Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Off topic, but I had to post this.

Have a close look at both the photographs & read the messages below them. Forward this message to as many people as you can. This won't fulfill any of your wishes; nor ignoring it will cause any misfortune; but its our moral duty to be concerned...towards humanity; take care...

Kevin Carter (photographer) took the picture below...

This was found in his diary ,

Dear God, I promise I will never waste my food no matter how bad it can taste and how full I may be. I pray that He will protect this little boy, guide and deliver him away from his misery. I pray that we will be more sensitive towards the world around us and not be blinded by our own selfish nature and interests.

I hope this picture will always serve as a reminder to us that how fortunate we are and that we must never ever take things for granted.

Please don't break.. keep on forwarding to our friends On this good day.. Let's make a prayer for the suffering in anywhere any place around the globe and send this friendly reminder to others Think & look at this...when you complain about your food and the food we wasted daily.........

Thursday, July 21, 2005

No essay... no B.S.... no long dribble...

One picture says it all...

This might be a unique style of a mechitza, but it's no civil war like some are led to believe...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Unilateral Withdrawal: A Security Error of Historical Magnitude

Yaakov Amidror

The Aims of the Disengagement Plan

On April 18, 2004, the Israeli government issued a general outline of its proposed unilateral disengagement plan from Palestinian territories. The government announcement correctly played down any advantages to be expected from the plan. It was claimed that "a better security situation, at least in the long term" will be achieved - a meaningless, vague statement. The announcement did not mention the promises made by the former head of the prime minister's office regarding a freeze of the situation in Judea and Samaria following the execution of the plan. On the contrary, the announcement claimed that the plan was created because "the stalemate dictated by the current situation is harmful. In order to break out of this stalemate, Israel is required to initiate moves not dependent on Palestinian cooperation." Furthermore, "the relocation from the Gaza Strip and from Northern Samaria . . . will reduce friction with the Palestinian population, and carries with it the potential for improvement in the Palestinian economy and living conditions."

It is true that dismantling settlements and removing army units will reduce friction with the Palestinian population, an achievement that has great potential. Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that friction with the Palestinians would be mitigated in numerous areas between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River if Jews were evacuated from those sites. However, virtually all the experts agree that an expectation of improvement in the quality of Palestinian life is totally unfounded, since disengagement will prove disastrous to the Palestinian economy.

Furthermore, the claim that "the process of disengagement will serve to dispel claims regarding Israel's responsibility for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip" is unfounded from both the legal and diplomatic aspects. Clearly, as long as Israel guards the external perimeter of the Gaza Strip, and no one is permitted to enter or leave without inspection and approval, it will continue to be regarded as responsible for the fate of the residents there. In addition, the pressure to open entry and exit doors for the Palestinians will be substantial, and it is reasonable to assume that Israel will compromise security needs in order to ease the pressure. It therefore seems that the Israeli government has not succeeded in producing a single serious argument that can refute objections and justify the grave step that it is taking.

At times when a diplomatic plan is proposed, it is difficult to estimate where it will lead from the security aspect, and even after some time has elapsed, the actual result may remain in dispute. There are also people who defend certain moves although reality differs entirely from what they envisioned. The correct approach to be adopted when analyzing diplomatic proposals, as in the case of the disengagement plan, is the analytical one that asks: What are the chances of improving the security situation after the disengagement, and what is the risk that this situation will deteriorate? This is not the place to present alternatives to the plan under discussion, but it is fitting to estimate the possible developments if the status quo were preserved, without execution of the plan.

Supporters of the unilateral withdrawal from the left of the political map assess the positive features along the lines of, "the disengagement plan offers an opportunity for the creation of a positive dynamic in Israeli-Palestinian relations." In other words, the disengagement plan may well be "the first stage of resolving the conflict with the Palestinians; the partner will be created if the Palestinians seize the opportunity and demonstrate a serious attitude to the first stage of the roadmap that must lead to the reduction of violence."

Although the roadmap demands more vigorous and clear steps than simple "reduction of violence," even those who are prepared to accept this minor gesture are called on to explain how it will be possible to persuade the Palestinians to reduce the violence after withdrawal from Gaza. Even after Arafat's departure from the stage, is there any realistic chance that his successors will agree to fight against Hamas? Will they take any active steps to prevent its operations, and how will they dismantle the terrorist infrastructure or prevent its reinforcement?

Arafat demonstrated that he did not wish to take the required steps in order to weaken Palestinian terrorism capabilities, although the Israeli leadership demanded and expected this from him in 1994, when he and his cohorts arrived on the scene. Why should the Palestinian leadership act differently when Israel is withdrawing under the pressure of the very same terror, now that the Palestinians have made no pledge of any kind to Israel, in contrast to their commitment after the Oslo Accords? Obviously many of the Palestinian residents of Gaza desire quiet that will permit them to live normal lives. Yet will a withdrawal from Gaza that is perceived as running away in fact strengthen their position in Palestinian society?

For a while it appeared there was a chance the Egyptians would enter the picture. However, this apparently was a false impression that resulted from lack of familiarity with Egyptian policy. It seems rather that Egypt would at most slightly increase its efforts, meager until now, to prevent the smuggling of arms into Gaza, and that it would aid in training the Palestinian security forces. Nor does the absence of the Egyptians from the picture permit an analogy with Lebanon. Syria is currently preserving the fragile equilibrium in southern Lebanon and preventing escalation on the part of Hizbollah - which some of us predicted would follow the IDF withdrawal - because it fears the price of a war in the north. Without Egypt, the Gaza theater does not appear to include a force that on the one hand would fear an Israeli threat, and on the other would be capable of forcing the Palestinians to halt the terror.

Consequently it is far from clear on what the supporters of the disengagement plan base their optimistic assumptions regarding the future.

The Operational and Tactical Significance Given this likely vacuum, an estimate must be made of what is liable to happen in the Gaza Strip itself, and what is the significance of transferring responsibility for the defense of the residents of Sderot, Ashkelon, and the western Negev to the Palestinians. At present, and as opposed to the stipulations of the Oslo Accords, no one on the Palestinian side has made any commitment to combat terror.

Contrary to the argument sometimes aired in the Israeli press that Hamas prefers that Israel remain in Gaza, the aim of the organization is in fact to liberate the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria from any Israeli presence, and subsequently continue the long, hard struggle on the other side of the Green Line. Consequently it may be estimated that:

a.. The departure of IDF forces from Gaza may be disastrous at the tactical level. It may bring today's Qassam rockets to the heart of Ashkelon, whose fate will become that of Sderot. If the range of the rockets increases, other towns will become additional targets. b.. It is impossible to predict the ramifications of evacuating northern Samaria and whether a threat of rocket attacks against the center of the State of Israel will result. This will depend on the extent of the freedom of action given to the IDF in the region. c.. The disengagement will cause a significant reduction in Israel's ability to respond locally - both in Gaza and northern Samaria - to developments such as rocket attacks. This reduction will inevitably result from the expected deterioration of the level of intelligence and even more from the restricted freedom of action of the operational forces. The IDF will lose its capability of combating the chain of production and firing of the Qaasam rockets. d.. It will be more difficult to defend the line of the Gaza fence when on the other side there is no Israeli force capable of creating a real buffer zone. e.. If over the course of time Israeli control of the Philadelphi route becomes more tenuous, or if a sea port is constructed in Gaza or the Gaza airport becomes operational again, as promised in the Oslo agreements, then rockets that can reach Kiryat Gat and the southern outskirts of Ashdod can be smuggled in. Furthermore, surface-to-air missiles will also likely be smuggled in, curtailing the Israeli Air Force's freedom of action above Gaza or even in Israeli skies near the fence.

Thus, Israel is about to establish a state in Gaza, a state in which Hamas will have freedom of action and be joined by the umbilical cord to Hizbollah. When Israel no longer has the capability of closely supervising the sea and air borders of the Gaza Strip, the Lebanese model of the northern border recurs in the southwest, whereby rockets that boast a range of dozens of kilometers are perched on the dividing line and threaten Israeli towns. Israel will lose its capability of retaliating against terror originating in Gaza, just as it currently does not fight against terror coming from Lebanon: 80 percent of the terrorist attacks originating in Judea and Samaria are perpetrated by organizations receiving Hizbollah aid and financing, and Israel is doing nothing because of its fear of retaliatory rockets by Hizbollah.

It is impossible to know if the situation will deteriorate immediately and we will see the results in Ashkelon in a few days, or if the threat will be realized at a later date, after international pressure has been applied to Israel to present the next program for withdrawal. It is reasonable to assume that Palestinian offensive capability will be built up under the umbrella of its control in the field, and the threat will be displayed in accordance with Palestinian needs. Israel will lack the capability of preventing or influencing the realization of this threat.

The escalation of terror since 1994, when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, until the present gives a clear indication of what is likely to happen in the future, when the Strip will be an area off limits to critical Israel activity. Indeed, those who think that it will be possible to act on intelligence in the Gaza Strip with the same ease that the IDF enjoys today ignore the political constraints. After the withdrawal the IDF will be unable to operate in Gaza. Only if murderous terrorist activities originate from there over a long period of time will Israel slowly, and after paying a bloody price, acquire the legitimacy to act again in the Gaza Strip. The terror that will be encountered by Israel in the future, if the Palestinians decide to employ it, will be far more sophisticated and less vulnerable.

The War against Terror and Disengagement The critical situation described above is all but certain, yet does not represent the gravest damage to be sustained. Even more serious is the likely possibility that the unilateral withdrawal will harm the deterrent concept that Israel (and the democratic world) is laboring to build in the face of the waves of global terror. By its action Israel will declare publicly that terror is a winning formula, and will thus spur the continuation of terror both at home and abroad.

The Palestinian war of terror erupted four years ago, at a time when Israel and the US president were prepared to hand over to the Palestinians the entire Gaza Strip including the Philadelphi route, the Temple Mount and most of the Old City of Jerusalem, and more than 90 percent of Judea and Samaria. Yossi Beilin's personal proposal was also on the agenda, in which Israel would absorb a significant number of refugees as part of an overall settlement. At no stage were the Palestinians prepared to avow that the agreement would form the end of the conflict and that they would not raise further demands.

Partly in an analogy with the IDF withdrawal from Lebanon several months earlier, the Palestinians assumed they could overcome Israel by means of terror. Arafat was prepared to go to war even though in the negotiations with Ehud Barak he had scored tremendous achievements. The Palestinian state was about to be established with the blessing of the US and with the agreement of Israel; its capital would be East Jerusalem with its center in Haram al-Sharif - the Temple Mount. However, Arafat refused to accept the proposal, apparently since he was not ready to be the leader who ended the conflict, and he therefore did not agree to make a commitment that the Palestinians would have no additional demands in the future. In his view, as with many of his supporters who had seen the "salami technique" in action, the agreement was to be merely another stage in the struggle to destroy the State of Israel. It is therefore also clear why he could not consent to the generous quota of refugees that Beilin suggested would be allowed to return to Israel. Arafat contended that no restrictions should be placed on the number of refugees eligible to return, just as in effect no restrictions should be placed on the efforts to destroy Israel at a later stage. (Ironically, Abu Mazen declared recently that in the Camp David talks of 2000 Arafat was prepared to make greater concessions than he himself was.)

The tool employed to subdue Israel and force it to accept greater Palestinian demands was terror, which after the years of drawn-out fighting in Lebanon seemed an unbeatable tactic. Palestinians saw the IDF as having fled from the Lebanese battlefield in disgrace, and Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah urged the Palestinians to emulate his successes. Technical examination of the data reveals that the concept of Hizbollah success was unfounded. In the last seventeen months of its presence in Lebanon the IDF suffered twenty-one fatalities, all of them military personnel. From the perspective of a war against terrorist and guerilla organizations, the number is not "intolerable." For its own part, Hizbollah did not chalk up great achievements during that period. However, Israeli public opinion did not withstand the mounting domestic pressure to withdraw, and some regional leaders saw therein the beginning of a broader rift in Israeli society that would, under the same logic, play into the hands of the Palestinians. Although the withdrawal from Lebanon seems to be an Israeli success judged by the relative quiet in the north, the long term strategic message that emerged from the withdrawal caused great damage to Israel, especially in the Palestinian context.

When the intifada broke out while negotiations were continuing, the IDF and Israeli leaders failed to understand that Israel was facing a long confrontation. The prevailing theory was that Arafat resorted to violence in order to enable himself to display flexibility a short period thereafter. According to this approach, the war was a symbolic move to allow Arafat to point at independence achieved by force.

In contrast to the political misinterpretation, the preparations at the tactical level proved adequate, and at the beginning of the intifada the IDF succeeded in foiling the Palestinian hopes of achieving victory by the masses over the "army of occupation." Yet when the fighting, which had seemed at first to be a more violent version of the previous intifada, evolved into a long, hard war, the situation became far more complex. Apparently Arafat was not seeking a better diplomatic agreement or a pretext for concessions, but was rather attempting to defeat Israel. Every civilian target was legitimate for terrorism purposes, and the terrorist infrastructure blossomed in the regions in which the IDF had lost control following the Oslo Accords.

As the terror evolved and escalated, the slogan "let the IDF win" emerged, even though there were those who argued that since there was no real terrorist infrastructure it was impossible to fight it using regular military forces. In fact, over the first eighteen months of the intifada, until April 2002, the IDF's hands were tied. The army learned the hard way that it could not fight against terror without controlling the area. Commanders began to realize that from the outside it was impossible to prevent terror without sparking serious friction with a civilian population that spawned, nurtured, and launched the terror. Following the 2002 Passover massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya, Operation Defensive Shield was launched, driven by the principle that the IDF was returning to the heart of the populated areas in Judea and Samaria in order to regain military control of them. This complicated move did not bear immediate fruits. On the contrary, for a considerable time many people criticized the army for failing to produce results, since in practice the terror continued and the IDF seemed far from achieving a victory of any kind. Ultimately, however, the difficult lesson became clear, namely, that a war against terror is not for the impatient, and positive results emerge only after prolonged fighting - in the case of the intifada, over the course of about two years. This period saw construction of the separation fence, which proved of considerable benefit in the areas where it was erected. At the same time, it is clear that this alone is not a comprehensive solution, and even regions without a fence experienced a decrease in terror. IDF presence and the extensive use of targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders and activists led to a reduction in the number of attempted attacks. There was also a significant drop in the number of suicide bombings perpetrated inside the Green Line, with the General Security Services (GSS) and IDF proving quite successful in thwarting such attacks. The powerful combination of fewer attempts to execute terrorist attacks and the increased success in foiling such attempts created a new situation in which the scope of the terror declined significantly.

Israel was on the verge of an historic achievement. For the first time after many years a democratic country succeeded in demonstrating clearly that it was possible to combat terror, without systematic decimation of the population of the kind perpetrated in Assad's 1982 massacre of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and that it was possible to repel and defeat determined and cruel Islamic organizations that target civilians. In a world in which so many countries are engaged, albeit generally unsuccessfully, in a war against terror, Israel represented a leading, professional, and moral example. The IDF proved that when it was given the essential conditions, mainly to gain control of the area and eliminate the terrorist leadership, with the aid of excellent GSS intelligence it knew how to damage the terrorist capabilities greatly. It was again possible to show that there was no basis to the myth that emerged after World War II that an army cannot defeat terrorist and guerilla movements.

Israel was very close to victory. A military force can never eliminate the cause of a conflict between nations or societies, nor destroy the will of the opposing side. However, it was demonstrated that military action may drastically reduce the capability of a terrorist organization to execute its plans. At the heart of terrorist infrastructures are the leaders, the commanders in the field, the operatives, and the laboratories, and they can be attacked. Israel successfully adopted the method of targeted assassinations to destroy the core infrastructure of the terror, i.e., terrorists having the greatest operational experience. Two years elapsed from the beginning of the Defensive Shield campaign until its results became apparent, because control is acquired over time when the area is occupied, and not by magic solutions. The army can only gain real control by a long, sometimes arduous process, while displaying determination and persistence.

The option of regaining control also applied to the Gaza Strip, but was rejected on the assumption that such an operation would be very difficult and would involve numerous casualties, both among IDF soldiers and among the local population. As long as firing continued at Sderot and its surroundings only, many people thought that the operations of Judea and Samaria should not be implemented in Gaza, even though on the eve of Defensive Shield there was considerable opposition to it in Judea and Samaria for the same reasons. Yet what will be the response when the firing from Gaza reaches additional cities in Israel? The difference is now apparent between areas in which the IDF regained control after fighting (Judea and Samaria), and those in which it remained outside and did not regain control (the Gaza Strip). Sderot, located near an area beyond IDF control since the implementation of the Oslo agreements but in which there is a fence, has become a border town suffering Qassam rocket attacks and paying for the lack of control with its blood. In contrast, in Judea and Samaria, with or without the fence, there is no high trajectory fire, and the other forms of terror are also slowly being eliminated by the IDF. Their potency is far less than in the past, and will decrease further after completion of the fence.

The IDF has reached a success rate of 80 percent in thwarting terrorist attacks originating in Judea and Samaria, and the terrorist leaders replacing those who have been arrested or killed are inexperienced youngsters who spend more time protecting their own lives than in perpetrating terrorist attacks. Of its own volition, Israel is about to surrender all these achievements and receive nothing in return.

The Significance for the Future After the unilateral withdrawal, which will be heralded by the Palestinians as flight (even if Israel proclaims that the decision was not caused by terror but by other reasons), it will be difficult to persuade anyone in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular that terrorism did not defeat the State of Israel. The victory of terror will become a myth that will influence the future, even if Palestinian diplomatic or tactical considerations dictate a lull in the terror after the IDF withdrawal. There will perhaps be a large internal struggle among the Palestinians for domination and booty, but it will be clear who fled and who left the booty behind.

Today, even before the withdrawal is implemented, three quarters of the Palestinians in the territories believe that the decision regarding unilateral withdrawal reflects the victory of the terror imposed by the Palestinians. Hizbollah's Nasrallah will justifiably declare that after four years of warfare the Palestinians succeeded in realizing half of their dream, and there is no reason to think that in the coming years they won't achieve the other half, on condition that they continue to wage a protracted terrorist war against Israel. The Palestinian strategy will be clear: the creation of a threat against Israel's home front, while waging a terrorist and guerilla war under the protection of their umbrella that prevents Israel from retaliation.

Rather than standing at the threshold of a significant strategic achievement, where it is clear to the Arab side that Israel makes no diplomatic concessions to terror but continues to combat it successfully to the bitter end, the unilateral withdrawal will place us on the verge of a protracted confrontation, under far worse conditions, facing an enemy gaining momentum and strength because of its success. This is the nature of the missed historic opportunity. It was interesting to listen to American officials who explained that the US was opposed in principle to the unilateral withdrawal because it contradicts its strategic concept not to surrender to terror. In the end Jerusalem succeeded in persuading Washington to support the move in return for adding northern Samaria to the withdrawal and restricting construction in the settlements.

After giving up its achievements in the battle against terror and displaying its fear of international pressure, Israel has lost its status. The US was the first to realize this and it has increased the package of concessions to the Palestinians that Israel will have to pay as part of the plan. Even the Republican administration has made it clear that Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria is only the first stage in the process. The explanations of the former head of the prime minister's office that attempt to justify the withdrawal from a Rightist stance, as if by virtue of the withdrawal future pressure on Israel will be averted, are totally unfounded. The day after completion of the unilateral withdrawal the international pressure for continuation of withdrawal will begin, but this time the pressure will be even greater, because there will be a precedent of the evacuation of settlements and areas without receiving anything in return from the Palestinians. That which Israel volunteered to do in Gaza will form the basis for a demand to do the same in Judea and Samaria. US Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Europeans have said this explicitly.

On the other side we find the Left, which in the face of the unilateral concession justifiably fears the possible results. Those who for years conducted negotiations and still believe that there is a partner for talks with Israel are opposed to the government's decision. It is clear to them that the chances that someone on the Palestinian side will agree to negotiate with Israel are now rapidly declining. If the Palestinians receive their demands by the force of terror without giving anything in return, not even a declaration, why should they agree to negotiations in which they will be expected to make concessions? Even if today there is no serious partner on the Palestinian side, the unilateral move is likely to delay the creation of one for many years.

However, the Israeli Left can claim one more victory for itself in its efforts to return Israel to the 1967 borders and dismantle the settlements in Judea and Samaria. For the first time in the history of Zionism the Israeli government has shattered a taboo and is uprooting settlements without external pressure and without receiving anything in return. The dam has been burst by the Right, and the Left will certainly widen the hole. Without doubt this precedent will serve Israel's enemies and "friends" in the future, whenever they will wish to extract concessions of this kind without demanding flexibility on the part of the other side. If the prime minister thought that his concessions would prevent pressure in the future, he is mistaken. On the contrary, an Israeli withdrawal without receiving anything in exchange will form the desired modus operandi for the Palestinians and their supporters in the Western world, and from now on their task will be far easier.

Conclusion The proposed unilateral withdrawal contains a strategic, diplomatic, and military risk that has been described concisely by senior defense officials as "backing for terror." This expression has not merely a literal meaning, i.e., rockets being fired against Ashkelon, but also a broader, deeper one, of historic surrender to the wave of Islamic terror and words of encouragement to the terrorists in the vein of "continue on your successful path." Spain fled from Iraq because of terror in Madrid, and the Israelis will be regarded as fleeing from Gaza for the same reason.

That which we found easy to analyze and condemn regarding Spain, we prefer not to understand in the Palestinian context. Flight from terror, even if it is called "unilateral withdrawal," remains flight, and its results will be disastrous. Israel must remain where it is and make difficult, courageous decisions regarding regaining control of additional areas in the Gaza Strip in order to remove the capability of firing at Sderot. This is part of the IDF mandate.

If and when there will be someone to talk to on the other side, removal of settlements and the IDF presence can form bargaining chips in negotiations. The Israeli government, however, has played its cards without receiving anything in return, and therefore can only expect to experience more terror. This was explained better than anyone else by Prime Minister Sharon years ago when as an ordinary Knesset member he appeared at the Likud Central Committee and said, "Labor wants to hand over the Gaza Strip, and even among us there are people who voice similar opinions . . . The Jews have apparently forgotten why we liberated it twice, in 1956 and 1967, from the Egyptian occupier (which followed a previous attempt to do so at the end of the War of Independence that nearly succeeded). Why did we pay the price three times? Because the Gaza Strip threatened us when it was not in our hands. What is proposed is to abandon the security of Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat, Sderot, Netivot, and dozens of kibbutzim and cooperative communities."

At the time Sharon made an excellent analysis of the tactical danger resulting from the disengagement. The current strategic danger is even greater.

A World Without Israel

By Josef Joffe

January/February 2005 Imagine that Israel never existed. Would the economic malaise and politicalrepression that drive angry young men to become suicide bombers vanish? Would thePalestinians have an independent state? Would the United States, freed of itsburdensome ally, suddenly find itself beloved throughout the Muslim world? Wishfulthinking. Far from creating tensions, Israel actually contains more antagonisms thanit causes. Since World War II, no state has suffered so cruel a reversal of fortunes as Israel.Admired all the way into the 1970s as the state of “those plucky Jews” who survivedagainst all odds and made democracy and the desert bloom in a climate hostile toboth liberty and greenery, Israel has become the target of creepingdelegitimization. The denigration comes in two guises. The first, the soft version,blames Israel first and most for whatever ails the Middle East, and for havingcorrupted U.S. foreign policy. It is the standard fare of editorials around theworld, not to mention the sheer venom oozing from the pages of the Arab-Islamicpress. The more recent hard version zeroes in on Israel’s very existence. Accordingto this dispensation, it is Israel as such, and not its behavior, that lies at theroot of troubles in the Middle East. Hence the “statocidal” conclusion that Israel’sbirth, midwifed by both the United States and the Soviet Union in 1948, was agrievous mistake, grandiose and worthy as it may have been at the time.

The soft version is familiar enough. One motif is the “wagging the dog” theory.Thus, in the United States, the “Jewish lobby” and a cabal of neoconservatives havebamboozled the Bush administration into a mindless pro-Israel policy inimical to thenational interest. This view attributes, as has happened so often in history, toomuch clout to the Jews. And behind this charge lurks a more general one—that it issomehow antidemocratic for subnational groups to throw themselves into thehurly-burly of politics when it comes to foreign policy. But let us count the waysin which subnational entities battle over the national interest: unions andcorporations clamor for tariffs and tax loopholes; nongovernmental organizationsagitate for humanitarian intervention; and Cuban Americans keep us from smokingcheroots from the Vuelta Abajo. In previous years, Poles militated in favor ofSolidarity, African Americans against Apartheid South Africa, and Latvians againstthe Soviet Union. In other words, the democratic melee has never stopped at thewater’s edge.

Another soft version is the “root-cause” theory in its many variations. Because the“obstinate” and “recalcitrant” Israelis are the main culprits, they must be punishedand pushed back for the sake of peace. “Put pressure on Israel”; “cut economic andmilitary aid”; “serve them notice that we will not condone their brutalities”—thesehave been the boilerplate homilies, indeed the obsessions, of the chattering classesand the foreign-office establishment for decades. Yet, as Sigmund Freud reminded us,obsessions tend to spread. And so there are ever more creative addenda to thewell-wrought root-cause theory. Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Endowment forInternational Peace argues that what is happening between Israelis and Palestiniansis a “tremendous obstacle to democratization because it inflames all the worst, mostregressive aspects of Arab nationalism and Arab culture.” In other words, theconflict drives the pathology, and not the other way around—which is like thestreetfighter explaining to the police: “It all started when this guy hit back.”

The problem with this root-cause argument is threefold: It blurs, if not reverses,cause and effect. It ignores a myriad of conflicts unrelated to Israel. And itabsolves the Arabs of culpability, shifting the blame to you know whom. If onebelieves former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, the Arab-Islamic quest forweapons of mass destruction, and by extension the war against Iraq, are also Made inIsrael. “[A]s long as Israel has nuclear weapons,” Ritter opines, “it has chosen totake a path that is inherently confrontational.…Now the Arab countries, the Muslimworld, is not about to sit back and let this happen, so they will seek their owndeterrent. We saw this in Iraq, not only with a nuclear deterrent but also with abiological weapons deterrent…that the Iraqis were developing to offset the Israelinuclear superiority.”

This theory would be engaging if it did not collide with some inconvenient facts.Iraqis didn’t use their weapons of mass destruction against the Israeli usurper butagainst fellow Muslims during the Iran-Iraq War, and against fellow Iraqis in thepoison-gas attack against Kurds in Halabja in 1988—neither of whom were brandishingany nuclear weapons. As for the Iraqi nuclear program, we now have the “DuelferReport,” based on the debriefing of Iraqi regime loyalists, which concluded: “Iranwas the pre-eminent motivator of this policy. All senior-level Iraqi officialsconsidered Iran to be Iraq’s principal enemy in the region. The wish to balanceIsrael and acquire status and influence in the Arab world were also considerations,but secondary.”

Now to the hard version. Ever so subtly, a more baleful tone slips into thisnarrative: Israel is not merely an unruly neighbor but an unwelcome intruder. Stilltimidly uttered outside the Arab world, this version’s proponents in the Westbestride the stage as truth-sayers who dare to defy taboo. Thus, the British writerA.N. Wilson declares that he has reluctantly come to the conclusion that Israel,through its own actions, has proven it does not have the right to exist. And,following Sept. 11, 2001, Brazilian scholar Jose Arthur Giannotti said: “Let usagree that the history of the Middle East would be entirely different without theState of Israel, which opened a wound between Islam and the West. Can you get rid ofMuslim terrorism without getting rid of this wound which is the source of thefrustration of potential terrorists?”

The very idea of a Jewish state is an “anachronism,” argues Tony Judt, a professorand director of the Remarque Institute at New York University. It resembles a“late-nineteenth-century separatist project” that has “no place” in this wondrousnew world moving toward the teleological perfection of multiethnic and multiculturaltogetherness bound together by international law. The time has come to “think theunthinkable,” hence, to ditch this Jewish state for a binational one, guaranteed, ofcourse, by international force.

So let us assume that Israel is an anachronism and a historical mistake withoutwhich the Arab-Islamic world stretching from Algeria to Egypt, from Syria toPakistan, would be a far happier place, above all because the original sin, theestablishment of Israel, never would have been committed. Then let’s move from thepast to the present, pretending that we could wave a mighty magic wand, and “poof,”Israel disappears from the map.

Civilization of ClashesLet us start the what-if procession in 1948, when Israel was born in war. Wouldstillbirth have nipped the Palestinian problem in the bud? Not quite. Egypt,Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon marched on Haifa and Tel Aviv notto liberate Palestine, but to grab it. The invasion was a textbook competitive powerplay by neighboring states intent on acquiring territory for themselves. If they hadbeen victorious, a Palestinian state would not have emerged, and there still wouldhave been plenty of refugees. (Recall that half the population of Kuwait fled Iraqidictator Saddam Hussein’s “liberation” of that country in 1990.) Indeed, assumingthat Palestinian nationalism had awakened when it did in the late 1960s and 1970s,the Palestinians might now be dispatching suicide bombers to Egypt, Syria, andelsewhere.

Let us imagine Israel had disappeared in 1967, instead of occupying the West Bankand the Gaza Strip, which were held, respectively, by Jordan’s King Hussein andEgypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Would they have relinquished their possessionsto Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and thrown in Haifa and Tel Aviv for goodmeasure? Not likely. The two potentates, enemies in all but name, were united onlyby their common hatred and fear of Arafat, the founder of Fatah (the PalestineNational Liberation Movement) and rightly suspected of plotting against Arabregimes. In short, the “root cause” of Palestinian statelessness would havepersisted, even in Israel’s absence.

Let us finally assume, through a thought experiment, that Israel goes “poof” today.How would this development affect the political pathologies of the Middle East? Onlythose who think the Palestinian issue is at the core of the Middle East conflictwould lightly predict a happy career for this most dysfunctional region once Israelvanishes. For there is no such thing as “the” conflict. A quick count reveals fiveways in which the region’s fortunes would remain stunted—or worse:

States vs. States: Israel’s elimination from the regional balance would hardlybolster intra-Arab amity. The retraction of the colonial powers, Britain and France,in the mid-20th century left behind a bunch of young Arab states seeking to redrawthe map of the region. From the very beginning, Syria laid claim to Lebanon. In1970, only the Israeli military deterred Damascus from invading Jordan under thepretext of supporting a Palestinian uprising. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s,Nasser’s Egypt proclaimed itself the avatar of pan-Arabism, intervening in Yemenduring the 1960s. Nasser’s successor, President Anwar Sadat, was embroiled inon-and-off clashes with Libya throughout the late 1970s. Syria marched into Lebanonin 1976 and then effectively annexed the country 15 years later, and Iraq launchedtwo wars against fellow Muslim states: Iran in 1980, Kuwait in 1990. The war againstIran was the longest conventional war of the 20th century. None of these conflictsis related to the Israeli-Palestinian one. Indeed, Israel’s disappearance would onlyliberate military assets for use in such internal rivalries.

Believers vs. Believers: Those who think that the Middle East conflict is a“Muslim-Jewish thing” had better take a closer look at the score card: 14 years ofsectarian bloodshed in Lebanon; Saddam’s campaign of extinction against the Shia inthe aftermath of the first Gulf War; Syria’s massacre of 20,000 people in the MuslimBrotherhood stronghold of Hama in 1982; and terrorist violence against EgyptianChristians in the 1990s. Add to this tally intraconfessional oppression, such as inSaudi Arabia, where the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect wields the truncheon of statepower to inflict its dour lifestyle on the less devout.

Ideologies vs. Ideologies: Zionism is not the only “ism” in the region, which isrife with competing ideologies. Even though the Baathist parties in Syria and Iraqsprang from the same fascist European roots, both have vied for precedence in theMiddle East. Nasser wielded pan-Arabism-cum-socialism against the Arab nation-state.And both Baathists and Nasserites have opposed the monarchies, such as in Jordan.Khomeinist Iran and Wahhabite Saudi Arabia remain mortal enemies. What is theconnection to the Arab-Israeli conflict? Nil, with the exception of Hamas, a terrorarmy of the faithful once supported by Israel as a rival to the Palestine LiberationOrganization and now responsible for many suicide bombings in Israel. But will Hamasdisband once Israel is gone? Hardly. Hamas has bigger ambitions than eliminating the“Zionist entity.” The organization seeks nothing less than a unified Arab stateunder a regime of God.

Reactionary Utopia vs. Modernity: A common enmity toward Israel is the only thingthat prevents Arab modernizers and traditionalists from tearing their societiesapart. Fundamentalists vie against secularists and reformist Muslims for the fusionof mosque and state under the green flag of the Prophet. And a barely concealedclass struggle pits a minuscule bourgeoisie and millions of unemployed young menagainst the power structure, usually a form of statist cronyism that controls themeans of production. Far from creating tensions, Israel actually contains theantagonisms in the world around it.

Regimes vs. Peoples: The existence of Israel cannot explain the breadth and depth ofthe Mukhabarat states (secret police states) throughout the Middle East. With theexceptions of Jordan, Morocco, and the Gulf sheikdoms, which gingerly practice anenlightened monarchism, all Arab countries (plus Iran and Pakistan) are butvariations of despotism—from the dynastic dictatorship of Syria to theauthoritarianism of Egypt. Intranational strife in Algeria has killed nearly100,000, with no letup in sight. Saddam’s victims are said to number 300,000. Afterthe Khomeinists took power in 1979, Iran was embroiled not only in the Iran-Iraq Warbut also in barely contained civil unrest into the 1980s. Pakistan is an explosionwaiting to happen. Ruthless suppression is the price of stability in this region.

Again, it would take a florid imagination to surmise that factoring Israel out ofthe Middle East equation would produce liberal democracy in the region. It might beplausible to argue that the dialectic of enmity somehow favors dictatorship in“frontline states” such as Egypt and Syria—governments that invoke the proximity ofthe “Zionist threat” as a pretext to suppress dissent. But how then to explain themayhem in faraway Algeria, the bizarre cult-of-personality regime in Libya, thepious kleptocracy of Saudi Arabia, the clerical despotism of Iran, or democracy’senduring failure to take root in Pakistan? Did Israel somehow cause the variousputsches that produced the republic of fear in Iraq? If Jordan, the state sharingthe longest border with Israel, can experiment with constitutional monarchy, why notSyria?

It won’t do to lay the democracy and development deficits of the Arab world on thedoorstep of the Jewish state. Israel is a pretext, not a cause, and therefore itsdispatch will not heal the self-inflicted wounds of the Arab-Islamic world. Nor willthe mild version of “statocide,” a binational state, do the trick—not in view of the“civilization of clashes” (to borrow a term from British historian Niall Ferguson)that is the hallmark of Arab political culture. The mortal struggle between Israelisand Palestinians would simply shift from the outside to the inside.

My Enemy, MyselfCan anybody proclaim in good conscience that these dysfunctionalities of the Arabworld would vanish along with Israel? Two U.N. “Arab Human Development Reports,”written by Arab authors, say no. The calamities are homemade. Stagnation andhopelessness have three root causes. The first is lack of freedom. The UnitedNations cites the persistence of absolute autocracies, bogus elections, judiciariesbeholden to executives, and constraints on civil society. Freedom of expression andassociation are also sharply limited. The second root cause is lack of knowledge:Sixty-five million adults are illiterate, and some 10 million children have noschooling at all. As such, the Arab world is dropping ever further behind inscientific research and the development of information technology. Third, femaleparticipation in political and economic life is the lowest in the world. Economicgrowth will continue to lag as long as the potential of half the population remainslargely untapped.

Will all of this right itself when that Judeo-Western insult to Arab pride finallyvanishes? Will the millions of unemployed and bored young men, cannon fodder for theterrorists, vanish as well—along with one-party rule, corruption, and closedeconomies? This notion makes sense only if one cherishes single-cause explanationsor, worse, harbors a particular animus against the Jewish state and its refusal tobehave like Sweden. (Come to think of it, Sweden would not be Sweden either if itlived in the Hobbesian world of the Middle East.)

Finally, the most popular what-if issue of them all: Would the Islamic world hatethe United States less if Israel vanished? Like all what-if queries, this one, too,admits only suggestive evidence. To begin, the notion that 5 million Jews are solelyresponsible for the rage of 1 billion or so Muslims cannot carry the weight assignedto it. Second, Arab-Islamic hatreds of the United States preceded the conquest ofthe West Bank and Gaza. Recall the loathing left behind by the U.S.-managed coupthat restored the shah’s rule in Tehran in 1953, or the U.S. intervention in Lebanonin 1958. As soon as Britain and France left the Middle East, the United Statesbecame the dominant power and the No. 1 target. Another bit of suggestive evidenceis that the fiercest (unofficial) anti-Americanism emanates from Washington’sself-styled allies in the Arab Middle East, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Is thissituation because of Israel—or because it is so convenient for these regimes to“busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels” (as Shakespeare’s Henry IV put it) todistract their populations from their dependence on the “Great Satan”?

Take the Cairo Declaration against “U.S. hegemony,” endorsed by 400 delegates fromacross the Middle East and the West in December 2002. The lengthy indictmentmentions Palestine only peripherally. The central condemnation, uttered in profusevariation, targets the United States for monopolizing power “within the framework ofcapitalist globalization,” for reinstating “colonialism,” and for blocking the“emergence of forces that would shift the balance of power toward multi-polarity.”In short, Global America is responsible for all the afflictions of the Arab world,with Israel coming in a distant second.

This familiar tale has an ironic twist: One of the key signers is Nader Fergany,lead author of the 2002 U.N. Arab Human Development Report. So even those whoconfess to the internal failures of the Arab world end up blaming “the Other.” Giventhe enormity of the indictment, ditching Israel will not absolve the United States.Iran’s Khomeinists have it right, so to speak, when they denounce America as the“Great Satan” and Israel only as the “Little Satan,” a handmaiden of U.S. power.What really riles America-haters in the Middle East is Washington’s intrusion intotheir affairs, be it for reasons of oil, terrorism, or weapons of mass destruction.This fact is why Osama bin Laden, having attached himself to the Palestinian causeonly as an afterthought, calls the Americans the new crusaders, and the Jews theirimperialist stand-ins.

None of this is to argue in favor of Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bankand Gaza, nor to excuse the cruel hardship it imposes on the Palestinians, which ispernicious, even for Israel’s own soul. But as this analysis suggests, the realsource of Arab angst is the West as a palpable symbol of misery and an irresistibletarget of what noted Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami has called “Arab rage.” Thepuzzle is why so many Westerners, like those who signed the Cairo Declaration,believe otherwise.

Is this anti-Semitism, as so many Jews are quick to suspect? No, but denyingIsrael’s legitimacy bears an uncanny resemblance to some central features of thisdarkest of creeds. Accordingly, the Jews are omnipotent, ubiquitous, and thusresponsible for the evils of the world. Today, Israel finds itself in an analogousposition, either as handmaiden or manipulator of U.S. might. The soft version sighs:“If only Israel were more reasonable…” The semihard version demands that “the UnitedStates pull the rug out from under Israel” to impose the pliancy that comes fromimpotence. And the hard-hard version dreams about salvation springing from Israel’sdisappearance.

Why, sure—if it weren’t for that old joke from Israel’s War of Independence: Whilethe bullets were whistling overhead and the two Jews in their foxhole were runningout of rounds, one griped, “If the Brits had to give us a country not their own, whycouldn’t they have given us Switzerland?” Alas, Israel is just a strip of land inthe world’s most noxious neighborhood, and the cleanup hasn’t even begun.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The 'Zionist enemy' -- and her supporters -- is in denial yet again

By Charles Krauthammer Has no one learned anything?

On Sept. 13, 1993, I was on the White House lawn watching the signing of the Oslo accords. I also watched the intellectual collapse of the entire Middle East intelligentsia ?€” journalists, politicians, "experts" ?€” as they swooned at the famous handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin and refused, that day and for years to come, to recognize what was obvious: that Arafat was embarking not on peace but on the next stage of his perpetual war against Israel, this one to be launched far more advantageously from a base of Palestinian territory that Israel had just suicidally granted him.

Why was this so obvious? Because Arafat said so ?€” that very night (in an Arabic broadcast to his own people on Jordanian television) and many times afterward. The Middle East experts refused to believe it. They did not want to hear it. Then came the intifada. Thousands of dead later, they now believe it. The more honest ones among them even admit they were wrong.

Now Arafat is dead, Mahmoud Abbas is poised to succeed him and the world is swooning again. Abbas, we are told, is the great hope, the moderate, the opponent of violence, the man who has said the intifada was counterproductive.

The peacemaker cometh. Once again, euphoria is in the air. Once again, no one wants to listen to what is being said.

Elections for the new Palestinian leader are on Sunday. Conveniently, this being a Palestinian election, we already know the winner. How has President-to-be Abbas been campaigning?

Dec. 30: Abbas, appearing in Jenin, is hoisted on the shoulders of Zakaria Zbeida, a notorious and wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist. Abbas declares that he will protect all terrorists from Israel.

Dec. 31: Abbas reiterates his undying loyalty to Arafat's maximalist demands: complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines, Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and ?€” the red-flag deal-breaker ?€” the "right of return," which would send the millions of Palestinians abroad not to their own country of Palestine but to Israel in order to destroy it demographically.

Jan. 1: Abbas declares that he will never crack down on Palestinian terrorism.

Jan. 4: Abbas calls Israel "the Zionist enemy." That phrase is so odious that only Hezbollah and Iran and others openly dedicated to the extermination of Israel use it.

What of Abbas's vaunted opposition to violence? On Jan. 2 he tells Hamas terrorists firing rockets that maim and kill Jewish villagers within Israel, "This is not the time for this kind of act." This is an interesting "renunciation" of terrorism: Not today, boys; perhaps later, when the time is right. Which was exactly Arafat's utilitarian approach to terrorism throughout the Oslo decade.

Some of the American and Israeli responses to Abbas are enough to make you weep. Spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Israel: "We don't think it is useful to focus on every statement by every official; what's important is the process." Official in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office: "Words don't count in the Middle East; what counts are actions."

Have we learned nothing? In the Middle East, words are actions. Never more so than in an election campaign in which your words define your platform and establish your mandate. Abbas is running practically unopposed, and yet, on the question of both ends and means, he chooses to run as Yasser Arafat.

During the decade of Oslo, Arafat's every statement of hatred, incitement and glorification of violence was similarly waved away. Then bombs began going off in cafes and buses, and the Middle East wise men realized he meant it all along. Now once again they are telling us to ignore the words. Abbas does not really mean it, they assure us. This is just electioneering. We know his true moderate heart. Believe us.

Why? On the basis of their track record? And even more important, you do not conduct foreign policy as a branch of psychiatry. Does Abbas mean the things he says about Israel now? I do not know, and no matter what you hear from the experts ?€” the same people who assured you that Arafat wanted peace ?€” neither do they.

But we do know this: In Abbas's first moment of real leadership, his long-anticipated emergence from the shadow of Arafat, he chooses to literally hoist the flag of the terrorist al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Can Abbas turn into a Sadat, who also emerged from the shadow of a charismatic leader, reversed policy and made peace with Israel? I'll believe it when I see it. And hear it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Israel's Morality and the World's Myopia

By Daniel Gordis

Any discussion of the manner in which Israel has conducted its armed
conflict with the Palestinians over the past four years demands, first
and foremost, clarity about the nature of the conflict and what is at
stake. Israel is at war -- not against "militants," or against those who
would seek to "liberate" the Palestinian people. Israel is engaged in a
war for her survival, against well-armed and increasingly well-trained,
highly disciplined groups of terrorists, who are wholly up front about
their agenda. Their agenda is not the liberation of the "territories"
that were captured in June 1967 in a war that Israel did not want. Their
agenda, as Hamas and Hizballah (among others) freely admit, is the
eradication of the "Zionist entity" from what should be, in their minds,
an exclusively Muslim Middle East.

This is not the Chechens against Russia. All the Chechens seek is
independence. Were they granted that, there is every reason to expect
that Chechen terrorism against Vladimir Putin's Russia would cease. The
same is true with the Basques in Spain. But not with Israel. The only
way that Israel could bring an end to the terrorists' attempt to destroy
any semblance of normalcy for Israeli life would be to cease to exist.
Israelis understand that, and they know full well that any other country
fighting for its very existence would be enraged at being judged as
Israel has been judged, particularly by Europe, in the last four years.

How this War Began

Israelis also remember when this war began -- immediately after Ehud
Barak called Yasir Arafat's bluff. Barak offered the Palestinian people
the state and the independence they had always said their decades-long
terrorist campaign had been designed to bring them. But in Barak's
agreement, Israel would have continued to exist. And that, in the end,
Arafat could not abide. So he, and a multiplicity of loosely aligned
terrorist organizations that include, but is not limited to Hamas,
Islamic Jihad, Hizballah, Fatah, Force 17, and the El-Aksa Martyrs'
Brigade sought to bring Israel to its knees by terrifying an entire
population into submission.

It is still said, ludicrously, that Arafat couldn't sign the Camp David
package because Barak's deal was not good enough. The West Bank,
according to some accounts, would have been divided into three cantons,
with Israelis retaining control over passage from one to the other.
Perhaps. The picture is unclear. But let us suppose that that claim is
true, and that Arafat had genuinely wanted a deal. The most effective
thing he could have done would have been to tell the tens of thousands
of Palestinians who then had the right to enter Israel to sit on the
Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and on the highway between Tel Aviv and
Haifa. He could have invited CNN, whose presence would have made it
impossible for the IDF to use force to disperse the crowds. And Arafat
could have put the map of Barak's proposal on the back page of the front
section of the New York Times and showed the world why he could not
sign. Israel would have been forced to concede, and the maps would have
been altered.

No Peace in our Lifetime

But that was not Arafat's agenda. Thus, most Israelis now understand
that there will not be peace. Not in our lifetimes, and probably not in
the lifetimes of our children. There may be a cessation of hostilities
-- some years more violent and some years less -- but we now know that
to live here means to live and to raise our children in a permanent
state of war. That sentence, that "fate," has created anguish, despair,
sadness, and even hatred in Israeli society. And given that despair, and
the offer that was rejected, what is striking is the restraint that
Israel has exercised. Who else, knowing that no matter what else we may
do, we will always be at war, would exercise such restraint?

In Israel, the Kahanist notion of transferring Palestinian populations
out of the disputed territories is still considered racist and out of
the question. Shutting off the water or electricity or phones of these
populations for months on end, to force them to begin to exert pressure
on the terrorists, has never been seriously suggested. Has Israel ever
considered eradicating a town after it has knowingly harbored a suicide
bomber who then killed dozens of innocent civilians? Nor has Israel
chosen to fight the war exclusively from the skies, thus reducing the
danger to its own troops. Would any other country, fighting for its life
and knowing that the fight will never end, exhibit such moderation?

The World Ignores Israeli Restraint

The world, of course, ignores that restraint. It focuses not on American
tactics in Afghanistan or Iraq, or the Russians' war against Chechnya,
or the atrocities in the Sudan. Instead, it focuses on the mistakes
that, admittedly, have been made by Israel. The conduct of a small
minority of soldiers at roadblocks has been reprehensible (and judicial
proceedings are under way against many of them). The commandeering of
some Arab homes by troops is unquestionably distasteful, though
sometimes probably unavoidable. Innocent Palestinians, including
children, have been caught in the crossfire, and Israeli troops have
sometimes been careless and, occasionally, malevolent. Israelis know
that, and most are embarrassed by it.

But that the terrorist organizations have chosen to use civilian
neighborhoods as their bases is rarely mentioned. No one has dared
accuse Israelis of "eye-for-eye" tactics, blowing up buses or wedding
halls or restaurants, for such an accusation would be ridiculous. When
terrorists fled into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Israeli
troops surrounded the church, but didn't storm it. Compare this to the
Americans' treatment of mosques in Najaf or Falluja, when their patience
with Moqtada Al-Sadr ran out, or what we know would have been the case
had Jews been hiding in a church or a synagogue and it had been
Palestinians pursuing them. All of this escapes the critical eye of a
watchful West.

So, too, does the IDF's consistent determination to do better. The
unsuccessful attempt in September 2002 to kill the Hamas chief, Ahmad
Yassin, which Yossi Klein Halevi discussed in his piece in this series,
had a history. Israel used a half-ton bomb because it acknowledged that
in its killing of Hamas chief Salah Shehade two months earlier, it had
erred. Then, the IDF chose a one-ton bomb, which did kill Shehade, but
which also killed fourteen bystanders, including children. The reaction
in Israel was swift, and visceral. Israelis were ashamed and appalled.
When Yassin escaped two months later, whatever disappointment was felt
that he survived was vastly exceeded by a certain pride that we'd
learned, that we had not made the same mistake again, and that despite
our desire to kill Yassin, we'd placed the value of innocent life first
and foremost. We also noted that the world took no notice of this
changed tactic.

In April 2002, when Israel pursued terrorists into the casbah in Jenin,
we did so on the ground, in door-to-door fighting, to avoid causing
unnecessary collateral casualties. Fourteen of our soldiers were killed
in one day. But the world -- instead of pointing to the difference
between Israel's handling of the battle and what would have happened
anywhere else -- accused Israel of a massacre. European papers reported
the massacre as fact, not as allegation. Kofi Annan, when asked about
Israel's denials, responded, "Can Israel be right and the whole world
wrong?" But when a UN investigation proved that there had been no
massacre, and that Israel had been right, did Annan apologize? Not a
word. Did European papers print retractions? By and large, they did not.

Myopia about the Separation Fence

The myopia of the world's judgment of Israel's morality is most obvious
with regard to the separation fence currently under construction. As the
Israeli political right correctly understands, the fence is a de facto
way of ceding land. If the fence were built, and if it worked, there
would be no need for Israeli forces to cross and to be a presence in the
daily lives of Palestinians. It would, of course, also dramatically cut
down on terror. But the world, buying wholesale into a Palestinian
disinformation campaign designed to make the building of the fence
impossible, refers to the "apartheid fence," rather than to the attacks
that led to its construction or the diminution in Israeli military
presence that it heralds.

Why, incidentally, do the Palestinians oppose the fence? Because the
fence would effectively end much of the conflict (although the Kassam
rocket attacks do portend that even the fence will not be a complete
solution). And, as we know, the end of the conflict is the last thing
that the Palestinians want.

The fence has, unquestionably, caused hardship for Palestinians. Some of
that is inevitable, given the way in which the two populations are
intermingled across the West Bank and around East Jerusalem. And some of
the route was ill planned. But compare the ruling of the International
Court of Justice at The Hague with that of the Israeli Supreme Court.
The ICJ demanded that Israel remove the wall in its entirety. Israel's
Supreme Court ruled that the fence was legitimate in principle, and it
agreed with the army that its purpose had been security, not an attempt
to steal Palestinian land. But still the court demanded that part of the
fence be moved to address the hardships it imposed on the Palestinian

The court of international opinion, however, seems not to have noticed
the extraordinary phenomenon of the Supreme Court of a country at war
ruling in favor of the population seeking to destroy it. Outside
observers wrote that "even the Israeli Supreme Court argued that the
fence is immoral." But the point was precisely the opposite. Even under
conditions of war, conditions that are unlikely to end any time soon,
Israel's democratic apparatus continues to function, even to the point
of protecting the interests of those waging war on the country in which
the court sits. Here, too, Israel placed the interests of innocent (or
not-so-innocent) civilians ahead of its own security interests. And
this, too, the world has ignored.

Israel's Vigorous Debate about its Conduct of the War

This democratic ethos of Israeli society points to yet another unique
dimension of the conflict. In what could not be a more radical
difference between Israel and the Palestinian Authority waging war on
it, Israel is a country in which a vigorous and open debate about how to
balance the needs for security with Jewish humanitarian values
continues. Despite my own belief that, in all, our conduct of the war
has been restrained, not every Israeli agrees. Some Israeli young men
have refused to serve over the Green Line, and recently, several had
their military service cut short, with no serious repercussions. A much
publicized group of pilots announced that they would no longer fly
certain missions that they considered morally problematic. Driving
Israel's highways, one can often see protesters holding signs that say
"hayalim amitzim lo maftzitzim," or "Brave Pilots Don't Bomb." Whether
or not one agrees, we have a right to take pride in a democracy in which
such issues are openly debated, where freedom of the press reigns, where
the Talmudic tradition of virtually unlimited debate on issues of
morality continues.

Where are the Palestinians arguing in their streets for a cessation to
the bombings, to the Kassam rockets, to the shootings, so that their
lives can be restored to normal? On the security fence, one sees
hundreds of instances of graffiti accusing Israel of apartheid-like
policies, demanding that the fence be removed. But where are the
graffiti calling for an end to the terror that brought the fence in the
first place? Or the graffiti that note that, if only Arafat had
continued to negotiate, none of this would have happened? That voice,
sadly, is not heard.

At this writing, Ariel Sharon is leading an attempt to have Israel
withdraw from the Gaza Strip and a handful of settlements on the West
Bank. And what has been the reaction from Gaza? A barrage of Kassam
rocket fire that has killed Israeli children and consumed entire Israeli
towns with fear, all designed to make the pullout impossible. Because
pulling out of Gaza would show the world that Israel is not interested
in holding on to these territories forever, something the Palestinians
are desperate for the world not to see. Because pulling out of Gaza
would give Israel a more manageable line of defense, which the
Palestinians do not want. And because pulling out of Gaza would force
the Gazans to recognize that their poverty and their suffering are not
the products of Israeli policy, but predated Israel's conquest of the
land in 1967 and will follow it as well.

How did Israel seek to counter the Kassam barrages? By Operation "Days
of Penitance" in October 2004 -- again on the ground, again with
casualties -- and not from the air, which would have been safer, but
which would have undoubtedly caused much more collateral damage.

Despite the many complexities of the Israeli-Arab conflict in general,
and of the current conflict with the Palestinians in particular, certain
basic facts are clear: Israel tried to create a Palestinian state. When
that offer was met with a war of terror, Israel tried to build a fence
that would keep the terrorists on one side and its soldiers on the
other. When the fence was treated as an "apartheid fence," Israel tried
to pull out of Gaza, which the Palestinians are now seeking to make
impossible. The world calls Israel racist, but the only population that
Sharon is considering moving is the Jewish population in Gaza, not the
villages that openly harbor the terrorists who seek to kill our
children. And all this unfolds within the context of a democratic
society that -- in keeping with thousands of years of Jewish tradition
-- passionately argues whether our responses have been too draconian, or
insufficiently considerate of the Palestinians (some complicit and some
not), who have sadly been caught in the crossfire of a tragedy unleashed
by their own leaders.

Israel's Moral Campaign against Terror

Yossi Klein Halevi argues (in another article in this symposium) that
Israel's victory in this war on terror may some day be seen as one of
the greatest victories of Jewish history. That may well be true. But
Israel's conduct of this war will also be seen, I suspect, as one of the
most moral campaigns against terror, a sickening phenomenon that is
likely to grip the Western world to an ever greater extent over the next
few years.

Unfortunately, Israel is often a barometer of what the Western world
will next face. When Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in June
1981, condemnation was virtually universal. Today, the Western world
knows that Israel may have saved the world from disaster. The same is
true with the battle against Islamic terror. As the battle spreads, and
as Westerners in Britain, France, Spain, and the United States
experience ever more terror firsthand, the world will come to admire the
restraint and fortitude with which Israel has fought for her life.
Ultimately, I believe, Israel's conduct of this war -- with all its
warts -- will be a model toward which much of the currently critical
world will one day aspire.

(c) 2004 Daniel Gordis

You are welcome to forward this e-mail if you would like, but only in its
entirety and unedited, including the information below. However, this
material may not be published in print or posted on a web site without the
express, written consent of the author.

You can subscribe to the list at (see the box on the
top left of the screen) or at You can also
subscribe by sending a BLANK email to: Topica will automatically send you a
confirmation message to which you must reply. Unsubscription information is
included automatically in each newsletter.


Fact: In October 1946, Kfar Darom (a current settlement in the Gaza Strip) and ten other Jewish communities were established, in order to avert the British plan of disengaging the Negev from the Jewish State.

Fact: Kfar Darom was established on the site of the 3rd-4th century Talmudic Jewish town of Kfar Darom. The Jewish farmer, Tuvia Miller, planted an orchard in Kfar Darom, which was destroyed during the 1936-39 anti-Jewish pogroms. The newly established 1946 Kfar Darom was uprooted following the 1948 Egyptian military invasion. Would the 1967 rebuilt Kfar Darom be uprooted by the Jewish State?

Fact: Gaza and Tiberias substituted Jerusalem during 135-600 AD- as a pilgrimage site - following Jerusalem's decimation by Rome.

Fact: Gaza's Jewish community was uprooted during the 1929 anti-Jewish riots, which annihilated the Jewish community of Hebron.

Fact: The Castil family headed a large of Jewish refugees from Spain (1492), who bolstered the Gaza Jewish community. The traveler Ovadia of Bartenura documented the 1488 Gaza Jewish community.

Fact: The Ottoman Empire facilitated settlement of Jews in Gaza.

Fact: The 17th century Gaza Chief Rabbi, Israel Najarah, composed the hymn "Ya Ribon Olam" and was buried in Gaza.

Fact: The eerie Shabtai Zvi declared himself a Messiah at the Gaza synagogue.

Fact: The Gaza synagogue was located on the hilltop, which is currently named by Arabs, Khart Al-Yahood (the Jewish neighborhood). The synagogue was destroyed, in 1831, by Egypt's Ibrahim Pasha.

Fact: The known travelers Georgio Gucci (1384) and Meshulam of Voltera (1481) praised Gaza's Jewish community for its wine production and wealth.

Fact: The Old Testament refers to Gaza as an integral part of the Land of Israel: Abraham was punished for his disengagement from Grar (today's Dir Al-Balakh, Genesis 21); The tribe of Judah inherited Ashdod, Ashqelon and Gaza (Joshua 15:47, Judges 1:18); King Solomon and King Hezekiah controlled Gaza (Kings A 5:4 and 18:7). Jonathan the Maccabee liberated Gaza in 145 BC, Simon the Maccabee settled Gaza and King Alexander Yanai-Janeus renewed Jewish presence there in 96 BC.

Fact: Rome's Constantinus The Great failed to convert and uproot Gaza's Jewish community (4th century).

Fact: Rarely have nations agreed to trade away land for peace. Never have nations agreed to disengage themselves from their Cradle of History in return for peace. Can a nation disengage itself from its roots without dooming its future?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Ending the Arafat era

By Yoram Ettinger
Washington Times, OpEd, Nov. 30, 2004

A prerequisite for the emergence of a moderate Palestinian regime is the
elimination of the rogue Palestinian regime. A precondition for the holding of a
free Palestinian election, and for the attainment of a durable
Israeli-Palestinian accord, is the uprooting of the regime, which has ruthlessly dominated
the Palestinian scene since 1964. The "old Palestinian regime" has been the
role model of international terrorism, inter-Arab treachery, serial
non-compliance with agreements, hate-education, corruption and suppression of
Palestinian human rights.

Just like Taliban and Ba'ath terrorism, Palestinian terrorism has not been a
personalized problem (Yasser Arafat), but rather a regime problem
(PLO/PA/Hamas). Japan and Germany were transformed into peaceful nations, upon the
drastic dismantling of their rogue regimes. None of the old guard top officials
was allowed to participate in the new regimes. The entire old guard was
disenfranchised, in order to pave the road for moderate leaders, minimize
intimidation and facilitate free election.

Abu Mazen has been the de facto No. 2 in the PLO since 1989, while he and
Abu Ala' have been Mr. Arafat's top confidants at the helm of the Fatah, PLO
and PA regimes since the late 1950s. They starred in the Palestinian cell of
the Muslim Brotherhood — the mentor of Hamas terrorism — and were forced to
flee Egypt for terrorism. In 1959, they joined Mr. Arafat in establishing the
Fatah organization, and were accorded a safe haven in Damascus. However, in
1966 Fatah executed Syrian intelligence officers, and was chased out of Syria.
In 1968-70, the late King Hussein provided the Fatah-led PLO with logistic
and operational platforms to terrorize Israel. But in 1970 the PLO attempted to
topple the Hashemite regime through terrorism, triggering a bloody strife
and PLO's expulsion from Jordan to Lebanon. Abu Mazen and Abu Ala' were there,
consulting Mr. Arafat. During 1970-82, the PLO perpetrated a series of civil
wars in Lebanon, with Abu Mazen's and Abu Ala's active participation. The
PLO's subversive operations caused hundreds of thousands of casualties, leading
to Syrian occupation of Lebanon and to the demise of its Christian
population. The latest chapter of PLO's inter-Arab treachery occurred in 1990, when
the organization spearheaded Iraq's plunder of Kuwait — a country which hosted
the Fatah since 1959, absorbed 400,000 Palestinians, enabled them to rise to
top business and civic positions, and imposed a surcharge tax for the PLO.
Subsequently, Kuwait has severed all contacts with the PLO/PA leadership,
expelling most of its 400,000 Palestinians.

In 1972, Abu Mazen handled the financial aspects of the 1972 Munich Olympic
Games massacre of 11 Israeli athletes. He steered pre-1989 PLO ties with
ruthless East European regimes and the Soviet Union, wrote a thesis on Holocaust
Denial at Moscow University, co-managed PLO hijacking of Western planes
during the early 1970s and the murder of U.S. ambassadors in 1972.

A few days following the signing of the 1993 Oslo accord, Abu Mazen, Abu
Ala' Dahlan and Rajoub engineered a series of PA-Hamas understandings.
In fact, Dahlan and Rajoub head PA 'security' units, which have exceeded
Hamas' terrorism. According to the understandings, PA/Hamas joint strategy
(Israel's elimination) would be advanced by tactical accords with Israel, by
diplomacy and by terrorism. In addition, they stipulated that Palestinian unity
would supersede any agreement with Israel, calling for an end to PLO-Hamas
fighting, while urging escalation of anti-Israel 'resistance.'

Palestinians nickname Abu Mazen, Abu Ala', Dahlan and Rajoub 'Mr. 20
Percent' for the kickback, which they extort for doing business in the PA. The four
senior PLO leaders led — under Mr. Arafat — the PA propaganda machine, which
hailed the September11thterrorism, praising Saddam Hussein's and Osama Bin
Laden's anti-U.S. operations. They have introduced, along with Mr. Arafat, the
anti-United States and anti-Jewish hate-education to PA schools, mosques and
media, which has constituted the engine of homicide bombing. They have
assisted Mr. Arafat in masterminding unprecedented hate-education, terrorism,
deception, systematic and violent abrogation of commitments, repression of
Palestinians and corruption.

The Palestinian Authority is not the solution; it is the problem.
Legitimizing top leaders of the PA, such as Abu Mazen, Abu Ala', Dahlan and Rajoub — in
defiance of their horrific track records — constitutes a victory of wishful
thinking over moral clarity. The suggestion that the four are moderate
compared with Mr. Arafat, is to suggest that the Boston Strangler was moderate
compared with Jack the Ripper. It sends a devastating message to terrorists: Not
only can you get away with murder, but you shall be rewarded. It energizes
global terrorism, deters moderation, precludes free Palestinian elections and
undermines the cause of peace. In 1993, wishful thinking smothered Israeli and
Western policy-makers. It provided Mr. Arafat with unprecedented legitimacy,
triggering unprecedented terrorism. How many innocent lives will be
sacrificed on the altar of Abu Mazen and Abu Ala'?

Ambassador Yoram Ettinger is an editor and consultant who lives in

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Why Did We Drink a Toast to Mark Arafat's Death

"I wish to offer you my condolences on the death of Arafat…"
Arieh Golan in an interview with Ahmed Tibi on Kol Israel, Network B.
To hear the entire interview click here

A small coast guard boat of the Israeli police left port at dawn, on its way to a place outside Israeliterritorial waters. There, in the open sea, a small box, containing ashes and dust of bones, was opened. The contents of the box were scattered in every direction. At the end of its mission the boat returned to its home port.

This was in 1961. The ashes were those of Eichmann, arch-murderer of the Jews. This was during the Mapai era, before the reversal of values of Oslo.

If Eichmann had been caught today, it is reasonable to assume that an enthusiastic band of Israeli admirers would have accompanied his coffin on its way to the airport, and Arieh Golan would have contacted his supporters and expressed his condolences in a live broadcast. After all, what's the difference between Eichmann and Arafat, apart from the former's greater efficiency? In the sixty years that have elapsed since the end of the Second World War, Arafat was responsible for the murder of more Jewishcivilians than anyone else in the world.

A few minutes before he was put on the helicopter to Paris, Arafat managed to sign an order for the transfer of money to the various murder organizations. There is virtually no Israeli who doesn't have a relative or friend who was murdered on the orders of that arch-murderer, but the media give the impression that he was one of the founders of Zionism.

What is the meaning of this mental illness that has afflicted us in the last decade? How have we lost our most basic natural instinct, that of distinguishing between friends and enemies? How long will a zebra survive in the African Savanna if it forgets who is a leopard?

It all began with that evil handshake on the White House lawn between Rabin and the enemy of his people. In just one moment the distinction was destroyed between good and evil, between a murderer and a freedom fighter. We Jews are no longer the good guys in the story – we are just the last of the white colonists who are still holding on to the occupied country of the poor Palestinian natives. There on the lawn we agreed in fact to the enemy's claim.

Apparently, in an act of good will, Arafat condescended to permit us to remain in the territories we had stolen from his people before 1967. In the face of the entire world the Israeli leader gave up the greatest asset we possessed – justice. In the Oslo decade we entered an era of reversal of values, of moral vertigo. We signed that we agreed to being the bad guys in the story.

Most Israelis possess traditional Jewish values, even if they are not religious. They did not become confused by the madness that overtook Israeli leaders and a thin social layer that wishes to discard its Jewish identity. There'll always be some rabbis who will adopt the official line and purify the reptile, but they form an insignificant minority. From the time of the drowning of the Egyptians, the hanging of Haman, and up to the death of the German arch-enemy, sane Jews knew how to rejoice over the death of evil people.

In the post-modern period, that has abandoned the concepts of good and evil (and leaves the stage of history to evil only), in a madness of reversal of values, when it seems that an entire nation has lost its faith in its own righteousness, it was right and important to create a clear anchor of sanity. We are holding on to good, and combating evil, and rejoice when evil is defeated. We sorrow for the Jews who were killed because we didn't destroy that evil many years ago. We give thanks to the Creator who removed that murderer from the world. We shall drink a toast to the lives of all the Jews who will continue to live because of this.

The IRS Chain Gang

By Evan Coyne Maloney

Note: This article does not have to do with Israel. I apologize, but it's such
a wonderful piece by Evan (see for his website), that
I just had to post it. Please check out his website.
(actually, it does have relevance in Israel as the tax burden there is quite high
and Israelis would do well to read this article)

The IRS Chain Gang
By Evan Coyne Maloney
Posted: 23 November 2004

When someone asks about your job, you might say, "I work for..." and
then name some organization. But in reality, you're working for
yourself. It's your money you take home, and that money enables your
survival. In the past, people survived by hunting animals, cultivating
land, building shelters and fabricating garments. You can still do that
today, but you probably don't want to. You'd rather get a job so you can
pay someone else to hunt, farm, build and sew for you.

But you probably won't get anyone to do these things unless you give
them something they want. In a simple barter economy, if you need
firewood and you can only offer cotton in exchange, it might be hard to
find someone willing to make that trade. You'd need someone with
firewood who also wants cotton. That's why barter is inefficient and
money is useful.

Money lets you trade cotton for firewood indirectly. You sell the
cotton, get some money, and then use it to buy firewood. If the guy with
the firewood wanted steak and not cotton, then money is useful to him in
a way that your cotton isn't; he could use the money from you to buy
steak. Money enables many more trades because there are exponentially
more combinations of potential trading partners. While barter
effectively requires each person in the trade to act as both buyer and
seller, with money, you only need to be one or the other.

Money, Prosperity & Taxes
Because it allows more trading opportunities, money helps create greater
prosperity. Think about it: you wouldn't trade with someone unless you
felt you'd be better off afterwards. If you wouldn't benefit in some
way, why would you bother trading in the first place? Well, the person
on the other end of the deal feels the same way. He wouldn't trade
unless he also gains. So, by definition, when people willingly enter
into a fair trade--assuming they have proper information and are acting
rationally--everyone involved is better off. Therefore, the more fair
trades that a given society encourages, the more prosperous the society

That's also why economies with greater tax burdens can't grow as fast as
those with lower taxes. When governments take money from citizens, it
reduces the number of transactions those citizens can make, thereby
limiting the gains made through trade.

Taxes, unlike voluntary transactions where everyone benefits, are
mandatory. I don't know any people--no matter how noble or civic-minded
they may be--who can honestly say they feel better off when they look at
their pay stub and see how much of their work is being taken by the
government. Taxation is a necessary cost of maintaining an orderly
society that's capable of defending itself, so we tolerate it. But it's
also a cost that should be minimized, because taxation crowds out the
private transactions that lead to prosperity.

Someone else may end up better off thanks to your tax dollars, but it's
a zero-sum game. Whatever gains are enjoyed by the recipient(s) of your
money is directly offset by your loss of that money. In a private
exchange, the parties execute a trade only when they both stand to
benefit; there are two winners in the deal. But when the government gets
involved, your money is simply shifted somewhere else. That's why
government spending--even though it may result in economic activity--can
never lead to prosperity the way that private transactions do. If both
parties benefit from a private exchange, there is an overall gain.
Multiply that by billions of transactions every day, and you begin to
see how an economy can grow. But with government spending, where each
winner is balanced by a loser, it's always a wash; there is no growth,
just a change in the location of taxpayer money.

Slaves to the IRS
You don't get to choose whether you pay taxes. If the government decides
you should pay taxes and you don't, I hope you have a good lawyer. Evade
your taxes, and you'll lose your freedom. So in a way, taxation is a
form of quasi-slavery that society imposes on itself. Every taxpayer is
a partial slave to every voter.

What if, instead of paying taxes in money, the government forced you to
work on a chain gang in order to pay taxes? If you have to work until
5PM every day, but everyone else gets to go home at noon, would that be

Although an income tax seems like a confiscation of your money, it is
really a confiscation of your time. After all, you earn your income by
sacrificing your time. If you work 40 hours each week, and you pay 50%
of your income in taxes, that means you work 20 hours a week for
yourself and 20 hours for the government. Sure, you don't notice, but
that's only because you spend your 20 government hours sitting at the
same desk, drinking the same coffee, and talking to the same co-workers
that you do during the 20 hours each week you spend working for

Back on the Chain Gang
Imagine it wasn't like that. Imagine, instead, that you worked your 20
government hours each week busting rocks on that chain gang. Some of the
other folks on the chain gang only have to bust rocks for 10 hours a
week, because their tax rate is 25%. You spend twice as much time on the
chain gang.

That's how the graduated income tax discriminates. (Proponents like
calling it a "progressive" tax, because that sounds like progress, and
how could progress be bad?) By setting different rates for different
people, the government forces some citizens to sacrifice more of their
lives on the IRS chain gang. If taxation is partial slavery, why should
some slaves be more partial than others?

People who favor a graduated tax say it's fair because it makes people
pay more as they earn more. True, but that would be the case under a
flat tax as well. Suppose there's one tax rate, at 20%. Someone making
$50,000 a year pays $10,000; another person making $250,000 pays
$50,000. According to my calculations, $50,000 is more than $10,000 by
about $40,000. Even under a flat tax, higher earners pay more. What
progressive tax advocates really want is for the high earners to pay
more than more, to penalize them for their success by making them spend
disproportionately more time on the IRS chain gang. That doesn't sound
fair to me.

It's been said that simple democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting
on what to have for dinner. That's why democracy must be coupled with
individual rights to maintain a just society. These rights protect the
individual against the tyranny of the majority. But when the majority
can vote to seize more of your life than mine, the system is not

To ensure a vibrant economy, taxes should be minimal. And to ensure a
just society, the graduated income tax should be abolished.