Thursday, October 30, 2003

Faster than ...
An Israeli startup, Lenslet, has developed a new processor that is based on optics not silicon. This allows the processor to carry out calculations at the speed of light. (Thanks to Malka Young for the tip.)
The three order of magnitude acceleration delivered by the EnLight platform opens the door to previously unfeasible defense capabilities as identified by leading defense experts. "This quantum leap in computation performance, enabled by optical processing, opens the door to new capabilities in the battlefield of the future, creating strategic implications. This new development will revolutionize the nature of warfare with an effect similar to those caused by the appearance of the tank or the airplane," said Major-General (Ret.) Isaac Ben- Israel, former head of the R&D Directorate of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.
To Life
In the Arab-Israeli conflict, death plays a large role. Death on the Arab side breeds more death. Death is celebrated as a great accomplishment. Not so on the Israeli side. Death is mourned to be sure. It causes anger. But often it is the impetus for doing good. Arutz-7 reports today that Dr. David Applebaum who was murdered along with his daughter, Naava, (who was about to be married) nearly two months ago is being memorialized by bringing ten doctors to Israel.
Nefesh B'Nefesh and "Friends of Dr. David Applebaum" have announced the formation of the Applebaum Fellowship, which will sponsor the Aliyah of ten physicians to Israel during the summer of 2004. . . .
The fellowship will involve a dollar-for-dollar matching sponsorship of over $180,000, which will be used to provide grants to subsidize the permanent move of ten doctors to Israel. Preference will be given to doctors with expertise in the field of emergency medicine. Partners of Israel Seed, a venture capital firm in Jerusalem, initiated the Applebaum Fellowship. United Israel Appeal - Canada has also been instrumental in facilitating the fellowship.

Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

(Post)Haste makes Waste
Earlier Ted and Fred noted Jim Hoagland's recent column, "Fences and Fairness."
While Hoagland states that he doesn't begrudge Israel's right to defend itself, he argues that President Bush should set limits and not allow PM Sharon to take the self-defense too far.
Bush must establish a new sense of balance in U.S. relations with Israel. Fairness and practicality, as well as Israel's ability to go to Congress and over the head of any president, require Bush not to pretend he can force Sharon to act against Israel's perceived security needs. But Bush should be able to right a tilt gone too far.

This does not mean bashing Israel for protecting itself. The United States was virtually alone, and absolutely right, in voting against a U.N. General Assembly resolution last week that condemned the security "fence" that Israel is building around the West Bank. The one-sided resolution ignored the inhuman terrorist provocations that gave rise to the concept of a protective string of walls, buffer zones, watchtowers, electronic monitors and other devices to combat infiltration by suicide bombers.

That negative U.S. vote now obligates the Bush White House to make sure that the security system is just that and nothing more. So does America's moral compass.

As it has snaked deeper into the West Bank, the fence has increasingly taken on the appearance of an instrument intended to atomize the Palestinians physically and politically, rather than simply to restrict them.

It also would entrench key Israeli settlements so firmly that a peace agreement could not easily dislodge them. The security zone's course is a statement that Sharon is building a wall to foreclose a meaningful territorial compromise, not to facilitate that compromise.
After ten years of Palestinian perfidy and failure to live up to any of the obligations it occurred by signing different treaties, I fail to understand why a Palestinian state in all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza is still held as sacrosanct. The PA's bad faith should be punished. If that means that it has less land to form its government on what is wrong with that? If every terror attack was met with concrete consequences then the PA may have stopped them long ago. (Then again maybe not.) If the cost to the PA for its war against Israel is the entrenchment of Ariel is that so unfair? If it means that civilians near Kalkilya are inconvenienced is that worse than the hundreds of dead that necessitated Israel's building the fence? No and No.

For too long Palestinian terror has been treated as a necessary cost of making peace. Now Israel is starting to treat it as enemy action that contradicts the tenets of peace making. If President Bush is to be consistent with his own beliefs he should be leaving Israel's decisions about how to fight its war on terror up to PM Sharon. America doesn't need to be balanced. It needs to say that one side is right and one side is wrong. And until the latter changes, we will support the former's actions unconditionally.

Hoagland's criticism wasn't the only one in the Post in recent days. There was also Jackson Diehl's predictable "A Better Road Map"

In it Diehl extolls the Nusseibeh-Ayalon initiative to peacemaking. He also praises the Geneva agreement. (Hmmm did he note that former PM Barak criticized Beilin et al? Nope.)

Diehl starts by telling us that the terms of peace between Israel and the Palestinians are clear:
History, demography and the landscape actually make the available deal obvious to anyone not blinkered by hatred or ideology. Palestine will be created in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, minus a few small pieces of West Bank land adjacent to Israel where the vast majority of Jewish settlers now live. Jerusalem will be divided according to its already segregated neighborhoods, with Arab areas becoming part of Palestine, and each nation will exercise sovereignty over its holiest site. Palestinians will give up the claim of refugees to settle in Israel, while Israel will take back most or all of the Jewish settlers left in Palestine. The Palestinian state will be demilitarized, and Israel will have special security guarantees, such as the ability to maintain early warning stations and, perhaps, an international force to monitor the borders.
That presumes, of course, that the issue is borders and not Israel's existence. If it's Israel's existence then no number of compromises will make the Palestinian accept Israel. It's ideological to assume that Israeli compromise will bring peace. It's the discredited ideology of Peace Now. If such compromises would bring peace there would have been an agreement in July 2000.

Further on Diehl tells us:
So why hasn't the deal happened? The largest reason is bad leadership. Palestinian President Yasser Arafat could have clinched the accord before those 3,000 lives were lost; instead he cynically chose to pose for history as a revolutionary who never compromised. Arafat's abdication opened the way for Palestinian extremists to launch a new wave of violence against Israel, which in turn brought to power Ariel Sharon -- like Arafat, a septuagenarian dead-ender who won't settle for the available settlement.
Bad leadership? Arafat, many would argue, has been a perfect leader. He has represented his constituents' wishes very effectively. Arafat isn't posing as a revolutionary. He is deeply committed to two things: His own position (ie power and money) and the destruction of Israel. The people who saw him as anything else created a creature that never existed. But the blame for that is not on Arafat but the illusion makers who denied evidence that Arafat was an unreconstructed terrorist.

And is Diehl so certain that PM Sharon will never make a deal? Who dismantled Yamit?
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Larry Not Dennis
Twice last week I received an e-mail with comedian Dennis Miller's comments about the Middle East. Several times last year I received the same e-mail. Let's set the record straight. There might be sentiments that Dennis Miller agrees with. I don't know. But the fellow who deserves the credit for writing the essay - it's titled "Whoever Blesses Them" is Larry Miller. Larry Miller is a character actor who seems to be appear regularly as a semi regular guest star on different series. Most recently he played the late John Ritter's lecherous co-worker on "8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter." Sample quote:
Chew this around and spit it out: Five hundred million Arabs; five million Jews. Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it. And now these same folks swear that if Israel gives them half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals. Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea? Oh, that? We were just kidding.
And that's not all. Larry Miller has a couple of other nice articles about Israel on the Weekly Standard website.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and Soccer Dad

Thursday, October 23, 2003

American Doctors Attempt to save Boy's Eye
I realize this is bittersweet because the good news is necessitated by the recent horrible terror attack in Haifa. But Oren Almog is going to the United States hopefully to save his vision.
Before departing for Alabama, Oren was hospitalized at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. "The doctors are giving their heart and soul to save my child, but they recommended trying to save his vision in the United States," said Oren's mother, Orly, who was also injured in the suicide bombing.

Oren's father, Moshe, 43; his brother Tomer, 9; his grandfather, Col. (res.) Zeev Almog, 71, former commander of the Israeli Navy's officer training school in Acre; his grandmother, Ruth, 70; and his cousin Assaf Shtier, 10; were all killed in the Haifa suicide bombing.

"Oren knows he is in serious condition and that we are looking for ways to save his eyesight," Orly told Yediot Aharonot. "He is a strong kid, very optimistic. I would go to the ends of the earth for him."

In its original report, Yediot Aharonot said that the Almog family did not have the financial resources to afford the trip to the United States for the specialized surgery. Many of the paper's readers donated funds to help pay for the trip, which has now been covered in full by the Ministry of Health.

In a related story, Hadar Bahat, 3, has been weaned off a mechanical respirator at the Rambam Medical Center and his condition is now listed as serious/stable. Hadar was critically injured in the suicide bombing attack at the restaurant; his father was one of the 21 people killed in the blast.

"I am not losing hope, I am all the time at Hadar's side, and this is a very important step that he is already breathing on his own," said Tova Bahat, Hadar's mother.
Tova Bahat, after losing her husband and having her son critically injured, asked all Jews to pray for her son. So far it appears that the prayers are helping young Hadar.

It's also wonderful to read that Israelis donated to the Almog family in order to allow them to seek the medical treatment in the US.
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.
Good Business News
Wow. Ha'aretz is just brimming with good news "Israeli firms bring home good news."
Mercury Interactive (Nasdaq: MERQ), which makes application management software, posted a 29 percent leap in third-quarter revenues to $126.1 million. Net loss was $6.7 million, or 8 cents per share, though this included one-time charges and other costs involving recent acquisitions. Without these charges, the company reported a net profit of $21.3 million, in line with analysts' forecasts. The CEO and president of Mercury, Amnon Landan, was recently named by Forbes as Entrepreneur of the Year.
And that's just the first one.
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.
Arab University in Israel
In another example of the diversity that is often ignored in Israel Ha'aretz reports that an Arab university has opened in the Galilee.
Initially, the institution will have three departments: computer studies, environmental studies and communications. It is authorized to confer B.A. degrees in professional studies that are recognized in Israel and the United States. The university plans to establish other departments, including one in Holy Land Studies and Theology.
This year, 80 students are enrolled. Jewish instructors make up about a quarter of the faculty.
At yesterday's opening ceremony, speakers greeted the new students, lecturers and administrators. Speakers included university President Dr. Elias Shakour and Dean Raed Mualem. Shakour described the institution as an "Israeli Arab university" that will be open to all students - Arabs, Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze. He thanked Israel's Council of Higher Education for its help in establishing the facility.

Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Uninformed Opinion
Last week I blasted editorials in the Washington Post and NY Times for criticizing Israel for attacking Syria last week. Then on Thursday Douglas Jehl reported in the NY Times, "Construction Was Spotted at Syrian Camp Hit by Israel." In other words Israel's attack was based on recent intelligence:
The site, about 15 miles northwest of Damascus, has been used for training in the last six months by two smaller, less active, Palestinian militant groups, the American officials said. But they said the new construction, which was detected by American spy satellites, together with human intelligence reports indicating that Islamic Jihad might be preparing to use the site, had been seen as particularly worrisome.

The human intelligence reports had provided uncorroborated indications that the Syrian site might be used in the future not just as a staging ground for attacks on targets inside Israel, but also for attacks against United States troops in Iraq, the American officials said.
So Israel had a good reason (despite the doubts amplified by the Times article) to attack Syria. Did that change the editorial pages of the Post or the Times? Not that I've seen. The Times though took a gratuitous shot at both Bush and Sharon today:
Indeed, they say they doubt that Mr. Bush will re-engage in the peace efforts before the American election next year, out of fear that whatever he does will draw criticism, especially among the conservative Christian and Jewish supporters of Israel who form a part of his political base.

"The word you hear a lot of is `disengaged,' " said a diplomat involved in the peace plan. "Sharon figured out long ago that all he has to do is the absolute minimum to keep Bush off his back and at his side. If the United States is disengaged, that's exactly what Sharon wants."
Maybe Bush, as opposed to the Times, knows that what's best for Israel and the United States.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Reality Check
Every once in a while - or perhaps more frequently - we'll read about how Israelis and Palestinians don't understand each other. It's a mantra. If only each side would try to understand the other. If only the Israelis could understand how humiliating settlements are ... If only the Palestinians could understand how terrible murdering innocents is ...

A perfect example of this sort of argument was in yesterday's awful Richard Cohen article "Israel is Losing:"
Yet Israel keeps lengthening the odds against itself. Instead of withdrawing to where Jews are a clear majority, it continues to cling to settlements where Jews are outnumbered. Every settlement, every day of occupation, puts Israel in greater and greater danger. Each settlement is a provocation. The deportation or killing of Arafat will do nothing but make him a martyr and exacerbate the chaos. The man himself is only a symptom of Israel's problem.
And let's not even get into the Baker Center's report calling for more American outreach in the Arab world. (Apparently bringing freedom to Iraq, paying Egypt $2 billion a year and giving hundreds of millions to the PA isn't enough.)

Mark Steyn sees the chasm, and he says it's going one way only:
I spent a short time on the West Bank earlier this spring. I would have spent longer, but to be honest it creeped me out, and I was happy to scram across the Allenby Bridge and on through Jordan to Iraq. Say what you like about the Sunni Triangle and RPG Alley, but I never once felt I was in a wholly diseased environment. On the West Bank, almost all the humdrum transactions of daily life take place in a culture that glorifies depravity: you walk down a street named after a suicide bomber to drop your child in a school that celebrates suicide-bombing and then pick up some groceries in a corner store whose walls are plastered with portraits of suicide bombers.

Nothing good grows in toxic soil. You cannot have a real peace with such people; you cannot even have the cold peace that exists between Israel and Jordan, where King Abdullah, host of the Arab-American-Israeli summit at the start of the road map, did not dare display the flag of the Zionist Entity, lest it provoke his subjects.
(Thanks to lgf for pointing out this article.)

Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Getting it wrong; Getting it right
Typically the New York Times gets it wrong:
A weekend of despicable Palestinian terror and a recklessly inappropriate Israeli military reprisal deep inside Syria has ratcheted up tensions in the Middle East at a particularly difficult moment for American policy there. President Bush should now be urgently counseling all parties to exercise restraint while his administration embarks on a new push to revive moribund peace efforts. Instead, Mr. Bush has unwisely chosen to encourage the most hawkish impulses of Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, reassuring him in private on Sunday and again in public yesterday that Israel "must not feel constrained" in defending itself. Neither American nor Israeli interests are well served by such provocative advice.
So does the Washington Post:
This is a strategy with dangers for the United States as well as for Israel -- yet officials on both sides say Mr. Sharon chose not to inform the Bush administration in advance of the raid. Though Syria is not strong enough to retaliate directly against Israel, it can work through Hezbollah, which, according to Israel, has positioned hundreds of rockets and missiles in southern Lebanon and is capable of striking most northern Israeli cities.
Violence between Israel and Syria has the potential to escalate quickly into a mini-war involving Lebanon, and possibly even Iran -- a conflict that would likely increase the threat to U.S forces in Iraq. Even if it does not, Israel's decision to use force makes it harder for the United States to manage its own diplomatic and military balancing act with Syria and Iran, a crucial component of the Iraq mission.
America is in a war against terror. Syria is one of the foremost sponsors of state terror in the world. For the New York Times to state that a strike against Syria is in the interests of neither America nor Israel is wrong. What doesn't serve American interests is disninterest in Syria allowing it to sow terror unchecked.

The Washington Post is wrong, because Israeli strikes against Syria don't make America's job in Iraq harder. By keeping the terror masters busy, it makes it less likely that they'll send their minions to Iraq to disrupt Amrerican efforts there.

James S. Robbins shows that he understands the problem:
The cluster of terror groups targeting Israel — Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) among others — are not globally networked. They are a local or regional problem, and not part of the fundamentalist threat aimed at the United States. Thus, they are not on the radar screen. So goes the explanation.
This reasoning is a fig leaf at best — and I direct readers to Michael Ledeen's invaluable The War Against the Terror Masters for a full explanation why. Some of these groups have active networks that reach every continent, and into the United States. And almost all of them receive support in one fashion or another from Syria and Iran. In fact, they have for decades. And while the United States may choose not to involve itself overtly in cutting these strands of the international terrorism web, the recent suicide bombing in Haifa, which killed and wounded around 70 people, demonstrates that this is a threat Israel cannot afford to ignore.
Robert Stewart does even better and provides some historical context:
Thirty years ago this week, as part of a broad Arab-led attack against Israel territory, 1,400 Syrian tanks massed on the Golan Heights. Five days later, Israel - bolstered by U.S. airlifts - had not only repelled the attack, but was advancing into an embarrassed Syria. Sixteen days after the initial assault of what has come to be known as the Yom Kippur War, the UN brokered a ceasefire. But the war never ended: In the thirty years since, only Syria's methods have changed; its intent has not.

In place of tanks and planes, terrorists now do the fighting - funded, protected, and otherwise supported by Israel's neighbors. The attack against civilians in a Haifa restaurant Saturday - one of more than 100 such attacks over the past three years - is a prime example. Islamic Jihad, supported by and operating from Syria claimed "credit" for the attack that killed at least 19 men, women and children.

Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.