Posting: December 15, 2007
Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat)
The plans to build further units in Har Homa — they would not extend Har Homa, but would be built inside the area already established — were laid a full ten years ago, even though the tender for the building was just put out now. The tender was routine, because decisions had previously been made — it wasn’t run by high gov’t officials. It is unlikely that Israel will back down on this (hope not!) even though there is a furor.
But the furor is worse than irksome — it’s enraging. As I’ve written, the meeting of potential donors for the PA will take place this coming week in Paris, and Abbas will be requesting $5.6 (sometimes I read $5.8) billion dollars. But according to a draft of Abbas’s speech acquired by Haaretz, Abbas intends to demand at the conference that Israel stop all building over the Green Line because this area belongs to the PA.
First, an economic conference is the wrong place to raise this issue. The Palestinians use any forum they can get, but their achieving economic reform and viability really does not depend on their acquisition of the Har Homa neighborhood, even though this is how they will represent it.
And then, there is the assumption that it’s a done deal, a given: that we will be turning over to them half of Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria. Hey! Isn’t that what negotiations are supposed to determine?
What concerns me the most, however, is a statement from an unnamed Israeli gov’t official cited in Arutz Sheva: “This affair has sabotaged negotiations and cast a shadow on the international donor states meeting next week. Because of a miserably timed, rash bureaucratic decision, we must prove anew that we are serious.” Bells go off in my head with this. So, we won’t stop the building in Har Homa but we’ll make some other new concession to “prove anew” our sincerity.
“Sabotage negotiations”: The Palestinians are saying (as they always say such things to gain leverage) that they won’t continue negotiations unless we stop the plans to build. WE are the ones doing them a favor, if we are discussing the possibility of giving them a state (G-d forbid!). Why do we have to prove anything more? Why is the onus not on them to prove that they deserve this state? Why are they not running to be conciliatory so that they can have it? As I’ve pointed out numerous times before, this whole scenario is upside down and backwards. You don’t go into negotiations on the defensive, but from strength.
Much more significant with regard to that meeting is whether the PA has gotten its act together in a manner that makes it possible to achieve economic development. Of course this is not the case, but Khaled Abu Toameh wrote a stunning article in the Post on Friday about the PA’s lack of preparedness.
Not only did PA officials admit that they have a long way to go with regard to reforming their security services, PA Civil Police commander Gen. Kamal al-Sheikh revealed that more that 600 Fatah policemen defected to Hamas last June and helped them take control of Gaza. But it was a small percentage of the 13,000 Fatah forces that were in Gaza, he insisted, playing down the significance of this.
PA officials also acknowledged that the US-backed plan to put PA police in charge of keeping law and order, which began with the 300 police sent into Nablus (Shechem), has failed to achieve most of its goals because of the incompetency of the forces.
One officer confessed (and I’ve reported on this before) that the operation hasn’t targeted gunmen connected to Fatah (in the main, Al Aksa Brigades). “These gunmen are continuing to operate freely in the refugee camps near Nablus and Tulkarem. We arrested citizens who stole olive oil three years ago and or fired into the air during weddings two years ago…. We still have many officers who are involved in various crimes and corruption. We are still far from talking about real reforms in the security establishment.”
I hope everyone is paying close attention to this, as news sometimes exaggerates the “success” of PA operations.
What was unsettling was that this PA officer said, “In the coming days we will launch a similar security operation in Bethlehem. But the real test will be in Hebron and Jenin, as well as in the refugee camps, where Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah militiamen call the shots.” Bethlehem? Hebron? Jenin? Has this been promised to them by Olmert already? Does it not depend on the success of the operation in Nablus?
Most infuriating is that the PA security officers Abu Toameh spoke with indicated that in spite their lack of success in their security operations, they expect the donors in Paris to approve their request of $5.6 billion anyway. And, you know what? They probably will. No accountability. No demanding that they make the mark before more is given to them. Pour on the money anyway.
The only good thing I can say about the security situation is that on Thursday, during a meeting with Quarter envoy Tony Blair, PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad complained that Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak wouldn’t agree to remove roadblocks in Judea and Samaria.
Barak leaves a lot to be desired, but he knows full well what would happen if those roadblocks came down.
Well, after meeting with Barak on Thursday night, Sderot Mayor Moyal agreed to stay in office after all. Barak specifically asked him to rescind his resignation and has promised some sort of special attention to Sderot’s needs for protection. The problem is that we should not be talking just about doing things like reinforcing buildings there — we should be acting to stop the attacks.
On Thursday, a Kassam hit a home in Sderot and a woman was injured.
This should be of particular interest to America citizens:
After a report in The Washington Times about United States Aid for International Development (USAID) financing of Islamic University in Gaza, Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL), a member of the House Appropriations Committee) asked USAID to do an audit of its aid to the university. From 2002 to 2006, USAID had given Islamic University close to $1 million. During this time period USAID had conducted several inquiries into their funding of this institution and each time had concluded that there was no reason to curtail funding; Islamic University, for its part, consistently maintained that they did not support terrorism.
In response to the Kirk query, the inspector general of USAID checked on the matter and concluded that funding of the university did not represent a departure from US policy that forbad funding organizations associated with Hamas.
Kirk last Tuesday gave an interview in which he said that the failure of USAID to detect the university’s ties with terrorism represented “either incompetence or a complete breakdown of the vetting system as run by the State Department.” (USAID, which is semi-autonomous, runs out of the State Department.) Ismail Haniyeh sits on the board of trustees of the university, and PA security forces seized rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles during a raid of the university last January.
Kirk’s interest in the matter has spurred follow-up audits, which had concluded that USAID has funded terror-linked groups on at least two occasions, and that USAID “did not always follow applicable federal laws” when providing funds to the university.
Shocked? Please know that lots more US tax money than you’d like to think ends up in the hands of terrorists. Mark Kirk is one of my heroes now.
At a ceremony initiating joint industrial projects with Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad let it be known that his country’s participation in Annapolis in no way represented a weakening of ties with Iran: “I confirm, on this occasion, that relations will not be shaken for any reason or under any circumstance.”
Let’s hear it for Rice’s plan to bring Syria to Annapolis in order to achieve steps toward moderation. Iran has now invested about $2 billion in Syrian industries such as automobiles, cement, and power generation, and in agriculture.
Dr. Reuven Koret, publisher of Israel Insider has written a superb open letter to Secretary Rice: “Applying Jim Crow to Israel.” He calls her on the very mistaken analogy she drew between her childhood, during which she suffered as a black person, and the suffering of Palestinians today. And he castigates her in no uncertain terms for the hypocrisy of drawing upon her experience and its lessons of equality for all, yet acceding to outrageous Arab demands that Israelis at Annapolis be treated in a demeaning fashion.
It’s worth a read:
~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: December 13, 2007
“When Does It Get Better?”
“The resignation of Sderot’s mayor constitutes a great victory for the Palestinian resistance. This is a political victory, a victory for morale, it adds to the humiliation we are heaping upon the Zionist army in the field. The man who threatened to wipe Beit Hanoun off the map and called upon the Israeli military to do just that was himself wiped off the Israeli public map today” crowed Muhammad Abd al-‘Al, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, yesterday, in a statement to YNet.
It’s painful, and hard to refute. And I hold the gov’t of Israel directly responsible.
Al-‘Al said the aim of the rockets was not so much to inflict physical harm as to destroy Israeli morale. He claims that the rockets that were fired yesterday are part of the new arsenal of weapons that has been acquired.
Responding to the situation, Russian billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak has now said he will invest 90 million shekels in fortifying homes in Sderot; secure rooms will be provided in 600 homes.
Gaydamak has been involved before in assistance to the people of Sderot, and there has been the likely well-founded observation that there is a bit that is politically self-serving in his generosity. But, at this point, so what, if he helps the people badly in need of assistance. What actually happened previously was that he served in some degree as a spur to the gov’t, embarrassing them into doing more. Hopefully this may happen again — a total of 1,200 homes need to be secured.
The US Congressional Research Service, which provides independent analysis to Congress, cites “reputable sources” with regard to the likelihood that North Korea may have given arms and possibly training to Hezbollah.
The Service refers to Paris Intelligence Online, a French Internet publication specializing in political and economic intelligence, which in September 2006 had published details of an extensive North Korean program to give arms and training to Hezbollah.
The program was initiated in the 1980s, when Hezbollah members traveled to North Korea for training; after 2000, North Koreans were dispatched to Lebanon to train Hezbollah members in the building of bunkers.
Paris Intelligence Online said this training “significantly improved Hezbollah’s ability to fight the Israelis” during the war last year.
Additionally the Congressional Research Service cited a report indicating that Mosad intelligence believes that “vital missile components” used by Hezbollah came from North Korea.
I offer here from international sources examples of the bias against Israel — the assumption that Israel is always responsible:
First, the World Bank. It has approved the PA economic reform plan that requires an infusion of $5.8 billion from 2008-2010. I wrote about this yesterday, explaining that the PA has promised economic reform for 13 years now, but has never delivered, instead refusing to staunch corruption or assume genuine fiscal responsibility. But does the World Bank address corruption, the issue of a bloated payroll, the hand-out mentality, etc. etc.? Not on your life.
What does the World Bank say? The money will not stem economic decline… unless Israel also eases Palestinian movement and trade.
Then there’s Tony Blair. Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday, he said that Israel faced a “nightmare” after pulling out of Gaza. He understands this better now than he did when he was British prime minister, and he realizes that Israel would hesitate to pull out of the West Bank now.
But does he follow by saying that we should sit tight while work is done to make the PA stronger from a security perspective? Of course not! He says in spite of our anxieties we should move towards pulling out anyway.
And there’s the EU, naturally. On Tuesday they issued a statement noting “with concern” Israeli plans for construction “in the Har Homa settlement [settlement??] in east Jerusalem. The EU considers that this initiative might undermine ongoing efforts in the search for peace… ” Did you read an expression of concern about the launching of rockets at the civilians in Sderot undermining the search for peace? I sure didn’t.
There are few institutions more biased against Israel than the UN. Yesterday I wrote about the good feeling in the Israeli mission to the UN regarding the very first Israeli inspired resolution not involving the Holocaust or the Arab-Israel conflict to pass in that body, and pointed out that the Arabs — and in particular the PA mission — remained hostile.
But it turns out there’s more to be said on this matter: Richard Schifter, former deputy US representative in the UN Security Council, writing in the Post, has expressed the opinion that the UN has not become less anti-Israel, but rather that a good face is being put on matters by the Israeli mission, which has learned to better navigate the system.
Schifter’s litany of UN anti-Israel measures is blood-curdling:
“The UN General Assembly continues to pay more attention to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict than to any other country-specific issue. The world’s worst atrocities and humanitarian crises are ignored, but time is always available for Israel-bashing… the UN’s Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Practices filed a 27-page report castigating Israel and focusing special attention on the security barrier. ‘More than ever,’ the report claims, ‘it appeared to the Committee members that the construction of the separation wall violated every single human right of the Palestinians.'”
Perhaps most incredible: “The General Assembly also had before it a report from the secretary-general which purported to be evenhanded but was studded with comments slanted against Israel. Thus, Prime Minister Sharon’s ‘political courage’ and the PA’s ‘responsible behavior’ were lauded, but that was followed by the complaint that Israel had withdrawn from Gaza without demolishing the synagogues of Gush Katif. ‘The buildings were thus passed unexpectedly to the Palestinian Authority, which was not in a position to protect them,’ said the report.”
“[Some] resolutions… continue to authorize an anti-Israel propaganda apparatus that flies the UN flag, is paid for by the UN, and operates worldwide. Leadership of this propaganda apparatus is vested in the Division for Palestinian Rights, located in the UN Secretariat.
“This UN-sponsored anti-Israel propaganda effort, which has encouraged the divestment and academic boycott campaigns, appears to have operated below the radar screen of many observers, perhaps even the government of Israel. Its detrimental effect on the peace process has, however, been fully recognized by the US.”
In my last posting I quoted Chief of Staff Ashkenazi, with regard to the fact that a ground incursion into Gaza would be necessary to stop the terrorism.
Seems Defense Minister Barak spoke at the same conference where Ashkenazi made his comments. Regrettably, Barak spoke not as a military man, but rather as a politician, calling the situation in Sderot “difficult and complicated.” The “complication,” of course, is negotiations with the PA.
“We know that this is a mission we haven’t accomplished yet, and the road ahead is still very long. This is a solution that requires sound judgment and responsibility, the situation isn’t simple and I hope it will not come to a point where we are forced to do that which, for now, we do not want to do.”
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has recently made comments about the need for NATO involvement in Gaza if we are to make major concessions, and this philosophy has been seconded by Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu). But this is a recipe for disaster. For this robs Israel of the right to defend herself and avoids the issue of making the PA responsible for security in its territory.
For a cogent analysis of the pitfalls, see Dr.Aaron Lerner:
In an interview yesterday, Sec. of State Rice said that President Bush will be taking a much more active role: “… he very much wants to signal support for the bilateral process between the parties and to continue in a hands-on way to encourage them to move forward.”
There are many topics that I would like to share with my readers, but that keep getting tabled because of more urgent matters. Let me make room for some of them here.
I begin with an issue that, in its larger implications, is of considerable significance:
Most of you have read about the British school teacher working in Khartoum, Sudan, who allowed her seven year old students to call their Teddy bear Muhammad. When she was arrested for allowing “insult” to the name of the Prophet, mobs outside the jail called for her execution. She was released only after two Muslim British peers flew to Sudan to intervene.
This is a ghastly scenario, and one that is not unfamiliar. Remember the riots over cartoons.
What caught my attention, however, is the way the teacher, Lillian Gibbons, described as a kindly woman, responded after she was released and on her way home. If it was me, I think I would have lambasted that country to the moon and back. But that is not politic. No criticism is politic. What she said was: “I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone. I am sorry if I caused any distress.” She didn’t even remark on HER distress, which undoubtedly was considerable.
One of the Muslim peers, a Lord Ahmed, commented, “We hope that British aid to Sudan continues and that relations between our two countries will not be damaged by this incident – in fact, this should be a way to strengthen relations.”
This is nauseating. Have the British no dignity these days, do they see fit only to grovel? One article I read described this as cultural jihad, and it rings true. Everyone is afraid to offend the Muslims, no matter how they behave. And this portends a very dangerous state of affairs.
Ruth Wisse has written an articl e in the Harvard Crimson called “How Much Land is Enough.” She makes several excellent points but I wish to quote just one here: The ratio of Arab to Jewish land in the Middle East is 640:1. Makes one sit up and take notice.
Seven years ago, there was a horrible lynching of two IDF soldiers in Ramallah, when they ended up there by mistake. Most of you surely remember this chilling event, with a lyncher raising bloodied hands from a window of the police station in a sign of victory.
Well, it has taken seven years, but the last of those involved has been caught. This is first, a matter of justice and retribution. But it also a form of deterrent — that those conducting themselves with such inhumanity know we’ll get them. Catching them is part of the Israeli code.
The terrorist, Hayman Zaban, by the way, is with Tanzim, which is part of Fatah.
According to the Palestinian Maan news agency, the PA wants to provide one time payments of $5,000 to the families of Palestinians who have served in Israeli prisons for 20 years or more. Those who are imprisoned for lengthy periods have usually killed Israelis.
A few days ago, Defense Minister Ehud Barak came up with an idea to entice settlers into leaving by offering them money, so they wouldn’t have to be forced out. What he had in mind were the 70,000 settlers on the far side of the security fence. Well, a poll subsequently taken shows that 76% of the settlers wouldn’t leave because of money.
This last item might be called a joke, but it tells us some painful things about where American Jewry is coming from. Just a few weeks ago, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations announced that Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. have agreed to head a committee organizing events to celebrate Israel’s 60th. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chair of the organization, called this a “great honor.” My response: You have GOT to be kidding.
Bill Clinton is at least perceived as a friend of Israel. But in fact he did Israel considerable damage, first by courting Arafat in a way that absolved him of responsibility for his behavior (setting a precedent that lives to this day) and then by pushing Israeli concessions in a last minute rush to achieve “peace” while he was office, even as he knew that the Palestinians wouldn’t honor their commitments (a la Bush Jr. now). This is something Clinton’s special envoy, Dennis Ross, later admitted.
And Bush Sr.? He was never a friend to Israel in any respect. His cadre of advisers, starting with James Baker, was decidedly and rudely anti-Israel.
There was no one else available?
~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: December 12, 2007
Pathetic isn’t even a strong enough word. Disgusting? Sickening?
I am referring to the situation in which we find ourselves, in good part by virtue of the decisions of our government.
Today the Security Cabinet recommended that a major military operation into Gaza not be held.
The reason given is because there is evidence that the limited forays and targeted killings by the IDF in Gaza are having an effect. Figures were provided: 115 forays into Gaza in the course of 2007 with 270 Palestinian terrorists killed. Lately Barak has permitted forays that were more “proactive” in nature, it was said. In fact, just yesterday there was a major (limited) action utilizing bulldozers and tanks, one kilometer into southern Gaza — between Khan Yunis and Rafah, that killed 10 and wounded more. This was supposed to reduce the launching of rockets at us.
But the REAL reason that we’re not having that major operation is because it will kill the “peace talks.” Fatah has already said that if we go in they’ll fight in Gaza alongside Hamas. So that would be the end of that. Rice would be very unhappy — unhappy with us.
Besides which, data on a reduction of Kassams shot at us or on the relatively small numbers killed are beside the point — a tiny band-aid on a gaping wound. For there is continual stockpiling of increasingly sophisticated weapons brought in from Egypt, which are stored in bunkers; there is improvement in the Kassams so they may be stored longer and soon will put 250,000 people and sensitive sites in Ashkelon within range; and there is training by the Iranians of a Hamas army of some 15,000 — already divided into specialized divisions. What is a limited foray and the murder of 10 people in the face of this? What does it matter if they stop shooting Kassams completely for the moment?
For shame! That this would be ignored, especially after our experience with Hezbollah and the intelligence about what we’re going to be facing with Gaza. We have been warned by defense officials that delay in acting against this threat is dangerous.
And what is reaction to this decision? Does Rice praise us for forbearance in the face of danger for the sake of peace? Of course not. She’s too busy saying that we’re putting the “peace process” at risk by planning construction of 300 housing units in Jerusalem within municipal boundaries.
And the Palestinians? They said they wanted the talks, to start in Jerusalem today on procedural matters, to be “low key” with no photo ops, in protest of our operations in Gaza. Not in protest, if truth be told, but because it serves them badly in the Palestinian street to be seen with Israelis. Keep it out of people’s minds as much as possible.
Please understand what this means: Even if Fatah were moderate (which they are not), it is the Hamas agenda that rules the day. Hamas has been pressuring Fatah not to sit at the table with us.
There is, of course, not the slightest PA nod towards our forbearance, never mind an expression of appreciation for it so that the talks could go on. Nor is there the remotest acknowledgement that it’s wrong to propel rockets at our civilians and that we must protect ourselves. It’s all our fault, you see.
I ask you, is this not a ludicrous and untenable situation? It could be seen coming from a mile away. How can there be negotiations when Abbas is tied to Hamas in Gaza (having negotiations with Hamas, actually) and shows them allegiance, but doesn’t control them, while Hamas is launching Kassams now and looking to do worse? It’s impossible and schizoid.
At a bare minimum, we should have insisted that there could be no negotiations until the PA (our ostensible “negotiating partner”) was in control of Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria (which they don’t really control either now).
And what happened today? Twenty Kassams were lobbed into Sderot this morning in the course of less than four hours. Boy, our limited operations really stopped them. Four people were wounded; one rocket landed on the main street of the city.
In response, Sderot mayor, Eli Moyal, resigned without having given advance warning, saying on Israel Radio this morning that he could no longer endure being responsible in the situation that Sderot is dealing with:
“This role is too big for any person… I do not want to stay in office until the day 20 children die in Sderot… I don’t want to make the decision to open schools tomorrow because a Kassam might land there and I’ll be blamed for opening the school.”
The members of the government have abysmally failed to protect the people of Sderot. They should all hang their heads in shame, but they’re too obtuse; you wouldn’t believe the comments from Olmert regarding the fact that the gov’t doesn’t have to do more and that the people have to learn to live with it. These are Israeli citizens, living constantly at risk inside of Israel.
The High Court of Justice, in response to a petition by the residents of Sderot, has just censured the government for failing to provide the populace of that city with adequate protection.
And following the rocket attack on Sderot today, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said that the possibility of a large scale attack was growing, as this situation couldn’t be tolerated for much longer. In fact, at the Conference on Security Challenges at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, he said more:
“It is not possible to defeat a terrorist organization without having control on the ground. The results in the West Bank in the past two years have been impressive, because of our control on the ground level.
“We will eventually need to have [such] control [in Gaza], operations-wise and intelligence-wise…We will not be able to win only by air strikes and ground fire.”
Well, mazel tov! This is telling it true. And it remains true even if the rocket launching temporarily stop. But the politicos and not the defense establishment call the shots.
With regard to Iran, Ashkenazi said: “The international community needs to stop Iran. But we in the IDF need to prepare for every option in case this does not succeed… We need to be capable of quickly defeating our enemies in any conflict. We need to have the ability to fight at the same time in different fronts and at different levels.” In the future, he indicated, we would need to deal with “faraway threats” and had to upgrade our long range capabilities.
Thank G-d someone has his eyes open.
As to that negotiating session, it did happen. This was in spite of PA threats to not attend because we were sabotaging the “peace.” But it was held in secret, instead of at the King David Hotel as had been announced, with a planned launching ceremony to proceed the meeting.
Livni said that security must come first and registered protest at the fact that members of Fatah recently killed Israeli Ido Zoldan in a drive-by shooting in Samaria. This, to my mind, was sufficient reason in and of itself to cancel talks. If Abbas cannot control members of Fatah, then what?
And the Palestinians registered complaint about the housing units in Har Homa.
The parties have agreed to convene again next week in Paris, where the donors to the PA will be meeting.
That conference in Paris is where the PA intends to make its request for $5.8 billion (this is not a typo), through 2010.
Barry Rubin takes a hard look at this in his latest piece, “You Owe Us Bigtime.” It’s a joke, he says, because the Palestinians promise “fiscal reform.”:
“Reform promises have been made and broken for more than 13 years. It is hard to remember the PA has existed that long with so little positive achievement. If Palestinians have such a bad economy it is not due to the ‘occupation’ or to Israel but to their own leaders’ greed, incompetence, failure to end violence, inability to present an attractive investment climate, and unwillingness to impose stability on their own lands.”
Rubin says this is a major story because the US and the Europeans are basing their policy on the expectation that pouring more money into the PA can lead to diplomatic progress.
But the Palestinians have never remotely demonstrated any fiscal responsibility. The PA has not even instituted a comprehensive tax system, because “It has acted as if it is the job of foreigners, which mostly means the West, to pay its bills. This is not psychologically healthy… ” The PA has welfare mentality.
[Note: just one more piece of evidence that the idea of establishing a Palestinian state is ridiculous.]
Rubin is deeply concerned that the media misrepresent the situation, implying that Israel is responsible for the PA’s fiscal situation. Particularly worthy of mention is that donors cut off funds two months BEFORE Hamas took Gaza — it wasn’t done because of political reasons but rather because of corruption.
See the entire piece at:
For evidence of what a distorted and unfair world Israel must contend with, we don’t need to look further than this:
A resolution generated by Israel that doesn’t involve either the Holocaust or the Israeli-Arab conflict has passed the General Assembly of the UN for the very first time. This was a socio-economic resolution that aims to encourage states and organizations to develop improved agricultural technology and plant species for the good of humanity, especially in developing countries.
Said Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman, “This first historic resolution, which Israel initiated and presented, was accepted in the UN and constitutes recognition of Israeli excellence and its contribution to the world… Israel plans to continue presenting initiatives and resolutions that will give expression to its uniqueness, creativity, and modernity, and to demonstrate that we are a society like all others in the UN, which works and contributes on a whole slew of issues apart from the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Well, that’s beautiful. The fact is that we are a fantastic nation that is focused on doing international good and has enormous scientific expertise that can benefit others, and it’s time the world knew it. But why the hell should it have taken almost 60 years to recognize this?
And consider this: All 19 Arab nations present abstained from voting on this. The PA envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said Israel was “trying to score political points.” When it was raised in committee he had rejected a move to have the motion presented by the chair as a consensus resolution. According to him, this motion only emphasized “the divisions between Israel and the Arab countries.”
How destructive is hatred! Where we have the capacity to do good, the Arab world rejects what we offer.
This, it should especially be noted, is the paradigm of how the PA responds to us.
Before closing, one more mention of Arab antipathy towards us (and regrettable compliance with it):
I had written earlier about the fact that Rice had the Israeli delegation to Annapolis enter through a service door because the Saudis didn’t want to accidentally bump into an Israeli. That sort of apartheid practiced by the US is totally unacceptable. But what bothered me a great deal, as well, was that the Israeli delegation cooperated with this (although much was written later about a Livni outburst at the Arabs, who wouldn’t talk with her or shake hands). If I were Livni, I would like to think that if Rice had asked that of me I would have refused, saying that if we can’t go in the same door, there is nothing to discuss, and I would have then told the press so and gone home with dignity.
What I found sad — the word “pathetic” again occurs to me — is that later Olmert made a big deal about the fact that the Saudi delegation applauded his talk. Wow!
Well, I’ve been following reports by journalists who were present in Annapolis and watching closing. And what I’m reading — Nachum Barnea, respected Israel journalist, writing in Yediot Ahronot, is being widely cited — is that the Saudis didn’t wear their earphones and thus didn’t hear what Olmert said, and didn’t really applaud him but only pretended to, bringing their palms close but not allowing them to touch.
Great world, isn’t it?
~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: December 11, 2007
A change of pace: we will look first, briefly, at some political happenings here in Israel:
A new party, Hatikvah (the hope), has been formally registered. At its head will be MK Aryeh Eldad, who is still with National Union (Moledet branch) now but will move over. The party will be a nationalist party that is inclusive and hopes to attract secular people as well as religious. Eldad himself is traditional in his orientation but is not perceived by the public as “religious,” which means he may appeal to a greater number of voters than an overtly religious group such as National Union. Eldad’s hope at this juncture is to do well enough in the next elections to become part of the coalition that will likely be headed by Likud, pulling that coalition to the right and helping to keep it honest. Eldad, a physician, it should be noted, has a reputation for integrity.
It seems that Shaul Mofaz — former defense minister in Likud and now transportation minister in Kadima — is launching a challenge to Olmert for the leadership of Kadima. He has in recent weeks consistently come out with positions that are critical of Olmert: He says that so many prisoners should not have been released, that Olmert is “letting Hamas into the heart of Jerusalem,” that Olmert shouldn’t negotiate core issues with Abbas when he is weak, etc.
While I was never a big fan of Mofaz when he was transportation minister (and his bolt to Kadima bespoke a significant lack of integrity, as he had previously pledged to stay with Likud when Sharon split the party), everything is relative: compared to Tzipi Livni as a replacement for Olmert, Mofaz doesn’t look so bad.
The Labor Party is in disarray. It was in bad shape when Amir Peretz left the leadership position; Ehud Barak was supposed to consolidate forces and strengthen the party when he came in. But there is currently great discontent with him, so that the party is in a weak position. Labor MKs are fearful that Kadima has now assumed the mantle of “the peace party,” and I laugh when I read that Barak — who offered Arafat an enormous amount in 2000 — is now being accused by the party’s left wing of being “more right wing” than Netanyahu.
I’ve written, with fury and with pain, many times about the left wing bias of the law enforcement and court systems in this country, which work very decidedly against “settlers.” Well now there is a group called Human Rights in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which has just issued a paper to mark International Human Rights Week. The paper outlines several areas in which the rights of settlers and their supporters were violated. Attorney Orit Struck serves as spokeswoman for the group.
A major focus of the group is the severe injustice done to the residents of Gush Katif, who were pulled from their homes and not provided with proper assistance. But here I present, from the paper, yet another glaring example of a way in which the government is causing “systematic and continuous harm” to Jews within Israel: In 1929, after an Arab pogrom in which dozens of Jews of the community of Hevron were killed, the British forced the Jewish survivors to leave the area. Those Jews retained ownership of property in Hevron. The Israeli Custodian of Abandoned Property, however, now declines to act to return this property to the Jewish families that own it, instead acting on behalf of the Arabs who rent the property. I will note that to return the property to the Jews would be to strengthen the Jewish presence in Hevron, which the government studiously avoids doing. Doesn’t fit the political goals, private human rights be damned.
According to Asharq Alawsat, a London-based paper, Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas in Damascus, is said to be ready to return control of government institutions in Gaza to the PA. Meanwhile sources from both sides confirm that secret talks have been held in a number of venues in order to help Hamas and Fatah resolve their differences.
The PA is furious about an invitation — including a visit with the royal family — that the Saudis extended to a senior Hamas delegation right after Annapolis. Anyone with half a brain (which actually lets out a lot of people) knows that Saudi Arabia promotes Hamas: they hosted the negotiations that resulted in the Mecca agreement, forcing Abbas to bow to Hamas stipulations all the way.
Said one PA official: “Hamas is doing its utmost to undermine the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas. The timing of the visit – two weeks after the Annapolis peace conference – is also interesting. Hamas was strongly opposed to the conference and continues to issue threats to torpedo any peace process with Israel.”
Bush and Rice, ludicrously, counted it a “diplomatic coup” that Saudi Arabia came to the conference, thereby presumably placing itself in the “moderate camp” that supported “peace.” Yea, right.
I continue to monitor closely the rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas — which was clearly coming after Annapolis and which the Saudis are now fostering — and what it will mean for “peace negotiations.” I have waxed cynical in the extreme, with good reason. One would expect that if Fatah joined again with Hamas, which is against peace with Israel, the US and Israel would wash their respective hands of dealings with the PA. That is, after all, what they have said they would do.
My fear is that the reverse might happen: That the parties will be so “eager” to push negotiations, that Hamas might be declared as having moderated by virtue of having joined with a “peaceful” Fatah. It will depend, I imagine, on what sort of arrangement is established. When I begin to read about new elections (which will be hailed as democratic process), I become increasingly uneasy.
Now I must return, once again, to Iran. Mohammad Mohaddessin, a spokesman for the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an opposition group seeking the overthrow of the regime in Tehran, came out with a statement today, in response to the US intelligence report saying that Iran stopped development of nuclear weapons in 2003:
“We announce vehemently that the clerical regime is currently continuing its drive to obtain nuclear weapons. The clerical regime leaks false information and intelligence to Western intelligence services, through double agents.”
Mohaddessin said that Iran did shut down a weapons production center in Tehran in 2003 under international pressure, but shifted it to other sites and resumed work in 2004.
“These centers are working just now for producing nuclear bombs. This is contrary to the United States’ National Intelligence Estimate.” Mohaddessin said the information came from sources inside Iran; sources were checked within the last week to confirm that the nuclear development was still going on.
Four years ago NCRI disclosed information about hidden nuclear sites in Iran that uncovered long-standing covert operations.
And lastly, I cite President Bush. After meeting with the Italian president today, he met with the press and said:
“Iran is dangerous. We believe Iran had a secret military weapons program, and Iran must explain to the world why they had such a program.”
I confess, I am still scratching my head over this convoluted and nonsensical statement.
Note the past tense: “Iran had… ” So, if Iran doesn’t have it anymore, why does it have to explain anything? (As if it would be inclined to in any event.)
Seems as if Bush is trying to play both ends at the same time — he wants to sound tough, but is backing off from challenging Iran now.
This is pathetic and sickening from the president who declared a war on terror.