Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Frankly, they may be scared off by Gaza's negative image"

The Financial Times has a piece entitled "Palestinians grow frustrated waitingfor the expected economic recovery" Apparently, as the song goes, "the party's over":
Almost three months after Israel left the Gaza Strip, optimism has begun to fade among some Palestinian officials and businessmen who hoped the withdrawal would bring rapid benefits to their shattered economy.

Even the fanfare with which the Palestinian Authority marked last week's transfer of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to its control failed to lift the gloom. "A lot of people are fed up with celebrations," said Nasser Jabr, deputy economy minister. "What they want to see is something happening on the ground."

And why would anyone pass up this no-brainer? The Financial Times dutifully goes through the short list of possible reasons why the world would be ignoring this unique opportunity to invest in the Palestinians:
A number of factors have slowed the predicted recovery. It was not until mid-November that Israel and the PA, under last-minute pressure from Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, signed up to a package of measures to ease the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory.

Elements of the agreement, however, have yet to come into force and some will not be fully in place before the end of nextyear.

Uncertainty over a guaranteed border outlet for exports has been one factor deterring the private investment needed to drive an economic revival. Others are lawlessness and concerns about perceived levels of corruption in the PA.
Oh yeah, the "lawlessness and concerns about perceived levels of corruption in the PA"--at least they were polite enough not to say 'perceived' lawlessness: and even then that would only be referring to the propensity of Palestinian Arabs have shown this year for killing more Palestinian Arabs than the number of Palestinian terrorists Israel has responded to. Never mind the terrorism.

But one person has not forgotten the terrorism--which leads to this priceless quote:
"Not a single investor has come to us since the Israeli disengagement," said Amr Hamad, Gaza head of the Palestinian Federation of Industries. "Frankly, they may be scared off by Gaza's negative image - the kidnappings and shootings. But we also need to create a better investment climate by reforming the relevant laws."[emphasis added]

Yup, that may have had something to do with it. Though it is not clear what laws have to be "reformed" and what key legislation needs to be passed in order to suddenly stop killing and blowing people up indiscriminantly.

Of course one place to start would be not the law books, but to stop teaching children to hate and kill.
In a Palestinian seventh-grade Arabic language book, a protest poem called "The Martyr" includes the lines: ''And the flow of blood gladdens my soul. ... And who asks for a noble death, here it is.''

The Palestinians' 11th grade Islamic Culture book has dozens of appeals for Islamic solidarity to confront ''enemies'' such as Israel, its allies and Western culture. ''The Islamic nation needs to spread the spirit of jihad and the love of self-sacrifice [martyrdom] among its sons,'' reads one passage.
Palestinian Arabs will no doubt able to rely on bringing in more billions in aid from the West, and may even receive funds from other Moslem and Arab countries--for things other than guns and rockets--and of course they can count on all kinds of protestors around the world who are 'pro-Palestinian' and anti-Israel.

But the attention and aid they have received thus far is the kind of attention an exasperated parent showers on a spoiled child given to tantrums and fits of uncontrollable anger, in the unending effort to make it stop, including making the older brother (Israel) give him whatever toys the brat wants just so he will shut up.

But perhaps the Palestinian Arabs will learn that there is no substitute for good will--should they finally grow up and 'behave'.

Crossposted at Israpundit

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Selling Democracy Door to Door

(Welcome to visitors from Haveil Havalim. Please take a moment to go to the home page and take a view from the top.)

The West in general, and the US in particular, is trying to sell Iraq, and its neighbors, on Democracy. But what are they trying to sell Israel? According to Gil Troy, Professor of History at McGill University:
Western diplomats, who like shady salesmen with ties to organized crime, repeatedly strong-arm Israel into buying an increasingly shoddy product, are now pressuring it to accept representatives of an organization committed to Israel's destruction, as long as they are democratically elected....A similar farce is playing out on Israel's Lebanese border, where Hizbollah unleashed yet another barrage of bombs and bullets, once again trying to kidnap Israeli soldiers and toy with their lives. Hiding behind Lebanese sovereignty, violating an internationally recognized, UN-sanctioned border, ignoring UNIFIL "peacekeeping" troops deployed there, Hizbollah strafed Israeli farmers, bombarded Israeli border positions, and shot rockets and missiles into two northern Israeli towns - hitting one home directly. Fortunately, it was unoccupied.
Democracy is the magic word, the silver bullet, that is going to stem the tide against terrorism--particularly Islamic terrorism.

But whose version of democracy?

Martin Kramer critiques Sharansky's "The Case for Democracy" by pointing out that there are different calibers:
The late Elie Kedourie put it best. "The Middle Easterner," he said, "is very far from thinking that he has a right to have a say in politics. All he wants is to be left alone and not to be oppressed." Elsewhere he wrote of the Syrians, as archetypes of the Arabs, that "they have never been much accustomed to being asked their opinion about their rulers. For them the happy man has always been he who has a beautiful wife, a comfortable house, a lucrative occupation, who does not know government, and whom government does not know; in short, the private man."

No doubt this is a desire for freedom, but it is freedom from, not freedom of. What is the difference? You may desire freedom from oppressive government, and still deny your beautiful wife the freedom to drive, or get an education, or go about in public. You may fervently wish not to know government, but still expect blasphemers and adulteresses to be punished by law. You may fight for freedom from oppression for yourself, and not much care if your neighbor is oppressed, especially if he is from a different family, or tribe, or sect.
Using Kramer's definition, one could argue that in Iraq, they are striving for a freedom of. Putting aside the hyperbole and agenda of the media, just what are the Palestinian Arabs after?

Whatever the brand of democracy, the West does not seem to care very much--how else to explain how Iraq and the Palestinians are both held up as examples of attempts at democracy. Yet, in Iraq the Baath party is dismantled--while Abbas wants to integrate terrorists and allow Hamas to take part in the election. Clearly the democracy of the Palestinian Arabs is held to a far lower standard. No messy fuss about guns, terrorists, or their constitution. Just get me to the election on time.

On this point Troy notes:
Democracy requires more than periodic elections. During the bad old days of communism, in Saddam Hussein's late unlamented regime, the world saw how strongmen could strong-arm voters into voting for them. But questions of the legitimacy of the electoral process among the Lebanese and the Palestinians aside, democracy demands the rule of law, respect for others, basic rights for all. An organization that commits mass-murder with no compunction cannot wipe out its crimes by winning some votes.
But no one seems to be stopping them from trying.

Today, Senator Joe Lieberman has a piece in the Wall Street Journal defending what the US is doing in Iraq. At one point he writes:
Before going to Iraq last week, I visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel has been the only genuine democracy in the region, but it is now getting some welcome company from the Iraqis and Palestinians who are in the midst of robust national legislative election campaigns...

The 'voters' are bringing guns to the ballot box and 2 months ago one of the groups running blew up 17 people, including a number of children. This is the very opposite of robust and healthy.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party scrambled on Wednesday to salvage a primary election rocked by turmoil that has widened internal rifts ahead of a political battle with its Hamas rival.

...“You cannot say that the elections were really democratic,” Central Committee member Nabil Shaath said about the ballot in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. “There was a lot of fraud and cheating.”]

Two years ago Americans were killed by Palestinian Arabs and today the US still has not caught the murderers. If the US is so invested in seeing to it that there be a Palestinian state that they will let those murderers go unpunished, can we really expect that it look out for Israeli interests?

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Palestinians Vote With Their Guns

To call the Palestinian primary elections a shootout would not be an exaggeration.
The Palestinians' ruling Fatah Party halted its primary election across the Gaza Strip on Monday after angry gunmen shot in the air at several polling stations, stole some ballot boxes and destroyed others...The election violence highlighted the ongoing lawlessness in Gaza's streets.
Why can't the Palestinian Arabs just stuff the ballot boxes like everyone else?
The Gaza primaries were expected to continue the trend started during earlier elections in several West Bank districts that swept away many entrenched old-timers, who controlled the party for decades and were seen as corrupt, and replaced them with young politicians more popular with average Palestinians.

The housecleaning in Fatah is crucial to the party's hope of beating back a strong showing by the Islamic militant group Hamas, which has wooed Palestinians in part with its image as an honest group that will not tolerate corruption and graft.
Corruption is the least of it. To say that Hamas' attraction is "in part" because of their image of honesty, is to ignore the terrorism of a group that "will not tolerate corruption and graft", but back in September blew up 17 of their fellow Palestinians--many of them children. This is the Palestinian version of squeaky-clean politics.
Before the dramatic cancellation, Mohammed Dahlan, a Gaza strongman and top Palestinian official seen as a bridge between the two generations in Fatah, was greeted by scores of chanting supporters as he voted in a sports club in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where he is a candidate.
What kind of person does it take to serve as a bridge between 2 generations of terrorists? Back in 2002, Ehud Olmert wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal entitled "Israel Can't Do Business With Terrorists," back during a simpler time when we thought Sharon and Olmert were serious:
Mr. Dahlan permitted Gaza to become a safe haven for the hundreds of fugitive terrorists fleeing Israeli forces. Among those being sheltered is his childhood friend Mohammed Dief, a leading Hamas mastermind with the blood of scores of Israelis on his hands. In the meantime, Mr. Dahlan's district became the primary launching grounds for the hundreds of Kessem missiles fired at Israel.

Mr. Dahlan's involvement in terrorism has not been confined to mere nonfeasance but, rather, gross malfeasance as well. Mr. Dahlan, along with his assistant Rashid Abu-Shabak, are the primary suspects in the terror attack on an Israeli school bus in Kfar Darom in November 2000. The bombing of the bus left half a dozen children maimed, and seriously injured an American citizen, Rachel Asaroff. In response to this brutal terror attack on Jewish school children, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak dispatched Israeli planes to strafe Mr. Dahlan's Gaza headquarters.
This is the new leadership that the Palestinians are cheering for.
"We want new blood in Fatah's body. We want to say that Fatah is able to lead and to bring us our rights," said Majdi Abu Daka, a 34-year- old engineer. "We respect the old generation, but it's time to give us a chance. The world is changing and so are we."
But of course the Palestinian Arabs are not changing at all. Same old thing: terrorist in, terrorist out--as long as they are held in thrall by the same mantra, and hold the same leaders in respect, the new blood Mr. Daka is talking about is not going to be metaphorical.

See also: Palestinian Democracy at the Voting Booth

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Wizard of Odds

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"
The Wizard of Oz

Today, Arutz Sheva reports that "Sharon Plans Massive Withdrawals"

Middle East Newsline (MENL) reports in the name of "political sources" that Sharon has begun briefing senior U.S. officials of his intention to withdraw unilaterally from more than 95% of Judea and Samaria.
But keep in mind that this is all very hush-hush:
One of the most valuable "acquisitions" of the Kadima Party, MK Chaim Ramon, formerly of Labor, said openly last week that Sharon will unilaterally
withdraw to final borders in Judea and Samaria if Palestinian terror continues. IMRA reported that Ramon said this on a live interview on Channel 10's "London and Kirschenbaum" news program just hours after he announced his decision to join Sharon's Kadima.

Ramon explained that Sharon will keep his plans secret until the elections because he wants to give the Road Map a chance.
By all means, let's not let the Palestinian Arabs know that terror is getting them everything they want and more. Shhhhhhhh. Better yet, announce it on TV. Diabolically clever, no?
Though Sharon has denied that he plans any further disengagements, he pledged last week to "lay the foundation for a peace in which we set the permanent borders of the state, while insisting on the dismantling of the terror organizations."
Oh yes, "insisting on the dismantling of the terror organizations." Where have we heard this before? Let's see:
The Palestinian Authority has yet to comply with even one agreement they have signed since the Oslo Accord. They have violated the Oslo agreement, Oslo II, and the Road Map. Each agreement required the PA to disarm its terrorists and to empower its “security forces” to protect the safety of Israelis as well as Palestinian Arabs.
Everything2 explains the phrase "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" as
a catchphrase that describes an organization or policy that attempts to conceal its true intent.

But this is Israel. Leave it to Sharon to declare his plan to the entire world and expect to get away with it.

Can he pull it off?

The odds seemed to be against the Disengagement, and here we are now dealing with its aftermath. For that matter, after Sharon was forced to resign as Defence Minister after the Sabra and Chatila massacre, who could have expected that Sharon would someday be Prime Minister?

The question is not whether he can pull it off; the question is what are the odds that anybody can stop him.

See also: Sharon: Is He Planning a Bank Withdrawl?

Crossposted on Israpundit

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Palestinian Democracy at the Voting Booth

In an October 20 editorial, "A Vote for Hamas" The Washington Post concludes:

...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. [emphasis added]

Palestinian Zakareia Zubaidi, a local leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other Palestinian militants cast their votes in the West Bank town of Jenin November 25, 2005. Fatah, the largest Palestinian faction, held its first primary election on Friday but polls remained shut in parts of the West Bank and in Gaza in what officials called a sign of internal divisions.

I guess they're still working on that one.

And who are the big winners?

Jailed Palestinian Leader Wins Primaries

Jailed Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti [read: convicted terrorist] and other younger activists swept Fatah primaries, signaling a change of generations that could make the corruption-tainted ruling party more attractive to voters in Jan. 25 parliament elections, according to preliminary results released Saturday.

Imagine the campaign promises: 2 chickens in every pot and a Kassam rocket launcher hidden in every garage.

We may find out what his campaign promises will be, if Yossi Beilin has his way:

"I think today there is no doubt that he is one of the top leaders in the Palestinian street," said Yossi Beilin, leader of the Meretz/Yahad party. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has stated that if his new Kadima party forms the next government, Meretez/Yahad is a likely coalition partner.

Beilin backed up his calls for releasing Barghouti by claiming it would help promote democracy in the PA. "Barghouti heads one of the Palestinian camps that do want peace," he said, "and so this is the moment to end his sentence... in preparation for an historical peace agreement with Israel."
Beilin's claim is somewhat undercut by one of Barghouti's buddys:
While Beilin maintained that Barghouti was a "man of peace", Barghouti's
colleague in the Fatah, PLC representative Qadura Fares, explained in Hebrew
in a live interview broadcast on the program that he and Barghouti support
"negotiations and other peaceful means with Israel as long as Palestinian
aspirations may be realized through negotiations. If Palestinian aspirations
can't be realized through peaceful means then the aspirations will be
realized via resistance."
So Barghouti is a pragmatic man of peace, just like Abbas.

Must be something in the air. Michelle Malkin has a post about a convicted murderer in the US who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and is being considered for clemency:
Convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the co-founder of the violent Crips gang who is on Death Row in California, is Hollyweird's current cause celebre. He is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 13 after 24 years of legal wrangling. The San Francisco Chronicle reports today that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to hold a clemency hearing Dec. 8.
Malkin quotes Debra J. Saunders, who points out how ludicrous this is:
The whole "redemption" line is a joke. As Williams' former prosecutor Robert Martin once told me, redemption requires an admission of guilt, facing up to what you did and expressing remorse. Williams has done none of the above, yet newspaper editorial pages (including The Chronicle's) and various do-gooders (including some Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals judges) have been pushing for the governor to grant Tookie clemency.
There are a number of similarities between Barghouti and the convicted murderer:

1. Barghouti will never claim to be 'redeemed'--it would ruin his image.
2. Barghouti will never apologize for the murders he planned.
3. It's only a matter of time before Barghouti is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This could be the beginning of a whole new policy. Don't just release the terrorists; give them all political positions.

see also Palestinians Vote With Their Guns
see also Responding to WaPo's "A Vote For Hamas"

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B.C. Comics, Robin Hood, and Israel

Everyone loves an underdog...until he isn't one.

Many years ago I read a particular strip of B.C comics. It shows a masked man who robs a rich man, proclaiming that he takes from the rich and gives to the poor. In the next frame, our masked hero finds a poor man and gives him the money. In the next frame, overwhelmed with joy, he cries out "I'm rich!" Sure enough, in the final frame the robber returns and takes the money, proclaiming that he takes from the rich...

I thought of this when I read "How did we forget that Israel's story is the story of the West?" by Charles Moore:

Anti-imperialists and the Left also found much to admire [in Israel]. They admired people whose pioneer spirit kept them equal, who often lived communally, who fled the persecution of old societies to build simpler, better ones. If you read Bernard Donoughue's diaries, just published, of his life as an adviser to Harold Wilson in the 1970s (a much better picture of what prime ministers are like than Sir Christopher Meyer's self-regarding effort), one difference between then and now that hits you hard is Donoughue's (and Wilson's) firm belief that the cause of Israel is the cause of people who wish to be free, and that its enemies are the old, repressive establishments.
Remember those good old days when the Left loved Israel? How times do change, especially when the underdog becomes more established and someone else comes along and says that they are the underdog.
...But then a different narrative supervened. People called "the Palestinians" began to be mentioned. Once upon a time, the word "Palestinian" had no national meaning; it was simply the description on any passport of a person living in British-mandated Palestine. During the 19 years to 1967 when Jordan governed the West Bank, the people there had no self-rule, and no real name. UN Resolution 242, which calls for Israel to leave territories it occupied in 1967, does not mention Palestinians; it speaks only of "Arab refugees". Palestinian nationality came along, as it were, after the fact, a nationality largely based on grievance.

Since then, the story has grown and grown. Israel, which was attacked, has come to be seen as the aggressor. Israel, which has elections that throw governments out and independent commissions that investigate people like Sharon and condemn him, became regarded as the oppressive monster. In a rhetoric that tried to play back upon Jews their own experience of suffering, supporters of the Palestinian cause began to call Israelis Nazis. Holocaust Memorial Day is disapproved of by many Muslims because it ignores the supposedly comparable "genocide" of the Palestinians.
The Left can be very exacting about the their role models.
Western children of the Sixties like this sort of talk. They look for a narrative based on the American civil rights movement or the struggle against apartheid. They care little for economic achievement or political pluralism. They are suspicious of any society with a Western appearance, and in any contest between people with differing skin colours, they prefer the darker. They buy into the idea, now promoted by all Arab regimes and by Muslim firebrands with a permanent interest in deflecting attention from their own societies' problems, that Israel is the greatest problem of all.
I imagine that back in 1967, no one could have imagined that the love affair between the Left and Israel would ever end. Do we dare hope that the Left might take a second look at the Palestinians and realize whom they are admiring now?

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HaTikva--"Still Not Lost", or "Not Yet"?

I have a book on Hebrew, which among other things has a section with sample sentences. One of the sentences is from HaTikva: "Od lo avdah tikvateinu"--and this is exactly how it is translated:

We have not lost hope ("our hope is not lost yet" - from Israeli anthem)
The book is by the Professor of Hebrew and Chair Depatment of Judaic and Near Esatern Studies at a US university, so I suppose he knows what he is doing.

But I always thought the translation was "Our hope is still not lost"--it is ongoing after all these years, as opposed to "Our hope is not lost yet"--but at some time will be (as in "are we there yet?")

Anyone have any ideas?

Based on whats in the news, I'd like to think I'm right:

Haaretz: Tourism to Israel rises by some 26 percent in 2005 over last year

Some 1.5 million tourists visited Israel between January and September of 2005, constituting a rise of some 26 percent over the same time period last year, the tourist ministry announced on Sunday.
and this:
JPost: Life is good in Israel, economy is not

You don't need money to be happy but it certainly helps - at least according to results of a recent study of adult Israelis conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Eighty-two percent of those surveyed claimed to be "very satisfied" with life in Israel." But the level of satisfaction with economic conditions was considerably lower - with only 47% of adults saying that they were satisfied with their economic situation.
What do you think?

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hasidic Cop Bridges Two Worlds in New York

There is an article from February 1997 entitled "Wearing a badge and a beard":
Rockland County Police Academy in New York had never seen anything like it.
"A guy walks in with a bowler hat on, a beard, a coat coming down to his knees," says Sheriff James Kralik. "He looks like something out of 'Fiddler on the Roof.' "
It was Shlomo Koenig, now Deputy Shlomo Koenig, perhaps the only Hasidic police officer in the nation.
It is an interesting article and well worth reading. But the part that I thought was even more interesting was this:

There is mistrust between police and the Hasidim.
"We've been brought up in countries where the government was not our friend, not working with the community but against it," says the American-born Mr. Koenig. "The way we sustained ourselves has been by living in our own small world."
As Sheriff Kralik puts it: "In most countries, the policemen were burning their homes. They had no reason to trust us."

I wonder to what extent the long history of Jewish persecution, especially in Europe, affects the way some groups today view the government and its laws--even now that they live not in Europe, but in the US, in a different more tolerant society.

No excuses for cutting corners or breaking laws, but I wonder to what degree it is all those centuries of distrust manifesting itself even today, as opposed to the other reasons that are given.

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The Difference Between Munchkins and Palestinians

(Welcome to visitors via Haveil Havalim #46. Please take a moment to go to my home page and get a view from the top.)

This is a day of independence - for all the Munchkins and their descendants!

The Wizard of Oz

Israel Perspectives notes Ariel Sharon's use of "political language" in his new iteration as a liberal centrist running under the banner of Kadimah. He quotes Haaretz which claims:

Ariel Sharon will offer the Palestinians independence in exchange for the guarantee of security for Israelis if he is re-elected prime minister, according to comments by a top adviser published in a British daily Wednesday.

Political strategist Eyal Arad told The Guardian newspaper that Sharon would not operate on the principle of land for peace if he wins elections slated for March.
"Political language" is a term coined by George Orwell, in his essay "Politics and the English Language" where he defines political language as follows:
"Political language - and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists - is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind...".
In his post Israel Perspectives notes 4 examples of "political language" used by Sharon and the Israeli government.

I think that there is another example that borders on the legitimization of a myth, reminiscent of Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice's error when she spoke about
the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, returning control of that territory to the Palestinian people...First, for the first time since 1967, Palestinians will gain control over entry and exit from their territory.
Just as the Disengagement did not return control of Gaza to the Palestinian Arabs, nor did they ever have control over Gaza even before 1967--so too Haaretz is misleading when it writes:

Ariel Sharon will offer the Palestinians independence...The root of the conflict is based on the Palestinian quest for independence.
Is this for real?

Since when are Palestinian Arabs under the thumb of some colonial power with imperial designs, that now suddenly they are being given their independence? (contrast: Israeli Occupation? Moslems are Just Being Modest)

The pro-Palestinian propaganda says that Israel is an apartheid state, enslaving Palestinian Arabs on land that Jews stole from them--and now Sharon and Arad are going to imply that the canard is true?

Since when has there been an independent Palestinian Arab state; since when has there ever been an independent Palestinian Arab people, that Israel should have been accused of denying it--and now is suddenly giving it--something it never had?

Talk about your modern day hoaxes.

As James Taranto points out very succinctly
Before World War I, the entire region, including Israel and the disputed territories, was part of the Ottoman Empire. Between World War I and 1948, the British administered it. In 1948 the Arabs went to war rather than accept a U.N. partition of Palestine that would have created Jewish and Arab states. After that conflict and until 1967, Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan controlled the West Bank.
The only independent Palestinian state that has ever existed--existed for Jews; the only Palestinian People with a national, cultural and religious bond to that land has been the Jewish people.

Palestinian Arabs are not Munchkins.
Israel is not the Wicked Witch of the West.

But Israel is home...and there's no place like home.

Crossposted on Israpundit

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How To Deal With Impossible People

From Wiki How, The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit:

How to Deal With Impossible People

We all know impossible people. They tend to share three main characteristics - they cannot be reasoned with, they believe they can do no wrong, and they are convinced that everything is someone else's fault. If you haven't had some first-hand experience in dealing with such people, even a brief conversation can raise your blood pressure through the roof. Here are some insights and steps for dealing with these highly difficult people.
I just want to see if Israel could apply this, in the interests of peace.

In shortened form, here are the 12 steps--let's see if any are relevant:

1. If you think you might be dealing with an impossible person, you're probably right. [note to self: ignore world opinion]

2. It doesn't matter how this person interacts with others. The fact is, the way they interact with you is terrible. [and the UN Security Council recognized this and blasted Hizbollah yesterday, so there's hope]

3. If you're dealing with an impossible person, you're probably being told on a regular basis that every conceivable thing is your fault. It isn't. As the saying goes, "It takes two to tango." [Actually, the saying is "cycle of violence", but why quibble]

4. Give up all hope of engaging these folks in any kind of reasonable conversation...Chances are, every such attempt ended in you being blamed for everything. [worse, it ended in the Oslo Accord! And Oslo II!! And the Road Map!!! And the Rafa Accords!!!!]

5. If you have regular dealings with someone who tries to portray you as the source of all evil, you need to take active steps to maintain a positive self-image...Do NOT defend yourself out loud, however. It will only provoke the impossible person into another tirade. [doesn't anyone believe in hasbarah?]

6. Guard against anger...Anything you do or say while angry will be used against you over and over again [try explaining that to the Knesset].

7. When the impossible person becomes hysterical (and they probably will, as this is a common trait among them), immediately "Turn off" any serious consideration you had been giving them [No good. Israel hasn't be able to break off talks for more than a week or two at a shot].

8. Give up self-defense. Understand very clearly that you cannot beat these people. [Huh? Who let Labor in here?].

9. Understand that eventually, you and the impossible person will have to part ways [Ah, a two-state solution].

10. Avoid letting the impossible person make you into a "clone" of them. If you aren't careful, you could find yourself adopting many of the behaviors of the offender. [only Israelis can be accused of being terrorists]

11. Be a manager. Until it is over, your task in the relationship is to manage the impossible person, so that they do less damage to you [What? Another pro-Disengagement advocate?].

12. Realize that impossible people engage in projection [you mean like Kassam rockets? Oh, those are projectiles...]. Understand that you are going to be accused of much (or all) of this behavior yourself.

Among the warnings they give:

Do not make impossible people angry; although they (of course) "have no temper" and are "reasonable to everybody," the fact is that if you enrage them, they will blow their stack like you can't believe. [actually, they become an absolute terror]

No, on second thought, I don't this is going to cut it. Besides, Fatah, Hamas, the Al Aqsa Martys Brigade, etc are not impossible people, freedom fighters, or militants--they are terrorists. And the first step in any kind of program in dealing with a problem is to admit to what the problem is. Seems like the UN, the EU, and the US are not even up to the first step.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In The Absence of War, Is There Peace?

One of the tactics used by the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters is the twisting of language. Disputed territory becomes occupied territory; Palestinian Arabs suddenly become the Palestinian people with the Right of Return. Now these Palestinains and those who support them will say that we are in midst of a historic opportunity for peace (assuming that Israel is willing to make all the necessary concessions).

In this context, Daniel Pipes upsets the apple cart:
As a scholar, Pipes is eminently aware of how the definition of any political situation creates tacit premises. He is exacting in his use of words. The title of his speech was the "Palestinian-Israeli War." It wasn't "The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" – or "problem" or "issue."

"War" not only defines the "mode and intensity of the conflict," as we political scientists like to say, but for Pipes it defines his paradigm.

And this, for me at least, defines Pipes. You see, it is possible to hear dozens of speakers take numerous courses and never understand the assumptions that underline a person's positions. Oh yes, you can understand where they stand on the issue; usually you discover that in the first ten seconds. And yes, you will know their interpretation of the history of the Middle East and their view of the causes of the conflict. But there are always those troubling theoretical lacunae that are filled in with some admixture of ideological syrup and a garnish of hope – hope, that is, that one's ideology is triumphant. Even so many sophisticated people, those who were educated at a time when universities were serious places, can't retain the distinction between explanation and justification.

Pipes, in contrast, began with an intellectual paradigm – war.

I caught myself mentally nodding my head when I read that. What some refer to as a peace process that is the only hope for peace in the region, is a battle played under the cover of diplomacy to get every possible concession out of Israel piece by piece.

Which is why I was caught off-guard by the following remark by Dr. Michael Oren, historian and author:

Q: Do you believe that Israel will ever see peace?

Oren: The period of 1960-67 is considered one of the most peaceful periods in Israeli history. Do you know that per-capita more Israelis were killed every year in terrorist attacks during that period than today? We're in the Middle East, a very unstable and violent area, and, accordingly, we have to have realistic expectations of what peace means in our area. Peace for us really means the absence of active war.

I'm confident that we can go through long periods of such peace. Keep in mind that we haven't had an attack by a large conventional army in more than 30 years. The reason we haven't is because the last time they tried it, we whooped them, even though they had a surprise attack on us. So we can have long periods of quiet, but quiet is relative. [emphasis added]
Peace is more than the absence of war--years ago it was called the Cold War, not the Cold Peace.

Why should Israel have to settle just with not having a declared war on their hands? Why is Israel not entitled to have peace? Let's be realistic: Is the reason the Arab world has not launched a conventional war in more than 30 years merely that it was not successful--or is it because the "Palestinian initiative" is proving far more successful for the Arabs than anyone could have possibly imagined?

Don't look now, Dr. Oren, but Israel is the under attack right now.
And the Palestinian Arabs have found something more lethal than the element of surprise.

The element of peace.

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"A Question That Sometimes Drives Me Hazy..."

A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?

Abraham H. Miller's article, The Palestinian-Israeli War, conjures up that question:
When it comes to the Middle East most observers don't process data, they process denial. When almost immediately after Oslo, Arafat stopped in a Stockholm mosque to repudiate the Accords and was subsequently caught, he denied what he had said. Those who could not see beyond Oslo were eager to accept his denial. When the PLO did not formally change its position on Israel's existence, those who wanted to believe it had done so, simply saying that the formalities didn't make a difference.
According to Miller, the reason that Daniel Pipes makes people so angry is because they just cannot deal with his answers. Pipes refers not to a conflict or a problem, but to a war--a Palestinian-Israeli war:
Pipes forces you to give up the ether of confusion that has been created around this war. And most people cannot bear to part with it. Compelled to think in ways that are different, they get angry.

Pipes thereby challenges his audience to face reality. His paradigm requires that we look at the Palestinian-Israeli War as it is, not as some may wish it was.

As Pipes explained, the reality is that diplomacy hasn't worked. Oslo made the situation worse because it was based on the premise that in the end if you could provide the Palestinians with equality and autonomy and the Israelis with recognition and security, you could have peace. You can't have peace as long as the Palestinians believe that ultimately they can and will destroy Israel. Then, Oslo becomes not a means to peace but a means to attaining strategic advantage.
And of course no one--not the UN, not the EU, not the US, and not even Israel--is giving the PLO the slightest reason not to think that their current course of action is going to get them what they want.

Which of course is why--
The Palestinian Authority has yet to comply with even one agreement they have signed since the Oslo Accord. They have violated the Oslo agreement, Oslo II, and the Road Map. Each agreement required the PA to disarm its terrorists and to empower its “security forces” to protect the safety of Israelis as well as Palestinian Arabs.
As for the agreement itself:

Use of the Rafah crossing will be restricted to Palestinian ID card holders and others by exception in agreed categories with prior notification to the GoI and approval of senior PA leadership.
Israel gets notified; the PA gets to approve.

The GoI will respond within 24 hours with any objections and will include the reasons for the objections;

The PA will notify the GoI of their decision within 24 hours and will include the reasons for their decision;

Israel gets to give their objections--after which the PA will let Israel know what they decide to do, thank you very much.
These procedures will remain in place for a period of 12 months, unless the 3rd party delivers a negative evaluation of the PA running the Rafah crossing. This evaluation will be done in close coordination with both sides and will give due consideration to the opinion of both sides.
Kinda makes you giddy with optimism, doesn't it?

And as IMRA points out

Text: Palestinian Official: No live video feed from Rafah (despite agreement)

Agreement says:
"-A liaison office, led by the 3rd party, will receive real-time video and
data feed of the activities at Rafah and will meet regularly to review
implementation of this agreement, resolve any disputes arising from this
agreement, and perform other tasks specified in this agreement."
Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing - General

Palestinian official says:
"Meanwhile, the director of borders and crossings, Salim Abu Safiyyeh,
asserted that there won't be any live video streams to the Israeli side via
the surveillance cameras installed in Rafah terminal, pointing out that even
the joint control room will not receive these live feeds, and will be only
for the presence of the third party that will monitor the borders."

Not exactly an auspicious start.

This agreement is crazy.

And it doesn't take an Einstein to figure that out

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sharon and Madness

Ariel Sharon finally comes out and says flat out what we have suspected all along.

One of Arutz Sheva's articles today, "PM Sharon: We Are Committed to the Road Map," contains the following odd bit:

Addressing a nationally televised press conference, Mr. Sharon once
again spoke of the need to make "painful concessions" to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in talks surrounding the final status
borders. The only plan under consideration to reach that stage, he
said, is the US-brokered Road Map to Middle East Peace, which Sharon
praised for its reciprocal structure, with each step "contingent upon the successful completion of the previous one."[emphasis added]

So according to Sharon, Israel must make "painful concessions" to the PA, with each step contingent upon the previous one being completed successfully. This, of course, is what the world has been telling Israel for years...Just a thought.

One thing we no longer hear mentioned of course are the 14 Reservations in connection with the Road Map, with such requirements as

1. Both at the commencement of, and during the process, and as a condition to its continuance, calm will be maintained...

2. Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement...

5. The character of the provisional Palestinian state will be determined through negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty, be fully demilitarized with no military forces, but only with police and internal security forces of limited scope and armaments...

6. In connection to both the introductory statements and the final settlement, declared references must be made to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian refugees to the State of Israel.

14. Arab states will assist the process through the condemnation of terrorist activity.

All forgotten.

Remember the story of the King and Prime Minister who discover that all the water in the kingdom has become poisoned and anyone who drinks it becomes mad? The Prime Minister tells the King that they must not drink the water, lest they come mad too along with everyone in the kingdom. The King says no--they must join their people. But the King and Prime Minister will put a mark on each other's forehead so that when they look at each other at least they will know they are mad.

But what good is it if you know you are mad and still keep acting like a madman?

The world has gone mad, rampant with the kind of hypocrisy that will come to haunt them too. And rather than fight the madness and demand that the Palestinian Arabs stop the terrorism and follow the Road Map--instead of this Sharon has taken it upon himself to take heretofore unimaginable measures that reek of madness and are slowly tearing the country apart.

Sharon starting "a liberal centrist party"?

Don't drink the water.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Thoughts on a Video of 1933 Munkatch

Check out this video of scenes of life in Munkatch in 1933, available on Google Video.

There are a few varied scenes available, including: the wedding of the daughter of the Grand Rebbe Eleazer Shapira of Munkatch in March 1933 (with the Munkatcher Rebbe making a speech in Yiddish exhorting Jews in America to continue to keep Shabbos), secular Jewish children singing HaTikvah, traditional religious Jewish children studying in an Orthodox religious school, a book peddler and weaver in Munkatch, and secular Jews dancing.

When I showed a friend--a survivor of the Shoah--the scene of the children singing, her one comment to me was, "What do you think happened to the children?"

Her comment reminded me of the introduction to "The World That Was: Lithuania," by Rabbi Yitzchak Kasnett. Rabbi Kasnett writes:

The goal of The Living Memorial has been to focus our remembrance upon an aspect of the Holocaust which is regretfully being forgotten. When the Nazi beast decimated European Jewry, he destroyed more than human lives. Together with the six million souls who perished in the most cruel manner, a culture was destroyed that was majestic and noble, yet warm and unpretentious. European Jewry took on many forms which reflected several diverse approaches to the Torah way of life. There were the pure hearts and warm spirits of Chassidic Jewry; the dignity and refinement that characterizes German Jewry; the profound faith and courage of Hungarian Jewry; the purity , modesty and incisive Torah minds that personifies Lithuanian Jewry; the sincerity and joy of life of Russian Jewry; the charm and graciousness of Galician Jewry; the commitment to age-old tradition that was demonstrated by the Balkan Jews; and the exciting multi-dimensional world of Polish Jewry.
Above and beyond the horrific loss of 6,000,000 Jews, an entire branch of Jewish life and culture was prematurely torn off and consigned to the flames--lost to future generations, a fact we really do not fully think about or comprehend. Rabbonim and Talmidei Chachamim were slaughtered. Chassidus survived; the Mussar Movement did not. Yiddish has had something of a resurgence. Without Eretz Yisrael, who can say what would have been--and today we see that too is in danger.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Palestinian Billions

Michael Rubin writes that more than the terrorism, The Middle East's real bane: corruption:
Palestinian ministers have also used their positions more for self-enrichment than development. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has little to show for billions of dollars in foreign aid. Critics of Israel can point to the bulldozed Gaza airport and complain about border closures, but it was not the Israeli government that built palatial mansions for Palestinian ministers or that wired PA President Yasser Arafat's wife Suha $22 million annually. In 2003, a team of American auditors estimated Arafat's net worth at $3 billion. At the time of his January 2001 assassination, Palestine Broadcasting Services director Hisham Makki had $17 million in his bank account; his monthly salary was only $1,500. In the autumn 2004 issue of Middle East Quarterly, former Palestine International Bank director Issam Abu Issa detailed the mechanism by which other Arafat aides pocketed millions of dollars. Palestinian refugees, meanwhile, live in squalor.

This of course is not really anything new. Every once in a while an article turns up that discusses the corruption of the PA. But considering the funds that certain Palestinian Arabs have stashed away, the funds available to the oil-rich Arab countries in the area, and the overall waste of billions of dollars--its becoming a bit pathetic to watch Europe fall all over itself in an effort to find a new excuse to give more.

Jews have a tendency at times to be their own worst enemies.
Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

What is Europe's excuse?


According to Reuters:

Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, who has battled parliament to force it to carry out fiscal belt tightening measures, has submitted his resignation ahead of legislative elections due in January.

Fayyad, a former International Monetary Fund official, said on Saturday he wanted to step down because he was considering running in the polls, and turned in his resignation several days ago as required under Palestinian law.

Other officials who asked not to be named said his resignation was in protest against the government's refusal to implement concrete fiscal reforms.

...The aid-dependent Palestinian Authority is under pressure to carry out fiscal reforms, and Fayyad's resignation followed threats by foreign donors in October to suspend direct budget support unless ballooning public wage costs were reversed.

There was no immediate word on whether Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie would accept the resignation, which comes as Palestinians are under increasing scrutiny over how they run the Gaza Strip -- seen as a proving ground for statehood following
Israel's withdrawal after 38 years of occupation.

"His resignation is going to affect the Palestinian Authority very negatively," political analyst Ali Jarbawi said. "He was trusted by the international community, and this trust will disappear when he goes."

The World Bank has said boosting the Palestinian economy is crucial to peacemaking. Donors have given an average of $25 million a month this year in budget support for the Palestinian Authority, according to figures from an international envoy.
Let's see where this goes.

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Clinton Preaches, Rice Overreaches

Former President Bill Clinton was in Israel last week and had the following to say:

"If you work for peace and fail, fewer people will die than if you do not work at all," he told the Saban Forum, held at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
After all of the visits by Arafat to the White House, can Clinton really mean that?

And then Clinton had this to say:

Diaspora Jews and friends of Israel "have a special responsibility to give financial, moral, and technical support to the Palestinian people to help the Gaza gamble succeed and to the Israelis to give them time to sort through their political situation."
Among the questions I'd like to ask:

1. Why do Jews have any responsibility to give support to the people who want to murder them?
2. Why do Jews have a 'special' responsibility?
3. Who are the 'Palestinian people' and what historical, cultural, and political connection do they have to the land?

But clearly Rice does not agree with Clinton. She does not see a need to give Israel "time to sort through their political situation."

Arutz Sheva has an article entitled U.S. Jews Pushed Rice Into ´Unprecedented´ Intervention:

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week broke her previously stated policy of "guiding, but not directing" negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Rice used "unusual personal involvement" to pressure Israel and the PA, according to the liberal New York Jewish daily The Forward.
Rice apparently did not agree with the idea of giving Israel time, instead applying more pressure than usual. I wonder if she ever considered applying real pressure on Abbas to reign in terrorists, or if instead Abbas will just go on indefinitely getting mileage out of his claim that his taking too strong a stand would start a civil war. This is the same Rice who was reported to have favored pressure on Syria instead of military action.

But apparently applying the pressure was not all Rice's idea:
The left-wing Israel Policy Forum, Reform movement members and Americans for Peace Now met with Rice to express their backing before her recent trip to the Middle East. The Forum also sent a letter to Rice stating the "strong support" that the Bush administration has "from Jewish Americans on both sides of the aisle."
It won't be the first time that Jews have shot themselves in the foot--too bad they didn't take Clinton's 'advice'. But in the aftermath of the agreement there are more questions than answers:
Abe Foxman, director of the liberal Anti-Defamation league (ADL), told The Forward, "I am nervous about this" because Israel's security may have been compromised. "I worry because there is a basic asymmetry, an imbalance, between the two parties. For the Palestinians, it is about status and sovereignty, which could always be adjusted, while for Israel it is about security and trust. If you make a mistake..., there is no going back."

...Her (Rice's) direct intervention was questioned also by David Twersky, director of international affairs for the American Jewish Congress. He said Rice's shuttle diplomacy for "a very small, modest achievement just shows how bad things are. What's going to happen when there is something really important to discuss?"
But there is another issue too, which of course is likely to be ignored:
The Rafah agreement is in direct contradiction to the Disengagement law, according to left-wing activist Meron Benvenisti. He wrote in the Hebrew daily Haaretz, "One should not dismiss the importance of the Rafah agreement, [which] contradicts the Disengagement plan as approved by the Knesset. [The law] stated that Israel will oversee and guard the external land envelope."
Which brings us back to Bill Clinton. He refers to the Disengagement as the "Gaza gamble." Indeed, whenever Israel goes to the bargaining table, why does it seem she always throws snake eyes?

See also Rice Rewrites History

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Wahabee Wannabees?

Back on November 7, The Guardian reported
Four days after the deaths in Clichy-sous-Bois, just as community leaders were beginning to calm the situation, the security forces reignited the fire by emptying teargas canisters inside a mosque.
Considering the reaction of Moslems to the report in Newsweek that a Koran was desecrated at Guantanamo, this kind of response would be expected.

But as The Big Pharaoh points out:

Well, take a look at the above picture. It shows a group of radical Indian hindus burning the Quran in front of a camera. So here you go, a Quran getting burned on camera for the entire world to see. Isn't that more serious than Newsweek's story?

Why didn't the Arab/Muslim world erupt in flames? Where was the outrage against hindus? Why didn't we see Indian flags getting burned? Why didn't we see pictures of hindu gods getting "desecrated"?

One might be tempted to say that the explanation is that the destruction of Korans is not an issue, except when it can be used for political ends. But then, how does one explain Moslems who blow up mosques?
Suicide bombers struck in eastern Iraq and the capital on Friday, killing at least 74 Shiite worshippers near the Iranian border and eight Iraqis at a hotel — the second attack against a compound housing Western media and contractors in less than a month.

At sunset, hours after the nearly simultaneous bombings of two mosques in the border town of Khanaqin, dozens of people were still searching for relatives and friends. Others collected shredded copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

How do you explain the selective anger or even selective concern of Moslems for the desecration of mosques and Korans--and the murder of their fellow Moslems?

S. D. Goitein, in his book "Jews and Arabs" comments on what Moslems really believe. Keep in mind the book was originally written in 1955 and revised in 1964:
It is, of courese , extremely difficult , if not impossible, to assess what the Muslim religion really means today to the various diverse sections of the Arab population...There can, however, be no doubt that there is a wide gap between what is really believed and practiced by many people today and between what they profess publicly.

Dr. John Van Ess, a great American philanthropist and sincere friend of the Arabs, who lived and worked for forty yeas in Basra, begins his last article before his recent death with the following words: Only very few young man pray today in the Near East." I am unable to check the correctness of ths any case it is correct to assume that many young men in Arab countries do not pray today, but--they would fervently deny that they did not conform to orthodox Islamic practice, or did not regard Islam as the most perfect spiritiual system that has ever existed. [pp. 15-16]
Of course 50 years later things may be different--and my intent is not to cast aspersions on another religion--but while history is filled with examples of schisms within religious groups, how often do we see in this day and age where within one religion, one group destroys the other's places of worship, the holy books they both hold sacred--as well as the people who use them. When we see videos of Imams spewing hate and ignorance in the mosques--to what degree is the Islamist terror that is rampant in the world actually religious and to what degree is it something else.

In his much talked-about article, "A Year of Living Dangerously", Francis Fukuyama writes:
We have tended to see jihadist terrorism as something produced in dysfunctional parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan or the Middle East, and exported to Western countries. Protecting ourselves is a matter either of walling ourselves off, or, for the Bush administration, going "over there" and trying to fix the problem at its source by promoting democracy.

There is good reason for thinking, however, that a critical source of contemporary radical Islamism lies not in the Middle East, but in Western Europe. In addition to Bouyeri and the London bombers, the March 11 Madrid bombers and ringleaders of the September 11 attacks such as Mohamed Atta were radicalized in Europe. In the Netherlands, where upwards of 6% of the population is Muslim, there is plenty of radicalism despite the fact that Holland is both modern and democratic. And there exists no option for walling the Netherlands off from this problem.
There is what to say for Fukuyama's approach, but I don't think you can write off the Middle East as a source of the problem. It's about time someone takes a closer look at what else--if anything--is being taught by those Imams, besides hate and the spread of Islam through the world.

See also Dealing with the Islamist Threat

See also The Obvious Question

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

The West's Long History Of Shooting Itself In The Foot

The outside help Iran has been receiving for its nuclear program is nothing new--the West seems to be rather short-sighted about providing all kinds of military capabilities to Moslem countries that may one day show a lack of gratitude in using those same weapons on their supposed benefactors.

But this blindness has a long history. Paleo Ideofact quotes Bernard Lewis' "What Went Wrong":
Even when the Ottoman Turks were advancing into southeatern Europe, they were always able to buy much needed equipment for their fleets and armies from Christian European suppliers, to recruit European experts, and even to obtain financial cover from Christian European banks. What is nowadays known as "constructive engagement" has a long history.
Paleo Ideofact also quotes Patrick Pringle's Jolly Roger: Story of the Great Age of Piracy
The main advantage of the Barbary coast to English pirates was that it afforded them protection in harbour and immunity on land. Pirates could usually look after themselves at sea, but they had to have shore refuges with facilities for disposing of their loot and cleaning and refitting their ships. Such facilities had almost ceased to exist in England since the decline of the west-country syndicates, and King James, in pursuit of his policy of friendship with Spain, took steps to see that they did not reappear.

The Moors, for their part, welcomed these hardy English seamen, who repaid their hosts by teaching them European methods of ship-building. It was Danser and Ward who first showed the Moors how to build sailing vessels instead of oared galleys. A change of this sort can only be compared with the later change from sail to steam. Its effect was tremendous--and very costly for England. No longer confined to the Mediterranean, the Barbary corsairs burst out into the Atlantic, and even sailed into the English Channel, plundering English coastal villages and carrying off the inhabitants. They continued to ravage English shipping until the nineteenth century. [emphasis added]
The point PI is making with all of this is to critique the alleged superiority of the Moslem world during the Middle Ages:
But I do criticize Lewis for his acceptance of the Islamic narrative, that up until the Renaissance or the Enlightenment, the world of Islam was far more advanced than Latin Christendom, and it was only comparitively late in history that Christendom surpassed the Islamic world.
I think another point can be made. If historically the West--both governments and unscrupulous individuals--has shown itself to be so completely blinded to their own needs and safety that they would provide invaluable aid to the Muslim world and facilitate the spread of the Muslim empire at the time--is it any wonder the ease with which Europe, and the rest of the world, today turns a blind eye to the terrorism that Israel faces?

We have already seen that what Israel faces, the West eventually faces as well. It may just be that what the world is doing is not primarily Anti-semitic--it's just greed.

Neither seems to have a cure.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Compromising on Terror May Be A Thor Point

Israel's dealing with terrorism reminds me of the beginning of John Gardner's book On Moral Fiction. I found the excerpt on David Poyer's website:

"It was said in the old days that every year Thor made a circle around Middle-earth, beating back the enemies of order. Thor got older every year, and the circle occupied by gods and men grew smaller. The wisdom god, Woden, went out to the king of the trolls, got him in an armlock, and demanded to know of him how order might triumph over chaos.

"'Give me your left eye,' said the king of the trolls, "And I'll tell you."
Without hesitation Woden gave up his left eye. "Now tell me."

The troll said, "The secret is, Watch with both eyes!"'

Israel just seems too willing to sacrifice too much of itself in the interests of peace and security. The fact that terrorists and their supporters appear at the UN and on the White House lawn does not change what they are--and they ask for far too much, and Israel cannot afford to let its guard down.

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India on the Offensive

At a certain point, does hypocricy just revert to irony?

Cliff May has a post at The Corner on the security fence they are building in India:

India is accelerating the construction of a 2,500-mile fence to seal its border with its Muslim neighbor, Bangladesh. Didn't the International Court of Justice say (to Israel) that such passive security measures were illegal – and much more objectionable than oh, say, sending suicide-bombers to play at weddings and bar mitzvahs?
May give a link to an article at The Sunday Times website, which gives all the details of the threat that India is facing. It comments on the apparent collaboration of the Bangladesh government with the terrorists:

Indian officials and western diplomats have been alarmed by an increase in terrorist attacks by militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and by the Dhaka government’s failure to crack down on them.

One group said to have links with the government claimed responsibility for 500 synchronised explosions in 63 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts in August. Opposition leaders and diplomats believe the government has failed to act against Bangla Bhai and other terrorists because they have connections with the governing coalition.

Almost sounds like the PA--except that Palestinian Arabs have Bangladesh beat in the suicide bombing department.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rice Rewrites History

Welcome to those coming from Haveil Havelim #45 via Mirty's Place
(Thanks to Soccer Dad for linking to this post)
(Thanks to
Cosmic X in Jerusalem for linking to this post)

Please feel free to take a look from the top at my home page

James Taranto at points out that in her Joint Press Conference yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice apparently repeats the pro-Palestinian line--and gets the history wrong. Rice says:
First, for the first time since 1967, Palestinians will gain control over entry and exit from their territory.
This of course is wrong and very misleading. Does Rice really believe that before 1967 the Palestinians did have entry and exit control over that--or any--territory?

As Taranto points out:
Before World War I, the entire region, including Israel and the disputed territories, was part of the Ottoman Empire. Between World War I and 1948, the British administered it. In 1948 the Arabs went to war rather than accept a U.N. partition of Palestine that would have created Jewish and Arab states. After that conflict and until 1967, Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan controlled the West Bank.
It's not just mindboggling--it is downright scary to think that we have Rice applying all sorts of pressure on Israel to make concessions when she does not have an idea of the history of the area, and by extension an appreciation of what is really going on.

Of course, it could be a simple slip of the tongue. But that is unlikely. Just look at how she starts off:
Good morning. Two months ago, Israel and the Palestinian Authority took an unprecedented step on the road to peace with the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, returning control of that territory to the Palestinian people.
There she is saying that in disengaging, Israel is "returning control of that territory to the Palestinian people." Bad enough she buys into the "Palestinian people" meme, but from the start she is saying that Israel is returning control, as opposed to giving control.

Such a basic error does not instill confidence.

Actually, I remember something similar. There is an article I read many years ago in the Sunday New York Times magazine section about a meeting with a president where it became obvious that the president was not aware that Jordan was originally part of Palestine. That president was Jimmy Carter.

He also wanted to play an active role in the Middle East.

Is there a pattern here?

See also Clinton Preaches, Rice Overreaches

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Rabbi Sacks on France (sort of)

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, has an article in The Times entitled "We are in danger of forgetting that waiting comes before wanting," addressing the goings on in France--at least he says he is talking about France.

Rabbi Sacks addresses the riots in France without once mentioning Moslems, Islam or Intifada. He writes that "the causes are simple: ethnic ghettos, immigrant enclaves, concentrations of poverty, unemployment and young people with strong feelings of exclusion and resentment." But he admits that there is something more:
When television becomes more powerful than parliaments, people quickly realise that the newsworthy gesture gets you more attention than years of lobbying and representation. Violence becomes photo-opportunity.
The problem, which he hints at in the title of his article, derives from "Freud’s definition of civilisation as the capacity to defer the gratification of instinct. Society depends on waiting as well as wanting":
...Language suggests a connection between these things. Think of the words "political" and "polite", "urban" and "urbane", "civilisation" and "civility" all derived from Greek or Latin words for "city", the place where strangers come together to live and trade. They remind us of the myriad habits of self-imposed restraint that alone allow people of different faiths and customs to live together graciously. Cultures built on anger cannot survive.

...You have to build a society before you can have a state. States exist by reason of power. Societies exist through a shared moral code and a sense of collective responsibility. The symbols of states are palaces and parliaments. The institutions of society are families, neighbourhoods, communities and schools.

For some years now we have been living under the illusion that you can have a state without a society, politics without politeness, civilisation without civility. You can't.

There is no shortcut that allows us to bypass the long, slow task of society-building; integrating minorities, creating a shared sense of history and destiny and cultivating a national conversation in which each of us has a voice. Otherwise the prospects are dark. When conversation ends, violence begins.

The odd thing I found about Rabbis Sacks' piece is that while reading his article, it didn't seem like he was really talking about France--or Europe, for that matter--at all.

"...Violence becomes photo-opportunity"
"...Cultures built on anger cannot survive"
"...You have to build a society before you can have a state"
"...When conversation ends, violence begins"

For all intents and purposes, he seems to be describing the Palestinian Arabs--and the reasons why a proposed Palestinian state, even on its own 'merits' (putting aside suicide bombers, Katushya rockets, etc) is doomed to fail. After all, France's culture is not built on anger and their state is built on an established society, no matter what bad political decisions have been made in the last few decades.

But if morals and more are breaking down, as Rabbi Sacks suggests, what are we supposed to expect when armed terrorists are allowed to roam freely and chaos reigns? If "television becomes more powerful than parliaments," what are we supposed to expect when countries create and show movies that demonize an entire people or indoctrinate children in the ways of suicide bombers?

If what Rabbi Sachs writes about France and Europe is true, how much more so for a potential Palestinian state?

Crossposted on Israpundit

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Responding to Kennedy on Iraq I: "Imminent Threat"

Last week President Bush took the offensive in responding to the negative attacks of the Democrats on his handling of the war in Iraq--in his Veterans Day speech, Then the White House website posted a response to Senator Ted Kennedy's answer to Bush's speech. Today, the White House has a response to an article in the Washington Post.

I wanted to take a crack at this myself, so based on an interview Senator Kennedy did with Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room, I want to take 5 points made by Senator Kennedy and see some of what the blogosphere offers in terms of a response.

I'm going to break the post into 5 pieces so it's easier to read.

1. Kennedy mentions "imminent threat":

The fact is, we have known that Saddam Hussein was a -- a tyrant. We know he was a threat. The real issue, was he an imminent threat to the United States? The president never could have carried the vote in the United States Senate unless he represented that there was an imminent threat to the United States, because Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons or he was right in the proximity of developing it, and, secondly, that he had close associations with al Qaeda. [emphasis added]

But Bush did not say there was an imminent threat. In his State of Union message, Bush said:

Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

Bush says very clearly that he does not think the threat is imminent. He says explicitly the very opposite, that the threat is not imminent but we cannot afford to wait.

So who has said the threat is imminent?

John Edwards said it. According to the National Review, February 24, 2002, John Edwards said, "I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country."

There is even audio of John Edwards telling CNN's Late Edition in 2002:

"I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country. And I think Iraq and Saddam Hussein present the most serious and most imminent threat."

Who else said there was an imminent threat? Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller. Powerline has a transcript from an interview Senator Rockefeller hadwith Chris Wallace just yesterday:

WALLACE: Now, the President never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The – I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq – that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11. Now, the intelligence that they had and the intelligence that we had were probably different. We didn't get the Presidential Daily Briefs. We got only a finished product, a finished product, a consensual view of the intelligence community, which does not allow for agencies like in the case of the aluminum tubes, the Department of Energy said these aren't thick enough to handle nuclear power. They left that out and went ahead with they have aluminum tubes and they're going to develop nuclear power.

WALLACE: Senator, you're quite right. You didn't get the Presidential Daily Brief or the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief. You got the National Intelligence Estimate. But the Silberman Commission, a Presidential commission that looked into this, did get copies of those briefs, and they say that they were, if anything, even more alarmist, even less nuanced than the intelligence you saw, and yet you, not the President, said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. [emphasis added]

See also:

Responding to Kennedy on Iraq II: "The Rush to War"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq III: "Iraq & Al Qaeda"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq IV: "WMD"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq V: "Niger"

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Responding to Kennedy on Iraq II: "The Rush to War"

2. The "rush to war"

Kennedy says:

There's no question this was the administration that rushed to war.

What constitutes a rush to war? The phrase itself has become commonly used.

James Taranto in OpinionJournal has a piece tracing the use of the phrase. The earliest example that he gives is from a headline in The Nation
on August 7, 2002

After giving a few more examples, Taranto writes:

You get the idea. By the time the liberation of Iraq begins in earnest, perhaps a month from now, critics of the Bush administration will have spent at least six months complaining about the "rush to war." But half a year's preparation is no rush; it's more of a saunter. (In comparison, it was less than four weeks after Sept. 11 that the first bombs fell on Afghanistan.)

In actuality, the war began on March 20, 2003--about 8 months later.

At the time of Taranto's piece, there were "6,570 pages containing the phrase and the word Iraq." If you do a search today, you'll find about 252,000.

Taranto notes, "'Rush to war' is not an argument; it is a slogan, a substitute for thought"

See also:

Responding to Kennedy on Iraq I: "Imminent Threat"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq III: "Iraq & Al Qaeda"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq IV: "WMD"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq V: "Niger"

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Responding to Kennedy on Iraq III: "Iraq & Al Qaeda"

3. Al Qaeda and Iraq

Kennedy said, "The 9/11 Commission has dismissed the al Qaeda connection"

"Dismissed" implies that according to the commission there was no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq--but that is not what the report says.

In an article in the National Review, Andrew McCarthy quotes the commission's report, Statement No. 15:

Bin Laden also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime. Bin Laden had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Laden to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.

McCarthy points out:

Just taken on its own terms, this paragraph is both internally inconsistent and ambiguously worded. First, it cannot be true both that the Sudanese arranged contacts between Iraq and bin Laden and that no "ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq." If the first proposition is so, then the "[t]wo senior Bin Laden associates" who are the sources of the second are either lying or misinformed.

The argument that the connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda is stronger and more formal than what the committee concludes can be found in the article "Case Closed:
From the November 24, 2003 issue: The U.S. government's secret memo detailing cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden

See also:

Responding to Kennedy on Iraq I: "Imminent Threat"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq II: "The Rush to War"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq IV: "WMD"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq V: "Niger"

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Responding to Kennedy on Iraq IV: "WMD"

4. Weapons of Mass Destruction

Kennedy said, "and the various weapons inspectors have dismissed the -- the other claim ("Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons or he was right in the proximity of developing it")"

First of all, Hans Blix--in an address to the UN Security Council on January 27, 2003--said the following:
The discovery of a number of 122 mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions.

The investigation of these rockets is still proceeding. Iraq states that they were overlooked from 1991 from a batch of some 2,000 that were stored there during the Gulf War. This could be the case. They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.
Another issue regarding the WMD that has not been fully resolved is whether any components could have been moved from Iraq to Syria before the war.

David Kay, the former head of the coalition's hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, believed that some comonents were moved:
"We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."
A side point to this is the claim that the only reason given for the war was the existence of the Weapons of Mass Destruction. Apparently even the New York Times was confused by this--Andrew Sullivan shows that in less than 12 months the Times forgot the reasons Bush gave:

"President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night [at his American Enterprise Institute speech] of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a 'free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a 'dramatic and inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict. The idea of turning Iraq into a model democracy in the Arab world is one some members of the administration have been discussing for a long time." -- New York Times editorial, February 27, 2003.

"The White House recently began shifting its case for the Iraq war from the embarrassing unconventional weapons issue to the lofty vision of creating an exemplary democracy in Iraq." -- New York Times editorial, today [November 13, 2003].
See also:

Responding to Kennedy on Iraq I: "Imminent Threat"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq II: "The Rush to War"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq III: "Iraq & Al Qaeda"
Responding to Kennedy on Iraq V: "Niger"

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