Monday, December 22, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 19, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2003

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 14, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's scary.

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

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

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

Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 07, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 06, 2003

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

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

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

Crossposted on Bsurot Tovot and Soccer Dad.

Friday, December 05, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer is quite simple.

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

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

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

Thursday, December 04, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The Wailing Wall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 01, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answer: Between Saddam and North Korea?

Question: Yes and they took place in Syria.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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