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Friday, June 29, 2007

What if Arafat had said yes?

In today's Jerusalem Post, Sarah Honig contemplates a question most Israelis would rather not think about: What if Arafat had said yes to Ehud Barak's more than generous offers at Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001?
Had Arafat taken advantage of Barak's foolhardy generosity - instead of violently rebuffing it and launching his bloody Second Intifada - he'd have taken possession, besides Gaza, of nearly all of Judea and Samaria, settlement blocks included, as well as east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (except for ill-defined "subterranean layers" thereof, according to Barak's cockamamie concoction). After Arafat's departure to the netherworld's great terrorist convocation, his PLO cohorts would have inherited his latifundia.

From here on the story is familiar, except for name-place variations. Everything that happened in the Gaza Strip - which Ariel Sharon ceded unilaterally according to Barak's reckless Lebanese precedent - would have been replayed in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, etc. Eventually Hamas would have gained domination over all that Arafat's fat Fatah failed to control.

The pattern is the one revealed before our eyes in Gaza-turned-Hamastan. The outstanding difference is that the Hamastan which brash Barak thoughtlessly almost created along Israel's entire long convoluted eastern flank, directly adjoining this country's densest population centers, would have been incalculably deadlier than anything visited from Gaza on poor suffering Sderot.

WHAT DEVASTATION Kassams from Kalkilya could inflict beggars the imagination. Suffice it to note that into the space between Kalkilya and the Mediterranean is wedged the entire width of Israel and that this slender strip is filled by a row of three side-by-side towns - Kfar Saba, Ra'anana and Herzliya - in that order, with no vacant gaps between them. It's a single urban sprawl, stretched out before enemy eyes and permanently vulnerable to its predations.

And whoever fires into Kfar Saba can reach Tel Aviv easily enough. Those who retroactively doubt the Six Day War was worth winning omit mention that during said war an old Jordanian WWII-vintage Long Tom cannon, fired from a lowly hill outside Kalkilya, hit an apartment building smack-dab in Kikar Masaryk, Tel Aviv's very heart.

The only reason such feats, and worse, aren't replicated today is because of continued Israeli presence in areas Barak would have put beyond Israeli supervision. Luckily Arafat seven years ago churlishly spurned Barak's inconceivably egregious largesse. Barak literally came within a hairbreadth of destroying Israel's self-preservation potential.
Someone needs to remind those who wanted to give the 'Palestinians' the Arab-populated neighborhoods of 'East Jerusalem' in the summer of 2000 (Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres and the Shas party) that we would have had rockets being shot from close range at Ramot, Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Zev, Ramat Shlomo, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Sanhedria Murchevet.... Do I need to go on?

Choudhury trial date set for July 18

Arutz Sheva reports that Bangladeshi Muslim journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was in court yesterday and that a new trial date of July 18 was set in his case. As I have reported previously, Choudhoury faces trial for sedition (a capital offense) for encouraging his Muslim country to have cordial relations with Israel. Choudhury was arrested several years ago as he was about to leave for a speaking engagement in Israel, and was imprisoned and tortured for seventeen months. When he was released from prison he was beaten by a mob led by ruling party officials. While the government has changed since then, and the current government is willing to drop the charges, the State Prosecutor is insisting on continuing to press charges. Choudhury's brother told Arutz Sheva that the charges against him stem from 'rumors originating in Saudi Arabia:
“His country proclaims that Shoaib’s support for Israel is treason because it is in opposition to their policy and that is blasphemous, a charge they find convenient……..He is on trial because he writes plainly about the danger of extremist madrassas teaching children as young as five to hate Jews and Israel…..Shoaib works tirelessly for interfaith understanding. Bangladesh considers this treason and blasphemy."
Read the whole thing.

Previously at Israel Matzav:

Journalist faces sedition trial in Bangladesh for planning to visit Israel

Choudhury's life in danger

Choudhury beaten by mob led by ruling party officials ; Most content apparently removed from Weekly Blitz site

Risking his life by speaking out: Interview with Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Choudhury trial in Bangladesh (includes video)

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War isn't a question of 'whether' but of 'when'

Daniel Jackson reports from northern Israel that they are expecting a war this summer, but that they believe that Israel will be better prepared this time than it was last summer:
Whatever is coming this summer will not have the same misdirected response of last summer. For Iran, Hizbullah, and Syrian to assume that the next round will be like last summer is simply not realistic. Israel is a very small place and the regular drills with the air force and the army are conducted in the open. Here in the north, there have been some very impressive air shows as well as immediate response drills by ground forces. Several weeks ago, the night sky was suddenly filled with the roar and flame of low flying jets scrambling from three directions towards the Golan pulling up over the Heights and turning back over the Upper Galilee to the Sea and back to their bases. Late last week, when three katyushas landed in the northern city of Kiryat Shemona, check points and patriots were deployed. Sunday, six UN personnel were killed in Lebanon, and the IAF were out with low flybys over my caravan in the early morning bouncing me out of bed.
Donald Sensing (Hat Tip: Pajamas Media) cites a report from World Tribune that has us going to war with as many as five enemies as soon as next month:
Israeli military intelligence has projected that a major attack could come from any of five adversaries in the Middle East. Officials said such a strike could spark a war as early as July 2007.

On Sunday, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Cabinet that the Jewish state faces five adversaries in what could result in an imminent confrontation. Yadlin cited Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and Al Qaida.


Yadlin said Hamas could be planning a major attack to divert attention away from efforts by the Palestinian Authority to isolate the Gaza Strip. He said Syria might be promoting such an attack.

Officials said Iran has direct influence over Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. He said Al Qaida has increasingly come under Iranian influence and was being used by Iran and Syria in such countries as Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.

Already, military intelligence has assessed that Hamas acquired more than 50 missiles with a range of 22 kilometers. Officials said this would allow Palestinian missile strikes on any part of Ashkelon, the largest city in southeastern Israel and which contains strategic sites.

Hamas has also deployed at least 20 SA-7 anti-aircraft systems, officials said. They said the missiles threaten Israeli combat helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft that conduct missions over the Gaza Strip.


Israeli military intelligence has assessed that Hamas was being quietly supported by neighboring Egypt. Officials said that despite Egypt's announced ban, Cairo has continued to allow Hamas leaders to enter the Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip.

Over the weekend, officials said, a Hamas delegation led by former PA Interior Minister Said Siyyam entered Sinai. They said the 15-member delegation was escorted by Egyptian security forces to Cairo for a flight to Damascus, where they were scheduled to meet Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Masha'al.
Haaretz also reports on preparations in the north:
More than 100 people gathered on Tuesday in a hall at the Palm Beach Hotel in Acre and listened attentively to instructions on how to respond to calls into the emergency hotline center. Usually these training sessions turn into a kind of "fun day," which is used to let participants have a good time and to strengthen social ties between them. Not this time. The participants, Jews and Arabs who hold official positions in local authorities in the North, participated in discussions and listened to the lectures attentively.

A year after the Second Lebanon War, they are not analyzing the hostilities that were; they are planning for the next war. The training day, one of an ongoing series of 15, was initiated by the Hosen Center for Trauma Intervention. The meetings are aimed at improving the functioning of municipal employees who are in direct contact with the population during times of emergency and in trauma situations. In short, they're taught how to cope when hundreds of panicked phone calls are coming in all at once - what to say and how to sound confident, even if you haven't the faintest idea what to do.

"The last war caught us with our pants down," says Carmiel Deputy Mayor Rina Greenberg, whose municipality in fact did function well during the war. Madi Abu Jaban, the executive officer of a long-term plan that Hosen is operating in Maghar, says cynically that "just as the weaponry is getting more sophisticated and is killing better, we too have to get more sophisticated." These two statements sum up dozens of conversations with residents of the North. Each of them in his own style and his own words, all of them are united in the opinion that another war is inevitable, with the only question being when it will break out.
Meanwhile, the Olmert-Barak-Livni government continues to fiddle and pretend that there can be 'peace' while hoping war will come in time to mute the effects of the final Winograd report.

IDF may stop hunting down terrorists

Insanity, said Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing and expecting different results. The Israeli leadership is insane. It is about to try the same thing it tried between 1999 and - with the exception of a few targeted assassinations starting in late 2000 - 2002. It's going to stop hunting down terrorists who have signed a piece of paper saying they'll behave themselves.
Many innocent Israelis will likely be killed or wounded, God forbid, as a result: Israel and the Palestinian Authority are discussing implementing a clause from a 2005 understanding whereby Israel would stop pursuing wanted terror suspects in the West Bank if they forswear terrorism, government officials said Thursday.

The officials' comments came as Israel went after Fatah terror suspects in Nablus.

Even though Israel was making gestures to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, it would continue to pursue those actively involved in terrorism, regardless of their organizational affiliation, the officials said.

The idea of forgoing the pursuit of wanted men if they renounce terrorism was part of the Sharm e-Sheikh understandings that were reached between Abbas and then-prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2005. It was agreed then to discuss the issue, but nothing was ever implemented.
But it was implemented during the heyday of Oslo when there were 'joint patrols' between IDF soldiers and 'Palestinian police' until one day in September 2000 when a 'Palestinian policeman' took out his gun and murdered his Israeli partner.

I can't wait until Sunday when we find out which 250 murderers are going to be released by the Olmert-Barak-Livni government. As usual, we will be told that they don't have 'blood on their hands' and then we'll have 48 hours to find out that they all do. Maybe they'll make them sign statements renouncing terrorism too - that's what the Rabin-Peres government did in the mid-90's.

Deja vu all over again.

Advice for Tony Blair: Tell the truth! Blair calls Hamas

As I'm sure you all know already, shortly after he resigned as Prime Minister of England on Wednesday, Tony Blair was appointed the 'quartet's Middle East peace envoy. The Washington Post posed the following question for discussion in light of Blair's appointment:
What's the first thing Tony Blair should do if he wants to make progress as the Quartet's Mideast peace envoy? ("Quit" is not an acceptable answer.)
And the Jerusalem Post's Saul Singer gave a spot-on answer: Tell the truth.

For decades, the process has been implicitly built on a simple syllogism: peace requires a Palestinian state, Israel objects to such a state, therefore lean on Israel. Many things have changed since this formulation was devised, but the underlying strategy hasn't.

Israel set a Palestinian state in motion at Oslo (1993), offered one to Yasser Arafat at Camp David (2000), and unilaterally created one in Gaza (2005). Yet the more Israel embraced Palestinian statehood, including even the right-wing icon Ariel Sharon, the more violent and radicalized the Palestinians have become.

In a major address during last summer's war in Lebanon, Blair hit on the real obstacle to peace. He said that Hezbollah was not fighting "for the coming into being of a Palestinian state, but for the going out of being of an Israeli state."

The struggle for peace is no longer between Israelis and Palestinians. It is between the jihadi axis (Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Syria and Iran) that wants to block a Palestinian state at all costs; and the West, moderate Arabs and Israel, who want to resolve the Palestinian problem and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Palestinians are much too weak and radicalized to shift themselves over to the peace camp. What they need is a serious push by "moderate" Arab states. These states, such as Saudi Arabia, claim they are for peace, but continue to demonize Israel at the UN, foment anti-Semitism, and boycott Israel instead leading the way with normalization and direct talks.

If Saudi King Abdullah, let alone Syrian President Assad, really wants peace with Israel, why is it unthinkable for them to meet with an Israeli leader, either in Jerusalem or in their own capitals? Why don't they start settling Palestinian refugees instead of staying silent while even Mahmoud Abbas promises they will "return" to Israel,¬ which is code for Israel's destruction?

Update 11:44 PM (Boston time)

DEBKA is reporting that unfortunately, Tony Blair is taking a very different route than what Saul Singer suggests: He is renewing contacts with Hamas.
Shortly after the former British prime minister stepped into his new job, he assured Russia and the Europeans that he did not mean to adhere to the US-Israeli boycott of Hamas. One of his first tasks would be to establish ties with Hamas representatives in Gaza and Damascus.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that the British politician conveyed this intention in a telephone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin Tuesday, June 26. This assurance persuaded Moscow to drop its resistance to naming him envoy. Those sources affirm that Blair’s sudden turnaround contradicts the understandings he reached with US president George W. Bush and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on his leave-taking visit earlier this month.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is also looking askance at the new Blair strategy. Thursday, June 28, she commented: “Tony Blair’s mandate as new Middle East envoy would be limited and he would report to the international Quartet, not the other way round.”
'Peace' in our time. Feh!

PLO approves plan for retaking Gaza by force but Mubarak objects

The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas (link to Arabic homepage only) reported on Thursday that the PLO has approved a plan to retake the Gaza Strip from Hamas by force. Sources in Cairo told the newspaper that 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen's request to allow the 'Palestinian' Badr Brigade from Jordan to be deployed in Judea and Samaria is part of the 'takeover plan' for Gaza (link in Hebrew).

But according to the report, during the Sharm summit, Egypt refused to approve the plan because it would lead to 'bloodshed.' Nevertheless, the London Arabic newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi (home page only - link in Arabic) reported Thursday morning that preparations are being finalized in case Israel allows the entrance of the Badr Brigade into Judea and Samaria. A 'Palestinian' source in Amman told the newspaper that the Brigade is ready, but that Israel is withholding its approval until it has a chance to review the names of the soldiers and officers who will be included in the Brigade. Once that is complete, there will be a coordinating committee that was agreed upon at Sharm, with representatives of Israel, Jordan and the 'Palestinians' that will supervise the Badr Brigade's deployment.

According to al-Qabas, Israel's approval of the use of armored vehicles by Abu Mazen's forces is meant to be indirect support by Israel for the plan, which has been approved by the United States and by several Arab countries. That approval and the plan behind it are the reason why Abu Mazen continues to insist that he will not negotiate with Hamas despite increasing pressure on him to negotiate from Fatah's old guard.

Al-Qabas reports that Mubarak objects to the plan out of fear that it will lead to 'bloodshed' and because he believes that it means the end of the 'concept of a 'Palestinian' state reichlet. What is left unsaid is that if the concept of a 'Palestinian' reichlet comes to an end, the Arab states will have to admit that there will be no return of 'refugees' to 'Palestine' and then the Arab countries - including Egypt which took in 4000 more 'Palestinians' from Gaza last week - might actually have to give them citizenship and permanent homes. Instead, Cairo is trying to stop Hamas in its tracks and force it to admit to its 'mistakes' while Egyptian intelligence minister Omar Suleiman is holding talks with 'moderate' 'Palestinian' Hamas former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to try to convince Hamas to return the papers that it found in the former Fatah 'security headquarters' (presumably - although the article doesn't mention them - the videotapes I reported on last night), to vacate the premises of the former Fatah 'security headquarters' and to return to the status quo ante.

It is probably obvious to most of you that if the Olmert-Barak-Livni government has approved the use of the Badr Brigade to retake Gaza by force from Hamas, it necessarily means that the Brigade will have to cross Israel to get to Gaza from Judea and Samaria. Hamas could well deem that to be an act of war by Israel. From Israel's standpoint, the better approach would be to transport them through Jordan and across the Sinai and let them enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing. In any event, because of the logistics, the Badr Brigade will not have the element of surprise on its side. And Hamas will be there waiting.

UNRWA to blame for violence in Gaza?

Writing in the Financial Times of London, Gunnar Heinsohn argues that what's behind the violence in Gaza is the explosive 'Palestinian' population growth, which is taking place in a parasitic society.

Hat Tip: Nathan in Teaneck, New Jersey

For those of you who don't have memberships at FT of London (which are not free), you can find the full article here.
Who is to blame for all this violence and conflict? There are many answers to that, but it is interesting to note that Ahmed Youssef, a top Hamas man and political adviser to Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, does not blame Gaza's troubles on either "the Jews" or the lack of religious faith among his secular opponents in Fatah. In May 2007 he told Cairo's Al Ahram newspaper that the main problem was the inability of both Fatah and
Hamas "to control their men in the streets".

But why has violence exploded out of control in a culture where obedience is an uncontested virtue? The answer lies in a different kind of explosion. Gaza has been overwhelmed by a demographic boom that shows no sign of abating. Between 1950 and 2007, its population has jumped from 240,000 to nearly 1.5m. How was such rapid growth possible in a small territory that has no economy to speak of?

This extraordinary achievement was accomplished by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. UNRWA - in accordance with international law - treats every resident of Gaza as a refugee. It provides housing, schooling and medication for every newborn - whether a first child or a 10th sibling.

As a result of UNRWA's policies and programmes, a Jewish majority in Israel and the territories has been turned into a minority. In the over-60 age bracket, Jews enjoy a three to one lead in population. But they lose ground in the younger generations that will wage the wars of the coming decades. In 2005 there were 640,000 Jewish boys under 15, against 1.1m in the Arab sector. Many young Jews are their families' only sons, who concentrate on future vocations. However, more than two-thirds of the Arab boys are second, third and even fourth brothers. Neither their fathers nor UNRWA will leave them any property or prepare them for a decent place in life.

Mr Haniya, for example, was born in 1962 and brought up by western aid money. He is the father of 13 children. In Mr Haniya's age bracket of 45 to 59 years, Gaza, in 2007, has 46,000 men. In the age bracket 0 to 14 years, there are 343,000 boys. In the US, every 1,000 men in the age bracket 45 to 49 are followed by only 945 boys in the age bracket 0 to 4. For Israeli Jews, the ratio is about 1,000 to 1,500. In Gaza, however, every 1,000 men from 45 to 49 are followed by nearly 6,200 boys from 0 to 4.


Over the next 15 years many more angry young males will roam the streets of Palestine, because of a birth defect of the Arafat-Rabin peace process. A western promise to support all children already born but to cut from international welfare Palestinian children born after 1992, and, simultaneously, to stop new Israeli settlements, should have been the first step of the Oslo process. As in Algeria or Tunisia, where total fertility fell from 7 to below 2 and where terror has ceased, Gaza, in 2007, would have seen nearly all of its boys turning 15 as only sons. They would have had little incentive to kill their own people or Israelis. Yet today Gaza's total fertility is still close to 6. This demographic armament will continue
to provide large numbers of young men who have no prospects for employment and no place in society, and whose only hope is to fight for one.
While I agree that UNRWA is a bad idea and I agree that they may share some of the blame for the population growth in Gaza, I think it's oversimplifying to say that if every father were having one or two sons rather than ten, the sons wouldn't be out in the streets fighting. First, I am part of a community where most of the men are engaged in religious study in return for very small stipends and have large families. Granted, most of the women in that community work outside the home and granted a lot (but not all) of those men could change their lifestyle and go out to work if they wanted to. But the bottom line is that there is very little violence - and without any of the viciousness - that exists among the 'Palestinians.' And clearly economic incentives to have (or not to have) children make very little difference in my community.

Second, even if 'Palestinians' were to wake up tomorrow morning and find out that their children would not be on the world's dole forever, it doesn't necessarily mean that they would give up the violence or have fewer children. The example given in the article is Algeria which had an Islamist revolution and a civil war. But there's a difference between a war against other Muslims and a war between Muslims and Jews. My gut feeling is that the 'Palestinians' will be much more willing to die to murder Jews than were the Algerian Salafists willing to die to murder other Muslims. And even if UNRWA were not there to support their children, that is no guarantee that the 'Palestinians' would not continue to reproduce like rabbits.

You have to add that the population numbers cited above for Gaza may not be accurate. We've been down that road before too.

All in all, color me skeptical.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

CNN correspondent returns to Gaza

CNN's Jerusalem correspondent Ben Wedeman returned to Gaza last week for the first time since January. His description of what it's like there is interesting:
The scene once we passed through the final gate was surreal.

Around a hundred people, mostly young men with a smattering of women and children, were huddled by the sides of the concrete corridor. There was a strong stench of sweat, urine, human excrement and rubbish. The people were mostly members of the defeated Fatah security services and their families, desperate to get out of Gaza.

When our cameraman Adil Bradlow raised his camera to capture the scene, many of the young men shouted for him not to film. Others covered their heads. But a few did speak with us, and let us film them, and told us Hamas was rounding up Fatah members and killing them.

The usual Palestinian security forces who manned the crossing had abandoned their posts. I was reminded of Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. All semblance of authority had vanished. Everything was for the taking.

Once we passed through the first checkpoint manned by Hamas gunmen, the atmosphere changed. There was order. And the deeper we went into Gaza City, I was struck by how calm the place was. There weren’t as many cars and people about as usual, but I could hear no gunfire, and some stores were open. [A video by Wedeman on CNN's web site today gives a far less pristine view, but that's not the point of this exercise. CiJ]


Not surprisingly, almost every regime in the Arab world is terrified by what happened in Gaza, and is scrambling to do whatever they can to shore up the bruised and battered leadership of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. They see themselves in Mahmoud Abbas, and know that the forces that bolster them could, if faced by a determined and well-armed Islamic opposition, crumble just as easily.
Read that last paragraph again. I want you all to understand that the reason that the Arab regimes have rallied around Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen has nothing to do with him being a 'moderate' or wanting 'peace' with Israel and everything to do with survival. They all fear the Islamists and they all fear that what happened to Abu Mazen and Fatah will happen to them.

So what's Olmert's excuse? (And please don't come back with clever answers like "he's afraid of the Haredim taking over Israel," because I've never seen or heard of a Haredi suicide bomber).

Selling illusions

Nadav Shragai nails both Olmert and Abu Mazen in today's Haaretz:
Only yesterday Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was still allowing the Palestinian Authority education systems to teach the children of Palestine to aspire to destroy the State of Israel. Only two days ago the chair of the PA preferred to make do with condemning acts of terror and murder, mainly because they do not further the "Palestinian cause," instead of fighting terror itself.

The "moderate partner," together with his colleagues in the PA leadership, is still a signatory to a treaty of understandings with Hamas, which states that "the right of the refugees to return to their homes and their property must be guaranteed."

The Cairo Declaration, which was signed together with Hamas, and which Abu Mazen has never abandoned, even states that the Palestinians have a right to use violence against Israel until that same right of return is realized. Not symbolic, as claimed by those who sell illusions, but practical: not to the Palestinian state in Gaza and in Nablus, but to Safed, Acre, Lod and Jaffa.

"It's all talk," the deceivers will say, but the rifles that Israel transferred in the past to the "good guys" spoke with fire and wounded and killed. Palestinian policemen, activists in Tanzim, members of the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and members of the presidential guard, Force 17, fought against Israel Defense Forces soldiers and carried out or helped carry out terror attacks.

The territories that were transferred to the control of the "moderates" have become incubators for terror, and some of the economic assistance has also found its way to terror organizations. The same will happen this time. It's only a matter of time. Anyone who tells other stories is deceiving not only his listeners but also himself.


Since the Oslo process, Israeli governments have been captives of the concept that others will do the work for them, that the "moderates" will fight the extremists with the weapons they receive. Time after time they have become addicted to this bittersweet illusion.

But Abu Mazen, like Arafat, will not fight against his brothers. At the end of the day he will prefer his brother to his enemy. Temporarily he may present a different facade to survive, but he'll get over it faster than people think.

Terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who committed murder while wearing a Fatah uniform, will not save us. After all, only a few months ago he wrote the compromise documents with the murderous Hamas, from prison.

Abu Mazen, complained Ehud Olmert only recently, deceived him three times. At the Sharm el-Sheikh summit this week Olmert allowed him to do it for the fourth time, but mainly Olmert deceived himself.
I dare you all to read the whole thing and then come back and tell me with a straight face that Abu Mazen and Fatah are 'moderate.'

Abu Mazen's 'disarmament'

'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen has been going around telling anyone who will listen that he is disarming terrorists, and that his 'armed wing' - the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - is going to be integrated into Fatah's 'security forces.' But on the ground, the story is very different:
Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' declared military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, today denied claims by Abbas he asked the terror group to turn in their weapons, stating officials instead have encouraged them to continue their "resistance" activities.

Abbas pledged during a summit with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Monday he would immediately dismantle all militias in the West Bank not connected to security forces of his Fatah party. Abbas deputies have been telling the international media the Al Aqsa Brigades agreed to turn in their weapons in exchange for guarantees that Israel not try to arrest or kill them.

"No one from Abbas' office ever asked us to disarm," Nasser Abu Aziz, the deputy commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern West Bank, told WND. "We will never disarm until all issues are settled, including a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Jerusalem and the right of return for all Palestinian refugees."

Abu Yousuf, a leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Ramallah, told WND Abbas' claims the Brigades will disarm "are more of a message meant for the Israelis, the Americans and the international community."

"No one (from Abbas' office) addressed a single member of the Brigades and asked us to turn in our weapons," he said.

Zacharias Zubeidi, leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, told WND the decree from Abbas' office for armed groups to be dismantled "has nothing to do with the Brigades. It's meant for Hamas. Abbas recognizes the Brigades as a legitimate source of resistance."

Together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years. The Brigades regularly carries out shooting attacks and has taken credit for firing hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip aimed at nearby Jewish population centers.


Sources in the Al Aqsa Brigades said officials from Abbas' office encouraged them in recent days to tell members of the international news media they are ready to hand in their weapons.

"But on the ground, not a single weapon has been turned in and it will remain this way," a Brigades source said.

Brigades sources said Fatah officials have invited some Brigades leaders to seek shelter in PA security buildings in the West Bank.
But give Abu Mazen a state reichlet and then he'll get them to turn in their weapons. Right Ehud?

Abu Mazen's advisor says Hamas fought 'Fatah collaborators'

Shots were fired at the house of a 'senior political advisor' to 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen, after he said in a television interview that those fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip were 'Fatah collaborators' and that the losing party in Gaza was US General Keith Dayton. The advisor, Hani al-Hassan, was dismissed from his post. He was apparently allowed to remain a member of Fatah's 'central committee.'
Al-Hassan's words severely discredit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders' claims that the Gaza takeover was a coup against Palestinian democracy.

By making such statements the presidential advisor supports Hamas' claims that the war was between a small group of Fatah men who served Israel and the United States.


Senior Fatah bodies demanded al-Hassan be dismissed from all his duties, but Abbas settled for firing him only from his post as senior political advisor.

Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Fatah parliamentary bloc stressed that al-Hassan's words did not represent even the most junior Fatah member, and only represented his own position.
But give them a state reichlet and they'll learn to debate civilly among themselves and with the Jews....

Israel finally puts the squeeze on Hamas

This morning, Israel rejected an offer from Hamas that would have reopened the Karni crossing, through which exports pass from Gaza, in return for a promise not to carry out terror attacks at Karni and an agreement to 'negotiate' over the suspension of Kassam fire. Israel would have been able to station whatever troops it wanted at the Karni crossing - presumably those of 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen would have been used. 'Humanitarian' aid continues to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom and Sufa crossings in any event.
According to a defense official, the offer was not practical and Israel did not intend to strengthen the Hamas government in the Strip.

The official said that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza and that goods were being transferred through the Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings on a daily basis.

Haniyeh's government, claimed the official, was not asking to alleviate the Palestinians' distress but rather bring prosperity and welfare to Gaza - possible only through reopening the Karni Crossing.
There are two keys here. One is that Hamas is in distress and apparently realizes that it cannot continue like this in the long term. The other is that Israel actually put the squeeze on for a change. But don't worry. Either they will reach an arrangement with Fatah or Olmert will let up on them eventually.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

I like this article a lot and I'm posting it even though it's a bit different from the standard fare for this blog. It was written by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, who was the Rabbi in Atlanta, Georgia for more than forty years before retiring to Israel, and whose daughter and son-in-law are close friends of Mrs. Carl and me.

Rabbi Feldman talks about how Israeli politicians have taken a very non-Jewish attitude by refusing to ever admit that they are wrong. While politicians in other countries are forced to apologize - and sometimes even to resign - when they mess up, Israeli politicians are able to keep going their merry ways even when their poor judgment costs people their lives and their homes. Under Jewish law, one who sins must confess his sins and repent by - among other things - undertaking never to commit the same sin again. In the spirit of Maimonides' Laws of Repentance, Rabbi Feldman has written confessions for three Israeli politicians who really need to repent: Shimon Peres, Ehud K. Olmert and Ehud Barak.
Peres: "I ask forgiveness for the sin of Oslo. I sincerely thought that a new Middle East was upon us, but I was completely in error. Oslo was a disaster for us. The Arabs never wanted peace, they want only to eliminate us by any means - even by declaring peaceful intentions. I was too blinded to see this and I pushed hard for the Oslo agreements. This led to misery and to bloodshed, and I sincerely regret it. I am ashamed of my deeds and will never again repeat them. Nor will I ever again ask for the trust of public office."

Olmert: "I ask forgiveness for the sins of Gaza and the sin of the Second Lebanon War. I agreed with Sharon that by forcing the Jewish citizens of Gaza out of their homes, Israel would win the sympathy of the world and would convince the Arabs of our peaceful intentions. I was wrong on all counts. We achieved no sympathy, we hurt almost 10,000 of our most idealistic Israelis, and we only convinced the Arabs that we were in retreat. I was too blinded to see all this, and it has led to bloodshed and misery for all of us. The current nightmare situation in Gaza - which has become a Hamas and al-Qaida stronghold that bombs Israel daily - is a direct result of my miscalculation. I am ashamed of what I did, and I will never again ask for the trust of public office.

"The same holds true for my sins in the Second Lebanon war. Winograd was right: I made terrible errors in judgment that cost us dearly. The same holds true for all the ethical questions swirling about my financial dealings. I regret all this and apologize as I return to private life."

Barak: "I ask forgiveness for evacuating our soldiers from Lebanon when I was PM. I thought this would convince the world and the Arabs of our peaceful intentions. I was wrong on all counts. The Arabs want only our destruction, and their several intifadas prove this. I also ask forgiveness for trying to give most of the Old City to Arafat during the Wye talks. All we got in return was more killings and more intifada. I regret all this, and as an act of repentance I pledge never again to ask for the trust of public office."
I can think of some more confessions that ought to be said. For example, by Israel's media. In the meantime, read it all.

Growing consensus even on the left: 'too late' for deal in Judea and Samaria

Thursday morning's Haaretz includes a surprising article by Aluf Benn, one of their more left wing writers (and to be considered among the 'more left wing' at Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily, one must really be a moonbat) that argues that there is a 'growing consensus' that cuts across Israeli society that a 'withdrawal' from Judea and Samaria is no longer possible:
There is a growing consensus in Israel that a withdrawal from the West Bank is no longer possible. It may be possible to hide the Palestinians behind a separation fence, but it is impossible to relinquish control over them.

Everyone shares this conclusion, in all the camps and across the political spectrum. Only the reasons differ. The ideologically motivated right considers the settlements a religious decree. Benjamin Netanyahu is talking about the "defensive wall" of the mountains of Judea and Samaria. Ehud Olmert, who promised to withdraw from the West Bank and evacuate most of the settlements, turned his back on the idea following the Second Lebanon War and the Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. They are no longer talking about a permanent settlement even in Meretz, only about a theoretical agreement which will grant Israel international legitimacy, out of recognition that Mahmoud Abbas will not be able to carry it out.

What is shared by these views, on the left and the right, is that they all perpetuate the existing situation of dozens of settlements, hundreds of roadblocks and thousands of soldiers who are deployed over the fence.

They used to say in Israel that "there is no one to talk to" on the other side. Now they say that there is no one to whom we can return the territories. No one said it better than president-elect and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres. "It is unclear when we will pull out entirely from the territories," Peres wrote in last weekend's Yedioth Aharonoth. "Even if we are ready to pull out, we have no one to hand them over to at this stage, because of the Palestinian inability to establish a single army, and a single state that will assert their control over the territories. In the meantime, Israel is unable to ignore its responsibility for the territories, whether it is a responsibility by choice or lack of choice."
Read the whole thing.

Norway negotiating terrorist exchange for Gilad Shalit

It's been about nineteen and a half hours since I reported that Norway had negotiated the release of the audiotape of Gilad Shalit with Hamas on behalf of his family. It's been nineteen and a half hours since I wrote:
Suppose that next month Beilin and Noam Shalit (whom I had figured as a leftist almost from Day One after his son was kidnapped) go to Oslo and come back with an agreement with Hamas: Israel will release 1400 terrorists and Hamas will release Gilad Shalit. Despite the fact that such an 'exchange' would endanger every Israeli citizen, the pressure on the weak Olmert-Barak-Livni government to accept such an agreement would be enormous. That is why private citizens (and Beilin - who is not in the government - is a private citizen in this regard) should not be interfering with the State's conduct of foreign policy by negotiating with its enemies about anything.
Guess what? Israel's Channel 2 television reported tonight that Norway is negotiating a 'prisoner exchange' between Hamas and Israel. But those of us who don't rely on Ma'an exclusively for our news know that the negotiations were undertaken at the initiative of the Shalit family and not of the Israeli government. And the price?
Yesterday, the Israeli daily Maarev stated that Hamas had demanded the release of 1400 Palestinian prisoners over 4 stages; in the first stage, Shalit would be handed over to the Egyptians, in return for the immediate release of 450 Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas' list was reported to have contained names of Palestinian prisoners who Israel describes as having "hands dripping with Israeli blood", such as Abdullah Barghouthi and Hasan Salama, who were accused of "bearing responsibility for the taking of 120 Israeli lives."
Great. Just great.

Sex, lies and videotape, 'Palestinian' style

The 'Palestinian' Maan news agency is reporting in the name of the Hebrew newspaper Maariv that Hamas terrorists discovered sexually explicit videotapes of high ranking Fatah terrorists when Fatah's headquarters in Gaza were captured.
Maariv reported that Hamas members discovered dozens of recorded sexual encounters of leading figures, which were being used by the security forces as blackmail. According to Maariv, Fatah ordered the videotapes to be destroyed so they did not fall into the hands of Hamas.

Hamas said the videotapes involve several Fatah ministers and prominent leaders. Maariv added that many of the tapes remain in the hands of Hamas.
But there weren't just Fatah terrorists in the tapes:
The paper added that some of the videotapes were recordings of Hamas leaders, one of whom was forced to collaborate with Fatah against Hamas. The tape showed him cheating on his wife.
I have two questions: How many tapes included Arafat and with whom/what?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Plan B sounds an awful lot like Plan A

When you read Daniel Levy's biography, the thrust of his attempt to salvage a 'peace process' is not at all surprising (Hat Tip: Project on Middle East Democracy via The Moderate Voice):
During the Barak Government, he worked in the Prime Minister's Office as special adviser and head of the Jerusalem Affairs unit under Minister Haim Ramon. He also worked as senior policy adviser to former Israeli Minister of Justice, Yossi Beilin. He was a member of the official Israeli delegation to the Taba negotiations with the Palestinians in January 2001, and previously served on the negotiating team to the “Oslo B” Agreement from May to September 1995, under Prime Minister Rabin. In 2003, he worked as an analyst for the International Crisis Group Middle East Program. Daniel was the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative and prior to joining The Century Foundation and New America Foundation was directing policy planning and international relations at the Geneva Campaign Headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Levy is stuck in the time warp of Oslo and his plan is Oslo with a few more bells and whistles. "Plan B," as he calls it, is nothing more than a cosmetic embellishment of "Plan A."

For example, Levy assumes that there will be a "Mecca II" agreement between Hamas and Fatah and that it will look remarkably like that 'successful' power sharing agreement called "Mecca I." Levy hopes that the Saudis will be involved (at this point, they are so disgusted they may not want to be), but doesn't mention a single other Arab country that might take an interest. Not even Egypt. Levy ignores the fact that the Saudis practically had to force Hamas and Fatah to enter into Mecca I and he 'forgets' that the agreement was overwhelmingly in Hamas' favor and that still wasn't enough to satisfy Hamas. So why does Levy assume there will be a Mecca II? Because there's 'no choice.' I know where I have heard that argument before....

Levy assumes that Fatah and Hamas will reign in their respective 'militants' and either incorporate them into their regular 'forces' or disarm them. On what basis? Neither party - especially Fatah - has shown any ability or willingness to reign in their 'armed wings.' So why should they start now? Because the Israeli left believes that there is 'no choice but peace'? That's what got us into the whole mess in the first place.

Levy calls for an 'effective cease fire agreement' that will include both the 'West Bank' and Gaza, with Israel standing aside and not targeting terrorists. But every time Israel has done this, we know what the results have been. Shimon Peres didn't lose the election in 1996 because Bibi was 'good for the Jews' (as the campaign claimed in the last few days) but because Peres was victimized by a rash of suicide bombings just a few months after Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated. Netanyahu stood tough against the 'Palestinians' and terror attacks dropped drastically during his 1996-99 term. As soon as Ehud Barak took office and loosened the reigns, the terror started again and it continued until Operation Defensive Shield in March 2002. Let's see the 'Palestinians' disarm their terrorists and behave themselves, and then we can discuss a cease fire.

Levy assumes that Gaza and the 'West Bank' will be 'reintegrated.' Has anyone asked the 'Palestinians' whether that's what they want? Six months or a year from now, it could well be the case that all those who are not in Hamas' camp will leave the Gaza Strip and that all those who are in Hamas' camp in Judea and Samaria will move to Gaza (the former is a lot more likely than the latter). Can we then drop the pretense that the 'Palestinian people' exist as a separate ethnic identity?

I could go through this article and fisk it line by line, but the goal of this exercise is to produce a blog post and not a journal article. So I will limit this to one more item. Here's the best part. If there's no deal reached (which is likely) here's what Levy proposes:
In the absence of an ability to reach such an agreement, the process should not be defined as an all or nothing effort that has collapsed (learning from Camp David 2000). Rather, two fallback efforts would be simultaneously deployed: (i) the Quartet [Bill Clinton II. CiJ] should put forward its own detailed parameters for permanent status and perhaps have them endorsed in a UN Security Council Resolution, and (ii) Israel would undertake an immediate agreed withdrawal from the West Bank towards permanent borders with agreed international forces taking the place of the IDF ['Unilateral withdrawal' II. CiJ].
Oy! As Yogi Berra would say "It's deja vu all over again!"

New British PM Gordon Brown 'good for the Jews'

Queen Elizabeth II invited the Labor party's Gordon Brown to form a new government today and Brown took over Tony Blair's position as Prime Minister of England. If this interview with Labor MP Ivan Lewis of Manchester in last Friday's London Jewish Chronicle is correct, Brown should be good for the Jews.

Hat Tip: NY Nana
In Tony Blair, the community couldn’t have had a better friend in the good and bad times. But Gordon Brown’s friendship was developed not in the context of a political project but in the DNA of his upbringing. His father was a Church of Scotland minister who studied Hebrew and developed a profound affection and respect for Israel through regular visits.

His empathy with the Jewish cause encouraged Gordon, as a young 12-year-old, to write an article in the parish magazine entitled “Persecution”, later described by Brown’s biographer, Paul Routledge, as a “paean of praise for the Jewish people”. Our future Prime Minister highlighted the positive contribution of so many Jews throughout the world and described persecution as the “pernicious eclipse under which the Jewish people have always existed”.

Forty-three years later, in his recent speech to the Board of Deputies, Brown said: “I commit that never again will the Jewish community have to fight antisemitism alone, the Jewish community do not cause antisemitism and it must not fall on them to have to defeat it.” Even the cynics have to acknowledge that this is an authentic commitment.

In government, his empathy has been matched by action — condemning without qualification terrorist acts against Israel and boycotts of Israel. The Chancellor’s grant to the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), which will fund at least two sixth-formers from every school in the country to visit Auschwitz, is unprecedented.

In the run-up to the leadership campaign, Mr Brown has addressed meetings and events organised by HET, Labour Friends of Israel and the Board of Deputies. In a period of rising antisemitism and extreme hostility towards Israel, some political leaders may have distanced themselves from a community which feels insecure. He demonstrated an integrity and empathy in contrast to the shallow opportunism of Messrs Hague and Cameron.

So what of the future? Our new Prime Minister believes that a two-state solution is both just and inevitable. However, there will be no grand plans which promise hope and deliver little change. He has made it clear that improved living conditions and jobs are key to marginalising the extremists. Economic development is the “roadmap” to a peace which is sustainable and real.
Let's hope that Mr. Brown will remain a true friend of Israel throughout his tenure.

Rethinking Giuliani

Like many American Jews who live in Israel, I have been leaning towards voting for former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the 2008 Presidential election. This morning, I have cause for concern.
Rudolph W. Giuliani addressed Israeli-Palestinian discord on Tuesday, saying it was pointless for the United States to negotiate with Hamas, the Islamic group that has seized control of the Gaza Strip, and that Washington should work with Egypt and Jordan to bolster Fatah and its control over the West Bank.

As he advocated active American engagement, Mr. Giuliani urged caution and broadly criticized the Clinton administration’s approach in the 1990s, trying to broker peace with Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

“Let’s not become like starry romantics like we were with Arafat, where he was leading us down the primrose path and we were helping him get the Nobel Peace Prize,” Mr. Giuliani said in a speech here at Regent University, which Pat Robertson, the evangelist, founded.

Setting out a position that largely tracked Bush administration policy and the positions of Egypt, Israel and Jordan, Mr. Giuliani suggested that the best course was to bolster Fatah, which Mr. Arafat controlled until he died and is now run by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president

“Let’s see if we can’t get Jordan and Egypt to help us try and create something with Abbas in the West Bank,” Mr. Giuliani said.
And from that speech in a synagogue in Rockville, Maryland:
As for dealing with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he said that America should heed Reagan's admonition to trust, but verify. "We should try with a sense of steely realism and not such a great desire for peace that we'll agree to anything," he said. That was the mistake the Clinton administration made when it negotiated with Yasser Arafat, Giuliani said, drawing applause when he reminded the audience of when he booted Arafat from Lincoln Center in 1995.
Could someone please tell Rudy that the Holocaust denying Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen is not a 'moderate' and that neither is his 'Fatah' organization. The only difference between Fatah and Hamas is that Hamas wants to destroy Israel now while Fatah wants to do it slowly in phases. There's really nothing to discuss. Israel can do nothing but make 'concessions' in exchange for nothing.

'Palestine' is dead; Who killed it?

Great article by Bret Stephens yesterday in the Wall Street Journal passing around the abundant blame for having killed 'Palestine':
Hamas's seizure of the Gaza Strip this month--and the consequent division of the PA into two hostile, geographically distinct camps--is only the latest in a chain of events set in motion when Israel agreed, in September 1993, to accept Arafat and the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. An early indicator of what lay ahead took place on July 1, 1994, when Arafat made his triumphal entry into Gaza while carrying, in the trunk of his Mercedes, four of the Palestinian cause's most violent partisans. Among them were the organizers of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and the 1974 Ma'alot school massacre. If ever there was an apt metaphor for what Arafat's rule would bring, this was it.

Arafat was determined to use Gaza and the West Bank as a staging ground for attacks against Israel, and he said so publicly and repeatedly: "O Haifa, O Jerusalem, you are returning, you are returning" (1995); "We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion" (1996); "With blood and spirit we will redeem you, Palestine" (1997). With equal determination, the Clinton administration and the Israeli governments of Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak treated Arafat's remarks as only so much rhetorical bluster. Mr. Clinton desperately wanted a Nobel Peace Prize; Israelis wanted out of the occupation business at almost any cost. These were respectable goals, but neither had as its primary aim the creation of a respectable Palestinian state.

Later, after the second intifada had erupted in all its suicidal frenzy, former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross would admit the Clinton administration became too obsessed with process at the expense of substance. He should give himself more credit. The decision to legitimize Arafat was Israel's, not America's; once he was brought inside the proverbial tent he was bound to put a match to it. Still, the Clinton administration elevated Arafat like no other leader of the 1990s. If the rais came to flatter himself as a second Saladin, the flattery of White House banquets surely played a role.

The global media also did their bit in Arafat's elevation. Successive generations of Jerusalem bureau chiefs developed a conveniently even-handed narrative pitting moderates on both sides against extremists on both sides--a narrative in which Arafat was a "moderate" and Ariel Sharon was an "extremist." When Mr. Sharon took his famous walk on the Temple Mount in September 2000, it was easy to cast him as the villain and Palestinian rioters--and, later, suicide bombers--as the justifiably aggrieved. Cheering Palestinians on from the sidelines were the Arab media and the governments that own them, happy to channel domestic discontent toward a foreign drama.
Read it all.

The end of the welfare state?

There was a fascinating article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about some of the social changes going on in Israel. Unfortunately, the article was in the part of the Journal that is not accessible without membership, but you can find a copy of it here.

(Hat Tip: Nathan in Teaneck, New Jersey)

I have a number of observations about the article.

First, on the whole I believe that capitalism is a good thing for Israel. The problem with the socialist welfare state is that - as in George Orwell's Animal Farm, some people were always more equal than others. To a great extent that kind of inequality still persists in Israel. But it's a remnant of the welfare state and not caused by capitalism.

We have one of - if not the largest - gap between rich and poor in the Western world. That's not a byproduct of capitalism. It's the result of a confiscatory tax system that punishes you for working harder and rewards those who start out with a lot of money in the first place. For example, the graduated income tax system hits a marginal tax rate of 47% at NIS 11,000 per month (NIS 4.26 = $1 as of yesterday), but capital gains in the stock market are tax free. Value added tax adds 15.5% (it's been as high as 18% in the sixteen years I have been in Israel) on to every good or service you buy and turns every one who runs their own business (including both yours truly and Mrs. Carl) into a tax collector. The lack of a universal income tax return filing requirement means that people can (and do) cheat the taxman. (We used to think this happened only among 'our crowd' until eldest daughter went off to university and came home and told us that we were the only ones among her university friends' parents who were not cheating on taxes). The result is that the economy is controlled by a small number of families. And Israel's Tax Freedom Day in 2006 was July 26. Only Sweeden's was later. (In the US Tax Freedom Day was April 30).

One of the things the article discusses is the health care system. The health care system was doing beautifully until 1995 when the Histadrut - General Federation of Labor's Kupat Cholim Klalit was on the verge of collapse. So the government introduced 'universal health care' for which we are taxed and required the sick funds to provide a minimum 'basket' of services. The result is that all of the health funds are basket cases, we now pay more in taxes than we paid for health insurance premiums, we get less in return, and those who can afford it (and many who cannot) carry expensive private insurance so that if God forbid they need it, they have it.

It's funny listening to the moshavnikim complaining about the suburbanites who have moved onto 'their' moshavim. The land was given to them by the Israel Lands Authority (read - by the taxpayers), they sold it at a huge profit and now they are complaining that the people who bought the land aren't idealistic enough? Sounds like killing your parents and then throwing yourself to the court's mercy on the grounds that you're an orphan. No one forced them to sell that land - except that the government refused to continue financing their excessive spending.

The army is becoming more and more religious - even if the statistics cited are exaggerated the trend is definitely there especially in the officers' corps and in the combat units. And Tel Aviv, which is most definitely InMyBackYard, has become full of draft avoiders. I posted about that same statistic last summer.

The blogger at whose site I read the article, Am Echad, is convinced this is good for aliya (immigration of Jews to Israel) because people will see that they can live the American (financial) dream in Israel. I disagree. I don't think it's a bad thing if the Israeli economy becomes more capitalist. But I don't think people should come on aliya expecting to fulfill the American (financial) dream. If that's why you're coming, it's much easier to do that in America.

Previously at Israel Matzav:

Studies in Despair

IDF v. The National Religious Community

Israel treats 'Palestinian' terrorists in its hospitals

Israel treats 'Palestinian' terrorists in its hospitals.

And this is what we get in return.

Arabs giving up on 'Palestinians'

Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former New York Times Middle East Correspondent and Wall Street Journal Energy Editor for 25 years, now a freelance writer based in New York City and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and a contributing editor of the New York Sun, suggests that Israel and the US are foolish to keep on giving money to the 'Palestinians' - which will go for guns rather than butter anyway. He suggests letting the 'Palestinians' run their bloody course. And for anyone worried that 'our friends the Saudis' will be angry if the US does just that, don't be. The Saudis and the rest of the Arab world may finally be fed up with the 'Palestinians.'

Hat Tip: Littleoldlady
"Palestinians today need to be left without a shred of a doubt" as to what other Arabs think of them, a widely read opinion commentator for the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat, Mamoun Fandy, thundered on Monday. "We need to tell them the only thing they have proven over 50 years is that they are adolescents who cannot and should not be trusted to run institutions of state or any other important matters."

While it could be argued that the overwhelming public outrage in Saudi Arabia reflects resentment over the collapse of the much-vaunted reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah — which was personally brokered by King Abdullah earlier this year in Mecca — the anger expressed across the Muslim Arab world reflects deep embarrassment at the discredit Hamas has brought, in the name of Islam, through its savagery against Fatah.

For its part, the Egyptian press has become unhinged, spewing vile denunciations of what is universally known as "the cause" — support for the Palestinian Arabs — and describing it as dead. Egypt's government pulled its embassy out of Gaza on Tuesday.

Kuwaitis, who have harbored contempt for Palestinian Arabs ever since they allied themselves with Saddam Hussein's occupation in 1990-91, also dropped all restraint. "Palestinians are neither a modernized nor a civilized people," Ahmad Al Bughdadi wrote Monday in Al Siyassah, an influential Kuwaiti daily. "They are not statesmen. If what happened in Gaza is what they do without a state, what then shall they do when they get one?"

If there could be an editorial coup de grace, it surely was delivered by no less than Abdelbari Atwan, undoubtedly the Palestinian Arabs most influential and respected journalist and a familiar face on both Western and Arab television.

Writing in the London-based Al Quds International, his painfully felt commentary, "Yes, We Have Lost the World's Respect," argued that "the cause" may have lost its legitimacy: "Many, myself among them, find it difficult to speak of Israeli crimes against our people in view of what we have now done," Mr. Atwan wrote. "I never thought the day would come when we would see Palestinians throwing other Palestinians from the tops of buildings to their death, Palestinians attacking other Palestinians to tear their bodies with knives, Palestinians stripping others naked to drag them through the streets."

All of which suggests letting this Arab storm run its course: It may be a purging of the Arab mindset that creates new realities and opportunities.
Sounds to me like this is a time for the US and Israel to lay low as much as possible. Unless, of course, Israel is attacked.

Read the whole thing.

It's not funny - it's child abuse

Moonbat TV host Rosie O'Donnell posted a picture on her website yesterday of her daughter dressed up as a Hamas suicide bomber. The child, who looks about six or seven looks totally bewildered in the picture.

Roger L. Simon takes her to task for the stunt:
I used to think Rosie O'Donnell was just a deadly boring loudmouth. Now... with this picture of her child.... I think should be put away. Any television network who puts the mother of a child posed like this on the air should have its collective head examined.
I'll go a step further. I think she should be charged with child abuse. It's not that much different than what was done to these children on 'Palestinian' television.

Gaza Strip heating up; 11 'Palestinians' killed

The Gaza Strip is heating up with eleven 'Palestinians' killed and forty wounded in clashes this morning with the IDF. One of those killed was one Ra'ad Fanuna, a high-ranking Islamic Jihad terrorist, who got his 72 virgins by means of a missile shot at his car in Gaza City. He was implicated in manufacturing and shooting Kassam rockets at the Negev. The IDF has not confirmed the airstrike, but the picture above purports to be 'Palestinians' who are 'inspecting' his car (indoors? no kids?). The 'Palestinians' are also claiming that one child human shield was killed. The IDF denies the claim:
The IDF reported that during operations near Karni crossing Wednesday, IAF aircraft fired at a group of armed Palestinian operatives who were headed towards IDF troops. According to reports some of the gunmen were killed.

Earlier, troops from the Givati infantry brigade, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, swept into the southern Gaza Strip under cover from attack helicopters and took up positions on the outskirts of Khan Yunis.

As the troops entered the Palestinian territory, they encountered fierce resistance and came under gunfire and anti-tank fire. No soldiers were wounded in the clashes. The IDF said that it shot and killed at least two armed Palestinians in Khan Yunis.

In related news, Hamas radio reported that Israel had carried out an airstrike on a vehicle in Gaza City. According to the report, Ra'ad Fanuna, a high-ranking Islamic Jihad operative implicated in manufacturing Kassam rockets and firing them at the western Negev, was killed in the blast. The IDF would not confirm having carried out an airstrike in Gaza City.

Palestinians also reported four people killed, one of them a child, by a tank shell in the Gaza City neighborhood of Sajaya. The IDF denied the report.

The army would confirm, however, that it had killed one Palestinian gunman in operations near the Karni crossing, adding that the objective of the operations was to uncover terror infrastructure and tunnels being dug into Israel.
Does this mean we can finally clean the terrorists out of Gaza? Haaretz adds:
Eight Palestinians were killed, at least six of them militants, in an IDF raid east of Gaza City, including senior Islamic Jihad militant Raed Fanuna.

Two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in the operation when their tank was hit by an anti-tank rocket.

The additional militants killed in the raid were identified as 29-year-old Sami Manasra and Yussuf Manasra of Islamic Jihad, 27-year-old Nafez Hilas and 18-year-old Ahmed Hilas of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and 25-year-old Anan Al-Ararir of Hamas.

According to Palestinian sources, Hazem Jundiya, 25, and Wadib Jundiya, 9, were also killed in the fighting.

The army said, however, that all those killed were armed militants.

In a separate raid near the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, troops killed Diya Abu Daka of Islamic Jihad and Hussam Abu Ataima of Hamas.

In addition, 25-year-old Hamas militant Mahmoud A-Sha'ar was killed and several others wounded in an explosion in the area. It is unclear, however, whether the explosion was the result of IDF fire, or was a "work accident" caused by militants mishandling explosives.
YNet adds:
An Islamic Jihad member said Fanuneh was a senior commander in the group’s rocket unit and was arrested in the past by the IDF and the Palestinian Authority.

“This is a major blow for us,” he said. Israeli military officials denied that the gunman was killed from the air.

The al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, said it would launch a terror attack in Israel in retaliation.
Faster, faster!

Shalit family used Norway to intervene with Hamas

According to the New York Times, the family of kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit used the government of Norway to liaise with Hamas and produce Monday's audio tape.

Hat Tip: Noblesse Oblige via NY Nana
In mid-June, Mr. Shalit traveled to Norway with Yossi Beilin, the head of the leftist Meretz Party in Israel, and met with Jonas Gahr Store, the Norwegian foreign minister, a spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry confirmed. A few days later, Sven Sevje, the Norwegian special envoy to the Middle East, met with the Hamas political chief, Khaled Meshal, in Damascus, Syria, on behalf of the Shalit family.

In the meeting with Mr. Meshal, the Norwegian envoy requested that either a Norwegian official or a representative of the Red Cross be allowed to visit Corporal Shalit in Gaza.

The request was denied, but Mr. Meshal said the Israeli soldier was in good health and promised to help produce a sign of life.


On Tuesday, a Hamas official in Gaza, Osama al-Mezeini, told Islamic Jihad Radio that Corporal Shalit had not yet completely recovered from injuries he sustained during his capture, and that he needed better medical care. Mr. Mezeini said the soldier was being held in isolation in a location that did not provide adequate sanitary conditions for a wounded man.

Those statements contradict what Mr. Meshal told the Norwegian envoy, and could be a sign that the captors are trying to exert pressure as a catalyst for negotiations.

Israel, the United States and the European Union consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization, and refuse any dealings with it. But Norway, which is not a European Union member, maintains contact with Hamas and Israel.
I have a real problem with this kind of interference in the government's foreign policy prerogative. It harks back to a previous set of negotiations in Oslo, in which Beilin (whom Yitzchak Rabin famously referred to as "Peres' poodle) participated - the illegal negotiations with the PLO that produced the Oslo 'declaration of principles' in 1993. In the United States, the Logan Act, a criminal statute prohibits private citizens from engaging in "correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States." Israel doesn't have a Logan Act, but it should.

Suppose that next month Beilin and Noam Shalit (whom I had figured as a leftist almost from Day One after his son was kidnapped) go to Oslo and come back with an agreement with Hamas: Israel will release 1400 terrorists and Hamas will release Gilad Shalit. Despite the fact that such an 'exchange' would endanger every Israeli citizen, the pressure on the weak Olmert-Barak-Livni government to accept such an agreement would be enormous. That is why private citizens (and Beilin - who is not in the government - is a private citizen in this regard) should not be interfering with the State's conduct of foreign policy by negotiating with its enemies about anything.

I know that someone is going to say, "but all Beilin and Noam Shalit did was to ask the Norwegians to bring back a sign of life." There are three responses to this. First, the same thing could have been accomplished through the Red Cross, which is a proper channel. The Israeli government could have approached the Norwegian government, which would have been a proper channel. And Beilin comes to this incident with unclean hands because he has a history of undermining governments in this exact manner.

Bolton: Bush 'doesn't see' that sanctions won't stop Iran

Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he is 'very worried' about Israel because of the Bush administration's approach to Iran.
Sanctions and diplomacy have failed and it may be too late for internal opposition to oust the Islamist regime, leaving only military intervention to stop Iran's drive to nuclear weapons, the US's former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Worse still, according to Ambassador Bolton, the Bush administration does not recognize the urgency of the hour and that the options are now limited to only the possibility of regime change from within or a last-resort military intervention, and it is still clinging to the dangerous and misguided belief that sanctions can be effective.

As a consequence, Bolton said he was "very worried" about the well-being of Israel. If he were in Israel's predicament, he said, "I'd be pushing the US very hard. I am pushing the US [administration] very hard, from the outside, in Washington."


"The current approach of the Europeans and the Americans is not just doomed to failure, but dangerous," he said. "Dealing with [the Iranians] just gives them what they want, which is more time...

"We have fiddled away four years, in which Europe tried to persuade Iran to give up voluntarily," he complained. "Iran in those four years mastered uranium conversion from solid to gas and now enrichment to weapons grade... We lost four years to feckless European diplomacy and our options are very limited."

Bolton said flatly that "diplomacy and sanctions have failed... [So] we have to look at: 1, overthrowing the regime and getting in a new one that won't pursue nuclear weapons; 2, a last-resort use of force."

However, he added a caution as to the viability of the first of those remaining options: While "the regime is more susceptible to overthrow from within than people think," he said, such a process "may take more time than we have."

Overall, said Bolton, it was clear that Iran had surmounted "all the technical problems of uranium enrichment," and it "may well be that we have passed the point of Iran mastering the nuclear fuel cycle." If so, it was now merely a matter of time before Iran reached a bomb-making capability - "a matter of resources and available equipment," he said - and it was solely up to Iran to set the pace.

To his dismay, however, the Bush administration was still clinging to the empty notion that the sanctions route could work, "even though [the UN's sanction] Resolutions 1737 and 1747 were full of loopholes. The US is still seeking another sanctions resolution and Solana is still pursuing diplomacy," he said bitterly.

Bolton lamented that the Bush administration today was "not the same" as a presumably more robust incarnation three years ago, because of what he said was now the State Department's overwhelming dominance of foreign policy. "The State Department has adopted the European view [on how to deal with Iran] and other voices have been sidelined," he said. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "is overwhelmingly predominant on foreign policy."

Asked where this left Israel, Bolton said simply: "Israel's options are as limited as those of the US, except that you are in more danger in that you are closer. I hate to say that."
What Bolton doesn't mention is that the inept Olmert-Barak-Livni government won't push the US to do anything....

UN Report: Lebanon - Syria border 'porous'

A report submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday describes the border between Lebanon and Syria as being 'porous' to the smuggling of arms and other goods.
According to the report, "the present state of border security is insufficient to prevent smuggling, in particular smuggling of arms, to any significant extent." The assessment team stated that "not a single on-border or near-border seizure of smuggled arms has been documented."

"The procedures used to control arriving vehicles are inadequate," the report stated. "Lack of such standards and the absence of risk analysis/profiling serves to limit the ability of customs officials to target potential smugglers and prevent the smuggling of weapons and explosives or other dangerous items."

The report was compiled during an inquiry that lasted from May 27 to June 15 at four operational border crossings, a fifth crossing to be opened in July, Beirut's international airport and its seaport.

UN inspectors also concluded that the Lebanese Army was not trained to intercept smugglers and its deployment along the border with Syria was not designed to prevent the smuggling of weapons and other goods.

"The lookout points and checkpoints are spread out according to traditional military doctrine and their aim is to provide territorial defense, not check smuggling," read the report.
But I'm sure that Israel's dimwitted foreign minister Tzipi Feigele Livni is still proud of what a great job she did on UN Security Council Resolution 1701 last summer.

Interview with children of suicide bomber on 'Palestinian' television

The interview below with the young children of 'Palestinian' suicide bomber Reem Riyashi appeared on 'Palestinian' television in March 2007. For those of you who have forgotten, there's a dramatization of Riyashi's children here. But the video below - with Riyashi's children - is more appalling.