MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Friday, October 28, 2005
Hedera - Lessons not learned: The violence is back
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad suicide bombing in Hedera that killed 5 people may mark the beginning in earnest of renewed Palestinian violence. It should surprise nobody. In truth the violence had never stopped. Qassam rockets rained on Sderot, the IDF retaliated. More rockets rained on Sderot, more IDF retaliations followed. [more]
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Iran wants to destroy Israel - so what else is new?
All the world is in a surprising uproar because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be wiped off the map. The EU condemned the statement, Israeli leaders called for expelling Iran from the UN. [more]
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Two Muslims and one American consultant
[Note: The names of people below are changed. --- J.M.H.]
At least once a week Muhamed telephones from his Galilee village to chat about the news and ask how things are in Tel Aviv. He likes to reminisce about happy days in Tel Aviv of the 1980s, before the first intifada killed the mood and the first Gulf War scared the tourists away. Since those days, Tel Aviv has acquired a new opera house, endured a decade of sporadic suicide bombings, and begun sprouting high-rise buildings. It has not fully recovered its pre-intifada upbeat attitude, though. The young Brits and other Europeans who used to come here to work and travel no longer enliven the place. Muhamed recalls restaurants that have ceased to exist and local celebrities whose faces are no longer seen.
Muhamed watches Aljazeera television a lot. When he telephones from his village he often already knows the details of a breaking story from Iraq. Sometimes he launches into a monologue on the comparative benefits of living in the State of Israel. He praises its food, climate, health care, economic progress, even its law-enforcement. He was born only a few years after the establishment of the state and has spent most of his life here. He says he does not understand why people in his village complain as they do. Jews and Zionism have been good for the place, he says. Sometimes he goes to Haifa and discusses politics and history in a coffee house. He has no one to talk to in his village, he says. [more]
by Joseph M. Hochstein @ 10:38 PM CST [Link]
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Toward one history
One of the deplorable byproducts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that has become, in effect, a causative factor, is that Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Zionists have learned different histories of the conflict. History happens all the time, including right now. With each event, new versions of history are created. Getting the history right has been a major concern of MidEastWeb. That is why we have created narratives like the Brief history of the Israeli-Palestinian COnflict that attempt to give the whole picture. [more]
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Mehlis Report fingers Syria, Lebanese officials for Hariri Assassination
By now the whole world knows that UN investigator Detlev Mehlis has produced an interim report on the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri. Hariri was killed on February 14, 2005 when a huge explosion occurred in his motorcade.
Rates of deadly violence --- U.S., Israel, Gaza
TEL AVIV --- While the U.S. homicide rate declined slightly in 2004, it was more than 25 percent higher than Israel's combined rate of deaths from crime, suicide bombings and intifada-related military casualties.
Homicide rates in 2004 in a number of major U.S. cities including the nation's capital exceeded rates of Palestinian fatalities at the hands of Israel's army in the past year.
These are among the facts that emerge from data released October 17 in the yearly Uniform Crime Reporting program of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI also found that acts against Jews claimed 67.8 percent of the victims of religious hate crimes tallied in 2004. Anti-Muslim acts accounted for only 12.7 percent of the victims of U.S. religious hate crimes reported for 2004.
The FBI bases these data on reports from local law-enforcement agencies. They show that the U. S. homicide rate declined by 3.3 percent in 2004. Only once before in the past 40 years has it been so low --- 5.5 killings per 100,000 residents.
by Joseph M. Hochstein @ 12:32 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Future of Palestine: Abbas at the crossroads
Abbas procrastinates, like a confused old man lost in the swirl of the uptown traffic. The once assertive being is now reduced to a mere cork upon a turbulent sea trapped between the many currents, and while he dithers Palestine slips away unnoticed as each hope is squelched. [more]
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Abbas visits the Emperor - Again
The question I keep asking myself about the Bush-Abbas meeting is, "Was this trip really necessary?' Honestly, I could not understand what was to be accomplished, and I still can't. Abbas is not going to disarm the Hamas. Bush is not going to get the Israelis to relax security or to freeze settlement construction. Certainly not by making public announcements.
We understand that Bush needed to show he is interested in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Abbas needed to show that he has the support of Bush. Considering the high price of jet fuel however, and the dim prospects that anything practical could come from this meeting, Abbas should have spent his time at home taking care of urgent business. We can comfort ourselves with the hope that the visit was justified because they talked about some issues that were not made public.
The only thing of possible interest that was made public was that Bush is naming a different coordinator to replace General Ward. One subject that must have come up and which is mentioned in a roundabout way in President Abbas's remarks is the worrisome infiltration of Syrian controlled infiltrators into Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, which prompted the Lebanese to surround the camps with tanks. This has to be worrying both Bush and Abbas, since the Syrian-controlled Palestinian groups have never been friendly to the PNA. Abbas said:
Monday, October 17, 2005
Iraq vote means what?
A relatively large proportion of Iraqis voted for (or against) their new constitution, probably approving it. This is considered by most optimists to be at least a temporary reprieve and possibly a great success.
Considering the situation in Iraq, all optimism has to be the "What Me, Worry?" variety. When you're doomed anyhow, there's no point in being pessimistic. The relatively large proportion of Iraqis (about 65%) who voted, didn't include many Sunni. Where Sunnis voted, in Anbar and Salhuddin, the new constitution was voted down heavily. This, despite support by the Iraq Islamic party a Sunni party, and despite a last minute compromise that will allow them to rework the constitution. However, they would need a 2/3 majority in three provinces to block the constitution, and that is (probably) not going to happen. [more]
Violence in the West Bank
Palestinian terrorists of the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took "credit" for killing three Israel civilians, one a fifteen year old youth, yesterday in the West Bank and for wounding four others in two separate attacks. The rhetoric and actions surrounding the violence was as depressing as the violence itself, because they almost guarantee more of the same. They initiated an almost pre-programmed dance on the part of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, of the type we have come to know and loathe since the beginning of the violence five years ago. Each side said and did the expected things, working withing the known constraints.
The Palestinian Authority was careful to remind us that the victims were "illegal" settlers and reported the events thuswise:
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Is Ariel Sharon the inheritor of Rabin? Is truth stranger than fiction?
In 1995, the most fertile imagination could not have conjured up the vision (or nightmare) of a large segment of the Israel Labor party seeking to enthrone Ariel Sharon as their leader, inheritor of the mantle of David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin.
Sharon is not just any man. Ariel Sharon is Sharon of the Qibieh massacre, Sharon of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, Sharon who belittled the reported threats to Rabin's life not long before he was murdered, Sharon of the mad adventure, the Lebanese War that was called "The War of Peace for the Galilee" in the best 1984 tradition. This is the same Ariel Sharon who is under a cloud of suspicion for shady campaign finances and huge bribes. The same Sharon who supports Feed the Rich and Rob the Poor economics.
Yet there in Ha'aretz is the headline for all to see - Majority of Labor members want Likud's Sharon as PM [more]
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Al-Qaeda to Al-Qaeda - Zawahiri to Zarqawi
US intelligence has just released the text of Ayman Zawahiri's letter to Abu Musab Zarqawi. Zawahiri is the probable right-hand man of Osama Bin Laden (remember him?) and Zarqawi is Al-Qaeda's top man in Iraq. I have always been a believer in primary source documents, and if this one is authentic, it is very valuable.
Where are the pundits who claimed that Zarqawi was an invention of the Americans or that he had no connection with "the real" Al-Qaida? Where are the experts who assure us, constantly, that Al-Qaida is just a name and not an organization? It doesn't seem to be the case. [more]
Is this what is wrong??
My attitude to the war in Iraq is increasingly, "Either find a way to win, or get out." What seems to be happening in "real life," is that decision making is divorced from "real life." Reality is out there somewhere, but the decisions and political positions are being based on virtual reality. On the one side, there are people insisting that everything is fine in Iraq and the US is winning. Those people are obviously wrong, as the daily bombings, if nothing else, attest. [more]
Monday, October 10, 2005
Abbas - Sharon summit postponed - No surprise there.
The summit meeting between Israel PM Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been postponed, at least until Abbas returns from the USA. This was a wise and inevitable move, since they have nothing to discuss anyhow. [more]
Zionist Dream or Zionist Nightmare - The future is up to us
We peace folk have been busy trying to get the the smirks off our faces following the recent disengagement and the apparent demise of the Greater Israel movement and militant religious Zionism. Our joy may be premature. [more]
Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Americans are now, slowly, beginning to admit that they "might" have a problem in Iraq. Admitting the problem is a first step. Finding solutions is a different matter. The ones that are on offer either consist of hopeful but unconvincing tinkering or they are unworkable. [more]
Sunday, October 2, 2005
Five years of Intifada - a reckoning
It is now slightly over five years since the outbreak of the Intifada. It is certain that no good came from the thousands of lives lost, and the vast quantities of hate generated. The only thing we learn from history may be that nobody learns from history. Thus, it is not likely that we can learn anything by contemplating the wreck of the peace process. We don't even know if the Intifada is over. This is important: If (when?) new violence breaks out in earnest (because Bibi Nethanyahu walks on the Temple Mount perhaps) is it Intifada III or Intifada II, second installment? We have to keep track after all. Nonetheless, we ought to try to make some sense of it all anyhow. [more]
Second Guessing Rabin
There is a school of journalism that believes that outrageous ideas sell newspapers. This is no doubt the origin of proposals to nuke Mecca and expel Arabs and of headlines such as "Protocols of the Elders of Neocon." If it works, then Gideon Levy has sold many copies of Ha'aretz with his claim that Yitzhak Rabin was a coward. [more]
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