Asked whether the summit succeeded or failed, 50 percent of respondents in Yediot Aharonot's Dahaf poll said it failed, 18% said it succeeded and 32% said they did not know.
The numbers were similar in Haaretz's dialogue poll, where 42% said it failed and 17% said it succeeded.
A Gal Hadash poll broadcast on Channel 10 found that 20% believe it succeeded and 42% think it failed.
In a Ma'agar Mohot poll on Israel Radio, 56% of Israelis said it was too early to judge the summit. But of those who had an opinion one way or the other, 15% said it succeeded and 29% said it failed.
That sounds pretty clear to me. The polls also show that Shas' voters want it to leave the government, but Yisrael Beiteinu's voters want it to stay in.
The Israel Radio poll asked Shas and Israel Beiteinu voters whether their party should leave the government because of the summit. [The problem with this kind of poll is that anyone can identify themselves as a Shas or Yisrael Beiteinu voter. CiJ]
Sixty percent of Shas voters said yes, up from 50% in a poll by the same company two weeks ago, while 30% said the party should remain. By contrast, 71% of Israel Beiteinu voters said the party should stay in the government, up from 53% two weeks ago, and 27% said it should leave.
A source close to Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said, "The poll showed that the public is not stupid, and the voters realize from the way that Lieberman toned down the summit, that he can have a lot more influence from inside the government." [And Boro Park determines every US Presidential election. CiJ]
A Shas spokesman said it was not new that the party's voters were more right-wing than its leadership. He said the party had succeeded in toning down Annapolis and now its goal was to tone down the post-Annapolis negotiations. [And besides, we have to make sure that our voters in Beitar and Kiryat Sefer aren't included when they freeze all building in all of Judea and Samaria. /Fantasyland. CiJ]
"Our departure [from the government] is getting closer, but it all depends on how serious the negotiations on Jerusalem becomehow much money and how many ministries we stand to lose because of new elections [revised by CiJ]," the spokesman said. "We are staying for now, even if it's not what our voters want according to the poll."
Here comes what the current government fears more than anything else: If there are elections today, guess who becomes Prime Minister:
The Dahaf poll asked Israelis who they thought was the most fitting candidate to be prime minister. Thirty-four percent said Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, 17% said Barak and 14% said Olmert.
Barak responded to his failure to rise in the polls in a speech to the Labor executive committee at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters. In Labor's past election victories, he said, the party also trailed far behind in the polls a year before the elections.
In his speech, Barak praised the summit in depth and sounded more convinced than ever that he will have to break his promise to reconsider Labor's presence in the government when the Winograd Report comes out in the next month or two.
"Sixty years after the UN partition plan, the political and demographic situation require two states for two peoples," he said. "Labor and I will do whatever is necessary to make this dream come true."
Barak received backing for remaining in the government at the event from his ally, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and from one of his top critics in the party, MK Ephraim Sneh.
"The main reason we entered the government was to ensure the restart of the diplomatic process," Sneh said. "We have an interest in this government continuing, even though there are people in our party who hate Olmert more than they love peace."
"Being in the opposition is only good if you want to clear your throat and sing in the opera," Ben-Eliezer added. "In order to get things done, you have to sit in the government."
When they shoot at us, we will know how to respondcower in fear and run away.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters after closed-door discussions Thursday on the draft resolution that "there was enormous support" for the decisions taken by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the U.S.-sponsored Mideast conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
"Everyone that spoke was very positive," he said. "Everyone recognizes that we collectively and individually have to do what we can to be supportive, sustain the momentum and help the parties as they make the difficult decisions that they have to make."
Khalilzad said he would consult with the Israelis and Palestinians overnight on the text of the resolution to ensure that it's what they want. Council members said they needed to consult with their capitals on the text.
Indonesia's U.N. Ambassador Marty Natalegawa, the current council president, said hopefully the resolution will be adopted on Friday, after the council gets its monthly Mideast briefing.
Here's some of what the resolution will say:
The draft resolution affirms the Security Council's vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders.
It welcomes the diplomatic efforts at the Annapolis conference "to realize this vision as a concrete step towards a comprehensive Middle East peace."
The draft resolution "endorses the program of action for negotiations and implementation of outstanding obligations pursuant to the roadmap agreed upon by the Israeli and Palestinian leadership at Annapolis, Maryland on Nov. 27, 2007."
It welcomes continuing efforts by the Quartet — the U.S., the U.N., the European Union and Russia — "to achieve a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
The U.S. draft calls on all states to provide diplomatic and political support to Israeli-Palestinian efforts to implement the new roadmap "including by encouraging and recognizing progress and preventing any support for acts of violence or terrorism intended to disrupt their efforts."
Diplomats said one council member questioned the phrase referring to terrorism during the closed-door discussion. [Qatar? Indonesia? China? Russia? CiJ]
The draft also calls on all countries and international organizations to help develop the Palestinian economy, to maximize resources available to the Palestinian Authority and to help build Palestinian institutions "in preparation for statehood."
The main reason that the United States apparently wants this resolution is to gain UN backing for the role that the United States is going to play in determining whether the parties have complied with their obligations under the 'road map.'
I have looked - in vein - for any indication that this resolution is to be adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN rules (which would give the Security Council the power to enforce it). Hopefully, it is not being adopted under Chapter 7.
I'm really leery about this because the UN has a history of holding Israel to the highest possible standard while overlooking any and every 'Palestinian' violation.
Israel's defense establishment is outraged that Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert has agreed to have former NATO commander and retired US General James Jones (pictured, top left) determine compliance with obligations under the 'road map.'
A senior defense official involved in talks with the Palestinians said that Jones was likely to invest most of his efforts in pressuring Israel to concede to the Palestinians and taking risks on issues of security.
"Another envoy is not what is needed now," the official said. "Both sides know what needs to be done, the problem is that due to everything else that is going on - including Hamas's control over Gaza and the current coalition in Israel - things are stuck."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the job involves monitoring the development of Palestinian security services. One focus would be how those forces interact with neighboring security services, including Israeli authorities.
McCormack said that Jones would work together with Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton who has for two years been working as the US security coordinator to the region. Israeli officials recently told The Jerusalem Post that they had been planning to ask the US to switch Dayton since a more "dominant figure" is needed in the position.
But officials warned Thursday that Jones's appointment could actually be detrimental for Israel since the general, whom they said is known for having a cold attitude towards Israel, would put pressure on the IDF to prematurely compromise on security issues at a time that the Palestinian security forces are not yet prepared to crack down on terror - as they are expected to under the Road Map.
According to diplomatic sources familiar with his reports, Dayton filed largely positive reviews of the performance in recent weeks of Abbas' forces. But other State Department monitors and U.S. security coordinators wrote reviews highly critical of the U.S.-backed Fatah militias, some noting Abbas' forces carried out mostly symbolic gestures.
The diplomatic sources said the critical U.S. reports were held back from Israel at the request of Abbas' office for fear it would negatively impact negotiations leading up to this week's Annapolis summit.
One Israeli security [official CiJ] speaking to WND, though, balked at the alleged attempt to withhold the information.
"The U.S. is going to tell us something we don't know about Fatah? Holding anything back won't achieve anything," he said.
... while that Israeli security official may balk at attempts to withhold information because they "won't achieve anything," if we make the US the arbitrator of whether the sides have fulfilled their obligations under the Roadmap, it won't matter whether we know the US is wrong: Their word will control. We'd have to be insane to let the US make decisions like that when we already know now that they won't be made honestly. Then again, we already know that Olmert, Livni and Barak are insane. They keep doing the same thing over and over again and each time they expect a different result.
Here's more on why Jones is a bad idea:
The defense officials also pointed to the escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip, where the IDF killed over 20 Palestinian terrorists this past week, including 6 on Thursday, who were killed in two airstrikes in southern Gaza. During the past week, Palestinians fired over 70 mortar shells and over 25 Kassam rockets at Israeli communities in the Western Negev.
One of the airstrikes on Thursday was on a group of terrorists spotted laying an explosive device near the border fence. The other strike was on a Hamas position in Khan Younis and came in response to mortar fire against a nearby Israeli community the day before.
"There are growing chances for a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, and if that happens Jones's work will not be needed here," another official predicted. [Of course, the fact that his 'work will not be needed' doesn't mean he won't interfere anyway. CiJ]
Another defense official predicted that Jones will not be willing to "get his hands dirty" with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since he does not want to get burned and spoil his political aspirations back in the US.
As disappointing as Israel was with Dayton, the official said that the general was at least willing to enter the fray and worked hard to come up with innovative ideas to rehabilitate the PA security forces.
"Even though he failed, Dayton at least tried," the official said. "It is not clear that Jones will make such an effort so as not to ruin his chances of making a political career in the future."
Jones is being courted by the campaigns of both John McCain and Hillary Clinton, and he is also consulted by the campaign of Barack Hussein Obama. He is compared to Dwight Eisenhower, who became President of the United States after commanding US forces during World War II, in that he belongs to neither party. While he called the US war in Iraq a debacle, he also believes that now that the US is in, it cannot just withdraw, because of the consequences for America's standing.
New York's Sen. Clinton has told some advisers that if she is elected she could imagine putting Gen. Jones in her cabinet, possibly as defense secretary, these advisers say. Her campaign says such talk "is way premature," but in a statement, Sen. Clinton says she has enjoyed her "many conversations about military and diplomatic issues" with Gen. Jones. "I am confident he has much to contribute to our nation in the years to come," she said.
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, another top Democratic contender, consults regularly with Gen. Jones on foreign-policy issues and "thinks the world of him," according to one Obama aide.
Gen. Jones, a slow-talking native of Kansas City, Mo., is also close to some top-flight Republicans. Arizona's Sen. McCain, another presidential contender, recently described Gen. Jones as one of his "closest and longtime friends" and predicted he would play an important role in any future McCain administration.
"He's like [Gen. Dwight D.] Eisenhower, who belonged to no camp and everyone wanted him," says Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who considers Gen. Jones "one of our country's most important assets" and has been urging him to become a Democrat. Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California, who heads the centrist New Democrat Coalition and has known Gen. Jones for 10 years, calls him "the biggest 'get' out there" -- so big, she says, that she has been wary of pushing too strongly on him becoming a Democrat for fear he'll say no.
Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, also a former Marine, calls Gen. Jones "a national treasure" and says he would like to see him run for higher office. "Jim is a rare political commodity these days," says Sen. Roberts, adding that he assumed Gen. Jones is a Republican. "With the Democrats trying to woo him, we owe it to ourselves to say, 'Please, stay home. You belong with us.' "
Jones would also close Guantanamo "tomorrow." I can't wait to hear what he has to say about all the 'Palestinian' terrorists Israel is holding.
The entire time that Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert was in Annapolis with his good friend 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen, the people of Sderot were suffering under daily Kassam rocket and mortar fire. You didn't hear anything about it, because as long as no one gets killed, no one really bothers to report about it. And besides, there aren't that many people left in Sderot anyway.
You will recall that the reason why Olmert met with Abu Mazen in Annapolis is because Abu Mazen is a 'moderate' who wants 'peace' (despite the fact that his 'moderate' Fatah organization sponsors an armed wing called the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades that has carried out most of the terror attacks in Israel in the last seven years). In other words, Abu Mazen is 'good' as opposed to the nasty Hamas terrorists in Gaza who are his enemy and who are 'bad.' You will also recall that three and a half weeks ago, I reported that the US had given Israel clearance to send the IDF into Gaza to clean out the vipers and stop the firing on Sderot and its environs. At the time, Israel postponed the 'operation' - earning Sderot a few hundred more rockets and mortars and earning Olmert a few brownie points with his prosecutors - so as not to interfere with the Annapolis gang rape. But now that Annapolis is over and was just so successful (/sarc), it's time to clean up Gaza, restore it to the rule of the good terrorist Abu Mazen and bring quiet to Sderot and the western Negev, and then we can make peace and prosperity and live happily ever after. Right?
Well, maybe. But if we do send the IDF into Gaza, they won't just be facing the bad terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. You see, if the IDF invades Gaza, that will be enough for the good terrorists of Fatah and the bad terrorists of Hamas to put their differences aside and fight together against the real enemy: Israel. You thought differently after Annapolis? You haven't been reading this blog long enough.... The source, by the way, is a 'senior Fatah official' in Gaza City (yes, they exist and they even shoot rockets occasionally):
"Fatah won't remain idle in the face of an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip," the official said. "We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It's our duty to defend our people against the occupiers." [There hasn't been a single Israeli in the Gaza Strip for more than two years now. CiJ]
The Fatah official said his faction would place political differences aside and form a joint front against Israel if the IDF enters the Gaza Strip. "The homeland is more important than all our differences," he said.
The statements came amid reports that some Arab countries were planning to resume mediation efforts between Fatah and Hamas to avoid further deterioration in the aftermath of the Annapolis peace conference.
According to the reports, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have decided to invite representatives of Fatah and Hamas for talks on ways of ending their power struggle.
A senior Palestinian official who visited Cairo this week said the Egyptians and Saudis have reached the conclusion that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas won't be able to move forward with the peace talks with Israel without solving his problems with Hamas.
The official said Abbas had given his blessing to Cairo and Riyadh to resume their efforts to end the crisis with Hamas.
Abu Mazen is undoubtedly pleased. Here's what he had to say on the subject of Fatah and Hamas fighting together back in January:
Fatah, Hamas - can you tell the difference between them? I can't. And the Olmert - Barak - Livni government can't tell the difference between them either. All of which has to make you wonder why they keep up the charade that there is a difference. Maybe if Egypt and Saudi Arabia get Abu Mazen and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to kiss and make up again, we can drop the pretense? Maybe?
Zevulun Orlev, chairman of the State Control Committee, said the force failed in its duty when it decided to "roll out the red carpet for the prime minister upon his return from Annapolis".
According to Orlev, the police lack the authority to submit recommendations at the conclusion of any investigation.
"The over-enthusiasm exhibited by the police is more than bewildering," the head of the National Union-NRP Party said, while urging the State Prosecutor's Office to prove its independence and ignore the recommendations.
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said, "The police's decision whitewashed the disagreements among the investigators and ignored the unequivocal evidence and testimonies in the case.
"The political corruption poses a risk to the country's existence," she added.
Other MKs, particularly from Olmert's Kadima party, sided with the prime minister. "As was the case in other affairs involving past prime ministers, they made a mountain out of a molehill," Yoel Hasson said, adding that he hoped the State Prosecutor's Office would reach a quick decision on the matter and work toward concluding the other investigations against the prime minister.
Otniel Schneller, also of Kadima said the police's decision would "allow the prime minister to continue running the country.
"The Israeli people should be glad that Olmert will probably not be put on trial," he said.
Combine this story with the previous one (the next one down now on the home page) and I think you will all understand why many Israelis believe our country is hopelessly corrupt and ordinary citizens cannot get a fair shake here.
Two police officers who were convicted of brutally beating demonstrator Akiva Vitkin at an anti-disengagement rally in May 2005 were 'sentenced' to six and three months of community service today. The officer who received the harsher sentence has also been dismissed from the police force. (Make sure to watch the video at the link above if you can stand it).
Officers Eran Naim and Eliran Avraham were sentenced to six and three months community service, respectively.
Israel Police's Internal Affairs Unit claimed in the indictment that during the rally 21-year-old protestor Akiva Vitkin was thrown to the ground and had a finger stuck up his nose by officer Naim, causing it to bleed.
Vitkin was then taken to a police station, where officer Avraham beat him and slammed his head against a wall.
Judge Hanan Efrati said in his ruling, "A police officer, as an enforcer of the law, must protect the citizens and not threaten them. The accused violated the trust that must exist between the public and the police."
Naim, who was dismissed from the force following the incident, said after the hearing "The lesson that I have drawn from this is that an officer cannot do his job if he is punished by the law."
In other words, Naim has learned nothing. Let's hope he doesn't beat anyone else up.
Olmert: Without a 'Palestinian' reichlet, Israel will be an 'apartheid' state
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert, in an appalling statement of moral equivalence, signed a joint declaration that equated 'Palestinian' terrorism with Israeli 'terrorism' (please note the placement of the scare quotes):
"We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published Thursday that creation of a Palestinian state is a vital Israeli interest, and that failure to reach a peace agreement could plunge Israel into a South African-style apartheid struggle.
Such a scenario, he said, would mean "the state of Israel is finished."
While Olmert has long said that the region's demography is working against Israel, the comments published in Haaretz were among his strongest as he prepares a skeptical public for the renewed peace talks launched at this week's conference in Annapolis, Md.
His reference to apartheid was particularly explosive because Israeli officials have long rejected any comparison to the racist system once in place in South Africa.
Olmert was en route back to Israel at midday Thursday, and his office could not immediately confirm the veracity of the published comments in Haaretz.
I've discussed the false issue of the 'demographic time bomb' several times on this blog. But even if demography were an issue, it's still a long way to real apartheid. There are words to describe Olmert. I try not to use them in public.
Peres: 1000 Jewish lives worthwhile price to recognize pre-1967 borders
President Shimon Peres, the architect of the Oslo disaster, said today that the Oslo accords were a "great achievement" because they enabled the recognition of the State of Israel within the June 4, 1967 borders (i.e. the day before the Six-Day War). Some 1000 Jewish Israelis have lost their lives - and thousands of others have been wounded - as a result of 'Palestinian' terror spawned by the Oslo accords and the expectations they created in the 'Palestinians.' No, this is not a parody:
Recognition of the 1967 borders began with the Oslo accords, President Shimon Peres said on the 60th anniversary of the UN decision to partition Palestine into two states.
"This is one of the greatest achievements. Without it, there would be no chance for peace. This is the great achievement of Olso, which set the groundwork for peace," he said.
In an interview with Army Radio, Peres described the first moments after the historic UN vote in 1947: "I was next to [Israel's first prime minister, David] Ben-Gurion. That night, when all the streets were filled with dancing and rejoicing, he said that tomorrow there would be bloodshed. I wasn't sure he was right… but he was in a very grave mood."
Peres recounted how a few months later, Ben-Gurion had presented a list of Israel's meager weapons supply - only 5 million bullets that would last five days of fighting.
"After the terrible Holocaust, there remained only a few thousand Jews who came out of the camps weighing 30-40 kilograms. We had to set up a state, and there was no other choice… Ben-Gurion stood at the edge of the abyss. He decided to take a chance - and he was right."
Both the 1947 UN resolution and the Annapolis conference are dedicated to the task of forcing the Jewish people to compromise their rights in a bid to appease Israel's neighbors who still 60 years on maintain their refusal to accept the right of the Jewish people to sovereignty over their land. And both are presented as diplomatic achievements by the Israeli government.
ON NOVEMBER 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 181. As a General Assembly resolution, 181 had no force of international law. The international legal basis for the Jewish state was the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine which charged the British government with administering the area earmarked as the future Jewish state.
Indeed, if anything, resolution 181 sought to legitimize illegal moves taken by Britain throughout the term of its mandate. As the League of Nations mandate made clear, Britain was supposed to preside over the territory of the Mandatory Palestine and to foster the establishment of a Jewish state which would eventually replace the British mandatory government. Yet almost from the get-go the British did just the opposite. They established the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan on the majority of the land slated for the Jewish state. Moreover, they took all possible steps to prevent the Jews from establishing a state on the remainder of the land. They blocked Jewish immigration and limited the right of Jews to purchase and settle the land to a tiny portion of the territory - which they believed would be too small to sustain a sovereign state.
It was due to the British failure to destroy Zionism and block the Jewish people from establishing their state that the UN partition plan was brought into being. That is, far from establishing a Jewish state, 181 simply accepted an already existing national entity. Despite the best efforts of Britain, the Jews had already established their state in 1947. It would have existed even if the resolution had not passed.
I could tolerate his corruption of history. But his continued delusional defense of the Oslo accords is beyond the pale.
When my friends and I were in the girl-hating pre-teen stage, we used to run around saying that girls had 'cooties' and giving each other 'cootie shots' to immunize ourselves against them. This morning's Washington Post reports that 'off the record,' Israeli foreign minister TzipiFeigele Livni felt 'shunned' in Annapolis this week because not one Arab delegate would shake her hand.
I would have immediately attributed her being shunned to being Israeli, but for two other reports. First, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice felt pretty much the same way. And second, the Jerusalem Post carries a report from the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida that Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak met 'secretly' with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad on the side of the 'conference.' Could it be that in late 2007 the Arab countries will not deal with women diplomats? Or is it 'just' because Livni is an Israeli?
Let's start by looking at the Washington Post report:
Livni opened her speech with a challenge to the Arab representatives arrayed around the table, most of whose countries do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Sixteen of the 22 members of the Arab League had representatives in the room, including Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.
"Why doesn't anyone want to shake my hand?" she asked. "Why doesn't anyone want to be seen speaking to me?"
"She was saying 'Stop treating me as a pariah,' " said Frans Timmermans, the Dutch Minister for European Affairs, who was present. "They shun her like she is Count Dracula's younger sister."
Before arriving, Faisal had publicly said he would not shake the hand of any Israeli, dismissing such gestures as mere theatrics.
Rice, for her part, brought the meeting to close with highly personal and reflective comments that connected her childhood in the segregated South with the challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians.
Both Timmermans and a U.S. official in the room said the gathering became deadly silent as Rice spoke, every eye riveted on her. Rice spoke without notes or script, and no transcript was made, but the two officials provided similar accounts of her remarks. The U.S. official asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss Rice's remarks.
Rice began by saying she did not want to draw historical parallels or be too self-reflective, but as a young girl she grew up in Birmingham, Ala., "at a time of separation and tension."
She noted that a local church was bombed by white separatists, killing four girls, including a classmate of hers.
"Like the Israelis, I know what it is like to go to sleep at night, not knowing if you will be bombed, of being afraid to be in your own neighborhood, of being afraid to go to your church," she said.
But, she added, as a black child in the South, being told she could not use certain water fountains or eat in certain restaurants, she also understood the feelings and emotions of the Palestinians.
"I know what it is like to hear to that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are Palestinian," she said. "I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."
Was Livni shunned because she was an Israeli or because she was a woman? And did Rice also feel shunned, or was she just being empathetic? As you think about this, recall some of the images of Rice that have appeared in the Arab media and the names that she has been called in the Arab media since she became Secretary of State (for those who have forgotten, I suggest you follow the links above). It sure makes it sound like Rice has problems in the Arab world because she is a woman. On the other hand, at least some of those problems are related to her being a black woman. That's a 'problem' that Livni does not have. Based on what has been going on in the Sudan in the last several years, it ought to be clear that Muslims don't particularly care for blacks either - which is ironic given that many American Muslims are blacks who converted from Christianity to Islam.
The most instructive case in resolving the dilemma might be Benazhir Bhutto of Pakistan. Pakistan is a Muslim country and has more than its share of Islamists. While Bhutto has recently been the target of a suicide bomber and of violent crackdowns by current Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf, can we say that the Islamists are targeting her because they will not accept a woman as Prime Minister? Here's what Bhutto herself has to say about the subject:
I remember walking down the red carpet in the presidential palace, and I felt as though an invisible army of all those who had died fighting for freedom walked with me and it was a tremendous moment of vindication.
I also felt a tremendous sense that Pakistan had showed the way for other Muslim countries - that a woman could be elected as chief executive.
I found that a whole series of people opposed me simply on the grounds that I was a woman.
The clerics took to the mosque saying that Pakistan had thrown itself outside the Muslim world by voting for a woman - that a woman had usurped a man's place in the Islamic society.
I found that my opponents reduced themselves to verbal abuse rather than discuss issues- the very mere fact that I was a woman seemed to drive them into a frenzy. So that was the biggest challenge.
I don't know how to deal with that.
I can deal with political differences, but how do you deal with it when someone says I don't like you because you're a woman and you've taken a man's place?
I was brought up to believe that a woman can do anything that a man can.
But there are certain things that only women can do such as carry a child and I found myself in a very strange position because each time I was pregnant my political opponents somehow thought I would be paralysed and would plot particularly against me at those points.
I would like to be remembered for symbolising democracy in Pakistan and the Muslim world and for heralding a world of democracy in Pakistan.
But above all I want to be remembered for what I did for women.
My identity comes ultimately from being a woman and I felt that my life has to make a difference to the lives of other women so in terms of population control or in terms of exposing domestic violence or in terms of permitting women easy access to credit to start business of their own, I have always done my best to allow women to succeed.
Those words were written in September 2003. More recently, a suicide bomber attempted to murder Bhutto, along with many of her supporters. In fact, as some of you may recall, the bomb was strapped to an infant. Here's what she had to say after that experience.
Bhutto was careful not to blame the government directly for the bomb blasts - she said she had spoken to the president, General Pervez Musharraf, during the day - but she said she had pointed the finger at certain individuals in the government who were sympathetic to terrorists and were abusing their power to advance militant causes.
She said she had received warnings from a "brotherly country" of several different suicide squads plotting attacks on her, one by a Taliban group, one by Al Qaeda and one by a group in Karachi, and had even been supplied telephone numbers the plotters were using. The information had been passed to the government, she said.
"I would hope with so much information in their hands the government would have been able to apprehend them, but I understand the difficulties," she said.
She said the attack represented the larger aims of Islamist terrorism. "The attack was not on me, the attack was on what I represent, it was an attack on democracy, by those who are against the unity and integrity of Pakistan," she said.
Note that while she blames Islamic terrorist groups - al-Qaeda and the Taliban - for the attack, she does not appear to be claiming that they are targeting her because she is a woman.
Note also that Livni seems to be complaining that the Arab delegations would not shake her hand - not really about anything else. If that's her complaint, she ought to know better. In her own country, Orthodox Jewish men generally avoid shaking women's hands for reasons that have nothing to do with their political viewpoint. Some of you may even recall a New York Times columnist who got himself into a lot of trouble on that front in 2002. I don't know whether Muslim men generally refuse to shake hands with (non-Muslim) women. It's possible. But I don't really believe that's what's at work here.
Please allow me to draw the pieces together. I believe Bhutto was targeted for her political views and not because she is a woman (but hers is the case about which I know the least). I believe Rice's bad press in the Arab media is because she is black and because she represents the United States and isn't virulently anti-Israel enough. And I believe Livni's shunning is because she is Israel and not because she is a woman - Ehud Barak's case notwithstanding. If I'm wrong and the Arabs are refusing to talk to Livni because she is a woman, maybe we should elect Limor Livnat Prime Minister.
Happy 'International Day of Solidarity with the 'Palestinian' people'
Sixty years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution number 181, which called for the partition of 'Palestine' into two states, a state for the Jewish people and an Arab state. On this day each year, the United Nations conducts an 'International Day of Solidarity' with the fictitious 'Palestinian people,' which becomes an occasion for the most Israel bashing of any other day of the year at the Israel-bashing UN.
Jerusalem, in a decision worthy of the setting for Pontius Pilate's famous manual ablutions, was to belong to neither. It was to become a "corpus separatum" under UN direction - which is why today, except for a few banana republics, no country in the world, not even the US, will build an embassy there, or recognise it as Israel's capital, eternal or otherwise. Indeed, it is a telling argument against Palestinian claims to the city as its capital - but for obvious reasons it is not one that Israel and its supporters are likely to make.
Of course, we all know what happened: Despite an obtuse map that al-Guardian describes as a 'checkerboard' (which today might be referred to with the inflammatory term "bantustans"), Israel accepted the 'partition,' the Arabs did not - thereby capitalizing on another opportunity to miss an opportunity. The Arabs went to war with Israel and although its borders were almost indefensible even after that war, Israel ended up with more territory and a slightly more normal looking map than would have been the case under the 'partition plan.' The 'Palestinians' are now trying to turn the clock back and accept the 'partition plan.'
One curiosity had does emerge is the map of Jerusalem that was attached to the 'partition plan.' (Hat Tip: Gidon in Maaleh Adumim). If you, like me, wondered how areas as far out as Maaleh Adumim to the east, Gush Etzion to the south and Givat Zev to the north could be considered part of Jerusalem, look at this map and wonder no more:
So when you hear the UN bashing Israel today, just remember that the Arabs could have had their 'Palestinian state' sixty years ago if that's what they really wanted. Of course, it isn't. The 'Palestinians' don't want their own state: They want to destroy the Jewish state and murder all the Jewish inhabitants in the area. We cannot give them that opportunity.
Palestinian Media Watch's Itamar Marcus was in Toronto last week, where he was interviewed by the Canadian Jewish News. He said that 'Palestinian' society is nowhere near ready for peace or for any kind of compromise. (Hat Tip: NY Nana)
The Palestinian leadership is playing a double game – the same one they have been playing for years. They promise reconciliation when they speak to Western interlocutors in English but they assure their own people in Arabic that Israel has no right to exist and fighting it is a religious duty.
Marcus said when considering which represents the Palestinian leadership’s real position, “we learned in the past that the message they give their people is the one they truly believe.”
In an interview with The CJN, Marcus said PMW’s latest research showed “the Palestinian leadership has literally stolen the opportunity for peace from their children and society.”
The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is considered a moderate, have fashioned a series of school texts used from grades 1 through 12 that poison the opportunity for peace, he said.
The Grade 12 text, released only a few months ago, refers to the conflict with Israel as a religiously mandated one. “None of the books say [the conflict] is about the West Bank. They say it is existential,” he said.
All Palestinian school texts have been updated by Fatah since 2000. The Grade 12 books, introduced at the end of 2006, “make no attempt to educate for peace and co-existence with Israel. Indeed the opposite is true,” states a PMW analysis of the books. “The teaching repeatedly rejects Israel’s right to exist, presents the conflict as a religious battle for Islam, teaches Israel’s founding as imperialism, and actively portrays a picture of the Middle East, both verbally and visually, in which Israel does not exist at all.”
That message is continued on official government television, in state-run newspapers and to a somewhat lesser extent, in the privately held Al-Quds newspaper.
A television documentary that aired on Aug. 20, 2007 on PATV, refers to Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias and other Israeli territories as Palestinian lands. In these circumstances, it would be unwise to trust Abbas to deliver a peace agreement with Israel, Marcus said.
“Abbas was Yasser Arafat’s right hand man during the period of duplicity when Arafat was giving one message to Israel and another to his own people,” he stated.
To further illustrate his point, Marcus pointed to a development involving U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who is pushing the Annapolis conference. Following a meeting with Abbas that preceded the Palestinian civil war, the secretary told reporters Abbas assured her he would demand that Hamas recognize Israel.
When asked by Palestinian television to comment, Abbas assured his audience he would not demand that either Hamas nor his organization, Fatah, recognize Israel, Marcus stated.
After years of indoctrination, Palestinian society is not prepared for peace with Israel.
Even if Abbas sincerely wanted peace, which Marcus doubted, he has no support for that within Palestinian society. Any deal would not outlive Abbas and Israeli territorial withdrawals would leave it in a precarious security position, he said.
The U.S. administration is pushing Israel towards a deal that would endanger it to gain support from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for military action against Iran.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is “desperate for a deal,” even though the Israeli military, security services, parliamentarians and public oppose concessions, he said.
The bankruptcy of the Rice/Olmert approach can even be seen from the language they use, he continued. They refer to a “window of opportunity,” but “if it’s a window, it’s not an opportunity.
“A window won’t survive. It has to be a society [that supports peace],” he said.
Keep in mind, Marcus isn't discussing ancient history. He's not even talking about seven years ago. He's talking about NOW. NOW the 'Palestinians' are continuing to indoctrinate their children to religiously mandated jihad. And the Olmert-Barak-Livni government wants to give them all of Judea and Samaria?
Two of 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen's aides - Saeb Erekat and Nabil Abu Rudeineh - gave interviews this morning in which they disavowed President Bush's words at Annapolis yesterday. Curiously, although I had seen this story reported on mainstream Israeli sites today, I can now only find it on DEBKA.
In an interview from Washington, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Wednesday, Nov. 28, the US president does not negotiate in the Palestinians’ name, does not represent them and his words are not relevant to the Palestinian cause. On such issues as recognizing Israel, said the Palestinian negotiator, Bush is not competent to determine how we act. If the US president seeks an exchange of territory, he can do this with Mexico.
Abbas’ political adviser Abu Rodeina then maintained that the Palestinians made no commitments at Annapolis.
Does anyone really think that these people are going to sign an agreement with an 'end of conflict' clause?
Palestinian Media Watch reports that this commercial that was shown on 'Palestinian Authority' television today, the morning after the Annapolis conference.
Just a day after Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the Annapolis peace conference pledged to negotiate a peace treaty by the end of 2008, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority continues to paint a picture for its people of a world without Israel.
An information clip produced by the Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics and rebroadcast today on Abbas-controlled Palestinian television, shows a map in which Israel is painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, symbolizing Israel turned into a Palestinian state.
The description of all of the state of Israel as "Palestine" is not coincidental, and is part of a formal, systematic educational approach throughout the Palestinian Authority. This uniform message of a world without Israel is repeated in school books, children's programs, crossword puzzles, video clips, formal symbols, school and street names, etc. The picture painted for the Palestinian population, both verbally and visually, is of a world without Israel.
The fact that this campaign continues before the ink on the Annapolis agreement is even dry appears to contradict the central promise of the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference: that Israel has a right to exist.
I had higher hopes for President Bush, who began his term in office with a fairly sensible pro-Israel policy. Many have pointed out that President Bush has done quite a bit to advance the Palestinian cause, and perhaps he has, but he never seemed willing to completely throw Israel over the boat as some others might have. Before today, I was willing to believe that the current round of negotiations in Annapolis would amount to nothing more than the usual farce that always results when one deals with the Palestinians, but then I woke up and this speech:
The Israelis must do their part. They must show the world that they are ready to begin—to bring an end to the occupation that began in 1967 through a negotiated settlement. This settlement will establish Palestine as a Palestinian homeland, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. Israel must demonstrate its support for the creation of a prosperous and successful Palestinian state by removing unauthorized outposts, ending settlement expansion, and finding other ways for the Palestinian Authority to exercise its responsibilities without compromising Israel’s security.
The highlighted section represents an enormous reversal of policy from Bush’s previously stated position that he would not support a solution which shrank Israel’s borders to their 1949 position. Furthermore, keep in mind that this is not just a proposal for an end goal in an eventual peace settlemnt; Bush is actually asking that Israel concede its most strategic territory as a starting point for negotiations. Thus, having enormously weakened its bargaining position, Israel will then be in a position to demand...what, exactly, from the Palestinians? Certainly not security guarantees or resource sharing agreements which Israel would be in no position to enforce, and does anybody think Palestine or the other Arab states would be more willing to take Israel’s claim of its right to existence seriously after it had shown such weakness? I cannot believe I am hearing this from a president whose overall foreign policy, despite suffering problems in the execution, has been basically sensible. This is sheer lunacy, and Israel should walk away from the negotiations immediately before its continued presence risks placing a stamp of legitimacy on this hideous idea.
More generally, the Annapolis negotiations are representative of a fundamental flaw in our approach towards Israel.
It's okay to boo at soccer matches in Israel - for now
I trust that many of you recall the incident on November 4 in Haifa in which fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team booed the announcer for announcing that it was twelve years to the day on the Gregorian calendar since Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated. I trust you also recall that a three-judge disciplinary panel of the soccer federation sentenced Beitar to two home games without fans present. Well, surprise.
Israel Radio just reported that the federation's appeals court has thrown out the punishment. The reason: There's nothing in the soccer league's rules and regulations that prohibits fans from booing! Sounds like a great concept, doesn't it? Well, Beitar Jerusalem is off the hook this time because of this little glitch in the rules, but don't worry because the appeals court (I kid you not) has urged the league to fix the rules to make sure that the next time the fans boo Yitzchak Rabin, the team will be punished.
I can't wait to see how they try to define when fans at a soccer game are allowed to boo and when they are not. As a lawyer, I love seeing other people trying to draft those precise definitions that give you certainty of results when something happens.
Yes, the last sentence was sarcastic (I was tempted to write "/sarc" but I was afraid some of you would think I made up the entire story - I didn't). But in all seriousness, those kinds of distinctions are almost impossible to draft, and it is inevitable that someone sometime soon will be convicted of impermissible booing in a manner that no one ever intended. At least it will be politically correct.
Bush has lost his mind and his moral compass. This statement is an outrage. A lie and a blood libel. Israel has never committed any acts of terrorism. What a tool of Islamic jihad. Based on that, Bush is a terrorist, anyone that defends himself, his family, his country is a terrorist.
This is a sad sad day.
Of course, the writer is correct. Israel has never committed any acts of terrorism (arguably one Israeli citizen committed an act of terrorism in 1994, but we will never know the whole truth because he was murdered on the spot). And yes, it is sad that Israel was so accused. But it wasn't President Bush that made that statement - at least according to the transcript of his remarks that was published here in Israel.
I'm about to read a statement that was agreed upon by our distinguished guests.
"The representatives of the government of the state of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, represented respectively by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas, in his capacity as chairman of the PLO executive committee and president of the Palestinian Authority, have convened in Annapolis, Maryland, under the auspices of President George W. Bush of the United States of America, and with the support of the participants of this international conference having concluded the following joint understanding:
"We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis."
So yes, President Bush read that statement, but he didn't make it. That statement was made by the parties - by Israel's Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert and 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen. Olmert drew the moral equivalence between Israelis and 'Palestinians' on terrorists - along with Abu Mazen. In my opinion, that's even worse.
The New York Times has it the same way. It's not Bush who drew a 'moral equivalence.' It's Olmert (and Abu Mazen).
Ministry of Finance to tax donated toys and clothing again
I received the note below from an old friend. You are invited to take action on it:
The following notice was placed in a series of major New York yahoogroups, Cragilists, etc this past week by the owners of Bears From Bergenfield, who supply Robin Hood Israel with slightly damaged and irregular stuffed bears that cannot be sold in their stores in America. We distribute them here to all of the hospitals, children shelters and misrad harevacha [Ministry of Welfare. CiJ] offices in the peripheries, focusing in particular on the Negev (under the offices of Miri Becker, Overseer of Child Welfare for the Negev region out of Beer Sheva), and Deputy Minister Graziela Feller, the Mimuna Artzi [National coordinator CiJ] for the Homeless in the Jerusalem headquarters. Last year we focused on the Gallil, Golan, Teveria region and all of the Gush Katif displaced children.
As you know, this past week we distributed just over 250 Bears from Begenfield that were "smuggled in", throughout the negev and the childrens ward of the hospitals in Ashkelon, Beer Sheva and Eilat via Miri Becker's office.
The advertisement by a major charity donor that they were being held for ransom by the Israelis struck a particularly bad note in the ears of Federation senior donors, who were deeply embarrassed during Annapolis Week in particular.
We are briging in a major shipment of more than 500 stuffed toys in time for chanuka, and have been asked this time to finally end this embarrassment as RHIF [Robin Hood Israel Foundation - which is an affiliate of Robin Hood US. CiJ] on behalf of the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in the USA. The issue is not the bears, obviously. We have a delivery of winter coats for every resident of every homeless and single mother shelter in Israel arriving in two weeks as well, as but another immediate example.
Following is the advert from JewishUpperWestSide@yahoogroups.com, which was picked up as a story by the NY press as an indication of the moral terpitude of the Israelis and the unquestioning loyalty no matter what obscenity is perpetrated on the part of American Jews. It was an awful publicity during Anapolis week, and Olmert is simply tone deaf:
I am trying to raise the money to pay for meches [customs duties. CiJ] for our Bergen/ Westchester County stuffed toy donation for Sederot children at Chanukah time. We estimate the fees to be $750. If you could please send me the checks made out to Connections Israel, I will mail the checks to them.
We also need a donation of a truck to take the toys to the El Al cargo hangar. El Al will ship all toys packed in boxes for FREE for us.
Claire Ginsburg Goldstein
Bears from Bergenfield
[Phone number omitted]
As discussed, the position of the MoF [Israeli Ministry of Finance. CiJ] remains that while these items would be tax free under the treaty with the US if sold in Israel, the treaty does not mention charitable donations, and therefore they may be taxed at full rate to indicate the government's displeasure with portraying Israel as needy and poor rather than Hi Tech Herzliya Pituach. [Herzliya Pituach is a wealthy suburb north of Tel Aviv that has a number of office parks that are filled with some of Israel's most prominent hi tech companies. CiJ]
We need all the help we can get on this matter. I will forward under separate EMAIL my Op-Ed piece published by the Los Angeles Times when they refused to let the cargo plane of clothes from LA unload two years ago. Then a week later Aryah Sharon had a stroke, Olmert became interim Prime Minister, and everyone elected to give him a honeymoon period rather than confront him as originally intended at the time.
G Pickholz Robin Hood Israel Foundation
[G Pickholz is a college classmate of mine. We go back many years, and I know this story to be legitimate. The plane is due to arrive during Chanuka. CiJ].
This is enough to get me to consider taking my blog elsewhere. The problem is what to do with the archives (coming up on 5000 posts).... (Hat Tip: Aryeh in Beitar Ilit)
In an unprecedented move, Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) has agreed to supply the IP address of an Israeli blogger who used "Google Blogger" for a blog in which he slandered Shaarei Tikva council members running for reelection. The election is being held today.
The slandered Shaarei Tikva council members asked Google for the blogger's name. They reached a settlement with the company on the basis of an Israeli ruling on the subject. The settlement stipulates that 72 hours before a hearing on the case at the Rishon LeZion Magistrates Court, the council members would leave the blogger a message on his blog summoning him to the hearing, or else his IP address would be handed over. The notice would invite the blogger to disclose his identity, participate in the hearing, or oppose the disclosure of his identity by filing a motion as "anonymous".
For more than a year, the anonymous blogger slandered three Shaarei Tikva councilmen: local council chairman Gideon Idan, Shaarei Tikva director general Haim Blumenfeld and council member Avi Yokobovich. The blogger accused the men of criminal acts, such as pretending to be handicapped in order to receive discounts on local property taxes, receiving bribes from a contractor, and having ties to criminal gangs.
The three councilmen filed a NIS 300,000 lawsuit against the blogger, who was named "anonymous" in the statement of claim. They also asked for a court order ordering Google to disclose the blogger's IP address, which would enable the court to contact the blogger's Internet services provider and order it to disclose the blogger's identity.
Google initially said that disclosing the blogger's identity violated rulings on the balance between freedom of expression and a person's right to his reputation.
However, in a pre-ruling, Judge Oren Schwartz said that the blog's content raised suspicions of criminal conduct, and Google took the hint. Judge Schwartz applied the strict position of Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon that the details of a surfer may be disclosed only if the slander was tantamount to criminal defamation.
In line with Judge Schwartz's ruling, Google and the councilmen reached a settlement in their dispute.
Just wait until they do the same thing in countries with even less individual rights than this one.
At Israpundit, Ted Belman raises but doesn't really answer the question of whether the Olmert-Barak-Livni government has the right to negotiate over the fate of our capitol city:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Monday categorically rejected assertions by American Jewish leaders that Jerusalem is not an Israeli issue but “a Jewish one.”
Speaking at a news briefing Monday, Olmert said that the Jerusalem issue had “been determined long ago” and that “the government of Israel has a sovereign right to negotiate anything on behalf of Israel.”
He said that at this stage, the matter was a theoretical rather than practical one, as the subject of Jerusalem was not yet on the negotiating table.
Don’t you believe it.
Ted is right that the issue of Jerusalem is very definitely on the table, and the time to be discussing it is now when it may still be possible to do something.
The question needs to be addressed on two levels: The theoretical and the practical. On the theoretical level, I have no doubt that Jerusalem is a Jewish issue and not an Israeli one. Yes, we have constant arguments here over what role diaspora Jewry should be afforded in making decisions for us on borders and security. After all, we're the ones who have to send our children to the army and we're the ones who have to face the suicide bombers every day. But when it comes to Jerusalem, we answer to a Higher Authority.
The Mishna tells us that Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes of Israel because Jerusalem belongs to the entire Jewish people. Thus there's no doubt in my mind that Jerusalem is an issue on which it is entirely legitimate for any Jew anywhere to have an opinion. But we need to discuss whether to translate that into a practical role and if so, how.
I say whether because I wonder whether much of diaspora Jewry really appreciates Jerusalem's special place in the heart of the Jewish people. I'm not talking about the part of diaspora Jewry that's involved in defending Israel all the time, and I'm certainly not talking about pro-Israel bloggers and pro-Israel blog readers. I have no doubt that I would love for all of you to have a voice in this decision, because I know that a united Jerusalem means almost as much to you as it does to me (and I say almost because for me a divided Jerusalem is a physical - and possibly financial since I live over the 'green line' - danger).
But if I give you that voice, do I also have to give it to the assimilated Jews who take no interest in Israel, who regard Israel as an embarrassment, and who find my concerns about Israel's future to be parochial ("you can always move back to the United States"). Are there more of them or are there more of you? How good a job have you done of educating them as to the importance of a united City of Jerusalem to the Jewish people? Do they know that we had no access to our holy sites from 1948-67? Do they know that every single synagogue in the Jewish quarter of the Old City was destroyed by the Jordanians between 1948-67? Do they know that the Temple Mount maintains its sanctity to this day? Do they know how many Jews have fought and died for that wide open plaza in front of the Western Wall that was a narrow strip of sidewalk in June 1967? Do they know about the graves that were upended on the Mount of Olives with the stones being used for walkways and latrines? If they don't know all these things, can we educate them quickly enough? If not, can I justify giving you a voice and not them? How?
Assuming we conclude that we can and should give diaspora Jewry a voice, can that be imposed on the Olmert-Barak-Livni government? How? Can you use the power of the purse? Can (should) you threaten to withhold Federation money? Are you willing to come to Jerusalem and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets with us to protest the traitorous Olmert regime? Are you willing to go to Washington and lobby the Bush administration? Is there any way you can force consequences on President Bush even though he's - for all intents and purposes - a lame duck? (And please don't tell me you're going to threaten to elect a democrat next year - Hillary Clinton would be a far worse curse on us than George Bush, let alone that she would be far worse than Rudy Giuliani who would never put us in this position in the first place).
Those are some of my thoughts on this sunny but gloomy morning. I'm interested in hearing yours.
Buried in Annapolis will be the last shards of the Bush Doctrine, the blunt marker the president once put down to signal a do-or-die choice for jihadist nations. Are you with us, he asked, or with the terrorists?
The Assads’ answer has always been plain: They are with the terrorists. Any terrorists. Saddam Hussein, Hamas, Hezbollah and, behind it all, Iran. Shiite or Sunni, national, sub-national, or transnational — it matters not, so long as the terrorizers in question oppose the United States while working toward Israel’s demise.
For our secretary of State, that somehow makes them part of the solution. Syria was beseeched to attend the farce even as it was working to throw into chaos the selection of a new Lebanese president to replace Emile Lahoud, the Syrian plant whose term was due to expire last week. Other candidates issue statements from bunkers because Syrian operatives tend to kill them if they appear in public. It has been nearly three years since Bashar al-Assad’s henchmen murdered Rafik Hariri for protesting against Lahoud’s grip on power. It has been over two years since President Bush and Secretary Rice made a show of demanding action on the U.N. investigation that has implicated top Syrian officials, including Assad’s brother and brother-in-law. The result … is nothing. Meanwhile, Hezbollah, with Syrian backing, continues to threaten a renewal of the war it started against Israel in the summer of 2006.
Of course, the portrayal of Syria as a legitimate participant in a peace initiative is no more absurd than the participation of the Palestinians themselves.
Seduced by the fantasy of peace-loving Palestinians, the president and his top diplomats have made creation of a sovereign state for these blood-soaked jihadists the bedrock of our Middle East policy — thus undercutting any credibility the Bush Doctrine may have had. Remarkably, the State Department tells the New York Times that its game-plan for the farce is to commit both Israel and the Palestinians “to carry out long-postponed obligations included in the first stage of the 2003 peace plan known as the road map.” On the Palestinian side, the primary obligation was to end terrorism. That’s precisely the same promise the terror master and Palestinian founder Yasser Arafat gave to President Clinton after the first and before the second Intifada.
The promise is never meant and never kept because it cannot be. At the existential core of Palestinian identity is the belief that Israel — the “Zionist entity” — is an illegitimate interloper which must be purged from Muslim land. So ingrained is this conceit that, in reality, the Palestinians are not even attending the farce. The terrorist organization they knowingly and willfully elected to represent them, Hamas, is boycotting Annapolis as a waste of time, a diversion from the jihad.
US calls for free passage of terrorists through checkpoints and into Jerusalem
The United States has called for the free passage of 'Palestinian' terrorists through checkpoints and into Jerusalem - so long as they are riding in 'Palestinian Red Crescent' ambulances.
That's the upshot of an American call on Israel "to fully implement an agreement allowing Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances to move freely in Palestinian territory and through Israeli checkpoints."
John Bellinger, legal adviser at the U.S. State Department, also said that the Israeli relief organization Magen David Adom (MDA) and the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) were close to reaching an agreement for PRC ambulances to enter Jerusalem.
"We have been urging the Israeli government at the highest levels to cut through the red tape -- still in accordance with their laws -- but to try to move as quickly as possible to help the societies work out the agreement for the operation of these ambulances...," Bellinger told a news conference in Geneva.
"We have been urging in particular Israel to fully implement the commitments it made in connection with the Memo of Understanding," said Bellinger, who heads the U.S. delegation to the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
Per Stenbeck, a former general secretary of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is charged with monitoring the agreement. This week he circulated a confidential report on his findings.
"He found there was a lack of full implementation in a number of different areas, in particular ambulances that would be able to travel into Jerusalem to be operated by the Palestine Red Crescent Society. The two societies are very close in working out arrangements for the ambulances to begin operation," Bellinger said.
The problem is that - as is often the case - the al-Reuters story I just quoted above lacks context. Do you recognize the picture at the top of this post? Let me tell you her story and then you should understand why Israel cannot just allow 'Palestinian' ambulances free passage through our cities and towns:
In recent days Israeli security forces have witnessed an increasing use of ambulances and and medical vehicles by terrorist organizations. The terrorists are working on the premise that these vehicles do not undergo thorough examinations when they pass through IDF roadblocks and checkpoints.
The most prominent example of this phenomenon is the apparent use of a medical vehicle or medical accreditation to help carry out the suicide terror attack on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem on January 27. The woman suicide bomber, Wafa Idris, a resident of the Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, worked as a medical secretary for the Palestinian Red Crescent.
The investigation indicates that Idris was sent to commit this suicide attack by Mohammed Hababa, a Tanzim operative and ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent. Hababa is a resident of the Beit-Iksa village, in the Ramallah area.
Among the group that planned the attack was Munzar Noor, a resident of the town of Anabta near Tulkarm, who also works for the Red Crescent in Ramallah. Noor is currently being questioned by the Palestinian security services.
Israeli security officials do not yet have a clear picture of how Idris made her way from Ramallah to Jerusalem. However, investigators believe that Red Crescent documentation held by the suicide bomber and her accomplices, and perhaps even a Red Crescent vehicle, helped them through IDF roadblocks and eased the checks they had to undergo.
On January 27, 2002, Wafa Idris, a 27-year old divorcee, became the first female suicide bomber.
I'm surprised this video made it to British television, since Israel Radio reported today that the photographers had been threatened by Fatah in Ramallah and other cities in Judea and Samaria, and were not being allowed to film.
Threatening journalists to avoid bad press is nothing new for the 'Palestinians.'
Israel and the 'Palestinians' did issue a 'joint declaration' or statement or whatever else you would like to call it in the end. You can find the full text here (Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs). I just want to highlight a few points:
We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis.
Holy Moral Equivalence! How many instances of 'terrorism and incitement' have been committed by Israelis and how many by 'Palestinians'? Which society treats its violent individuals as beneath contempt and worse, and which society glorifies them as 'martyrs,' lionizes them on television and in the streets and treats them as heroes? Does this mean that Abu Mazen is going to stop referring to terrorists as heroes and brothers? I'll believe it when I see it. But the moral equivalence in that paragraph is grating.
The parties also commit to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issued by the quartet on 30 April, 2003 -- this is called the road map -- and agree to form an American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism led by the United States to follow up on the implementation of the road map.
Note that Israel has apparently yielded on the fourteen reservations subject to which Ariel Sharon agreed to the road map. I explained what those reservations were and why they mattered here. I also predicted that Olmert would drop them.
The parties further commit to continue the implementation of the ongoing obligations of the road map until they reach a peace treaty. The United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map.
Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, implementation of the future peace treaty will be subject to the implementation of the road map, as judged by the United States.
This is the most significant point of all in a statement that is otherwise short on substance. I explained why this is bad for Israel here and here. It is likely that American perceptions of Israel's security needs will be far more lenient than Israel's perceptions (unless the government is going to go around censoring the army again).
Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas bury their heads in the sand
I was in meetings most of the day today, and did not hear news until 10:00 tonight. The first news that greeted me was the twisting and turning of the odd couple - Avigdor Lieberman and Eli Yishai - trying to justify their staying in the government.
Lieberman - who just last week was characterized as an opponent of Annapolis in the ad at top left - said that his party is not looking for an excuse to leave the coalition and is not looking for an excuse to stay in the coalition. But if the government decides to dismantle 'settlements' or 'outposts,' Yisrael Beiteinu won't be part of it. In other words, let Olmert commit to whatever he wants, but if he actually does something we don't like then we'll leave and the Bush administration can blame Israel for not fulfilling its commitments. After all, no sense in giving up good patronage money and cabinet seats until you absolutely have no choice.
Eli Yishai, the leader of Shas, said that the speeches at Annapolis are a 'fantasy' and that his party is one of 'realists.' He claimed that his party is staying in the government because it doesn't want to give up ministries and patronage money until there is no choiceis going to protect us from fantasies.
The only fantasy I see is the one that the 'Palestinians' are suddenly going to stop trying to murder us and make 'peace.'
Ehud K. Olmert is trying to give the country away and endanger each and every one of us to keep his wifehappy and to keep himself out of jail. And all these two-bit politicians can think about is keeping their fat bottoms in ministers' chairs. I have nothing but utter contempt for both of them.
The radio report went on to quote National Union/National Religious Party's Zevulun Orlev as saying that Lieberman and Yishai should stop being ostriches and get their heads out of the sand, that they no longer have an excuse for staying in the government. Of course, Orlev's criticism would carry more weight if the National Religious Party had not propped up the Sharon government - of which he was part - when it decided to give away Gaza.
And then there's the contemptible Otniel Schneller, who tried to convince the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria that Olmert didn't mean it when he said he was going to give away their homes. Now that his home is about to be given away - he lives in Michmash which is outside the fence - that's a whole different story:
Referring to the opening speeches at Annapolis, MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) said that preventing natural settlement growth was anti-Semitism and should not be part of a peace agreement.
"It is possible to compromise on many issues for peace, but one thing cannot be compromised and that is the natural growth of settlements. That means that my daughters can't have children anymore. These are decrees we suffered from in Egypt and 70 years ago," Schneller told Army Radio.
On this blog, I often refer to people in this country having NotInMyBackYard syndrome. Usually I use that term to refer to the way in which the government and much of the country could care less about the constant shelling and missiles at Sderot and other towns in the Negev that are near the Gaza border, or the way in which much of the country doesn't care what happens anywhere if it's not in and around Tel Aviv.
Tonight, I have to tell you the truth. The truth is that many people in this country - maybe even most people in this country - don't give a damn about anyone outside their own family, their own neighborhood, their own community or their own 'kind.' Most of us are afflicted with a disease where we don't care for others, have no feeling for the common good, and no sense of community. Everyone is out for themselves. Whether it's abandoning land because I don't live near it or cheating on taxes because everyone does it or going on strike because someone else is making more money than I am thereby leaving thousands of adolescents to roam the streets for six weeks, most of this country has no feeling of belonging. Everyone is trying to avoid being a 'frier' (a sucker) and everyone is out for themselves. The chickens are now coming home to roost.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-five years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 12 to 33 years and eight grandchildren. Three of our children are married and a fourth is engaged! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com