Sunday, July 31, 2005

Change is possible

Change is possible! Here are two contemporary examples: The policy of
France towards Israel, and the decision by the IRA to give up resort to
France has been the main European antagonist to American policy and has been
hostile to Israel as a presumed puppet of the US. As an opponent of the
Iraq war and a sympathetic supporter of the Palestinians, France has been
essentially an opponent of Israel since the time that Gen. De Gaulle broke
relations after the Six Day war in 1967. Now PM Sharon has made an
incredibly successful State visit to France where he was received
enthusiastically and positively by Pres. Chirac and his administration.
There are four things responsible for this major change: 1. The passing of
Yasir Arafat, who was the darling of the European left, and now his
influence is gone from the scene; 2. The segue from the anti-Saddam war in
Iraq to the insurgency; 3. The upsurge of Muslim terrorism in the UK and
elsewhere in Europe, and 4. The Gaza disengagement plan, which has been
undertaken by Sharon partly to undermine European objections to Israeli
policy and earn "brownie" points with European leaders.
Although this dramatic turnaround could not have been predicted, if it had
not happened at least with one European leader, this would have been a
failure of the policy. As it is, Sharon must be congratulated for having
pulled off a major diplomatic coup. Some might argue, who needs France
anyway, but there is the feeling that a corner has been turned in
Euro-Israeli relations. France is a supporter of Lebanese sovereignty, an
opponent of Iranian nuclear development, and a supporter of PA Pres. Abbas
and an opponent of Palestinian terrorism, all subjects on which there is
accord with Israeli policies. Stranger things than this have happened, but
not many.
The IRA's decision to forgo the use of "armed struggle" is a watershed in
Irish history. For the first time the main Republican party has decided to
seek change only by peaceful means. Of course, some Unionists and others
are a bit skeptical, but the statement issued by Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein
appears unambiguous.
Why now? The IRA has been under pressure for some time to take this step ,
but has until now stopped short. There are two possible reasons for the
change, first the murder of Mr. McCartney in a pub in Belfast that has
brought enormous negative PR against the IRA, including the visits of his
sisters to Washington and London. Second, the advent of domestic terrorism
in Britain. The IRA does not want to be tarnished with the same brush as
the Muslim extremist terrorists. Since the IRA have used terrorism against
Britain in the past they do not want to be seen as an enemy of Britain while
Britain is under attack, they do not want to be misconstrued as sympathizers
with the Islamist agenda. But, perhaps the main reason is that change does
occur, the Irish people on both sides of the divide have become
disillusioned by the use of violence, it has achieved nothing. Now is the
time for peaceful solutions.
That time has unfortunately not yet come for the Palestinians, who still see
violence, the "armed struggle," as the main means to attain their goals.
Maybe the unilateral Israeli disengagement will persuade them otherwise, but
unfortunately they are not sophisticated enough to appreciate the concept of
selective tactical withdrawal. The terrorist groups will interpret it as a
victory for their strategy. Nevertheless, the IRA move could be considered
a model for their own future.
To those who argue against the disengagement policy on the cynical grounds
that the Palestinians cannot change, that nothing does change, I say that
change is indeed possible, and we must act accordingly, with cautious hope.

The wild West End

The shooting of the Brazilian immigrant, John Charles Menenzes, in
Stockwell underground station by British security forces was an
abysmal failure, but not for the usual reason given, that he was
innocent. But, rather, it was a failure because he was able to penetrate
the underground station and actually get on board a train.
If the police suspected that he was carrying a bomb belt under his coat,
worn on a hot day, they should have challenged him before he entered the
station, and if there was any doubt about his reaction, such as running
they should have shot him there and then. He may have run because he had an
out-dated visa and was in the UK illegally, but that was not the concern of
the officers. Their responsibility was to ensure that he could not explode
himself in the station or on the train amongst many passengers. Therefore
to allow him into the station and to actually board a train was an abysmal
failure of security.
It has been averred that the British security police have a "shoot to kill"
policy, which they may have adopted from the Israelis. In fact Israeli
security forces have a "shoot to stop" policy when it comes to potential
terrorist bombers, and one hopes that they would not have made such an
elementary mistake.
Now the Metropolitan Police force have made up for their mistake by
capturing three of the failed bombers of the July 21 attacks around London.
One was captured in Birmingham, two today in raids in and around Notting
Hill and the fourth one is reported to have been captured in Rome. This
points out the difference, as noted by some commentators, between these
so-called suicide bombers and those we are used to dealing with in Israel.
The London Islamic bombers are relatively amateurish, their bombs were home
made, the second batch did not go off, and after finding themselves alive
the bombers apparently had no escape plan, they simply ran. Notably they
did not try to commit suicide or take members of the public hostage or
anything else.
Now the police have the opportunity to find out if the bombs were made in
the same batch by the same bomb maker, if the cells knew each other and
whether or not they can identify any other cells from these men and their
activities. That is the crucial thing, since the first four bombers are
dead, can the second set who are alive and in custody provide enough
material to allow the authorities to stop this terrorist campaign now.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Harboring and profiling

One major factor in the success of a terrorist group is the existence of a
large group of sympathizers, who don't participate in the actual planning or
operations of the group, but provide necessary support, such as safe houses,
food, money, running errands, etc. This was a big factor in the success of
the Red Brigades in Italy, as described in books on the subject. It was
estimated that while the Red Brigades members themselves consisted only of
hundreds, their sympathizers and supporters consisted of thousands of
apparently ordinary men and women, who were prepared to hide them, assist
them, and pay for their activities. This was why they were so successful,
the police could not find them or stop them, even when they kidnapped and
murdered the former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, they remained at large
and undetected. The same was true of the Baader-Meinhof Gang in Germany
during the 1970s, that was a very small hard core group, less than 100, but
were able to count on large numbers of supporters, who although not willing
themselves to participate in bombings and killings, were prepared to make
these activities possible, and enjoyed the thrill of the undercover
Mao said that when the Red Army strikes it must be able to "swim in the sea
of the people." In other words a violent insurrection cannot be successful
without the active support of large numbers of people. That is why Che
Guevara was unable to export the Cuban revolution to S. America, he failed
because there was no support from the peasants. On the contrary, the
Palestinian insurrection against Israel has succeeded in maintaining its
momentum because of the support of the Palestinian peasantry for Hamas and
other violent groups.
In Britain, with the biggest manhunt in history underway, with tens of
thousands of police seeking four known terrorists, only one has been
captured so far. He was arrested in Birmingham along with three women who
were harboring him, providing a secret address, food and support. The other
three terrorists are also probably distributed elsewhere in the UK, living
safely behind the doors of Islamic terrorist sympathizers.
How many are there of these sympathizers in the UK? Who can tell, certainly
thousands. That is why I cringe when people talk about how wonderful the
Muslim community is, and how they are all peace loving and cooperative. I
am sure a majority of them are, but a large minority is not!
In the US it is forbidden to use "profiling" in searching and detaining
individuals, because this has been abused in certain cases (such as stopping
blacks driving in LA). This is why at US airports they stop every tenth
person and search their shoes, its stupid really, especially when they get a
child or an old person. The fact is that 90%+ of all transporters of drugs
up the east coast of the US by car from Florida are young black males. But,
police en route are prevented from stopping them unless there is some
specific evidence. Also, all terrorists trying to kill innocent civilians,
apart from a few nationalist groups such as ETA in Spain, are young male
Muslims. It makes sense to profile, and El Al has certainly shown that this
So the question is where are the other three terrorists in Britain and how
have they escaped detection so far? The answer is undoubtedly that they are
being harbored by innocent looking Muslims who act as a front for them. I
am sure this will be discovered when they are eventually captured. I am
sure the British police know this and are using profiling in seeking their

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Strange conversation

I had an amazing conversation at breakfast at the Faculty Club at the Hebrew
University Givat Ram campus this morning, the most interesting since I have
been going there every week practically for 3 years. There are only a few
tables so another visitor sat next to me. He introduced himself as Prof.
Belletri from Italy but working in Germany, and he is an expert on
German-Jewish relations. Of course, I mentioned to him that I had just read
the book by Amos Elon (a Prof. at the HU) entitled "The pity of it all..: a
history of the German-Jewish epoch 1743-1933." I was surprised that he had
not heard of the book, but we discussed the interaction of the Jews and
Germans, and he told me that the first Jewish Professor Emma Cohen was
appointed in Germany in 1876. This accords with the fact that as far as
Jews were concerned Germany was the most liberal country in Europe (probably
including the US) between the 1870's and 1910's.
At this point we were interrupted by another visitor, an Israeli Arab
Professor of Astronomy Ahmed Hakarala (?) who graduated in Heidelberg, and
said he could not help overhearing our conversation, and he wanted to pose
a question that had been bothering him for some time, namely what would
have happened if Germany had used German Jews to help them perfect the
atomic bomb early enough to use in WWII. Now one has to ask why such
a question would be important to an Israeli Arab astronomer, but I did
not raise that issue.
I told him that this question was not entirely new to me, and that I had
had an ongoing discussion many years ago with a German woman, wife of
one of my friends, when we were students in Cambridge. She said
that the Jews were responsible for the development of the atomic bomb,
and therefore responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people.
It seemed to me that this was an attempt to diffuse German guilt for the
murder of 6 million Jews by trying to blame the Jews for something, just as
many Europeans today blame Israel for the "suffering" of the Palestinians.
Since I had argued this topic many years ago I had some answers to his
1. Jews were not entirely responsible for the development of atomic
knowledge, in fact Madame Curie and her husband had discovered radioactivity
and yet one does not blame them or "the French" for the deaths of many
people due to their discovery. If that is so why blame "the Jews." Also,
only a few Jewish physicists (e.g. Lise Meitner) were capable of
contributing to atomic knowledge at the time, therefore to blame all Jews is
essentially a racist attitude.
2. He countered that those who developed the atomic bomb were mostly Jews,
such as Oppenheimer. I pointed out that the development of the bomb was not
a Jewish concern, but a National US concern, governments develop such bombs
not individuals. In fact, the person in charge of the Manhattan project was
General Groves, who was not Jewish, and there were many Jews and non-Jews
involved in the project, which ones should be blamed?
3. One cannot predict history, it is unpredictable. So one cannot presume
that IF the Germans had made faster progress, and IF German Jews had been
forced or agreed (as good Germans) to work on the atomic bomb,
and IF they had made sufficient progress, that they would have been able to
produce a bomb that the Germans could in fact deliver before 1945.
4. To illustrate this last point I told them about the play "Copenhagen" by
Michael Frayn that we saw in London two years ago. This concerned a
conversation that took place in 1940 between Niels Bohr, the half-Jewish
Danish originator of the theory of atomic structure, and his former student
Werner Heisenberg, a famous physicist and then the director of the
German/Nazi atomic program during WWII. No-one knows what was said during
this conversation, but it made Bohr decide immediately that he must escape
Denmark, which he did in a small boat to Britain. It is speculated that
during this conversation, for which Heisenberg went specifically to Denmark,
Heisenberg revealed the status of the German atomic program and asked for
Bohr's help in checking their calculations. It has been shown by looking at
the original papers that the Germans had made a mistake in the calculation
by a factor of around 10 for the amount of U235 required to sustain a chain
reaction. At that time it would have been impossible for the Germans to
isolate that amount of U235 from natural uranium, and so they could not
develop the bomb. Now if Bohr had told Heisenberg of this mistake the end
of the war might have been different. It is speculated that his sudden
change of mind to escape Denmark was so that he could not be arrested and
under torture reveal to the Germans their mistake, and also that he wanted
to pass the information urgently on to the allies. Whatever the reasons,
this one conversation could have changed the course of history. So history
is unpredictable and one should not base assumptions about a group's guilt
or innocence on possible alternatives to what actually happened in history.
5. Further, atomic knowledge, like all scientific information, is not evil
in itself, it is the use to which it is put that is potentially evil.
This was a very amicable, intellectual and intense conversation, I wonder
what its true significance was.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Terrorist connections

Attacks by the forces of international Islamic terrorism continue apace. A
series of bombings in Sharm-al-Sheikh, Egypt, yesterday killed mostly
Egyptian Muslims (80 out of 88), and some international tourists. These
attacks were clearly designed to terrorize people all over the world, to
show that nowhere is safe, and also to impact the tourist industry in Egypt
in order to destabilize the Mubarak regime and thereby to replace it by an
Islamist State. Since there are no Egyptian forces in Iraq and not a single
Iraqi has been killed by Egyptians, this tends to disprove the excuse that
the attacks in London are due to British involvement in the war against
The British Sun newspaper last week published a list and map showing 23
major international terrorist attacks since 1993 (excluding any in Israel!).
Their distribution from the US to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Philippines and
Indonesia shows no correlation with the war in Iraq, only a general attack
on Western interests and on any Muslim states that cooperate with the West.
Saddam Hussein, while still President of Iraq, allowed a pro-al Qaeda group
(Ansar Islamiya) to operate autonomously in the north of Iraq. But, Saddam
was a secular ruler and was never an ally of al Qaeda. Now the nascent
proto-democratic government of Iraq is a much more dangerous potential enemy
of the Islamists, and so they are attacking it with great intensity in order
to try to bring it down. That is why the US and UK must persist in fighting
the insurrection in Iraq, which has nothing directly to do with the former
Iraq war against Saddam Hussein, although former opponents of that war still
lump them together. It would be like lumping WWII and the Cold War as one,
just because one followed the other, when the enemy in each case was
Luckily the planned second wave of terrorist attacks in London failed, and
the security forces should hopefully have enough evidence to round up some
suspects. In doing so they cannot ignore the fact that the Muslim community
in the UK, notwithstanding all statements to the contrary, provides a safe
environment in which such extremists can hide. No doubt there are other
unsuspected cells waiting for their word to go, maybe next time with fresh
In Israel, a Palestinian youth from Gaza was captured with a bomb-belt on
his way to Tel Aviv, but a Jewish couple were shot dead during an attack by
terrorists on a convoy of cars leaving Gaza, and two of the attackers were
killed by the IDF. Does this presage a new round of attacks by terrorists
in Gaza, contrary to the understanding that Pres. Abbas gave to Secty. of
State Rice yesterday that the PA wants a peaceful Israeli withdrawal and
expects to coordinate this with the IDF.
To show the connection between all these international Islamist attacks,
those in Sharm were claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a terror group
linked to al-Qaeda. Abdullah Azzam was a Palestinian imam who is considered
responsible for expanding the war of Islam from Israel against the West. He
was born near Jenin in 1941 and after College participated in terror attacks
against Israel. Then he went to Egypt to study at al Azhar University in
Cairo, considered the highest Islamic center. Then he moved to Amman and
apparently became disillusioned with jihad against Israel alone. When the
war in Afghanistan started in 1979 he went there and became among other
things one of the spiritual mentors of Osama bin Laden. His main
contribution was to argue that fighting Israel alone was pointless, but only
hatred of the West in general (Judeo-Christian civilization) and military
action could bring about the aims of Islam. He was killed in a bomb blast
in Pakistan in 1989, that has been attributed to either the US or Osama, who
wished to supersede him.

Friday, July 22, 2005

UK, Spanish or Israeli?

Will the British follow the Spanish or the Israeli model in responding to
acts of terrorism directed against them on public transport? The Spanish
model is to give in, to cave, and alter one's policies to accommodate the
Islamist extremists. Specifically after the Madrid train bombings the
Spanish changed their government, and elected one that they knew would
withdraw their forces from Iraq. The Israeli model is not to allow the
terrorists to set Government policy, but to continue undeterred.
In the UK one could say that the Israeli model is represented by Tony Blair,
who fortunately is PM, and the Spanish model is represented by Ken
Livingstone, who unfortunately is Mayor of London. In everything he says
Livingstone exhibits anti-Israel and pro-Arab rhetoric that is inconsistent
with the reality of the attacks on his city. He has already stated that the
war in Iraq is the cause of the terrorism in London, because the British
have been killing Iraqi civilians. There is not a shred of evidence that
the terrorism is due to the conflict in Iraq, or that such attacks would not
be happening anyway, as they did on 9/11 in the US long before the Iraqi
war. As PM Howard of Australia said today, this terrorism is not "incident
specific" but is a general attack on the freedom and culture of the West.
People think that there are differences between Spain, the UK and Israel, in
the sense that the existence of the Spanish and British States are not
threatened as Israel is. But, that is not true, since the overall aim of
the Islamic extremists is to replace all Western Governments with Islamic
States that would not be democratic and would eventually combine to form a
new Caliphate. If you don't believe this then listen to the views of some
of the Islamic scholars who have been interviewed on the BBC and elsewhere,
who state quite openly that they are against democracy and in favor of an
Islamic State in Britain. What would have happened to a German who had
openly declared that he was working for a Nazi State or a Russian who said
he was working for a Communist State in Britain.
Unfortunately, the British have taken their supposed liberality too far.
London, or "Londonistan" as it is known, has become a haven for all sorts of
Islamist and extremist groups. Other countries, including Egypt, the US and
France have been frustrated in their attempts to deport wanted terrorists
from the UK. Maybe now after the 7/7 bombs and today's incidents, and the
moves to change laws in the UK, the British won't be so liberal in their
protection of Islamist extremists.
The people of Israel are very sympathetic to the suffering of those killed
and injured in the bombings in London, but this attitude has not been widely
reciprocated. Over the past five years Israel has lost ca. 1,200 dead to
terrorism. If this had happened in the UK it would be equivalent to 24
repetitions of the 4 bombings that took place in London last week. But,
Israel has a much smaller population than the UK (6 vs. 60 million),
therefore to have the same impact this would have to be multiplied by ten,
giving 240 days of such bombings. Could the British people survive such an
onslaught? The effects of continuing attacks such as those in London today
is to terrorize people so that they change their life, such as not going
out, not using the tube, change their opinions to identify with the aims of
the bombers in order to try to buy peace, and to stop tourism, so that the
economy is hit. This is especially true if it is clear that the security
forces are unable to deal with the attacks.
We Israelis wonder why there has been such little sympathy for our suffering
in the democratic UK. Of course, if you blame the suicide bombings in
Israel on the poverty, "occupation" and "desperation" of the Palestinians,
as Livingstone does, you can justify anything. But, no cause whatsoever can
justify malicious, random killing of innocent civilians. Given that the 7/7
London bombers were British-educated, relatively successful, middle class
people, none of the former excuses work.
I myself was brought up in a slum in the Jewish East End of London. We were
poor, deprived and frustrated, but none of us took a violent path against
our fellow citizens. The difference between us and the current situation is
that Islam is now the guiding ideology. The murderer of Theo van Gogh in
the Netherlands himself confessed that it was "conviction" and nothing else
that drove him to kill. Now that it is clear that extremist Islamist
ideology is the motivation of the London bombers, will the British follow
the Spanish or the Israeli response?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Between the devil and...

Israel is poised between two extremes, trying to find its way safely between
Scylla and Charibdis. On the one hand you have the usual threat of
Palestinian terrorism, chafing at the bit to attack and claim that they
forced the IDF out of Gaza, and on the other hand you have the right wing
settler groups trying in every way possible to thwart the Government's
policy of withdrawing from Gaza. This is a dangerous and fluid time for
In Gaza, forces of Hamas and the PA, supported by Fatah elements such as the
al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, have been in combat, shooting at each other and
burning each others facilities. At the same time Hamas are firing rockets
into Gaza Jewish settlements and into Israel proper. After the terrorist
incident in Netanya last week and many rocket attacks the IDF has massed on
the Gaza border ready to attack. But, PM Sharon and Secty of Defense Mohfaz
have held them back for now. Pres. Abbas has indicated a willingness to
confront Hamas and the Egyptians have come in again as intermediaries.
Also, US Secty of State Rice is due here soon in order to try to stabilize
the situation.
Presumably they are all telling Hamas and Islamic Jihad that it is in their
interests for the settlers and the IDF to withdraw from Gaza. But, the
terrorist groups want Israel to withdraw under fire in order to claim that
they forced Israel out. Israel will not allow this, but is prepared to wait
to avoid further conflict if Abbas, the Egyptians and the US can return calm
to the area. However, this seems unlikely since Hamas sees the opportunity
to strengthen its position in Gaza as a result of the Israeli pull-out, and
so they are prepared to challenge Abbas and the PA for control of some of
Meanwhile the right wing supporters of the Gaza settlers have been massing
in Netivot in order to march triumphantly into Gaza. But, the Israeli
police and security forces prevented hundreds of buses leaving Israeli
cities to join them, and the IDF has thrown a cordon around them at Kfar
Maimon where they have formed a camp city of ca. ten thousand. They have
been told to disperse but they refuse. There has been some violence,
pushing and shoving, and a few arrests, but so far no serious violence. The
march organizers say they want a peaceful march, but in the event that they
are all frustrated there is no telling what might happen. It is expected
that some of the extremists will try to make for the Gaza border to get to
Gush Katif to join the settlers in their bid to stop the evacuation that is
due to take place on Aug 15.
Israel is forced to expend tremendous resources to face these two disparate
threats. During the crisis ca. 80 IDF soldiers (including some women) have
refused orders related to the disengagement or removal of settlers from Gush
Katif, and they are being prosecuted. Most of them are either religious or
from other settlements themselves, and object to removing Jews from their
homes and giving the terrorists a seeming victory.
It is likely that the Government will win the tussle with the Israeli right
and either Hamas will be persuaded to renew the "calm" or the IDF will go
into Gaza once again and clear out some of them. The disengagement is aimed
at precisely avoiding this kind of situation that has repeated itself many
times over the past years. However, if or when the IDF withdraws and the
settlers are moved there is no guarantee that the terrorists will be
satisfied and will refrain from taking advantage of their new position.
However, a lot depends on the US trying to force Abbas to take action to
keep the areas of Gaza that are evacuated under PA control. If not further
clashes are likely, but with Israel in a stronger defensive position.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Unjustifed connections

Associated Press issued a retraction for having erroneously reported that PM
Blair in his speech after the London bombings attributed them in part to the
Israel-Palestine conflict. In fact Blair did not mention Israel or
Palestine in his speech, so that was a clear case of journalistic bias and
invention. What Blair did say was "some of the critical issues in the
Middle East" need to be "dealt with and sorted out." In the mind of the
leftist AP journalist Danielle Haas (who is Jewish) this was a catch phrase
meaning Israel. But, there is no objective connection between Israel and
terrorist bombings around the world.
Leftists conveniently use the bombings as an excuse for blaming Israel, thus
avoiding dealing with the reality of Islamic terrorism that is fundamentally
anti-Western. The Muslim assassin of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands,
stated in his closing speech at his trial that he did the murder out of
conviction and nothing else. The 9/11 murderers in NY and Washington made
no demands, their aim was to violently attack key American targets in order
to do widespread damage and to cause extreme suffering.
In fact, Al Qaeda has had no connection to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
It was developed by Osama bin Laden and others after the Soviet Union was
defeated in Afghanistan. They saw the opportunity to train and build a
Saudi-inspired terrorist network there that would primarily attack the US.
As Israel was making concessions to the Palestinians during the 1990s under
the Oslo Accords, Al Qaeda was growing, and organizing a campaign of terror
that led to 9/11. There was never any connection to the Israel-Palestine
conflict. The attacks on the West come from Islamic antipathy to Western
civilization and perceived American interference in Muslim/Arab affairs
(Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.). There is no correlation whatsoever
with the Israel situation.
The myth generated by Muslims and many leftist Western journalists is that
if there is progress towards peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict that
will somehow cause al Qaeda to reduce its terrorism. But, the opposite is
the case. Whenever there is a tendency towards a peaceful resolution
between Israel and the Palestinians, the Islamist components in Palestine,
namely Hamas and Islamic Jihad, increase their terrorist attacks in order to
prevent any improvement in relations. Thus, they have fired over 100
rockets and mortars into Israel in the past week, killing one woman and
injuring others, against the orders of PA Pres Abbas and his agreement with
Israel and the US, in order to prevent a peaceful disengagement of Israel
from Gaza. Rationally you would think that they would want Israel to
withdraw from Gaza, but anything that Israel does they automatically
violently oppose. They are against peace with Israel in principle and
together with other Islamist elements celebrated the bombings and killings
in London, as reported in some media. The Gaza based Sut Al Quds radio
station, which identifies itself with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ran a live
broadcast from a Gaza mosque in which the preacher called the bombings
"blessed acts."
Dori Gold, former advisor to PM Sharon, in an interview on IBA news however,
interpreted Blair's comments as a deliberate coded message to his leftist
opponents. In other words, although he did not explicitly mention Israel,
he was saying to these leftist politicians and journalists in language that
they understood, that Israel is at fault and if we deal with Israel (force
it to make peace with the Palestinians) then the Islamist terrorists will be
appeased and will leave us alone. That is simply not the case. Did British
Muslims kill innocent British citizens of all backgrounds because they want
a peaceful settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict? That is sheer
nonsense, but it is a deeply held view by the left.
The fact is that nothing the West can do will stop these attacks, short of
everyone converting to Islam. The only way to stop them is to recognize the
perpetrators as an implacable enemy fighting a war to the death against the
West and to respond in kind. Those who haven't yet recognized this reality
will do so in time as the casualties mount up.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Jews and Germans

I recently read a fascinating book: "The pity of it all: a portrait of the
German-Jewish epoch, 1743-1933," by Amos Elon, in which the author describes the interaction of Germans and Jews before its terrible ending. Here is a summary:
1. In the late Middle Ages Germany was divided into about 18 kingdoms, the
most significant of which was Prussia with its capital at Berlin. The treatment
of theJews varied very much from place to place, but generally was abominable.
Jews were required to enter the walled cities at the same gate reserved for
cattle and other livestock, and were required to pay a head fee like cattle.
Jews were not allowed into the main cities unless they had a written
invitation or permission. Those who were allowed in could not stay unless
they received permission by the authorities, which involved paying high fees
(read bribes) to the king and various officers. In some cities the
treatment of Jews was terrible, and they were often murdered without any
investigation. In some cities a "Jew's sow" was exhibited showing Jews
suckling from a large sow (pig) and the Rabbi eating the pig's excrement.
These were exhibited until the late 1700s.
2. As the Jews gradually became more valuable to the rulers, the number
allowed to live within some cities increased, and in some cases Ghettos were
established,as in Frankfurt. As the Jews engaged in commerce they became wealthier and some were allowed to educate their children in German schools and universities, although they were not allowed to have any professional or academic jobs. This led to a great gulf between the mass of Jews who were uneducated and extremely poor (often beggars living rough in the countryside)and the growing Jewish urban bourgeoisie. In order to be fully accepted and obtain jobs a large proportion of the urban Jews converted to Christianity, but they were not accepted culturally as equals.
3. Gradually the leading roles of the professions and academia began to be
entered and dominated by converted Jews and there was more pressure for
liberalization. Many Jews believed that their identification as Germans and
their acceptance would be enhanced if they supported the unification of
Germany. The anti-Semitic Kaiser of Prussia was pleased to accept their
support and gave some concessions, but not enough. However, unconverted
Jews began to be given rights, which increased with the organization of the
Social Democratic Party by liberal Jews.
4. As Germany unified and became more liberal, the situation of the Jews
improved greatly and they became more pro-German. From 1870-1910 Germany was the most liberal country in Europe and Jews from England and France tried to emulate it, and tens of thousands of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe poured into Germany, inciting great hostility. Jews who were never more than 1% of the German population, were also making incredible strides in the professions and dominating them in science, law, medicine, politics and others. However, there was never a time when the Germans accepted Jews as equals.
5. The loss of WWI was a great trauma for the Germans, and casting around
for a scapegoat it was not difficult to blame the Jews, many of whom had
fought bravely for the Kaiser (although this was conveniently overlooked).
During the 1920s-1930s with the breakdown of civil order and the terrible
inflation the stage was set for the rise of Hitler and the Nazi persecution
of the Jews. Nevertheless 50,000 Jews fled Germany and survived, although
the Jews of Eastern Europe ('ostjuden') bore the brunt of the German
pathological hatred of the Jews.

Road map to peace?

Here is the written version of the talk I gave at Beit Emek, my son's shool
in Livermore CA, on erev Shavuot, June 12, 2005.
Can the “Road Map” lead to a two-state solution?

The history of the Middle East conflict is littered with many plans that
have been proposed and many buzz words thrown around. We have had
“partition”, “Oslo”, “intifada”, “Geneva”, and now “disengagement”, “road
map” and “two state solution.” Can the current set of plans actually
succeed where many others have failed? Remember that the two-state solution
is an old plan, that has been resurrected by the current Bush
Administration, but indeed for the first time in history all three main
participants in negotiations, Israel the PA and the US have accepted the
formula of “two states living side-by-side in peace” as the desired outcome.

So, in principle the simple answer to the question I posed in this title is,
of course, “yes” the road map could lead to a two state solution. But, I
would submit that the likelihood of this happening is very small. Why?

First, it would require that the elected leader of the Palestinians, Pres.
Abbas, who has declared himself in favor of a peaceful solution to the
conflict, would actually control the PA and have the ability to enforce his
policies. However, this is not the case, the PA is a chaotic mess, with
gangs of gunmen controlling every locality and the power of the central
government being minimal at best. For example, although the ceasefire that
Abbas insisted on with Israel has resulted in a so-called “calming” of the
situation, in between there have been continued attempts at suicide attacks
and numerous rocket attacks on the Gaza settlements and on Sderot in Israel.
This is notwithstanding the fact that Abbas has deployed thousands of his
soldiers throughout the region of Gaza from where the rockets are fired.

It has taken responses and threats from Israel and the US to keep the calm
so far. In fact, Abbas has stated on numerous occasions that he refuses to
use force to enforce his policies because that would cause a “civil war.”
So Abbas is reneging publicly on the first step required of him in the “road
map” namely to destroy the terrorist groups and their infrastructure. On
several occasions gangs of gunmen have rampaged through the streets of
Ramallah and Nablus and shot up and closed down PA offices. So far Abbas
has done nothing to stop this. In fact Abbas has told the terrorist groups
up front that he will not confront them! Therefore they have no qualms
about breaking the “calm” whenever they feel like it, and threatening to
re-initiate attacks on Israel when they decide to do so.

Contrast this with the situation in Israel. PM Sharon decides on his policy
of disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria. Although maybe a majority
of the Israeli population supports this policy, it is deeply divisive and
unpopular on the right, among the settlers. Yet, the policy is going ahead
with provisions being taken for possible strong opposition to the policy.
In other words, Sharon has let the internal opposition know in no uncertain
terms that he is going ahead with his policy. So here you have the opposite
situation, Sharon will enforce his declared policy and Abbas will not.

The consequences of this are significant. Since Abbas is definitely a
better and more preferable leader to deal with than Arafat, Israel and the
Americans want to keep him in power. The Americans can do this by giving
him money, in fact m$50. But, they can also put pressure on the Israelis to
make concessions to Abbas, to keep him in power and make him popular with
his people. So as usual it comes down to the same thing that we had with
Arafat, Abbas is either unable or unwilling to take any concrete steps to
improve the situation, and the onus is on Israel to take all the confidence
building steps, such as releasing prisoners, changing the route of the
security fence, reducing checkpoints, giving the PA the tax money it owes,
etc., etc.

This was what was always said about Arafat, Israel must make concessions to
empower him. But, under the Oslo accords this led to disaster, because
there was no accountability on the Palestinian side, as confirmed by David
Ross, Pres. Clinton’s point man in the Middle East peace process, who
admitted that Arafat was allowed to get away with lying and cheating all the
time. All that mattered was to get an agreement, and that was impossible,
because Arafat was not prepared to make any agreement, however many
concessions Israel was prepared to make. Is there any difference this time?

This brings me to a comparison of the negotiating styles of the two sides.
On this topic I refer to a recently published book by a Harvard psychologist
Kevin Levin called “The Oslo Syndrome: delusions of a people under siege”,
in which he contrasts the negotiating styles of the two sides. He points
out that the Jews have historically been in a weak negotiating position and
they have always been prepared to compromise. Typically Jews want to arrive
at a solution and avoid conflict. Isn’t that what you would prefer to do?
Thus, succeeding Israeli governments, of the right and left, have made
painful concessions in order to placate the other side. This is certainly
what PM Barak did with Arafat, and this is what PM Sharon is doing with
Abbas in relation to Gaza.

By contrast, the Arab attitude towards negotiating is to demand the maximum
by right. And in doing so it does not matter if the truth is bent or
twisted. For example, for many Arabs and Palestinians the idea of a
two-state solution is acceptable only as a step towards the one-state
solution that they believe is not only justified but also inevitable. “The
Oslo Syndrome” is compared with the “Stockholm Syndrome” in which a victim,
typically a hostage, identifies with his/her abductor. So many Jews, when
placed in this situation of conflict, in order to find a way out,
psychologically identify with the Palestinians. How else to explain the
large minority of Israeli leftists who take the Palestinian side, for
example in demonstrations against the security fence (that they call the
wall) that has reduced terrorism so significantly, and for example Dr. Ilan
Pappe, who having been found guilty of falsifying history (he invented a
massacre of Palestinians in 1948 in Tantura that did not take place) and
while still retaining his tenure at Haifa University, wrote a letter calling
on the British AUT Union to boycott his own university! There is something
pathological there, but it is allowed in a free society.

Given these facts and these tendencies, is it any wonder that the
Palestinians are not readily prepared to compromise and come to an
agreement. They see the tendency of a Jewish democratic state to compromise
and make concessions as evidence of fatal weakness. They regard this as a
malaise that can only provide them with victory if they continue on their
path. Yet, they recently found that terrorism did not work, they killed
1,200 Israeli Jews, and Israel did not fold, not only that it seemed to get
stronger and through the use of targeted attacks and the building of the
security fence, to reduce terrorism by 90% even before Abbas declared the
“calm.” So the Jews are resilient under attack. But, what other cards does
Abbas hold, he sees that Israel is totally dependent on the US. This is not
bad, since the US is the most powerful nation on earth, but it does mean
that support for Israel can be undermined at its one source. So the current
Palestinian policy is to attempt to replace Israel as the Americans favorite
ally in the Middle East. This will be difficult but not impossible, and
there is one word to explain why – Iraq!

There is no doubt that the US is in trouble in Iraq. The steady process
towards democracy in Iraq has hit a brick wall called the “insurgency.” It
was not predicted and it was not considered possible that it would remain so
strong. For how many months or years can the US continue to take high
levels of casualties in Baghdad? In order to placate the Arabs, the Muslims
as well as the Europeans, the US Administration knows that if it can pull
off a peace settlement in the Middle East it has a golden opportunity of
placating the Muslims around the world. But, the key to this is not only
Palestinian commitment to a peaceful solution, but also Israeli concessions
to them.

Now there are certain steps that no Israeli Government is yet prepared to
take, namely the return of all Palestinian refugees, dividing the
sovereignty of Jerusalem, or returning the borders of Israel to those of
June 1967. This latter point would require Israel to give up all of the
West Bank, including many large Israeli settlements, such as Ariel, Kfar
Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim. For comparison, Gaza has about 8,000 Israeli
residents, but these towns each have between 20-30,000. There is no way
that they can or will be turned over to the PA. Abbas knows this, just as
he knows that insistence of the “right of return”, which is not a right
under international law, can render any agreement impossible. So a return
to negotiations may only be a prelude to another stalemate and/or another
war, with the US bringing pressure once again on Israel to make concessions
that it cannot make.

So that’s why, although the road map is a possible route towards a two-state
solution, I believe that the Arabs are still committed to a one-state
solution, in which Israel ceases to exist. We Israelis will ensure that
that never happens, so to those of you who are psychologically inclined to
want “peace at any price” remember that such a formula is illusory.

Since the above was written the situation has only become worse, with the
suicide bombing in Netanya (5 killed), the continuing rocket attacks on
Israel from Gaza (1 killed) and the clashes in Gaza between Hamas and the PA
security forces, in which Hamas have had the upper hand. In response the IDF
has renewed its targeting of terrorist leaders. In order to deal with this
worsening situation in which the so-called "calm" has been grossly violated,
Secty. of State Rice is preparing to visit the region next week. The
outlook is not promising.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

England under siege: 1580 and 2005

In the rich history of England one other period compares to the current
state of siege that England is under from religious extremists. In the
period of 1580 the succession of the Protestant monarchy under Elizabeth I
was threatened by the possibility of a reversion to the Catholic religion
that her father, King Henry VIII, had famously rejected. The Catholic
monarch Mary Queen of Scots, imprisoned by Elizabeth, was the focus of many
plots, and several other Catholic aristocrats were pretenders to the throne.
At that time Britain became a real police state, with many men acting as
informers and agents of the Queen's Secretary of State, Sir Francis
All the while England was being infiltrated by English Catholics who had
been trained and indoctrinated on the Continent. The most famous plot
against the life of Queen Elizabeth was the "Babington Plot" named after
Anthony Babington who was a page to Mary. At that time it was forbidden to
carry out a Catholic mass, and any one caught doing so would be arrested and
most likely tortured. In that way, incriminating evidence was found against
many others, and public executions of Catholics were common, including that
of Mary in 1587.
In 1588 King Phillip of Spain sent the Spanish Armada to invade Britain, but
with the intervention of Sir Walter Ralegh's British navy and bad weather,
the Armada was defeated and dispersed and the threat faded. Later other
Catholics tried to carry out attacks against the British Government, but the
plot by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament was foiled in 1605.
Nevertheless, this period of infiltration by religious fanatics and threat
of invasion had a long term effect on England's history, and led to a period
of consolidation and reaction.
Currently the enemy is not Catholicism of course, but militant Islam. Of
course, there are many differences, now Britain is a multi-ethnic country
with a constitutional monarchy and not only Catholics and Jews have freedom
of religion but also Muslims, Hindus and others. But, all the political
correctness in the world cannot wipe out the fact that over 50 people died
horribly and that the police forces had no clue of the group of British
Muslims that were responsible. The infiltration of Muslim fanatics from
abroad is a real and present danger.
Over here the suicide bombing in Netanya has now claimed 5 lives, and the
continued shelling of Israeli targets by Hamas, resulting in the killing of
one woman, have destroyed the so-called "truce." The IDF is now reacting
with its own tactics, and things are getting worse. Meanwhile the
disengagement is looming and both the Palestinian and Israeli opponents are
getting more activated.
During this, PA Pres Abbas has called a meeting with the terrorist groups to
once again try to restore calm. He received a strong message from Secty. of
State Rice warning him that he must act to stop this renewed wave of
terrorism and bring those responsible to justice. At the same time there was
a clash in Gaza between PA security forces and Hamas gunmen when a car
carrying them refused to stop at a PA roadblock and 5 gunmen were wounded.
Fighting is currently going on between the PA forces and Hamas in Gaza.
Whether Abbas can restrain it and allow calm for the Israeli disengagement
or whether the IDF will have to expand its role there remains to be seen.