Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hizbollah again

The northern border saw an upsurge of military activity last week. It was initiated by Hizbollah firing rockets and mortars over the border either because of the killing of the Islamic Jihad leader in S. Lebanon or because it coincided with the 6th anniversary of the "expulsion" (in their minds) of Israel from S. Lebanon (except for the tiny Shabaa farms area, that is really part of Syria, as acknowledged by the UN). The deepest penetration into Israel was at Mt. Meron where a rocket fell that had apparently been fired by Islamic Jihad operatives.
Israel responded strongly, both destroying several Hizbollah positions, and attacking two PFLP camps, one in the Bekaa Valley and one near Sidon. Also, through intermediaries, Israel let it be known to the Lebanese Government that they considered it responsible for its territory and if attacks continued then the IAF would fly missions against Beirut and N. Lebanon. This brought an immediate ceasefire.
Many analysts felt that Hizbollah over-played their hand, first because they are allies of the Syrians, and the Syrians are very unpopular in Lebanon right now, and further because it gave Israel an excuse to go to the UN and claim that the Lebanese Government is not controlling its own territory in S. Lebanon and that Hizbollah is the only independent militia remaining from the Civil War, and that it should be disarmed, just as the others were many years ago.
There is in fact an upsurge of opinion in Lebanon, particularly among the Christian population, that Hizbollah has outlived its usefulness, that its main raison d'etre is to attack Israel, and that this brings such strong Israeli retaliation, that it is not worth it. Of course, everyone knows that the Shabaa Farms is indeed a trivial excuse for Hizbollah and its Iranian Shi'ite patrons to use to punish Israel. But, it seems to have out-lived its relevance to the newly independent Lebanon, where the writ of Syria no longer controls the show.
Although some people in N. Israel spent one night in the shelters, it seems that the strong Israeli response shook some up on the other side, and it is unlikely that they will repeat this muscle flexing any time soon. Meanwhile the IDF made its deepest penetration into Gaza since the disengagement and killed 3 terrorists on their way to fire rockets into Israel. Four other fugitives and terrorists were also killed in the past few days in the West Bank

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Pope at Auschwitz

The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Auschwitz was full of tragic symbolism. He walked into the Auschwitz Death Camp under the sign "Arbeit macht frei" in his pure white robes followed by his phalanx of black robed acolytes. The image was perfect. He did the right things, he visited the memorials in Birkenau, and said a prayer in German. At that point I must admit to feeling moved by the occasion. A rainbow came out just to emphasize the irony of the situation. His speech was politically correct, for a "son of Germany" who is now a Pope, except that he did not accept responsibility for what happened there in the name of the Church.
I have written before about how the Christian Democratic Party of Germany was dominated by Catholics who were anti-Nazi, and how Hitler removed this impediment to his gaining total power by negotiating the Reich Concordat Treaty with the Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII in 1933. In this the Church agreed to dissolve the Party and to cease all Catholic political activity in Germany (see "Hitler's Pope" by John Cornwell), and in exchange for this Hitler would allow the Catholic Church to continue its religious activities in his realm unimpeded. So it was that a previous Pope connived in Hitler's accession to dictatorship, and that allowed him to go on to carry out his vicious crimes in the name of Germany. But, this Pope did not speak of this, it remained a silent cry, so that the Church itself can appear to remain innocent, as innocent as the white purity of his garments. According to the Pope it was only the bad German Nazis who did these terrible deeds, and misled the majority of good Germans and Catholics.
In the name of the approximately one million Jews who were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau (known through the meticulous records kept by the Germans) I wish to recall a small incident, not well known, in which four young women tried to start an uprising amongst the Jewish women incarcerated there. They were, of course, caught, tortured and publicly hung. They were Ala Gertna, Rosa Rabotta, Esther Wajcblum and Regina Safirsztajn. A small monument commemorating their bravery stands behind the museum at Auschwitz. Their memory and that of so many others must not be forgotten when the moral calculus is finally appraised.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Just one day!

What a difference a day makes! So Hamas only blinked, which makes sense given that they are an extremist Islamist terrorist organization. Today their armed cadres were back on the streets wearing their all-black uniforms. And PA PM Ismail Haniyeh denied that they had agreed with Pres. Mahmoud Abbas to accept any conditions of the international community, to accept previous PA agreements, to stop terrorist violence and to recognize the State of Israel.
How had this remarkable turn-around happened? Well, either there was some quick thinking and pressure brought within Hamas to prevent the "pragmatists" making concessions, or it was all a dream thought up by Abbas. Nevertheless, on Friday the Hamas security force was withdrawn for a day, and Haniyeh did make conciliatory statements, so the former is likely to be the case. The foreign leaders of Hamas, particularly Mashaal in Syria, probably put their foot down, not to mention Iran that bankrolls Hamas.
Now the Hamas and Fatah security forces are facing off again all over the PA, ten militiamen have been killed in the past week of fighting, and it looks like it will continue. The "national reconciliation conference" called by Abbas has been postponed for a day, and may never meet again. Anything can happen, from a further compromise agreement to full civil war.
Bassam Eid, the well-known Palestinian human rights activist (who lives in Jerusalem, Israel, for safety) interviewed on IBA News, said he expected the fighting to escalate now, and suggested that peace keeping forces would be necessary to separate the two sides. He suggested that Egyptian forces be allowed to enter Gaza and Jordanian forces the West Bank. However, this is unlikely since neither Egypt nor Jordan wish to become embroiled in such a dangerous mission.
What will be the implications for Israel if there is a civil war? Some say that chaos in the PA will spill over into Israel due to the plethora of armed groups, and this will be bad. Others say "let them kill each other," we'll close our borders (once we have a complete security fence) and let them fight it out on the other side. But, if Hamas should win then we may be in deep trouble, although it would certainly clarify the situation. The problem will be if Iran or Hizbollah try to come to the aid of Hamas. What then? The permutations and combinations are too complex to contemplate, but if Abbas/Fatah win the Arabs may be united around the "Arab plan," and that may not be too comfortable for Israel either. Its a no-win situation.
Meanwhile, more Kassam rockets landed in Israel, although there were no casualties. In Gaza, three youths were killed in an explosion that the Palestinians attributed to the IDF, but the IDF said that it had not fired in that area, and the youths were probably playing with a shell that went off.
In Sidon, Lebanon, the Islamic Jihad terrorist leader for South Lebanon, Mahmoud Majzoub and his brother, Nidal, were killed when a parked silver Mercedes car blew up when they passed it. Of course, IJ blamed Israel, but Israel denied responsibility, which is believable since they rarely if ever use car bombs, its a signature of the terrorist organizations, probably a settling of accounts.
HU have changed their e-mail system, so this is the first one from the new system. Let me know if there are any problems (my new address is, but the old address still works so no need to change it). If you don't receive this e-mail, let me know (only joking!)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hamas blinks

Within the past week, apart from PM Olmert's successful visit to the US, a lot
has happened. In Gaza, three Hamas gunmen were kidnapped by Fatah security
men and were shot, one died. Then on Wednesday another leading Fatah
security supporter of Pres. Abbas, Nabil Hodhod, was killed in a car bomb in
central Gaza. The Head of the military wing of Hamas on the West Bank,
Ibrahim Hamed, was arrested by IDF forces in a large scale raid into Ramallah.
He was wanted for masterminding the Moment Cafe and the Hebrew University
cafeteria bombings in Jerusalem among others, and was responsible for killing
60 Israelis.
On Thursday, to try to stop the looming civil war in the PA, Pres. Abbas
called a two-day "national dialog" conference in Ramallah and essentially gave
Hamas an ultimatum. Either they accept the prior decision of the PLO/Fatah
and the PA to accept a two state solution with Israel, and give up their fight
"to liberate all of Palestine," within 10 days or he will organize a
referendum in 2 weeks of the whole Palestinian population. He also gave them
an ultimatum regarding the presence of their new security force on PA streets.
Apparently it worked and Hamas blinked, because this morning (Friday) there
were no more Hamas security forces to be seen in the PA, they had been
withdrawn. In their place was the Fatah dominated PA security force at every
intersection. Also, in a complex deal aimed to help the PA get the money
blocked by the EU and others, Hamas agreed to allow Abbas to control all PA
finances, and they accepted his ultimatum regarding the "previous agreements"
of the PA in order to avoid a referendum (that they were probably afraid they
would lose). This means, although Hamas spokesmen were evasive, that Hamas
has in effect changed its policy and accepted a two-state solution.
However, Hamas is not monolithic, and its leaders abroad, particularly Khaled
Mashaal in Syria, are unlikely to accept this sudden climb down. The pressure
on Hamas was intense, and included the Egyptians and other Arab regimes. But,
many experts will consider this about-face as merely a cover for a deeper
unchanged intention on the part of Hamas, and those who argued that Pres.
Abbas had no power, including PM Olmert himself, appear to have been proven
On Thursday, the Israeli Government announced that it is going to allow sales
of arms to the PA, specifically for the use of the Presidential Guard, the
infamous Force 17 that spearheaded Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians
under Arafat. But, now the arms are intended for the protection of Pres.
Abbas, who is considered vulnerable to assassination either by one of the
Islamist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad) or al Qaeda, that is now known
to be operating in the PA, one of the rewards of the disengagement from Gaza.
This is one of the most crackpot concessions that any Israeli Government has
made to the Palestinians, and by directly interfering in internal PA issues
may in fact make Abbas more vulnerable to assassination, since he will now be
seen as Israel's and Bush's stooge in the PA.
Before we all start celebrating, things are not so rosy from an Israeli
point-of-view as they might appear. What Abbas is pressuring Hamas to accept
is the "Arab Plan" that was proposed by Saudi Arabia, endorsed by the Arab
League, and proposed by the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails (both Fatah
and Hamas) and rejected by Israel. This is essentially a non-negotiable Arab
position that Israel must withdraw to the borders before the June 1967 war,
with no exceptions (no "land grabs"), and accept the "right of return", i.e.
allow all Palestinian refugees that want to return to Palestine and get
back their houses/property. In response, the Arab regimes and the Palestinians
would recognize Israel within its original 1948 borders. Now all Arabs know
that these demands are unacceptable to Israel, but it certainly puts more
pressure on Israel if, or rather when, this proposal is rejected, especially
if this is a wall-to-wall Arab plan. It is characteristic of the two sides
that the Arab proposal consists of non-negotiable demands, while the Israeli
proposal (Olmert's newly named "realignment plan") is one of compromise
and takes into account the interests of the other side, even if not
Even if this Arab plan is not acceptable to Israel, it could become the basis
of negotiations between Olmert and Abbas, that Olmert promised Bush to pursue.
And the fact that Hamas, as far as we know, has agreed to accept this Arab
plan for a two state solution may represent the first crack in the armor of
the extreme Islamist policy to destroy Israel.

The fall of the Old City, 1948

May 25/26 is Jerusalem Day
The Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem fell to the Jordanian Legion
on May 27, 1948, only days after the announcement of the founding of the
State of Israel by David Ben Gurion. We heard a dramatic presentation of
the battle for the Old City from Gershon Bar Kochba, a resident of Hebron,
who is a military historian, who uses computer graphics and original
photos compared to the present day scenes to illustrate his talk. It was a
fascinating and dramatic presentation, with a detailed account of the
fighting in the days preceding the fall. Many of the photos were from a
special book (which I have) entitled "The will to survive" by John Phillips,
who was there at the time, and contains the only photographic record of
the fighting and the subsequent surrender of the Jewish Quarter.
There were two main large synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, the Nisan Bak
(built 1872) and the Hurva ("ruin," 1864) built on the site of a much earlier
synagogue destroyed in a Muslim riot. Both were completely and deliberately
destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948. There were also many
smaller synagogues, including a combined set of four low synagogues in
which most of the Jewish Quarter's 1,800 inhabitants, mostly old people,
took shelter during the fighting. The defense guard of the Jewish Quarter
consisted of 150 fighters, most of them in their teens, some as young as 14,
and many without any training whatsoever.
Initially, the British controlled the area under the British Mandate, and they
showed almost total bias towards the Arabs, allowing them to hold arms and
train openly, while the they refused to allow the Jews to have arms. When they
found the hiding site of the only mortar that the Jews had, and confiscated
it, this lead to a clash that resulted in the start of the fighting a few days
before the British were due to leave. A British patrol of 14 soldiers was
surrounded by the Jewish fighters and in order to extricate them the British
signed an agreement to return the confiscated arms and to stop their
harassment. But, this was only days before their withdrawal, and they left
the Jewish Quarter in a very perilous situation, surrounded by thousands of
armed Arab irregulars. Notwithstanding this the Jewish defenders fought
with incredible bravery, but they lost many men, women and children (the
youngest fighter killed was 10 years old). The Jewish Quarter was
isolated from Western Jerusalem and was under siege.
In order to break the siege a patrol of 17 Palmach fighters captured the
Zion Gate and linked up with the Jewish Quarter. However, they
were extremely tired after days of constant fighting and then decided to
withdraw, leaving the Gate undefended! At the same time the Jews were
unaware that a whole Jordanian Arab Legion battalion was infiltrating the
Jewish Quarter from the Muslim side and were able to take over the Zion
Gate without a fight. They then systematically invaded the Jewish Quarter,
destroying everything as they went. They dynamited the two main synagogues
and desecrated everything of Jewish value, included the looting of all Jewish
homes and institutions.
In order to save the maximum number of lives, the Mayor of the Jewish Quarter
agreed to surrender to the Jordanian officer, but he insisted that it must be
the leader of the defense force who surrendered the Quarter. This was
arranged and the Jews were then expelled from their own Quarter, and the
fighters were interned in Jordan for a year. One British soldier fought with
the Jews and was captured, but disappeared and was never seen again
Jews were not allowed to enter the Old City for 19 years, until it and much
else was captured by the IDF in the 6 Day War of 1967. They found the
Jewish Quarter completely destroyed, but it was reconstructed, and as a
last act in that renovation, the Hurva synagogue is now being re-built and
will soon arise again to its former glory, 60 years after its complete
Happy Jerusalem Day!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Humanitarian aid?

An edited version of the following was published in the J. Post 23/5/06:
The international media have not reported that outside the PM's office in
Jerusalem a hunger strike is being carried out by cancer patients,
particularly those with colon cancer, who are demonstrating for inclusion
of their expensive cancer therapy in the so-called "basket" of Health
Ministry-approved drugs. As we all know cancer therapy is very
expensive, and so far the Health Ministry has refused to approve (i.e. pay
for) therapy with the drugs Ervitux and Avastin, which are reputed to
significantly help fight colon cancer.
A private businessman, Sami Ofer, has offered to pay m$3 towards the cost
of this therapy for the patients, but they have refused since they say they do
not want "charity," but support for their drugs from the Government that they
feel they are entitled to.
Now comes the irony, the Israel Government has just agreed to pay m$11
towards the medical treatment of Palestinian Arabs, many of whom hate
Israel, and support the suicide bombing of Israeli civilians. This also costs
millions of dollars in medical treatment for the survivors (often they are
maimed by the nails etc. that the bombers put around the bomb), not to
mention the untold suffering. So the question arises, why should the Israeli
Government pay for the treatment of Palestinians, when there is not
enough money available to pay for the suffering of Israelis injured in
terrorist incidents and suffering from cancer. Does it make any sense?
One excuse given for this situation is that the Israeli Government does not
want to be accused of causing ordinary Palestinians to suffer because of the
blockade of funding to the Hamas-dominated PA Government. Also, the
money comes from tax revenues that Israel is collecting from PA workers and
other sources that by agreement they are supposed to give back to the PA.
But, what is the meaning of such an agreement when Hamas refuses to
recognize Israel's right to exist and supports the use of violence against
Israelis. Rather use the funds to pay for the suffering of terrorist victims
and for Israeli cancer patients than give it to our enemies. Would any
Palestinian organization give money to help Israelis if the situation were

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On codes and Christianity

Having read the book and seen the movie of "The Da Vinci Code" I have to
admit that it is a lot of hooey. I deliberately read one of Dan Brown's
earlier books to compare and it had exactly the same plot contrivances, codes
and chases and unexpected villains, just the content was different. In the
case of the Da Vinci codes, the idea that there was an extreme Christian
heresy that was kept secret all those years by a small coterie of devotees,
the so-called "Priory of Sion" is ridiculous. In fact, contrary to what Brown
states in his book, the whole Priory of Sion story was the invention of the
vivid imagination of Pierre Plantard, and has no ancient origins, but was
founded in 1956 in Annemasse, France. In order to support his claims Plantard
forged allegedly old documents that contain lists of names of eminent people
who were supposedly leaders or members of the organization. Whether or not
Brown knew this or indeed believed it when he wrote his book, is unknown.
Of course, the Templars and Opus Dei are real, and the latter is indeed a
right wing Catholic organization, although it has no monks, not even Albinos.
There were many Christian heresies that were suppressed during the last 2,000
years. The one in the book, that supposedly Jesus Christ was married to Mary
Magdalene and she bore him a child who was removed to France, is entirely
unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, it allows us to speculate on what might have
been had other actual heresies of Christianity been allowed to continue.
The first of course, was that Christianity was a sect of Judaism, and was
considered as such by its Aramaic speaking Jewish followers. These followers
were killed in the general destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem by the
Romans in 70 ce.
Then there were the "Gnostics," a general philosophical term meaning a
believer in spiritual truths. These early Christians believed that Jesus
Christ expressed important spiritual truths, while denying his divinity.
And the Ebionites (from the Hebrew 'poor'), who emphasized the humanity
of Jesus, also denying all divine attributes. Then there were the
Arians, followers of Arius, who believed that while Jesus Christ was
the "son" of God he did not have the same divine nature as God,
because he was actually born of woman, while Godliness is eternal. These
issues were voted on at the first Council of Nicaea in 325 ce, at which a
minority of Bishops of the Church decided by a slim majority that Christ's
divinity was equivalent to that of God (his father), i.e. he was fully divine.
As a consequence, all other interpretations, including the Arian Heresy, were
suppressed, although it remained a minority view until the 6th century. This
lead to what might be called "Pauline Christianity" as the normative version.
Finally, there was of course the Protestant reformation, that was considered
heretical by the Catholic Church. However, this particular heresy, rejecting
the centrality of the Church in Rome, has become quite widespread.
Returning to the book, at the end of the story one wonders why the hero and
heroine had to dash thru Europe solving codes, when the people she finally
meets are her family who knew about her all the time.
The whole issue of the feminine in Western religion is a difficult one,
because it has been largely suppressed, in that Brown is right. Many ancient
beliefs were fertility cults and somehow this was excluded when Judaism gave
rise to Christianity. Whether this was merely natural, or whether the Papacy
deliberately suppressed worship of female deities as in Roman religion is
unclear. But the outcome was definitely a male-oriented Christianity. Maybe
that's why in comparatively modern times the Marian cult has made a come-
back in Catholicism.
While we cannot take "The Da Vinci Code" seriously as theology, nevertheless
it suffices to remind us that Christianity was a religion made by man and as
such its fundamental tenets are open to question and reinterpretation. Then
again, all religions are the products of human fallibility.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The South goes left

In what could be described as Montezuma's revenge, there is a distinctive tilt
to the left in South America. Three South American countries, Venezuela under
Pres. Hugo Chavez, Bolivia under Pres. Evo Morales, and Brazil under Pres.
Frederico Lula da Silva, have recently taken a lurch to the left. In doing so
they have made friendly ties with Castro's Cuba, and have demonized the
United States as the source of all evil.
Perhaps this political turn was inevitable, since the region is extremely
poor, the natives are just getting the hang of democracy, and some of them
are reaching into the top layers of the elites of these S. American countries.
While Lula in Brazil is fairly responsible, with an attempt not to stray too
far to the extreme, Morales in Bolivia is showing no such restraint. He has
nationalized the gas/oil industry, has confiscated the plants of the private
foreign oil companies, and to be sure has posted troops around their
facilities. This would be fine if it were not for the fact that Brazilian
companies are the largest owners of Bolivian oil facilities, so now there is
some tension between the allies. But, this was recently ironed out at a
regional meeting of the Presidentes. Notably absent from this meeting was,
you guessed it, the USA.
This week Ecuador almost joined this alliance when Pres. Alfredo Palacio
decided to nationalize the gas industry because of disputes with the foreign
companies. However, in his case, it is more of a selective policy than a
general pro-leftist alignment.
The leftwards turn in South America has great potential to discomfit the US
and its oil/gas policies, and could lead to even higher oil/gasoline prices in
the world, that mainly affect the US. We will see whether or not these
Presidentes really have the interests of their people at heart or are more
interested in politics and fostering their anti-US bias. This all comes at an
awkward time for the US Administration when it is focusing most of its
foreign policy attention on the situation in Iraq and Iran.
This policy shift also has implications for Israel and the Jews. There are
rumors that Chavez of Venezuela is negotiating to sell US aircraft to Iran,
that would be illegal under agreements with the US, and a large delegation
of Venezuelan Jews is visiting Israel to improve ties. I expect we will
soon see an increase in aliyah from these S. American countries.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tough weekend in the PA

On Saturday, an explosion occurred in the elevator shaft of the main Security
building in Ramallah, killing one person and wounding many, one of whom was
the Commander of the PA's General Intelligence Services, Tarek abu Rajab.
This explosion has been attributed to Hamas terrorists, who are waging a
campaign against Fatah throughout the PA. However, it was then attributed to
an accident (one of the bodyguards dropped a grenade?) and then both a Fatah
extremist group and an al Qaeda affiliated group in Lebanon claimed credit.
So at this time the perpetrators are unknown, but are probably Hamas. PM
Haniyeh spoke to the press and denied Hamas involvement and both he and Pres.
Abbas called for an investigation. Later Rajab was transferred to Israel where
he is undergoing medical treatment in Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital. Apparently
the PA prefer Israeli medical treatment and security to their own. An attempt
on the life of another head of the security services was averted when a large
roadside bomb was found near his house and detonated. Meanwhile further
incidents of intra-Palestinian attacks attributed both to Hamas and Fatah are
occurring on a daily basis.
On Saturday, missiles fired by IDF planes demolished a car in Gaza, killing a
leader of Islamic Jihad, Mohammed Dadouh, who was wanted for the command
of the terrorists firing rockets into Israel. Unfortunately at the same time
three members of a family riding in a nearby taxi were also inadvertently
killed. This kind of "collateral damage" happens in warfare, but as part of
its usual procedures the IDF is investigating the attack. Whether or not such
civilian casualties can be avoided is unlikely. The IJ military spokesman
threatened severe reprisals against Israel for Dadouh's death.
On Sunday, one of three rockets fired from Gaza into the western Negev struck
a school classroom in Sderot, but luckily it was empty at the time. On the
same day, prior to his departure for the US, PM Olmert agreed with Defense
Minister Peretz to renew a payment of taxes to the PA for humanitarian aid
of NIS m50, which is equivalent to ca. m$11. Strangely CNN made a mistake
in its calculation, calling the amount NIS m15 and hence only m$3. Such a
mistake is so elementary that one cannot but help think it was deliberate. So
the Palestinians send us rockets to kill our children and we give them aid!
Nevertheless, the situation in the PA is quite drastic and this amount of aid,
provided as medical supplies thru the Karni crossing, can only help ameliorate
the medical situation. At the same time Peretz agreed to allow some
Palestinians to enter Israel for work.
At the World Economic Forum in Sharm-e-Sheikh in Egypt, a first meeting was
held on Sunday between Pres. Mahmoud Abbas of the PA and Israeli FM Tzipi
Livni and Dep. PM Shimon Peres. Although the main topic of conversation
was apparently the humanitarian aid to the PA, the timing of the meeting was
fortuitous for PM Olmert, just on his way to the US, where he can now claim
that Israel is indeed attempting to communicate with Abbas, although not with
Hamas. Whether any useful negotiations can come out of this contact is very
unlikely, since Abbas has limited control of the situation in the PA, so he is
not a viable partner.
Today, Monday, there are reports of increased fighting between Fatah and
Hamas and more casualties, including the driver of the Jordanian
Ambassador. Perhaps the civil war has begun. Experience shows that when
they can't successfully attack Israel, the Palestinians turn on each other.

Convergence Plan?

PM Ehud Olmert is visiting the US now to get to know Pres. Bush and his
Administration. His chief policy, that the US does not want to deal with,
is his Convergence (or Consolidation) Plan. In effect this would replace
Bush's Road Map Plan, by recognizing that there is no Palestinian partner to
negotiate with (in reality there never was).
Olmert outlined this policy in his inaugural speech on presenting his new
Government to the Knesset on 4/5/6:
"I, like many others, also dreamed and yearned that we would be able to keep
the entire land of Israel, and that the day would never come when we would
have to relinquish parts of our land. Only those who have the land of Israel
burning in their souls know the pain of relinquishing and parting with the
land of our forefathers. I personally continue to advocate the idea of the
entire land of Israel as a heart's desire. I believe with all my heart in the
people of Israel's eternal historic right to the entire land of Israel.
However, dreams and recognition of this right do not constitute a political
program. Even if the Jewish eye cries, and even if our hearts are broken, we
must preserve the essence. We must preserve a stable and solid Jewish
majority in our State."
"Therefore, we must focus on the area in which a Jewish majority is secured
and ensured. The disengagement from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria
was an essential first step in this direction, but the main part is still
ahead. The continued dispersed settlement throughout Judea and Samaria
creates an inseparable mixture of populations which will endanger the
existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. It is those who believe,
as I do, in Jabotinsky’s teachings and in full civil equality between Jews and
Arabs, who must understand that partition of the land for the purpose of
guaranteeing a Jewish majority is the lifeline of Zionism. I know how hard it
is, especially for the settlers and those faithful to Eretz Yisrael, but I am
convinced, with all my heart, that it is necessary and that we must do it with
dialogue, internal reconciliation and broad consensus."
At first sight this was a good speech and a persuasive argument. However, it
lacks two essential elements. First, if you indeed have the entire Land of
Israel "burned in your soul," why would you be in such a hurry to unilaterally
give some of it up, and leave the rest of the land not only to a future
Palestinian State, but now to the Hamas.
Secondly, no Government outside Israel supports this move, not the US, not the
EU, nor the UN, and very few diaspora Jews either. They may have the wrong
reason for not supporting unilateral action, namely that they favor a two
state solution that they believe can only be brought about by negotiations
with the Palestinians. But, the fact that there is no partner now does not
require that Israel should act unilaterally to withdraw. One could equally
argue that Israel should act unilaterally to occupy all the land of the West
Bank, not just the densely populated Jewish areas, and thereby keep a
valuable chip with which to negotiate in future. Because the fact is that
without international recognition of this withdrawal and without international
recognition of the incorporation of the densely populated Jewish areas of the
West Bank into Israel, the Palestinians would be in a perfect position to
refuse to accept this division, and would start negotiating from that
position. Its always best to have more than your minimum as a bargaining chip!
However, noone expects a Hamas-controlled PA to start negotiating with Israel
any time soon, so it is more appropriate to maintain IDF control over the West
Bank, and in the meantime strengthen Israeli hold over the maximum part of it.
What country ever in history has voluntarily prepared the ground for its own
withdrawal to give territory to a deadly enemy? Can you name one? And Israel
is much stronger and more unified than the Palestinians. For all we know
there could be a civil war in the PA between Fatah and Hamas, the PA could
collapse financially, anything could happen, so it is a mystery why we would
withdraw in face of this and draw our "final" boundaries. And why would we
deliberately split our country by trying to oust ca. 70,000 people from their
homes around the West Bank, where some of them have lived for 50 years.
I favor the Likud/Netanyahu approach, keep the West Bank until and if ever
there is a Palestinian leadership that actually wants to make peace with us.
There might even be another Palestinian-Israeli war before that happens, or
a war with Iran!
I supported the withdrawal from Gaza, not that it worked out successfully,
mainly as a tactical move to show the world that we are prepared to withdraw,
to remove the settlers and the IDF soldiers from a losing situation, and
because Gaza is strategically unimportant. The West Bank is another matter.
It is in the heart of our country and is much more defensible.
The demographic argument is overdone. There are far fewer Palestinians
than were previously estimated, less by 2.4 million according to latest
estimates, that puts the total Palestinian population as ca. 1.2 million in
Gaza and 1 million in the West Bank, with an additional million Israeli Arabs.
They cannot "overwhelm" us when we have 5.4 million Jews, almost twice as
many as the total Arab population. Then, of course, we can draw our lines
and negotiate the final borders if ever any partner is available, why rush to
do it now. Let's make ourselves popular with the international community
by "waiting" for a Palestinian partner, and maybe it will never happen.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Diplomacy by blackmail

Pres. Abbas of the PA was invited to address the European Parliament in
Strasbourg. What he gave was a speech that bordered on blackmail. He
threatened that if the EU did not come up with the money to bail the PA out
of its financial problems, there would be an "explosion of anger" by the
Palestinians against the EU, and he was clearly threatening them. But, that
has always been the way of Palestinian diplomacy. This was vintage Arafat,
give me or else! This is how he "negotiated" with Israel, and how he
treated the Arab States, and now Abbas is extending this approach.
Abbas appealed to the EU to give the Hamas-led government a "chance to
adapt" to international requirements. In other words, ignore their refusal to
accept the three conditions laid out by the international community, give them
the money, and then wait and see what happens. As if that would help to
change their mind, since the refusal to pay their bills hasn't worked.
At the same time that this was happening, Hamas decided to deploy its new
3,000 man security force, that is supposed to protect the PA and to ensure
law and order. But, this force, that is 90% Hamas, is run by the Minister
of the Interior Said Siam. So that if the EU paid the salaries of PA
Government workers they would in fact be paying the salaries of this force!
Not to be outdone, Pres. Abbas, who believes he has sole responsibility for
PA security forces under the PA constitution, warned the Hamas Government
to disband that force, and he deployed his own Fatah security forces which
arched today through Gaza City to also protect the PA and ensure law and
So now there are two mutually exclusive, armed and dangerous security forces
patrolling the PA, particularly in Gaza, trying to ensure their own supremacy.
Just yesterday two Hamas men were shot dead in southern Gaza, presumably
by Fatah security forces. If this power struggle doesn't lead to a civil war
many will be surprised. And note that this is happening while Abbas is at the
same time calling on the international community to give Hamas time and
support. Now that's chutzpah!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Seeking balance

Sunday night we went to a meeting on "Israel and public opinion - getting the
message across," organized by the Israel Citizen's Action Network (ICAN).
The two speakers were retd. Maj. Gen. Danny Rothschild, and Andrew White, a
London based lawyer active in pro-Israel lobbying.
Gen. Rothschild spoke about his experiences as Military Governor of the West
Bank and other positions where he dealt with foreign diplomats and press. He
urged all those engaging in pro-Israel PR to always tell the truth, even if it
meant saying "we don't know" or "we made a mistake." He explained that often
in dealing with the press, the other side has no compunction about lying,
while the Israeli spokesman may have insufficient data to make any conclusion.
In that case the Press often prefer to report the Palestinian's side, even
when they know it isn't true! Nevertheless, in a democracy there is no other
choice than to tell the truth, since any lie will be found out by the Israeli
press and other agencies.
He described how Hamas had gradually taken power from Fatah by paying for
the humanitarian needs of the people that the PA was not providing. This
included paying for food, medicines and education. He did not say where the
funding came from, although I suspect that it was Iran. He seemed to imply
that all the problems of the Palestinians come from poverty. When I
challenged him on this, pointing out that there was no basis to the formerly
much-touted liberal idea that the terrorists were "poor and desperate" (for
example as stated by among others Cherie Blair and Jack Straw), when in
fact most of them are educated and middle-class, he back-tracked and said
that he never attributed the violence to poverty itself. This kind of
ambiguous analysis does not help our PR activities, since there is no
evidence that poverty itself is the motivating factor for suicide bombers,
but rather Islamist ideology is the main cause (for example the homegrown
bombers in the UK). We need to get our story straight on this.
Surprisingly, Rothschild said he was worried about Iran's conventional arms
program, rather than their unconventional (nuclear) weapons program, which
he thinks will take until 2010 to complete. Meanwhile, Iran is building up a
tremendous conventional arms capability, and still regards the Faw Peninsula
of Iraq and the Arab Islands in the Persian Gulf as its own territory. If it
took them over by force it would raise its share of the world's oil supply to
15%, something that the West could not stand by and accept. He ended up by
criticizing the Israel lobby for not doing its job properly!
Andrew White explained that he developed his web-site
out of a sense of desperation when he saw how inadequate were the tools being
given and developed for those who wish to counter the well-ensconced and
effective anti-Israel lobbies in the UK. He feels that we should not engage
in direct clashes with anti-Israel forces, but rather project a positive image
of Israel in relation to the good things it is doing, in order to counter the
negative image held by many who are not directly engaged in the dispute. This
seems very similar to the situation as I knew it in Washington DC in the 1970s
(plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose).
He gave as an example the situation at the School of Oriental and African
Studies (SOAS) in London, which was known as a hot-bed of pro-Palestinian
propaganda until very recently, when they over-played their hand and did a
series of such outrageous activities that it galvanized the Jewish pro-Israel
students to organize, and take their rightful place as a recognized student
organization. They have had such good programs, including Khaled abu Toameh,
the Palestinian correspondent of the Jerusalem Post, who was listened to very
closely by a large crowd of students. This general "image" approach rather
than responding to specific calumnies of the pro-Palestinians has worked very
well in that case.
These informative talks were useful in helping to inform the "informers" but
as one person pointed out, the situation can change simply because Yossi
Benayoun was in the British cup final! Nevertheless, we still have to keep
pressing on, responding to the negatives and presenting the positives of
Israel in order that the view of the Western world at least be balanced.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Violence and crime

Five Palestinian terrorists were killed by rockets two weekends ago when
they were training in a field next to the home of a leader of the Popular
Resistance Committees. This was a training camp for the firing of rockets
into Israel. Three of those killed were relatives of the PRC leader, although
he himself escaped injury. This was the first response ordered by Amir
Peretz as Defense Minister. At the funerals Saturday a week ago the PRC
vowed to wreak vengeance on Israel.
This weekend 7 terrorists were killed, including top Islamic Jihad terrorist
Elias Ashkar, who was wanted for planning the latest bombing in Tel Aviv
that killed 11, as well as previous attacks with a total of 40 Israeli
victims. His house was surrounded in Kabatiya, and when he and four
others refused to come out they were killed in a gunfight. There were no
Israeli casualties.
Six rockets were fired into Southern Israel the previous weekend and so
Israel continued its firing of artillery into northern Gaza. Two hundred
shells were fired, but before they were, leaflets were dropped by
helicopter to warn the inhabitants of northern Gaza to leave their homes.
The leaflets informed them that if the firing of rockets on Israel stopped
then there would be no need for retaliation from Israel.
In Beth Shemesh, there is a building boom because of the expansion of Ramat
Beth Shemesh, where mainly US immigrants are living in large detached houses.
To maintain this building activity the contractors rely on Palestinian
labor, and because of the many checkpoints and blockages many Palestinian
laborers stay illegally overnight in the Beth Shemesh area. Last week this
lead to tragedy when an 8 year old Jewish girl was strangled in the Beth
Shemesh market. Many Palestinians live in and around the market overnight,
and the police think it was a nationalistically motivated crime since there
certainly was no financial motive and she was not sexually molested. Five
Palestinians have been taken into custody on suspicion of this crime.
Every weekend there are reports of violent clashes of youths at night clubs in
the major cities. Last weekend three separate incidents in Haifa and Tel Aviv
involved the stabbings of young men.
Last weekend a woman walking her Pekinese dog at the beach in Haifa
was attacked by a group of hooligans when she complained that their dog
attacked her dog. They shot her and she is in critical condition. The police
have arrested someone for involvement in the crime, but the main suspect is
still at large. This type of casual shooting may be common in the US, but
its appearance here is unsettling.
Nine people were killed in traffic accidents over the weekend. Three young
men were killed in a head-on collision at the Dror Junction outside Netanya,
and others of all ages were killed around the country. A total of 156 people
have been killed so far in 2006. This kind of senseless killing is all such a
terrible waste.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The BBC Report

The Board of Governor's independent Report on the BBC's reporting on the
Middle East has one positive feature, they concluded that the BBC was
deliberately biased when they used the "T" word to describe bombings in
London and Madrid, but not in Israel. In Israel all terrorists are
"militants." However, while they said that the BBC should use the "T"
word in relation to Israel, they demurred sufficiently to leave it up to the
individual reporter depending on circumstances whether he/she decides to
label an organization as a terror group. So we will no doubt continue to
hear about "militant organizations" such as Hamas.
Apart from this positive result, the rest of the report is ridiculous. While
the Committee agreed that the BBC failed to provide adequate context for
many of its reports on the Middle East, most egregiously it labels the BBC's
coverage pro-Israel! That is the most preposterous conclusion I have ever
heard from a supposedly serious analysis.
The Times of London (,,6-2174641,00.html)
published an article by Martin Walker, a United Press International
editor, ridiculing this conclusion, giving example after example of the kind
of pro-Palestinian coverage that the BBC is famous for (for example their
correspondent crying at Arafat's funeral, etc., etc.) One reason why the
Committee may have come to this conclusion is that there were many reports
in the period covered by this Report about Israel, on the disengagement from
Gaza and on Sharon's illness. As a result there were more news items from
and about Israel than usual, although their tone was hardly pro-Israel.
Also, incredibly the BBC World News and the BBC international service
were not included in this review, which is hardly credible given that these
have been the most biased pro-Palestinian services imaginable.
Another aspect not covered in the Report is the intimidation of journalists
and photographers in the PA, and their often direct cooperation with the
terrorist organizations in presenting photojournalism, such as the staged
shooting of the boy Muhammed al-Durrah by an Arab cameraman
working for French TV in Gaza at the beginning of the intifada. These
events do not occur in Israel, which has an open and free society. Any
News organization, especially the BBC, would be reluctant to admit
the compliance and intimidation of its own journalists and the consequent
biasing of its news coverage.
In conclusion, this Report is as biased and unbalanced as the reporting it
supposedly was analyzing.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

What mad pursuit?

The overall aim of the Islamists is the establishment of an all-encompassing
Caliphate to take over and control the whole world, as they believe existed
at the beginning of Islam.
But, one should remember two things, first that the Caliphate did not
exist in Mohammed's time, since by definition he preceded the Caliphate.
The Caliphate was devised by the religious/political leadership of Islam
(the ulema) to take over after Mohammed's demise. But, from the beginning
there were those who refused to accept the Caliphate, and preferred the claims
of members of Mohammed's family to succeed him, namely the followers of his
grandson Hussein, otherwise known as the Shia, or Shi'ites. This immediately
split the Islamic domain, and this split still exists between Iran and most of
the rest of the Sunni Muslim world today.
The other fact is that the Caliphate as an Empire from Iraq to Spain lasted
only 100 years. It spontaneously disintegrated, quite naturally, because the
interests of all those domains were not the same and it was physically
impossible to control and govern such a huge unitary state. The Caliphate
broke up into units, with Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad as the three most
powerful centers that competed with each other for supremacy within the
Muslim world, until the Ottoman Turks took control of the Muslim Empire.
Although in modern times it became easier for an Emperor to control a vast
domain with modern communications and an effective Army, nevertheless most
recently the trend has been to smaller national units. Three examples, the
British Empire, in which the colonies became independent countries, the
break-up of the Soviet Empire, giving rise to 15 countries, and Yugoslavia,
producing 5. As Empires, in which one group controlled many others, have
disintegrated, self-determination of smaller coherent ethnic groups has
resulted in the sovereignty of many smaller countries.
This is the opposite trend to the Islamist's dream. Not content with the
huge Muslim World, they want to overthrow all the Muslim countries, since
they regard the concept of separate national entities as un-Islamic. That
is why the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to overthrow Pres. Mubarak of Egypt, why
Hamas was trying to organize a massacre of the Jordanian Royal family, and
why Osama bin Laden is an enemy of the Saudis, who he wants to overthrow.
But, that is one aspect of their plan, the other is to take over the hated
Western world, and to eradicate the liberal democracies, which they regard
as intrinsically evil and decadent.
Of course, this is a long term plan, but frankly and obviously, it simply
cannot and will never work, not in this world, not even if they could
overthrow the Governments of all those countries. So they are killing people
pointlessly, but that hasn't stopped people before. The Fascists thought they
could control the world, until the world fought back. The Communists thought
they could foment revolutions in many countries, but they only managed to
control Russia and its periphery for close to 70 years. The Islamists would
not even be that successful. What a ridiculous mad pursuit.
The Arabs are so fractious, disorganized and violent that they could never
form a Caliphate anyway. For example, I just saw one of the "Doha Debates"
where they discuss a topic related to the Arab world and then the audience
votes on it. In this case they voted 2:1 to disband the Arab League, on the
grounds that it is useless and reflects only the political antagonisms of the
Arab countries. If they are that contentious how could they ever become
unified in a Caliphate. Forget it!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Development in green areas

When I made aliya I thought I could cease to be a Zionist and become an
Israeli. But, I soon discovered that this precious little country of ours was
being despoiled by over-development, and I decided that I had to work to make
Israel environmentally sound. I coined the phrase "green Zionism" to describe
the needs for environmental awareness and advocacy in Israel.
On Thursday May 11, we heard a talk by Avi Cohen (no relation) who is a
physicist by profession, who has become involved as an environmental advocate
in the Sharon area between Herzliya, Ra'anana, Netanya and Route 4 to the
East. He works with the excellent association "Adam, Teva v'Din" or The Israel
Association for Environmental Defense, a legal organization that receives
funds from the USA, and with experts at several universities in the region.
What a pity that so few people came to hear this important presentation.
Avi grew up in a ma'abara, an immigrant camp, in this area and described
himself as a Palestinian worker. As a child he lived and worked in the
fields. This area gradually became developed because of the proximity of Tel
Aviv with its huge population and needs. There is a National Plan and local
plans for the zoning of areas in Israel. According to this plan the area
described above is zoned purely for agricultural use, there should be no
commercial or industrial development whatsoever. However, over the recent
years major such developments have been made, in the kibbutzim and settlements
of Ga'ash, Shefayim, Yaqum, Batzra, Bnai Zion, and other small communities.
How has this occurred when it is specifically forbidden by the National
Planning Authority? Frankly these developments have been made illegally and
by subterfuge. At first, the kibbutzim complain that they cannot make money
any more from agriculture, the competition is too great, and anyway, the
Government wants the Galil and Negev to develop, so the agricultural
production is moved there.
In place of this, to make a living, these settlements asked for planning
permission for an auto repair factory or a convention center. Before even
having planning permission, they are already building a vehicle repair
facility, that turns into a truck and car dealership, and then for all these
developments they need parking, so they tear down the trees and put in asphalt
car-parks, even without planning permission. Then they decide to build a
mall, as at Shefayim or Ga'ash or a hi-technology park as at Yaqum, or a
commercial center as at Batzra.
Once these are built with funds supplied by contractors and future users, it
is not difficult to attract shoppers and commercial enterprises and companies
that want to have reduced overhead, less arnona than they would pay in Tel
Aviv or Netanya. So then the strip malls develop, such as at Shefayim and
Yaqum, where there was not supposed to be any such development, and
basically it is all illegal, but once built the kibbutz and other groups have
influential political connections that protect the growing malls and
Then the kibbutz members are rewarded with large houses of their own, and then
further development of hotels, convention centers, housing projects are going
ahead all over this area, that was supposed to be limited to agricultural use.
However, even if there is a court case, the judges assess miniscule fines (for
one development that makes ca. NIS one million per month the amount was
NIS 5,000!) and once the building is built and once the land is asphalted for
car parks, they never take it down, as at Cosmos. The damage is irreversible!
And what is worse is that cities like Netanya, that have poor immigrant
populations, lack the development that they badly need. Where are the hi-tech
industries that could provide income from arnona for the city of Netanya and
provide jobs for the unemployed? They are out in the countryside, where they
should never have been. And this causes a rise in arnona and costs for all
other citizens of towns that have areas that are legitimately zoned for
industrial and commercial development. The reduced arnona that the companies
are paying are going into the pockets of the villages and kibbutzim instead of
into the coffers of the municipalities, and the average citizen is forced in
effect to subsidize them.
This reversal of planned zoning must stop, but how to stop it. The courts are
complaisant, the developers ignore all legality, and get away with it, and the
political appointees either don't know or don't care to know about this
rampant despoilation of our remaining green spaces. There is the problem of
NIMBY, not in my backyard. If the development was going on in your backyard
you would be upset, but in effect it is, we are too small for anyone's
backyard to be ignored!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Paying the bills

It was predictable that the EU would find some way to pay for the
Palestinians, the darlings of the liberal-left, rather than see them suffer.
They have been paid for from cradle to grave, total welfare support for 60
years, no wonder they lack any initiative. But all the billions paid before
have gone, so they are living from hand to mouth.
How can one can object to "humanitarian" aid that bypasses the Hamas
Government and goes directly to the Palestinian people? But, really is there
such a thing? The mechanism of funding the PA through Pres. Abbas has been
considered and rejected by the Quartet, since in effect that would be funding
one side in a very delicate power struggle. So this week the Quartet came up
with suggestions to pay the ca. 160,000 PA employees thru the World Bank
the IMF, or the UN. For the Palestinians nothing is impossible. But, how is
paying salaries "humanitarian" aid? I assumed such aid was for food, water
and basic supplies, not Government salaries, that really is a hidden payment
to Hamas, which will allow Hamas to continue to run the show.
At the same time Israeli companies that have been selling and delivering all
basic necessities, from bread to gasoline, are not being paid. The PA owes the
gas company ca. m$120, so they have discontinued deliveries. So immediately
the PA has run out of gasoline, although Israel continues to deliver water and
electricity, having taken the unpaid bills out of the tax revenues that have
not been paid to the PA since Hamas took over. But, Israel gets no thanks
for the delivery of these basic services to what amounts to an enemy country.
The spokesman in English for the Hamas Government criticized the Quartet for
not blaming Israel for the mess the PA is in. Of course, its Israel's
"occupation" that has caused this situation, not the PA's incompetence and
stupidity, even though Israel has withdrawn completely from Gaza.
Today, bowing to international pressure, the Olmert Government agreed to
restart paying the tax revenues to the PA, but only thru a mechanism that will
avoid the Hamas Government. How this will be done, and whether or not Israel
will cooperate with whatever mechanism the Quartet works out, remains to be
seen. But, the US, while softening its approach and giving m$10 for health
purposes, and the rest of the Quartet have announced that this aid will be
only for 3 months. If by that time, Hamas has not reversed its policies of
not recognizing Israel, not rejecting the use of violence and not accepting
previous PA agreements (such as the Road Map Plan), then the aid will be
stopped. At least that's what they say now. One can comfortably predict that
the EU will find ways to circumvent its own rules in order to keep paying for
the poor suffering Palestinians.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Who is Lindenstrauss?

There are headlines in the Israeli newspapers about Lindenstrauss. Misha Lindenstrauss is the Israel State Comptroller, and as such he is invested with the power to investigate all workings of the Israeli Government and to issue an annual Report on his findings. Many previous Comptrollers have issued stinging criticisms of various Government actions and agencies, but Lindenstrauss is the first to systematically name names. He justified this by saying that since it's individuals who are responsible for the bad actions of Government offices, the public should know who they are.
Lindenstrauss just issued his annual Report that was presented to the Knesset and the Government. But even before it was officially presented, leaks were issued from several offices that apparently feature in the criticisms in the Report. Most notably the Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander is strongly criticized in the Report for allowing appointments to go ahead without the required processes and for showing favoritism and nepotism in appointments. Even before these criticisms were published Hollander's office issued a letter rejecting the findings of the Report and attacking Lindenstrauss in a very personal way. This probably means that his criticisms are correct, however, an official Enquiry will be made to find out.
In other criticisms the Report includes:
- A scathing 200-page report on the Health Ministry
- Advises 'Take punitive measures against AGREXCO's GM'
- Police must improve efficacy in prosecuting minor offenses
- Road safety authority needs more power
In the case of the Justice Ministry, the report on the Civil Service Commission continued, 80 percent of the tenders were awarded to employees who had already been hired to fill the position without a tender being issued. In the case of the Finance Ministry, the figure was 66 percent. Although these seem excessive, it is not unusual for Ministries to completely ignore their own regulations or the law, as well as indulging in criminal activity. One common feature of the annual Report is the excessive salaries given to members of Government agencies, such as the Electrical Corporation, or various Mayor's offices. Sometimes in the past, Civil Servants have given themselves or their friends hugely excessive salaries, and they are never prosecuted for this, only asked to reduce the salaries and to return the excess money, which they never do. Such is 'chutzpah' in the Jewish State.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


The war in Darfur is a consequence of the Islamist Sudanese Government's
deliberate expansionist policies. Who even knows that the dictator of Sudan,
Gen. Omar Bashir, came to power in a military coup in 1989, and made an
alliance with the Islamist forces in Sudan. These are affiliated with the
Moslem Brotherhood movement, that is active in Egypt and is represented in
the Palestine Authority by Hamas. The military-Islamist Sudanese Government
first attacked the Christian and nativist Blacks in south Sudan, and a war had
been going on there for over 20 years, with a million (estimated) casualties,
before a truce was signed last year.
Then the Sudanese forces attacked the Black non-Arab Muslims in the east, in
Darfur province, that is as big as France. Their reasons for doing so are
basically that fundamentalist Islam allied with Arab nationalism is
expansionist and imperialist although in the PA the nationalist and Islamist
forces are fighting each other). They are seeking to expand their realm into
the relatively empty, poor and non-Arab areas of Sudan. Even though the 2
million refugees in Darfur are Muslims, the Muslim countries have not made a
squeak about the atrocities going on there. In order to cover up their
involvement, having learned from the war in the South, this time the Sudanese Government sent in mainly militias known as the "Ganga-weed," from the drug
that they chew (like marijuana). So far estimates of the dead range from 120-180,000. According to both the US and UN, what is happening in Darfur is
genocide, the deliberate murder of an entire people by ethnic cleansing.
Talks in Abouja, Nigeria last week resulted in a truce signed between the
Sudanese Government and the main Darfur rebel movement. But, two minor
rebel groups refused to sign, and deliberations are still ongoing. The
agreement calls for the rebel groups to be incorporated into the Sudanese
Army, not a very hopeful sign for the refugees from Darfur. The agreement
also allows the UN free access to the area, that has been denied so far by the
Sudanese Government, although some ineffective African peace keepers have
been allowed in. Now the UN is trying to make up for the shortfall of funding
that forced them to reduce the allotment of food to ca. 1,000 calories per
person, essentially a starvation diet to the many refugees in Chad.
Notwithstanding that the refugees are Muslims, no Muslim country to my
knowledge has given one cent towards their rations. They leave it to the
West to do this.
Correction: My daughter Miriam questioned the origin of the name of the Sudanese Arab militia, which I wrote as "ganga-weed" and attributed to the"ganga" plant which is a form of marijuana. However, having looked it up this is not the origin of the name, spelt as "janjaweed" it is actually a word in the south Sudanese Arabic dialect meaning "outlaw" or "horde." Aren't you glad you know!
This article is based on an article by Barry Rubin in the J'sam Post.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The big deal

The biggest financial deal in Israeli history was announced today, at the same
time as the first meeting of the Olmert Cabinet. What a way to start!
Warren Buffet of Omaha Nebraska, the second richest man in the world and
considered to be the most successful investor in the world, bought an Israeli
company, Iscar, for b$4. He bought 80% of the company, and the other 20%
remains in the hands of the Wertheimer family, that now becomes the richest in
Israel. The 20% of the company not sold makes defense equipment for Israel
and so was considered to be essential for defense purposes. Iscar is a "dye
and tool" metal parts manufacturer, the second largest in the world, no sexy
software or internet fantasies, but a good solid company, with a consistent
15% growth rate. Buffet who is not Jewish and has never before dealt with
Israel, was very positive about this deal. He was quoted as saying that if
anyone knows of another company in Israel that is as good as Iscar, call him
collect, and he will buy it. He intends to keep the whole company intact as
it is, with at least 2,000 experienced specialists.
Stef Wertheimer is famous in Israel for having started the concept of the
industrial incubators, that are scattered around the country and that help new
struggling innovative companies to get started. That is why there are more
start-up companies in Israel than in all of Western Europe combined, and
Israel is second only to the US in this respect. Wertheimer started the Tefen
industrial park in central Galilee, where high end technology companies are
situated, and where he built a "model" town, Kfar Vradim, that is like a US
This deal is a real fillip for the Israeli economy, not only will the Israeli
Government reap ca. b$1 in taxes from the deal, that will reduce the
national debt, but economists expect this deal to result in a further ca. b$10
of foreign investments being pumped into the Israeli economy.
What a stark contrast with the Palestine Authority, that is not only bankrupt,
but in which the Government (such as it is) employs ca. 30% of the working
population, one third of them in security forces. Yesterday there was a major
demonstration in Gaza in which thousands of people demonstrated because they
have not been paid since March. The Quartet had a meeting at the UN in which
the EU representative proposed a shared way that they could pay for the
humanitarian requirements of the Palestinian population while avoiding
supporting the Hamas Government. And what is the main initiative of the Hamas
Government, to set up yet another security force that will protect them. This
is because Fatah controls all the security forces in the PA, and Pres. Abbas
has refused to give up control to the elected Government. So now they are
starting their own loyal force to protect themselves.
It was announced by The Sunday Times that Israel prevented an assassination
attempt by Hamas on Pres. Abbas when he was due to visit Gaza recently. He
called off the visit, and avoided the attempt. Jordan also invited Hamas to
send a delegation to Amman to see for themselves the evidence that they have
captured of arms and planning by a Hamas squad to assassinate the Jordanian
Royal family. Hamas PM Haniyeh, who denied the plot, refused to send a
delegation (he knows the truth already). Also, three gunmen were killed today
in clashes between Hamas and Fatah security forces.
So while Israel builds its economic strength, the PA is mired in an economic
morass and potential civil war.
To those who are interested in seeing some of my paintings for sale, check out . Note that my prices are low compared to Picasso.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Suing Iran

The president of the European Jewish Congress, Pierre Besnainou, has given his
support to a civil suit being brought against Pres. Ahmedinejad of Iran for
Holocaust denial, which is a crime in the Federal Republic of Germany. The
case is being brought by an Israeli NGO, The Civil Union, that specializes in
such legal actions. If successful, this case could result in an international
warrant for Ahmedinejad's arrest. The practical implications would be to
prevent Amhedinejad from setting foot in Germany, and probably
anywhere else in the EU. This would prevent Ahmedinejad from visiting
Germany as planned for the FIFA International Football tournament. As is
well known, Ahmedinejad has repeatedly denied that the Holocaust occurred,
and has also incited Genocide against the Jewish people, both crimes in
Germany. But, more than that he has specifically involved Germany in many of
his remarks and speeches, saying that Germany was unjustifiably accused by the
Jews of carrying out the Holocaust, and that Germany should set aside some of
its land so that the Jews of Israel could be repatriated there.
In separate actions, several American Jews are suing the Republic of Iran for
hundreds of millions of dollars for the wrongful deaths by terrorism of their
relatives visiting Israel. Alisa Flatow, a 20 year old Brandeis University
student from New Jersey was killed in a terrorist attack near the settlement
of Kfar Darom on April 9, 1995, and David Boim, a yeshiva student waiting at a
bus stop near Jerusalem was gunned down by Palestinian terrorists on May 13,
1996. The law of 1992 introduced by the Clinton Administration ruled that
US civilians could sue in US courts to obtain recompense from organizations
and/or individuals in the US that can be shown to be connected to the
terrorist organizations involved in the death or injury of their family
members. Boim's parents, with the ADL, sued the Qoranic Literacy Institute
of Illinois, and 3 other front "charity" institutions for collecting money for
Hamas and Mohammed Salah, who was a fundraiser for Hamas. They were
awarded a judgment of m$156, that is now being appealed. A group of about 50
American families of murdered Americans are following this lead and are now
suing in a Brooklyn court a group of 5 Arab banks that have handled money for
Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations.
After this successful action, and in response to the further changes in law
introduced by the Bush Administration that allows individuals to sue foreign
Governments for their support of terrorism, the Boims have now brought a
civil case against the Republic of Iran. This is based on two specific sets
of facts, first that there is ample evidence for the support of Iran for
terrorist activities by Palestinian terror groups against Israeli civilians,
in fact millions of dollars have been paid by Iran both to the terrorist
organizations (Islamic Jihad, Hamas) and to the families of suicide bombers.
Also, although one of the killers of Boim was later killed as a subsequent
suicide bomber, the other was captured by the IDF and confessed to having
been trained in Iran, both in weapons use and carrying out terrorist
attacks, for which he gave specifics of places and dates.
The plaintiffs are requesting m$700 from the funds of Iran frozen in US
banks. In a judgment last week, the Judge ruled in the US court that there
is merit to the case and it can go ahead. Although the Boims are not
interested in making money from this case, they are interested in depleting
the coffers of Iran, and since the funds are frozen in the US they, are as it
were, ripe for the picking. If this suit is successful, as it has a very good
chance to be, then the families of many other victims of terrorism may follow
their lead, and then it could start to become a real factor in the war against
terror! The Iranians should learn that statements and actions have
This article was based on news articles in the Jerusalem Post, a column by
Daniel Pipes, and various web sites.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Olmert's Government

Ehud Olmert's coalition Government was officially voted in by the Knesset
yesterday. He combined Kadima with the Pensioner's Party, forming the largest
bloc with 36 seats. With Labor's 19 and the addition of Shas with 12 seats to
the coalition that put the Government over the top with 67 seats out of 120.
Surprisingly Israel Beiteinu and UTJ on the right have not joined, and neither
has Meretz on the left, but Olmert is still in negotiations with them.
Olmert gave his maiden speech as PM, and it was quite a good speech, in which
he emphasized two things, his social economic policy of reducing the gap
between rich and poor, and his intention of negotiating with the Palestinians
and if this fails then deciding Israel's permanent borders unilaterally. This
is based on his so-called "convergence" plan, although because of the lack of
clarity of this term (it sounds like a mathematical formula) his aides have
suggested that the English translation now be known as the "consolidation"
plan, that implies more correctly the intention of consolidating all the
small scattered settlements into a few major blocs. He said that these blocs
will become a permanent part of Israel, so that in effect the process started
by PM Sharon will be brought to fruition, in which Israel gives up territory,
including that inhabited by most of the Palestinians, in order to permanently
consolidate its control over the major areas of dense Jewish settlement.
In doing this, the idea is to separate out the Jewish and Arab populations, so
that when Israel's final borders are drawn they will incorporate the maximum
number of Jews and exclude the maximum number of Arabs. In this way Olmert
hopes to avoid the so-called "demographic bomb" of high Arab population
increase. In order to carry this plan through, Olmert announced that he will
meet with leaders of the settlement movement and will negotiate with them on
how to carry out this plan. Since the number of potential evacuees from the
West Bank is ca. 8 times that removed from Gaza, the cooperation of the
settler movement is essential for the success of this plan. Also, the
Government will try to avoid some of the mistakes made in the Gaza withdrawal,
particularly the treatment of the evacuees after they were removed from Gaza.
This time it will be necessary to have a plan of where the evacuees will be
resettled before they leave their homes.
As a condition of joining the coalition Shas insisted on the attachment of a
letter to the agreement giving them the right to vote against the Government
policy of further disengagement from the West Bank. This tends to make the
Coalition seem shaky. Also, the Government approved rises in the price of
bread and gasoline in its first week in office, not a very good omen for its
economic policies. Some analysts give it a 50:50 chance of lasting two
years, about the average for recent Israeli Governments. Olmert is an
experienced politician, although in the past he failed to achieve his
Next week he is off to see Pres. Bush in the US, then he will meet with Hosni
Mubarak of Egypt, and then with Pres Abbas of the PA. After this initial round
of talks we will see whether or not it looks as if he can keep his Government

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Poor security

Most suicide bombers, including the one who killed 9 Israelis in Tel Aviv two
weeks ago, enter Israel thru gaps in the Security Barrier around Jerusalem.
This is because the Barrier is complete around most of Samaria (Shomron), the
northern West Bank, but there are still openings in the fence in the Jerusalem
envelope, where the Barrier is mostly a concrete wall. Three days after the
last bombing, the Jerusalem Post sent a reporter to check the security at
these openings, which vary from several kilometers to several meters in
length. He found that the Border Police were on duty at most of the gaps in
the fence, but they were simply not checking the Palestinians streaming into
Jerusalem and Israel. This included people who drove up on the Palestinian
side, brought boxes of goods with them over the obstacles or through the holes
and then drove off on the Israeli side, often in taxis that were waiting for
them, without ever having their IDs or their goods checked!
As a result of this report, PM Olmert introduced legislation, to have
immediate effect, to beef up security in all the gaps around Jerusalem, to add
funds for temporary barriers where the gaps are located and to increase the
number of security personnel, and to take action to resolve the 50 or so civil
suits still outstanding against the fence from both Palestinian and Israeli
sources. They also made some changes in the route of the Fence to exclude some
Palestinians and reduce the inconvenience to others. Also, the actual checking
of Palestinians was to be passed from the IDF Border Police to the civilian
This week, after the legislation is supposed to have been implemented, the
Jerusalem Post again sent its reporter to check the security. They found a
mixed result. In some cases where last week there was no security, where
Border Guards simply stood by and watched the Palestinians stream in, there
were now more of them and they were checking the IDs of all Palestinians.
However, in other places there was no change in the security, and any one of a
large number of Palestinians could have been a suicide bomber, and there was
no security check whatsoever! How is this possible? When questioned the
Border Police said that it is up to the local officers, they seemed to think
that it was not their responsibility to check the Palestinian's IDs. In that
case, why are they there?
In no case did the reporter see any temporary fences added to plug the gaps,
neither were there any Police personnel present to check the IDs of the
Palestinians. What is going on here, after all the terrorism and suicide
bombings why is there not the least attempt by the authorities to provide
security to the citizens of Israel? That is what the fence is supposed to be
for. What is the point of spending millions of shekels on it, and then
leaving the gaps unsecured, open for anyone to walk through. This is
disgusting and a sample of the incredible lack of consideration that one often
finds in Israel for the safety and security of fellow citizens. Please write
to PM Olmert complaining about this dangerous and unacceptable lack of

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Judaism and early Christianity

According to a program on public TV that focused on the schism between
Judaism and Christianity, the crucial event that led to their breakup was the
destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 ce.
The early "Christians" were all Jews, they spoke Aramaic and practiced
Judaism, some of them very earnestly. However, as their distinctness
began to grow and the "gospels" were written down between 50-100 ce,
so the "church" split into two main groups, those who regarded themselves
as part of Judaism, and those who regarded their message as being of
universal significance. Both in their emphasis on Christ as the messiah
were in effect heretical forms of Judaism.
These two groups cohered around two men, James the Just (hatzaddik),
who was called "the brother" of Jesus Christ, and Paul. While James
remained all his life in Jerusalem and "preached" there and organized a
"church" there, Paul went out on voyages to Turkey, Greece and Italy
to preach the Christian gospel to Jews and non-Jews alike.
Vespasian had been the Roman general appointed to put down the Jewish
revolt of 66 ce that produced Jewish quasi-independence in the Roman province
of Judea following the death of Herod the Great. While he was engaged in
this war, recorded by Josephus in his "Jewish Wars," the Emperor died in
Rome, resulting in chaos. With his loyal legions Vespasian returned to Rome
and was appointed Emperor in 69 ce, starting what has been known as the
Flavian line.
His son Titus was appointed by him to continue and finish the Jewish wars.
When he returned to Judea he captured and sacked Jerusalem in 70 ce.
According to legend, he issued orders not to destroy the Temple, since he
intended to use it to keep control over the Jews. But, his legions could not
be controlled in the general orgy of violence and looting and fire spread
to the Holy Temple, that after 600 years of continuous practice was
destroyed. This event is recorded on the Arch of Titus in Rome. His last
act was to surround and destroy the Jewish holdouts on Masada, the
fortress and palace of Herod by the Dead Sea.
With the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, both Judaism and
Christianity underwent major transformations. No longer tied to the Temple,
and its sacrifices, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai began the transformation of
Judaism at the Academy in Yavne into Rabbinic Judaism as we know it.
Prayers superseded animal sacrifices and interpretations of the Rabbis
rather than the Cohanim (priests of the Temple) became the guiding light
of Judaism. Meanwhile the destruction also meant that the power base
of James in the "Judaic" branch of the "church" was itself destroyed, and
this left Paul a free hand to take over the reins and direction of what was
to become Christianity.
In Rome there was a general dislike of Jews because they had opposed
Roman might and because Jerusalem was the only city that had competed
with Rome as a place of pilgrimage and grandeur of public works. At
first the Romans did not distinguish between Jews and Christians, but
Paul saw his opportunity, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the
Temple, and he reoriented Christianity to the center of the Empire in Rome.
This was where the power was and where the opportunity for non-Jewish
converts was to be found. In doing so, Paul made sure to distinguish his
new religion from Judaism and his followers from the Jews themselves.
While the Romans initially persecuted the Christians, as they did the Jews,
gradually Christianity made converts among them, By 300 ce Christianity
had already become a powerful influence in the Empire. During the war
with a rival for the throne Constantine saw an image of a fiery cross (in
previous battles he had seen a fiery sun disk), and so he converted to
Christianity and became Emperor in 306 ce, and forced his whole court to
likewise convert. In 313 he issued the Edict of Milan stopping all persecution
of Christians, but not of Jews. He then made himself Head of the Church and
suppressed the other religions that were competing with Christianity for the
loyalty of the pagan Romans, including Mithraism. In 330 ce Constantine
moved the Capital of the Empire from Rome to Constantinople (now Istanbul).
It was not until the Council of Nicaea in 325 ce that a meeting of all Bishops
of the Church decided on what was actually the canonical beliefs of the
religion. They narrowly voted that Jesus Christ was "the son of God" and from
then on any other belief, such as that of the Gnostics, was considered
heretical. Of course, Judaism was considered to have been superseded by
Christianity, and so on top of the Roman antipathy for the Jews was added
the Christian "replacement" theology, that was only officially abandoned by
the Catholic Church in the 1960s.
Knowing these events does not alter the terrible history of Church
persecution of the Jews, but maybe it can improve our understanding of
how it started

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut

In Israel, Remembrance Day (Yom Hazikaron) for the fallen in our 6 wars, is
immediately followed by Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut). Yom Hazikaron
was commemorated last night with a National ceremony at the Western Wall
Plaza in Jerusalem, officiated at by President Katsav. It continued today
with ceremonies at all 45 military cemeteries around the country. There were
two separate minutes of silence, one last night at 8 pm and one today at 11
am. These commemorate the 138 members of all the security forces who were
killed in the past year (May 2005-May 2006), as well as the 22,123 known to
have been killed since 1860, when the first Jews settled outside the walls of
the Old City of Jerusalem. One notable feature of the National ceremony was
that the first soldier specifically mentioned who died last year was a Druse,
and his family was present and his sister lit the National flame that burns
for Memorial Day.
In addition, for the first time there were special ceremonies for the 45
civilians killed by terrorism in the past year, as well as the 794 civilians
murdered since 2000 in the latest wave of Palestinian terrorism (this does not
include the active duty security personnel who were also killed). Of those
killed, 18% were children and 18% new immigrants. This is the price we pay
for our freedom. There was also a special ceremony by the Jewish Agency for
the 200 Jews murdered because they were Jews outside Israel in the Diaspora.
This included those killed in two explosions at synagogues in Turkey, as well
as Ilan Halimi who was tortured and murdered in Paris.
It is characteristic of Jews to remember this price and to mourn our losses,
and then to immediately at 8 pm tonite (in an hour from now) transform
ourselves in order to celebrate the precious independence of our State. There
will as usual be a national celebration that will be televised, as well as
firework celebrations in most cities. We are going out tonite with a group of
friends, as we have done for several years, to a restaurant to eat, drink and
enjoy the fireworks. We discovered by experience that it doesn't pay to be
too close, sometimes pieces of firework or sparklers thrown in the crowd
can hit you, so now we keep our distance, but remain close enough to see
the show.
This year there are two special changes, the total population of Israel passed
7 million, which with 20% Arabs, means that there are ca. 5.6 million Jews.
As such, Israel now has the largest Jewish population in the world, having
passed that of the USA last year. In the past year there were 21,000
immigrants, mostly from the former Soviet Union, France and Argentina, and the
rest by natural increase. The total population increase of 70,000 in a year is
the excess of births over deaths and immigration over emigration. We have a
lot to worry about, but also a whole lot to be thankful for. Yom Ha'atzmaut

PA or Darfur?

The UN High Commission for Refugees in Sudan's Darfur region announced last
week that because of the huge costs involved (they estimate the need for
m$700) and the lack of funds that have been donated, they will have to reduce
the food contribution to 2 million refugees by half, to ca. 1,000 calories a
day. This is barely a subsistence ration.
These Black African refugees are living a meager existence after having been
expelled from their villages by the Arab Ganga-weed militia, sponsored and
supported by the fundamentalist Islamist Sudanese Government. In the past 5
years or so of this conflict about 150,000 people have been killed. In the
past two years there have been talks going on in Kenya between the Sudanese
Government and the Darfur resistance forces. The latest news is that an
agreement has been reached to stop all Ganga-weed attacks and incorporate
the militias into the Sudanese forces. It seems unlikely that this will
resolve the drastic situation.
Meanwhile Pres. Abbas of the PA is going around the world pleading for funds
to keep the Hamas Government from collapsing. Pres. Chirac has come up with a
formula of paying the salaries of ca. 150,000 PA Government employees
(this is about one third of the total Gaza work force) indirectly through the
World Bank. It is important that Hamas be seen not to be receiving the funds,
and yet if they are paying the salaries of he PA Government what is the
difference. It is pure hypocrisy. Not only have the PA been profligate in
wasting previous funds and not only has there been massive corruption with
billions of dollars going missing, but it seems that the PA Government is not
trying to do anything to either reduce costs or reduce the number of
employees. They just expect to remain a total welfare basket case dependent
on international charity. The PA is in fact a failed "state" and giving them
more money is throwing it down a deep hole. Wouldn't it be better spent in
trying to keep some of the starving Darfur refugees alive. Where are the good
liberals in all of this? Have they suddenly lost their voices, do they prefer
to support the fat cats of the PA in the manner to which they have become
accustomed, rather than feed the starving in Africa.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Former Mossad Chief speaks out

In a rare and wide ranging interview in the Jerusalem Post on Friday Efraim
Halevy, the former Mossad Chief (1998-2002), comes out of the shadows to
express his candid and informed opinions, and to promote his recent book "Man
in the shadows." David Horowitz, the Post Editor, compares Halevy to John Le
Carre's perfect spy master, George Smiley, he is dapper, intelligent and
First, Halevy accepts that although an international consortium is needed to
fight Islamic terrorism, it will not happen until there are further large
attacks against the West. Just as the US did not react when Germany
attacked Western Europe until it itself was attacked at Pearl Harbor, so the
effects of 9/11 have worn off, and Americans are loath to consider themselves
in a real war. It is for this reason that the anti-war movement against US
involvement in Iraq has grown. Even though the domestic security of the US is
lamentable, people feel that since there have been no major follow-up attacks,
they can relax. This is natural and understandable. Nevertheless,
"diabolical" terrorist acts in the US can be foreseen and can be expected.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of the democratic process, advanced and
long-term planning for such eventualities is not being undertaken.
Arafat was a failed leader of the Palestinians, and the Hamas Government of
the PA and even Iran, for all the bluster of Pres. Ahmedinejad, will also fail
in its major aim of destroying Israel. This is simply because they tend to
believe their own rhetoric, and they fail to understand the vitality and
strength of the democratic countries, and of Israel in particular. By setting
themselves the public goal of destroying Israel they are dooming themselves to
failure. They are also then incapable, because of their focus on terrorist
and military means, to satisfy their people's basic needs, for work, food and
the necessities of life (all electricity, water and most food enter the PA
from Israel). "The only chance that Hamas now has of saving the Palestinian
movement is to change course." But, of course it won't do it!
In a sense, the situation of Hamas is contradictory, on the one hand they have
made great strides from their founding in 1987, establishing a social program
and being the only "Muslim Brotherhood" faction to achieve power by legitimate
means. On the other hand, they are bankrupt and have to go around the Arab
world begging for funds that their "cousins" are loath to give them. It is
also known that although Hamas won the election by campaigning against Fatah
corruption, their leaders make sure that their own children don't become
suicide bombers, and they send them to the best Western universities to obtain
And if Hamas is unable to in any way carry out its repeated plan to destroy
Israel, what then? Can Fatah make a comeback, no way! Pres. Abbas is a
ghost, with no power whatsoever, and the pretense that he can carry out peace
talks with Israel is not only illusory, it is stupid.
As far as Iran is concerned, gradually the clerical regime will become a
pariah state, and the internal pressures may cause regime change. We must
prepare for the worst, but delay as long as possible any military actions to
allow the sense of isolation to creep into the Iranian psyche.
As far as "unilateral disengagement" or "convergence" is concerned, it was
neither unilateral nor actual disengagement. It was carried out with US
involvement and with consultations with the PA on many specific points. Even
Hamas refrained from attacking the "withdrawing" IDF forces in Gaza. And
after the "withdrawal" IDF forces remain engaged in daily encounters with
terrorists and rocket launchers. The rearrangement of 60,000 Israeli settlers
on the West Bank will not in any way change the fundamental relationship
between Israel and the Palestinians, even if we draw our own borders.
In the final analysis, given the current unjustified level of optimism on the
Arab/Muslim side, Halevy thinks things will get worse before they get better.