The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, June 30, 2003
Marginalizing the Right
After the Rabin assasination, it is reasonable to expect Israelis opposed to their government's decisions to express verbal restraint. Calling Prime Minister Sharon a traitor, for example, is absolutely unacceptable. References to leftist leaders in a similar regard are no less repugnant.
The Israeli right may, however, protest and oppose the government through legitimate political means. And thus far, the protests by the Yesha Council and others have not come close to crossing the line.
Unfortunately, some on the Israeli left feel a need to sensationalize the fact that a tiny minority of Israelis may have dangerously extremist views. While that fringe must be condemned and isolated, there is a disturbing tendency to greatly exaggerate the number of those holding fanatical positions.
For example, in this week's Jerusalem Report , Ina Friedman interviews Dr. Ami Pedahzur of Haifa University. Pedahzur claims that support for the Kahane ideology is growing within both the charedi and the national religious public, and that more than 20 percent of all Israelis now support that ideology. As proof, he cites the purported notion that "most of those who voted last January for the radical right-wing Herut party -- featuring Kahane protégé Baruch Marzel -- were ultra-Orthodox citizens. Gush Emunim [the original spearhead of the religious Zionist settler movement] abhorred Kahane, but more recently there’s been a slide of parts of the religious-Zionist camp toward Kahanist views, and Marzel is the darling of the extremist settlers." Rather than challenging these statements, Friedman validates them, responding: "Your findings on the support for Kahane’s views among the general population are startling."
Pedahzur's claims are absolute nonsense. The Herut party, after all, did not even receive enough votes to join the Knesset. Instead, only 36,202 Israelis, or 1.1 percent of those voting, voted for Herut. If there were any truth to Pedahzur's statement, Herut would have receiveed at least a few seats and a few hundred thousand votes. Instead, Herut's total failure in the elections is evidence of even very right-wing Israelis' rejection of fanaticism. While it may be true that a majority of Herut's voters were charedim, it is obvious that the overwhelming number of charedim voted for either Shas (11 Knesset seats, 258,879 votes) or United Torah Judaism (5 Knesset seats, 135,087). That a majority of Herut's voters were religious is about as relevant as the fact that a majority of KKK supporters are white and Christian.
Ultimately, the ideologically motivated drivel of Pedahzur and similar "experts" and the acceptance of such false statements by media members with similar dispositions is as much a threat to democracy as are the small number of extremists to whom Pedahzur refers.
Friday, June 27, 2003
Hamas PR Offensive
Instead of condemning terrorism, an editorial in today's (Beirut) Daily Star calls on Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah "to explain to the rest of the world why it is that they do the things they do and therefore what sort of arrangement can make them stop. Arab countries are filled with people who support or at least understand the use of terrorism as a means to resist occupation. But Westerners in general and Americans in particular remain largely in the dark about the conditions that convince some people that suicide bombings are the only option left... Perhaps the most important audience for such an explanation from Hamas and similar groups is American Jewry. Members of that community need to know how many deaths have been caused with their money, and in their name by the stubborn cabal that rules Israel. It may be too late to hope that very many American Jews will listen, but the militants are at least partly to blame because they have put off for so long that which they should have said years ago. Still, it cannot hurt to try."
More Times Bias
An article in today's New York Times refers to "Elliott Abrams, the fiercely pro-Israel and hard-line director of Middle East affairs at the National Security Council." (emphasis added)
While Abrams' previous writings were pro-Israel, it's questionable that he was ever "hard-line." And I'm not sure what it means to be "fiercely" pro-Israel as opposed to just pro-Israel. But isn't it interesting that the Times never referred to John Sununu, the Chief of Staff in the fiercely pro-Saudi government of the first President Bush, as "pro-Arab?" Nor has the Times ever referred to Bill Clinton as "fiercely pro-Arafat," or, for the matter, to anyone in any foreign policy context in the manner it refers to Elliott Abrams.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
As of now, instead of keeping all of my posts on the home page of this blog, only the last 30 posts wiill appear. All other posts will be available by clicking on any of the archives pages, in which one full month of posts (May and June, respectively, thus far) will be available.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
The Jewish Press likes to boast that it has substantially improved in recent years, so I decided to check out a few opinion columns on its website.
First was an article by Irwin N. Graulich, who is stated to be "a well-known motivational speaker" in New York. Graulich begins by insisting that a new Israeli prime minister is neeed and that Israel should "either draft Donald Rumsfeld with a $20 million signing bonus from the UJA, or get a nice Jewish boy who grew up on the 'wild and crazy' streets of Brooklyn." Of course, Graulich is right that a PM from Flatbush, preferably named either Irwin, Irving or Yanky, would be ideal rather than somebody who has served in the IDF.
Indeed, Graulich wants to jail non-Brooklyn war heroes such as Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak: "Any Israeli government official who presently parrots the immoral term 'no military solution' should be impeached and jailed. Listen up Arik," he writes. While Graulich calls for pursuit of a peace process, he would insist on "land from Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, along with the right of return and compensation for Jews who were physically forced to leave Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Morocco and other Arab/Muslim countries from 1948 on." Nice irony from the motivational speaker, though perhaps encouraging Sephardim to move back to Arab lands would not help Israel's demographic situation.
Next, I found a piece by Isaac Kohn. After expressing his refusal to address Prime Minister Sharon as "Prime Minister," Kohn writes of his "fear that generations to come will vilify the very mention of your name." Pretty strong words from the man who was severely wounded in the 1948 War of Independence and saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War... oops, that was Prime Minister Sharon, not Mr. Kohn, who is apparently in the health care industry, and lives in Brooklyn. Something tells me that the next Israeli elections will feature a close race between Rumsfeld, Graulich, Netanyahu and Kohn.
Finally, Steven Plaut expresses his concern at the mass unemployment and ensuing poverty in Israel by writing that Israel's budget is "earmarked for helping out all those who would like a handout, and only when there are absolutely no cases of people unhappy with their material comforts and standards of living will we check if there is any cash left over in the till that can be used for national defense. As a result of leftist agitprop, Israel has practically disarmed itself over the past decade, what with the Oslo Accords being so successful and all. Real spending on defense as a portion of GDP is less than half of what it was before Oslo." Plaut's concern for Israelis going through tough financial times is touching, but surprisingly, Plaut may be a bit off with his mathematical calculations, as the recently approved budget cut 10 billion shekels from Israel's budget, with only 5% (500 million shekels) coming from defense and the large majority coming from social spending.
Impressive stuff. Too bad the Jewish Press doesn't merge with the Jewish Week. Op-eds by Kohn, reporting by Debra Nussbaum Cohen, editorials by Gary Rosenblatt, motivational speaking by Graulich and financial analysis by Plaut would be unbeatable.
Monday, June 23, 2003
Drop In Aliyah
According to AP, only 7692 immigrants moved to Israel in the first five months of 2003. While some help is on the way, with 1000 new olim moving from the U.S. in July through Nefesh B'Nefesh, clearly this is a disturbing trend, especially since some who previously moved to Israel have moved back this year.
While the security and economic situations are the primary reasons from the drop in aliyah, the Finance Ministry’s recent decision to eliminate certain tax exemptions and subsidies for new olim is also a culprit. The government of Israel fails to understand that even for those who are strongly committed to Israel and Zionism and would like to live in Israel, aliyah remains very difficult to implement. There are many challenges, including leaving one’s family, speaking and writing in Hebrew, and exchanging a comfortable economic lifestyle for an uncertain one. Many formerly upper middle-class Americans have moved to Israel, only to struggle to pay the monthly rent. Unfortunately, eliminating housing subsidies and tax breaks on purchases of cars will simply lead to fewer talented immigrants, rather than an improved budget.
Gene Goldstein, the father of Zvi Goldstein, who was murdered on Friday the day after his son's wedding, has stated that Israel should not retailiate for the murder of his son, during which Gene and his wife (Zvi's mother) were seriously wounded, with Michal Goldstein, Zvi's wife, moderately wounded.
Mr. Goldstein's sentiments are quite noble and he is right that Israel should not avenge his son's murder for its own sake. However, Israel has a responsibility to root out terror and to prevent tragedies such as the one that has befallen the Goldsteins and so many other families from continuing to occur. And while Mr. Goldstein referred to the terrorists who killed his son as " two crazy people," in fact they are part of a large infrastructure of terror that continues to aim for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel.
Israel must seek, find and eliminate from this world those who murdered Zvi Goldstein and must immediately stop the asinine practice of releasing terrorists who previously murdered Israelis, such as Ahmed Jbarra, who killed 14 Israelis in Jerusalem's Zion Square in 1975, was recently released and expressed no remorse in an interview with the BBC.
Sunday, June 22, 2003
I was sorry to hear about the passing of Roger Neilson, who coached eight NHL teams including the Rangers. Neilson was a friend of Israel, and formed a hockey summer camp in Israel which he conducted until last year, when his illness prevented him from continuing the program.
On a personal level, I got to know Neilson while covering sports for The Jerusalem Post in the early '90's, when Neilson was coaching the Rangers. I was an 18 or 19 year old attending yeshiva during the day and Brooklyn College at night, always wore a yarmulke at games and probably seemed out of place among the press corps. Regardless, Neilson always fully answered my questions at post-game conferences and once stayed to talk about hockey with me after a game.
Friday, June 20, 2003
Orthodoxy On Campus
Gil Perl and Yaakov Weinstein have authored a pamphlet titled “A Parent’s Guide to Orthodox Assimilation on University Campuses,” highlighting the challenges Orthodox teens face in university environments that are hostile to the worldview of the yeshivas they previously attended. Perl and Weinstein express reasonable concerns about professors - even of Jewish Studies - hostile to Torah beliefs, Hillels that lean toward the non-Orthodox movements, and the hedonism that pervades campus life.
Not surprisngly, The Jewish Week has seized on the Perl/Weinstein pamphlet to provide a long, sensationalist article headlined "Debauchery U," accompanied by a photo of college students drinking. The latest article supplements previous masterpieces by The Jewish Week, including but not limited to, the dating practices of Orthodox singles, mikvah ladies, chumashim in shuls, and kiddush clubs, as well as suggestions that female Orthodox singles frustrated by their newly married friends' social distance are in fact closeted lesbians.
Binyamin Netanyahu makes a crucial and often overlooked and unknown point in a column in today's Washington Post:
"most of Judea and Samaria is barren and empty. The combined Palestinian and Jewish populations live on less than one-third of this territory. But the empty swaths of disputed land, comprising the heart of the Jewish ancestral homeland, are vital for Israel's security."
The problem, however, is that granting territorial contiguity to Palestinians in Judea and Samaria would cause all or almost all of the empty swaths of disputed land to be foresaken by Israel.
Zvi Goldstein, a'h
Last night Zvi and Michal Goldstein, who made aliya from New York in 1992, celebrated the marriage of their son. Today, on the way to sheva brachos in Jerusalem, Zvi Goldstein was shot dead, with his parents, Gene and Lorraine Goldstein, both 73, from Plainview, New York, seriously injured. Michal Goldstein is reported to be "lightly injured." Zvi Goldstein was 47 years old.
There was a time when a murder such as this would have sparked massive shock and outrage and deep empathy for the family. But with Jews being murdered daily and in large numbers, few will notice the killing of a "settler" and even fewer will care.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Hasidic Rebel has an interesting post in which he states in part:
"Unfortunately, the Chasidic communities are filled with corrupt leaders and so-called activists. Many of these are self-appointed to communal positions because of personal wealth or pedigree, and often hold the masses in their vise-like grip, by being in control of social services and communal institutions. Government officials find it convenient to deal with these figures as liaisons to the Charedi community, naively thinking that these men have only the interests of their bretheren in mind, but that is not always the case. Moneys meant for needy are often pocketed by those in charge, or it is prioritized to go to cronies and relatives, and only then if there's any left does it go to those truly in need."
An excellent point about the manner in which politicians deal with the chasidic community. Indeed, the problems referred to by HR apply throughout the Orthodox community, and to some extent to the secular Jewish community, in which various irrelevant organizations claim to represent a consensus of American Jewry with regard to a wide variety of issues such as Israel, abortion rights, etc.
Nadav Shragai On Settlements
Yesterday, Nadav Sharagai of Haaretz participated in a chat session regarding settlements. The full questions and answers can be seen here. Shragai, a religious Jew whose political views differ from the standard Haaretz line, did a fantastic job responding to hostile questions, particularly from Europeans.
Q: How many settlers do you think would persist in their colonialist endeavor if the Israel government simply refused to subsidize and protect them?
Mick von Bornemann
We are not talking of colonialism. The morality of "settlement" after 1967, is equivalent to the morality of settling the land after 1948. Morally, historically and religiously, the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, takes precedence over the right of other peoples here. The internal dispute within Israel is over what is possible within the framework of the security and international reality that the country faces.
Q: You were saying that "We are not talking of colonialism. The morality of "settlement" after 1967, is equivalent to the morality of settling the land after 1948." If I understand you well, you consider it to be morally correct to chase Palestinians from their homeland and replace them with settlers from - let's say - America?
In general, and almost always, the settlements are not set up on privately-owned land but on state land. The Palestinians were not expelled from their homes as a result of the establishment of the settlements. The settlements were built alongside the Palestinian towns and villages and not in their place. Since 1967, not a single Palestinian town or village has been moved.
Q: Is the land on which the settlers build officially granted by the government, and if so, why are these places called settlements and not small towns?
The use of the term "settlements" is usually used by its political opponents, whereas those who support it usually use the terms "towns" and "communities." Karnei Shomron, Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim are no different than nearby cities like Kfar Sava, Netanya and Petah Tikva. We are talking about similar types of inhabitants - religious and secular. The differences in definition result from the fact that there are differing opinions as to the future of these places.
Sharon and Oslo
In Friday's Jerusalem Post, Yossi Klein Halevi has an excellent column about the irreversible damages the Oslo process caused to Israel. In Halevi's analysis, Prime Minister's Sharon's willingness to make "painful concessions" represents not so much an ideological shift, but a sober understanding that Israel cannot get out of the mess caused by Oslo, which granted international legitimacy to the notion that terrorist thugs must be given a state.
As Halevi concludes:
"What about Sharon? Hasn't he validated Oslo? The other week I covered the Likud's central committee meeting in Jerusalem, where outraged Likudniks heckled the prime minister while others sang, 'Arik, King of Israel.' I watched Sharon as he read his prepared speech reiterating the need for 'painful concessions,' oblivious to the jeers and cheers that have accompanied his entire career.
"What, I wondered, was he thinking?
"Perhaps something like this: For the past 50 years I've been trying to bail out the people of Israel. Sometimes I got carried away, and you never forgave me for my excesses. But whenever you got into really serious trouble - whether overwhelmed by terrorism in the 1950s or by invading armies in 1973 - I'm the one you called on to save you. Now, in my old age, you've turned to me to rescue you from the worst mess you've ever gotten yourselves into, a disaster I warned you for decades to avoid.
"I'm trying my best, but this time you've really done it. There's only so much room you've left me to maneuver in. And no one in my place would do any better.
"And so, one last tragedy of Oslo: that even Ariel Sharon can't save us from its curse."
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
While the Yesha Council insists that no violence will be used against IDF soldiers ordered to dismantle settlement outposts, it is calling on supporters from across Israel to assist in preventing such removals.
Realistically, the Yesha Council cannot control everyone who comes to resist the dismantling of an outpost, and cannot assure that no violence will occur. Making a public call for the attendance of supporters is therefore a dangerous game. If an IDF soldier were ever, G-d forbid, to be seriously injured (or worse) during an operation to remove an outpost, the Yesha Council and the residents of Judea and Samaria will lose the support - and gain the scorn - of many otherwise sympathetic Israelis, who may be apathetic to removal of outposts but would oppose the future destruction of established communities in Judea and Samaria.
This is not to say that opposition - including non-violent physical opposition - is inherently illegitimate, but that the risks of such opposition must be very carefully considered.
Another Fatah Murder
Last night, a 7 year old Israeli girl was shot dead by Fatah's al Aksa Martyr's Brigade. Despite this, Israel continues to consider the release from prison of al Aksa's leader, Marwan Barghouti. Yesterday I posted about this outrage. Israel's Attorney General, Elyakim Rubinstein shares my view, and in today's Times is quoted as saying:
"The person in question is an architect of terror. It is unthinkable to integrate Barghouti into any deal with the Palestinians. The voice of our brothers' blood prohibits such a thing. Experience shows that men of terror such as Barghouti do not return to an honest path. How will we be able to face the families of the victims?"
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Hamas leader Abdel Rantisi, who Israel attempted but failed to liquidate last week in Gaza, says that "martyrdom is one ambition I pursue."
I share Rantisi's ambition. Hopefully Israel will soon launch a successful strike against Rantisi and other terrorists.
Reports suggest that as part of a "ceasefire" with the PA, Israel is strongly considering releasing Fatah terror leader Marwan Barghouti.
Barghouti was captured on April 15, 2002, during the mass rally is support of Israel at the Capitol. He is currently standing trial for the murder of dozens of Israeli civilians. His release would be a disgraceful mockery of Israel's defense against terror, in which scores of its soldiers and civilians have been killed or wounded, and would serve to offer legitimacy to the war waged against Israel in September 2000.
Monday, June 16, 2003
Hadassah and Terrorists
The doctors, nurses and staff at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem have done a fantastic job of responding to the desperate medical situation of patients critically injured in terrorist attacks.
This week's Time has a feature about Hadassah. One of those quoted is Dr. Avi Rivkind, chief of E.R. at Hadassah. Dr. Rivkind proudly recalls saving the life of Samer Qawasbeh, one of the Palestinian terrorists who invaded Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity last year. In the midst of a gun battle, Qawasbeh was shot in the stomach. By the time he reached Hadassah, "he was pretty much dead," said Rivkind, who treated him. After a series of operations paid for by Hadassah, the terrorist's life was saved. Commenting on Qawsabeh, Rivkind says "The guy's a terrorist, one hundred percent, but I don't care." Rivkind also said that Hadassah would arrange to get a special permit for the terrorist to enter Jerusalem, for further treatment.
Rivkind is wrong. While from a medical perspective it is appropriate to treat every patient, there are moral standards outside medicine which all citizens, including doctors, must recognize. Rivkind fails to understand that. Saving the life of a terrorist who is likely to try to kill again and making special arrangements for him to get a permit into Jerusalem is not something Rivkind should be proud of. At best - if required by law - it is a necessary evil. At worst it is acting as an accessory to the potential murder of innocents, such as one of Rivkind's collegues, Dr. Shmuel Gillis, a senior hemotologist at Hadassah who was shot dead by Fatah terrorists as he headed home following a shift at Hadassah.
Lieberman On Lieberman
More than a decade ago, I went to yeshiva and college with a staunch conservative by the name of Joseph Lieberman. Lieberman was frustrated by the failure of Jews to support the first President Bush. We often argued about Bush's and James Baker's betrayal of Israel in the UN Security Council in the months before the first Gulf War, as well as Bush's refusal to agree to guarantee loans to Israel unless Prime Minister Shamir's government stopped all construction in Judea and Samaria. Senator Lieberman of Connecticut was then in his first term, and I recall that my friend would complain a bit about sharing a name with an up-and-coming Democrat.
I last spoke with Joseph Lieberman from Boro Park in 1995, around the time he got married, and was surprised to open today's Times to find a feature about a book named "Joseph Lieberman is a Pious Liberal and Other Observations" that he has written.
I don't know if I'd agree with much of it, but offer the best of luck to Lieberman on his book.
Orthodox Jewish Population
Today's Times reports that according to a UJA study, 972,000 Jews live in New York City, 19% of whom are Orthodox. In other words, about 185,000 Orthodox Jews live in New York City.
When one considers that there also are large Orthodox populations in areas just outside the city, such as the Five Towns, West Hempstead, Teaneck, Engelwood, Fair Lawn, Passaic, New Square, Monroe, Monsey, as well as in cities throughout North America, it becomes clear that previous studies have grossly underestimated the Orthodox population.
Sunday, June 15, 2003
Murder of Settlers and Israel's Government
After the murder of a resident of Beit El and her 12 year old son, the Prime Minister attended the funeral and delivered a eulogy. As reported by The Jerusalem Post, the Prime Minister stated that the residents of Judea and Samaria are pioneers "'who live among pioneers, the heroes of our time.' The prime minister said the time has come, after years of a smear campaign at home and abroad, to say, "Nobody is better than they are. There is nobody like them to continue Israel's heritage, the love of Israel, the love of the land."
"You are the flesh of our flesh," he said. "There is no difference in the security responsibility this government feels to Beit El or Beit Kama, Shilo or Herzliya. There is no difference. We will increase our efforts in this place in order to ensure the security of all Israeli residents."
The murder was of Ita and Ephraim Tzur in December 1996, and the eulogy was given by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Tragically, murder of "settlers" are now routine, not particularly noteworthy, and often mentioned with the implicit suggestion that the victims deserved what they got. The current Prime Minister, who is responsible for many of the communities in Judea and Samaria, rarely attends funerals of terror victims, or offers words of moral support for settlers and settlements.
In June 2001, Sharon did speak at the funeral of Yehuda Shoham, a five-month-old baby who was murdered by a 10 pound stone. Sharon addressed the young parents:
"Dear Bat-Sheva and Benny and families, friends who have come here from all over the country. I am not here to make a speech. I have come to cry, to cry with you together. Yesterday, I stood by the bed of Chaim Yehuda and patted his hand. It was difficult for me to leave him; he is exactly the same age as my twin grandchildren. I saw you praying with devotion, and I also prayed in my heart together with you. How can they murder a baby? How can they do this? Only the wild and unrestrained incitement of the Palestinian Authority, which stands behind and activates this terrorism, leads to these horrific acts. The responsibility for the security of every child in Israel is upon my shoulders, and I feel its weight. I feel its weight, yet my shoulders have not become weak, because I know that we must not allow our spirit to fall. If we ask every day, 'How much longer?', we will lose. But if we remain firm and grit our teeth, and continue even when the tears choke our throats, we will win. And we will win. We have stood up to difficult situations, and we have overcome our enemies, and we will do this again in the future. But my heart is pained at the fact that little Yehuda will not be with us when we arrive, in Eretz Yisrael, at the 'menuchah v'hanachalah [the rest and the inheritance].' And we will get there. May his memory be a blessing."
Egged Bus Drivers
In the midst of the painful situation, a funny exchange occurred this morning during an interview of Jerusalem Post publisher Tom Rose by MSNBC anchorwoman Alex Witt.
Witt mentioned to Rose that a friend in Jerusalem expressed her fear when her car stops at a light next to a bus. Rose responded that "sometimes I am more worried about the bus drivers than the passengers on the bus."
Witt, clearly surprised, asked why the bus drivers were a threat, before Rose explained the crazed driving of many Egged bus drivers.
Yet Further Times Distortion
In his column in Sunday's New York Times, Thomas Friedman wrote that "In a Yediot Ahronot poll released Friday, two-thirds of Israelis were critical of Mr. Sharon's tactic of targeted assassinations of Hamas officials and said they wanted Mr. Abbas to be given a chance to establish his authority."
Here's what the relevant question in the Yediot poll about trageted killings of Hamas terrorists showed:
Should the policy of targeted killing continue or should it be stopped and Abu Mazen be given a chance to establish himself in the PA?
Continue 30% Stop temporarily 58% Stop completely 9% No reply 3%
Friedman's claim that two-thirds of Israelis are "critical" of the policy of liquidating Hamas terrorists is a quite strained interpretation of the poll results, which also shows that 88% of Israelis support the policy of killing Hamas members.
Friday, June 13, 2003
Scott and Israel
A blogger named Scott, who is not Jewish and grew up in Arkansas, has written a superb piece expressing his support for Israel.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
When it comes to Israel, the Jewish Press takes an extreme right-wing editorial line and gives a platform to extremists, including a few who condoned the murder of Prime Minister Rabin.
Strangely, however, the Jewish Press has not criticized President Bush, even as it expresses its opposition to the road map he strongly pressured Israel to accept. In response to critics, this week's Jewish Press explains that "We are hopeful that President Bush's heretofore demonstrated forthrightness and resolve will make a difference in the Palestinian mindset. If it doesn't, we trust the president will respond appropriately. Should he fail to do so, we can assure you The Jewish Press will strongly reconsider the support we’ve given him from the 2000 election onward."
Pretty soft stuff about the first President to insist on a Palestinian state from the paper that lambasted and never forgave Hillary for calling for a Palestinian state. Yet I'm comforted by the knowledge that if Jews continue to be blown up and Bush doesn't "respond appropriately," the JP has assured us that it will "strongly reconsider" its support of Bush in time for the 2004 elections.
A longtime friend of mine is a close friend of Frankie Sachs, sports editor of The Jerusalem Post. Frankie and his brother Kenny both made aliyah from New Jersey, have served in IDF combat units (Golani), and are now reservists. On Sunday, Kenny was wounded in the terror attack at the Erez crossing at the Gaza border, taking two bullets in a leg. Four reservists were killed in the attack, with four others wounded. Fortunately, Kenny is expected to recover, though he remains in a lot of pain and has a long road of physical therapy ahead.
Today's Jerusalem Post has an article about Kenny. His parents rushed from the U.S. to visit him in the hospital. Do they regret their sons' having made aliyah? Not at all, according to the article: "Nobody wants to sacrifice a child, but we have to defend this land at all costs," Kenny's dad, Mark Sachs said. "It's something I always wanted to do."
As for Kenny, despite the sacrifices he has made, he has no complaints about miluim, his reserve duty: "A lot of people don't feel the same way," he said. "They see [reserve service] as an inconvenience...and look for excuses to get out of it. If we, the citizens of this country don't defend this country, who will?... The first chance I get I'll go to miluim [reserve service], at the same base if my unit has reason to go there," he said.
The devotion of the soldiers to Israel's defense is heroic. In honor of this devotion, it might be appropriate to donate to the Save Our Soldiers fund, which purchases bullet proof vests for IDF soldiers.
Incidentally, Frankie Sachs recently wrote a column about being a longtime fan of the New Jersey Nets. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who suffered through the days of Chris Morris, Pearl Washington, Otis Birdsong, and Benoit Benjamin.
In the past it has generally taken the Times an extra day to respond to terrorist attacks. Today, however, the Times immediately responded to yesterday's bus bombing in Jerusalem with a lead editorial that blamed the attack, as well as the failure of the road map, on Sharon. PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who has refused to contest Hamas, is strongly praised in the Times editorial.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Bush Is Deeply Troubling
Today's Haaretz contains a distrubing report further suggesting that President Bush's sympathies have swung significantly in favor of the PA.
The article states that according to one of the participants in last week's summit, "at the advance request of Israel, Bush's aides put security problems at the top of the agenda for discussion. 'The first thing that Bush was required to talk about was security,' says the participant, adding, 'It was a request of the Israelis. So [Bush] asked [Muhammad] Dahlan [of the PA] to give a briefing.' According to the source, Dahlan gave an excellent five-minute synopsis of the situation, and concluded by saying to Bush: 'There are some things we can do and some things we cannot. We will do our best. But we will need help.'
[Israeli Defense Minister Shaul] "Mofaz burst in at the end of Dahlan's presentation and said: 'Well, they won't be getting any help from us; they have their own security service.' You could see that Bush was irritated, says the participant, and he turned on Mofaz angrily: 'Their own security service? But you have destroyed their security service.' Mofaz shook his head and said: 'I do not think that we can help them, Mr. President,' - to which Bush said: 'Oh, but I think that you can. And I think that you will.'
"Then Bush turned to Abbas - again according to a script insisted on by the Israelis - and said: 'Mr. Prime Minister, perhaps you could give an overview of the situation in the West Bank and Gaza.' Abbas outlined the increasingly dire situation of the territories, saying that the humanitarian crisis was deepening, and that while recent actions of the finance minister had eased the problems, the insertion of new funding was necessary. Sharon then interrupted and said: 'The insertion of new funding must be dependent on your good behavior.' Bush was again visibly irritated: 'You should release their money as soon as possible. This will help the situation.' Sharon shook his head: 'We have to deal with security first, and we will condition the release of their monies on this alone.' Bush peered at Sharon: 'But it is their money...' Sharon said: 'Nevertheless, Mr. President ...' and Bush interrupted him: 'It is their money, give it to them.'
"After that meeting, Bush turned to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and said, "We have a problem with Sharon I can see, but I like that young man [Dahlan] and I think their prime minister is incapable of lying. I hope that they will be successful. We can work with them.'"
Dahlan - the "young man" Bush likes, is responsible for a 2000 bombing of a school bus in Gaza, which killed two teachers and wounded many children, including three children in the Cohen family who each lost limbs. As for Abu Mazen, who Bush says "is incapable of lying," in his book, The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement, he claims that the figure of 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust was "peddled" by the Jews and that in fact "the Jewish victims may number six million or be far fewer, even fewer than one million."
Bush Is Deeply Troubled
President Bush is apparently "deeply troubled" by an Israeli attempt to liquidate senior Hamas terrorist Abdel Rantisi.
Perhaps Bush is troubled that Israel fired at Rantisi's car instead of blowing up Rantisi's entire building, as the U.S. did to its enemies in Iraq. According to an Associated Press report released today, at least 3240 Iraqi civilians were killed during the recent war.
Yet Another Times Distortion
A front page article in today's New York Times cites a new poll taken by the Jaffee Institute for Strategic Studies as showing that "56 percent of those polled said they would support a unilateral withdrawal from all settlements as part of a peace accord, up from 48 percent last year." (emphasis on "all" added)
This is a gross distortion of the actual poll findings, according to which "the number of those supporting the idea of separation from the Palestinians by withdrawing unilaterally even if that meant abandoning settlements increased from 48 percent in 2002 to 56 percent in 2003." In contrast to the Times article, nowhere does the actual poll state that Israelis support abandoning all settlements, and given that even former Labor leader Amram Mitzna insists that Israel will keep the major settlement blocs, it is absurd to believe that a majority of Israelis would give up "consensus" settlements such as Maale Adumim.
This latest egregious example of the Times' difficulties with the truth falsely leads readers to believe that all of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are on the fringes of Israeli society, and undermines potential support for the residents and communities in those areas. Many who are otherwise sympathetic toward the notion that Jews can live in Judea and Samaria will not want to oppose destruction of settlements if they believe that a majority of Israelis support such a move.
Monday, June 09, 2003
A review of Arab newspapers shows that no peace is attainable without Israeli agreement to accept the "return" of "Palestinian refugees." As one person wrote to The Jordan Times, "hours before accepting the roadmap, with 14 reservations, the Israeli government unanimously passed a resolution denying the right of return to Palestinian refugees. Undeniably, such a move is alone sufficient to torpedo every attempt at implementing an already inept peace plan." These sentiments are typical of citizens and leaders throughout the Arab world, and there is no reason to believe that a radical change in position will occur in the foreseeable future.
Of course, many "refugees" never actually lived in the area that is now Israel, but are children or grandchildren of people who allegedly did. In fact, many "refugees" are citizens of other countires.
Ariel in The New Republic
In an article in this week's New Republic, editor Peter Beinart recalls an exchange between Prime Minister Sharon and a Likud Knesset member, leading him to question Sharon's desire for peace:
"A lawmaker from the settlement of Ariel asked whether his children would have to move. 'You can build [there] for your children and grandchildren, and I hope even for your great-grandchildren,' the prime minister replied--although Ariel sits well inside the West Bank. If Sharon truly believes that, he may not be serious about a peace deal himself."
Beinart's implicit criticism is misplaced. Even under the Clinton Plan, under which Israel would have relinquished more than 95% of Judea and Samaria, Ariel – which has nearly 20,000 residents and the College of Judea and Samaria – would have been annexed to Israel as part of the Western Samaria settlement bloc.
Sunday, June 08, 2003
A few days after opening the Erez Crossing between Israel Gaza to Palestinian workers, the Palestinians have responded as they always do: with yet another terrorist attack. Details are still limited, but according to Haaretz, Israel TV is reporting that four Israelis have been killed in the attack.
Bush vs. Israel - The Betrayal Continues
Evidence continues to mount that the Bush Administration is turning against Israel. Today's Haaretz reports that "in early May, Bush met with a delegation of U.S. Jewish leaders, one of whom said afterward that Bush had made the following statement about Sharon: 'I saved his ass in Iraq. He owes me, and I intend to collect the debt.'"
Worse, Middle East Newsline reports that Bush sided with the State Department over the Pentagon and National Security Council on a number of key issues for Israel. For example, Bush has accepted the formation of a Palestinian state even without an end to terrorism and appointed a State Department official to take charge of the implementation of the road map rather than the pro-Israel outgoing U.S. ambassador to India, whose appointment was strongly urged by Condoleezza Rice.
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Bush and Israel II
In this week's Forward, Chemi Shalev writes of the growing tensions between the Bush Adninistration and the Israeli government:
"The straining effects on American-Israel relations of the president's newfound interest in the conflict were already apparent in the days leading up to the summit, as Sharon's advisers tried to stave off American pressures for a 'truly groundbreaking' Israeli statement in Aqaba. For the first time since the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks — when Sharon warned Bush not to turn Israel into 'another Czechoslovakia' — aides to Sharon were heard criticizing Bush and what they described as his 'heavy-handed' new approach to the Israeli prime minister. 'He is only interested in making headlines,' one Sharon aide said bitterly of the president's push. 'He will do anything for a good photo-op.'
Furthermore, Defense Ministry officials "quoted a senior Republican governor who recounted a recent meeting with Bush in which the president pledged to achieve a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian agreement during his second term in office. 'And if he has no other choice,' the governor warned, 'he won't hesitate to impose a solution.' Other officials cited a diplomatic dispatch from Washington that quoted Bush as saying, in a private White House meeting, 'Sharon owes me one.'"
I have heard, seen, and read enough in the last three days to be convinced that Bush - like his father - is no friend of Israel. Let's hope that like his Dad, he will be a one-term President.
Hours before the start of Shavuot, David Shambik, 27, and Moran Menachem, 17, were found stabbed to death just outside Jerusalem. Reacting to the terrorist murders, Meretz MK Chaim Oron told Israeli Radio that if the Palestinian Authority is linked to murders that take place after the Aqaba meeting then "we have nothing to talk about" with the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Sharon has always referred to the territory in dispute as Judea and Samaria, rather than the West Bank. Therefore it seems significant that, as reported by Herb Keinon in today's Jerusalem Post: "Sharon referred publicly Wednesday for the first time in memory in front of his people and the world to the territories not as Judea and Samaria, but as the West Bank. 'We can also reassure our Palestinian partners that we understand the importance of territorial contiguity in the West Bank for a viable Palestinian state,' Sharon said."
Keinon points out that "for most of the world, using the term West Bank is standard geographical fare. Not for Sharon. For him, saying these words represents a dramatic ideological shift."
Like Keinon I was also struck by Sharon's use of the term West Bank, but I'm not sure he's right that for Sharon "saying these words represents a dramatic ideological shift." Sharon used the term West Bank in the context of agreeing to territorial contiguity for a Palestinian state. It would have made no sense for Sharon to have said that "we understand the importance of territorial contiguity in Judea and Samaria for a viable Palestinian state," because that would have undermined and cast aspersions upon his conciliatory message.
Bush and Israel
Today's Washington Post reports that according to "a U.S. source familiar with the talks between the Israelis and the Americans, 'the United States is very eager to see bulldozers knock down settlements.'"
Of course, Bush is Israel's best friend ever in the White House. Even the Jewish Press is "trusting of Mr. Bush`s intentions."
Another Times Distortion
In today's Times, James Bennet implies the following criticism of Prime Minister Sharon's speech at yesterday's summit:
"It was perhaps significant that Mr. Sharon spoke in English, not in Hebrew. Israeli leaders have often accused Palestinian leaders, particularly Yasir Arafat, of speaking in English and not Arabic when they delivered messages that were popular with the Americans but not necessarily with their own people."
Bennet's point is absurd. Sharon spoke in English (just as King Abdullah did) because he was appearing before President Bush, and Israelis almost always speak English when before leaders of the United States. Furthermore, Sharon's recent statements in Hebrew have been even more dovish than anything he has said in English. For example, Sharon has - in Hebrew - repeatedly accepted the need to make "very painful concessions," accepted a Palestinian state, and referred to Israel's control of Judea and Samaria as a "kibush." Kibush can be as occupation, but seems closer to meaning "conquest."
In contrast, in Arabic speeches Arafat always has and continues to call for shaheeds (martyrs), refers to Israel as a colonial conspiracy, and glorifies suicide bombers. Most recently, as translated by MEMRI, Arafat stated as follows:
"The great imperialistic Zionist conspiracy against our Arab nation and our homeland Palestine, which began with the Zionist Congress in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, reached its accursed peak on May 15, 1948. On this accursed day, the state of Israel was established by force of arms, as [the result of] imperialistic conspiracy, on the ruins of our homeland Palestine. Our people [were] strewn from our homeland, in exile, in the diaspora, and in the refugee camps by massacres... In 1947, the imperialistic forces that controlled the U.N. at that time forced the partition of our homeland, Palestine, into two states: one Palestinian Arab and one Israeli Jewish... Palestine is our homeland, the land of the battlefront and the holy land, our homeland and the homeland of our fathers and grandfathers, the homeland of our grandchildren and of the generations to come. Palestine is our homeland. It has no substitute, and we have no other homeland. Every Palestinian refugee looks forward to the day when he will embrace the homeland and restore its identity and the honor of the citizen in his homeland Palestine... our truth in this continuing struggle that we wage for the sake of our right to our homeland Palestine... 70,000 martyrs and wounded have fallen defending the homeland's freedom and independence and the places holy to Islam and Christianity. They have blessing and glory. They are among the martyrs and the saints, who are the best friends [of the martyrs] who improve [the land] with their blood for the sake of independence and freedom."
PR for Settlers
Whenever opposition to the road map is mentioned in the Western media, the "settlers" and Hamas terrorists are cited as "extremists on both sides" who are trying to scuttle the prospects for peace. The only exception is on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, which I confess to sometimes watching because of its staunch moral support for Israel.
A number of organizations work on behalf of Jewish residents in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, such as One Israel Fund. Yet to my knowledge nobody is doing anything in support of an accurate portrayal of settlers and settlements. Considering how much has been invested in the settlements and how endangered this investment now is, isn't it worth it to invest in a public relations effort on behalf of the people and communities of Yesha?
No Palestinian Compromise
James Rubin, who was Assistant Secretary of State during the Clinton Administation and is married to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, was a guest on CNN's program hosted by Aaron Brown last night. Rubin expressed his concern that Sharon's offers of territorial compromise would fall short of Barak's offers at Taba, and stated that the Palestinians could not be expected to accept less than what they have already rejected.
According to Rubin's logic, Israel will have to continually increase its offers to meet Palestinian demands, until it eventually agrees to give up Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Jerusalem and allows millions of refugees to destroy Israel.
Instead, the Palestinians should and must pay a price for their refusal to accept Barak's egregiously excessive concessions. Just as the 1947 partition plan was no longer on the table following the 1948 war, the Clinton Plan must not be the basis for negotiation following the war waged by Arafat in 2000.
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Benny Begin has an important column in Thursday's Haaretz, in which he explains how as a result of terrorism Israel's positions vis a vis its enemies have consistenty eroded since 1967. As Begin writes:
"The majority of the public agrees with the statements by Israel's defense ministers that the country's citizens are showing excellent resolve in the face of terrorism. That's not true.
"The logic of terrorism is cruel but simple: inducing governments to change their positions by intimidating the citizens. Hence the yardstick by which to measure the efectiveness of terrorism. By that yardstick, there is only one conclusion to be drawn from the Israeli case: The terrorism perpetrated by the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO) and Hamas against Israel has been a very successful project."
Settlements To Be Dismantled
Ruby Rivlin is interviewed by Haaretz's Ari Shavit in this (just published) week's Haaretz magazine. Sharon has discussed his plans with Rivlin, and in the interview Rivlin makes clear that Sharon will dismantle many settlements as part of an interim agreement with the PA. It seems from the interview that Sharon will destroy Jewish communities in Gush Etzion and in the Binyamin region, possibly including Beit El, Ofra and Shilo.
Outposts Should Not Be The Issue
Tonight tens of thousands demonstrated in Zion Square against the road map. The organizers had predicted that more than 100,000 would attend, and now claim that 100,000 indeed attended.
Too much of the opposition to the road map has focused on Prime Minister Sharon's announcement that Israel will dismantle unathorized outposts that have been set up near existing communities in Judea and Samaria, rather than the more significant dangers of the road map. For example, Israel is expected to agree to a Palestinian state, to accept a ceasefire with Hamas rather than the destruction of Hamas' infrastructure, to release all Palestinian terrorists, to withdraw from all or almost all of Judea and Samaria and dismantle most of the settlements, and to give up control over the Old City of Jerusalem. All of these are far more problematic than the question of outposts and should be the primary focus of opposition to the road map.
There may be tactical reasons to make it difficult for the government to destroy outposts, such as to make it clear that it will be extremely difficult for the government to ever forcibly remove tens of thousands of residents from their homes and towns. But more likely, settlers who curse at and fight with soldiers at outpost sites will alienate centrist Israelis, resulting in a political loss for those who support the Jewish right to settle in all parts of the Land of Israel.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid bravely expressed strong criticism of Yasser Arafat in a column in Wednesday's Haaretz. Eid wrote as follows:
"I was shocked to see the images on television of Palestinian children going to the Muqata on the Day of the Child to support Arafat. The Palestinian president is still talking about shaheeds and he encouraged children to become martyrs by telling them that one shaheed on earth is considered by God as great as 40 shaheeds in heaven. (This statement has not yet been condemned by any organizations for the protection of children.)
"It seems Arafat is still encouraging Palestinians to victimize themselves, an attitude that is without logic or ethics. Instead of talking about peace and life, instead of supporting coexistence, instead of fulfilling the consciousness of human beings, Arafat is calling for death. It appears the nearly 2,500 Palestinians and more than 700 Israelis who were killed during this intifada are not enough to fulfill Arafat's political interests. I hope - and am rather sure - that Abu Mazen will not behave in this manner. I also hope that Abu Mazen, with his government, will do his best to put an end to the terror and the violence."
Uri Lupolianski has been elected mayor of Jerusalem. Lupolianski has served in the IDF and is the founder of Yad Sarah and appears to be a man who can reduce tensions between religious and secular.
This cartoon speaks for itself. It was published in the Chicago Tribune.
Today's International Herald Tribune reports that according to a poll of 15,000 Muslims in various Middle East countries, an overwhelming majority in each country supports the destruction of Israel, with Osama bin Laden gaining high approval. Among Moroccans, 90% rejected Israel's existence, while 85 percent of Jordanians and 80 percent of Palestinians agreed.
Thanks to Google, this blog had been getting a small but steady flow of new visitors who found it as a result of searches relating to any of the various matters I've written about.
Unfortunately, it appears that Google has removed this site from its index, making it very difficult to gain new vistors.
A settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria would have a similar effect. If no new people could move in, the settlements - especially the smaller ones - would be considerably weakened and marginalized.
The editorial is today's Beirut Daily Star calls on Palestinians to "make common cause with American Jews."
Something is very wrong when Arabs view (even some) Jews as allies, while Israel and pro-Israel organizations fail to mobilize Jewish supporters of Israel. For example, why not use U.S. Jews to support Israel's argument that it rejects the return of refugees to Israel, that it accepts territorial compromise but will not go back to the 1967 borders, and that Jerusalem must remain undivided?
Cynics will argue that most American Jews do not give a damn about Israel. Sadly, there is some truth to this, but large numbers of us are ardent supporters of Israel, as was clearly demonstrated in April, 2002, at the mass rally in Washington.
Bush's Ignorance II
A front page article in today's Washington Post fully supports the Haaretz report described in the last post. The Washington Post reports that President Bush "has shown little interest in the details" of the Israel-Palestinian dispute. For example, "the president has told aides that the Israelis are wasting their money on expanding settlements in the West Bank because ultimately those projects will become housing developments for Palestinians." Is Bush aware that "settlements" just outside Jerusalem, such Maale Adumim and Efrat, would have been annexed even under the Clinton Plan? Along the same lines, the article also states that Bush has expressed disinterest in the borders of a Palestinian state, viewing the borders to be of relatively little importance.
Monday, June 02, 2003
While I don't agree with it politically, Haaretz's reports are usually accurate. Therefore, an article in Tuesday's paper indicating that President Bush is extraordinarily ignorant about Israel and the Palestinians is quite disturbing.
The article claims that at a meeting Bush "gave his advisers the impression that he thought (PA Prime Minister Mahmoud) Abbas was a young, energetic revolutionary. One of the State Department officials had to explain with a smile, Mr. President, he's a 68-year-old man and has been working with Arafat his entire life." The piece also states that "a person who knows the president's position said this week that he's a bit 'naive' about the settlements. It's clear to him that they will be taken down, 'but he doesn't fully understand why such a big deal has to be made about them now.'"
If Bush is really this ignorant about Israel, then the road map is even more dangerous than previously thought. How can Israel risk its future by trusting a person who lacks basic knowledge of its issues?
According to a Haaretz interview with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Sharon has told Rivlin that he intends to dismantle 17 settlements as part an agreement with the Palestinians. It is not clear if the "agreement" would be a final-status agreement or an interim agreement, though Sharon has previously stated that any agreement in the near future will be an interim one.
While Rivlin may mean well, his disclosure is very disturbing. By foolishly revealing Sharon's positions to the world, including the PA, he is undermining Israel's negotiating leverage and increasing the likelihood that additional settlements to the 17 mentioned by Sharon would be dismantled upon an agreement.
Larry Brown is a very good coach and Joe Dumars is a very good GM, but I fail to understand how Dumars can fire Rick Carlisle after the latter turned the Detroit Pistons around with two strong seasons. While the Pistons struggled against the Nets, they did defeat the Philadelphia 76ers, coached by Brown. And the Pistons did not have Allen Iverson.
Brown will likely have success as Pistons coach but under Carlisle the Pistons would also have been a force in the East, as they have the second selection in this month's NBA draft.
In 1994, 19 year old Arik Frankenthal was kidnapped and murdered by Hamas.
I would consider Frankenthal's killers to be terrorists, but in a Haaretz column, his father, Yitzhak Frankenthal, refers to them as "freedom fighters." Frankenthal writes that "I lost my first-born son at the hands of Palestinian freedom fighters - the freedom of which the Palestinians were deprived because of the occupation that even Prime Minister Sharon now admits is a bad thing."
After his son's murder, Yitzhak Frankenthal became involved in left-wing movements, and has gradually moved to the extreme left. His opposition to Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria is a legitimate political view, but his reference to Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters" is not. Nor is his implication that "the occupation" is to blame for his son's murder. As Frankenthal surely knows, Hamas believes "the occupation" to have begun upon Israel's formation in 1948.
If Hamas killers are freedom fighters, than their mass murder of Israelis - which has never differentiated between religious and secular, soldier and civilian, man, woman and child, or residents of areas held by Israel before or after 1967 - is legitimate. As Hamas continues to murder Israelis and fight for Israel's destruction, Frankenthal's reference to them as freedom fighters, and his blame of Israel's "occupation" for his son's murder, is an immoral justification of the murder of Arik Frankenthal and the thousands of other victims of Palestinian terror.
One of Prime Minister Sharon's gestures to the PA this week will be the release from prison of the perpetrator of a 1975 bombing in Jerusalem's Zion Square, when a refrigerator loaded with explosives was placed in Zion Square and killed 14 people.
There is no justification for releasing a mass murderer, and this "gesture" is particularly egregious given that terror from the PLO, Hamas and Islamic Jihad is continuing.
Israel Parade and the Times
Yesterday was the annual Salute to Israel Parade, which means that today is the annual New York Times distortion of the parade.
The article today is an improvement from previous years, but again mostly ignored the parade itself and focused extensively on exchanges between the tens of thousands of Israel supporters and the 200 anti-Israel protesters.