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Saturday, January 03, 2004

AP: "Many . . . condemn the barrier"

In fact, the barrier has 82% support among Israelis

Israeli police arrest an Israeli peace activist, among 28 arrested as
they attempted to approach the West Bank village of Dir Balut for a
demonstration against the Israeli separation barrier, about 10
kms from Rosh Ha'ain, Israel, near the border of the West Bank,
Saturday Jan. 3, 2004. Israel is building a controversial security
barrier made up of concrete walls, razor wire, fences and trenches
and is meant, according to Israel, to keep suicide bombers out.
Many Palestinians and Israeli peace activists condemn the barrier,
which dips deep into the West Bank in some areas.
(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Andrea Levin's Eye on the Media: CBS's Simon not fenced in by facts:
"Nowhere did Simon report the overwhelming Israeli public support for the barrier, as indicated in an October poll by the Tami Steinmetz Center that found 82% believe the fence will prevent or significantly reduce terrorism."
Tell it to the AP as well:

Associated Press
50 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10020

Phone: 212-621-1500
Fax: 212-621-7520
E-mail: info@ap.org or feedback@ap.org

President, Louis Boccardi

International Desk
Phone: 212-621-1663

Phone: 212-621-1900

Phone: 212-621-1905

Corporate Communications
Phone: 212-621-1720
an AMAZING story


This is a fascinating personal account of a Tunisian/Egyptian Jew, who was 22 years old in 1967. Learn about "peace" and "freedom" from someone who really knows what they mean.

I beg you to read this: A Personal Exodus Story by Israel Bonan.
". . . peace is not an inert concept that nations reach and sustain indefinitely without nurturing and fostering over time. . . Peace like freedom is not earned just once, it is to be earned every day of every year of every century."
Kol hakavod, Yisrael.

Way to go, Joe!

Great letter in today's Daily Camera
IRAN: Hating Jews more vital than aid?

I am appalled by the obsession with hatred by Iranian officials at a time of overwhelming tragedy in their own country. "An unbelievable human disaster has occurred," according to the governor of the province in Iran where a deadly earthquake has taken the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Iranian government spokesmen are officially welcoming foreign aid workers from anywhere except, specifically, Israel. At a time of such devastation, the leaders of Iran still find hatred of Jews as their most important issue. I might imagine that the unfortunate victims do not share the arrogant attitude of their leaders. Israel, in fact, has always been one of the first countries to respond to natural disasters anywhere in the world.

Aid has poured into Iran from countries of Asia, Europe, and North America, many of which are considered "infidels" by the clerics of Iran. Of interest is the fact that Arab countries, populated by fellow Muslims, have not offered aid. And yet the government of Iran, during its own dreadful human tragedy, can only focus on its hatred of Israel. Pathetic!

That really needed to be said. Todah, Yosef.


Official Palestinian constitution
Arutz Sheva via Israelalert: The Palestinian Authority has adopted an official constitution based on Koranic "Sharia" Law, rendering all people living in the PA subject to Islamic Law. So writes independent investigative journalist David Bedein in FrontPageMagazine.

Over the past three years of the Oslo War, Bedein writes, hundred of Christians living in areas ruled by the PA have been arrested and imprisoned for holding church services or conducting public Christian practices without authorization. Some of the arrested Christians were set free in 2002 when the IDF took over control of what had been PA-controlled cities. This eased their conditions only slightly, however, as they now take refuge by hiding throughout Israel and surreptitiously try to get their families out of PA cities to join them and emigrate to any safe haven they can find in the West. One organization that helps Arabs who wish to emigrate from Israel is called HaMotzi and can be visited on the internet.

Bedein met with some of these former prisoners, and writes,
"One of them, whom I shall call Joseph... described to me how his family cannot openly practice Christian holidays in Bethlehem under the watchful eyes of the PLO's Islamic police force. After all, the only place in the West Bank where the PLO army currently operates is in the Bethlehem area. Joseph also described how the US-funded Palestinian public school system has become Islamicized, and how his late nephew was literally tortured to death at age 12 by his schoolmates because he expressed love and respect for his uncle as a practicing Christian."
Bedein maintains that the United States refuses to acknowledge these disturbing developments, despite many queries to various officials - and despite the fact that it was US AID that financed the formulation of the PA State Constitution that restricts Christians' rights. The Vatican Ambassador to the Holy Land, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, "expressed his concern to visiting US lawmakers that the PA had adopted Sharia Islamic Law, based on the Iranian and Saudi Arabian models," Bedein wrote.

The PA Constitution, as can be seen at http://israelbehindthenews.com/pdf/PalestineConstitution-Eng.pdf, begins by stating that the territory of the "State of Palestine" is an "indivisible unit based upon its borders on the even of June 4, 1967" - which include, of course, all of Jerusalem and many of its Jewish suburbs. It also states, "All residents of this territory shall be subject to Palestinian law exclusively." Equally improbable is Article 3, which states, "Palestine is a peace loving state that condemns terror, occupation and aggression.."

Bedein concentrates, however, on the PA Constitution's Article 5, which reads as follows: "Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion. Christianity and all other monotheistic religions shall be equally revered and respected."

"In other words," Bedein explains, "as Archbishop Sambi noted, other religions such as Christianity, let alone Judaism, are only to be respected, while being denied any juridical status under the new Palestinian State Constitution." Similarly, Article 7 states, "The principles of Islamic Sharia are a major source for legislation."

Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran that have adopted Sharia Islamic Law have made life quite difficult for Christians, Bedein points out: "Under Sharia Islamic Law, Christians are considered 'dhimmis,' which in effect leaves them as second class citizens. The Archbishop was particularly worried that all Christian churches and schools will be placed under the authority of Islamic Law." Saudi Arabia, run by Sharia law, is in fact one of the most oppressive countries for Christians, according to a report released last year by the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs, as is Iran.

In the PA, a similar trend is noticeable. The mainstream media have hesitated to report that less than 5% of the population in Jesus' birthplace, Bethlehem, is Christian - compared to only 35 years ago, when a majority of the city was Christian. The exodus of Christians from the city during its ten years under PA control has been dramatic.

"President George W. Bush's administration has envisioned a democratic Palestinian entity that is devoid of terror," Bedein concludes. "Instead, officials of US AID have fostered a constitution that envisions creation of the Islamic totalitarian state of Palestine, completely devoid of religious freedom and human rights. [At present,] no Church can operate in Bethlehem without Islamic approval... This is the legacy of what the US AID has facilitated, with or without the knowledge of the White House."

Tevet 10

What We Are Missing by Yanki Tauber
Chabad Magazine: Who wrote the following?

Moshiach [the Messiah] will restore the kingdom of David to its glory of old, to its original sovereignty. He will build the Holy Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. In his times, all laws [of the Torah] will be reinstated as before; the sacrifices will be offered, and the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year will be instituted as outlined in the Torah. Whoever does not believe in him or does not anticipate his coming, denies not only the other prophets but also the Torah and Moses…

Who said this? An exiled priest who survived the destruction of the Temple? A 16th century Safedian mystic? The Lubavitcher Rebbe?

I remember a discussion I once had about the question of a future Temple. The fellow I was debating claimed that there were different opinions on this in classical Judaism. The "right-wing rabbis", naturally, are for it. But what about an enlightened philosopher like Maimonides? Wouldn't he say that while the Temple may have been a necessary component of religious life in the cultural climate of those times, it is an anachronism in today's world? (My friend was referring to a passage in Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed that could be understood this way.)

In reply, I took the 14th book of Mishneh Torah from the shelf and showed him the paragraph cited above, penned by Maimonides himself more than eight centuries ago, where he unequivocally states that the rebuilding of the Holy Temple is an integral part of the future redemption which the Jew prays for and anticipates every day of his and her life.

The tenth of Tevet is the anniversary of the siege of Jerusalem, which led to the destruction of the Holy Temple 30 months later. On this day, Jews throughout the world will fast and mourn over the Temple's destruction and pray for its rebuilding. So this is a good time as any to ask: Why do we need a Temple? What exactly are we missing?

The human race has learned a lot over the last 6000 years. We philosophized our way to science, and then science led us through the doorway into mysticism. Along the way, we invented literature, art, romantic love, economics, democracy and psychology.

But we still don't know how to live our lives.

Put twenty people into a room. Chances are you'll find unanimous agreement on the sanctity of life, human rights, equality, free choice, world peace, et al. But let them out of the room to go about their daily lives, and you'll have twenty different opinions on what these things mean and how they should be applied.

In grappling with the daily choices that life presents to us, the very principles on which we agree become the basis for conflicting views and actions on everything from abortion to assisted suicide, Napster to racial profiling, vegetarianism to school prayer, and virtually every other issue to confront us.

Ideas and principles are not enough. They define the big picture, but few conflicts are about the big picture. Most of our conflicts and dilemmas are about the how, the when and the where. It's not enough to know what's right -- we need to have intimate knowledge of rightness, to understand its moods and subtleties, its tastes and partialities.

It's like the difference between being shown a snapshot of a person and being married to that person for twenty years. In the first case, I get a face and a name: if I met this person on the street, I'd know it is him. But do I know how he likes his coffee? Do I know what size shoes he wears or how many hours of sleep he needs? Do I know how he smiles when he is complimented or how he reacts when he is insulted?

It's not enough to know that A is good and B is bad, that X is right and Y is wrong. We need to see goodness up close -- close enough to discern the details. We need to live with rightness, be married to it, feel it in our bones. We need an intimate relationship with G-d.

To a certain extent, it is possible to achieve this intimate relationship in today's world. We have the Torah, in which G-d placed His soul and personality, His aspirations and idiosyncrasies. The Torah is a detailed chronicle of G-d's desires and aversions, His likes and dislikes. The Torah gives us a guide to life that is both spiritual and practical, answering our yearning for intimacy with the Divine while governing our conduct through the physical world.

But the problem is that Torah is a written document. So what do you tell someone who says, "I, too, have a 'Torah', and my tradition has a different interpretation of right and wrong than yours"? And how can we ourselves be sure that we got all the nuances right and the written text is being optimally applied to our lives?

If only there was a place where goodness and rightness actually lived! A place with a street address and phone number. A place where we can physically go to and bring our cousins and neighbors. Look, we'd say, here's truth, that's goodness, this is justice, see? And they'd see.

There was such a place: the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, G-d's home in the physical world. That's what we're missing.
Todah, Rachel.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Shabbat Shalom

Israeli settlers hold morning prayer at Gamla on Golan Heights.
(AFP/File/Menahem Kahana)
See US still seeking Israeli clarification on Golan Heights settlement plans (AFP)

Terrorist threat closes American synagogue

DEBKA: One of New Jersey’s largest synagogues, Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, was temporarily closed Saturday and placed under police guard after receiving terrorist threat

UPDATE: According to the New York Times coverage of Union County prosecutor's news conference, this was not terrorism, but involved a domestic dispute run amok.

Israel lifts blockades and closures

G-d forbid this will allow for more attacks
DEBKA: Israel lifts all blockades and closures on Palestinian towns on West Bank – excepting Nablus. Fourteen road blocks removed and leaflets tell inhabitants free traffic as long as no terrorism.

Gaza terrorists rally again . . . against Israel

this is getting really boring

Palestinian masked Islamic Jihad militants ride a truck and supporters
raise their hands up while chanting Islamic slogans during a rally
to mark last week's killing of Islamic Jihad's top commander in the
Gaza Strip, Mekled Hameid in Jabaliya refugee camp northern Gaza
Strip, Friday Jan. 2, 2004 (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Palestinian children hold toy guns as others hold posters of Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat during a rally marking the 39th anniversary of the
founding of the mainstream Fatah Movement in the Khan Younis
refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Friday Jan. 2. 2003 (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The Palestinian daughter of top Islamic Jihad commander Mekled Hameid
marches with a pistol, during an anti-Israel rally at the Jabalya refugee
camp in Gaza, January 2, 2004. Thousands of Islamic Jihad supporters
attended the rally to mark the first week after the death of top Islamic
Jihad commander Hameid, who was killed during an Israeli air strike on
his car last week in Gaza. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Palestinians of the armed Islamic Jihad march with weapons during
a rally at the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza, January 2, 2004. Thousands
of Islamic Jihad supporters attended the rally to mark the first week of
the death of top Islamic Jihad commander Mekled Hameid, who was
killed during an Israeli air strike on his car last week in Gaza.
REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants carry a machine gun and rocket
propelled grenades during a rally to mark the killing of the Islamic
Jihad's top commander in the Gaza Strip Mekled Hameid in Jabaliya
refugee camp northern Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 2, 2004.

Anarchy in the Terror-tories

Haaretz: The mayor of the local council of Arabe, a Palestinian town west of Jenin, resigned this week with his council members, after gun-toting militants ordered him to do so. The gunmen accused him of stealing the townspeoples' money.

The fawda (anarchy) is running rampant in the territories, notwithstanding Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's statements about the need to fight it. Palestinian sources as well as Israeli intelligence sources report a continued deterioration in the situation, and even the meager achievements of the summer's hudna (cease-fire) are crumbling rapidly. The West Bank is dominated by armed gangs, which no longer fear the Palestinian Authority's security forces. Last month Tanzim activists tried to assassinate Nablus Mayor Ghassan Shaq'a and accidentally - or not - killed his brother instead. In Qafr Surda near Bir Zeit, thugs cut off the ears of an administrator in Bir Zeit University, to dissuade him from firing workers.

In Jenin and Nablus militias are engaged in both criminal and terrorist activity. They extort protection fees from merchants and kidnap businesspeople to supplement their income. Or they threaten political activists in an attempt to squeeze benefits from the PA.

While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon formulates his unilateral disengagement plan, which has not been mentioned since his controversial speech in Herzliya, the Israel Defense Forces is also agonizing over what to do. Is the fawda threatening the PA's existence? Should Israel make goodwill gestures to preserve the PA and enable it to establish its power in the territories? And how can this be achieved while Abu Ala declares his loyalty to chairman Arafat, whom Israel blames for the situation?

Continued . . .

Anti-fence protest clashes

JPost: About 15 people, including two foreign peace activists, were wounded Thursday in the third anti-fence demonstration in as many days in the West Bank village of Budrus, near Modi'in.

Hours later Swedish Green Party parliamentarian Gustav Fridolin, 20, arrested during Wednesday's protest, was freed and at press time was to be escorted onto a flight to Stockholm by Swedish Embassy officials.

Email: gustav.fridolin@riksdagen.se

Fridolin was arrested when the protest devolved into stone throwing and scuffles between border policemen and demonstrators. Like the others arrested, four Israelis and four foreigners, Fridolin was taken in to custody for being in a closed military zone. Some 30 protesters and a border policeman were injured.

Fridolin had said that the arresting soldiers had "manhandled" him.

On Thursday, about 400 Palestinians, Israelis, and foreigners marched through the Christian Arab village to protest against both the injury of several Palestinians and foreigners in clashes on Wednesday and Fridolin's arrest.

Those hurt in the skirmish suffered light injuries, mostly from rubber-coated bullets and tear-gas inhalation.

The foreigners and Palestinians from neighboring villages gathered in Budrus to rally against the security fence, which is to run along the western edge of the village, cutting some farmers off from their land. Budrus has become the hub of anti-fence activity over the past few days, following the breaking of ground for fence construction a few hundred meters from the village.

Israeli peace activists said that, after the march, which took more than 100 protesters through the center of the village to a hill near the fence site, youths began throwing stones at soldiers. A volley of tear gas and rubber-coated bullets followed in response.

The IDF then slapped a curfew on the village and went house to house searching for the stone-throwers. Five Palestinians were arrested.

While the Palestinians maintain that Israel is stealing their land by building the fence, Israel believes that it is critical for its security – especially in a place like Budrus, just eight kilometers from Ben–Gurion Airport.

Police are increasingly concerned at the involvement of foreign nationals in the protests. When several of them were arrested earlier this week, the International Solidarity Movement sent an e-mail to its supporters calling on them to bombard the Ariel police station, where the foreigners were held, with telephone calls. According to one of the officers on duty, calls came from "all over the world, from Houston, Texas, to Ireland to Germany."

Police sources say that groups like ISM are far more organized than they pretend.

According to one source, they are also much more numerous than previously believed, with hundreds of activists from several international organizations living or touring in the West Bank. The source added that ISM activists are also taught techniques that will help them smuggle themselves in and out of the territories. They are also briefed on ways to cope with interrogation if arrested.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Tova Ellinson said Fridolin had waived the usual three-day grace period to allow deportees an opportunity to appeal and would leave voluntarily on Thursday evening. The other three foreigners – Swede Fredrik Batzler and Americans Katherine Rafael and Kimberly Gray – remain in custody.

Arafat Connected to Murder of Americans in Gaza

by Ben Caspit in today's Maariv (Hebrew only)
Yasser Arafat is the factor delaying the investigation of the attack in Gaza in which three American security guards in a diplomatic convoy were killed - according to government sources in Washington.

In recent closed meetings in the American capital, anger was expressed that the investigation has reached a dead end: the Palestinian security services refuse to arrest or question new suspects.

One estimate raised by the Americans is that Fatah men were behind the attack, and that Arafat himself is connected, perhaps indirectly, to the perpetrators. This appears to be the main reason causing Arafat to block progress in the investigation - the fear that if his connection to the attack becomes clear, this could seal his fate with the American government.

Is There an Alternative to Arafat's Leadership?

by Barry Rubin, author of Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography (Oxford, 2003)
Arafat is not a nationalist. If he was, he could have had a state in 1968, in 1979, at several points in the 1980s, and certainly in the year 2000. But he is not interested in the well-being of the Palestinian people, he’s interested in the Palestinian cause.

In many ways, one of the keys to understanding Arafat is that he is basically an old-fashioned Islamist, influenced by his early connections with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He believes that victory is inevitable and that God will bring him victory. He believes it would be a sin to compromise, and that he has no right to give up anything between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is better to leave the battle to future generations than to make any political settlement that limits their ability to fight for total victory.

Arafat is also a romantic revolutionary, the Middle Eastern counterpart of Che Guevara who glories in struggle and battling against the odds. He has no desire to become a statesman. He prefers to keep the revolution going.

In each phase of his life – in Jordan (1967-1971), Lebanon (1971-1982), Tunis (1982-1994), and the West Bank and Gaza (1994 to the present) – Arafat has ended up destroying his own position because of the belief that violence always benefits his cause, the conviction that he doesn’t have to implement his agreements, and the use of extremist front groups to commit violence for which he can disclaim responsibility.

The bottom line is: Arafat will not make a deal. Therefore, either an alternative to Arafat is found or we will have to out-wait him, in order to achieve peace. Arafat: An Islamist Revolutionary It is very difficult to understand Yasser Arafat, a man who has been on the world scene literally longer than anyone else. He has been a political activist for more than 55 years, the head of his own organization for 44 years, the leader of his people for 36 years, and the head of what amounts to a government for about 10 years. What does he have to show for this?

In material terms he hasn’t achieved a victory, he hasn’t achieved a state, he hasn’t bettered the material condition of his people – in fact, arguably, he has worsened it. This is a record of failure unparalleled in the world.

Arafat’s successes are the almost single-handed creation of a movement and of an ideological point of view called Palestinian nationalism. He has kept the movement together, kept it independent of Arab states and other states – which is not easy – and has been the director of the most successful, long-term, political public relations campaign in history. The political worldview of Yasser Arafat is much misunderstood.

It is very easy to see Arafat as a nationalist, but he is not. A nationalist is someone who believes that his people are better off in having a nation-state, so obtaining this becomes their highest priority. They want a nation-state as the framework within which they can develop their culture, develop their economy, and be able to live in peace independently from other countries. If this was Arafat’s worldview, he could have had a state in 1968, in 1979, at several points in the 1980s, and certainly in the year 2000, but he continues to reject this.

One of the main reasons Yasser Arafat has not behaved in this manner is that he is an old-fashioned Islamist, very much influenced by his early connections with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He’s the only Islamist in the PLO leadership, believing that victory is inevitable because God will bring him victory. He does not have to worry about the balance of forces or about defeat. He doesn’t worry about how long the struggle will take or about its costs because he is sure he will win in the end, because his goal is God-given and just. He believes it would be a sin to compromise, and that he has no right to give up anything between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Arafat is also a romantic revolutionary, the Middle Eastern counterpart of Che Guevara. Arafat glories in struggle, revolution, battling against the odds. He has no desire to become a statesman, to wear a suit and tie, which to a romantic revolutionary would be proof that he has betrayed his cause.

I have studied Yasser Arafat for more than 30 years, and the pattern of his life may be said to include four phases, in each of which he has made the same mistakes and ended up with a similar result. These phases include Jordan from 1967 to 1971, Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s, Tunis from 1982 to 1993, and the West Bank and Gaza since 1994. In each phase he ended up destroying his own position because of the belief that violence always benefits his cause, the belief that he doesn’t have to implement his agreements, and the use of extremist front groups to commit violence for which he can disclaim responsibility. It is important to understand that we are not dealing here with a “normal” political leader in many respects.

Arafat Will Not Make a Deal

The experience of the past decade has taught that no deal can be made with this man, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that he doesn’t want to make a deal. He is currently pursuing an anti-state strategy: continuing the struggle, making Israel look bad, mobilizing international support, getting more and more concessions, and not offering to give anything in return. This is his strategy and it has been remarkably successful in some respects. Despite the fact that one can’t deal with Arafat, prime ministers meet him, reporters interview him, and he is given chance after chance. But the bottom line is: Arafat will not make a deal. The only kind of deal he would make would be one that left matters open so that he could pursue total victory, and Israel is not going to make such a deal. Therefore, either an alternative to Arafat is found or we will have to out-wait him, in order to achieve peace.

Reading Palestinian Public Opinion

According to Palestinian public opinion polls, a majority say things like: “We want everything. The struggle should continue. We should continue attacks on Israel even if we have a state and a peace agreement.” At the same time, the polls show another opinion held often by many of the same people: “We want this to be over. We just want our kids to go to school. We don’t want to face all this violence. We want some kind of an agreement.” The problem is that when the Palestinian leadership only reinforces the hard-line viewpoint, it makes peace impossible and prevents the development of moderate forces. During the period 1994-2000, Arafat made only one speech to his people that preached conciliation. During most of this period, Arafat’s main emphasis was on continued confrontation and militancy. This has to be challenged if there is going to be a basis of support for peace.

After Arafat

The attempt to replace Arafat has failed, but the struggle to succeed him has now begun. What will happen if Arafat dies or becomes disabled? Arafat’s successor would probably be chosen by the Fatah Central Committee, and will be male, Muslim, a member of Fatah, and a resident of the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Abu Ala is a reasonably likely candidate for this position, particularly because he is not strong.

Those looking to succeed Arafat want someone who is not too strong so that they can try to become the real leader. The problem is not just that Arafat has not designated a successor. It is that he has blocked the development of anybody who could be a successor.

Abu Mazen is another candidate. He is secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee where he has been Fatah’s representative for many years. But how his recent failed term as prime minister will affect this issue – perhaps destroying his chances – is not clear yet.

If Arafat hangs on long enough, the succession will skip to a younger generation, with two major candidates being Mohammed Dahlan and Marwan Barghouti. Dahlan was the protégé of Abu Jihad, Arafat’s favored person in the leadership. Dahlan almost became the adopted son of Arafat, then he broke with Arafat, and was slapped in the face by Arafat. Dahlan’s position on the peace process is basically: “Let’s end this thing, let’s make a deal.” He’s a tough guy, with a good base of support, good connections with security services, and he comes from Gaza.

Marwan Barghouti (now in Israeli custody), on the other hand, in a sense is going in the other direction, with the expressed position: “I’m ready to make peace with Israel but we can only do so after we’ve militarily defeated Israel.” So even though on paper his position looks more moderate, it’s basically a position for armed struggle. Barghouti was the military architect of this intifada and Arafat was the political architect. Barghouti represents the line of continued struggle, and Dahlan represents taking another road.

Why Have the Palestinians Kept Arafat?

Why have the Palestinians kept Arafat for so long? One reason is the fear that without Arafat there would be anarchy. Fear of civil war is a key factor why, for example, Feisal Husseini refused to go for the leadership himself, and why Abu Ala absolutely refuses to do anything effective to stop terrorism.

Arafat may have created a situation in which no one can rule effectively after he’s gone. That doesn’t mean that there will be civil war, it means that there will be no real leadership. Even if a leader is chosen, he may not feel that he has enough power to make a deal. Arafat is a master at dealing with people, both in the West and in domestic Palestinian terms. He knows how to bring people up and push them down. Palestinians know that their careers are dependent on his favor. One example is Jibril Rajoub, formerly the CIA’s favorite Palestinian. U.S. taxpayer’s money paid for the filing cabinets in his office. He once expressed relatively moderate views and was estranged from Arafat, but now Arafat has brought him back as the head of his national security council, and Rajoub is now giving interviews calling on Arabs to rise up and kill American soldiers in Iraq.

A Palestinian once told me, “Egyptian politics is like the pyramid. Mubarak is at the top and there’s a very wide base. Syrian politics is like the Eiffel Tower, Assad is at the top and there are a few people on each level. Palestinian politics is the shape of Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat is Palestinian politics and that’s all there is to it.”

For Arafat, control of information is also very important. To this day, Palestinians have no idea what was offered at Camp David or in the Clinton Plan – that President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak offered an independent Palestinian state in all of Gaza, the equivalent of all of the West Bank, most of east Jerusalem, and sovereignty over the al-Aksa mosque.

For Arafat, money is political. He wants funds to subsidize the people who support him, to give money secretly to support his forces in Lebanon, and to finance secret activities in east Jerusalem. What happened to the $3.5 billion given to about 2 million Palestinians in the 1990s? Did it go to build anything productive? Were Palestinian living standards raised? Why didn’t Arafat use any of the money to help his people? Because he’s not interested in the Palestinian people, he’s interested in the Palestinian cause.

One of the biggest changes in the last three years has been a total turnabout in the relationship between the PA or the Fatah leadership and Hamas. During the 1990s, Arafat sought to win over and co-opt Hamas, and to make it his junior partner – a loyal opposition. Today, however, Arafat and Fatah are in complete alliance with Hamas. It is not a question of “Can Arafat stop these extremists who are staging terrorist attacks?” These attacks are coordinated; there are regular meetings between Arafat’s people and Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Arafat basically tells them when he doesn’t want them to attack, like when Colin Powell is visiting. This alliance is extremely important and extremely dangerous. Those people who are most worried about it are some in Fatah and the Palestinian left who don’t want to see Hamas take over one day, and who think Arafat’s strategy is a disaster. This has been an incentive for some of them to see a negotiated end of the conflict, or at least a real ceasefire.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Bush-haters claim moral superiority

Robert Samuelson on the "continuing coarsening" of public discourse

Washington Post: Bush hating says more about the haters than the hated . . . If he succeeded less, he'd be hated less. His fiercest detractors don't loathe him merely because they think he's mediocre, hypocritical and simplistic. What they truly resent is that his popularity suggests that the country might be more like him than it is like them. They fear he's exiling them politically. On one level, their embrace of hatred aims to make others share their outrage; but on another level, it's a self-indulgent declaration of moral superiority -- something that makes them feel better about themselves. Either way, it represents another dreary chapter in the continuing coarsening of public discourse.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

2003 - A Year to Remember

by Tamar Rush at ISRAPUNDIT
2003 will be remembered as the year that the Likud party in Israel adopted the "Unilateral disengagement--Gaza first" plan that had been the Labour party platform in the last elections. Though rejected by the Israeli public, the plan has now become "our only hope for peace" according to the Israeli Government of Ariel Sharon.

Ultra-Leftist serial-loser Yossi Beilin, and a coalition of defeatists, anti-Zionists, and ex-communists have come up with another "only hope for peace" plan-------this one with the sober-sounding title of the "Geneva Accords".

Both plans offer the Palestinian terror-meisters instant Statehood, unconditionally, and in the case of the "Geneva Double-cross", er, I mean "Accords", foreign troops will be deployed to defend the PLO state from the neighbourhood bully that is Eretz Israel.

President Bush has promised an International Conference: Convened by "The Quartet", in consultation with the parties, at beginning of 2004 to endorse agreement reached on an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and formally to launch a process with the active, sustained, and operational support of the Quartet, leading to a final, permanent status resolution in 2005, including on borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements; and, to support progress toward a comprehensive Middle East settlement between Israel and Lebanon and Israel and Syria, to be achieved as soon as possible. [The "Road Map"]

To that end, the White-house and State Dept. have welcomed the Geneva Travesty, and are open to any other non-democratic proposal for establishing an official "Terror State" 8 miles from my front door.

On this New Year's Eve, we should look back on the past 12 months and try to understand what the PLO-PA and their supporters have done to demonstrate their commitment to a peaceful resolution of the "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

"Give 'em a State" indeed!

Jan 2, 2003 - The charred body of Massoud Makhluf Alon, 72, from Menahemiya in the Lower Galilee, was found in the northern Jordan Valley in his burned out car. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the murder.

Jan 5, 2003 - Twenty-three people - 15 Israelis and 8 foreign nationals - were killed and about 120 wounded in a double suicide bombing near the old Central Bus Station in Tel-Aviv. The attack was apparently carried out by two members of the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, with the help of the Islamic Jihad. The Israeli victims: Moshe (Maurice) Aharfi, 60, of Tel-Aviv; Mordechai Evioni, 52, of Holon; Andrei Friedman, 30, of Tel-Aviv; Meir Haim, 74, of Azor; Hannah Haimov, 53, of Tel Aviv; Avi Kotzer, 43, of Bat Yam; Ramin Nasibov, 25, of Tel-Aviv; Staff Sgt. Mazal Orkobi, 20, of Azor; Ilanit Peled, 32, of Azor; Viktor Shebayev, 62, of Holon; Boris Tepalshvili, 51, of Yehud; Sapira Shoshana Yulzari-Yaffe, 46, of Bat Yam; Lilya Zibstein, 33, of Haifa; Amiram Zmora, 55, of Holon; Igor Zobokov, 32, of Bt Yam. Foreign workers: Krassimir Mitkov Angelov, 32, of Bulgaria; Steven Arthur Cromwell, 43, of Ghana; Ivan Gaptoniak, 46, of Ukraine; Ion (Nelu) Nicolae, 34, of Romania; Guo Aiping, 47, of China; Li Peizhong, 41, of China; Mihai Sabau, 38, of Romania. Zhang Minmin, 50, of China died of her wounds on January 13.

Jan 12, 2003 - Eli Biton, 48, of Moshav Gadish was killed and four people wounded when terrorists infiltrated the community and opened fire. Two terrorists were killed by Israeli forces. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Jan 12, 2003 - Cpl.(res.) Mikhail Kazakov, 34, of Jerusalem was killed by terrorists who infiltrated across the Israel-Egypt border, near the Negev town of Nitzana.

Jan 17, 2003 - Netanel Ozeri, 34, was killed when terrorists entered his home, in an outpost north of Kiryat Arba, and opened fire. His 5-year-old daughter and two friends were wounded. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Jan 23, 2003 - Cpl. Ronald Berer, 20, of Rehovot; Cpl. Assaf Bitan, 19, of Afula; and St.-Sgt. Ya'akov Naim, 20, of Kfar Monash were killed by terrorists while on patrol south of Hebron. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 6, 2003 - 2nd Lt. Amir Ben-Aryeh, 21, of Maccabim, and St.-Sgt. Idan Suzin, 20, of Kiryat Tivon were killed and two more soldiers were wounded in a shooting attack in the area of Nablus. Both gunmen were killed by return fire from IDF troops. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Fatah-Tanzim claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 11, 2003 - Maj. Shahar Shmul, 24, of Jerusalem was killed by a Palestinian sniper near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem while checking a suspicious vehicle. The PFLP and the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 15, 2003 - Cpl. Noam Bahagon, 20, of Elkana; Sgt. Tal Alexei Belitzky, 21, of Rishon Lezion; St.-Sgt. Doron Cohen, 21, of Rishon Lezion; and Sgt. Itay Mizrahi, 20, of Be'er Sheva were killed when their tank drove over an explosive device weighing 100 kgs while on patrol in the Gaza Strip. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 23, 2003 - Sgt. Doron Lev, 19, of Holon was shot and killed when a Palestinian sniper opened fire at an army position in the southern Gaza Strip. The PFLP claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mar 5, 2003 - Seventeen people were killed and 53 wounded in a suicide bombing of an Egged bus #37 on Moriah Blvd. in the Carmel section of Haifa, en route to Haifa University. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Maryam Atar, 27, of Haifa; Smadar Firstater, 16, of Haifa; Kamar Abu Hamed, 12, of Daliat al-Carmel; Daniel Haroush, 16, of Safed; Mordechai Hershko, 41, of Haifa; Tom Hershko, 15, of Haifa; Meital Katav, 20, of Haifa ; Elizabeta Katzman, 16, of Haifa; Tal Kerman, 17, of Haifa; St.-Sgt. Eliyahu Laham, 22, of Haifa; Abigail Litle, 14, of Haifa; Yuval Mendelevitch, 13, of Haifa; St.-Sgt. Be'eri Oved, 21, of Rosh Pina; Mark Takash, 54, of Haifa; Assaf Tzur (Zolinger), 17, of Haifa. Anatoly Biryakov, 20, of Haifa, died of his injuries on March 8. Moran Shushan, 20, of Haifa, died of her injuries on March 11.

Mar 7, 2003 - Rabbi Eli Horowitz, 52, and his wife Dina, 50, of Kiryat Arba, were killed and five wounded Friday night by armed terrorists disguised as Jewish worshippers who infiltrated Kiryat Arba, entered their home and murdered them while they were celebrating the Sabbath. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mar 10, 2003 - St.-Sgt. Tomer Ron, 20, of Moshav Moledet, was killed and four soldiers were wounded - one seriously - in Hebron, on the road between the Cave of the Patriarchs and Kiryat Arba, when Palestinian terrorists opened fire on a foot patrol. Two organizations - Hamas and Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front-General Command - claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mar 12, 2003 - St.-Sgt. Assaf Moshe Fuchs, 21, of Kibbutz Gvat was killed and another soldier wounded Wednesday morning in an exchange of fire with wanted terrorists from the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank village of Saida, near Tulkarm.

Mar 18, 2003 - Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Ami Cohen, 27, of Netanya was killed and another soldier wounded south of Bethlehem when Palestinians opened fire during a search for wanted terrorists.

Mar 19, 2003 - Zion Boshirian, 51, of Mevo Dotan was shot and killed while driving in his car between Mevo Dotan and Shaked in northern Samaria. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

Apr 10, 2003 - St.-Sgt. Yigal Lifshitz, 20, of Rishon Lezion, and St.-Sgt. Ofer Sharabi, 21, of Givat Shmuel were killed and nine others wounded when Palestinian terrorists opened fire before dawn on their base near Bekaot in the northern Jordan Valley. The PFLP and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

Apr 15, 2003 - Lt. Daniel Mandel, 24, of Alon Shvut was killed and another soldier was wounded in an exchange of gunfire during a search for wanted Hamas terrorists in Nablus.

Apr 15, 2003 - Zachar Rahamin Hanukayev, 39, of Sderot and Ahmed Salah Kara, 20, of Shuafat in northern Jerusalem were killed and four Israelis were wounded when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire at the Karni industrial zone crossing in the Gaza Strip. The gunman was killed by security personnel. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Apr 20, 2003 - IDF photographer Cpl. Lior Ziv, 19, of Holon, was killed and three other soldiers were wounded during an operation to destroy a Hamas smuggling tunnel in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

Apr 24, 2003 - Alexander Kostyuk, a 23-year-old security guard from Bat Yam, was killed and 13 were wounded, two seriously, in a suicide bombing outside the train station in Kfar Sava. Groups related to the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the PFLP clamied joint responsibility for the attack.

Apr 30, 2003 - Ran Baron, 23, of Tel Aviv, Dominique Caroline Hass, 29, of Tel Aviv, and Yanai Weiss, 46, of Holon, were murdered and about 60 people were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a beachfront pub, "Mike's Place," in Tel Aviv. The Fatah Tanzim and Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, carried out as a joint operation.

May 5, 2003 - Gideon Lichterman, 27, of Ahiya, was killed and two other passengers, his six-year-old daughter Moriah and a reserve soldier, were seriously wounded when terrorists fired shots at their vehicle near Shvut Rachel, in Samaria. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 11, 2003 - Zion David, 53, of Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem, was shot in the head and killed by Palestinian terrorists in a roadside ambush half a kilometer from Ofra, north of Jerusalem. Both Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 17, 2003 - Gadi Levy and his wife Dina, aged 31 and 37, of Kiryat Arba were killed by a suicide bomber in Hebron. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

May 18, 2003 - Seven people were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide bombing on Egged bus no. 6 near French Hill in Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Olga Brenner, 52; Yitzhak Moyal, 64; Nelly Perov, 55; Marina Tsahivershvili, 44; Shimon Ustinsky, 68; and Roni Yisraeli, 34 - all of the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood in Jerusalem; and Ghalab Tawil, 42, of Shuafat. A second suicide bomber detonated his bomb when intercepted by police in northern Jerusalem. The terrorist was killed; no one else was injured.

May 19, 2003 - Kiryl Shremko, 22, of Afula; Hassan Ismail Tawatha, 41, of Jisr a-Zarqa; and Avi Zerihan, 36, of Beit Shean were killed and about 70 people were wounded in a suicide bombing at the entrance to the Amakim Mall in Afula. The Islamic Jihad and the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades both claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 5, 2003 - The bodies of David Shambik, 26, and Moran Menachem, 17, both of Jerusalem, were found near Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, brutally beaten and stabbed to death.

June 8, 2003 - Sgt. Maj. (Res.) Assaf Abergil, 23, of Eilat; Sgt. Maj. (Res.) Udi Eilat, 38, of Eilat; Sgt. Maj. Boaz Emete, 24, of Beit She'an; and Sgt. Maj. (Res.) Chen Engel, 32, of Ramat Gan were killed and four reserve soldiers were wounded when Palestinian terrorists wearing IDF uniforms opened fire on an IDF outpost near the Erez checkpoint and industrial zone in the Gaza Strip. Three terrorists were killed by IDF soldiers. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad issued a joint statement claiming responsibility for the attack.

June 8, 2003 - St.-Sgt. Matan Gadri, 21, of Moshav Moledet was killed in Hebron while pursuing two Palestinian gunmen who earlier had wounded a Border Policeman on guard at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The two terrorists were killed.

June 11, 2003 - Seventeen people were killed and over 100 wounded in a suicide bombing on Egged bus #14A outside the Klal building on Jaffa Road in the center of Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Sgt. Tamar Ben-Eliahu, 20, of Moshav Paran; Alan Beer, 47, of Jerusalem; Eugenia Berman, 50, of Jerusalem; Elsa Cohen, 70, of Jerusalem; Zvi Cohen, 39, of Jerusalem; Roi Eliraz, 22, of Mevaseret Zion; Alexander Kazaris, 77, of Jerusalem; Yaffa Mualem, 65, of Jerusalem; Yaniv Obayed, 22, of Herzliya; >Bat-El Ohana, 21, of Kiryat Ata; Anna Orgal, 55, of Jerusalem; Zippora Pesahovitch;, 54, of Zur Hadassah; Bianca Shahrur, 62, of Jerusalem; Malka Sultan, 67, of Jerusalem; Bertine Tita, 75, of Jerusalem. Miriam Levy, 74, of Jerusalem died of her wounds on June 12. The 17th victim, male, who has not yet been positively identified, is believed to be a foreign worker from Eritrea.

June 12, 2003 - Avner Maimon, 51, of Netanya, was found shot to death in his car near Yabed in northern Samaria. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 13, 2003 - St.-Sgt. Mordechai Sayada, 22, of Tirat Carmel, was shot to death in Jenin by a Palestinian sniper as his jeep patrol passed by. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 17, 2003 - Noam Leibowitz, 7, of Yemin Orde was killed and three members of her family wounded in a shooting attack near the Kibbutz Eyal junction on the Trans-Israel Highway. The terrorist fired from the outskirts of the West Bank city of Kalkilya. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 19, 2003 - Avner Mordechai, 58, of Moshav Sde Trumot, was killed when a suicide bomber blew up in his grocery on Sde Trumot, south of Beit Shean. The suicide bomber was killed. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 20, 2003 - Zvi Goldstein, 47, of Eli, was killed when his car was fired upon in an ambush by Palestinian terrorists near Ofra, north of Ramallah. His parents, Eugene and Lorraine Goldstein, from New York, were seriously wounded and his wife lightly injured. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 26, 2003 - Amos (Amit) Mantin, 31, of Hadera, a Bezeq employee, was killed in a shooting attack in the Israeli Arab town of Baka al-Garbiyeh. The shots were fired by a Palestinian teenager, who was apprehended by police. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

June 27, 2003 - Sgt. Maj. Erez Ashkenazi, 21, of Kibbutz Reshafim, an Israeli navy commando, was killed in an operation in Gaza to capture a Hamas cell, believed responsible for several bombings and the firing of anti-tank missiles in the Netzarim area.

June 30, 2003 - Krastyu Radkov, 46, a construction worker from Bulgaria, was killed in a shooting attack on the Yabed bypass road in northern Samaria, west of Jenin, while driving a truck. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack, in opposition to the declared ceasefire.

July 7, 2003 - Mazal Afari, 65, of Moshav Kfar Yavetz was killed in her home on Monday evening and three of her grandchildren lightly wounded in a terrorist suicide bombing. The remains of the bomber were also found in the wreckage of the house. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

July 15, 2003 - Amir Simhon, 24, of Bat Yam was killed when a Palestinian armed with a long-bladed knife stabbed passersby on Tel Aviv's beachfront promenade, after a security guard prevented him from entering the Tarabin cafe and was wounded. The terrorist, who was shot and apprehended, is a member of the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

July 21, 2003 - The body of IDF soldier Cpl. Oleg Shaichat, 20, of Upper Nazareth, abducted and murdered on July 21 while on his way home, was found on July 28, buried in an olive grove near Kafr Kana, an Arab village in the Lower Galilee.

Aug 8, 2003 - Third Petty Officer Roi Oren, 20, an Israel Navy commando, was shot in the head and killed in an assault on a Hamas bomb factory in Nablus.

Aug 10, 2003 - Haviv Dadon, 16, of Shlomi, was struck in the chest and killed by shrapnel from an anti-aircraft shell fired by Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon, as he sat with friends after work. Four others were wounded.

Aug 12, 2003 - Yehezkel (Hezi) Yekutieli, 43, of Rosh Ha'ayin, was murdered by a teenaged Palestinian suicide bomber who detonated himself as Yekutieli was shopping for his children's breakfast at his local supermarket.

Aug 12, 2003 - Erez Hershkovitz, 18, of Eilon Moreh, was murdered by a teenaged Palestinian suicide bomber who detonated himself at a bus stop outside Ariel less than half an hour after the Rosh Ha'ayin attack. Amatzia Nisanevitch, 22, of Nofim, died of his wounds on August 28.

Aug 19, 2003 - Twenty-three people were murdered and 134 wounded when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated himself on a No. 2 Egged bus in Jerusalem's Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Avraham Bar-Or, 12, of Jerusalem; Binyamin Bergman, 15, of Jerusalem; Yaakov Binder, 50, of Jerusalem; Feiga Dushinski, 50, of Jerusalem; Miriam Eisenstein, 20, of Bnei Brak; Lilach Kardi, 22, of Jerusalem; Menachem Leibel, 24, of Jerusalem; Elisheva Meshulami, 16, of Bnei Brak; Tehilla Nathanson, 3, of Zichron Ya'acov; Chava Nechama Rechnitzer, 19, of Bnei Brak; Mordechai Reinitz, 49, and Issachar Reinitz, 9, of Netanya; Maria Antonia Reslas, 39, of the Philippines; Liba Schwartz, 54, of Jerusalem; Hanoch Segal, 65, of Bnei Brak; Goldie Taubenfeld, 43, and Shmuel Taubenfeld, 3 months, of New Square, New York; Rabbi Eliezer Weisfish, 42, of Jerusalem; Shmuel Wilner, 50, of Jerusalem; Shmuel Zargari, 11 months, of Jerusalem. Fruma Rahel Weitz, 73, of Jerusalem died of her wounds on August 23; Mordechai Laufer, 27, died of his on September 5; and Tova Lev, 37, died on September 12.

Aug 29, 2003 - Shalom Har-Melekh, 25, of Homesh was killed in a shooting attack while driving northeast of Ramallah. His wife, Limor, who was seven months pregnant, sustained moderate injuries, and gave birth to a baby girl by Caesarean section. The Fatah al-Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sept 4, 2003 - St.-Sgt. Gabriel Uziel, 20, of Givat Ze'ev was shot and mortally wounded by a terrorist sniper in Jenin; he died en route to the hospital. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sept 5, 2003 - 2nd Petty Officer Ra'anan Komemi, 23, of Moshav Aminadav, from the Naval Commandos was killed in a clash with armed Palestinians in Nablus. A senior Hamas bomb-maker, believed to have orchestrated several fatal suicide bombings, was also killed in the clash. Four soldiers were wounded, one seriously.

Sept 9, 2003 - Eight IDF soldiers were killed and 32 people were wounded in a suicide bombing at a hitchhiking post for soldiers outside a main entrance to the Tzrifin army base and Assaf Harofeh Hospital. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Senior Warrant Officer Haim Alfasi, 39, of Haifa; Chief Warrant Officer Yaakov Ben-Shabbat, 39, of Pardes Hanna; Cpl. Mazi Grego, 19, of Holon; Capt. Yael Kfir, 21, of Ashkelon; Cpl. Felix Nikolaichuk, 20, of Bat Yam; Sgt. Yonatan Peleg, 19, of Moshav Yanuv; Sgt. Efrat Schwartzman, 19, of Moshav Ganei Yehuda; and Cpl. Prosper Twito, 20, of Upper Nazareth.

Sept 9, 2003 - Seven people were killed and over 50 wounded when a suicide bomber at Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim St., the main thoroughfare of the German Colony neighborhood in Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Dr. David Appelbaum, 51, and his daughter Nava Appelbaum, 20, of Jerusalem; David Shimon Avizadris, 51, of Mevaseret Zion; Shafik Kerem, 27, of Beit Hanina; Alon Mizrahi, 22, of Jerusalem; Gila Moshe, 40, of Jerusalem; and Yehiel (Emil) Tubol, 52, of Jerusalem.

Sept 25, 2003 - St.-Sgt. Avihu Keinan, 22, of Shilo was killed and six soldiers wounded in an IDF operation to arrest wanted Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists in the El Boureij refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

Sept 26, 2003 - Eyal Yeberbaum, 27, and seven-month-old Shaked Avraham, both of Negohot, south of Hebron, were killed during the holiday meal on the eve of Rosh Hashana in the Yeberbaum home when a Palestinian terrorist who infiltrated the settlement opened fire with an M-16 assault rifle. The terrorist was killed by IDF forces. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Oct 4, 2003 - Twenty-one people were killed, including four children, and 58 wounded in a suicide bombing carried out by a female terrorist from Jenin in the Maxim restaurant in Haifa. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Admiral (res.) Ze'ev Almog, 71, of Haifa, and his wife Ruth Almog, 70; their son Moshe Almog, 43, and grandsons Tomer Almog, 9, and Assaf Staier, 11, all of Haifa; Zvi Bahat, 35, of Haifa; Mark Biano, 29, of Haifa, and his wife Naomi Biano, 25; Hana Francis, 39, of Fassouta; Mutanus Karkabi, 31, of Haifa; Sharbal Matar, 23, of Fassouta; Osama Najar, 28, of Haifa, cook; Nir Regev, 25, of Nahariya; Irena Sofrin, 38, of Kiryat Bialik; Bruria Zer-Aviv, 59, her son Bezalel Zer-Aviv, 30, and his wife Keren Zer-Aviv, 29, with their children Liran, 4, and Noya, 1, all of Kibbutz Yagur. Lydia Zilberstein, 58, died on October 10 and George Matar, 57, died October 15.

Oct 15, 2003 - Three American diplomatic personnel - John Eric Branchizio, 37, of Texas, John Martin Linde, Jr., 30, of Missouri, and Mark T. Parson, 31, of New York, were killed and one was wounded at the Beit Hanoun junction in the Gaza Strip when a massive bomb demolished an armor-plated jeep in a convoy carrying U.S. diplomats.

Oct 19, 2003 - St.-Sgt. Erez Idan, 19, of Rishon Lezion, Sgt. Elad Pollack, 19, of Kiryat Motzkin, and Sgt. Roi Ya'acov Solomon, 21, of Tel Aviv, were killed and another soldier was seriously wounded while on patrol in Ein Yabrud, north of Ramallah, when terrorists fired on them from behind. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

Oct 24, 2003 - Three IDF soldiers - St.-Sgt. Alon Avrahami, 21, of Or Yehuda, Sgt. Adi Osman, 19, of Kfar Sava, and Sgt. Sarit Schneor-Senior, 19, of Shoham - were killed and two others wounded when a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the army base in the Gaza Strip settlement of Netzarim and opened fire on the soldiers' barracks. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad claimed joint responsibility for the attack.

Nov 18, 2003 - Two IDF soldiers, Sgt.-Maj. Shlomi Belsky, 23, of Haifa, and St.-Sgt. Shaul Lahav, 20, of Kibbutz Shomrat, were killed by a Palestinian terrorist who opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, hidden in a prayer rug, at a checkpoint on the tunnel bypass road, linking Jerusalem and the Gush Etzion bloc. The Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

Nov 19, 2003 - Patricia Ter´n Navarrete, 33, of Ecuador was killed and four other tourists, pilgrims from Ecuador, were wounded when a terrorist entered the Israel-Jordan border crossing terminal north of Eilat from the Jordanian side and opened fire. The terrorist was killed by Israeli security guards.

Nov 22, 2003 - Two Israeli security guards, Ilya Reiger, 58, of Jerusalem, and Samer Fathi Afan, 25, of the Bedouin village Uzeir near Nazareth, were shot dead at a construction site along the route of the security fence near Abu Dis in East Jerusalem. The Jenin Martyrs' Brigades, affiliated with Fatah, claimed responsibility for the attack.

December 25, 2003 - A suicide bomber killed four people and wounded more than 20 in an explosion near a bus stop at Geha Junction in Petah Tikvah, a suburb of Tel Aviv. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility.

Suicide bomber hits New Year's Party at Baghdad Restaurant

FOX News: BAGHDAD, Iraq — At least five people were killed in a large explosion that ripped through a restaurant in central Baghdad Wednesday and there were reports that Iraqi police said it may have been caused by a homicide bomber.

Witnesses said at least 30 people may have been inside Nabil's Restaurant, which was on fire in Arasat Al-Hindiya, an upscale neighborhood of restaurants and bars in Karrada quarter. Hospital officials in Baghdad said 25 people were injured. . .

AFP/Mauricio Lima

Witnesses said an individual walked into the restaurant strapped with explosives and detonated. Other news reports said the cause of the blast was a car bomb.

The restaurant, popular among journalists and other foreigners, had advertised a New Year's Eve party including live music and bellydancing. The owner of the restaurant said he wasn't in there at the time of the blast, but he said it was crowded with people attending the party.

Several cars outside the restaurant were wrecked and in flames, and Iraqis with hoses tried to put out the blaze. A large crater was visible on a side street next to the restaurant as ambulances converged on the scene, near the former U.S. Embassy.
Zohar, Genesis 119
"In the future, the sons of Ishmael will rule in the Holy Land, when it is empty, for a long time . . . And they will prevent Israel from returning home . . . and the time will come when the sons of Ishmael will arouse fierce wars throughout the world."

Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 32
"The time will come when G-d will heed the scream of His nation, caused by what the sons of Ishmael will do in the Land of Israel in the last days: this is why he is called Ishmael [G-d will hear]."

". . . tragically, one who refuses to see will not be convinced by a thousand quotes . . . or by a thousand murdered Jews. And for this reason the Ishmaelites do not have to resort to cunningto camouflage their diabolical plot: what they plan to do, they state openly." - Binyamin Zev Kahane, 1997.
Il Giornale, respected Milan daily, banner headlines:

Al Qaeda: We will destroy New York within 35 days. Threat on the Internet. Countdown begins."

DEBKA: The threat was contained in a video clip featured on a web site associated with the fundamentalist terror group. It announced al Qaeda plans to destroy New York in a nuclear blast on February 2. Il Giornale claims the FBI blocked and removed the web site.

The video clip showed three possible scenarios:

1. A bomb or giant fireball from the skies that will cover the metropolis with a radioactive cloud.

2. A storm of radioactive clouds that will topple skyscrapers one by one, along with the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge.

3. An explosion on board a charter aircraft that will cause a radioactive cloud to spread over the city.

The video clip was accompanied by large, red-lettered Arabic captions saying: “If God wills it, the end of America is near.”

DEBKAfile’s counter-terrorism sources say they cannot verify the authorship or gauge the seriousness of the threat because the Internet site is no longer accessible. But the report appeared in a newspaper widely viewed as the flagship of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Such reports - even if not authenticated - tend to contribute to the mounting sense of alarm generated by “Orange Alert” in America and other Western countries.

It comes against the backdrop of appeals to New Year revelers to stay away from the traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square, Rome’s St. Peter’s Square, Moscow’s Red Square and London’s Trafalgar Square – or even Disney World and the Las Vegas Strip. All these sites are surrounded by heavy security.
(Makes the fence look downright pathetic, doesn't it?)

Keep abreast of Palestinian Arab Car Swarms

The best monitor of these events may well be Little Green Goofballs. If you have other, comparable, sources to suggest ... let me know and I will post them.

The Chernut of Trent in the Gutter LA Times

Neumann: Antisemitism not a high priority, but a minor problem overblown
The LA TIMES on Dec. 28 sported two opinion pieces written by Jews, concerning the state of the Jews.

One, "Jews Face a Widening Web of Hate," was written by Abraham Foxman, director of the ADL. He makes a single declaration, that "Anti-Semitism is not a relic of history but a current event" and substantiates his argument with evidence: the recent bombing of two synagogues in Istanbul, the destruction by arson of a Jewish girls' school outside Paris and a holocaust museum in Terre Haute, the infamous speech of Mahathir Mohamad, etc. etc. He calls for "a united and vigorous stand by free nations and free peoples against anti-semitism" because "history teaches that we must not be complacent." Okay, well done. I agree, Never Again.

The other opinion, "Antisemitism: A Minor Problem, Overblown" was written by Michael Neumann, a philosophy professor at Trent University in Canada. I can't believe the man teaches philosophy; he is all over the place, with not a cogent argument in sight. He seems not to believe in the threat of current antisemitism, quoting Israeli (Jew) Ran HaCohen thus: "There has never been a better time for Jews to live in than our own."

Having not established that opinion by virtue of any reason, Neumann goes on to explicate how the charge of antisemitism is abused for political purpose. It worries him that Foxman tells us that "classic canards of 'Jews control . . Jews are responsible. . . and Jews are not loyal. . .' continue to be peddled in America." It worries him, NOT that these things are being said, but that Foxman is objecting. Come again?

Neumann further resists logic by pointing out that Jews are traditionally supposed to be responsible, to the poor, to one another, etc. What the professor doesn't seem to understand is the difference between responsible to and responsible for. How can you take anyone seriously when they don't get the nuances of simple prepositions?

Along yet another tangent, Neumann wants Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (and himself and his friends) to be allowed to accuse Israel of war crimes and violations of human rights, without being labelled antisemitic. Free speech for his point of view, but no one else's, and no consequences. He lauds the (Jewish?) organization, Not in My Name, because it exists "to enable Jews to dissociate themselves from Israel's actions." Poor man, born with the burden of being a Jew, never able to fully dissociate, no matter how hard he tries.

Then, and this is a real kicker, Neumann goes on about how antisemitism may be important to him, "but is it important, period?" His answer to himself is really sick; he says it "cannot be dictated by 'Jewish sensibilities,' that is, he wants Non-Jews to decide what's important -- not because of what they say, but because of who they are. Neumann "illustrates" --
My background certainly predisposes me to regard anti-Semitic incidents with alarm. But time passes. Concentration camp survivors still alive deserve sympathy and justice, but they are few. Myself, I'd feel a bit embarrassed saying to a homeless person on the streets of Toronto, much less to the inhabitants of a Philippine garbage dump: "Oh yeah? You think you know suffering? My grandmother died in a concentration camp!"
Would he also argue that the importance of racism cannot be dictated by African-American sensibilities? That Whites should be the final arbiters of what is racist? Or that the parameters of sexism cannot be dictated by female sensibilities? Gotcha, Mr. Neumann. When you apply a different standard to Jews because they are Jews, it is antisemitic. Pure and simple.

Trying to tie up his non-argument, Neumann concludes by pointing out that hardly anyone has been prosecuted for the killing of 1,569 street children in Honduras, and 3 million have died in the Congo in 4 1/2 years. That's upsetting news, but do these facts limit the veracity or import of antisemitism, and if so, how?

Neumann's Record
HonestReporting is bent out of shape over Neumann-in-the-LA-Times because, they say, "Neumann has an established record of actively supporting . . . 'vicious racist anti-Semitism' to bring on the destruction of the Jewish state. Apparently, last year he wrote the following in correspondence with an antisemitic website:
My sole concern is indeed to help the Palestinians, and I try to play for keeps. I am not interested in the truth, or justice, or understanding, or anything else, except so far as it serves that purpose...I would use anything, including lies, injustice and obfuscation, to do so. If an effective strategy means that some truths about the Jews don't come to light, I don't care. If an effective strategy means encouraging reasonable anti-Semitism or reasonable hostility to Jews, I don't care. If it means encouraging vicious racist anti-Semitism, or the destruction of the State of Israel, I still don't care.
No one who walks on two limbs and has a brain in their head could deny that this is despicable.

HonestReporting holds that because Neumann's "nihilism and deep hatred for Israel are a matter of public record," the LA Times should not have granted "his voice the legitimacy of their opinion page." While I think it's valuable for people to know what a Jew-hater Neumann is, one hardly need go to his published record in order to refute this piece in the Times. What he wrote for the LA Times was full of fallacious holes, and can easily be condemned based on nothing more than the stupidity it reveals.

The mystery to me is why folks like Chernut and Neumann insist on publicizing not only their lack of simple reason, but their (sad) lack of a Jewish backbone. If we are to be responsible to them, then we should tell them to hide under their beds, and if anyone comes looking for a sign of the covenant, deny it . . . for our sake, as well as their own.

High security alert in metropolitan Tel Aviv

DEBKA: Police are chasing Palestinian suicide bombers suspected on way to target in town or Sharon region to the north. Police roadblocks slowing traffic into city and security reinforced at crowd centers.

UPDATE: Police chase in Tel Aviv Wednesday ends in capture of wanted vehicle with three Palestinians suspected of heading for suicide attack in city.

High terror alert for New Year remains in force with stepped up security in Israeli towns and entertainment centers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Victor Davis Hanson calls it The Western Disease

the strange syndrome of our guilt and their shame
Hanson describes it as a "pathology" explained by "beneficence." Lileks (see below) thinks it stems from "non-continguous information streams." In my response to Chernut (also below, only more so) I talk about it as having to do with "worldview." Some have labelled it a prelude to civil war.

There is an ideological schism, fast hardening, between people, that is maddening to experience and frustrating to describe. It is New. It hasn't happened before in our lives, and as we dance around it, and taste it, spit it out and look at it, we still don't . . . yet . . . know what it means.

My husband, who is a mighty mensch, thinks it's just Bush-hatred, that if Clinton had done what Bush had done, the complainers we now try to dissect would be simply joyous, crying out about his great accomplishments. Along these lines, it's nothing more than sour grapes. I agree with his observation that rather than allowing events to inform one's ideology, these people are maintaining their ideology, at all costs, by interpreting events to fit. I'm just not satisfied that that's the whole gestalt of it. And it seems crucial to understand because whatever it is, it's bad for Israel.

It's not just lack of PR -or funds for PR- that lies at the root of current global disdain of Israel, and it's not just antisemitism, nor information streams, nor worldview. It's all these things, yet there's a glue that holds it all together that I can't quite figure out.

Whoops, almost forgot what I was up to. This is what Hanson says about it:
There is something terribly wrong, something terribly amoral with the Western intelligentsia, most prominently in academia, the media, and politics. We don’t need Osama bin Laden’s preschool jabbering about “the weak horse” to be worried about the causes of this Western disease: thousands of the richest, most leisured people in the history of civilization have become self-absorbed, ungracious, and completely divorced from the natural world — the age-old horrific realities of death, plague, hunger, rapine, or conquest.

Indeed, it is even worse than that: a Paul Krugman or French barrister neither knows anything of how life is lived beyond his artificial cocoon nor of the rather different men and women whose unacknowledged work in the shadows ensures his own bounty in such a pampered landscape — toil that allows our anointed to rage at those purportedly culpable for allowing the world to function differently from an Ivy League lounge or the newsroom of the New York Times. Neither knows what it is like to be in a village gassed by Saddam Hussein or how hard it is to go across the world to Tikrit and chain such a monster.

Our Western intellectuals are sheltered orchids who are naïve about the world beyond their upscale hothouses. The Western disease of deductive fury at everything the West does provides a sort of psychological relief (without costs) for apparent guilt over privileged circumstances. It is such a strange mixture of faux-populism and aristocratic snobbery. They believe only a blessed few such as themselves have the requisite education or breeding to understand the “real” world of Western pathologies and its victims.
This is an important argument, well thought and well written. Take the time to read it all.

Heart-wrenching conflict between Jews in Israel

Will the IDF dismantle Ginot Aryeh?

Arutz Sheva: "If we bring 5,000 people here, the army simply won't be able to dismantle the community." So says Binyamin Regional Council chief Pinchas Wallerstein, referring to the government's intentions to uproot the populated neighborhood of Ginot Aryeh in the Binyamin community of Ofrah. Orders to evacuate were posted on the doors of the 15 caravans this morning, and officials of Ofrah and the Amanah settlement organization are currently looking into their legal options.

"We are legal," said Meir Nachliel, Ofrah's secretary [a parallel to the position of mayor]. "We have received funding from several government ministries. What we think is illegal is the government's attempt to bypass the judicial process in giving the orders to dismantle the neighborhood and expel its residents." He emphasized that no violence would be employed against soldiers, although it is known that the residents will be implementing methods to make the uprooting "difficult."

Three families and 20 singles live in the neighborhood, which was established in memory of terrorist victim Aryeh Hershkovitz of Ofrah, who was murdered in early 2001. His son Assaf, who was murdered in a separate terrorist attack three months later, is memorialized in Givat Assaf just a few kilometers to the south of Ginot Aryeh, at the strategic turnoff to Beit El.

Three other outposts have also been placed on the to-be-uprooted list for the coming days, but they are not populated and no significant struggle against the dismantling is expected.

Background on the "settlements"

Joseph Farah - WorldNetDaily.com - Dec. 2002
Once again, we're hearing that awful word again in the context of the Middle East debate.


That's what the conflict is all about, we're being told. That's why the Arabs are mad at the Israelis. That's the root of the violence, the terrorism, the hatred.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer raised the ugly specter of "settlement" recently in a speech last week. Kurtzer, the former ambassador to Egypt and one of the architects of the failed peace process, once again blamed Israel as an obstacle to peace.

"Israeli settlement activity cripples chances for real peace," he said. He also underlined with emphasis and a pregnant pause this conclusion: "Settlement activity must stop."

What about these "settlements"? What are they? Why are they bad? Why should they be stopped?

I think most Americans and most non-Israelis draw certain mental pictures when they hear this term. I know I did before I began visiting "settlements" in Israel. I discovered they were not armed camps. They were not frontier outposts in alien territory. They were not fortresses built to grab more land for Jews. No. Much to my surprise, I found these "settlements" to be nothing more than communities – peaceful Jewish communities that don't interfere with nor abrogate anyone else's rights. They reminded me of suburban developments in Southern California more than threats to peace.

The word "settlement" itself is loaded. Who is a "settler" in the Mideast? According to the Arabs, only Jews are "settlers." But that simply is not the case.

Arafat himself was born in Egypt. He later moved to Jerusalem. If, at the moment, he is living in the West Bank, he is a "settler" there, not a native. Indeed, most of the Arabs living within the borders of Israel today have come from some other Arab country at some time in their life. They are all "settlers."

For instance, just since the beginning of the Oslo Accords, hundreds of thousands of Arabs have entered the West Bank or Gaza – and never left. They have come from Jordan, Egypt and, indirectly, from every other Arab country you can name – and many non-Arab countries as well. These surely aren't "Palestinians."

Since 1967, the Arabs have built 261 settlements in the West Bank. We don't hear much about those settlements. We hear instead about the number of Jewish settlements that have been created. We hear how destabilizing they are – how provocative they are. Yet, by comparison, only 144 Jewish settlements have been built since 1967 – including those surrounding Jerusalem, in the West Bank and in Gaza. Why is it that only Jewish construction is destabilizing?

The Arab "settlement" activity is not new. This has always been the case. Arabs have been flocking to Israel ever since it was created – and even before, coinciding with the wave of Jewish immigration into Palestine prior to 1948.

And that raises a question I never hear anyone ask: If Israel's policies make life so intolerable for Arabs, why do they continue to flock to the Jewish state? Why aren't they leaving in droves if conditions are as bad as they say?

The truth? There is more freedom under Israeli rule than there is in any Arab country. If you're a headstrong Arab, bent on protest, this is the place to be. Don't try throwing stones at Syrian police. You won't live long. Don't try publishing anti-kingdom newspapers in Saudi Arabia. You won't live long. Don't try fomenting revolutionary jihadism in Egypt. You won't live long.

So, sooner or later, those who are determined to protest, the professional agitators, the future Arafats of the Arab world all come to Israel. The Arab world is happy to be rid of them. This exodus serves two purposes – limiting the threat to Arab regimes and fanning the uniting flames of anti-Israel hatred. It's a population safety valve the totalitarian Arab world just loves.

Prior to 1900, the entire region was a barren wasteland with low populations of Jews, Muslims and Christians. No one had much interest in the Holy Land, as Mark Twain pointed out in his own travels to the area – until the Jews began to return.

Then the economic activity began. The jobs were created. The opportunities appeared. And then the Arabs came.

The "settlement" issue is a canard. It's a propaganda ploy to suggest that only Jews are newcomers to the region. The truth is there are lots of "settlers" and would-be "settlers" in the area – including Arafat and his friends.

By the way, under the Oslo Accords, there are no restrictions whatsoever on Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. None. Zip. Nada. Zilch. These "settlements" are perfectly legal. And I, for one, can see no legitimate reason for them to stop.
See also today's WorldNetDaily: "Mideast: Christian-free zone?" by Joseph Farah:
Here are the facts. Some 2 million Christians have fled the Middle East in the past 20 years. Some estimates are much higher than this. Since Arafat took over administration of the Palestinian territories from Israel, the Christian population has dropped from 15 percent to 2 percent.

They are being driven out. They are being murdered. They are being raped. They are being systematically persecuted. They are being harassed. They are being intimidated.

Such is life for Christians now in Bethlehem and other formerly Christian towns in the West Bank. Just imagine what it will be like when Palestine becomes a real state.

If these people were fleeing Israeli oppression, why did they leave after the Israelis left?

Two Israeli-Arab Drug-Smugglers caught spying for Hezbollah

JPost: The Shin Bet and Israel police revealed Tuesday the arrest of two brothers from the northern town of Ghajar who are suspected of compiling military intelligence on the IDF and handing it over to Hizbullah agents.

Sources in the Shin Bet told the Jerusalem Post that the two - known drug smugglers - were arrested while still setting up their network, and they had already made initial contacts with a Lebanese drug supplier nicnamed 'Abu Hassan', who works for the Hizbullah. The brothers were to supply Hizbullah with information on the IDF. In exchange, Hizbullah would provide them with drugs and clients.

Palestinian Arabs continue to adore Saddam

JPost: Three weeks after a bedraggled Saddam Hussein emerged form his spider hole near Tikrit to surrender to American troops, the former Iraqi president is still seen by some Palestinians as a hero and a symbol of defiance against Israel and the United States.

While some Palestinians have expressed horror at the scenes of mass graves discovered in Iraq, others continue to carry pictures of Saddam at rallies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But this time, the protesters are not chanting the common slogan of "Oh beloved Saddam, bomb Tel Aviv," as they have repeatedly done over the past decade.

Saddam's pictures appear at different kinds of protests, including those organized against the construction of the separation fence, as well as rallies in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, and at funerals of activists killed by soldiers.

Mon Dec 29, 7:38 AM ET

Saddam's sympathizers can be found in almost all the Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.

The Palestinian branch of the dissolved Iraqi Ba'ath Party, known as the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), remains active in several Palestinian cities and villages. ALF leaders and activists are working hard to stage pro-Saddam protests ahead of the trial of the ousted Iraqi president, which is scheduled to begin in Baghdad within the next few months. The group was responsible for distributing more than $30 million over the past three years to the families of Palestinians killed or injured during the violence, including suicide bombers.

In the past three weeks, the ALF and "Saddam's friends" have published two paid front-page advertisements in the Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, condemning the US for apprehending Saddam. . .

None of the Palestinian journalists who wait outside Arafat's office in Ramallah every day has dared to ask for his reaction to the capture of Saddam. . .

Continued . .

This is news?

Terror alerts continue in Israel

JPost - by Margot Dudkevitch: Fifty-four terror alerts were registered by the security establishment on Monday as the Islamic Jihad vowed to avenge the death of one of its senior commanders, Muklad Hamed, who was killed along with four other Palestinians in an IAF rocket attack on his car last Thursday.

In a demonstration in the Gaza Strip over the weekend to oppose the targeted killing, Hamas officials also pledged to continue the "resistance" until the end of Israeli occupation on Palestinian land.

Security officials said they had no knowledge of reports claiming Israel had heightened its state of alert due to warnings received of plans by terrorists possibly from abroad to perpetrate attacks on New Year's Eve. However, the officials warned "people should not be fooled by the imaginary calm. Taking into account the number of warnings recorded Monday, all the terrorist organizations are intent on perpetrating attacks." The officials noted that in recent weeks the number of daily terror alerts was around 50.

Euro Entities helped Iran's nuke program

AP: VIENNA - Pakistani scientists may have played a major role in advancing Iran's nuclear program, but more than a half-dozen other countries are now being drawn into the UN investigation, diplomats and arms experts say.

A month-long probe by the International Atomic Energy Agency has traced the origins of Iran's program to the late 1980s, when Iran was supplied with the first drawings on centrifuge technology, its main way of enriching uranium - leading to suspicions it was developing nuclear weapons.

The investigations have widened "well beyond" Pakistan, Russia and China to include companies in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and other West European countries, said one diplomat.

Lileks has a gift - for putting it in writing


This is not reducible to a sound byte. Have patience. READ IT ALL ~ The Bleat
Okay, gear up. En garde.

I got a letter today from a fellow who was one of the more gentle critics of my position on the Iraq war – always a welcome break from the stuff that accuses me of being paid by the Bushitler-Rethuglican-Murdock-Fox-Zionist Christocracy, or words to that effect. The gist was this: of course Bush isn’t like the Nazis, but . . Oh, my molars ache when I hit the BUT. This letter was occasioned by my mention in the Bleat than I'm watching the "World at War" documentary; the emailer wanted to point out the similiarities between then and now. Specificially Adoph and Dubya. Bad idea. Right now I'm steeped in the details of the horrors of WW2, of the wretched consequences of fascist aggression. I'm in no mood for the equivocating BUT. Nevertheless: the emailer said a war of aggression is a war of aggression, and what’s the difference between taking France’s art and champagne and taking Iraq’s antiquities and oil?

As the old salad-dressing commercial might have said: Ten French Derrida-schooled Marxist deconstructionist chefs say: no deeferance!

What I found fascinating was the assertion – stated as a common fact, known to all – that the US emptied Iraq’s museums, and glugs Iraqi crude into Texaco tankers as we speak. As Mark Twain so memorably said: it’s not what people know that gets them in trouble, it’s what they pick up from the comments section of indymedia sites. It took me about 45 seconds of googling to come up with a long, boring press release from the IMF about the disposition of Iraqi oil revenues. They’re audited by the international community in accord with a UN resolution. How did that happen? How did a Unilateralist Cowboy War for Oil fumble the ball at the goal line? Perhaps the UN threatened to deploy Crack French Bureaucrats who'd unleash the indifferent shrug and the chastening frown. No! Not the lowered eyebrows! Anything but that! Here – take the oil money, all of it! Anything but a facial manifestation of Gallic disapproval!

It doesn’t surprise me. I would have been surprised if the administration had said they were diverting Iraqi oil revenues to pay for American war costs, just as I would have been surprised to learn that we insisted our Iranian disaster relief package contain Gideon Bibles. Doesn’t track.

My point? Simple: we live in an era of non-contiguous information streams. I believe one thing; someone else believes another – and the bedrock assumptions are utterly contradictory. This is what drives me nuts about discussing current events with some people. It’s like discussing the Apollo program with people who think it was all faked, or discussing archeology with those who believe the world is six thousand years old. I think the Iraq Campaign was part of a broad war against Islamicist fascism and the states that enable it; others think it’s all about oil and Halliburton jerking the strings of a Jeebus puppet. No. Middle. Ground.

This Iraqi WMD debate is a perfect example. What had been a consensus has fractured into two irreconcilable camps, one being “he had them” and the other being “Bush LIED!” I go back a long way on this issue. I remember. I was in DC during the first Gulf War. Everyone thought Iraq had bugs and gas. Later we all read the accounts of the Kurdish atrocities. Paul Wellstone signed on to the 1998 attack on Iraq for reasons that could have come from the lips of Bush himself.

Nine months later, we haven’t found them. Haven’t found Hitler’s charred femur, either. I’m not one of those who say “well, it doesn’t matter, because the liberation of Iraq and the establishment of a beachhead in the Middle East were more important.” I’m not going to forget about the WMD. I take Bill Clinton at his word: Saddam had ‘em. They may be in Syria, they may be in the Tigris, they may be buried, they may be hidden in those unimaginably vast munitions fields we’ve yet to explore. It’s important that we find them or learn what became of them, because it will close the parenthesis.

Viewed a century out, the murky present will seem stark and obvious, white bones on a black slab. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, the terrorist organizations in the Levant and Indonesia, the Islamist elements of Pakistan, the behind-the-scenes support of North Korea – history, in its blunt custom, will color these factions alike. The people who insist that secular Saddam would never hook up with a radical Islamist group will seem like doddering backbenchers in Britain who muttered that Hitler hated Bolsheviks too much to strike a pact. I suspect that a century hence, those who sniffed at the threat of Saddam and his sons will be regarded as equally irrelevant.

Maybe I’ve just been watching too many old documentaries. But sometimes you read the news, and you see big red arrows moving hither and yon. You imagine how it will look when it’s long over, when it’s a tidy corpse handed over to the morticians of history. How will the future view those who thought we shouldered our way into Iraq to loot the museums and suck up the oil?

I don’t know. The standard text of WW2 was set in stone early on. (People who complain today of a monolithic media would have experienced spontaneous personal combustion in the 40s and 50s.) It’s different now. As long as there remains that hot iridescent strain of pissy anti-Western self-hatred, there’ll be a warm spot in the historians’ hearts for those who insisted that the Afghan campaign was really about killing brown-skinned folks to build a pipeline. And even if the pipeline was never built, well, the pipeline is a metaphor for Orientalism, for the imperialist urge, for the abominable consequences of the Exceptionist Fallacy.

What doesn’t happen in the literal sense becomes proof that something really did happen in the figurative sense. The metaphor becomes the reality – and it’s even better than reality itself. As a metaphor it's ever apt, ever immune to empirical refutation.

I know this: if 9/11 had never happened, Afghanistan and Iraq wouldn’t be on the radar of those who wake up perpetually inflamed with global injustice. They’d be fixed on Israel and genetically modified food. Would there be rallies in the Western cities demanding the end to the Taliban and the Baathists? Of course not. And that’s what history might well remember. God forbid, but they might end up reduced to a footnote about a rally in Paris in the year before a hijacked jet took out the Louvre. I’d like to think no one in the west would write “well, we destroyed their museums, and now they destroy ours.” But you know someone would.

One can only hope that Christopher Hitchens would meet that author in a pub the night the article hit the stands, and that Hitch would stagger over, draw himself up, fix the scribbler with a baleful look, summon the necessary arguments and facts . . .

. . . and throw up in the idiot’s lap.