Monday, October 31, 2005

Political crisis

Today the Israeli political situation is poised on the cusp of a crisis. Of
course, being Israel the situation is very complex. It came about because
PM Sharon has appointed three new Ministers to take the place of others who
have moved on, Ehud Olmert as Finance Minister (in place of Benjamin
Netanyahu, who resigned), Ronnie Bar-on as Minister of Industry and Trade
and Zeev Boim as Absorption Minister. Today these appointments were
approved by the cabinet, but they also have to be approved by the Knesset,
and there's the rub.
The crunch will come because PM Sharon probably does not have a majority in
the Knesset to pass these appointments. This is because of the Likud
rebels, who broke with Sharon over the disengagement from Gaza and who so
far have refused to reconcile with him now that its over. Netanyahu is
considered the leader of this group (with Uzi Landau) and will try his best
to bring down Sharon so that he can succeed him as leader of Likud.
Also, the Labor faction joined the Government in order to support the
disengagement, and now that its over there are increasingly strident voices
on the left calling for Labor to abandon Sharon. For example, today Vice PM
Peres, leader of Labor, criticized IDF actions in Samaria against Islamic
Jihad, that some leftists think are too extreme. They feel that Sharon and
Mofaz have adopted a strong line to appeal to his disaffected Likud right
So Sharon is being abandoned both from the right and the left. If he loses
the vote he will surely resign and call for new elections. But, if
Netanyahu wrests the leadership of Likud from him in the Likud primaries in
December then Sharon will be a leader without a party. So he may form a
party of his own, which is not unique in Israeli history (both Ben Gurion
and Dayan did it before). However, In order not to waste time on a losing
struggle within Likud, many commentators think that Sharon may immediately
announce the formation of a centrist party as soon as he resigns, and while
he still has the aura of leadership. This may attract members from the
centrist parts of Likud and Labor who think that he has a winning chance and
they may gain accordingly in the next election. Polls currently show that
Sharon would beat Netanyahu and no Labor leader is anywhere near them.
So the crisis is coming very soon, maybe as early as Monday, and it may
herald the temporary breakdown of the traditional two main party system in
Israel. However, no centrist party has ever been successful for more than
one election here, and Sharon is already 77 years old. Meanwhile the
external threats haven't receded.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Yesterday there were three explosions in New Delhi just prior to the Diwali
festival, and at least 50 people were killed. Two explosions were in markets
and one on a bus. These bombings were carried out by Muslim extremists who
are not only against the Indian presence in Kashmir, but are also against
the current tentative rapprochement between India and Pakistan. They also
regard celebrations like Diwali as pagan, and so it is not so surprising
that they chose this time to make this attack, which caused the many
festivities in Delhi to be cancelled.
Many years ago I had the amazing experience of being in India during the
festival of Diwali. This is the Hindu festival of lights, that is analogous
to our Chanukah and Christmas. In Calcutta (Kolkata) Bengal it celebrates
the many-armed Goddess Kali, and there are large plastic inner-lit effigies
of her all over the place. There are large fairs and celebrations and
special food, it was great. I remember that we were held up in traffic and
there was a political campaign going on and the Communists (who have been
the Government in Bengal for a long time) had a rally that night, and so we
simply parked and went for a meal in a small restaurant that was all lit up
with oil lamps. Later on I flew to Poona (Pune) in Maharastra and there we
climbed to the Temple on the top of the hill and looked out over the city
all lit with lamps. It was magical.
There are many Muslims in India (in fact more than in any other country in
the world) and most of them live peacefully there. But, it does not take
much to spark inter-communal clashes, especially since the two groups are
quite distinct, living separately and having different cultures. There is
no doubt that the terrorists hope to initiate such clashes by their acts,
and hope that the Hindus will take revenge against other Muslims. Hopefully
this will not happen.
The Government of Pakistan issued a strong statement rejecting this
terrorism, and severely criticizing the bombings. Perhaps for the first
time the Indian Government will believe them. Just as Israel has with the PA
and the British with Sinn Fein, there have been times when these type of
statements are routinely critical of terrorism, but are not believable.
Until a few years ago there is no doubt that the Pakistan Government was
actively supporting the infiltration of terrorists into Indian Kashmir over
the line of control. The attack two years ago by a group of Muslim
terrorists on the Parliament building in New Delhi was the watershed. It
nearly triggered an all-out war between the two countries, and since then
Pakistan under Gen Musharraf has adopted a hands-off policy. This has of
course not enamoured him to the terrorist organizations, and so there have
also been attacks in Pakistan, including three attempts on Musharraf's life.
The kind of attacks in Delhi might embitter relations between the two
countries, but if the statement from Islamabad is regarded as sincere, it
could have the opposite effect and help to improve their relations. Now the
Indian Government must find out who did this and break their organization.
In this respect the good relations between India and Israel may be helpful.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Cautiously optimistic

To those who think that I see only the positive side of Israel, of course I
see many things wrong here, for example:
1. The electoral system is a mess, based on proportional representation (as
in France) rather than constituency representation (as in the UK and US), so
Israeli politicians have less concern for the people and more for party
loyalty. This results is a lowering of standards, the election of a lot of
party hacks and a lack of responsiveness to citizens' needs and rights. The
whole system requires reform, but since its in the interests of the major
parties to retain it, it may be impossible to change. At least they should
raise the threshold for parties to be represented in the Knesset to cut out
some of the smaller, more ideological and religious parties that gain
excessive influence due to the coalition system.
2. Religious freedom, ironically is not guaranteed in Israel. The orthodox
have an absolute control over all things related to Judaism, and although
there are Conservative (Masorti) and Reform Shools and organizations, they
have no official standing. It is long past due that all forms of Judaism be
treated as equal before the law.
3. Immigrant rights, although there are some guaranteed rights for
immigrants, there are a mass of complex and difficult rules that need an
expert of navigate. Long ago I proposed a single place in each major city
where immigrants could go (a "one stop shop") to satisfy all the
requirements, with reps from the Ministries of the Interior, Absorption and
Customs all together, using one computer system, instead of the immigrant
having to shlap from one to the other. The Nefesh b'nefesh program has
arranged a streamlined system with the Ministries, but you have to be one of
their immigrants to qualify.
4. The driving skills of Israelis are terrible. Its not only that too many
of them drive too fast and recklessly, but they are rude and inconsiderate.
After a while you accept it as part of the life here, although it has
improved somewhat with the improvement in the roads and the general level of
5. Many Israelis are below the poverty level, but it depends how you define
it. Netanya is supposed to be one of the poorest cities in Israel because
of the large number of immigrants, but I have never seen any of the
"grinding" poverty here that I have seen in the US and UK.
6. The Supreme Court has arrogated to itself powers beyond interpretation of
law, but plays an active role in the legislative process, far beyond that
allowed in the US and UK.
7. Learning Hebrew is difficult to well-nigh impossible for some. It takes
determination and effort (which I'm too old to make), but at least being
able to make simple conversations in the street is satisfying.
I could go on, but you get the picture. No-where is perfect, and certainly
not the UK or USA (I could give a list but you can make your own). However,
you don't decide to leave or live in a country based purely on its
advantages or disadvantages.
What about those advantages? Israel is a free, Jewish, liberal democracy,
where everyone expresses his/her views without fear, and I love it. Jews
can walk the streets dressed in a tallit, with a kippah and no-one even
notices. The Jewish holidays are our holidays, and there are a lot of
decent and caring people, especially in the hospitals. For all its faults,
Israel is a great place to live, and is improving all the time.
Recently I met a former colleague (a senior medical doctor) and he told me
he was pessimistic about Israel's future. I told him I was "cautiously
optimistic." So we discussed it. I pointed out that Arafat is dead, we
have withdrawn from Gaza (so fewer Israeli casualties), we have a security
fence (half finished, but 90% less suicide bombings), we have peace treaties
with two Arab States (Egypt and Jordan) and two of our mortal enemies (Iraq
and Syria) are now no threat, and so on. We Jews in Israel have shown great
resilience and staying power. Although the decision about when the conflict
ends is in Arab hands, even they don't have unlimited perseverance (whatever
happened to the Red Brigades, the Shining Path, the Baader-Meinhof Gang,
etc. haven't heard from them for a while). At the end, as he left, he
confided that in future he would also say he is "cautiously optimistic."

Friday, October 28, 2005

The weakest link

Mahmud Abbas, otherwise known as "Arafat in a suit," continues to be the
weakest link in the world. He cannot take any action, in his own words, in
case he precipitates a Palestinian civil war. Never mind that its going on
already, and never mind that his countrymen are subject to the most vicious
kind of thuggery with no law and order. But, why should I care, its an
internal problem, let them kill each other, unless it impacts upon me. But
it does, in the most terrible kind of way.
Yesterday the suicide bombing of a market in Hadera killed 5 people and
wounded 30. Hadera is a quiet town north of here, that was founded in ca.
1880 by Jews from Eastern Europe. Not knowing the terrain they chose to
settle in a swamp, and were decimated by malaria. No Arabs were displaced
by their settlement. At the time Los Angeles was a small village.
After abandoning the swamp and then returning with a plan for drainage and
Eucalytus trees they made a new start. They also received permission from
the local Turkish Governor to actually build a small building, still
standing, in which 8 families lived for several years. The doctor from the
town of Zichron Ya'akov on the Carmel range (high enough up to avoid
malaria) came down and looked after them. The Hospital where the victims of
the terrorist bombing were taken is named the Hillel Yaffe Hospital in his
In response to the terrorist incident PM Sharon declared that the IDF has a
free hand in carrying out a broad and unlimited campaign of response,
including targeted killings of terrorists, until the killings stop. This
action is necessary since Abbas has not taken the first step required of him
under the terms of the Road Map, that is to destroy the terrorist
organizations and their infrastructure. On the contrary, Abbas has made a
deal with Hamas to allow them to continue to keep their weapons, and
presumably also to continue their attacks against Israel, even though he
routinely criticizes them. He has also announced a plan to incorporate the
terrorists of al Aksa Martyrs Brigades into the PA security services.
However, many of them have decided not to follow his plan and have instead
joined Islamic Jihad, where they are being paid from funds smuggled in from
Iran. Although huge amounts are being given to Abbas by the naive West in
order to bolster his rule of the PA, he has failed to pay the Brigades
enough to keep them pacified, and so they have left Fatah and joined IJ.
Meanwhile in another example of weakness and/or complicity, according to the
Mossad, huge quantities of weapons are being smuggled into Gaza from Egypt.
This is of course contrary to the recent agreement signed between Israel and
Egypt, but then who expects any Arab State to keep its agreements. The
effect of these weapons have not yet been felt, partly because they have not
yet appeared in the West Bank, where the terrorist organizations want to
expand their role.
It used to be that Jewish lives were cheap, any anti-Semitic European could
kill Jews whenever and whereever he wanted to. The same applied in the Arab
world, Jews were killed without consequence under Muslim law (a Jew could
not give evidence in a Muslim court). Now the result of killing Jews are
not without consequences for them. The IDF is capable of carrying out tough
actions, and Israeli intelligence is excellent. If we pay a price their
price will be higher. So let Abbas play at being the weakest link, it will
not save him or his people from further suffering and ruin.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Iran again

After the Iranian revolution took place in 1979, the expectation for
exporting that revolution among the Iranian clerics was high. Posters with
revolutionary themes were posted around Teheran, and the commonest stated,
"The road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad." It was taken as an act of
faith that the clerical Iranian regime would participate actively in the
Islamic re-conquest of Jerusalem and in order to do so it would first have
to conquer Baghdad. At that time Saddam Hussein was their main enemy
because he was not only secular, but he was persecuting the Shi'ite Muslim
Arabs in southern Iraq.
Saddam fell into the Iranian trap when he prematurely attacked them in 1980,
and the Iran-Iraq war continued for 8 years, exhausting both sides
materially and morally. Thus, we in Israel had a breather from the ultimate
goal of the Iranian revolution. But, the Iranians established Hizbollah
("Party of God") in Lebanon and radicalized the local Shi'ites, and with
Syrian support carried out attacks on northern Israel.
Now the recently elected hard-line President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
has taken up that theme again in a speech at a conference in Teheran
entitled "A world without Zionism." He stated that "Israel must be wiped
off the map," and warned Muslim countries that recognized Israel that they
would "burn in the fire of the Islamic Nation's fury." As Vice Pres. Shimon
Peres observed "the President of Iran's call is even more grave in light of
Iran's attempt to develop nuclear weapons and acquire long range missiles."
At present Iran represents the only existential threat to the State of
Israel, and I am sure that we will not sit by and allow this threat to reach
imminence. Peres emphasized the threat to world peace in the Iranian
President's statements and called upon Iran to be kicked out the UN.
Certainly many other nations were upset by this inflammatory speech, and
there will be further repercussions.
The Iranians believe that the Palestinian intifada, that continues with the
suicide bombings that they support directly through Islamic Jihad and Hamas,
are an initial softening up of the Israeli body politic. They are
supposedly preparing us for the subsequent military blows by the Iranians
themselves and their allies. But, they have few allies, Syria, some Arab
Shi'ites in southern Iraq and the Lebanese Shi'ites in HIzbollah.
Nevertheless, Israel cannot afford to take their threats lightly, just as we
could not afford to sit by while Saddam developed nuclear weapons in the
1980's. The destruction of the Osiris reactor in Baghdad in 1988 by Israeli
jets, not only saved us, but also ironically the Iranians and US forces in
the Gulf War from possible nuclear attack. Let us hope that no repetition
of this kind of attack will have to take place upon Iran, but it may be
unavoidable and may be in the planning stage right now. Too much is at
stake, better to be safe (even if criticized) than sorry.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


A letter that appeared in the J'sam Post (24/10/5), and my reply (26/10/5)":

It's Zionism, stupid

Sir, - Nothing alienates people like me, who would like to find sympathetic aspects in Israel's situation, more than columns like Michael Freund's "Forgotten at the White House" (October 19). When he writes that more than 50 Americans have been killed by Palestinian terrorists since Oslo he attempts to fan American anger at the Palestinians, ignoring the fact that these Americans were killed only because they happened to be caught up in the middle of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Freund seems to think Israel had nothing to do with the onset or continuation of this conflict.

The Palestinians share in the responsibility for the conflict. But if the Zionist movement to Palestine had never taken place there would never have been a Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Instead the Palestinians would be peaceably enjoying the land, of which they had been the basic inhabitants for centuries, from the coast to the Jordan river, in pleasant, deep and richly-deserved quiet, and no one would be criticizing them about anything.

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Prior claim vs power

Sir, - James Adler unknowingly wields a double-edged sword when he argues that it was the Zionists who invaded the land of Palestine and disturbed the equanimity of the Palestinians ("It's Zionism, stupid," Letters, October 24). It was the Arabs who conquered the whole of the Middle East, including Palestine, and massacred all the Jews they could find there, making it more or less Judenrein. That occurred in the 700s, quite a long time ago, but the principle seems to hold.

Take the US: Many native tribes lived in perfect equanimity in places like Massachusetts until the British and others came along and declared them better off dead. Maybe Mr. Adler's forebears were responsible for some of their suffering. Certainly the US stands on the delegitimization and massacre of its native inhabitants. Canada, too, conquered the "first peoples," while Australia did the same to the Aborigines, New Zealand to the Maoris, etc. Does your correspondent think the history of conquest in these countries should be reversed to obtain the "peaceable enjoying of their land" by the original inhabitants?

But there is one major difference between the Jews in "Palestine" and the Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. We have a legitimate prior claim to the land, while all they had was power.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Let them stew

In the early hours of Monday, Israeli forces in Tulkarm cornered Louie
Sa'adi, the head of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. He was responsible for
the deaths of at least 12 Israelis, including the attack on the Stage
nightclub in Tel Aviv a few months ago in which 5 died. There was a
firefight in which Sa'adi and another gunman were killed, and one IDF
soldier was wounded. Another 26 terrorists were also arrested.
Later on Monday, after IJ announced that it would revenge his killing with a
blow against Israel, about 20 rockets were fired on southern Israel. Most
of them actually fell in Gaza, but five of them fell on Sderot in the Negev.
Now the advance warning system worked, so that people had a minute or two's
notice to take cover, there were no casualties.
In response, the IAF attacked al Aksa and IJ sites in Gaza, wounding 5 and
destroying some facilities, and the IDF also bombarded the sites from which
the rockets were fired, although there were no terrorists there at the time.
I hope these empty gestures of shooting at empty buildings and fields do not
represent a return to previous Israeli gestures, since it does not impress
them. In order to do that they must have real losses, as in the case of the
killing of Sa'adi. All gates from/to Gaza have been closed and there was
also a closure of the West Bank during the Succot holiday that ends tonight.
There is a question regarding what Israel should do in response to the
situation in Syria/Lebanon and in Gaza. In both cases the best advice seems
to be to do nothing, but to let them stew in their own juices. In relation
to Syria the international community is gearing up to take action in the
Security Council of the UN in the wake of the Mehlis Report, which might
result in sanctions against Syria. Any action by Israel against Syria would
only complicate the issue. There is a question of whether or not a weaker
Syria is good for Israel, but certainly the current Ba'ath/Assad regime is
not in Israel's interests. Similarly with Lebanon, even though the current
situation in Lebanon is to Israel's benefit, taking any active role might
only provide Hizbullah with an excuse to take the focus away from Syria and
the Hariri assassination.
Also, in Gaza, Israel and the US face a dilemma. Neither want Hamas to be
involved in the January elections, but to intervene in order to prevent
their involvement would be messy, it would appear that they were trying to
"fix" the results. It will be best to let things evolve as they will, and
if Hamas is elected, then either it will moderate them as some think, or as
the cynics expect, it will only empower them. Israel will declare that it
cannot negotiate with a Government that includes terrorists committed to its
destruction, and the situation will become somewhat clearer. At present
no-one expects Pres. Abbas to take any action to enforce his will, so things
are stewing, so why not let them stew further. The results might be to our

Monday, October 24, 2005

As if...

The Bush Administration has decided to pretend that all is well with Pres.
Abbas of the PA, as if...
as if there is no chaos in the PA, where armed gangs of thugs roam around at
as if Pres. Abbas has any control over what is happening in the PA areas;
as if Pres. Abbas has any chance or intention of controlling the armed
terrorist groups;
as if Pres. Abbas has any intention of taking even the first step of the
Road Map;
as if there has been any reduction of incitement in the PA against Israel;
as if Pres. Abbas is a true democrat and intends to have elections in
January (that he has already postponed twice)
as if Hamas can participate in PA elections and they can still be regarded
as "democratic."
Why is Pres. Bush burying his head in the sand? Because he has got the
"solve the Palestine issue" bug, which seems to be endemic to the White
House. Now that Bush has a serious problem of credibility on Iraq, he
desperately needs to score points with the Arabs and with US voters, so he
has adopted the Clinton approach. This involves inviting the head of the
Palestinians into the White House, calling him a "man of peace," ignoring
all indications to the contrary, and then bringing pressure on Israel to
make concessions to him in order to be able to claim that he solved the
Israel-Palestine conflict (and then get his Nobel Prize).
I listened to interviews with two experts on the Palestinians on IBA News
(in English), Michael Widlanski of Hebrew University and Efraim Inbar, Head
of the Begin-Sadat Center. Both said that the American response to Abbas is
totally unrealistic. Within the PA Abbas is regarded as a weak leader who
has almost no influence on events. The prevalent view among Palestinians is
that he cannot last long in the face of almost overwhelming opposition. His
true opponents ignore him, and his supporters regard him as indecisive and
weak. His nickname among Palestinians is "the wet rag." He has never acted
on any decision that he has publicly announced to curb the power of the
terrorist organizations. His weakness is allowing Hamas and the others to
rearm and expand their activities.
It was announced yesterday that the PA intends to disarm the al Aksa Martyrs
Brigades (now known as the Yasser Arafat Martyr Brigades) and disband them
and instead induct their members into the PA security services, with
appropriate training. This was also announced several months ago but was
not implemented. These Brigades are responsible for most of the breakdown
in law and order in the PA. Last week a large portion of the al Aksa
Martyr's Brigades in Gaza announced that they no longer consider themselves
part of Fatah, and broke away and will act independently. This is a big
setback for Abbas, because if he has any hope of prevailing over Hamas he
needs to bolster his security forces.
Abbas also proposed that Israel and the PA negotiate through a
"back-channel." In this way no-one will know what is going on (as before in
Oslo) and he can claim things that are not true, and Israel can make further
concessions as they did before in secret negotiations. It's a prescription
for disaster. Let's hope Abbas falls before any secret agreement is
announced. At least Israel rejected this stratagem to bolster Abbas, the
American project of protecting and empowering Abbas is extremely suspect.
A few days ago Mohammed Dahlan, former head of security in the PA, returned
to Gaza after a few months of having medical treatment in Israel, Jordan and
Belgrade for a back problem. He was greeted by supportive crowds. Maybe he
will be strong enough to pull things together in Gaza. We will have to wait
and see.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Lebanon and Syria

Hands up anyone who believes Syrian President Bashar Assad's denial in his
recent interview on CNN that he had nothing to do with the assassination of
Rafik Hariri in Lebanon (noone put up their hands).
The Syrian presence in Lebanon has been marked by the use of car/truck bombs
to send brutal messages. Perhaps the previous most significant incident of
this kind was the murder of Bashar Gemayel, Christian President-elect of
Lebanon in 1982. Since Gemayel was an ally of the Israelis in their
invasion of Lebanon, his assassination changed the course of Middle East
history. It enabled Syria to continue its domination of Lebanon until 2005,
when in the wake of the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri,
they were forced to withdraw their forces.
In discussing the two countries, Lebanon and Syria, it is important to know
that there is no Syrian Embassy in Lebanon. Why? Because Syria does not
recognize Lebanon as a separate, independent, sovereign State, just as it
does not recognize Israel or Jordan. This is because France, the mandatory
power in Syria, separated the predominantly Christian coastal province of
Syria to form Lebanon in 1920 (although it only became fully independent of
France in 1943). This separation was never recognized by Syria when it too
became independent in 1945. As far as Syria was/is concerned this was an
illegitimate separation, and as with Jordan and Israel/Palestine, it
continued to regard them as part of Greater Syria (while attacking Israel
for supposedly claiming Jordan for a Greater Israel).
This situation is similar to Saddam Hussein's claim of Kuwait as a province
of Iraq. Certainly the borders of the Arab countries in the Middle East
were arbitrarily drawn by the colonial powers in London and Paris. But, once
the sovereignty of a State is recognized by the UN, the clock cannot be
turned back by conquest. Hence Iraq was forced out of Kuwait by US and
allied forces, and Syria was forced out of Lebanon, even though it has
continued to interfere in Lebanese affairs with numerous car bombs in
Christian areas.
It is noteworthy that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (and
surprisingly not Hizbollah) was implicated in the assassination of Hariri by
the Mehlis Report delivered on Friday to UN Secty. Gen Annan. The PFLP is
an extreme Marxist terrorist organization that has its headquarters in
Damascus (you guessed it), and its leader Jabil Rajoub is a well known
client of Syria. Because of the claim by Syria on Palestine, Arafat and
Hafez Assad (fortunately both of them gone now) were great enemies. That's
why Syria has its own Palestinian terrorist organizations.
Bashar Assad is not as ruthless and devious as his father was. He has had to
retreat from Lebanon and back down in the face of increased US hostility
because of his support of terrorism and for allowing Arab terrorists to
infiltrate Iraq from his territory to join the insurgency. Now the US and
France (an unlikely combination) are joining forces to push for sanctions in
the UN Security Council against Syria, with France playing its traditional
role as protector of Lebanon and the US because of its role in Iraq. Of
course, this action results from the UN Report implicating high level Syrian
officials in the assassination of Hariri (who would almost certainly have
become the next Lebanese President).
The power structure of the Alawite clan that actually runs Syria may at this
point decide that Assad is expendable. The Syrian FM al Sha'ara was accused
of lying to the UN investigation in a letter he sent, so he may also be
expendable. If they are removed from office maybe will this satisfy the
Americans and French and avoid sanctions against Syria, that it can hardly
afford. If a deal is struck such that the US and France get a guarantee of
no further Syrian intervention in Lebanon and Iraq, and Syria turns over
those accused of complicity in Hariri's assassination for trial, maybe they
will leave the Ba'athist-Alawite regime in power, but with a different
figurehead. If such a deal is struck this will avoid the need for direct
American intervention and/or chaos in another Arab country. Whatever the
Americans do it will be judged throughout the Arab world as part of their
continuing anti-Arab campaign. But, it all depends on how serious the
Americans are in using this opportunity to get real change in the Middle
East and in Syria in particular.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Jewish mind

What is the connection between Robert Aumann, Israeli-American
mathematician, and Harold Pinter, British playwright? They are both Nobel
prizewinners this year, and both are Jewish. In the years 1901-2004
according to the web site 22% of all
Nobel prize winners were Jewish (ca. 3% of these were half-Jewish). Since
Jews make up 0.25% of the world's population, this is a factor of ca. x100
over their population representation (if all other factors were equal).
Compared to most other ethnic groups in the world this factor is huge. What
is the cause of this preponderance of Jewish Nobel prizewinners? It
certainly is not a result of being pro-Israel or religious which Pinter is
not and Aumann is.
I refer to another interesting dominance. Of all the fastest men in the
world (in the 100 m) all the top 10 sprinters are black, there is not a
white one amongst them. This is far beyond random statistics. And all the
blacks, whether American or British or Caribbean, are of West African
origin. Two sports writers, Jon Entine and Earl Smith decided to
investigate this phenomenon and wrote a book on their conclusions entitled
"Taboo." They used this title for obvious reasons, because they could be
accused of being racists for concluding that blacks are superior athletes
than whites.
But, wait a minute, in long distance running West African blacks and whites
are no-where, the field is dominated by Ethiopians and North Africans, and
in swimming there are few blacks to be seen, the field is dominated by white
Americans, Australians and northern Europeans. These are not racist
statements, but statements of fact.
What can be the origins of these amazing feats of black athletic prowess?
According to the authors of "Taboo" the main reason they have identified to
explain this incredible phenomenon is that black west Africans have a larger
proportion of mitochondria in their leg muscles. Mitochondria are
organelles in each cell that are the "factory" where the molecular process
of respiration occurs (the utilization of oxygen) to produce energy (in the
form of the molecule ATP). Of course, in a muscle working at maximal
exertion the ability to produce large amounts of energy is crucial, and
since the west Africans have more mitochondria per unit volume of muscle
than other athletes they have an inherent advantage. So there is a rational
explanation for the phenomenon (for details see the book).
Of course, this brainy proclivity does not mean that sports and other
endeavors are not developed in Israel. The nearby Wingate Institute is
devoted to the training of Israeli athletes, and last year Israel won its
first gold medal in the Olympics, for wind-surfing (very appropriate for a
Mediterranean country). Although Jews have never been famous for their
athletic prowess, there have been some legendary Jewish boxers, including
Max Baer.
So far there is no explanation for the phenomenon of Jewish Nobel Prize
dominance, which is a measure of a general excellence of Jews in areas
requiring brain power. In Central Europe the Germans and others resented
this domination in secular subjects and it led to increased anti-Semitism
(think of all the possible advances in human civilization that were
extinguished in the Holocaust). This mental phenomenon was then explained
as a result of Jewish commitment to serious study resulting from millennia
of Talmudic analysis.
Now we have genetic explanations, so we may conclude that Jews have had an
evolutionary tendency to develop the areas of the brain involved in abstract
thought, that enables them to envisage mathematical solutions, the staging
of plays and chess moves in advance. Notably, both the former World Chess
champions American Bobby Fischer (who is anti-Semitic) and the Russian Gary
Kasparov (who changed his name from Wainshtein to avoid anti-Semitism in the
USSR) are Jewish.
Whether this speculation will stand up to future scientific scrutiny is
unclear, but there must be a rational explanation for this incredible Jewish
phenomenon. It is certainly something to be proud of.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Route 57

The dilemma of the West Bank for Israel is exemplified by Route 57. This
extends due eastward from Netanya, where Israel is at its narrowest, only 18
km or 12 miles wide! It takes 25 mins or so, in traffic, to drive from the
Mediterranean shoreline east along Rehov Herzl (most Israeli cities have a
main street named Herzl) that continues as Rte. 57, thru the Beit Lid
junction, past Kfar Yonah, directly to Tul Karem (Tulkarm). But, an Israeli
can no longer enter Tulkarm, it is in PA territory and is too dangerous
(during the 1970-80s there was a thriving trade between Netanya and
Just before Tulkarm the new route 6 runs north-south, it is a modern
toll-road that skirts the highlands of the West Bank and will eventually
join the areas of central Galilee and Beersheva (note that even numbered
roads in Israel run north-south while odd ones run east-west). The junction
of rtes. 57 and 6 is separated from Tulkarm by a part of the security fence
that is an actual wall there, while most of it elsewhere is a chain link
fence. Since the wall is covered mostly by flower beds it doesn't look so
formidable on the Israeli side. It is a wall there, and where it passes
other cities such as Kalkilya, to avoid the Palestinians taking pot-shots at
the passing motorists. Although rte. 6 is a toll road it has been successful
in diverting a lot of traffic away from the congested coastal highways, and
reducing driving time to Jerusalem and the South.
The security fence has undoubtedly contributed significantly to the
reduction of terrorist attacks in the Sharon coastal plain area of Israel.
Only one Israeli, a 7 year old girl, has been shot dead on rte. 6, by a
terrorist, who had accomplices who cut the bars closing off a drain under
the wall at Kalkilya with an oxy-acetylene torch.
Rte. 57 has had its share of casualties. At the Beit Lid junction there is
a small military camp and adjacent to it a makeshift memorial and nearby an
impressive but unfinished formal one to the 22 soldiers who were blown up
and killed there in 1995 in a small cafe. There have also been two suicide
bombings more recently at the Beit Lid junction that have killed 2 Israelis.
So coming back to the dilemma, it is clear that Israel, short of a real and
genuine peace, cannot allow this situation to continue. Even a moderate
attack along this route could easily divide Israel in two and represents too
tempting a target for any future enemy ensconced in the West Bank/ Samaria/
Tulkarm area. Even if a peace deal is made, one cannot rely on future
generations or future leaders of other adjacent Arab States not to take
advantage of this incredible point of weakness. A State cannot exist
without some degree of security, and cannot leave its security in the hands
of people who have proven themselves not only to be untrustworthy, but also
violent and ruthless.
So Israel cannot withdraw from the West Bank and leave it intact as it did
in Gaza. In addition to which there is a considerable Israeli civilian
presence in parts of the West Bank. The three main areas are Kfar Etzion,
that has been Jewish owned since the 1930's, was captured by the Jordanians
in 1948 and returned to Israel in 1967, Ariel, a small city (30,000 people)
east of Tel Aviv, and Ma'ale Adumim (Red Heights) also a city that is due
east of Jerusalem. The security aspects of these towns is obvious, apart
from the religious/historical connections of these and other parts of the
West Bank in Judea and Samaria. To believe that these areas can be given up
as Gaza was is totally unrealistic.
Let's be real. Although in the 1990's a Peace Movement grew in Israel that
believed that giving back all of the territories captured in 1967 would
ensure peace, that has been shown to be a delusion, not based on reality.
Under UN resolution 242 Israel is NOT required to give back "all" of the
territories captured in 1967, and Pres. Bush has recognized formally that
there will have to be territorial compromise on both sides for there to be a
workable peace agreement. Notably, in the Press Conference at the White
House today, Pres. Abbas specifically stated that Israel's responsibility
under the Road Map is to withdraw from "all" the territories, no-one
corrected him, but this he knows to be false. He also said that according
to the Road Map Israel must remove the "wall." although the security barrier
is not mentioned in the Road Map since it was built after this document was
In any future agreement Israeli security concerns east of Tulkarm will have
to be satisfied, including either the holding of territory, or a security
alarm system or preferably both. It cannot depend purely on trust. This
should include holding of territory in the Jordan Valley, that has been
Israeli and Labor Party policy since the Allon Plan of the 1970s. Let
no-one belittle these requirements out of misguided ideology, the existence
of the Jewish State and at least hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives
(including our own) may depend on this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"The Oslo Syndrome," Part IV

This is a review/summary of the book, "The Oslo Syndrome: delusions of a
people under siege" by Kenneth Levin, Harvard psychologist and historian.
The final Part IV deals with the period of the Oslo Accords.

It is an obvious truism that Israeli military might represents no threat to
any of the surrounding Arab states as long as they do not take military
action against it. The reverse of course is not true. Israel was attacked
on several occasions by various combinations of Arab States, each time with
the clear intention of destroying the State (in the 1973 Yom Kippur War they
nearly succeeded).
But, within the body politic of Israel there was a large minority of people
who believed the reverse, who believed that Israel was a "colonialist,
imperialist" State, that was responsible for occupying Arab land. This
group, of various left wing organizations, cohered under the aegis of Peace
Now and sought to have Israel make concessions to the Arabs, in the
expectation that by doing so Arab hostility and hatred would disappear and
peace would miraculously break out (hence the name Peace Now!)
Such views were delusional in the extreme, yet in the period following the
Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, they became more and more accepted by
portions of the Israeli public. Israeli culture became dominated by the
"new" historians: Benny Morris, Tom Segev, Ilan Pappe, Amnon Rubinstein, Avi
Shlaim, etc. who stooped to selective referencing (often without Arab
sources) and downright fraud in their condemnation of Israel, and writers
such as: Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman, Meir Shalev, Amos Elon and
others, who adopted a so-called "post-Zionist" rhetoric, in which all blame
for the continuing besiegement of Israel was self-directed. As stated by
Aharon Megged, "We have witnessed a phenomenon that has no parallel in
history: an emotional and moral identification of Israel's intelligentsia,
and its print and electronic media, with people committed to our
Although the Labor Party under Rabin won the Israeli election in 1992 on a
peace and security platform, he very quickly reverted (reminiscent of Sharon
ten years later) and under constant pressure from the Peace Movement adopted
essentially their approach. While the official Madrid Talks were
deadlocked, Rabin allowed secret talks to go ahead between Yossi Beilin,
Deputy to FM Shimon Peres, and a strong advocate of the Peace Movement, and
PLO representatives in Oslo. These talks led to the Oslo agreement that was
signed on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, where the famous
handshake took place between Rabin and Arafat.
Much has been written about the nature of these Accords and how they were
arrived at. Beilin ran these talks himself, with no professional input and
without direct involvement of Rabin or even Peres. Essentially he winged
it, and in the process gave away positions that had been long-established
Israeli and Labor Party policies (such as the distinction between "security"
and "religious" settlements and retention of the Jordan Valley). At no time
did he consider security or defense considerations in his discussions. His
naive attitude was that a signed "peace treaty" was in itself actual peace,
and that his agreements with the PLO were a fait accompli that could not be
rejected by the Israeli Government or Knesset. Later he confessed "I am
simply not prepared to live in a world where problems are unsolvable." His
further Stockholm draft agreement of 1995, in which Israel would have
withdrawn essentially to the pre-1967 borders, became moot with the
assassination of Rabin. Beilin is currently head of the extreme leftist
party Yahad (successor of Meretz).
What was the reality after the Oslo Accords were signed and implemented?
Everybody knows the sad story, the incitement (in Arabic) and terrorism
continued unabated. From September 1993 until July 1994, when Arafat
entered Gaza, 50 Israelis were killed. Between then and the signing of the
Oslo II Agreement in September 1995, a further 90 Israelis died. The Peace
Movement's sacrosanct belief that all that was required for peace was for
Israel to make sufficient concessions was shown to be bankrupt, yet the
Rabin/Peres Government still signed this further agreement. The Peace
Movement's conclusion was that terrorism continued because the pace of
Israeli withdrawals was too slow, and the Government's reaction was that
they would not allow the terrorists to prevent peace! So the killing went
on and in fact Arafat did not keep one commitment of the agreements he had
There followed an interlude from 1996-9 in which Benjamin Netanyahu was PM,
and he tried to introduce the concept of monitoring Palestinian compliance
and reciprocity in the Hebron Agreement, but by the time of the Wye
Memorandum of 1998 this had been dropped in the face of American
disinterest, European opposition, and domestic Israeli indifference. In
trying to do so he was labeled an "opponent of peace."
Ehud Barak as leader of the Labor Party became PM in 1999. In order to
overcome the effective stalemate in the so-called "peace process" (which
consisted of Israel withdrawing and Palestinian terrorists killing
Israelis), Barak tried for a "final status" agreement at Camp David in 1999,
but Arafat was not interested in signing any such agreement. After Arafat
rejected the Israeli concessions at Camp David, PM Barak under pressure from
Pres. Clinton offered Arafat everything that he could in the impromptu
follow-up Taba talks in 2000: a Palestinian State in Gaza plus 95% of the
West Bank, plus 5% of Israeli territory, complete Israeli evacuation,
removal of ALL settlements, Palestinian control over East Jerusalem and
sovereignty of the Temple Mount, and a token "return of refugees" - all
without any Government or Knesset approval. But, that was not enough for
Arafat, to him it was a clear sign of weakness, which he planned to exploit,
and he was not prepared to sign that the conflict was over. The Oslo period
came effectively to an end in 2000, when Arafat launched the intifada, and
Ariel Sharon was as a consequence subsequently elected Prime Minister. Now
five years later with over 1,000 dead and 6,000 injured we know what the
cost of the delusion of Oslo has wrought.
Never in history has a sovereign State virtually offered to commit national
suicide in order to placate an implacable enemy who had stated many times
his intention of destroying it. Only a State in which a large proportion of
the population has a peculiar kind of death-wish, derived from a
psychological self-hate induced by millennia of persecution, could indulge
in such self-delusion.
I leave you with this thought, the Gaza Disengagement Plan of PM Sharon was
sold as a rational unilateral policy - or was it another manifestation of
the Jewish tendency to self-reform in the face of besiegement in order to
ingratiate oneself with the enemy?

Summary: This is an excellent scholarly work, which is copiously footnoted.
It exposes a pattern of Israeli self-deception that derives from a
pathological syndrome of historical origin.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The foolish frog

You know the old joke about the scorpion that wants to cross a river, but can't swim. So he finds a frog and offers it money to take him across the river. The frog agrees, but says, "how do I know that you won't sting me," and the scorpion replies, "Why would I sting you, if I did we would both drown." So they embark, with the scorpion on the frog's back. Half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog, and just as they are both sinking the frog asks, "why did you do that, now we'll both drown," and the scorpion replies, "I couldn't help myself, its my nature."
I use this as an allegory of the Israelis (as the frog) and the Palestinians (as the scorpion). The frog sees that it would be irrational for the scorpion to sting him while they are crossing the river (towards safety and peace), since it will lead to death for both of them, and so he believes the scorpion won't do it. And the scorpion reassures him, after all the scorpion knows it would drown. But, after all he can't help himself, and in the final analysis he doesn't care, that's his nature.
So with Arafat and now with Abbas.
I count the following occasions when Arafat signed agreements not to engage in terrorism or violence against Israel:
1. The letter written to initiate the Madrid Peace Conference, 1991
2. The Oslo I Accord,1993
3. The Cairo Agreement implementing Oslo I, 1994
3. The Oslo II Accord, 1995
4. The Hebron Agreement, 1997
5. The Wye Plantation Agreement, 1998
These were signed for Israel by four Israeli PMs (Shamir, Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu). Barak did not get to sign an agreement with Arafat, much to Pres. Clinton's chagrin, because Arafat wanted to keep the pot boiling, he wanted no "end of conflict" agreement. He also never kept any single item in these agreements, including the level of forces, number of weapons, turning over wanted terrorists to Israel, etc. etc. How many times can you be fooled?
The obvious response is that all this is old hat, water under the bridge. Arafat was no "peace partner" (although we treated him as one for many years), but now he's dead, and we have a different man in charge, a man we can trust, a real "peace partner," elected President, Mahmud Abbas. He looks the part, he wears a suit (instead of a military uniform), he shaves, he smiles and he mentions peace quite often.
But, haven't we earned the right to be skeptical.
Yesterday three Israelis were killed (including two teenagers) and seven were wounded, shot down at close range while waiting for buses at the Gush Etzion and another junction. This is clearly the beginning of the next phase of the Palestinian war against Israel, the transfer of attacks from Gaza to the West Bank. Credit was claimed by the al Aksa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah, as was reported by the official Palestine Radio of the PA. One factor that made these attacks easier for the gunmen was the closure of Israeli military checkpoints outside many settlements, including Gush Etzion. Note that this area was bought by Israelis in the 1930s and the settlements existed there long before the War of Independence in 1948 when they were utterly destroyed. But, these are not new settlements inhabited by religious settlers, but by the descendents of the original inhabitants who were rescued in 1948 and returned in 1967.
It is a clear and well known phenomenon, every time Israel closes military checkpoints to "ease the suffering" of the Palestinian people, under pressure from the US and others, Israelis are murdered. Let them come and live here instead of us and see if they would close the checkpoints. It's sheer stupidity! Once, shame on you, twice, shame on me, three times, shame on me, four times, shame on me, ad nauseam.
In fact, the pattern of Palestinian actions under Abbas is identical to that under Arafat. Nothing has changed, the same terrorist murders, the same supposed inability to control or actually collusion by agreement in the continuation of terrorism, the supposed concern for the leaders empowerment by outside forces, and so on. How many times can this frog be so stupid!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"The Oslo Syndrome," Part III

This is a review/summary of the book "The Oslo Syndrome: delusions of a
people under siege" by Kenneth Levin, Harvard psychologist and historian.
Part III deals with the period in Israel prior to the Oslo Accords.

The worst thing that ever happened to the leftist/universalist anti-Zionist
faction in Israel was not the 1967 Six Day War, nor the 1973 Yom Kippur War,
it was the 1977 election victory of Menachem Begin's Likud Party. A large
proportion of the academic left in Israel blamed the Arab wars against
Israel not on the Arabs themselves, but on the "nationalist" policies of
Israeli Governments, and these had been Labor Party Governments from the
founding of the State until then. But, Begin was anathema to them,
representing as he did the hated petit capitalists, religious elements and
poor Sephardim in Israel, that had spoiled their dreams of a (European
style) socialist or spiritual utopia.
Although this faction was small, representing maybe 5% of the population,
nevertheless they were influential, being a large proportion of the elite
that controlled the universities, educational institutions and much of the
civil service. The irony that the extreme socialists were the power elite
that hated the poorer elements of society would have been unthinkable in any
other "normal" country. It was the exclusion of the poor Sephardim and Jews
from Arab countries from most Government programs and their settlement in
the peripheral development towns of Israel, that disaffected them from
Labor, and eventually led them to help overthrow the Labor ascendancy (there
were other reasons, including the systematic embezzlement of Government
funds after 30 years in office by Labor Ministers and appointees, that led
to the suicide of the Housing Minister in 1976 and several trials).
It should be noted that the leftists had much greater demonstrable sympathy
for the plight of the Israeli Arabs, and for Arabs in general, than for the
poor Sephardic Jews, the Israeli petit bourgeois and religious
(Yiddish-speaking) Ashkenazim. This is very parallel with the preferences
of liberal German Jews for their German compatriots, however anti-Semitic
they were, than for the Eastern European and Russian Jews, whom they blamed
for bringing this anti-Semitism upon them.
I was living in Israel at the time of Begin's watershed election victory,
and I remember the day after in the coffee room at the Weizmann Institute.
Not only were there long faces, but the predictions were alarming, the
consensus of Israeli academics was that Begin would initiate a war with the
Arabs within three months, that he would fire most Labor incumbents, that he
would cause a mass exodus of Israelis, and that he would ruin the country.
Begin and his followers (Ezer Weizmann, Ariel Sharon) were spoken of in grim
terms, they were "criminals," "lunatics," "dangerous extremists" and
"fascists." The fact that none of these dire predications came true
illustrates the lack of reality in these prevalent views of the educated
Israeli elite. In fact, it was Begin who negotiated the peace treaty with
Sadat of Egypt.
Such was the extent of leftist shock at the loss of what they considered
their right to govern that in a famous exchange with an interviewer,
old-time Labor leader and former head of the Histadrut, Itzhak ben Aharon,
said that "the [election] results were a mistake." When the interviewer
pointed out that Israel is a democracy and "the people have spoken," he
replied that "the people are wrong!" Amos Oz, the famous leftist
(kibbutznik) writer stated revealingly, "Why didn't Israel develop as the
most egalitarian and creative social democratic society in the world? I
would say that one of the major factors was the mass immigration of
Holocaust survivors, Middle Eastern Jews and nonsocialist even
anti-socialist Zionists..." and "...evil days are upon us!" They failed to
recognize their own arrogance. No Democratic leader in the USA or Labor
leader in the UK ever reacted in such intemperate terms to losing an
Ironically, the defeat of the Labor Party led to an increase in its leftist
wing and a decrease in the pragmatic, nationalist, Ben Gurionist element.
Young socialist Israelis, who considered themselves the "New Jews," the
heirs of the pioneering generations, saw themselves losing ground to the
hated enemy (not the Arabs but the poor, religious, and eastern Jews), and
so "Peace Now" was born in 1978. This movement was intended, as its name
suggests, to pressure the Israeli Government to make further concessions to
the Arabs, on the grounds (against all rational evidence) that it was
Israeli policies that were causing Arab hostility (not the intransigence and
hatred of the Arabs themselves) and that if they continued to fight Israel,
this only showed the need for greater Israeli self-reform and concessions.
Such was the self-delusion that dominated the policies of the left, spawned
psychologically in the cauldron of European antagonism and anti-Semitism.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The fifth column

The term "fifth column" was adopted during the Spanish Civil war, when the
Fascists claimed to have a secret fifth column inside Madrid, as well as the
four columns that were invading from outside. Now the Muslims have a not so
secret "fifth column" inside western society that is dedicated to its
destruction. The Jew's revenge on Europe for their treatment in WWII is to
send in the Muslims in their place. The Europeans made a very bad bargain,
when they exchanged 6 million dead Jews for 20 million live Muslims.
But, unlike the Jews, who were basically a middle class, upwardly mobile,
loyal group, the Muslims are non-integratable and recalcitrant. The Jews
wanted to be accepted to such an extent that many of them converted to
Christianity, and many more became assimilated into the larger society.
But, the Muslims do not want to be assimilated, it can result in great
personal harm for them (including death), and their societal pressures are
to remain distinct and aloof from the local culture.
But, not only that, within Muslim society there is a large minority that
seeks to take over the local society and replace it with an undemocratic
Muslim Government. Ardent Muslims believe as an article of their faith that
it is incumbent upon all Muslims to live under a Muslim Government and they
strive for that, some even to the point of using violence to overthrow their
host Governments.
It's strange that while the question of divided loyalty was, and still is,
raised against Jews (such as in the current AIPAC trials), it is not raised
against Muslims, who are much more overt in their rejection of the
surrounding society and its norms.
In fact, they regard secular Western society as intrinsically immoral and
decadent. They believe that in the face of their determination and
fanaticism, their readiness to die for their cause, the West will gradually
be worn down and will then collapse (just as they believe this of Israel).
Examples of this can be seen in the so-called "peace movement" or rather
"appeasement movement" in Western societies, that is infiltrated by Muslims
and that personalizes every military death and uses sentiment as an excuse
to subvert EU policy and to change US policy. When there is another
so-called "peace march" check out the number of pro-Palestinian and Muslim
placards (in London recently it was ca. 50%!). And the irony is that the
people carrying them do not actually want peace, they want the EU and US to
stop fighting and to withdraw from the Middle East, better than 20 Muslim
As they used to say in Spain when the march of fascism first started,
"beware the fifth column!"

Friday, October 14, 2005

"The Oslo Syndrome," Part II

This is Part II of a review/summary of the book "The Oslo Syndrome:
delusions of a people under siege" by Kenneth Levin, Harvard psychologist
and historian, dealing with the development of Zionism

The First Zionist Congress was organized in Basel in 1897 by Theodor Herzl,
known as the founder of modern political Zionism. Herzl had already
outlined in his book, "The Jewish State" in 1896, a program of political and
diplomatic means whereby the founding of such a State could be realized in
what was then a province of the Turkish Empire.
His program required persuading the Turkish Sultan, the German Kaiser as
well as other world leaders, that formation of a Jewish State would solve
some of their own problems in dealing with their Jewish minorities, as well
as providing a solution to the "Jewish problem" as a whole. But, as soon as
the Zionist Organization was founded it split, and it split along lines that
were recognizable to those familiar with a history of the Jews of Europe.
Four distinct trends of Zionism developed, that of Herzl himself that could
be called "nationalist Zionism," that was focused on the pragmatic means to
founding a Jewish State in Eretz Israel. Then there was so-called
"practical Zionism" that put the emphasis on settling Jews anywhere in the
world (Argentina, Uganda as well as Palestine) in farming cooperatives
(kibbutzim) where they would work the land. This approach was often funded
by European Jews who eschewed Herzl's specifically national message, and who
preferred the (essentially anti-Semitic) view that the Jews needed to be
rescued from their petit-bourgeois and orthodox religious beliefs by
learning to work the land. This approach was favored by the socialist
Jewish movements that had sprung up in Russia and that eventually cohered
into the Israel Labor Party.
Another trend in Zionism was that fostered by Ahad Ha'am ("one of the
people") who believed in the necessity of rescuing and restoring Hebrew
culture. He was not so concerned about saving the Jews physically, but of
saving them culturally. In order to do this he foresaw not a mass migration
to Eretz Israel, but a selective migration of those wedded to Hebrew culture
and language.
Finally, another direction in Zionism was pioneered by Martin Buber, a
German Jew, who saw a positive message in the lives of the leaders of the
Chassidic Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia, who studied them and wrote
about them, but used their message to emphasize a unitary view of mankind.
He foresaw the development in Zion of an essentially Jewish spiritual home,
and opposed Herzl's political program, becoming in the process an
anti-Zionist Zionist.
Chaim Weizmann was in a strong position, as head of the Zionist organization
in Britain, to influence the British Government to promise the Jews a State
in what was then Turkish-occupied Palestine. But, he did not demand a
State, he requested a "homeland," and that was what he got. The Balfour
Declaration issued in 1917 talks about a "homeland for the Jewish people,"
not a State, and this homeland was to be under British administration and
protection (as it was during the British Mandate, 1922-48), i.e. no Jewish
Government or army . When asked why he did not demand a Jewish State then,
Weizmann replied wistfully, "they wouldn't have given us one."
It is this lack of chutzpa that is so characteristic of the Jewish
negotiating style. When dealing with the British Government Weizmann felt
he should show appropriate humility (and not be too "pushy"). Jewish
leaders in America and elsewhere also tried to ingratiate themselves with
the non-Jewish world by supporting the "cultural" and "universal" aspects of
Zionism, but opposing a State, because they understood that would require
that they confront and even fight anti-Zionist and Arab interests.
In 1925 a "Peace Association" was formed in Jerusalem centered on the
nascent Hebrew University, with German Jews prominent, such a Martin Buber
and HU President (American) Judah Magnes. They formulated an anti-Zionist
program, in which they supported the idea of a binational state in Palestine
with the Jews as a permanent minority (!) In doing so they sought to
reproduce the situation of the Jews in Europe, but with the expectation that
the Arabs would be more responsive to their self-negation (just as they
thought the Germans should be). In 1929, when another Arab massacre of Jews
occurred in Palestine, this group castigated the Jews for bringing this
suffering upon themselves for demanding a "national home."
It was only David Ben Gurion, head of the Labor Zionist faction (that was
also split between extreme socialists and pragmatic nationalists) and the
Revisionists under Jabotinsky who remained firm in the demand for a Jewish
State. Even after Hitler came to power in 1933 the majority of the Zionist
(!) organization was against massive immigration to save lives, the
socialists didn't want hundreds of thousands of petit bourgeois or religious
Jews and the universalists didn't want Russian socialist Jews flooding their
utopia (they would rather leave them to their fate in Europe). Thus only
100,000 Jews entered Palestine in 1933-1939 instead of 1 million or more.
Meanwhile, the anti-Zionists, with the New York Times (owners
Ochs-Sulzberger) and the Washington Post (publisher Eugene Meyer) on their
side, expanded their campaign, calling Zionism in 1937 a "lust for power."
As Levin says: "This rhetoric of hyperbolic vilification and its cold
indifference to the desperate plight of Europe's Jews, seem again,
incomprehensible unless recognized as emanating from exposure to anti-Jewish
pressures and as representing a learned response of detaching oneself from
certain other Jews and of pursuing self-abnegation and accommodation as the
proper path that will win relief from the surrounding hostility" (p. 218).
While the Zionist Organization was foundering along these lines the world
was not waiting and events were racing towards the abyss.

Terrorist acts

Last week it was revealed that in a series of coordinated raids Israeli
security forces arrested 117 Palestinian activists in the Hebron area. They
belonged to three major Hamas cells, many of them wanted for previous fatal
attacks on Israelis. These attacks continued through the so-called tahdiya
or "calm" that was supposedly agreed to by Hamas with Pres. Mahmud Abbas of
the PA. This included the abduction and murder two weeks ago of Sasson
Nuriel, an Israeli sweet maker who worked with Palestinians, the suicide
bombing in Beersheva several weeks ago that killed two security guards, and
an imminent plan to kidnap Israeli hikers and IDF soldiers and to attack a
helicopter at a base in the Judean desert.
A key operative in one of the cells was Yasser Saleh, son of the PA Police
Chief in Ramallah, who was recruited by Hamas when he was studying in Egypt.
He was also planning attacks on Israeli tourists visiting Sinai (this might
have been the basis for the strong warning by the Foreign Ministry against
Israelis visiting Sinai over the Rosh Hashanah holiday). This indicates the
level and extent of Hamas activities in the West Bank, where they are known
to be trying to expand, following the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. No doubt
these arrests will be a set-back for their plans.
Another attempted Hamas operation that was foiled was to send a female bomb
maker, Sabir Sabih (22), from Gaza to the West Bank under the guise of her
getting married there. She was given a pass by Israel to visit her supposed
fiancé in Tulkarm, but was arrested there by Israeli security forces.
Meanwhile in Gaza, the situation continues to deteriorate. On Wednesday,
the President of Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, Adnan al-Khadi, was
attacked in his office and beaten by a gang of 20 al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades
gunmen, for having expelled six of their members for violent behavior.
Other members of his office were also beaten and some were thrown into the
street. The University has been closed down.
Also on Wednesday, two journalists, an American Dion Nissenbaum and a
British cameraman Adam Pletts were abducted by an al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades
group near Khan Yunis and taken to Rafah. They were later turned over to
the PA police and released in Gaza. In another town in Gaza, Kabatiya,
there was shooting between two rival Fatah gangs that killed at least one
man. An Arab man was also abducted 8-days ago in Khan Yunis and is being
held for ransom by a terrorist group.
Coincidentally, the PA issued some statistics on lawlessness in its
territory. It appears that the al-Aksa Brigades are just ahead of Hamas in
the number of internal killings. This is the first time that PA statistics
show that more Palestinians have been killed by their own terrorist
organizations (209 in 2005) than by Israel. And until now Pres. Abbas has
done essentially nothing to stop this lawlessness or to act against the
terrorists, even though nominally al-Aksa is part of his own Fatah
At the same time, the State Dept. representative David Welch, who was
visiting the region, asked the Israeli Government to strengthen Pres. Abbas.
But Pres. Bush has acknowledged that no progress on the Road Map is possible
without the cessation of Palestinian violence and terrorism.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"The Oslo Syndrome," Part I

This is a review/summary of the book "The Oslo Syndrome: delusions of a
people under siege" by Kenneth Levin, Harvard psychologist and historian.
It will be in several parts for convenience.

In the middle ages, the only way to escape Jewish identification was
conversion or death. In later periods, liberalization of laws allowed Jews
to become citizens of Germany, France and other countries. Although hopes
were high, the anticipated emancipation never did materialize. Jews were
equal citizens de jure, but were still subjected to extreme prejudice, bias
and discrimination. In order to overcome this situation non-religious Jews
adopted three main strategies. They became either:
1. Socialists, who saw their identification with the suffering of the
working class as an escape from their narrow Jewish world and who attacked
Jewish capitalists in anti-Semitic terms (examples are Marx, Lasalle,
Trotsky/Bronstein, etc).
2. Middle-class nationalists, who identified themselves with the surrounding
bourgeois society and in order to be accepted as good citizens adopted their
typical anti-Semitic attitudes (such as Heinrich Heine and Walter Rathenau
in Germany, Walter Lippmann in the US, Madeleine Albright, who was first a
Czech nationalist and then an American Secretary of State, who denied her
Jewish origins).
3. Universalists, who jettisoned their narrow Jewish identity to embrace a
liberal or radical view, in which all downtrodden ethnic groups are valued
except for suffering Jews (e.g. Herbert Marcuse, Noam Chomsky, Leonard
Fein). These people tend to prefer the rights of the Palestinians to those
of the Jews.
In all cases, these unaffiliated Jews escaped from the negative stereotypes
of anti-Semitism by identifying themselves with a wider non-Jewish
affiliation (either socialist, nationalist or universalist), in which they
deliberately disassociated themselves from other Jews, whom they regarded as
both embarrassing and/or the real cause of anti-Semitism. In doing so, they
indulged in a psychological process of self-reform and dissociation that
they considered released them from the bonds of Jewish connection, and that
also freed them to express the anti-Semitic bias and canards of the general
society. Only by doing this, they believed, could they become truly
acceptable as part of their surrounding social milieu.
However, in the long run this strategy of escape from their Jewishness did
not save them, once the true anti-Semites in Germany took power. The success
of the Holocaust in ridding the earth of most European Jews, of whatever
persuasion, resulted in the ascension among the surviving Jews of what had
been a strictly minority view before, namely Zionism.
The doctrine of this differed from those others in that it advocated that
Jews, whatever they did, could never live amongst a European majority, and
the only way to remain safe and ensure the continuity of the Jewish people
was to establish a Jewish State in Eretz Yisrael, protected by a Jewish
Army. Although there are many Jews in the diaspora who still adhere to the
above escape mechanisms to become acceptable to non-Jewish society, Zionism
has become the accepted dogma of the vast majority of the Jews of the world.

Part II will be a description of how these psychological considerations of
self-reform and self-hate affected the development of Zionism.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Of Pearl and Portia

1. Saturday night we went to Tel Aviv for a concert in memory of Daniel
Pearl, the Jewish American journalist who was murdered by terrorists in
Pakistan in 2002. This was one of a series of concerts taking place around
the world at the same time, with the theme of "peace and harmony."
When we arrived at the concert hall there was a crowd milling around in
front of a desk. A man in a gray suit stood by the desk and I thought he
must be in charge, so I went up to him and asked him in Hebrew if this was
where we picked up tickets. He looked at me for a second and then in
English he asked me if I was from an Embassy, and when I said no, he
suggested that I wait on line. Later I discovered that he was the new
American Ambassador.
The US Embassy sponsored the event and the Ambassador spoke eloquently. He
pointed out that within 2 months of his death Daniel's killers were captured
and within 6 months they were tried and sentenced. But, that is not enough,
and this concert was part of his ongoing legacy. Dalia Rabin, the former
PM's daughter spoke, and emphasized that Daniel's last words were "I am a
Jew," and that he died because of this. But, from this fact we must take a
universal message against hatred and for peace and harmony (I am always
somewhat suspicious of universal messages).
The concert was given by the Alei Gefen choir, the official choir of Tel
Aviv municipality. Its director and founder, Eli Gefen, was born in
Bratislava, and left for Palestine in 1939 as a child. That was the last
time he saw his father, David Grosz, since the Nazis murdered him and his
whole family. Some years ago he received out of the blue from Austria a
package containing copies of his father's compositions that had been
discovered there. The first item on the program was one of his father's
works, entitled "Tabernacle of peace." It was an enjoyable concert.
2. Livia Bitton-Jackson is a Holocaust survivor, a Professor of Judaic
Studies at CCNY and an excellent lecturer. She spoke at AACI on Sunday on
"The contrasting images of Jewish males and females in European literature
from the 16th-20th century." In her research, she found a very persistent
pattern repeated in hundreds of book, plays and poems, namely the image of
the villainous, old Jew and his beautiful and virtuous daughter (there is
usually no wife/mother). Everyone knows of Shylock and Portia in
Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."
The first major example was Marlowe's "The Jew of Malta" where Barabas (!)
the Jew was far more evil and one-dimensional than Shylock. It should be
noted that these English versions of Jews were written when there had been
no Jews in England for hundreds of years (they were expelled in 1290 and not
allowed to return until 1656 under Cromwell). But, there are endless
examples of this pattern, by Sir Walter Scott in Ivanhoe, and in Spanish
(the story of Rachel), German, French ("la belle Juive"), Scandinavian and
Russian literature. Almost every major and many minor writers used this
The question was not so much why the old Jew was a villain, that is perhaps
obvious and certainly comes from Christian teachings, but rather why was the
daughter depicted as virtuous and beautiful? The simple explanation is that
she represents the virgin Mary, at the same time being a Jewish virgin and
an erotic prostitute. Usually she has many positive features and she has a
Christian lover (Christianity triumphing over Judaism), but she becomes a
fallen woman and usually her life does not end happily.
Unfortunately, the theme is repeated in contemporary literature, but with
the evil Jewish State taking the place of the Jewish villain, a case of
Israel being Shylock's great, great, great... grandchild.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Syria is a small country of 18 million people that is currently isolated in
the world, with only one ally, Iran. Even Iran is dissimilar, because Syria
is the only country governed by the secular Ba'ath Party while Iran is an
Islamist State governed by its religious hierarchy. However, the connection
between them is that both are controlled by heretical Muslim sects, Iran by
the Shia, and Syria by the Alawites. But, whereas in Iran the Shia are a
large majority (90%) of the population, in Syria the Alawites are only a
small minority (11%).
Just as Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq using his family clan from Tikrit, so
Hafez Assad, the former President, ran Syria for 30 years using his loyal
Alawite followers. On his father's death in 2000, Bashar Assad inherited
the Presidency with his entourage of entrenched Alawites who control all the
levers of power in Syria, the Party, the Army and the secret service. The
problem is that Syria is backward, isolated and economically stunted.
Its military has degenerated since it has not had the Soviet Union to depend
upon to replace its weapons and aircraft after each defeat by Israel. In
the last open clashes in 1982 Syria lost 80 aircraft to 1 for Israel. It
was said in Israel that the Syrian pilots were the bravest in the world,
because they knew that as soon as they took off that they were dead.
When Syria was forced by US and international pressure to give up its
occupation of Lebanon earlier this year, that was a definite defeat for the
regime. Now the Lebanese Government has just replaced both heads of
military and civilian intelligence agencies with anti-Syrian leaders. The
Syrian campaign to destroy the anti-Syrian forces in Lebanon severely
backfired when they assassinated Rafik Hariri. Now his son is in power and
the series of bombings in Christian neighborhoods has only served to
strengthen the opposition to Syria throughout Lebanon and the world.
Now Syria is in a bind, because it has earned the hostility of the most
powerful nation on earth, the USA. There are three reasons why, 1. Damascus
is the headquarters for many terrorist organizations, such as Hamas,
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, PFLP, etc. Pres. Assad promised Pres. Bush that
their offices would be shut down, but all they did was close their offices
and open new ones elsewhere. This week a ceasefire agreement was struck
between the PA and Hamas after the clashes in Gaza, where was it negotiated,
in Damascus; 2. The main route of infiltration of foreign (Arab) insurgents
into Iraq is thru Syria. On many occasions Syria has denied this role, but
the US knows well that this is the case, and currently the largest US-Iraqi
operation is taking place in Anbar province near the Syrian border,
recapturing towns that have been lost to the Syrian infiltrators. The
connection with al Qaeda is implicit, but unproven; 3. Syria was complicit
with Saddam Hussein in hiding some of his loyalists and some of his riches
and possibly also WMD. Although Syria has handed over some Saddam
supporters, it is thought that there are more living there and organizing
the insurgency against the US forces and the Iraqi Government.
Because of these activities the US has initiated UN sanctions against Syria,
that are just beginning to have their effect. But, the US has been
otherwise involved, with Iraq, Afghanistan and the small case of Katrina,
etc. These reasons have deflected the US away from direct intervention in
Syria. But, as the evidence of Syrian involvement in the insurrection in
Iraq has mounted, the time for a US reckoning with Assad is coming.
Recently a high Israeli official stated publicly that the US is seeking to
replace the Syrian dictatorship. He must know something.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The "25% rule"

The "25% rule" is that if you destroy one quarter of an organization, the
rest of the organization breaks down. This is a relationship derived by
systems analysis using a mathematical model of military and civilian
organizations. It is based on the concept that information has to flow
within an organization for it to function effectively. If the organization
is to work that flow must be maintained, including orders for action and for
supplies as well as feedback regarding the success of actions or programs.
It makes sense that if a certain proportion of an organization no longer
functions, or in war is destroyed, at some point it will not be able to
function effectively. A good analogy is that if you remove enough bricks
from a wall it will eventually collapse, at what point it collapses depends
on how many bricks are removed and where they are located.
Since WWII numerous analyses found that the magic break-off point is 25%.
In other words if 25% of an organization is non-functional, the whole
organization ceases to operate effectively. This is obviously a very
important piece of knowledge to have about an enemy in a war situation.
But, the latest application that I recently read about is to anti-Israel
terrorism, in an article by Isaac Ben-Israel, former Head of Research &
Development at the Ministry of Defense, and presented at a conference in
It has been said that it is impossible to fight terrorism because every time
one terrorist is killed another pops up to take his place. But, the same
argument applies to regular military organizations, where officers have a
designated replacement at every level, yet armies are defeated all the time.
You might say that terrorist organizations are informal or cell-like so the
normal rules of organizations don't apply to them, but that isn't true
either, because they are similar in that plans and orders go down the chain
of command and responses go back up. They have to obtain supplies, of
explosives, and prepare them as belts and supply guns and ammunition, etc.
At any one time at least 100 people will be needed to maintain an
efficiently running terrorist organization, and in fact many more if they
are competing for men and scarce resources.
Mr. Ben-Israel (which may be a pseudonym) presented data about the Israeli
experience with Palestinian terrorism. At first it was assumed that Pres.
Arafat was actually directing the terrorist program, but then it was found
that he simply facilitated it with funds and support, but did not play a
direct role in their operations. Each terrorist organization has its own
chain of command, and selects its own targets independently. But, the
choice is determined by the upper echelon and orders are send down to find
an appropriate bomber and prepare the bomb belt for him or her, etc. After
the intifada started, the IDF used to respond specifically to each major
bomb attack, but the continuing number of attacks were not affected.
So then in 2002 the IDF switched tactics and started to attack the upper
echelons of the organizations independently of the timing of the suicide
bombings. When they had captured (in the West Bank) or killed (in Gaza) ca.
25% of the estimated size of the organization a significant reduction in the
number of bombings was noted (graphs are available to show this). Once the
number of members have been reduced to this extent the organization as a
whole is no longer able to function effectively, and although infiltration
attempts are still being made, the organization has been rendered
Of course, organizations can reorganize, find new people etc. But, the
removal of the major heads of the terrorist organizations (Sheikh Yassin,
Rantisi, etc.) and most of the senior officers have brought the number of
suicide bombings down to a minimal level independently of the security fence
and the other military actions of the IDF. But, its not only the heads, but
the total proportion of the organization that has been destroyed - 25%!
I can send a copy of the original article (with graphs and mathematical
analysis) to any one who requests it. Thanks to Barry Shaw for drawing this
article to my attention.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Talking Turkey

A long time ago Turkey was known as the "sick man of Europe." Its Empire
was crumbling and Turkey was convulsed by a civil war in which the "young
Turks" were successful in taking over the country. After WWI Kemal Attaturk
played a decisive role in modernizing Turkey and turning its gaze westward.
For many years, the Turks had seen the Europeans overtaking them,
particularly with their superior technology, and so came to regard the west
as a model for their own future development. It is important to remember
that the Turks, although Muslim, regarded the Arabs as lesser, colonized
people, and accepted Attaturk's decision to secularize the Turkish State as
a necessary adaptation to be able to compete with the west. Their motto was
"if you can't beat them join them." Hence today the fruition of this policy
has become the accession talks for Turkey to join the EU.
The majority of European states have agreed to these talks, although not yet
to the full membership in the EU that Turkey craves. But, there are still
two schools of thought within the EU, that Turkey is a modernized,
pro-Western, NATO member that deserves to be part of the EU, or that Turkey
is a backward Muslim country of 80 million people, and that if it joins the
EU this will result in a flood of poor Muslims into Europe, and not only
Turks, but many Syrians, Iraqis and others who can readily cross the Turkish
border, that would then be the EU border.
The Austrians nearly put a spanner in the works last week when they suddenly
balked and proposed that Turkey should be considered for some lesser
association with the EU and not full membership. The Austrians still
remember that 300 years ago the Turks nearly captured Vienna, and now they
did not want to help Turkey conquer Vienna by peaceful means. But, with
Britain as the head of the EU, powerful forces were brought to bear on
little Austria and they backed down.
While many liberals think that it will be a good sign to the Muslim world if
the EU agrees to Turkish membership, nevertheless two thirds of EU citizenry
in a recent poll oppose Turkey joining because they fear the onslaught of a
Muslim tsunami. However, they also feared a similar wave of poor Poles when
Poland recently joined the EU, and it didn't happen. In Germany there are
those who resent the presence of many Turkish "guest" workers, but the Turks
themselves, many of them now citizens, support the accession.
Israel is in a fairly neutral position with regard to Turkish membership of
the EU. On the one hand, Israel fears the Islamization of Europe, but on
the other hand Turkey is a good ally of Israel in relation to the Arabs.
Further, Turkish membership in the EU would be a good omen for Israel's
future better relations with Europe, possibly even membership. It is
ironical that Israel's ties with Muslim Turkey are a lot better than its
ties with liberal Europe.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Copenhagen and Iran

What could possibly be the connection between Copenhagen and Iran? The
answer is nuclear weapons.
Recently we saw an adaptation on TV of a brilliant play entitled
"Copenhagen" by Michael Frayn that we saw in London several years ago. This
is about a meeting that took place in 1941, with Denmark under German
occupation, between Niels Bohr the Danish (half Jewish) father of atomic
theory and Werner Heisenberg, the Head of the Nazi German Nuclear Program,
and Bohr's former student and assistant. Both were brilliant physicists,
and the question is, why did Heisenberg go to the trouble of visiting Bohr
in the middle of the war? What was the reason, what was his purpose?
Before we enter into this question, what has this all to do with Iran? Well
Iran is the country considered most likely to develop atomic weapons
independently of any outside monitoring and control, apart from N. Korea.
The overall question is if Hitler or the Iranian Mullahs had a nuclear
weapon and an ability to deliver it would they do so. In both cases I have
no hesitation in answering "yes." The situations are of course somewhat
different, Hitler was already engaged in fighting a war, Iran is currently
not. But, the Mullahs regard themselves as being in a permanent war with
the West. What's more to the point, would they, in both cases, use such a
weapon against the Jews, or the Jewish State. The answer unfortunately has
to be unhesitatingly "absolutely."
So while we would have no hesitation in supporting Bohr in evading helping
his German friend with any information that could facilitate the development
of a German A-bomb, many Jews and others seem quite disinterested in the
case of Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Its as if the liberal Jewish
attitude of "live and let live" is extended to Iran's claim that it has the
right like all other nations to develop nuclear power. Its as if many
people seem prepared to take this attitude at face value. But, what if they
are wrong, what if this time (and it seems to be the case in view of Iranian
statements) there really are WMD being developed in Iran, and they do have
the means to deliver them, against Israel and against US forces in Iraq.
Iran perceives itself surrounded, not only by Israel and US forces in Iraq
and Afghanistan, but also by war-like Arabs. It sees itself as the world
center of Shia Islam and of revolutionary Islamism. After all, the former
Iran-Iraq war lasted 8 years and caused the deaths of 500,000 Iranians (as
well as a similar number of Iraqis). By using Israel and the US as excuses,
Iran can develop nuclear weapons surreptitiously, and everyone in the Muslim
world will understand why. Even though at present the Sunni Arabs in Iraq
are killing Shia Arabs with great abandon in order to try to bring about a
civil war and overthrow the US-sponsored Iraqi Government. So an Iranian
nuclear weapon may not be primarily of interest to Iran to attack Israel,
but you can't be too careful in view of the threats. Why is it that we
perceive a clear threat if Hitler had obtained a nuclear weapon, but some of
us are ambivalent about Iran. I can see no real difference in the danger
from either source.
Now, what was it that Heisenberg wanted from Bohr, and we can assume he made
the dangerous journey because he wanted something. Although Bohr's wife
Margarethe was present for most of the meeting, and we have her written
account, she was not present for the crucial 10 minutes when Bohr and
Heisenberg decided to go for a walk, and Bohr came back very angry and
Heisenberg left immediately. We will never know what was actually said
then, but there are three main possibilities, 1. Heisenberg asked Bohr if he
knew what progress the US was making in its development of the A-bomb; 2.
Heisenberg told Bohr that he was deliberately preventing the development of
a German A-bomb so that Hitler could not get his hands on it, and that he
did this so that Bohr would pass the information on to the Americans
(although it might not have been true) and 3. That he revealed to Bohr that
the Germans had encountered a technical problem and he asked Bohr's help in
solving it.
In any case, Bohr presumably refused to be drawn out and abruptly stopped
the conversation, returned to the house and asked Heisenberg to leave. After
the war it was found that the Germans had made a mistake in their
calculations and had over-estimated the amount of U-235 required for a
self-sustaining chain reaction (i.e. a bomb) by a factor of 20, therefore
they considered the development of an A-bomb virtually impossible, while at
the same time they knew that the Americans were in the process of doing just
that, with the help of their German Jewish atomic physicists. It may have
been this that Heisenberg wanted to discuss with his old mentor Bohr, but
under the circumstances Bohr refused to do so, perhaps realizing the mistake
that they had made and not wanting to reveal the truth.
With regard to Iran we are now in a very different situation. At present it
looks as if the EU representatives have finally drawn a blank with Iran, and
it's case may be referred to the UN Security Council. However, there it is
likely to be blocked by both Russia and China, that want to preserve their
investments in the Iranian nuclear industry. An Israeli expert recently
stated that it will take Iran between 1-5 years to actually develop a
deliverable bomb, not long, but enough time to give us a breather, and hope
that they don't pursue it, so that we don't have to take direct action
against them.

Gaza clashes

The situation in Gaza has escalated into serious clashes between the PA
police, in some cases aided by Fatah factions, and Hamas. On Sunday, in the
Sheikh Redwan neighborhood of Gaza City, a clash broke out between Hamas
gunmen and the police that escalated when they tried to detain Mohammed
Rantisi, the son of the former leader of Hamas who was killed by Israel.
This then led to Hamas assaulting the police station during which the deputy
chief of police there was killed, as well as another policeman and a young
In another clash, a mob developed that came out in defense of Hamas and
threw stones at the police and forced them to withdraw and then they torched
the Shati camp police station and several police cars. In another clash
that involved taxi drivers, who were blocking a road to protest against
higher gasoline prices, an al Aksa Brigades patrol shot its way through, but
they were also attacked by a mob supporting the taxi drivers.
On Monday, a group of ca. 40 armed policemen broke into the Palestinian
Parliament building in Gaza to protest that they had not been given enough
support by the PA. They complained that their police chief had been killed
and that they had run out of bullets in the clash with Hamas.
This all stemmed from the order by PA Pres. Abbas that armed gunmen would
not be allowed in public in Gaza or the West Bank, and the counter-statement
by Hamas that they regarded this order as being directed against them and
they would not abide by it. A supporting statement was issued by Hamas
headquarters in Damascus against Abbas, who they accused of acting on behalf
of the US and Britain. In the face of the unrest, Abbas' office issued a
statement admitting the clashes and stating that the PA police would uphold
the law, and extra police were deployed throughout Gaza City especially to
protect all police stations.
The Egyptians sent in mediators to bring calm to Gaza, and they helped to
separate the forces. However, the long term consequences cannot be
foreseen because the possibility of a civil war between the combined PA and
Fatah forces on the one hand and Hamas and IJ on the other cannot be ruled
out. It is most likely to happen sooner rather than later, but it is likely
to boil for a while.
Israel is taking a hands off approach to this situation, although of course
both Israel and the US have been calling for Abbas to crack down on the
terrorists, specifically Hamas, for some time, and argue that he is required
to do so by his acceptance of the Road Map agreement. Whether or not he
will choose this moment to do so, or once again will back down in order to
avoid a civil war remains to be seen. If he hasn't planned for this
eventuality then he is really in trouble.