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.

Friday, November 14, 2003

The Wages of Corruption
I remember and episode of "Get Smart" (according to a website devoted to the classic TV show, it was a 3 parter called "A Man Called Smart") where KAOS, the bad guys, had acquired a formula for drying all the water in the country. Naturally they wish to use this knowledge for nefarious purposes. So they take over the airwaves (I think) and a masked man appears on TV in a commercial demanding a payment of an exorbitant amount of money to prevent the catastrophe. At the end of the commercial, the masked man sings the letters "K" "A" "O" "S" and then says "Kaos, a Delaware Corporation." Max, seeing this, asks Chief, "Delaware?" Chief answers, "Tax purposes." (The above is an imperfect recollection of a TV show I saw ~ 30 years ago.)

Reading the transcript of this past week's "60 Minutes" segment "Arafat's Billions" it's hard not to think that the PLO/PA has operated in ways similar to the fictional KAOS. Leslie Stahl reported:
Palestinians certainly paid dearly for something else Fayyad uncovered: a system of monopolies in commodities -- like flour and cement -- that Arafat handed out to his cronies, who then turned around and fleeced the public.
That's right other than it's old method of using extortion and bank robbery and remittances from the Gulf States to build its wealth. The PLO/PA imposed monopolies upon its constituents to reap even more money. There is nothing new to this. Daniel Pipes wrote twenty years ago about the PLO's reign in Southern Lebanon:
With this capital, the PLO was able to start large-scale business enterprises. In Lebanon, it ran a conglomerate called Samad ("Steadfast") whose 10,000 employees and estimated $40-million gross revenues in 1980 made it one of the country's largest firms. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an organizational member of the PLO, achieved a near-monopoly over steel products in South Lebanon during the late 1970s by importing steel from the Soviet bloc at concessionary prices and paying no import duties (the PLO controlled the ports of Sidon and Tyre). Its factory, the Modern Mechanized Establishment near Sidon, undercut competitors and drove them out of business; then it raised prices and reaped huge profits. Many Lebanese believed that predatory pricing was integral to the PLO's plans to retain control over South Lebanon. In addition to its local investments-a hotel in Lebanon, a chicken farm in Syria-the PLO owns a portfolio of investments in the industrial states, including a disco club in Italy and an airline in Belgium.

From "The Man who swallowed Gaza" from April 1997:
The cement monopoly, The Al-Bahr Company, belongs to Muhammad Rashid, Arafat's chef de bureau and economic advisor.
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld has also written about Arafat's monopolies.

With no accountability Arafat has been able to parlay his terrorist persona into quite a hefty personal fortune. But the money, as the "60 Minutes" report makes clear, doesn't go to the people he purports to represent. It goes to his closest cronies who live quite well. As the late Michael Kelly once observed:
THERE WAS A WONDERFUL MOMENT in the annals of diplomacy this week. Yasser Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, had come to town to attend an international conference convened by the White House to raise a new pile of money to give to President Arafat. And the conference had gone splendidly.

Everyone had behaved perfectly fine; no one had so much as mentioned the inconvenient London Sunday Times story the day before, which said that the Palestinian Authority had swiped $20 million in British aid intended to build housing for the poor of Gaza, using the money instead to build luxury flats for Arafat's military and bureaucratic elite. After a day of pleasantries, representatives of 43 nations had pledged $3 billion in new aid to the Palestinian Authority, including an extra $400 million from the U.S. president. Arafat saw that it was good. "I am satisfied with the reality of this conference," he pronounced.

The reality? The reality is this: Since July 1, 1994, the day that Yasser Arafat arrived to take charge of Gaza, the international community has given the Palestinian Authority about $2.5 billion in aid. In that time, to the confoundment of confident predictions, life in Gaza became, for most people, even more poor, nasty, brutish, and short than it had been before the arrival of President Arafat. In the past four years, wage rates in Gaza have fallen 50 percent and unemployment has risen to highs of 50 percent; currently, it hovers at around 30 percent. The gross national product per Palestinian has declined by 35 percent. The number of Gazans legally working in Israel (where the jobs are) has fallen from a pre-Arafat figure of 116,000 to as low as 23,000. The percentage of goods manufactured in Gaza and marketed in the West Bank (where the consumers are) declined from about 50 percent to 2 percent by 1996. In the first two years of Arafat's rule, one-third of Gazan businesses folded. Foreign commercial investment in Gaza declined from $520 million in 1993 to below $300 million in 1997. The number of Palestinians living in poverty soared; one out of every four now lives below the poverty line.
(If Thomas Friedman deems "humiliation" is a primary motivating factor in foreign relations, why didn't the Palestinans turn on their supposed leader when it turned out that that he and his friends were balancing their budgets on the backs of those they purportedly represented?)

The corruption of the PA is getting some much needed attention. Is it possible that this knowledge will have an effect?

Let's hope so.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Responding to Gen. Clark
I was encouraged to write a letter to the editor of Ha'aretz by a correspondent in response to Gen. Wesley Clark's "U.S. can't walk away from its role". (Apparently this originally appeared in The Forward.)
One of his main points:
Leading a real peace process is a responsibility that the United States cannot walk away from - and it is a responsibility that starts in the White House. Negotiations must proceed along a multifaceted track. The Israeli government should not be forced to make further territorial concessions until the Palestinian Authority acts decisively and verifiably to dismantle terrorism. But to get negotiations back on track, the next administration must make peace for Israel one of its top priorities.
In response I argued in part:
There was no president more involved in Middle East peace-making than Clinton. Yet even his efforts could not bring peace and, in fact, arguably led to the current violence.
There is a riddle, "How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?" The answer is: "One, but the light bulb really has to want to change."
So it is with peace in the Middle East. American leverage will accomplish nothing until there is a fundamental shift in the Arab world generally and the Palestinian world in particular. The acceptance of Israel's legitimacy by the Arabs is the necessary ingredient for there to be peace in the Middle East. Without it, no amount of effort will ever be sufficient.

Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Have you noticed that...

1. The media is liberal and presents news in a way that is
slanted against the leader of the country and it's

2. Citizens visit and show sympathy with foreign countries
against whom we intended and carried out military action.

3. There is increased yelling and screaming by members of
opposing parties.

4. Congress shows increasing partisan in-fighting and
undermine political opponents.

5. Peace movements organize large protests against the

6. The country is viewed by other countries as a danger to
world peace.

7. The country is threatened and attacked by terrorists.

8. Intellectuals and experts in history and political
science stress the need to understand and sympathize with
the roots of these militants.

9. The US military is now threatening to destroy the homes of Iraqi terrorists (see:,1,3404693.story?coll=la-home-headlines)

Gee, the US is looking more and more like Israel each

UPDATE: Have you noticed that there's a new blog out there? This first taste of blogging has led to the 2 cents blog.
Humiliation as an Excuse
Little Green Footballs and Roger L. Simon have already taken Thomas Friedman to task for his recent column "The Humiliation Factor." There are other points worth making.

For one thing Friedman writes:

One reason Yasir Arafat rejected the Clinton plan for a Palestinian state was that he and many followers didn't want a state handed to them by the U.S. or Israel. That would be "humiliating." They wanted to win it in blood and fire. Hezbollah TV had bombarded Palestinians with stories of how the Lebanese drove the Israelis out. Palestinian militants wanted the "dignity" of doing the same.

If that's the case what's the point of the Mitchell Plan, the Tenet Plan or the Road Map (not to mention Oslo I and II)? All Israeli concessions will do is further humiliate the Arabs won't they? If every time Israel surrenders land it doesn't bring peace closer, why should Israel give up any land? Friedman is so set on recasting the world with his pithy formulations that he gives no thought to the implications of his new analysis.

The problem is that what he's doing is essentially excusing Arab extremism. Why is it so difficult for the U.S. to win the peace in Iraq? Because the Iraqis are humiliated. Why can't Israel and the Palestinians make peace? Because the Palestinians are humiliated.

Barry Rubin, in "THE US IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1999" wrote:

In January, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described US goals for the year as "the implementation of the Wye Accords, the negotiation of final status agreement and pursuit of a comprehensive peace." Albright praised the Palestinians and criticized Israel's government: "The Palestinians have been fulfilling some aspects of what they are supposed to do in terms of their security obligations under Wye. And I think that the Israelis also need to fulfill their obligations."9 Arafat was well-received in Washington during his early February visit.
The State Department signaled efforts to improve US-PA relations while opposing any unilateral PA declaration of independence.10 At that time, Albright referred to delays in the peace process and repeated--albeit with somewhat more nuance--her previous statement by saying, " The Palestinians have fulfilled some of their obligations, and some of them they have not; and we are concerned about that. The Israelis need to fulfill theirs.11 Clinton held a brief private meeting with Arafat and also with Leah Rabin, widow of the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.12

These attitudes were all too common during the Clinton years when an unreconstructed terrorist Yasser Arafat was hosted at the White House more than any other world leader. Arafat was lavished with money, attention, access and, most of all, legitimacy. No Arab complained.

(And why isn't the Arab world complaining about the humiliation of Egypt receiving $2 billion in American aid; with hundreds of million more sent to Jordan and the PA?)

But what happened when President Clinton asked Arafat to make a deal? Arafat, of course, did not. President Clinton, frustrated lashed out and this is what happened according to
"A Different Take on Camp David Collapse"

With that, Qureia said, Clinton left the room. Qureia said he complained later to Clinton's aides that the president had overstepped his role. "He was a mediator. And to blame the Palestinians in front of the Israelis is not fair," he said.

In this article Lee Hockstader, then the Washington Post's Middle East correspondent was giving voice to Robert Malley's excuse for Palestinian intrasigence.

Abu Ala's (that's Ahmed Qureia) complaint here that Clinton wasn't fair, is just another way of saying that the Palestinians were "humiliated." Of course the six years prior when Arafat was deodorized by the Clinton administration count for nothing. Never mind that the whole reason Arafat was to be rehabilitated was to make peace. When he showed conclusively that he was incapable of making peace those with blinders obviously felt themselves betrayed. All this shows is that there is almost no limit to the capacity of Arafat's apologizers to make excuses.

That's what makes the "humiliation" explanation an excuse. It explains nothing. It only serves to excuse the Arab world for its hostility to the West. That Thomas Friedman bases a column on mere wordplay is a reminder that he is more concerned with soundbites than with analysis.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Maryland Does Business in Israel
Arutz-7 introduced the news that "Maryland Governor Ehrlich to Lead Business Delegation to Israel" During the past few days Governor Ehrlich has announced cooperation between Israeli companies and the state of Maryland.
Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, on his first official trip outside the US, is leading a business delegation on a five-day trip to Israel starting November 4. During the trip, Governor Ehrlich will meet with Prime Minister Sharon and other senior Israeli government, business and academic leaders.

The Governor is expected to announce various agreements during his trip including a Maryland –Israel homeland security partnership as well as a number of major business deals and other cooperation agreements.
The Baltimore Sun contributes its own account of Governor Ehrlich's trip:
His visit differs significantly from the trip Gov. Parris N. Glendening made here six years ago to announce new investments by Maryland firms in Israel. Instead of guiding Maryland investors to Israel, Ehrlich is advertising Maryland as a place for Israelis to invest.

Given Israel's political and economic problems, many more of its citizens are looking for new havens for their products and capital.

"We're here to make the hard sell," the governor told a group of Israeli business executives who have decided to invest in Maryland or have shown an interest. "We're very enthusiastic, and we don't take no for an answer."

Israel ranks 27th on the list of countries as a source of foreign investment in Maryland - 18 Israeli companies have offices in the state - and Maryland businesses invest about $70 million a year in Israel, according to the Maryland-Israel Development Center.
Plus it has a nice picture of Governor and PM.
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Pride in American Soldiers
Once upon a time American soldiers were derided as "baby killers." Fortunately we don't hear that epithet so much anymore. But what do American soldiers do? Well you can read about them in "Soldier Stories." You can see what they're doing (all around the world, not just in Iraq) in Army Images. (To see even more pictures select "All Army Photos" from the menu and click the "Search Army Images" button. Don't enter anything in the text box to the left of the "Search" button.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Teva Gets Bigger
Arutz-7 reports (and I believe that Israel Line did too) that Teva, the world's largest manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals has bought an American company Sicor, an injectable drug maker.
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Amnon Landan CEO of Mercury Interactive was named by Forbes as "Entrepreneur of the Year." Read the profile.
Amnon Landan has risen a bit in the world since the morning he first woke up in Silicon Valley. Then--it was 1981--he was rattling across North America with his girlfriend (and now wife of 20 years) Yael in a rusted-out Chevy Vega. The two slept on a mattress where the backseats used to be. Not that Landan cared. The 22-year-old had just spent four years hunting terrorists in Lebanon with the Israel Defense Forces. The night he pulled into the Bay Area he found that the closest campground to the city was in Redwood Shores. "A stone's throw from Oracle's future headquarters," he jokes.

Twenty-three years and five round-trip moves between Israel and the U.S. later, Landan has more than arrived. The company he leads--Mercury Interactive (nasdaq: MERQ), in Sunnyvale, Calif.--is one of the hottest software firms in the world. Its tools catch glitches in software projects, make crucial Web and business programs run smoothly and help automate the job of running information technology departments.

Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Heart Surgery, Cancer Drug and a Bike-a-Thon
According to Arutz-7, a group of Israeli doctors are going to China to help children with heart defects.
A spokesman for Israel’s embassy in Cina said the medical team was on its fifth visit to China since 1998. The team would operate on more than 20 children suffering congenital heart defects and run a three-day training course for over 50 medical workers.
The team has performed heart operations on about 50 patients from the two provinces, including two who were brought to Israel for surgical treatment.
The project was initiated by the late Dr. Amram Cohen in 1995. It is the world's largest humanitarian project to provide urgently-needed pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care and many services are free.

And Israel's the source of a new cancer drug ...
Thirty years of Israeli research at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa has come to fruition in a new drug to fight cancer, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The new drug, called Velcade, was developed by Millennium Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge, Massachusetts, reports the Israel21c website.

The new drug “shows a significant effect on patients with multiple myeloma that have not responded to other treatments,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan. According to the FDA, some 45,000 people in the U.S. alone have multiple myeloma, and an estimated 14,600 new cases are diagnosed each year.

The research that led up to the development of the new drug was directed by Professor Avram Hershko of the Technion. He and his team conducted research into the small protein involved in protein degradation, known as ubiquitin. It was the work of Hershko and his Technion team, including former student Dr. Aaron Ciechanover, that led to the discovery of the ubiquitin system, which controls cell division and prevents cancerous, unchecked growth. Hershko's research was partially supported by the Israel Cancer Research Fund, reports Israel21c.

Finally, there are 160 people raising money to help a chlidren's hospital.
The 160 participants in the 4th annual Alyn Charity Bike Ride are on their way from the northern Galilee city of Maalot to Jerusalem - a five-day trek - as they cycle along the roads and paths of Israel to raise money for Alyn Children's Rehabilitation Hospital.
Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem is one of the world's leading specialists in the active and intensive rehabilitation of children, and the only facility of its kind in Israel.
The ride last year brought in over half a million dollars for Alyn, and this year the goal is even higher. Asked what about Alyn most engages him, Victor said, "When I see the children in wheelchairs, struggling just to get dressed or feed themselves, and I see what Alyn does for them, I feel privileged to get on my bicycle and ride for them."
To me, this is what Israel is about.
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.
Humanizing the Right
Nadav Shragai's account of the eighth yahrzeit of PM Yitzchak Rabin ob"m tells us that the Left has appropriated the mourning of Israel's only assassinated PM. He regrets that those of the Right who view Yigal Amir as a villain still find themselves ambivalent when memorializing Rabin. Why?
The assassin did indeed seek to derail Rabin's path, but those who place this path in the center of the memorial day, instead of the path of dialogue and guidelines for debate and decision-making between a majority and minority, are narrowing the dimensions of the terrible tragedy to those of a small political dispute, like those we conduct amongst ourselves every day of the year.
On this day, we should be discussing the difference between legitimate protest and unlawful incitement, the limits of democracy and free speech, and creating mechanisms for decision-making that are acceptable to both camps - if the long-anticipated moment of decision and far-reaching compromise ever comes.
In other words the crime of Amir has been used to stifle legitimate protest against the dangerous Oslo path. Read the whole thing.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Thinking the Unthinkable
The battle is joined. Tony Judt has written a much remarked upon article in the New York Review of Books, "Israel: the alternative" which calls for a single binational state in place of two states in the area where Israel and the PA now exist. The "settlements" have made any sort of compromise impossible, plus, it is becoming clear (to Judt) that Israel is becoming a fascist state:
Anyone who supposes that this third option is unthinkable above all for a Jewish state has not been watching the steady accretion of settlements and land seizures in the West Bank over the past quarter-century, or listening to generals and politicians on the Israeli right, some of them currently in government. The middle ground of Israeli politics today is occupied by the Likud. Its major component is the late Menachem Begin's Herut Party. Herut is the successor to Vladimir Jabotinsky's interwar Revisionist Zionists, whose uncompromising indifference to legal and territorial niceties once attracted from left-leaning Zionists the epithet "fascist." When one hears Israel's deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, proudly insist that his country has not excluded the option of assassinating the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, it is clear that the label fits better than ever. Political murder is what fascists do.
The situation of Israel is not desperate, but it may be close to hopeless. Suicide bombers will never bring down the Israeli state, and the Palestinians have no other weapons. There are indeed Arab radicals who will not rest until every Jew is pushed into the Mediterranean, but they represent no strategic threat to Israel, and the Israeli military knows it. What sensible Israelis fear much more than Hamas or the al-Aqsa Brigade is the steady emergence of an Arab majority in "Greater Israel," and above all the erosion of the political culture and civic morale of their society. As the prominent Labor politician Avraham Burg recently wrote, "After two thousand years of struggle for survival, the reality of Israel is a colonial state, run by a corrupt clique which scorns and mocks law and civic morality."[1] Unless something changes, Israel in half a decade will be neither Jewish nor democratic.
In other words, Israel must be pristine in order to be worth of existence. It's a remarkable sentiment: Jews are the only religion not allowed their own state, unless it is somehow free of sin. Victor Davis Hanson rightl notes:
There has always been the suspicion that European intellectuals favored the dismantling of Israel as we know it through the merging of this uniquely democratic and liberal state with West Bank neighbors who have a horrific record of human-rights abuses, autocracy, and mass murder.
Others have latched onto Judt's view, such as the venal James Goldsborough:
For more than a decade, until the Bush election in 2000, the United States, on which Israel depends, used its moral, political, economic and diplomatic capital to keep Israel policy on a course toward compromise. The result was steady progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Bush's abandonment of the Middle East, his devious conflation of it with Sept. 11 and Iraq, have caused the conflict to spin out of control. Bush has embraced an Israeli far-right government that has violated every principle on which U.S. Middle East policy has been based for a generation. Bush has aligned America, in Burg's words, with an Israel that is "a colonial state, run by a corrupt clique, which scorns and mocks law and civic morality."
What Goldsborough and Judt ignore while arguing that American pressure had slowly moved Israel toward compromise is that for the past decade the PA 1) Has not changed its views of destroying the Jewish state and 2) has engaged in a terrorist war in violation of the agreements it signed in 1993. The PA would have had a state sometime in 2001 if it were interested in compromise. I guess my arguments are rather crude.

Bret Stephens notes that Judt's argument marks a defeat for Israel in the war of ideas:
What goes for your house and the Shaba farms goes also for the Jewish state. Israel's existential legitimacy has been widely assailed for years – but that came, or comes, mainly from Arab, Islamic and Soviet corners. By contrast, Israel's critics in the West usually confined themselves to arguing about Israel's borders. As for the rightness of the Zionist dream itself, that was ideological territory upon which they dared not trespass.

Now that's changed. A line has been crossed. With the media's help, Israel has become "controversial." As usual, Israelis and Jews have blazed this particular trail.
I used to argue that anyone who supported a Palestinian state was necessarily antisemitic. I didn't see a two state solution because nothing I saw in Palestinian nationalism suggested that it would be content to share land. To support a Palestinian state, I felt, was to support the destruction of the Jewish state. I mellowed over the years and allowed myself to believe that people could support a Palestinian state and not wish for the destruction of Israel. As the Judt argument makes clear, whether people realize it or not, that supporting the creation of Palestine, is the same thing as supporting the destruction of Israel. Israel will never be able to make the compromises necessary to satisfy the Palestinian nationalism. (Though it is slightly dated see "Why Israel Can't take 'Bold Steps for Peace" by Conor Crusie O'brien in the Atlantic Monthly)
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Hadassah Medical Center
I really could do without Bob Simon's condescending and offensive intro:
In Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants are learning to live with each other. In South Africa, blacks and whites together are building a new nation.

In Israel, Arabs and Jews are as far apart as ever and seem determined to go on killing each other until the end of time. But there is an island of sanity in this sea of madness.
but 60 Minutes, this week, ran a nice feature about Hadassah Medical Center. There's this that's a bit judgmental, but I think the doctor handles nicely:
Rivkind was at the hospital the night a patient named Hassan Salame was brought in with critical gunshot wounds. Salame was a Hamas leader and the mastermind of a series of bus bombings that killed 45 Israelis.

Simon asked Rivkind if looking at Salame and knowing what he had done wasn’t any different than treating another patient.

“You know what? In the opposite,” says Rivkind. “I want to prove him that when you come to an Israeli Jewish doctor, you receive the best treatment in the world. To show them we are human beings.”
A personal aside: For awhile my sister-in-law was a doctor at Bikkur Cholim hospital in the center of Jerusalem. One of her patients was Salma Husseini, aunt of the late Faisal Husseini. After Ms. Husseini was released from the hospital she took out an ad in the Jerusalem Post thanking all of her Jewish doctors for the wonderful care she had received.

Here's another story:
The staff is also a mixture of Jews and Arabs. Dr. Bisher Abu Marzouqa is a pediatric heart surgeon from the West Bank who came to Hadassah a year ago to work with Dr. Eli Milgalter, a Jew. They teamed up to make heart surgery available to Palestinian children who otherwise couldn't afford it. Their partnership would be virtually unthinkable anywhere else in the Middle East.
I won't exerpt the whole thing. While I could do without Simon's smug tone, there's a lot of good positive stuff here.
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.
Some Balance
Representatives Jerrold Nader, Frank Pallone and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sponsored a resolution recognizing the plight of the Jewish refugees from the Arab world.
Although it was a new nation at the time, Israel took in the vast majority of these refugees, granted them full citizenship, and invested the resources necessary to make them into productive members of society. There are no longer any Jewish refugees in the Arab world. In contrast, Palestinian refugees are still without permanent homes and continue to be used as a political weapon by Arab nations against Israel. UNRWA must learn from Israel's example, and encourage Arab nations to provide similarly permanent homes for the Palestinians who today remain in refugee camps almost 60 years after the original dislocation. Lasting peace will not be achieved in the Middle East until they are resettled permanently.
This may not do anything, still it is nice to see Congress at least acknowledge the problem and attempt to inject some balance into the issue.
UPDATE See GedankenPundit for more.
Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

What's with General Yaalon?
I have a lot of respect for Gen. Moshe Yaalon. As head of military intelligence he and his deputy, Gen. Yaakov Amidror, consistently spoke truth to the Labor governments that didn't want to listen about the PA's intent. I wish I had a chance to read the Hebrew of his comments to see if there's some nuance that is being missed.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that "Top Israeli Officer Says Tactics Are Backfiring." This, of course, is what the media wants us to believe.
Yaalon took his complaints public after several weeks of security staff meetings in which he advocated easing the military restrictions on Palestinians. But in each session he was overruled by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and the intelligence chief, Avi Dichter, who argued that loosening controls on travel in the territories could allow Palestinian militants to slip into Israel, according to two military officers familiar with the internal disagreements. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the final arbiter in the meetings, sided with Mofaz and Dichter, the officers said.

"He felt it was his public duty to say that if we don't do something about this, then it will explode in our face," said one senior military official. "The war against terror is taking place on the backs of civilians."
IOW Israel's leaders are embarking on a war they can't win. They are obsessed with ideology in the face of the assessment of their chief military officer. That's the media's take.

Evelyn Gordon, though, a few weeks earlier noted something else (mentioned several times in IsraPundit) the "The 'military solution' works":
In the intifada's grim second year, from October 2001 through September 2002, Palestinians killed 449 Israelis and foreigners present on Israeli soil, including both civilians and soldiers. Yet for the year that ended last week, this figure was down 47 percent, to 240.

On a monthly basis, the comparison is even more dramatic. Never again has there been a month even approaching the horror of March 2002, the month before Operation Defensive Shield. The 134 Israelis killed that month is more than three times the death toll during the worst month of the past year, and almost 2.5 times the 58 people killed in the second-worst month of the intifada (June 2002, the month after the army withdrew from Palestinian territory following Defensive Shield. It was this renewed surge of killing that persuaded the government to send the troops back and this time, to keep them there).
Then there's what Jonathan Schanzer noted last week:
Israel went on the offensive because they know these tunnels are a crucial supply line of weapons for groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The weapons they receive — everything from armor piercing weapons and automatic rifles to mines and rocket-propelled grenades — come from Egypt, Sudan and Libya. Raw materials necessary to build the increasingly accurate Qassam rockets, as well as high explosives for suicide bombings, may have also passed through the tunnels.

To ensure the steady stream of weapons, both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, under the coordination of Palestinian Authority officials, facilitate the building and maintaining of the tunnels, which cost about $10,000 apiece to build. But these groups do not shoulder the financial burden alone; reports indicate that the tunnels may also be funded in part by the mullahs of Iran.
IOW, there's a very real threat that Israel against Israel that Israel must act against in order to stop. The movement of weapons is impossible if the closures are enacted. It may hurt the innocents, but it may save other innocents. That's not to say that the efforts are without cost, but that the costs of not acting are higher. Still Molly Moore didn't bother to address the other side of the equation and question Gen. Ya'alon's comments. That's, of course, because they confirm her worldview.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Those Pesky Jews
Victor Davis Hanson is his usual excellent self in the National Review in his expose of antisemitism. My only quibble is that I agree with Charles Krauthammer that there's no point in ascribing antisemitism to Gregg Easterbrook's unguarded comments about Jewish studio executives.

It might be pointless in making these points but as the Jerusalem Post reports, the EU consider Israel to be the acme of evil, having apparently leapfrogged the axis. The great lie is alive and well.

On the subject of antisemitism check out LGF's recommendation and read Natan Sharansky on the subject.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Remembering Gadi and Yonatan
Recently I heard that American soldiers in Iraq have been asked not to smoke in front of the Iraqis during the month of Ramadan. It reminded me of Gad Marasha who was killed by a terrorist explosion in Gaza nearly three years ago. Gad was an Ethiopian Jewish commander of Bedouin trackers who showed great sensitivity to the men under his command.
Lt.-Col. Nimer related: "Gadi always gave his soldiers the feeling that he was part of them. During the month-long Ramadan fast, he did not eat or drink in their presence. The Bedouin soldiers respected him for this. He fostered relations of trust and appreciation."
He was killed along with Yonatan Vermeulen, a Christian who grew up in Israel and decided that it was his home. He even got an exemption from the Queen of Holland so he could serve in the Israeli army instead of the Dutch army.

The deaths of Gad Marasha and Yonatan Vermeulen were sad. But the nobility they displayed in life must not be forgotten.
Crossposted at Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.