Monday, October 31, 2005

One Man's Force is Another Man's Invasion

Personally, I think it's really swell that countries in general and the UN in particular have spoken out against Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comment about wiping Israel off the map.

CNN reports that the UN Security Council has condemned the comment:

The U.N. Security Council has condemned recent comments by Iran's president that Israel should be "wiped off the map" but did not say if the world body planned any action against Iran.

In a written statement, the council pointed out that all members of the United Nations "have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against ... any state." [emphasis mine]

I would still feel more confident if the Security Council was more serious about 'refraining'. One of the permanent members of the Security Council is China and has threatened Taiwan on more than one occasion:

A senior Chinese official warned that Beijing would not rule out war with Taiwan if the island's president pursues his plan to adopt a new constitution by 2008 [July 2004]


CHINA increased regional tensions yesterday when the annual parliament in Beijing tabled an anti-secessionist Bill that explicitly threatens the invasion of Taiwan if the island declares independence. [March 2005]

So Abbas' Fatah is off the hook because there is not yet a Palestinian state.

Nor did this apply to Arafat when he came to the UN and announced:

Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat: do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.

When the members of the Security Council say that they "have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against ... any state"--do they mean like a binding promise?

Or more like a pledge at an AA meeting?

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

When Palestinians Murder Americans

Michael Freund notes in an op-ed column for the Jerusalem Post that October 15, just a few days before Bush's meeting with Abbas, was the 2nd anniversary of the murder of 3 Americans by Palestinian Arabs terrorists when they blew up a US diplomatic convoy in Gaza:

TWO YEARS ago, John Branchizio, 37, of Texas; John Linde Jr., 30, of Missouri; and Mark Parsons, 31, of New Jersey, all died in Gaza as a direct result of Palestinian terror. They are among the more than 50 American citizens murdered by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo accords, and none of their killers have yet to pay for their actions.[emphasis added]

Just five days prior to the bombing, Palestinian television broadcast a sermon delivered in Gaza in which the preacher threatened "destruction for the United States" and noted ominously, "From this place [i.e. Gaza] we warn the American people that this president is dragging them to the abyss." Likewise, in another broadcast four weeks earlier, a Palestinian spokesman declared, "We will defeat America as long as it supports our enemy... we consider America to be our No. 1 enemy."

And lest one think that the Palestinians have been doing all they can to track down the killers, here is what the late PA military intelligence chief Musa Arafat told Reuters in September 2004: "Palestinian security forces know who was behind the killing of three Americans in Gaza nearly a year ago but cannot act against the factions while fighting with Israel continues."

The vehicles targeted all had diplomatic license plates, and were traveling on a road that was closed to Israeli traffic, so it was obvious the attackers knew whom they were hitting, and that it was a methodical and intentional assault. [see also Washington Times editorial]

Another point of interest raised by Freund is that on October 15, the day before the 2 year anniversary, Bush signed another waiver of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987:

President Bush extended a waiver to the congressionally mandated downgrade in the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Office in the United States with an October 14 memorandum to the secretary of state.

The waiver is effective for 180 days.

The downgrade of the PLO office was mandated in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987. Implementation of that provision of the law has been delayed because of U.S. national security interests, according to the memorandum. [emphasis added]

I can understand how someone can rationalize the delay of the implementation of the The Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act (synopsis) to move the US embassy to Jerusalem because of "national security interests", but to claim that it is in the national security interests of the US to not downgrade the status of the terrorist PLO offices--that's bizarre.

It's one thing for Bush the politician running for office in 2000 to promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem--politicians make all kinds of promises, even in good faith, and once elected realize that there are things that they promised that are just not practical. But to allow the murder of Americans by Palestinian terrorists during his administration to go completely unanswered, to the extent that the only action he does take is delay measure that would in some way signify American displeasure is just aggravating. It casts doubts on both his moral as well as political compass and makes one wonder just what Bush thinks his legacy is going to be.

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Responding to WaPo's "A Vote For Hamas"

Soccerdad writes about more examples of media bias against Israel, among which is an article in the Washington Post from this past Thursday, October 20 entitled "A Vote for Hamas".

Soccerdad and I emailed the Post about the editorial.

First the editorial.
Then what we wrote.

A Vote for Hamas?
Thursday, October 20, 2005;
Page A26

PRESIDENT BUSH and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will have a novel topic on their agenda when they meet today, in addition to more enduring issues such as Palestinian violence against Israelis and Israel's reluctance to ease a stranglehold on Palestinian territories. With Palestinian legislative elections planned for January, Mr. Bush will press Mr. Abbas on his plan to allow candidates from the extremist Islamic movement Hamas to run and maybe even join the government that will be formed afterward -- even though Hamas has refused to renounce violence as a means of establishing an Islamic state and extinguishing Israel.

There are big stakes in this discussion. Israel and its advocates in Washington have launched an aggressive campaign to convince the administration that Hamas must be banned unless it disarms and modifies its ideology. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has threatened to disrupt the January election if Hamas participates. The Israelis warn that an unreformed Hamas will use the election to ensure that its weapons and extreme agenda are not marginalized by Mr. Abbas's moderate, reformist movement. They point to Lebanon, where Hezbollah has used the political leverage it won in recent elections to protect its heavily armed militia, despite a United Nations resolution ordering its disarmament.

Mr. Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, agrees in principle that Hamas should abandon violence; he argues that he has pressured the Islamists into observing a cease-fire for most of this year. But his aides say that Palestinian security forces would probably lose if they challenged Hamas. Mr. Abbas's strategy is to do his best to defeat Hamas at the polls, then ask the new legislature to require all armed groups to disband. He hopes Palestinian public opinion will force the militants to comply. Recent polls show that up to 60 percent support Hamas's disarmament.

For the United States, the handling of Hamas is inseparable from a regional policy of democratization that, in its essence, is about channeling Islamic movements into electoral politics and away from terrorism. The strategy won't work if the Islamists refuse to give up terrorism, but it will also fail if, in countries such as Lebanon and Egypt as well as in the Palestinian territories, Islamic parties are prohibited from peaceful political competition. Perhaps that's why the administration so far has gingerly separated itself from Israel on this issue. Officials say Mr. Bush will press Mr. Abbas to pass and to apply the laws he plans before the elections and to exclude Hamas candidates linked to violence. But if the Palestinian leader persists in his strategy, the administration appears inclined reluctantly to go along rather than repudiate a moderate Palestinian leader or a potentially groundbreaking Middle East election.

That seems like the right choice for now. But if Mr. Bush is going to keep betting on Mr. Abbas, he should do more to help him succeed. Palestinian security forces cannot confront Hamas partly because they lack adequate training and weapons. Mr. Abbas also suffers politically from Mr. Sharon's foot-dragging in concluding agreements to allow the movement of goods and people from Gaza and from Israel's recent redoubling of West Bank roadblocks it promised to lift months ago. The United States can use its influence to ease those problems and to accelerate Palestinian economic reconstruction between now and January. Meanwhile, it can more clearly articulate, around the region, the principle that Islamic movements -- including those with fundamentalist ideologies -- must have a place in Muslim democracies, but that they must also check their guns at the door.


Dear Mr Hiatt,

We would like to respond to your editorial from Thursday, October 20 entitled A Vote For Hamas.

We don't oppose your making arguments that we disagree wtih. We do object when you use dubious sources to make those arguments.

In your editorial arguing for Hamas to be allowed to participate in Palestinian elections, the Post made a number questionable assertions or cited questionable sources.

We believe that you owe it to your readers to acknowledge that the editorial was poorly sourced.

The following points cannot be supported:

1. The issue is not that Hamas has refused to renounce violence. The issue is that Hamas has stated repeatedly that they intend to kill more Israelis. Claiming that 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' should not prevent you from plainly stating the fact that Hamas purposely kills innocent civilians.

2. You write that "Israel and its advocates in Washington have launched an aggressive campaign to convince the administration that Hamas must be banned unless it disarms and modifies its ideology." without pointing out that this is merely requesting that Abbas follow the roadmap that he signed onto.

3.You write about Abbas that "he argues that he has pressured the Islamists into observing a cease-fire for most of this year" without actually verifying if there is any validity to that claim. Al Jazeera itself writes ( ) "Despite frequent violence, the cool-down has marked a significant reduction in unrest since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000." More to the point, which keeps a listing of all islamist attacks around the world since 9/11 lists 23 terrorist attacks just this year in Israel over the last 10 months. Clearly, there has not been a cease-fire for most of this year by any stretch of the imagination.

4.You write that "recent polls show that up to 60 percent support Hamas's disarmament."
Please specify which poll, since the Bir Zeit poll indicates exactly the opposite ( question 9)

9.Do you support or oppose that the PNA divest arms carried by the various bridges (Al Aqsa, Al Qassam, .. etc)?

1) Support




2) Oppose




3) No opinion




5. Your description of the difficulty the US has in dealing with Hamas overlooks the fact that since it is a terrorist organization, by law the US can have nothing to do with them.

6. You write about the need for peaceful "political competition" among Palestinians, without noting--as you did earlier this month--in "Palestinian Vigilante Killings on the Rise" including the kidnapping, and murder, of a Palestinian professor known as a Hamas political leader.

7. You write that Abbas' forces cannot confront Hamas because they lack adequate training, yet in January of this year the Guardian reported (,7792,1393881,00.html ) "Israel wants the Palestinian security forces (there are 60,000 on the payroll) to take on an estimated 1,000 Gaza militants of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades"--given the 'violence' the area is noted for and the background of many in the security forces, it is odd to say they lack training or weapons.

8. You complain of Sharon's 'footdragging' in light of the disengagement from Gaza without at the very least noting that the closings corresponded to continued murder of Israelis throughout this year. At the same time you make no mention of the failure of Abbas to fulfill the most basic requirements of the roadmap such as unequivocally reiterating Israel's right to exist in peace and security and that all official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.

It is disturbing that you finish with the metaphor that fundamentalist Islamic movements must have a place in Muslim democracies but "they must also check their guns at the door."

On the contrary, the time is long overdue that these people be told in no uncertain terms that they must get rid of their guns and murderous tactics altogether. Washington Post should be at the forefront making that point.

While you are certainly entitled to your opinions, we are most bothered by points 4 and 5 where you gloss over factual matters. It's one thing to hold and express unpopular or controversial opinions, it's another to mislead readers by not giving them the whole story.

Sincerely yours,

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And You Thought Begin Had It Tough

Naomi Klass Mauer has an interview with Shmuel Katz in this past week's Jewish Press.

One of the things that stand out is this exchange:

Sharon is suddenly the darling of the world media, whereas in the past they vilified him.

No one was ever vilified as much as Menachem Begin when he became prime minister. The media were calling him a terrorist and worse. Begin asked me to go to the U.S. to try to counter the negative image. Within 10 days of my arrival in America, the anti-Begin rhetoric died down. In my three weeks there I made 140 appearances. I went alone and addressed all of their questions.

At my meeting with Newsweek, I charged them with “intolerable and unacceptable words” about the new Israeli prime minister, words that they would not use to describe the head of any other ally. When I went to Washington, I had lunch with columnists. George Will had always been very positive about Israel, but he had written an article charging Begin with trying to set a theocratic tone to politics. I immediately neutralized this argument.

At the end of the luncheon, one of the correspondents from NBC asked me to walk with him in the garden. From his questions I understood that he was trying to understand what kind of people we were – we who had been part of the Irgun. After my meetings on that trip, all of these arguments just evaporated.

Israel has a big problem with disseminating information to explain its position. Our information ministry falls very short of the goal. Our young people do not know how to answer questions. Under those conditions, the left wing media are happy to put out whatever they wish. I would have a half dozen spokesmen in the U.S. at all times, to set the record straight.

Back then Shmuel Katz was a one-man hasbarah machine. Before the internet and blogs.

His approach apparently was to go straight to the media--Newsweek, NBC, etc. There is talk today of the need to do lecture tours--appearing on TV and radio as well as on college campuses. We have groups like Honest Reporting and CAMERA who take on the important job of responding to media bias.

But are there people who can make the case directly to the media, and are the media today willing to meet such people?

And don't forget that Katz was only speaking only about the US--not the world--media.

Of course, the politicians and journalists of today are not the same as back then, and the change may not have been for the best.

Peggy Noonan writes in a rare downbeat column:

Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.[emphasis added]

Phil Bowermaster at The Speculist responds to Noonan and tries to cheer her up:

First off, I must say that -- as a long-time reader and admirer -- I'm mystified by the significance you ascribe to these "elites" and their outlook on the future. What is so all-fired important about the disposition of journalists and politicians? Is this what you learned working for Ronald Reagan? Are these the people he would have looked to to save us from impending catastrophe?

I don't think so.

Our future has never been entirely in the hands of journalists and hack politicians in Washington. Luckily, it is even less so today than it was in the past. If these groups have made their "peace" with anything, it is probably with the fact that they simply don't matter as much as they used to, and that they aren't the ones shaping and determining the future.

The people who will determine the future are hard at work in the real world. Some of them may be classified as belonging to some sort of "elite;" but most of them do not. They work in business and in the public sector. They are educators, doctors, sales people, farmers, clergy, and, yes, even some journalists and politicians. They are scientists and engineers.

From an Israeli point of view of course, things are very much in the hands of the journalists and the politicians, and the issue of leadership--and the lack thereof--is an issue for Israel, both in terms of the US and at home.

Noonan thinks that the number and complexity facing an American president are beyond overwhelming. I wonder if she follows the news from Israel.

Richard Baehr of The American Thinker has a detailed essay about The growing threat to Israel based on a talk he gave:

...Western Europe's governments have already effectively abandoned Israel, much as they did Czechoslovakia in 1938. It is too much of a burden for them to defend Israel, what with their surging Muslim immigrant populations to appease with the bone of hostility to Israel. And of course since Israel is a close ally of the United States, Europe's envy of America and its power and world leadership works its way to the surface by confronting the US in the Middle East conflict, through support of the Palestinian side in international organizations, such as the UN.

Until the Lebanon campaign in 1982, the media and most of academia in America viewed Israel favorably, as an underdog, an island of Western civilization amidst a sea of regimes run by military thugs or royal autocrats. But things have definitely changed in these venues. While most Americans continue to support Israel overwhelmingly as compared to the Palestinians, the elites have largely switched sides, and many Americans are getting very tired of the conflict. Israel is portrayed in the media as the occupier, the aggressor, the army with tanks fighting children with stones. The shamefully biased coverage of the conflict by CNN and NPR and the three major broadcast networks, is carefully documented by groups such as CAMERA and Honest Reporting. [emphasis added]

Elites in the US. Elites in Israel. But where are the real leaders

Back to Shmuel Katz:

Is there anyone, in your opinion, capable of leading Israel today?

I don't see any. Unfortunately, competent and decent people, people with integrity, avoid going into politics. And then there is also the old story of American pressure which is usually at work. Very few politicians can resist that.

Bottom line, all we have going for us is what we have had all along.

Our Hishtadlus.

And Bitachon.

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The EU, Reuters, and Fear

Instapundit writes:

MY ADVICE TO CHRISTIANS, JEWS, HINDUS, ETC: Start blowing things up and beheading people. This will gain you enormous solicitude from the powers-that-be
A West Yorkshire head teacher has banned books containing stories about pigs from the classroom in case they offend Muslim children. The literature has been removed from classes for under-sevens at Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley.
What the terrorists have gained of course is more than just banned books and no more piggy banks.

Melanie Philips writes about The EU's blood money:

An EU apparatchik has admitted that it pumps money into the Palestinians not because it supports their cause but to prevent Arab and Muslim violence in Europe. The Jerusalem Post reports remarks by the EU Parliamentary President Josep Borrell Fontelles:

‘The EU, which provides the Palestinian Authority with half of the $1 billion in European aid, is not an altruistic player in the Middle East, said Borrell. With its growing Muslim population, Europe is finding that violence in the Middle East leads to unrest within its own borders, he said. "The conflict in the Middle East is dangerous for us. We are not just here, as the good guy who says, please do not fight between you. We need this conflict to be finished because of its impact on life in Europe. "As European society faces the problem of xenophobia, it can destabilize our society," said Borrell explaining that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fuels anti-Semitism, "Islamophobia," and anti-globalization feelings.’
In other words EU support for the Palestinians, which has played quantifiable part in legitimising terror and demonising its Israeli victim, was a kind of blood money, paid to appease a threat which, as is now all too apparent, has merely grown instead.

Of course along similar lines, last year Reuters objected to CanWest's actually calling terrorists...'terrorists'. Honest Reporting quotes the New York Times:

"Our editorial policy is that we don't use emotive words when labeling someone," said David A. Schlesinger, Reuters' global managing editor. "Any paper can change copy and do whatever they want. But if a paper wants to change our copy that way, we would be more comfortable if they remove the byline."

Mr. Schlesinger said he was concerned that changes like those made at CanWest could lead to "confusion" about what Reuters is reporting and possibly endanger its reporters in volatile areas or situations.

"My goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity," he said. [emphasis added]

What neither Reuters nor the EU seem to understand is that there are times that protecting your interests can be at the expense of--and not concurrent with--protecting your integrity...and at the expense of encouraging more such attacks.

As Instapundit further notes:

No, I'm not serious about the advice. But they need to think about the incentive that's being created here, or I fear that others will take the lesson. When you reward behavior, you tend to get more of it.

See Without Rhyme or Reason
See It's Not Anti-Semitic If It Rhymes

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Uproar Over Iran

There seems to have been quite an uproar over remarks made by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Israel while at a conference in Tehran entitled “A World without Zionism”.

According to the letter written by Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman:

he declared, “Israel must be wiped off the map of the world…and God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism.” He added, “the establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world” and “the Islamic Umma (Nation) will not allow its historic enemy to live in its heartland.”

And what was the reaction in Europe? Condemnation!

Europe strongly condemned Iran's president on Thursday for saying Israel should be wiped out and said the call raised concerns about the aims of a country the West suspects is planning to build an atomic bomb.

..."Calls for violence, and for the destruction of any state, are manifestly inconsistent with any claim to be a mature and responsible member of the international community," EU leaders said in a statement issued at a one-day summit outside London.

"Such comments will cause concern about Iran's role in the region, and its future intentions," they said.

OK, so apparently the EU feels that statements about the destruction of Israel

1. Raise concerns
2. Are inconsistent with being a mature and responsible member of the international community
3. Cause concern about their role in the region and their future intentions

So why is the EU so complacent about statements made by Hamas?
And why are terrorist attacks and the murder of civilians reduced to a "cycle of violence"?

As Bones (might have) said to Captain Kirk:
"Dammit Jim, I'm a blogger--not a pundit!"

But I imagine that it's easier to make excuses for "freedom fighters" than for a country intent on making nuclear bombs.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Without Rhyme or Reason


Arutz Sheva reports on another fine product of Syria:

The Syrian-produced television series, called "Al-Shatat," includes horrific distortions of Judaism, including the presentation of the use of a Christian child's blood in preparation of Matzah for Passover, as religious necessity. The graphic episode features Jews kidnapping a Christian boy and slitting his throat to drain his blood, and the brutal execution of a Jew by a "Talmudic" court, by pouring boiling lead down his throat. [Warning: The following two video links to the above episodes are very difficult to view: 1) Christian boy, 2) Talmudic Execution] All of the anti-Semitic libels in this series are presented as fact.

The series also portrays Jews conspiring to assassinate world leaders, cause stock market crashes, and provoke world wars, as part of a plan to conquer the world. Another episode shows Jewish leaders helping the Nazis slaughter Europe's Jews in order to win world sympathy for Zionism.

This is the movie that Natan Sharansky took with him last year to Berlin to show to German, French and other European officials. According to Joel C. Rosenberg, who worked with Sharanksy briefly in 2000:

He told me the European officials he met with initially hemmed and hawed over whether anti-Semitism is really on the rise, or posing a serious threat of any kind — that is, until he showed them video clips of the Syrian film. Then the debate stopped, and everyone in the room sat in stunned silence.

The movie was recently being shown in Jordan, that epitome of Moslem moderation--until the Government of Jordan received a letter of protest from 24 American rabbis who met last month with Jordan's king. The movie has been stopped.

The Embassy of Jordan issued the following statement:

It has come to our attention that a controversial program entitled "Al-Shatat" or "The Diaspora" has been broadcast from an independent/private channel entitled "Mamnou'" operating from the Media Free Zone in Jordan, which is not subject to Jordanian Law. The program itself was not broadcast from any Jordanian channel.

"Al- Shatat" drew concerns for inciting hate. Accordingly, the program has been stopped from the private channel as of Tuesday, October 25th 2005. The stoppage was only done through personal intervention of responsible Jordanians.

The Free Media Zone broadcasts different programs through 84 different channels and more channels are expected to emerge from the zone in the near future. The Government of Jordan does not monitor or control the content of any program broadcasting from the free zone, whether it is cultural, political, or otherwise. This is in accordance with the agreement between the government of Jordan and the Media Free Zone which is, in turn, affiliated with the Arab Media Company ART.
[emphasis theirs]

It's very nice of the Jordanian government to not monitor or control what goes on in this 'free zone,' but isn't there anyonewatching the store? It's nice that 'responsible Jordanians' intervened, but the statement does seem to neglect to mention those 24 rabbis who first had to write that letter.

Speaking of being responsible, on the production end, Syria actually had factchecking for this movie of theirs. According to MEMRI:

The series was written by Dr. Fathallah Omar, lecturer at the University of Aleppo, and Syrian historian Dr. Suheil Zakar was appointed to check its historical accuracy...Later, Dr. Zakar discussed the Jews' influence in the U.S., which the series addressed, albeit not extensively, by referring to 'Benjamin Franklin's Speech,' whose source is a 1935 piece of Nazi propaganda:"Regarding the Jews in America, their control of the money, media, and political decisions frightened some of the American leaders, such as President [sic] Benjamin Franklin, who tried to include in the Constitution sections against Jewish control. [emphasis theirs]

President Benjamin Franklin? Good to know that Dr. Zakar the historian is on the case.

And meanwhile, in Great Britain they are banning those offensive piggy banks.


See It's Not Anti-Semitic If It Rhymes
See The EU, Reuters, and Fear

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It's Not Anti-Semitic If It Rhymes

(Welcome to Havel Havelim visitors from me-ander and Shiloh Musings. Please take a moment to go to the home page and take a look around)

Hakaras HaTov to Little Green Footballs for pointing this out.

The European Jewish Press reports:

A poem which praises the murder of Jews by the Nazis has been included in a book of children’s poetry to be distributed amongst schools in the UK.

The publication, entitled Great Minds, features the work of school children aged 11 to 18 who won a nationwide literary competition.

But one of the poems contains lines that are causing an uproar:

It includes the lines "Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere, filling up the darkest places, evil looks upon their faces."

Another part reads: "Make them take many paces for being one of the worst races, on their way to a gas chamber, where they will sleep in their manger… I'll be happy Jews have died."

The defense of the inclusion of the poem is that the child who wrote it is writing from Hitler's perspective:

Young Writers editor Steve Twelvetree, who also edited the book, said the poem was included as it illustrated how the writer was able to empathise with the infamous Nazi Fuehrer.

Twelvetree told the Telegraph: "From Gideon's poem and my knowledge of the National Curriculum Key Stage 3 his poem shows a good use of technical writing and he has written his poem from the perspective of Adolf Hitler.”

The editor continued: "Key Stage 3 history requires pupils to show knowledge and understanding of events and places - to show historical interpretation and to explain significance of events, people and places, all of which World War II and the Holocaust is part of.

"The poem clearly states 'I am Adolf Hitler' and it recounts a historical fact, something Young Writers and Forward Press are not willing to censor."

I suppose that one can defend the poem, even as one is offended by the gusto with which the 14 year old empathizes with Hitler.
But is the goal really to have the child empathize with Hitler? Is he merely indentifying how Hitler felt or identifying with Hitler. It is not at all clear if the publishers have bothered to look into that.

But isn't it odd that this takes place in Great Britain, where "pig calendars and toys have been banned from a council office — in case they offend Muslim staff" and "British banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims" and "A West Yorkshire head teacher has banned books containing stories about pigs from the classroom in case they offend Muslim children"?

Something in Great Britain doesn't seem kosher, and the problem is a whole lot more than just the pig.

See Without Rhyme or Reason
The EU, Reuters, and Fear

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Truce and Lies

Reuters reports:

Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza fired at least three rockets toward Israel on Monday in what the group said was an "initial response" to Israel's killing of one of their top commanders in the West Bank.

But this paragraph is interesting:

Palestinian witnesses and the army said no casualties were reported in the first such attack in about a month. Top militant groups had said they would stop anti-Israeli attacks from Gaza to honor an eight-month truce.

First of all, just last week 3 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists, so the phrase "the first such attack" is misleading.

Secondly, what 8 month truce?
By Islamic Jihad?

If you check out, the following terrorist attacks this year have been carried out by Islamic Jihad:

5 killed
70 injured
The terror group, Islamic Jihad, takes credit for a suicide bombing, in which a bomber kills five Jews crossing the street in front of a mall. All of the victims were female, two were teenage girls. About seventy others were injured.

Ganei Tal
3 killed
0 injured
Islamic Jihad bomb an Israeli greenhouse, killing three, including a Chinese worker.

1 killed
1 injured
Islamic Jihad kills a 21-year-old Israeli soldier.

Some truce.
And that's only counting the attacks from Islamic Jihad

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Terrorists as 'Prisoners of Freedom'

From Birzeit Univeristy comes a recent poll.

Lots of items of interest. One of them is the response to following issue:

Releasing Palestinian political prisoners from Israeli jails

West Bank %:
Gaza Strip %:

To some extent
West Bank %: 17.7
Gaza Strip %: 23.8
Total: 20.1

West Bank %: 59.9
Gaza Strip %: 38.8
Total: 51.9

Don't know
West Bank %: 4.3
Gaza Strip %: 2.9
Total: 3.8

So what is a "political prisoner"?

American Heritage Dictionary: A person who has been imprisoned for holding or advocating dissenting political views.

Meanwhile, Abbas at the White House this past week also talks about "a very important sensitive issue, which is the release of prisoners of freedom from Israeli jails"

Who are these prisoners of freedom, these political prisoners being held by Israel because of their views?

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal (and formerly of Jerusalem Post) gives some examples:

Who are some of these prisoners? One is Ibrahim Ighnamat, a Hamas leader arrested last week by Israel in connection to his role in organizing a March 1997 suicide bombing at the Apropos cafe in Tel Aviv, which killed three and wounded 48. Another is Jamal Tirawi of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: Mr. Tirawi had bullied a 14-year-old boy into becoming a suicide bomber by threatening to denounce him as a "collaborator," which in Palestinian society frequently amounts to a death sentence.

And then there is 21-year-old Wafa Samir al-Bis, who was detained in June after the explosives she was carrying failed to detonate at an Israeli checkpoint on the border with Gaza. As Ms. Bis later testified, her target was an Israeli hospital where she had previously been treated--as a humanitarian gesture--for burns suffered in a kitchen accident. "I wanted to kill 20, 50 Jews," she explained at a press conference after her arraignment.

This might explain why nearly twice as many Palestinian Arabs in Gaza favor the release of these 'political prisoners' than those in the West Bank.

Stephens goes further, attempting to account for the culture of violence of Palestinian Arabs. He starts off with an admission and then proceeds with a clarification:

there can be no discounting the embittering effect that a weeks-long, 18-hour daily military curfew has on the ordinary Palestinians living under it.

Yet the checkpoints and curfews are not gratuitous acts of unkindness by Israel, nor are they artifacts of occupation. On the contrary, in the years when Israel was in full control of the territories there were no checkpoints or curfews, and Palestinians could move freely (and find employment) throughout the country. It was only with the start of the peace process in 1993 and the creation of autonomous Palestinian areas under the control of the late Yasser Arafat that terrorism became a commonplace fact of Israeli life. And it was only then that the checkpoints went up and the clampdowns began in earnest.

This is a point that has been made elsewhere, that the peace process in general and allowing Arafat into the area only led to an increase in terrorism, and may have inexorably led to the disengagement from Gaza.

After the Disengagement, the culture of violence is now devouring its own:

In the first nine months of 2005 more Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians than by Israelis--219 to 218, according to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Interior, although the former figure is probably in truth much higher. In the Gaza Strip, the departure of Israeli troops and settlers has brought anarchy, not freedom. Members of Hamas routinely fight gun battles with members of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas's ruling political party. Just as often, the killing takes place between clans, or hamullas. So-called collaborators are put to the gun by street mobs, their "guilt" sometimes nothing more than being the object of a neighbor's spite. Palestinian social outsiders are also at mortal risk: Honor killings of "loose" women are common, as is the torture and murder of homosexuals.

And it is in the context of this barbarism and chaos that Bush says to Abbas at last week's press conference, "I strongly support your rejection of terror and your commitment to what you have called one authority, one law, and one gun."

Sure. One authority. One law. One gun.

For each Palestinian.

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Half A Carrot (Update)

As noted last week ("Half a Carrot") Israel's response to the murder of 3 Israeli by Palestinian terrorists seemed rather tepid:

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said all contacts have been halted. "In Israel, we have no desire to return to a reality of daily attacks against Israeli civilians," Regev said. "We want to send a very strong and sharp message to the Palestinians, and the temporary suspension of talks is that message." [emphasis added]

As reported now by Arutz Sheva, at least there is some substance:

Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz told London reporters Thursday that his order to ban private Arab vehicles from the road where terrorists attacked Sunday will be lifted when the killers are nabbed.

If Mofaz is relying on this threat to get the PA to cooperate and turn over the murderers, it is unlikely that the PA is going to jump and act. Then if they are not turned over plus there is external pressure that Israel should refrain from 'collective punishment,' what will Mofaz--and Israel--do then?

The PA is better at waiting out Israel and the US. Does anyone talk about the 3 Americans murdered by Palestinian terrorists--who have never been turned over?

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

New Priority in Gaza?

Hat Tip to Sabbah's Blog

A new survey of Palestinians claims that Palestinian Arabs now value improving economic life in the Palestinian areas and ending political corruption above ending the "occupation". The pollster gave an interview on October 19.

Khalil Shikaki, director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, says there has been a profound shift in the attitudes of Palestinians since the Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in August. Shikaki, whose organization is the leading public opinion group in the Palestinian Authority, says that prior to the Gaza withdrawal, Palestinians overwhelmingly gave the “end to the occupation” as their top priority.

Now, he says, the priority is for an improvement in the economic life in the Palestinian areas, with an end to political corruption, and an end to the occupation falling far behind. “For the first time, after the Gaza disengagement, we have economics coming on top…And the second one is in fact a virtual tie between fighting corruption and fighting occupation. The gap between the first, which is improving economic conditions and the second which is corruption and ending occupation is wide. It’s 15 percent.” Ironically, he says, the Palestinians now are strongly in support of a permanent ceasefire, even though most of them believe the Gaza pullout was due to the Palestinian use of force.

If this is accurate, it would be welcome news. But Shikaki himself notes more than once in an interview, the contradictory results of his poll:

We see a continued decline in the level of support for violence contrary to the expectation that we would see more support in light of the fact that most people believed the disengagement was a victory for violence. Moreover, we see people saying, with regard to Gaza—two-thirds are telling us—there should be absolutely no more violence in Gaza altogether. Even more important than this, for the first time we have a majority among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza that favors collection of arms from militias and the armed groups in Gaza—not in the West Bank, but in Gaza.

And very significantly, we have more than three-fourths, 77 percent of the public, telling us that it supports the continuation of the ceasefire. So, in terms of the issues related to violence, it is very clear that we made significant progress in the people’s willingness to move away from violence even as they believed that violence was responsible for the achievement of the disengagement. And to add to all of this, the most important finding is that [Abbas’ political party] Fatah, not Hamas, has gained more public support. Compared to our survey four months ago in June, our survey in September shows the widening of the gap between Fatah and Hamas by another six percentage points. [emphasis added]

That's all well and good that 66% are opposed to violence. That leaves just 33% that want to burn synagogues, vandalize greenhouses, and kill Jews. But the important thing of course is to concentrate on the big picture...the forest, not the trees:

I think the Israelis are looking at the Palestinian situation and they can only see the trees and they are unable to see the forest. The forest is what I’ve just described. This is really what is going on. This is the reality that the Israelis, instead of looking at this larger picture, are instead looking at this event, or that event, in which groups are sensing the transformation in the society and the demand for Abu Mazen to begin to crack down and collect arms and stop the violence.

...This is where the Israelis, because of their own domestic constraints and weaknesses in the post-disengagement environment, are unable to understand that they need to look at the big picture and understand that these small incidents are desperate attempts by groups that feel the heat and are trying desperately to prevent the continuation of the peaceful transformation.
[emphasis added]

If indeed Fatah is actually growing more popular than Hamas, the true test of the accuracy of such a claim is just a few months away at the election. After all, if Fatah is more popular, they should win more seats. Right?

Here's a question asked by the interviewer, with Shakaki's response:

Let’s talk about the election in January. From what you’ve said, the polling has shown greater support for Fatah over Hamas. But, on individual candidates, you’ve said in the past, Hamas’ candidates often win because they’re perceived as uncorrupt. Is that going to happen again? Does Hamas, despite the polling, have a better chance of winning a majority?

Yes, it will happen again in the parliamentary elections. But these elections are going to be mixed elections. Half of the seats will be contested in proportion or representation where people will be voting for factions rather than for individuals. So, half of the seats will be elected based on the results that we have gathered from the streets. The other half will be district based in which a majority system will be used and in which people will actually have the right to select certain individuals and vote for them as they wish to.

One other odd thing about the survey. While Shikaki has results on how Palestinian Arabs felt about Abbas back in June...

Abu Mazen’s popularity is relatively high compared to where he was before he became president. In our June survey, 60 percent were satisfied with his performance although most of the people of that time didn’t feel that he made much difference. Most people felt that he was weak. 60 percent are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at this point. Another 63 percent voted for him. So, I think that what people are telling us is that it is too early to give up on him.

...he did not bother to ask the same question in September.


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Is There A Bizarro White House?

(Many thanks to Soccer Dad for linking to this post)

In a previous post ("Bush and Abbas"), I wrote about Thursday's meeting--Abbas' demands and Bush's expressed confidence in Abbas. What was said at the press conference after their meeting was bewildering at the very least.

But that was at the Bizarro White House.

The reality is what happened in the actual meeting. According to DEBKAfile, Bush laid down the law when speaking privately with Abbas.

The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas did not get much chance to lay down his usual list of demands and gripes in his talks at the White House with US president George W. Bush Thursday, Oct. 20. Instead, in contrast to the jovial mood of their joint news conference, Bush crushed his visitor’s hopes of a Palestinian state in the foreseeable future. “Not during my term,” the president declared firmly, according to DEBKAfile’s Exclusive sources Washington.

Abu Mazen is described as coming out of the meeting pale and shaken, with nothing to show for his Washington trip. Most of their 45-minute conversation was one-sided. Bush scarcely let Abu Mazen get a word in edgeways, cutting him short several times.

According to our sources, the US president laid down a new set of rules, unfamiliar to the Palestinians. In a word, no one will help the Palestinians if they don’t help themselves – and that goes for me, the US President, too. If you think you can disarm Hamas by letting them take part in elections, go ahead, but you are on your own. We think you are making a big mistake, but we don’t interfere. But there is a price to pay. A regime dominated by terrorists cannot expected to be treated as a democracy.

The New York Sun does confirm what Bush said about Hamas:

President Bush yesterday privately told his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, that while it was up to him as to whether terrorist groups could participate in upcoming municipal and parliamentary elections, America would have no contact with terrorists in his future government.

[Update 10/26: Arutz Sheva reports:An Israeli government official acknowledges failure in the attempts to persuade the United States to prevent Hamas from participating in the upcoming PA election... "From Israel's standpoint," the official told Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman, "this is a negative result of the Bush-Abbas meeting." Israel is apparently either not taking seriously the report that Bush told Abbas that the US would not deal with terrorists in the government, or perhaps feels the dangers of the inclusion of Hamas outweighs Bush's claim that the US won't deal with Abbas' government]

That would be more than a warning--it's the law:

Under U.S. law, Washington would be unable to deal with any foreign
government controlled by groups deemed by the State Department to be

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been designated terrorist organizations, and
the former intends to run in elections for the Palestinian Legislative
Council in January 2006.

"Hamas has already been in government in the Palestinian Authority," Welch
said. "Under American law, we can't deal with them. I don't see that law
changing after January."

There is more that Debka claims happened between Bush and Abbas before the press conference. But is it possible there is a Bizarro White House?

Clearly the US president has taken several steps back from his first concept of Palestinian statehood as a top American policy goal. He is leaving it to the Palestinians to make the running. For the first time, they have been put clearly and firmly on notice that as long as they harbor terrorists, they can forget about attaining their own state.

Could be.

Of course, maybe that was at the Bizarro White House and the press conference was the reality...

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Greenhouse Effect

Under the headline "Gaza's greenhouses bloom after Israeli withdrawal" AFP (Agence France-Presse) via Yahoo reports:

Gaza Strip farmers have renovated more than two-thirds of the greenhouses left behind after
Israel's withdrawal, creating jobs for some 2,500 agricultural workers, officials said.

Figures published by the Palestine Economic Development Company (PED) show that in the month since Israeli troops left Gaza, Palestinian agricultural workers have refurbished some 2,200 dunams (22 hectares) of greenhouses out of the 3,162 which were transferred to them.

Just over half of the greenhouses were badly damaged and needed to be completely refurbished, while the remainder were only slightly damaged, the company said.

No mention about how the damage came about. That part they save for the end of the article:

Many of the greenhouses were stripped bare by their former Jewish settler owners and pillaged by the Palestinians.

...Under the deal negotiated by James Wolfensohn, an international special envoy for the pullout, the glasshouses and their annual crops of 75 million dollars were to have been handed over in good condition to the Palestinians.

All reported very matter-of-factly without sources--not even a byline to the article.

Meanwhile, the Daily News has a different take on what happened:

A week after they descended like locusts on the greenhouses that Jewish settlers nurtured in Gaza, looters continue to pillage what should be a prize asset for a fledgling Palestinian state.

... The World Bank reported 90% of the greenhouses were intact when the Israelis left. Facts on the ground reveal that much of that bounty is now gone.

According to the AP:

Palestinian police stood by helplessly Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements, and commanders complained they did not have enough manpower to protect the prized assets. In some instances, there was no security and in others, police even joined the looters, witnesses said.

“We need at least another 70 soldiers. This is just a joke,” said Taysir Haddad, one of 22 security guards assigned to Neve Dekalim, formerly the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza. “We’ve tried to stop as many people as we can, but they’re like locusts.”

Maybe the source for the Yahoo article was from the Palestinian Interior Ministry, whose spokesman is quote is quoted in the Daily News article:

Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman Tawfiq Abu Qusa insisted the damage was limited to 30% of the 4,000 or so greenhouses - and blamed most of the vandalism on spiteful Jewish settlers. "The Palestinians damaged so little you can't even count it," he said.

So 1,200 greenhouses are damaged by Palestinian Arabs--"so little you can't even count it".

As usual, things just don't add up.

Playing games with the facts is still going on.
Myre Fries the Facts on the Gaza Greenhouses at Mediacrity

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Bush and Abbas

Before Bush's meeting with Abbas, the ABC news website had an article about what could be expected. The article is noteworthy for the apparent list of what Abbas could be expected to ask for:

Abbas is seeking help from Israel to get November's harvest to outside markets, and also would like to focus attention on Palestinian demands for full-scale Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leader also wants Bush to lean on Israel to drop curbs on Palestinian motorists using West Bank roads. The restrictions were imposed after a recurrence last week of deadly terror attacks on Israelis.

Abbas also would like Bush to call again on Israel to abandon makeshift outposts on the West Bank that are supposed to be dismantled under the blueprint, or roadmap, to peace talks adopted by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia and accepted by Sharon and the Palestinian Authority.

...He also wants to form a partnership with the United States in resolving such issues as the Palestinian economy, Hamas and lawlessness, [Ziad J.] Asali (president of the private American Task Force on Palestine) said.

That's quite some list.

Long forgotten is what Abbas and the Palestinian Arabs were actually expected to contribute to the process. According to the Roadmap, during Phase I (which was supposed to take one month, May 2003)

the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below


"Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.

Does anyone actually take any of this seriously any more?

In their followup article to the meeting, ABC news reports that:

President Bush said Thursday he has never been more confident of peace between Israel and the Palestinians...

Sure. This after the destruction of synagogues and greenhouses in Gaza, the murder of 3 Israelis this past week, and the first year that deaths of Palestinians at the hands of other Palestinians is greater than the number of Palestinian terrorists killed by Israel.

And yet, according to IMRA:

neither Congress nor the administration plans to offer an alternative to the current PA leadership. Officials and congressional sources said that despite growing PA instability, the United States did not have any near-term alternative to Abbas.

Really, does anyone actually take any of this seriously any more?

See also: Oh, That Hamas

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When It Comes to Camels, Egypt Means Business

I mentioned in a post yesterday, that according to BBC news Egypt was building its own secuity fence in Sharm Al-Sheikh, complete with checkpoints and displaced Bedouins.

Now it seems that after the bombing in July that killed 67 and the attack in Taba that killed 32 in October 2004, Egypt's measures are aimed not at terrorists...but at camels:

Mustafa Afifi, governor of south Sinai, said authorities were building concrete walls no more than 80 centimeters high near junctions to stop camels straying on to the road and causing accidents, the official MENA news agency said.

80 centimeters comes out to about 2.6 feet--which we can only hope will be enough to hold those camels at bay.

It's not clear if the number killed in July--67--comes from Haaretz or Reuters, but according to the list of terrorist attacks at there were 88 killed and 119 injured and a quick Google search also shows a 67 vs. 88 discrepancy across the internet.

These are the same Egyptians who assure us that Al Qaeda has no base in the Sinai and had no part in the Sharm Al-Sheikh attack:

An Egyptian security official denied on Monday claims by Israel’s military intelligence chief that the al-Qaeda network had established a base in the Sinai peninsula. "There is absolutely no al-Qaeda base in the Sinai. We’ve made this point again and again," said the Egyptian official who asked not to be named.

"We excluded from the start any link between the perpetrators of the Sinai bombings and al-Qaeda," he added, referring to deadly attacks targeting tourist hotspots in the Sinai last October and this July.

Of course, it might be easier to believe them that there was no link between the Sinai bombings and Al Qaeda, if the Egyptians had investigated the possibility instead of excluding it "from the start."

In any case, there is little likelihood that Egypt will have any better luck the flow of camels than the flow of the Palestinian Arabs to and from Gaza.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Pundit Guy is blogging from Dachau:

Today, I visited the Dachau concentration camp. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

I’m not Jewish, and I haven’t studied much of the history of the Holocaust. I have visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, I’ve been to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, and yes, I’ve watched Schindler’s List. That’s the extent of my physical experience with the Holocaust. Some of you know that I’ve been in Munich for the past couple of days. Driving around, I found signs pointing toward the town of Dachau. It didn’t occur to me that this place was so close by. I knew I had to go see it.

He has both pictures and commentary of his visit.

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Sure, NOW It's In Style

BBC News reports that in order to protect the Red Sea resort of Sharm al Sheikh, Egypt is building a security fence. Sounds familiar?

But wait, there's more:

The officials said the fence would stretch for 20km (12 miles) and force vehicles wanting to enter the town to pass through one of four checkpoints.

Both a security fence AND checkpoints!

And one more indignity:

A town resident told Reuters that one portion would cut off a nearby Bedouin settlement where many workers live.

Imagine, innocent civilians being inconvenienced by the fence. But, just let the Egyptians explain:

A security official cited by AFP news agency said the fence was "not meant to stop any particular group of people but prevent terrorist attacks".

If there's one thing the Middle East is richer in than oil, it's irony.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Half A Carrot?

The Associated Press writes about Israel's reaction to the murder of 3 Israelis yesterday by Al-Aksa:

Israel suspended contacts with the Palestinian Authority on Monday and slapped tough travel restrictions on the West Bank after Palestinian gunmen killed three young Israelis in two drive-by shooting near Jewish settlements.

...[Palestinian negotiator Saeb] Erekat said Israeli negotiators failed to show up for a meeting Sunday evening on the reopening of the Rafah terminal on the Gaza-Egypt border. The opening of the crossing is crucial for the economic recovery of Gaza.

OK. There's the tough action. Now, here comes the tough talk:

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said all contacts have been halted. "In Israel, we have no desire to return to a reality of daily attacks against Israeli civilians," Regev said. "We want to send a very strong and sharp message to the Palestinians, and the temporary suspension of talks is that message." [emphasis added]

Israel tells the terrorists up front that the suspension is only temporary?

Why not just go ahead and bomb some empty buildings while they're at it?
That'll really impress them.

See also Too Many Carrots

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Too Many Carrots

Haaretz has a piece ("Updating the Threat") about how Israel, like the US, is refusing to get tied down to a war of attrition and instead is escalating its tactics to 'the threat of escalation,' utilizing "bombs and the targeted assassinations in Gaza, together with the large-scale arrests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in the West Bank."

A key part of this escalation has resulted from a change in command:

Sources in the General Staff and in Southern Command say that a significant change between the period of the former chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, and his successor, Dan Halutz, is the breathing space that Halutz gives the air and ground forces to complete an operation instead of stopping it on the brink of success.

Sure enough, Arutz7 reports today on a result of Israel's policy:

A top Islamic Jihad leader was cornered and killed by IDF undercover troops late Sunday afternoon on the road south of Jenin. IDF officials said 27-year-old Nihad Abu Ghanem, the top Islamic Jihad terrorist in Burkin, a town near Jenin, was shot after he opened fire on IDF special forces.

Abu Ghanem was the first Islamic Jihad terrorist to be killed since an air strike in the Gaza Strip last month in which two top leaders were killed following a rocket attack on Sderot, near the border of Gush Katif.

So far, so good. But a common criticism of Israeli policy in dealing with terrorist attacks is lack of follow-through. And in this case there is no exception. Arutz7 reports on the murder of 3 Israelis in Gush Etzion:

The Al Aksa Brigades, a terror group associated with the Fatah PLO faction claimed responsibility for the attack. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas is a member of the Fatah party that controls the Palestinian Authority.

The end of the article points out that Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, the same person who is noted for giving "breathing space" to IDF forces, apparently gave breathing space to Al Aksa instead:

In another gesture recently approved to improve relations with the Palestinian Authority, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.Gen. Dan Halutz, ordered the IDF to halt targeting members of the Al Aksa Brigades. Halutz recently told a French newspaper that Israel had halted that attacks because the Brigades had linked up with official PA forces and were no longer targeting Israelis.

If that was true before, it certainly is not true now:

A terrorist group aligned with the Palestinian Authority, the Al Aksa Brigades has vowed to continue the armed struggle against Israel until it liberates “Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and the Galilee."

The declaration was made in response to an interview given by IDF Chief-of-Staff, Lt.Gen. Dan Halutz, to a French newspaper. Halutz told the paper that the IDF was no longer targeting members of that terror group because it had joined up with the PA’s armed forces and was no longer involved in attacks against Israel.

Calling the Galilee, “occupied territory,” a spokesman for the Brigades said the organization would continue the armed struggle to liberate it.

Don't the arms of the IDF get tired from dangling all those carrots?

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

The New York Times and the Protocols

Powerline Blog point out the following New York Times correction:

Because of an editing error, the introduction to an interview last Sunday with Marc Levin, director of the documentary "Protocols of Zion," misstated a word in describing the century-old anti-Semitic tract "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," from which the title was taken. It should have said that the tract, a proven forgery, "purports" (not "sought") to expose a Jewish plot for world domination.

And if they didn't make the correction online, how many would not have batted an eye?
And how many noticed the error in the hardcopy?

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The Halkin Plan

In this month's issue of Commentary, Hillel Halkin writes about "Israel After Disengagement"

He repeats a claim he made in the Jerusalem Post back in August, that the Anti-Disengagement Movement was in fact a success:

Contrary to the common perception, then, the settlers did not lose in Gaza. Rather, they won by demonstrating that a repeat performance is out of the question. This was indeed their leadership's central goal from the moment it realized that it lacked the votes in the Knesset to block disengagement's first stage. From then on, the real battle was over Judea and Samaria. [see post "Hillel Halkin Declares Victory"]

But while another unilateral withdrawl--this time from the West Bank--is not feasible according to Halkin, he thinks that such a withdrawl is necessary and in fact can be done. But this time the withdrawl would not be unilateral; Israelis would be willing to go through the same torment--and more--for a price:

What would they be paying for? For a presidential declaration from Washington that said something like this:

Although the government of the United States continues to believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would best be resolved through negotiations as called for in the Road Map, and has every hope that this will one day prove possible, there is no prospect of its happening at the present moment. In the meantime, since Israel is prepared to withdraw all of its settlers and armed forces from close to 90 percent of the West Bank to the security fence it has built, the United States will regard this withdrawal, once completed, as constituting full compliance with United Nations Security Council resolution 242, and will recognize the new line as Israel's border with the Palestinian Authority.

...Were the United States publicly behind such a move, Israelis, knowing that they would at last have a recognized eastern frontier along militarily tolerable, demographically viable, morally acceptable lines that are also relatively safe from terror would, I believe, vote decisively-although many with a heavy heart-for leaving the rest of Judea and Samaria.

In such a scenario, everyone is happy--or at least relieved:

And once Israel's evacuation of the West Bank actually took place, one can imagine that the real reaction-in Europe, in the Arab countries and elsewhere around the world, and among the Palestinians themselves-would be of relief. Finally, the Israeli occupation would be over.

Such a step, moreover, would be in true compliance with Security Council resolution 242, over whose exact wording the United States led so hard a fight at the time. ...At the end of the 1967 war, Israel held nearly 30,000 square miles of militarily occupied territory in the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. After pulling back to the West Bank security fence, it will have evacuated 97 percent of this area. How much closer to both the spirit and the letter of 242 can it get?

And as for the Palestinian Arabs? Halkin expects that one way or another, state or no state, they will end up joining with Jordan. Which leaves just one more issue:

As for Palestinian irredentism, it will continue to exist. Perhaps organizations like Hamas will occasionally lob rounds of rockets or mortar shells over the security fence, to which Israel will have to respond, just as it does to Hizballah attacks from Lebanon. Nor will an Israeli withdrawal to the fence put a total end to terrorism, either, although it should be able to contain it effectively. Much will depend on the degree of civil unity or strife within Palestinian society itself, and on how long this society takes to normalize and prosper economically. A long time will pass before a Palestinian or Palestinian-Jordanian government will recognize Israel's new frontier. All this, however, will be infinitely preferable to the present state of affairs-and to any of the other alternatives on offer.

But will the Arab world buy into the Halkin Plan? His solution is predicated on the idea, expressed above, that the reaction to the withdrawl "
in Europe, in the Arab countries and elsewhere around the world, and among the Palestinians themselves-would be of relief. Finally, the Israeli occupation would be over." But is there any reason to think the issue is that simple, that decades of war and anguish is simply over "the Israeli occupation"? If the Arab world does not agree, or happens to define 'the Israeli occupation' a bit more broadly--and the necessary solution a bit more strongly, what good will Halkin's plan have accomplished? And what about the world-wide increase in Anti-Semitism? As Halkin himself brings up earlier:

In recent years, the propaganda push to depict Israel as an apartheid state in which ruling Jews victimize helpless Palestinians has been gaining frightening momentum. Apart from the United States, there is scarcely a Western country in which, despite years of Palestinian terror, anti-Israel sentiment in the media and intellectual life is not dominant and getting stronger.

This is especially the case in Europe, whose large and feared Muslim populations have also helped tip the balance of public opinion against the Jewish state. But even in America, Israel's image has steadily eroded, as evidenced by the recent disinvestment campaigns of large liberal church groups. Although fortunately there is still a long way to go, it is no longer unimaginable that Israel may one day come to be so widely regarded as a latter-day South Africa that public pressure will encourage Western governments, in any case anxious to cozy up to Arab and Muslim nations, to treat it as one.

Halkin points out that the US has urged Israel to make "bold and courageous decisions in order to help solve its conflict with the Palestinians". True enough, but that does not mean that Israel should have to come up with new and creative ways to back down and retreat.

See Biur Chametz's take on Halkin

See also
Hillel Halkin Declares Victory
Not So Fast, Mr. Halkin

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