But Koutsoukis corrupts the news.
Here fom Australia:
...''Actually, we live a mad house,'' said [Minister Benny] Begin, with the clear implication that Israel was the only sane nation among them.
Yet where else in the Middle East is there such a fusion of religion and politics?
[where else? Iran. Egypt. Libya. Syria. Jordan. Heck, there's another 15 states at least who define themselves as "Islamic" and either don't permit and discriminate otherwise against Jews - in Jordan we can't purchase property there and in Egypt, God help you if you are a Copt]
The lines between the two are so blurred in Israel that it has prevented the country's legislators from formally adopting a constitution for the past 61 years.
[gee, a 20% minority is that powerful? so, should we be afraid of a 20% Muslim minority? but in Israel, that seething haunt of political/religious extremism, Arabs have the right to vote in Knesset elections and even harangue and incite against Israel as the state of the Jewish people]
Begin himself, in almost his very next breath, then did what every Israeli politician – secular or religious – does when they start defending Israel's right to occupy the West Bank: he weaved together history as told by the Old Testament, with facts on the ground. The land of the West Bank, which he referred to exclusively by the biblical names of Judea and Samaria, was the ''cradle of Jewish civilisation'', Begin argued.
[yes, but it is, even if you are an atheist or not that well schooled in history]
Therefore no Israeli leader, Begin reiterated, should ''relinquish'' this land to the Palestinians, and no one had any right to demand that Jews should stop settling this land.
...religious extremism is not exclusive to Islam. Israel has its own Jewish extremists that Begin is happy to ignore. People who are settling the land of ''Judea and Samaria'' because they believe they are acting on God's explicit wishes.
Are these people dangerous?
[do we whip women, kill them for morals crimes, cut off their hands? are we an established theocratic obscurantist regime like them or certainly noo worse than Bible Belt America - and a lot less for sure]
...A year ago, religious extremists detonated a pipe bomb at the front door of the distinguished Israeli historian Professor Ze'ev Sternhell... [how does he know that? no one has been arrested.]
How far would such people go if Israel ever moved to evacuate the West Bank and start evacuating settlements? [well we did Gaza with no bloodshed. maybe Judea & Samaria will be much more robust but why doesn't he go with the norm?]
When I asked Begin if he was concerned about the fusion of religion and politics in the settler movement, he simply dodged the question.
His bottom line was that because Jews have a strong historic link to the land of West Bank, they have a perpetual right to live there.
...But as the recent weeks of rioting across East Jerusalem, and the bitter backlash against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' mishandling of the Goldstone Report suggests, the grass roots of Palestinian society seem to have reserved their perceived right to use armed resistance to achieve their national goals.
[reserved? or postponed? and why no mention of that fanatic extremist exploition of the Temple Mount by irrational Muslims?]
And his most specious illogical unfactual remark:
Ignoring the effects of 42 years of military occupation with specious arguments about religious extremism is a good way to prolong the Israel-Palestinian conflict, not end it.
Poor Australians. Free press?