MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Sunday, December 29, 2002
Antisemitism in Europe
Quite often I am reading in the Israeli newspapers how Europe is now become antisemitic. To be honest, this annoys the non-Jewish Belgian I am.
Yesterday, I found another opinion by a well known secular Jewish Belgian. This opinion was published in "Le Soir", the biggest French speaking paper in Belgium, in October.
by Editor @ 12:50 PM CST [Link]
Israel Election Polls December 27
As elections come closer in Israel, polls continue to predict an easy victory for Ariel Sharon and the Likud party over Avraham Mitzna, Labor and the left. Only minor questions remain: the margin of victory, the strength of religious parties such as Shas, the strength of the centrist Shinui party and the size of the debacle for Labor and the left.
The "right bloc" will get about 63 MK's if we include Sharansky's Yisrael B'aliyah party, the left bloc will get about 41, provided none of the Arab candidates or parties are disqualified.
This week's polls also include questions about the anticipated war with Iraq. [more]
Crystal Ball: Ten New Year's Predictions
The date of the Western New Year is arbitrary, however this year it has some significance for the Middle East. We are poised at a critical point in our history. A war is looming. In Israel, elections are due. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has strained both sides to what might be the breaking point.
These are my predictions. As I do not have a very good crystal ball, many will not come true, but it will be interesting to watch how things unfold and to compare observations with predictions in the months ahead. [more]
Monday, December 23, 2002
U.S. moving embassy to Eilat?
A report is circulating that the United States is planning to move its embassy out of Tel Aviv as the buildup to war continues. The reported destination is the presumably safer Red Sea port of Eilat.
Does anyone know more about this?
Google News has very little on the subject --- just one sentence in the final paragraph of one story: "The US embassy was reported to be planning to relocate most of its activities to Eilat." Here's a link to the story.
-- Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv
by Editor @ 03:22 PM CST [Link]
Saturday, December 21, 2002
Israel Election Polls 20.12 - Israeli Arabs hate Sharon more than Saddam and OBL
These are latest Dahaf and New Wave poll results for Israeli elections, including attitude of Israeli Arabs to Saddam Hussein (24% like him) Osama Bin Laden (20% like him) and Ariel Sharon (7% like him). No surprises regarding the election forecast. [more]
Why Oslo Failed? 1. The Oslo Peace Process - Lessons Learned
Professor Gershon Baskin has written a thoughtful paper on the Oslo Peace Process. He explains why he thinks it failed in terms of what might be termed the "technical problems" such as poorly worded treaties and not enough attention to people-to-people programs.
Baskin is head of IPCRI, the oldest joint Israeli-Palestinian group, and speaks with authority when discussing the dialog progess. This commentary is certainly valid as far is it goes. However, in seeking causes and lessons learned, we may need to go beyond the outward indicators of the process and ask questions like "Why were agreements worded vaguely?" "Why were deadlines not kept?" "Why was there a failure to curb incitement?" and "Why was there no grass roots peace movement?"
I will attempt to answer these questions in a subsequent post.
Ami Isseroff [more]
Israeli Election Polls and Commentary - December 20
This post contains both the Ha'aretz commentary regarding their latest Israel election poll, and the poll results, as transmitted by IMRA, and some notes by yours truly. These polls show less of a gain for Labor than the ones of December 17, but the other polls were from a different source. Relative to the previous polls of the same organization, Likud has lost about 6 seats. Interpreting the polls is not straightforward, because Israeli respondents are not always truthful and because of the complex nature of Israeli coalition politics. There are still many "undecided" votes.
The polls and commentary were originally transmitted to MidEastWeb News Service, which features detailed daily coverage of Middle East News.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Israeli Occupation, Curfew Paralyzing Palestinian Economy
The Palestinian Intifada effectively destroyed the last vestiges of the Palestinian economy. Under Israeli rule, occupants of West Bank and Gaza had enjoyed a higher standard of living than Palestinians living in Jordan. Even after the Oslo agreements, Palestinians from Jordan continued to seek illegal residence in the West Bank in order to take advantage of employment opportunities, though closures, restrictive Israeli policies and PNA mismanagement caused personal income to plummet.
The Intifada however, brought widespread chaos as places of work were closed, produce could not be exported and constant attacks, curfews and closures have totally ruined the economy. Small grants in aid such as those given by the EU and by Arab countries, are only emergency palliatives. [more]
Israeli Elections - Latest Polls December 17
Latest polls show slight losses for the Likud party against Labor challenger Amram Mitzna. The changes may be due to public disgust with scandals in the Likud primaries, which apparently included bribery and "sex for votes" according to reports. Police are investigating these reports and have arrested two Likud activists. Some irregularities in Labor primary voting are being investigated as well.
The right bloc of the Likud and allied parties will get 58 seats in the 120 member Knesset according to latest polls, while the left will get 41, with 19 going to center parties, and 2 to the "Aleh Yarok" (Green Leaf) party which wants to legalize marijuana and prostitution. In interpreting these results, it should be noted that the of the center parties, Yisrael B'aliya of Nathan Sharansky would probably join a Likud government. The secularist Shinui party, forecast to get 14 seats, would only join a government if the ultra-orthodox parties are excluded. This becomes a real possibility for the first time, since Shinui may get 14 seats versus 11 for the ultra-orthodox Shas and Yahadut Hatora (Torah Judaism). The left bloc includes 9 to 11 seats forecast for Arab parties and the Hadash communist party, but these parties have never been included in any Israeli government yet.
Interview with Sari Nusseibeh
In an interview sponsored by the Kuwait Al-Qabas newspaper and the Kuwait Center for Strategic and Future studies, Palestinian moderate Sari Nusseibeh discusses the damage done to the Palestinian cause by violence, and calls on the Palestinians to act with restraint in order to support the Israeli peace camp and the candidacy of Amram Mitzna of the Israel Labor Party.
Looking at the Future: Regional Confederation
Peace has to hold out the promise of a brigher future. In 1944, visions of a united Europe seemed more like hallucinations than real possibilities, but the Euroopean Union is now a reality.
Peace activist Jeff Halper examines the options for a long term settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He explains why one-state and binational solutions are not practical alternatives, and why a simple two state solution is unlikely to be economically viable. He opts for a regional confederation. This may be a long way in the future, but perhaps it is the only sane way for the Middle East. A confederation will give Middle Eastern countries the markets and freedom of movement for labor needed to develop our economies. Oil wealth of Gulf states can be used for development and investment throughout the Middle East. Sharing of knowledge will help to spread technology and bring the Middle East into the post-industrial world. A confederation will give our governments clout in international forums, and it might give us a means to regulate behaviors of governments toward their citizens without the intervention of the United States or Europeans. [more]
Monday, December 16, 2002
The Iranian Reform Movement: On the Road to Success?
Ahmad Sadri wrote a truly excellent article about the Iranian reform movement and Islamic fundamentalism. Sadri provides a panoramic overview of recent events as well as thoughtful analysis of the faults of President Khatami. Given those faults, the conclusions of the article are perhaps a bit too optimistic:
"The Iranian reform movement is about to molt out of the hardened, prudent and gradualist skin of the Khatami years. The discarded old casing already belongs to the historians. The young generations of Iranians are taking bets on the wing span and bright colors of the new, post-Khatami Reform. "
Middle East reformers should by now be used to failure. Every honest and hopeful attempt at reform has either failed or backfired on the people. Nasser's Pan-Arab movement promissed democracy and economic progress, and ended in the ruin of the 6-day war. Baathist Syria, Baathist Iraq, the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the regime of the Taliban all nightmares that resulted from implementation of dreams of reform in the real world of the Middle East. The pattern is familiar to us from the histories of every revolution gone bad: After the day of triumph, the earnest idealists find themselves in jail, and the new movement proceeds to impose a worse tyranny than the previous one.
Thus far, the conservative Mullah's have bested Khatami and the reformists in almost every encounter. But suppposing that a new day does dawn in Iran. Will it enact the dream of reform or the nightmate of yet another demogogic and repressive regime?
The Intifada is a way of life
An article at Palestinian Media center tells how Nablus residents defied the curfew, and gives today's toll of Palestinian victims - innocent and otherwise, including both "militants" on their way to murder people and two young sisters injured by Israeli actions in Gaza. Meanwhile, the IDF continues to post its statistics of Israelis killed and wounded. Chaos and madness have become part of the routine. Children who cannot get to school. People who cannot get to work. People who get blown up on the way to work. People who get killed on the way to blowing up other people. It is all in a day's work. Perhaps we like it that way. A majority of Palestinians still support the "resistance" and a majority of Israelis support the government of Ariel Sharon. [more]
Who Says the Oslo Accords Were a Mistake?
There has been a spate of articles and petitions by Israelis, and now there is a petition by Palestinians, (see here ) insisting that the Oslo accords were a mistake to start with. That may be, but most of the people on either side who insist that the accords were a mistake are people who were against the accords from the start - because they didn't want to grant rights to the other side. [more]
Sunday, December 15, 2002
Arafat Distances Palestinian Cause From Osama Bin-Laden, Al Qaida
Palestinian Women Marching in Support of Osama Bin Laden
Palestinian Women Marching in Support of Osama Bin Laden
Israel Election Polls December 12
Israel Election Polls show the right bloc getting approximately 60 seats, while the left bloc will get approximately 40 seats out of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset. Left bloc numbers include the Arab parties, which traditionally are not included in coalitions. [more]
by Editor @ 06:26 PM CST [Link]
Palestinian petition urges Abolition of Oslo Accords
Right wing Israelis have been clamoring for PM Ariel Sharon to announce the abolition of the Oslo accords following the outbreak of the "second Intifada" in September, 2000. The accords granted material gains to the PLO, which was allowed to establish itself in the West Bank and Gaza. Now some Palestinians are asking for abrogation of the accords, though it is not clear what material benefits they might gain from this. [more]
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