Labor Party predecessors. Netanyhau did not believe in closures and even boasted that his government had been responsible for greater Palestinian employment than any other recent government. It's convenient for Goodman to forget this.

But what's most important for him to forget is that he proclaimed peace irreversible. None of the events leading to the election of PM Barak and his offer to Arafat were judged by Goodman so negative three years ago. Clearly he missed the signs.

Maybe there will be peace in the future; maybe not. But as long as Arafat is alive there won't be. And for all of Goodman's complaints about Israel's current leadership, the people who are most to blame for that state of affairs. are those who, like Goodman, placed their trust in Yasser Arafat. Giving him land, money and weapons was inviting disaster. It's time for leftists like Goodman to show a bit of humility and admit that their miscalculation has cost Israel dearly.

Then there's Gershom Gorenberg's disgraceful attack on Natan Sharansky:
Sharansky manages to raise one apparently cogent argument, but it’s obsolete. Palestinian denial of the Jewish connection to the Mount did, indeed, imply a denial of our historical roots in the land; it suggested Jews were colonists. But the Geneva Accord explicitly makes "recognition of the right of the Jewish people to statehood" the basis of peace between Israel and Palestine; it enshrines the Jewish tie to the Mount, and makes all changes at the site subject to Israeli-Palestinian agreement. The symbolic statement it makes is the correct one: This is our homeland, but we’re willing to accept less than all of it in order to live in it in peace.
Ah yes we have the Palestinian's word that they'll accept the "right of the Jewish people to statehood." Ten years ago the PLO agreed to scrap its covenant that denies the historical ties between Jews and the land of Israel. Did that ever happen? Here's a hint: in 2000, Yasser Arafat surprised then President Clinton by telling him that there never was a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount. The denial of Jewish rights to the land of Israel is a fundamental premise of Palestinian nationalism. No number of declarations will reverse such a deeply held belief. It will require a revolution in Palestinian/Arab thought and society. There is no evidence that any such revolution is underway or even imminent. It is Goremberg who is being willfully ignorant. And his ignorance is deadly.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Monday, November 24, 2003

4 vs 1
It's remarkable, four past heads of Israel's Shabak intelligence service criticize the government. The media has a field day with articles such as "Apt Warning for Sharon."
Four men who ran Israel's Shin Bet security force for nearly two decades have sent a needed warning that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's military response to the Palestinian conflict should be matched by an effort to find a political solution. The former security chiefs, who served leaders of various political parties, told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper that Sharon's policies were leading the country toward disaster. The quartet said Israel must end its 35-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and deal with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

and "Tough guys talk peace" that echoes that sentiment:
Four former Israeli security chiefs want their country to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Otherwise, they say, Israel is headed toward catastrophe and might not survive as a democracy and Jewish state.
The extraordinary advice and dour prediction come from men who've run Israel's security service, Shin Bet, men who have served governments from the political right to the left from 1980 to 2000.A notable pattern repeats itself, with those closest to the conflict urging peace, willing to take risks and deal with the consequences.
or "Ex-Security Chiefs Turn on Sharon:"
Four former chiefs of Israel's powerful domestic security service said in an interview published Friday that the government's actions and policies during the three-year-old Palestinian uprising have gravely damaged the country and its people.
With scarcely concealed glee these critics of Israel - not just of PM Sharon - declare "Checkmate!". The opinions (and yes, I know the third example is actually a news story) are buttressed by the testimony of these experts. Does it matter that some (or even all) these experts have political agendas? Well no. If that agenda agrees with writer it's not an agenda. It's a fact.

Here's another fact. Israel's current director of the internal intelligence service says that Israel's tactics are working!
According to Dichter, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are interested in reaching a new cease-fire agreement in order to rebuild their damaged infrastructure in the West Bank.
Today 90 percent of their energy is being devoted to survival, and 10% to carrying out attacks, Dichter estimated. "If there is a new hudna, this proportion will change," he said.

We're not biased, we're just reporting the hard truths that Israel and its hardline supporters refuse to acknowledge.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Soul not body
It seems that all those people out there who worry about Israel's soul don't have much concern for Israel's body. Such is the gist of "Israeli Army Engaged in Fight Over Its Soul" by Molly Moore in the Washington Post.
With the Israel Defense Forces in the fourth year of battle with the Palestinians, the most dominant institution in Israeli society is also embroiled in a struggle over its own character, according to dozens of interviews with soldiers, officers, reservists and some of the nation's preeminent military analysts.

Officers and soldiers have begun publicly criticizing specific tactics that they consider dehumanizing to both their own troops and Palestinians. And while they do not question the need to prevent terrorist acts against Israelis, military officials and soldiers are speaking out with increasing frequency against a strategy that they say has forsaken negotiation and relied almost exclusively on military force to address the conflict.

Nearly 600 members of the armed forces have signed statements refusing to serve in the Palestinian territories. Active-duty and reserve personnel are criticizing the military in public. Parents of soldiers are speaking out as well, complaining that the protection of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not worth the loss of their sons and daughters.

Let's take one side of the issue. 600 soldiers refuse to serve. Parents speak out. Is there any other side to the issue?
Dissent against military action is not new to Israel: Military historians note that public discontent with Israel's two-decade occupation of southern Lebanon and its slowly mounting casualty toll helped pressure the government to withdraw its forces in May 2000 -- over the objection of the military leadership.

Ah yes. Soldiers refused to serve in Lebanon. Women in Black. Israel withdraws against the advice of the military leadership. And what happens? Does Hizbullah stop its attacks? Does it state that its causus belli no longer existed? Of course not. Fewer Israeli soldiers have been killed in Lebanon. But the threat still exists. But it's not directed toward only toward soldiers, but toward civilians. Maybe the military leadership was correct. But it's not a possibility that Moore entertains. In fact she only trusts the military leadership when it supports her viewpoint.

Such issues are being debated at the highest levels of Israel's political and military leadership. At the end of last month, the military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, told columnists from Israel's three leading newspapers that the road closures, curfews and roadblocks imposed on the Palestinian civilians were creating explosive levels of "hatred and terrorism" among the populace. Last week four former heads of the Shin Bet domestic security service said the government's actions and policies during the Palestinian uprising had gravely damaged Israel and its people.

Ah yes. And what happened when Israel eased up a little on Bethlehem? A gunman celebrates Ramadan by shooting and killing two soldiers (one of whom was talking to his mother.) It's really nice to construct a story that confirms your suspicion. You cherry pick your evidence and support all of your preconceived notions.

But to Moore retreat is not only a good idea it's the moral choice.
Last year Milstein decided to tell his story in the newsletter of the Jewish Federation of Greater Albuquerque. Sitting in a Tel Aviv coffee bar with an army buddy on a recent afternoon, he tried to dissect his reasons for taking his personal feelings public.

"There's a mystique about the army -- that we are the most moral army in the world, we only do good things," Milstein said. "But this is what's happening. I think it's important for people to know." He thought it particularly important to tell other Jews because, he said, "they don't really know what's going on."

Today, as a 28-year-old reservist who works for an Israeli Web site, Milstein continues to serve -- reluctantly -- in the Palestinian territories when he receives call-ups.

But is this the only one side of the issue. Israel does have rules and its soldier usually follow them:
The IDF Code of Conduct
The IDF has developed a code of conduct that is a combination of international law, Israeli law, and the IDF's own traditional ethical code - ruach tzahal, "the spirit of the IDF." Reserve units and regular units alike are taught the following eleven rules of conduct:

Military action can only be taken against military targets.
The use of force must be proportional.
Soldiers may only use weaponry they were issued by the IDF.
Anyone who surrenders cannot be attacked.
Only those who are properly trained can interrogate prisoners.
Soldiers must accord dignity and respect to the Palestinian population and those arrested.
Soldiers must give appropriate medical care, when conditions allow, to oneself and one's enemy.
Pillaging is absolutely and totally illegal.
Soldiers must show proper respect for religious and cultural sites and artifacts.
Soldiers must protect international aid workers, including their property and vehicles.
Soldiers must report all violations of this code.
Picture a 19-year-old soldier commanding a checkpoint. He has two or three other soldiers with him and there is a long line of cars waiting to get through. According to intelligence information he has been given, an ambulance is expected to arrive with a wanted terrorist in it carrying an explosive belt for a suicide attack against innocent Israeli civilians. Suddenly an ambulance arrives, and inside is a woman who is seemingly pregnant. It has happened at checkpoints that not everybody who appears to be pregnant is truly pregnant. The woman appears to be in pain and her husband is also highly anxious. But the soldier has been warned of an ambulance bearing a pregnant woman who is not really pregnant and that underneath the stretcher in the ambulance is a terrorist. It is a hot day and there is a long line of cars. His commanders are yelling at him on the two-way radio, "Do not let ambulances go through because there is a terrorist in an ambulance!" To complicate the picture, a news video crew is present.

The soldier has to make an incredible number of decisions in a very short time. First of all, he's 19, he's not a physician, and he is probably not even a medic. He knows that if he lets the ambulance go through and it contains a terrorist, then innocent people will die and he will have failed in his mission. On the other hand, if there is not a terrorist in this particular ambulance but rather a truly pregnant woman and she is delayed, the fetus may die. This has also happened.

Israel is fighting a war, and despite too many casualties, Israel has been largely successful. Consider that Baltimore a city with one tenth the population of Israel lost over 300 citizens to homicide every year for a decade. Even now, the murder rate has been over 250 for three years. Israel's tactics do work. Not as perfectly as we would like. On average over the past three years Israel has suffered as many terrorist murders that Baltimore suffered in each year of the 1990's. And Baltimore's police department isn't dealing with one part of the city's population devoted (at least in part) to killing another part of the population.

The question is the cost. If Israel eased up would the hatred dissipate? Would the terrorist groups disband? The Israeli experience in Lebanon answers those questions.

As far as Israel's morality. A country's first obligation is to protect its own citizens. Moore, like many others, focuses on the cost to others, but that is misdirection. It's a way of injecting ambiguity into a situation where none exists.
UPDATE: IMRA's poll on Friday has a few key questions that cast doubt on Molly Moore's premises. Here are two:

Is Israel's policy towards the Palestinian population too harsh?
Too harsh 35% Too easy 25% Correct 36%
Does the occupation corrupts Israeli society?
Yes 45% No 51%

It's hard to give too much credence to these given another question:

Do you agree with the former Shabak directors that Israel's behavior towards
the Palestinians hurts Israeli interests?
Yes 49% No 41%

It's true that Israelis often give incompatible answers to questions, sometimes even in the same poll. It's hard therefore to hazard an authoratative reading of Israeli attitudes from polls unless you're going to cherry pick the results. The best reflection of Israeli attitudes can be seen at elections and if that's the case, it suggests that PM Sharon's political troubles may be overstated by those in the media who can't tell the difference between reporting and influencing.

If elections were held today (without any explanation of the handling of the
"no replies) by Knesset seats (total 120)[current Knesset in [brackets]
Likud [38] 37 Labor [19]19 Shinui [15] 14
Shas [11] 11 Meretz [6] 7 NRP [6] 6
National Union/Yisrael Beiteinu [7] 8
One Nation(Peretz)[3] 5

Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Friday, November 21, 2003

A second chance at a Bar Mitzvah
Aaron Cohen, the young man who was celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in an Istanbul synagogue when a terrorist blew up his car nearby, has been invited to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah in Israel, at the Kotel, or Western Wall.

According to Arutz-7 Israeli Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger flew to Turkey for the funerals of the six Jews killed in the attacks this past Sabbath (Shabbos/Shabbat).
Rabbi Metzger paid an emotional visit to 13-year-old Aaron Cohen, the boy who was celebrating his bar mitzvah (Jewish ceremony honoring a young man’s acceptance of Jewish law) at the time of the explosion. The Chief Rabbi presented him with a silver menorah (ceremonial lamp kindled on the upcoming Chanuka holiday) as a bar mitzvah present. He extended an invitation to the boy and his entire family to offer a prayer of thanks (for their having survived the attack) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and to celebrate his bar mitzvah there.
Arutz-7 reports further that a couple from Be'er Sheva is trying to overcome a prayer deficit. Realizing that many Jews in Istanbul understandably may choose to stay home instead of attending prayers in a synagogue this coming Sabbath, Barbara and Mordechai Goldman are asking people to invite friends who don't usually go to synagogue, to attend service this Sabbath in the place of people who won't be going to Synagogue.
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.
Radio Shack looks East
Arutz-7 reports that Radio Shack the American electronics retailer has reached an agreement with an Israeli company Exceptional New Technologies Ltd. "... to identify innovative Israeli technologies and products the consumer electronics retailer can bring to market, either through its stores or other distribution channels."

Radio Shack CEO Leonard Roberts is quoted by Arutz-7:
“We’re excited about our new alliance with E.N.T.,” said Roberts. “Israel has proven to be a hotbed of technological innovation. In fact, with 135 scientists and technicians per 10,000 workers, Israel offers a highly trained base of high-tech professionals that are continually on the cutting-edge of technologies and products and related accessories. E.N.T. gives us a strong presence in that region to help facilitate our strategy of dominating cost-effective solutions to meet everyone’s routine electronics needs and families’ distinct electronics wants. This is essential as we strive to identify and integrate new technologies that will help transform our business in the years to come.”
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Inquiring Minds want to Know
Instapundit seconds Jack Shafer's question why the Stephen Hayes article about the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection hasn't received more play in the media. (He also has a link to an Edward Jay Epstein article about the Mohammed Atta/Iraq connection.)

I think, though, that Shafer hit the nail on the head with this observation:
Another possible explanation is that the press has come to discount any information from the administration camp as "rumint," a rumor-intelligence cocktail that should be avoided.
Consider the recent hit piece that Newsweek ran about Vice Presdident Cheney "Cheney's Long Path to War". In it authors Mark Hosenball, Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas write about VP Cheney:
He is far to the right politically, but in no way wild-eyed; in private conversation he seems moderate, thoughtful, cautious. Yet when it comes to terrorist plots, he seems to have given credence to the views of some fairly flaky ideologues and charlatans. Writing recently in The New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh alleged that Cheney had, in effect, become the dupe of a cabal of neoconservative full-mooners, the Pentagon’s mysteriously named Office of Special Plans and the patsy of an alleged bank swindler and would-be ruler of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi.
Those evil, conniving neo-cons have conned the Vice President! And what about Douglas Feith who authored the report that Hayes got a hold of? Well he was part of the American Enterprise Institute and ...
Cheney spent a considerable amount of time with the scholars and backers of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank that has served as a conservative government-in-waiting. Cheney was on the board of directors and his wife, Lynne, a conservative activist on social issues, still keeps an office there as a resident “fellow.” At various lunches and dinners around Washington, sponsored by AEI and other conservative organizations, Cheney came in contact with other foreign-policy hard-liners or “neoconservatives” like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. It was an article of faith in the AEI crowd that the United States had missed a chance to knock off Saddam in 1991; that Saddam was rebuilding his stockpile of WMD, and that sooner or later the Iraqi strongman would have to go.
Note that Feith and his colleagues are not characterized as having learned opinions but in believing "an article of faith." Skepticism for the assessments that there were any ties between Saddam and Osama are rampant in the article. Hosenball, Isikoff and Thomas accuse the Vice President of "cherry-picking" - only believing intelligence that supports his views and disregarding the rest. But they could well be accused of doing that too. Going back to the beginning of the article we read:
Still, as recently as Sept. 14, Cheney continued to leave the door open to Iraqi complicity. He brought up a report—widely discredited by U.S. intelligence officials—that 9/11 hijacker Muhammad Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001. And he described Iraq as “the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9/11.”
Note the term "widely discredited" and not, say, "irrevocably refuted." What if those doing the discrediting were wrong? What if they discount the Atta-Iraqi intelligence meeting because it discredits their own work? Remember American intelligence agencies missed the Sept 11 attacks. As Jim Hoagland pointed out:
One year before Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the agency produced a National Intelligence Estimate saying that Iraq was too exhausted and internally occupied to think about war. A supervisor's request to analysts to take a second look at those findings triggered accusations of "politicizing intelligence," says a former CIA official involved in that debate. The mistaken view prevailed and guided the CIA's assessment in July 1990 that no invasion of Kuwait was about to occur.

Such misjudgments have continued until today. After four months of inconclusive debate following Sept. 11, the agency produced a new analysis last spring titled: "Iraq and al Qaeda: A Murky Relationship." It fails to make much of a case for anything, I am told. It echoes the views of Paul Pillar, the national intelligence officer for the Middle East and South Asia, and other analysts who have consistently expressed doubts that Iraq has engaged in international terrorism or trained others to do so since 1993.

More damaging to their case than the accumulating new evidence to the contrary is "old" information long available in CIA files: Iraqi intelligence officers meeting in Khartoum and Kandahar with Osama bin Laden, the nonaggression pact Saddam and Osama reached in 1993, training in Baghdad for international terrorism and the multiple trips to Prague made by Mohamed Atta, the head of the Sept. 11 suicide squads, are all there. These specific reports and much more have been explained away and minimized rather than thoroughly investigated.
It would seem that in dismissing VP Cheney's view of the Iraqi threat, Newsweek's reporters have made assumptions about America's intelligence community - that it is usually correct - and about those who are skeptical of the intelligence community - they are being selective. So the Hayes article falls into the latter category. It's an analysis based more on faith than on facts. There is nothing newsworthy about it. To the folks who populate the newsrooms of the NY Times, Washington Post, NBC, ABC and CBS the Hayes article doesn't even need to be dismissed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Missing Link
Coming hot on the heels of Stephen Hayes's revelation of documented links between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, Weekly World News has found a - er - missing link that didn't make it to the Hayes article. (Sorry, I saw it in the supermarket and couldn't resist.)
What Qurei says and more
Newsweek has interviewed both Israeli PM Ariel Sharon and PA Puppet Ahmed Qurei. I want to focus on one comment by Qurei. Asked if Arafat is doing all he can to prevent terror, Qurei gives the standard response:
Q: Shouldn’t he try harder?

Arafat is in prison. And the Israelis destroyed the Palestinian security services.

This is a common refrain often repeated uncritically by reporters. But how do you explain this:
Gunmen have publicly executed two men accused of collaborating with Israeli intelligence in the Palestinian areas.
The two were shot dead in the West Bank refugee camp of Tulkarem after the playing of a video tape of their "confessions".
An Arab who helps Israel is, presumably, working alone. His contacts are secret. It must be very hard to isolate them. However, terror organization require logistics. Getting weapons, recruiting members and raising money all require interaction. Sometimes a lot of interaction. Activity such as required for Hamas and Jihad cannot be done secretly. It should be much easier to track Hamas than those who (supposedly) helped Israel.

What's happening here is a lack of will. The PA wants to catch those who may be helping Israel; it doesn't want to catch those who are harming Israel.

Commenting on Arafat's successful effort to retain control of the PA's security apparatus the Washington Post laments that "Mr. Arafat Wins Again." Among the reasons for Arafat's victory are:
Mr. Abbas, whose appointment they fought for, was undermined by his inability to extract more than token movement by Israel on the U.S.-sponsored "road map" for peace -- even as his own efforts to control extremists were undercut by Mr. Arafat. Though Mr. Bush was encouraging, he proved unwilling to press Mr. Sharon for substantive action on such issues as Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank. Since Mr. Abbas's resignation in September, Israel has undertaken a further expansion of those settlements, and it has resumed construction of a security fence along a route that would effectively annex large tracts of West Bank land to Israel. Meanwhile, the Bush administration has disappeared from the scene: It has done nothing to revive a peace process and has had little to say.
Never mind that Abbas said that he would never fight Hamas. The problem is that Arafat is not treated as the pariah he is. Every time the media reports on the support Arafat enjoys among his constituents it is boosting his standing. This support is an illusion, as Rachel Ehrenfeld writes:
But neither the IMF nor the TV "exposes" mentioned how, last August, Arafat spent more than $12.5 million, a sum that exceeded his budget by $6.5 million. This money was used to, among other things, pay for demonstrations supporting his position ...
The editors of the Washington Post who have published articles to the effect of "Israeli and American isolation of Arafat enhances his status among Palestinians" play a large role in Arafat's success. They should be looking in the mirror when looking to place blame for America and Israel's inability to stop Arafat. And by adopting the Palestinian view that "settlements" are an egregious violation of trust on the part of Israel they shed any pretense of objectivity.
Crossposted and Israpundit and Soccer Dad.