MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Is Ariel Sharon's Disengagement plan in trouble??
Until just a few days ago, Israeli PM Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan was a cinch to pass the nonbinding referendum scheduled for May 2 for members of his Likud party. The plan, endorsed by US President Bush, would evacuate Israeli settlers from the Gaza strip, allowing better deployment of the IDF and less friction, and would also reduce pressure on Israel to adopt various peace plans (see commentary here). Now pollsters say passage is doubtful. Sharon remains confident, but the numbers say otherwise, causing a plunge in the Tel-Aviv stock exchange and panicky strategy meetings by Sharon and others to save what can be saved.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Israeli-Palestinian-American relations in the era of unilateralism
Saeb Erekat has a problem with George W. Bush. The American president, he writes in the Washington Post, has usurped his job as chief negotiator for the Palestinian side in talks with Israel.
If that's so, I've got to ask why Mr. Erekat has failed to show up for work since late 2000. As the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man.
by Analyst @ 07:42 AM CST [Link]
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Al-Hurra - Bad News Reporting is Bad News
Al-Hurra, the US sponsored TV station in the Middle East, is not doing its job. We can discount a lot of the animosity generated when the station was launched, which was based on the idea that anything coming from the USA had to be bad. For example: [more]
Saturday, April 24, 2004
From Syria to America: With Love
Not everyone in the Arab Middle East hates America.
As Lee Smith notes in Slate, Egyptian President Hosni Mubaraq has claimed that anti-American sentiment in the Middle East has reached new heights. However, not everyone in the Arab world hates the US. Lee writes:
Friday, April 23, 2004
Post-Zionism: Requiem for an intellectual fad
Rather than asking if post-zionism is dead, people should ask if it ever existed, and if so, what it might be.
It is not hard to recognize intellectual charlatanry even when it is in full flower, but it is almost impossible to challenge it then. You can see that the emperor has no clothes, but it is very hard to prove it when everyone is busy praising the garments. There is no point in exclaiming over and over that the emperor is naked, because nobody will listen.
Four years ago, post-Zionism was the coming thing. According to the gurus of post-Zionism, Zionism was finished and their ideas replaced it. Supposedly, post-Zionism revealed, for the first time ever, the "founding myths" of Israel, the original sins committed against the Palestinians that had been hidden by Zionist propaganda, and the faults of Israeli society. It is now apparent even to proponents, that they don't have any clear idea of what post-Zionism is, and whatever it was, if it was ever more than a name, it is probably dead.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
French lessons: What America can learn about dealing with terrorism
Lee Smith is hearing echoes. In a new article in Slate, he refers readers to an article from the Spring 2003 issue of Survival, the quarterly publication of the International Institute for Strategic Studies ("double-eye double-ess") in London. The authors, Jeremy Shapiro and Benedicte Suzan, chart the ups and downs of France's history of dealing with Middle Eastern terrorism during the last quarter-century.
by Analyst @ 08:12 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Israel kills Hamas head Abdel Aziz Rantissi - Celebrity Scrapbook
An Israeli helicopter missile strike killed Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantissi today, Saturday, April 17, 2004. Two other occupants of the car struck by the Israelis were killed as well. Rantissi replaced Ahmed Yassin as head of the Hamas terror group after Yassin was assassinated by Israel on March 22. Rantissi was one of the founders of the Hamas movement, and was a pediatrician by training. He had survived an earlier assassination attempt on June 10, 2003, two days after a Hamas terror strike, and it was understood that he was a marked man. He had traded his jeep for a safer closed automobile, but this did not suffice to protect him. Rantissi was critically injured in the strike and died soon after at Shiffa Hospital in Gaza. According to foreign reports, others in the car who were killed were bodyguards. According to Israeli TV Channel 2, one of Rantissi's sons was also killed. Rantissi had 6 chidlren and 10 grandchildren.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Bush and Sharon: Much ado about more than nothing - a commented celebrity scrapbook
We are all still trying to understand the significance, if any, of US President Bush's letter of April 14 to Israeli PM Sharon regarding the 'disengagement' plan, as well as the significance of the plan itself. Whatever a US President says, it is not binding on anyone unless it is put into a signed treaty, but it is an expression of the way the policy windws are blowing. Bush said 'no' to Palestinian 'right' of return to Israel, and he also said that the borders of Israel should in his view, take into account demographic realities including Israeli population concentrations outside of the Green line. [more]
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Louis Freeh, the FBI, 9-11, the Matrix and the US Virtual Middle East
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh is due to testify today in the US 9-11 hearings. What is more significant than what they will be asking him, is what they won't be asking him, and what he won't say Freeh, along with thousands of officials and media people, both US and Middle Eastern, is part of the crew that is working all the time to create the virtual Middle East Matrix that Americans think exists - or rather doesn't exist. The hearings are part of the same mechanism. [more]
Monday, April 12, 2004
Fact and Fiction about the Israeli Wall/Fence/Barrier in Jerusalem
Like almost everything in the Middle East, the Wall/Fence/Barrier under construction by Israel has become the subject of partisan politics. The truth is inconvenient for most political puproses, because too often it favors nobody and makes everyone look bad. Thus,the raw material truth product must be reworked and reshaped by experts until it suits the purpose of those marketing it as "truth." Consequently it is impossible to determine the truth except from first hand accounts, and as these are inconvenient, they are not believed. [more]
Sunday, April 11, 2004
My afterlife conversion
To whom it may concern,
let it be known that however I am a secularist, an agnostic with an atheist inclination, if in the far future, my descendants want to convert themselves to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to include myself in that conversion, I have no objection and I wish that the winds shall push them on their way.
Really, why should I care ? They shall live their lives and I shall have lived mine.
by Editor @ 09:19 PM CST [Link]
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Is Iraq burning? Return of the ungrateful volcano
America's bad week in Iraq started with the televised lynching in Fallujah, got much worse after Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army rose up in violent opposition, and has gone downhill from there. A dozen Marines are dead in Ramadi, and perhaps dozens of Iraqis have been killed on the grounds of a Fallujah mosque. (The details remain unclear.) Winston Churchill's words to his Prime Minister, concerning the same country in 1922, come to mind: "We are paying millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano."
What went wrong? Is it as bad as it seems? And what is next?
by Analyst @ 06:43 AM CST [Link]
Thursday, April 1, 2004
Why America hates the Saudis
From an American perspective, what's to like about Saudi Arabia or its society, culture, and politics, all thrust into the media spotlight after 9/11? Who will defend the degradation of women and religious minorities? The suppression of dissent? The repressive presence of the morality police in urban centers? The oil-subsidized lifestyle that for too long has extinguished most discernible traces of a work ethic? The sympathy and funds extended to terrorists so long as they went about their wretched business abroad?
by Analyst @ 10:57 AM CST [Link]
Is Israel's PM Ariel Sharon on the way out?
Israel's State Prosecutor, Edna Arbel, has announced she plans to seek an indictment of PM Ariel Sharon for bribery, and has submitted a draft indictment to Attorney General Mazuz. This could spell the beginning of the end for Sharon's government and policies, but that is not necessarily a Good Thing for peace. The government that eventually follows Sharon may make Palestinians understand that the situation could be worse. It is probable the upheaval will produce an even more hawkish government. Sharon's closest rival, Bibi Nethanyahu, has positioned himself well to the right of the Prime Minister and opposes any concessions or unilateral withdrawal.
Arab Summit Collapse - No to democracy and reform for now?
The collapse of the Arab League summit that was to have been held in Tunisia this week, is not a good omen for proponents of reform and democracy in the Middle East. According to the Tunisian Foreign Ministry, the summit collapsed "particularly over the issues of modernization and reform ... to reactivate Arab institutions.''
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