Sunday, February 27, 2005

I Write to the London Times

The UK London Times published a letter signed by the Bishops of Winchester, Bath and Wells, Chelmsford, Coventry and Exeter on February 24 (see A below). Lord Carey replied the next day (see B below).

So, I thought I'd write too as I am more than a part of all this, being one of those people "holding up peace" and the rest of the claptrap that is bandied about by these British clergymen.

So, this is what I sent:

"The Bishops' letter (Feb. 24) on Middle East peace not only avoids the issue of Arab-initiated violence of the most horrific kind as Lord Carey of Clifton highlights (Feb. 25), a blood shedding which we have witnessed now yet once again in Tel Aviv, but irrationally places the blame for Palestinian despair of ever seeing "tangible improvements" by pointing an accusing finger at the expansion of Jewish communities, construction of which must be frozen they demand.

"An easy response to these men of the Church would be to ask them to review the Bible, a book that provides a fair case for Jews to be living in Shiloh, Beth El and Hebron. But I would seek their understanding of why I and others am living in thedisputed territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza by pointing out that Arab hostility and despair is unconnected to this activity and predated it.

"Prior to 1967, no so-called "occupation" existed and certainly no "settlements" were extant. Yet, Arabs were practicing terror and the Palestine Liberation Organization had been founded two and half years before the Six Days War provided Israel the opportunity for Jews once again to administer area that the League of Nations had intended to be part and parcel of the Jewish National Home.

"Consequently, any freezing or, worse, dismantlement of these communities will have no bearing on any 'peace'. They are not the cause of Arab terror and therefore cannot solve any problem the Bishops presume exists.

"Would the removal of Arab communities from Israel be considered an option in an effort to achieve peace? Why should Jewish revenant rights be discarded?"

Sir, We welcome the Government’s initiative in organising the London conference on the Middle East next week. This is an opportunity to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in making its contribution to peace.
The conference must address why previous initiatives failed.
During the 1990s, Palestinians witnessed a doubling of the settler population, and a deterioration in living standards. The Oslo accords were thwarted by the Palestinian inability to see tangible improvements on the ground.
Popular support is vital to any future peace process, not least because it will negate the militant influence. Tackling Palestinian poverty cannot be divorced from the political process.
In restoring the Palestinian Authority’s capacity to address poverty, the Government should work with indigenous civil society organisations. However, this strategy will count for little unless Israel can also be persuaded to freeze settlement construction and land confiscation.

Yours sincerely,
Church House,
Great Smith Street,

The Bishops of Winchester, Bath and Wells, Chelmsford, Coventry and Exeter (letter, February 24) are surely right in observing that the Prime Minister’s conference next week could mark a significant milestone on the long and bloody search for a lasting peace in the Middle East. However, I am surprised that they appear not to recognise that, as well as the problem of the settlements, atrocities against Jewish people have played their part in delaying that peace which is the dream of both Palestinians and Jews.
In the Alexandrian Declaration by religious leaders in the region, which I had the honour of co-chairing two years ago, we stated that “killing innocents in the name of God is a desecration of his Holy Name”. All three religions in the region should observe this and teach it — that is why a religious track to the political process is essential and should not be overlooked.

House of Lords

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tit for Tat

In today's Jerusalem Post, Jordan's new ambassador, Ma'aruf Bakhit, wished that the Israelis hear from him words of wisdom.

He wanted that we Israelis should know "one thing" and that one thing is that we must "differentiate between recognizing the right of return and implementing the right of return."

If only I could, I would take out a half page in that journal to ask the Ambassador if he would agree that Israel, too, could ask our neighbor King Abdullah to recognize in principle the right of Israelis to the tribal portions of Reuven, Gad and half of the tribe of Menassheh.

This area not only has Biblical roots, confirmed by archeology but the Talmud also includes this area, Ever HaYarden (TransJordan), as part of the Jewish homeland. Jews lived there, albeit in small numbers, even after the destruction of the Second Temple.

In 1920, the San Remo Conference and in 1922, the Supreme Council of the League of Nations, both institutions whose decisions carry the weight of "international law", awarded to the Jews that same area of the historic Land of Israel to be incorporated into the reconstituted Jewish homeland. Unfortunately, Great Britain excluded the territory from Jewish settlement activities.

However, if reciprocity is a standard of relations between Jordan and Israel, and it indeed should be, well, what Bakhit asks of Israel, Israel should be allowed to ask of Jordan.

Of course, the fact that the geography in question just happens to be where the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is located shouldn't prove to difficult a reality for Bakhit and his King to accept.

Or should it?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Quoted in the New York Times

Interviewed on Thursday, I am quoted in today's NYT story on Israel.

The Yesha Council, the main group representing settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, is leading the organized opposition to the evacuation plan, and it says it rejects violence.

The council has arranged huge rallies against the pullout, drawing crowds of 100,000 or more.

But the council says Mr. Sharon's government is trying to vilify settlers by linking them to fringe elements, and it contends that Mr. Sharon is the one guilty of incitement.

"We are disturbed at the way Mr. Sharon and his spinmeisters are moving," said Yisrael Medad, a spokesman for the Yesha Council.

Referring to the threatening letters sent to government officials, he said: "I'd bet my bottom dollar these are from cranks and psychos. Its very troubling the way the atmosphere is being cranked up against us."

"We would like to have 100,000 people calmly sitting down in the highways," he added. "But in the atmosphere Mr. Sharon is creating, I don't know what will happen."

Too bad, though, that my best line was left out. I had said:

"While President Bush is pursuing a policy to establish a democratic Palestinian state,
he may be aiding Sharon in dedemocratizing Israel."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Missing Question

Can anybody reading this who perhaps saw more TV programs and heard more radio shows than I did help me out?

Did any moderator, host and/or interviewer ask any politician tonight regarding the matter of Omri Sharon's charge sheet this question:-

Why do you think Mazuz waited until after the disengagement vote
to announce that he was pressing criminal charges?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Presumptive Ariel (Three Bs) Sharon

Ariel Sharon works on presumptions.

Yesterday, he held a press conference for the resident foreign media and insisted that his agreement on Gaza with President Bush at the White House last April provided assurances that Israel would be able to keep some of its large blocks of settlements in the West Bank.

He also insisted that it was his understanding that the United States supported Israel in limiting a right of return for Palestinian refugees to a future Palestinian state.

But the NYTimes's editorial brought him back to political reality.

Entitled "Mr. Sharon and the Settlers"
the editorial zeroed in on three "B"s.

Mr. Sharon has been pragmatic and bold, the paper wrote, "pragmatic in recognizing that
a vast majority of Israelis don't think that hanging on to Gaza is worth the bloodshed; bold
in standing up to the extremists who view Gaza as their birthright, despite the Palestinian majority living there now."

But it is. Even the League of Nations thought so. Jews lived there for centuries. Gaza is part of the historic Land of Israel. What, do we yield to those Dagonite Philistines?

The paper noted that Israel's vice prime minister, Ehud Olmert, put the choice facing Israel starkly. "One cannot help but see that we are dealing with a Palestinian leadership which speaks differently, and, it would appear, also acts differently," he said, referring to Mr. Abbas. "We shall never forgive ourselves if we don't give a chance to a leadership which says it is opposed to terrorism."

The paper insists that "those settlements are also one of the largest barriers to any possibility of peace. "

Birthright - no; Bolder (aka more surrenders) - ; Barriers (certainly).

Mahmud Abbas may seem to be reining in his terrorist supporters but I fear that Sharon is much too presumptive.

What a Difference the Years Make

(this op-ed is up at Arutz 7 )

What a difference 16 years can make.

On May 22, 1989, United States Secretary of State James A. Baker III, then in a confrontational mood with Israel and towards its prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, delivered a speech at the annual AIPAC conference entitled, "Principles and Pragmatism: American Policy toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict".

Couched in diplomatic terminology - unlike another remark, one using the f-word, he was later to make about what could be done to Jews in general - this speech nevertheless contained one very memorable line in which Baker demanded that Israelis needed "to lay aside, once and for all, the unrealistic vision of a greater Israel." As observers noted, Baker squarely had placed the blame on Israel for the Arab-Israel conflict, and seemed to repeat Arab propaganda claims for control of portions of the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

Israel's Leftists, those who referred to themselves as the "peace camp", were ecstatic. Palestinian spokespersons also couldn't find enough microphones to talk into. Finally, in public, America had made it quite clear that the retention of the administered territories was an issue now high on the agenda. Hanan Ashrawi and Sa'eb Erekat were to become frequent visitors at America's Jerusalem Consulate, funds going to Palestinian volunteers were to be increased, and spying on the growth of Judea, Samaria and Gaza communities was a professional accomplishment for which at least one political officer of the consulate won a State Department prize.

Sixteen years later, for some unfathomable reason, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's speech at the Sharm El-Sheikh meeting on February 8 included the sentence: "We in Israel have had to painfully wake up from our dreams." Somehow, I feel this was not unintentional. Sharon saw fit to echo a concept of American diplomacy, that Israel would have to withdraw not only from actual land mass, but, in doing so, would have to express a mea culpa, an acknowledgement of guilt. This would take the form of a confessional act by which Israel would admit it was wrong in presuming that the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza belonged to her because of Arab aggression, and moreover, that Israel was wrong to assume that the territories belonged to her by historical, legal and natural right.

Baker's speech was made in a certain political context. Yasser Arafat had met US conditions for a dialogue by accepting the 'land-for-peace' formula, renouncing terrorism and recognizing Israel's right to exist. When Arafat complained that the US seemed to be looking for new concessions from the Palestinians, rather than insisting that Israel make the same pledges, Baker used the AIPAC forum to placate the Palestinians.

Of course, Arafat never really intended to fulfill any commitment he had made and, in fact, violated all the obligations and responsibilities to which he had agreed. But Israel was consistently reminded and pressured to adopt capitulationist policies, one worse and more enfeebling than the other. Palestinians were not to be tested by their deeds, or lack thereof, and were not even held to their words. Israel, though, was whittled down. That process continues to this day.

If sixteen years makes quite a difference, what are we to make of the Jerusalem Post's revelation that only ten years ago, then-Likud Minister Ariel Sharon approached the Shas mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the day after the Oslo Accords were signed on September 13th, 1993?

The paper informed its readers that Sharon asked the rabbi to support a referendum on Oslo. In seeking a reaction, the Post reported this past Wednesday that Sharon said he is now is of the opinion that "it doesn't matter what happened over ten years ago. Things have changed since then."

Is it things or people?

What is apparent is that what was good for the goose is not good for the gander.

Sharon's stage-managed Sharm show may not be more than a repeat of the long string of failures that Israel has been forced to endure, at the expense of hundreds and hundreds of civilian casualties. Current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice helped President George Bush to remove the Iraqi terrorist regime, but is now lending a hand, and millions of American dollars, to facilitate what could become a most dangerous terror state, supported by Iran through the Hizbullah.

Once again, Israel is required to hand over prisoners, eventually expected to include those who have murdered. Given the fact that America has been quite lax in getting the Palestinians to hand over the killers of three Americans murdered in Gaza last September, maybe the moral values of this administration are different, too.

Sharon's disengagement policy has now evolved into a mutant. The Arabs know that their Kassam missile terror has worked. The IDF had no adequate military response and it was not allowed to repeat a Defensive Shield-like operation in Gaza. No security wall or fence will stop them, as these missiles are improved to reach Sharon's own farm spread and beyond.

Mahmoud Abbas knows well that terror aided his negotiations. Egypt, which did not intervene to halt the smuggling of armaments via the tunnels in Sinai, is now supervising the Palestinian security forces.

Sharon once had a dream. That dream and vision was a strong, resolute Israel. Sharon has now become our nightmare.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Who Will Really Be Paying A Price?

Zev Chefets, in a guest column in the NYTimes, would have us assume that Ariel Sharon has adopted President George Bush as his new mentor, that he seeks to implement Bush's vision of pacifying Palestine by creating for the Arabs yet another state and, in doing so, Chafets believes Sharon is even "ready to die" to make this vision real ("Follow the Leader", Feb. 15) .

What Sharon actually may be doing is allowing for improved Kassam missiles to reach further into Israel, encourage terrorists eventually to restart their violence to gain further Israeli concessions and to bring death and destruction, in cooperation with Hezbulla and other extremist groups.

Will Sharon be willing then to pay the price is his policy fails?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

But Why Did Jordan Have to Resign?

The resignation today of CNN's Eason Jordan, the result of blog pressure and the need to regain lost ratings to Fox, recalls another error that networkmade which also involved Fox News Channel.

In May 2002, CNN aired an interview with an Arab suicide bomber's family which was given more prominence and time than one with a relative of his Israeli victims, Sinai Keinan, a one-year old infant and her grandmother. Jordan flew to Israel and announced that "CNN deeply regrets any extra anguish the [Israeli] family has suffered... It was a mistake not to air the full international version...".

An Israel cable company then replaced CNN with Fox for a time as its international news source.

This incident followed an interview CNN's Ted Turner gave to the British Guardian in which he equated suicide bombings and Israel's military response when he said, "I would make the case that both sides are engaged in terrorism." He later apologized, saying that suicide bombings are inexcusable.

Unlike Jordan, though, Turner wasn't required to resign.


Friday, February 11, 2005

So, No Damage? So What?

I have tried to be relentless on Greg Myre's insistence, or that of his foreign editor in NY, to belittle the shelling of civilians in Gaza.

Below is another example of the "they cause little damage" poohpoohing that the NYTimes practices but that's not quite the point.

This is an enemy that insist upon targeting civilians. If Israel was lambasted and pilloried for its practice of "targeted killings" of terrorists, why not apply the same standards (at the least) of condemnation against these persons instread of referring to them as "militants"?

Why not express your opinion and write to on this issue?

If 100 arrive, they maybe we can have an affect.


"The Palestinians have fired several thousand shells toward the settlements in the last four years, but
casualties and serious damage are rare. The shelling had diminished, though it had not stopped,
since the factions pledged last month to Mr. Abbas to suspend attacks temporarily."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hanan, Mrs. Ashrawi

"Now there is a will and some momentum for peace talks," said Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian legislator to the NYTimes.

And then she added: "It is imperative that they begin as soon as possible. If a political process is not created rapidly, the letdown for Palestinians will be enormous."

Hanan, if we go too fast and too rapidly, Jews will be killed.

Which is the least dangerous option?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Far From Useless

Once again, I find that the New York Times is so off the mark in simple rational thinking that it provides me with an ideal platform for my counterpoints.

In an editorial, "A Welcome Appointment", published on Feburary 8, the paper crosses its fingers as a sign of hope for the outcome of the Sharm el Sheik conference. The writer characterizes Palestinian terror, what I presume he assumes to be a very generous gesture, as "useless attacks".

However, far from useless, it would seem that Israel, under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's leadership, has capitulated to it.

Despite vigorous military operations, included the tactic of selective elimination of terror planners in addition to its perpetrators, the Gaza district was not invaded and there was no adequate response to the Kassam missiles. Sharon chose to adopt unilateral disengagement, a diplomatic term for fleeing with one's tail between one's legs and is pursuing a total expulsion of the Jewish civilian population, including from communities in northern Samaria.

Terror can have no better reward.

Missiles, however, fly over walls and security fences. It may be that these weapons will continue to be 'useful' in chasing Israel further.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Tyger! Tyger! Burning Bright

''Ch'i 'hu nan hsia pei'' goes the Chinese proverb, translated in 1875 as ''He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.''

The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs interprets the old Asian metaphor as ''Once a dangerous or troublesome venture is begun, the safest course is to carry it through to the end."

So writes William Safire.

Well, that's Arik Sharon to me, as I once wrote of Yitzhak Rabin. They know deep down that they both made a wrong decision but, deep in their psychological morasses, they cannot admit their errors and will just plod, or even push, through the situations they've created just to get it over.

They are reall afraid of the Tiger and we citizens suffer.

Inciteful Humor?

I was writing with someone (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty)
and I referred to a certain writer as a "Fallen-on-the-Head" Leftist.

He wrote back:

Is there any other kind?

To which I replied:

sure, the one with a hole-in-the-head

but that's incitement, is it not?

Guest Letter Writer

My friend, Eve, also feels the need to write a letter to a newspaper and here's one sent to the Jerusalem Post today:-


How ironic that on the same day that Rabbi Weiss's article on the lack of perspective of what constitutes a dire problem ("Eliminate the Kiddush Clubs") appears, your lead editorial and a front page article highlight that very same lack of perspective.

The hue and cry over 110 year old Tel Aviv buildings ("Save Sarona") might be better applied to Ahab's palaces, Omri's city of Shomron, Herod's little Temple - all near Sanur in the [northern] Shomron, all slated to be handed to the PA in a few months to meet the fate of Joseph's Tomb. To say nothing of course of the Temple Mount where priceless historical artifacts are destroyed every day.

And yes, Alon Tal of the JNF, it IS a crime to build settlements on Nitzanim beach. Not just because of the havoc it wreaks on the land turtle habitat, but because the request comes due only to the planned travesty of transferring Jews from their homes in Gush Katif.

It may be Sunday morning, but after reading the paper I could use a drink.

Getting Used to It

Get used to the theme of this newspaper headline.

It'll keep repeating itself.

Israel Agrees to Release 900 Prisoners; Palestinians Want More

JERUSALEM, Feb. 3 - Israel agreed Thursday to release 900 Palestinian prisoners and to gradually pull back troops from West Bank cities, moves intended to improve the political climate ahead of next week's summit meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
But the Palestinians demanded the release of additional prisoners, including some who are ill and those who have already served long terms for serious offenses. Israel, which is expected to free mostly prisoners serving relatively short sentences, rejected the demand, and the talks broke up late Thursday night without agreement on that issue.

Disclaimer Necessary

I found this disclaimer on a web site.

Maybe all newspapers should carry it?



The S******** is a gossip site which publishes rumors and conjecture in addition to accurately reported facts. Information on this site may or may not be true and The S********* makes no warranty as to the validity of any claims.

Ramon Has It Backwards

In the New York Times of February 4, there was a report on negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israeli Minister Haim Ramon, who supports a prisoner release, said, "The issue which most preoccupies the the prisoner issue," ("Israel Agrees to Release 900 Prisoners; Palestinians Want More").

His motivation, he explained is that the interest of Israel is "to strengthen public support for Abu Mazen." But Ramon has it backwards.

Israel's need is for a peaceful and pacified enemy, a society that realizes that violence is wrong and that it doesn't pay. Schoolbooks full of hate and airwaves loaded with incitement must be eliminated. It was this education and indoctrination which contributed to these prisoners being were they are by encouraging them with religious hero-worship compensation.

Ever since the 1980s, when Israel first released terrorists en masse, they have consistently returned to the making of war. When a major change in Palestinian society has been achieved, only then should prisoners who aided and engaged in attacks on civilians be released.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The One-sidedness of the NYT's History

Greg Myre writes in today's NYTimes that the issue of property rights has been contentious in Israel "since [its] founding in 1948. In the Israeli-Arab war that year, many Palestinian landowners fled or were driven from property that became part of Israel", (Israel Revokes Decision on East Jerusalem Land, February 2).

Myre fails, though, to mention the fact that Jews also fled or were driven from their property that eventually became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as well as Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip, as they were in previous hostilities initiated by Arabs, especially in 1929 from Hebron, Gaza City and Shchem (Nablus).

The communities of Neveh Yaakov, Atarot and Bet Ha'Aravah as well as the centuries-old Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem and the Gush Etzion Bloc of four kibbutzim were all overrun in 1948 and ethnically cleansed of Jews.

The community of Kfar Darom in Gaza suffered the same fate.

That war did not produce a singular victim, the so-called "Arab refuggee from Palestine", but created many victims.

Ignoring the integrity of the conflict and the Jewish losses can only complicate possible solutions.