Category Archives: Israel 2003-08

Was Peres trying to “Sabotage” Obama?

Two days ago, in the discussion under my entry about Obama’s NowRuz message to Iran, I noted that Israel’s President Shimon Peres had issued his own NowRuz message to Iran and suggested that it appeared calculated to “sabotage” Obama’s intentions. In the extension, I transcribe an Israeli press release (dated March 22nd) that provides translated text of both Peres’s NowRuz message, as well as excerpts from a separate interview, also broadcast to Iran.
Readers can consider it themselves.
The tonal contrast between the Obama and Peres NowRuz messages could not be sharper. Peres morphs George Bush. Unlike Obama, Peres is not speaking to the Islamic Republic, waxes nostalgic about the Shah, predicts that Iran’s people will “bring down” these “religious fanatics,” and characterizes the Islamic Republic’s disposition towards Israel as driven by “blind hatred” rather than anything Israel does.
As M.J. Rosenberg asked, it hardly seemed coincidental that Peres, long an Israeli superhawk on Iran,

suddenly sends “greetings” to the Iran people urging them to rise up against their government at the same moment that Obama respectfully addressed the “Islamic Republic of Iran” with the most conciliatory US message in decades…. [Was Peres responding] “with a hasty and insulting message in order to kill the effect of President Obama’s? If so, it was a serious breach. If the shoe was on the other foot, Jerusalem would go ballistic.”

As one friend and close observer of Iran/Israel matters puts it,here at tpmcafe, “there is little doubt that Shimon Peres’ subversion of Obama’s Nowruz message was as deliberate as it was destructive.”
Not surprisingly, some Israeli sources have claimed that the Peres message and comments were “coordinated” with Obama’s, and “similar.”
“Similar” as oil and water, night and day, maybe.
Ironically, the same Israeli and neoconservative voices who fret loudest over whether Iran will seriously talk to the US seem determined to undermine and prevent the US from seriously talking to Iran.
In a column in The International Herald Tribune, Roger Cohen reviews the Khamenei, Obama, and Peres messages, and adds this sober assessment of what may be required for a US-Iran dialogue to bear fruit:

“Obama’s new policies of Middle Eastern diplomacy and engagement will involve reining in Israeli bellicosity and a probable cooling of U.S.-Israeli relations. It’s about time. America’s Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy has been disastrous, not least for Israel’s long-term security.”

(Israeli press release in continuation)

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Noa’s (peace) Ark Leaks

One of the nice things about “comments” here is you can learn while contributing. Earlier today, I posted a largely positive note about the two Israeli singers who will compete in Eurovision in May. From the recent New York Times account, we get the impression that Achinoam Nini (Noa) and Mira Awad were being criticized from the left because their appearance (as a Jew and a Christian Arab) constituted “an effort to prettify an ugly situation.”
Alas, thanks to an alert jwn reader (h/t Richard Parker), we discover that Ethan Bronner left out something — that “Noa” recently uncorked some screeds that raise questions about what rail her peace train rides.
Even as Israel’s bombs were “falling down like acid rain” on Gaza (in the words of one Syrian-American singer), Noa on 8 January wrote a long open letter to Palestinians that justified the slaughter. After condemning the “one joint enemy… of fanaticism, of all who who claim “god” as their sword and shield,” she moved to a rabid depiction of Hamas and called for its eradication:

Now I see the ugly head of fanaticism, I see it large and horrid, I see its black eyes and spine-chilling smile, I see blood on its hands and I know one of its many names: Hamas.
You know this too, my brothers. You know this ugly monster. You know it is raping your women and raping the minds of your children. You know it is educating to hatred and death….
I can only wish for you that Israel will do the job we all know needs to be done, and finally RID YOU of this cancer, this virus, this monster called fanaticism, today, called Hamas.

So much for finding “a better way.” One self-dubbed Noa fan, Richard Silverstein, on Jan 27th observed that,

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Noa & Mira — confusing the categories

(Update, after making this post, I’ve been alerted that there’s another side to Noa lately that rather undermines her reputation. I’ll post a separate entry above.)
There’s something ironic, yet hopeful in Israel’s entry to the 2009 Eurovision music competition, to be broadcast from Moscow in May. (Think “American idol” — only bigger.) Though not geographically part of Europe, Israel participates as a member of the European Broadcasting Union.
Israel’s entrants this year, “Noa and Mira” (Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad), are “Israeli” singers confusing the categories and getting sniped at from multiple sides inside Israel.
For background, see this recent Ethan Bronner NYT dispatch, which explains how a popular Israeli singer of Yemeni extraction linked forces with a green-eyed Israeli Christian Arab. They’re feeling a bit orphaned by their own country, condemned by many for their criticisms of settlements, Hamas, and the use of violence. Their January selection to participate in Eurovision was criticized even by the “left”:

[C]oinciding as it did with Israel’s Gaza war and the rise of Avigdor Lieberman, the ultranationalist politician who threatens Israeli Arabs with a loyalty oath, the committee’s choice was labeled by many on the left and in the Arab community as an effort to prettify an ugly situation…
A petition went around demanding that the duo withdraw, saying they were giving the false impression of coexistence in Israel and trying to shield the nation from the criticism it deserved.

Conundrum indeed. How does one be a voice for peace, without being “used” by hasbaristas who would abstractly proclaim peace while still building settlements, strangling Gaza, erecting walls, etc? Curious, I scrounged around youtube to learn about this intriguing duo.
Here’s a 2007 interview with Noa & Mira, keyed to their popular rendition of the Beattles classic, “We can work it out.” (Here’s a lively version of the song performed in Paris last year at the “peace of the heart” confab for Israel.)
In the abstract, I rather like Noa’s apparent philosophy. In the interview above, she wrestles with the Christian concept of turning the other cheek, and how it runs hard into the ongoing “exploding & release” of pent up frustrations and hurts. Yet Noa insists that the parties must “apologize, recognize & share.” If only. Mira is a bit more coy, saying that “everyone knows the solution,” even as she professes that she doesn’t know much of politics.
Undaunted by their critics, Noa & Mira on March 2nd performed four tunes before Israeli viewers and judges. In the end, Israel selected this song to be its entry for the Eurovision semifinals: There must be another way.
And when I cry, I cry for both of us
My pain has no name
And when I cry, I cry
To the merciless sky and say
There must be another way
(Full Lyrics here and in extension.)
May we yet find it.
*********************************

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A walk in West Jerusalem

I woke to sun, blue skies, and a light breeze here in Jerusalem today. My first appointment was with Daphna Golan, a veteran leader of the Israeli peace movement who runs human-rights education programs at the Hebrew University. We met in the cafe linked to the Wise auditorium at the university’s Givat Ram campus in West Jerusalem. “Come to where you hear the piano playing,” she said; and indeed I heard the lovely chords of the piano as I approached the building.
What a beautiful idea: a university cafe with a huge grand piano in the middle! Given that the music school is right nearby, Daphna said there’s always someone who wants to sit down and play. As the kippa-ed young guy got his hands around those flowing arpeggios, a security guard by another door was swaying back and forth saying his prayers. The cheerful Palestinian guy behind the counter served me a large cappucino, and Daphna and I sat in a sunny spot and talked.
Like most of the conversations and interviews I’ve conducted since I came here, the tenor of this one was very gloomy. She was reading a couple of Hebrew-language newspapers as I arrived, and informed me that Avigdor Lieberman would almost certainly be in the government, where he was asking for (though might not get) no fewer than five seats… With for himself, either the foreign affairs or finance portfolio.
She talked a little about whether Livni is just hanging tough in the coalition negotiations to try to get a better deal for herself and her part– or whether she would be happy ending up in the opposition, instead.
“Not that it makes much difference,” Daphna said. “Sure, Livni talks about a two-state solution. But what she means by it is not what you or I mean.”
I asked about what had happened to the Israeli left. “There is no Israeli left any more,” she said bluntly.
She noted that Meretz seemed to have shot itself in the foot in the recent elections, in a number of ways. Firstly, it had come out in favor of the war– “So people on the left were asking, ‘So why is Meretz any different from anyone else?” Meretz had also tried to present itself as “new and improved”, but had completely failed to do so. As for the Labour Party, she said that though it still probably has a stronger core of support than Meretz, that support is ageing and is seen as linked to much earlier generations when kibbutzes were still important in Israeli life.
The one good thing about Israeli public life is that people seem to want to vote for women, she said, adding that she thought that was a big reason for the amount of support Tzipi Livni got. “But then, look at Labour and Meretz: no women made it high enough onto those parties’ lists to get elected. What are those parties of the so-called ‘left’ thinking of?”
The only portion of the left that she saw as having much good life left in it is Hadash, the former Communist Party. Though Hadash has been mainly supported by Palestinian Israelis in recent years, she noted that one of their most interesting new MKs will be Dov Chanin, an explicitly anti-Zionist Jewish Israeli who ran for mayor of Tel Aviv last November and amazed everyone by winning one-third of the votes there– more than Meretz.
Golan talked a bit about how isolated she and her pro-peace friends had felt during the Gaza war. She recalled there had been huge pro-war mobilizations on many Israeli campuses. One day during the war she had arrived at the Ramat Gan campus of HU and found large, very belligerent posters calling for the bombing of all of Gaza hung up around the entrance. (She tried to tear them down, herself, right then, and was then threatened by a group of young students who stood around her and called her filthy names. Perhaps some of the same nasty, misogynistic names that get thrown my way from time to time…)
I was deeply moved and personally delighted to catch up with Daphna. She needed to bring the interview to a halt and invited me to walk with her to her home in a leafy nearby neighborhood, where she was engaging in an ingenious bit of civil disobedience. A while ago someone she knows started a project to import organic produce into Jerusalem from the West Bank– defying the whole forest of administrative and financial obstacles with which the Israeli occupation authorities try to prevent or minimize that from happening. So Daphna knows a group of people who form one of the distribution nodes for this cross between a regular veggie coop and a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project. When we reached her front yard the friends had nearly finished the sorting. Before us were a dozen produce boxes brimming with beautiful veggies: cabbage, lettuce, green onions, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, etc., all ready to be distributed to the members of this node.
They gave me a crunchy little cucumber to snack on, and I went on my way. I love walking around Jerusalem. My next walk took about 40 minutes: back past the HU campus, up around the new Foreign Ministry building, along Rabin Boulevard to a little park, then up the steep and intimate confines of Bezalel Street, across King George V Blvd, along to the Government Press Office at Beit Agron.
There the cheerful young English-Israeli, ‘Jason’, who’s been sitting on my application for a press card for four days now, told me once again that he’s “on top of it”… But that for some reason The Nation, who have commissioned some of my writings from here, has never applied for a press card here before, so the Israeli consulate in NYC has to do a bit of additional paperwork… Or something. Most strange: I mean, I am in their computer already from the last time I was here, in 2006. On which occasion, yes, they did let me into Gaza.
I asked Jason whether there are any particularly interesting press conferences or other media opportunities coming up. He said no, but tried to sell me on doing a story about the horrors of the “politicization” of many western-based NGOs. I took the brochure he was handing out about this, and proceeded on my way.
I usually enjoy the Jaffa Road/ Ben Yehuda shopping and pedestrian area, but there was ways too much construction there today, so I didn’t linger. I made for Helena Ha-Malkha Street, one of my favorite ways to go– and not only because of the name. (Actually Queen/Saint Helena is a bit of an embarrassment to Quakers and members of other peace churches. It was through her possibly lunatic importunings that her son the Emperor Constantine became a Christian… and a large chunk of Christianity became transformed into the state religion of a huge empire… Among other distortions of the old faith, that whole theory called “Just war” was thereafter introduced. Heck, maybe I should even change my name…)
On the right as you walk along HHM, the ghastly bricked-up windows of the cells in the Moscobiya prison in which the Israelis hold– or certainly have held, in the past– many longterm Palestinian political prisoners. I made a point of singing cheerful songs in English about liberation as I walked past, so maybe people inside those cells could hear me through the few tiny holes they have for ventilation and know that someone was thinking about them.
On the left, the “Sergei Court”, a beautiful large courtyarded structure built by the Russian royal family in the late 19th century to serve as a hostel for high-class Russian pilgrims visiting the city.
After the communist takeover of Russia, the Brits expropriated all the Russian state’s holdings in the city; and after the Brits left the Israelis took them over in their stead. But in recent years the post-Communist Russian state has been working hard to regain control of these lovely pieces of Jerusalem real estate. (Which include, as I’m assuming from the name, the Moscobiya itself?) Anyway, I see from today’s paper that the Israeli government has greed in principle to let the Russian government regain control and ownership of the Sergei Court, though its actual control will start in the first instance with only one wing of the building.
The paper (J. Post? Haaretz? I forget which) said the Israeli government had been reluctant to accede to the Russian demand for its buildings since it was afraid that other countries might also seek the return of city buildings expropriated from them. H’mmm…
Anyway, on down Helena Ha-Malkha to Nevi-im, past the Nablus Road “Arab” bus terminal, and back to my hotel. Made a few calls; and now here I am.
(I have to say I have so much material from the past three weeks that it’ll take some time to sort it all out and write it up. Tuesday I did an interview with Salam Fayad which was pretty interesting. And yes, I’m still hacking away at a broader “mood” piece about Ramallah but it ain’t ready yet… )

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s king-maker

The outcome of Israel’s elections may well be the worst possible– worse, even, than a clear victory by Likud. What we have instead, with 99% of the votes now counted, is Likud and Kadima just about tied (Kadime– 28 seats out of the Knesset’s 120, Likud–27 seats) and Lieberman’s fascist Yisrael Beitenu party holding the key swing position with an expected 15 seats.
Labour, as expected, is coming in fourth with 13 seats. The Mizrachi-orthodox party Shas is expected to win 11.
Leiberman is very bad news indeed.
As Ben Lynfield wrote in this December 2006 article for The Nation,

    If Lieberman’s pronouncements are to be taken seriously–and there is no obvious reason they should not be–a Lieberman[-led] government would exclude some Arab citizens from Israel, would expel others who refuse to sign a loyalty-to-Zionism oath, would turn Gaza into Grozny and would execute Arab members of the Knesset who talk to Hamas or mark Israel Independence Day as the anniversary of the displacement of the Palestinians in 1948.

Lieberman immigrated from Moldova to Israel at age 20, in 1978, and currently lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim. Exemplifying the racist aggressivity of many voluntary participants in settler-colonialist ventures over the decades he calls for, for example, stripping many Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel of their citizenship.
This policy prescription of his, alone, should send shivers down the back of anyone familiar with the history of Hitler’s Holocaust against the Jews.
In November 2006, he called for the execution of any Arab Knesset member who met with Hamas.
… What happens now, as I understand it, is that Israeli president Shimon Peres should call on the leader of the party he judges easiest able to assemble a 61-member coalition to form a coalition government.
An objective analysis might indicate that Peres should therefore call on Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu to have the first stab at doing this, since Netanyahu might hope fairly easily to assemble a solid-right coalition. However, Kadima did get one more vote than Likud, and Peres’s sympathies are probably more with Kadima than Likud (though who knows?), so he may well call on Kadima first, instead.
Either way, Lieberman would be a key swing actor.
To me, the results of this Israeli election have two main, complementary story-lines. One is the rise of Leiberman and the continuing solidity of Likud, even after the formation of Kadima, which took in more of Likud’s luminaries than it did of Labour’s: That is, the story of the continued rise of Israel’s Hard Right.
The other story is the continued demise of Israel’s once dominant ‘left’.
The graph on this page of today’s Haaretz shows us that while Labour is down to 13 seats, the more authentically leftist party Meretz is down to 3.
A Likud-Kadima-led coalition is still a possibility. They’d need a few more small parties to make up their government. But who would lead this government, and what policies would it pursue on the all-important peace issue? My guess on these two issues would be Netanyahu as PM and stasis on the peace issue.
It’s not as if the Kadima-led government that’s been in power in recent years has made any notable strides on peace, anyway.
I guess we’ll need to wait a while to learn the reactions from Washington…

Tewks: “Let the Children Dance”

I recently highlighted Gina Bennett’s National Security Mom, with it’s marvelous drawing from the “lessons we teach our children” to understand national security.
I’ve been wondering then what lessons Israel has been purporting to teach to the children of Gaza. Is this the message of the iron fist, that if you dare to mess with Israel, you will be pounded, mercilessly, until you submit? That seems to be logic of Tom Friedman’s latest column, wherein he invokes the “success” of Israel’s pounding of Lebanon in 2006 to explain Israel’s Gaza “strategy:”

“Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future….That was the education of Hezbollah.”

In Gaza, Friedman can’t quite tell “if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population.”
Friedman favors “educating” those civilians who would vote for Hamas. He prefers that Israel not “obliterate” them. How magnanimous.
We’re now past 1,000 Gazans dead, including over 300 children. With Gazans now properly “educated,” Friedman deems the time for “diplomacy” with them is at hand
But what lessons have the surviving children learned? Are they now more likely to submit to Israel’s will or turn in despair to very violent means?
As I have struggled with such madness, I came across a lyric from a rising Charlottesville singer/thinker, David Tewks: I post his blog preface and song with his permission.

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UN official says Israel violated a truce Saturday

Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the UN Relief and Works Agency, told reporters yesterday that on Friday, the Palestinians in Gaza believed they had an agreement with Israel for a 48-hour humanitarian halt to the low-level exchanges of fire that had started to go both ways across the Gaza-Israel border since the previous six-month-long tahdi’eh expired on December 19.
According to her, the weekend lull started on Friday morning and could have been expected to last till Sunday morning.
On Friday there was almost no fighting across the border, and Israel did indeed take the opportunity to allow some very urgently needed food supplies into the Strip.
It was at 11:30 on Saturday morning that the IDF launched its massive aerial assault on the Strip.
“We were all at work and very much surprised by this,” Abu Zayd said.
Certainly, on Friday we in the United States got lots of news and pictures from Israel about the convoys of urgently needed food aid that finally, that day, started to be allowed to cross into Gaza, so there is some prima facie evidence for the idea there was a humanitarian lull of some type and some duration. Also, Israeli FM TZipi Livni had been in Cairo Thursday, talking with the Egyptian government officials who have been the main intermediaries in all the indirect Hamas-Israel negotiations of recent years (some of which have had some success.)
My advice for the Hamas leaders: Next time you think you have an agreement with the Israeli government on a truce or lull, get all its terms written down clearly, signed by an authorized rep of the Israeli government and counter-signed by your intermediaries/witnesses before you make the judgment you have reached an effective agreement.
And yes, what of the Egyptian FM’s role in all this? Was he complicit with Livni, or was he, too, duped by her?
AP (as carried by Haaretz) reported the following from AbuZayd’s press conference, as well:

    Abu Zayd mentioned the lull when she was asked whether the population of Gaza was aware that this was all commenced by the Hamas government unilaterally ending the cease-fire and firing rockets.
    “I don’t think they think the truce was violated first by Hamas,” she said.
    “I think they saw that Hamas had observed the truce quite strictly for almost six months, certainly for four of the six months, and that they got nothing in turn – because there was to be kind of a deal,” Abu Zayd said.
    “If there were no rockets, the crossings would be opened,” she said. “The crossings were not opened at all.”

I have no reason whatsoever to doubt the veracity of Abu Zayd’s evaluation of the attitudes of the Gaza Palestinians. If the Israeli government is hoping to use the ferocity of its attacks against Gaza to somehow turn the population of Gaza against Hamas– similarly to how they tried to turn the Lebanese against Hizbullah in 2006– then it seems that they know nothing at all about the psychology of human communities that come under intense threat from outside.
They learned nothing from 2006. Or from their own lengthy history and experience.
Tragic, for everyone involved. First and foremost for Gazans, who have suffered so many unpspeakable tragedies over the past three years and the past three days. But tragic also for so many Israelis who, blinded and rendered actively illogical by their own sense of fear, continue to cheer on their government’s acts of barbarity and to be quite blind to the effects these acts have on the attitudes of just about everyone else around the world.

Olmert/Livni launch assault on Gaza: Where will it end?

Israel’s quite unchallenged (and US-supplied) Air Force has killed more than 200 people in waves of attacks against Gaza today. Most of the locations targeted were reportedly linked to the main security force in Gaza, that provided by the elected Hamas movement. Many of those killed were police officers, including 40 cadets just completing their training.
In his well-regarded ‘Talking Points memo’ blog, Josh Marshal shamefully titles his short post on this massacre “Cycle”. He also describes the attack as “retaliatory”, though he does not say for what.
There have been numerous, highly asymmetrical exchanges of fire between the security forces of Gaza and those of Israel in the past days– as in the past three years.
In addition, ever since Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006, Israel has maintained an extremely tight siege around Gaza that has blighted the lives of the Strip’s 1.5 million people quite unjustifiably, including causing numerous deaths.
Gaza maintains no siege around Israel.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph may be a rightwing newspaper. But it has a far more sober attitude to the truth of the Gaza-Israel dynamic than Josh Marshall does.
The DT’s Tim Butcher reports from Jerusalem today :

    Nine Israeli civilians have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza since it withdrew all settlers and soldiers from the territory in September 2005.
    Over the same period, at least 1,400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in Gaza, according to figures compiled by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.
    Israel’s decision to act came after a six-month truce with Hamas, which ran out on Dec 19.

Josh Marshall’s type of “cycle of violence” and “Israeli retaliation” language is, however, the way the vast majority of people in the US political elite (mis-)portray and (mis-)understand the situation in Gaza.
The Israeli cabinet’s decision to unleash the present tsunami of violence has no discernible strategic relevance. There can be no serious strategic thinker in Israel who imagines that this kind of massacre will suddenly “persuade” Hamas to cry “uncle” and accede to Israel’s longstanding demands that it perform what is, in effect, an unconditional surrender to Israel.
Ha’aretz’s Amos Harel describes the assault as Israel’s version of “Shock and Awe,” explicitly comparing it to the US assault on Iraq and Halutz’s original July 2006 assault on Lebanon. (He fails to note that both of those attacks ended up with their overall strategic “achievements” for the assaulting government being deep in the negative column.
He writes:

    The major x-factor, of course, is not related to the operational capabilities of the air force, but whether or not to launch a ground invasion. Will the government resolve to do so and is the IDF capable of successfully carrying out a mission which it failed to accomplish against Hezbollah? It is reasonable to assume that the picture will become more clearer within three to four days. Until then, the IAF is expected to continue its assault which will be complimented by limited activity from relatively small ground units.
    As the situation appears now, Israel has assigned modest goals for itself: weakening Hamas rule in Gaza and restoring a prolonged lull along the border under terms that are more convenient for us following an internationally imposed compromise.

Under that scenario, the Israeli leadership is expecting that after some period of time the US will step in and help it negotiate the kind of political outcome it wants with (or without?) Hamas.
This seems unlikely to unfold as planned. The US has no effective president right now. Who will the Americans deal with, in the Arab world, to try to get Hamas to accede to its and Israel’s demands?
Egypt acted as intermediary in the June tahdi’eh between Israel and Hamas. But this time round, Hamas has already signaled its strong discontent with Egypt’s position. Meantime, Hamas’s co-believers from the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood seem more ready than ever to intervene in public inside Egypt in support of Hamas.
Actually, what seems to be shaping up is a major, possibly regionwide confrontation between, on the one side, the many pro-Hamas forces in Egypt, Jordan, and elsewhere in the region, and on the other, the US and Israel and the Arab regimes that have until now been dependent on the US.
Olmert, Livni, and Ehud Barak may well not have factored this into account. It may well be the case that the considerations uppermost in their minds were the very provincial considerations of two governing parties that had been badly tainted by the outcome of the 33-day war of 2006 that are now going into a big general election fight in early February.
The Olmert government would certainly not be the first Israeli government that decided it wanted to launch its election campaign with a “salutary” military attack against some Arab neighbors! (Shimon Peres in 1996 comes immediately to mind.)
Deep condolences to all the families, on both sides of the line, who have lost loved ones in the present round of fighting. One Israeli has been reported dead from Hamas’s retaliatory fire.
Pray for all those terrorized by the attacks.
Note, too, that one other casualty of this assault is very likely to be Abu Mazen’s role in the Palestinian movement.

Jimmy and ME

from Forward.com
Former president Jimmy Carter is back with new advice for resolving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The former president is scheduled to publish a new book on the issue — slated for release on January 20, coinciding with the inauguration of Barack Obama.
The title for Carter’s new book, “We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work,” seemingly suggests a more optimistic tone than that of his previous book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”
“I was going to call it, ‘Yes, We Can.’ My wife talked me out of it,” Carter said in jest, during a December 3 discussion in Atlanta.
No details were provided on the content of Carter’s new book, but based on recent remarks by the author, it is clear that his approach toward the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has not changed. According to an Associated Press report, the former president pointed, in the December 3 discussion, to the “persecution of Palestinians” and lack of American active involvement in the Middle East as the main sources for instability in the Muslim world.

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Pogrom in Hebron? NYT ignores…

Haaretz’s Ami Issacharoff had some striking reporting of the rampage militant Israeli settlers in Hebron went on through the Palestinian parts of the city yesterday, after the IDF evicted some of their fellow-settlers from a Palestinian-owned building, as per Israeli High Court order.
Issacharoff unabshedly described what happened during the rampage as “a pogrom”. He wrote about the enraged settler civilians attacking with stones and flames a Palestinian family home in which 20 family members– 17 of them women and children– cowered in terror. And as the pogromists attacked, people described as “security guards from Kiryat Arba” stood round the house preventing the Palestinians’ neighbors from coming to their aid.
He wrote:

    The brain requires a minute or two to digest what is taking place. Women and children crying bitterly, their faces giving off an expression of horror, sensing their imminent deaths, begging the journalists to save their lives. Stones land on the roof of the home, the windows and the doors. Flames engulf the southern entrance to the home. The front yard is littered with stones thrown by the masked men. The windows are shattered and the children are frightened. All around, as if they were watching a rock concert, are hundreds of Jewish witnesses, observing the events with great interest, even offering suggestions to the Jewish wayward youth as to the most effective way to harm the family. And the police are not to be seen. Nor is the army.
    Ten minutes prior, while the security forces were preoccupied with dispersing the rioters near the House of Contention, black smoke billowed from the wadi separating Kiryat Arba and Hebron. For some reason, none of the senior officers of the police or the army were particularly disturbed by what was transpiring at the foot of Kiryat Arba…

Issacharoff was one of a group of Israeli journalists who decided to abandon the “neutral observer” role and intervene to try to save the family members from the lynch mob:

    A group of journalists approach the house. A dilemma. What to do? There are no security forces in the vicinity and now the Jewish troublemakers decided to put the journalists in their crosshairs. We call for the security guards from Kiryat Arba to intervene and put a halt to the lynch. But they surround the home to prevent the arrival of “Palestinian aid.”
    The home is destroyed and the fear is palpable on the faces of the children. One of the women, Jihad, is sprawled on the floor, half-unconscious. The son, who is gripping a large stick, prepares for the moment he will be forced to face the rioters. Tahana, one of the daughters, refuses to calm down. “Look at what they did to the house, look.”
    Tess, the photographer, bursts into tears as the events unfold around her. The tears do not stem from fear. It is shame, shame at the sight of these occurrences, the deeds of youths who call themselves Jews. Shame that we share the same religion. At 5:05 P.M., a little over an hour after the incident commenced, a unit belonging to the Yassam special police forces arrives to disperse the crowd of masked men.

These journalists deserve the highest awards possible, for their integrity and courage.
And the New York Times? Its writer Ethan Bronner (or his editors?) made no mention at all of what was happening to Hebron’s indigenous and rightful Palestinian residents during the day yesterday. Their account portrayed what was happening as only an intra-Jewish drama. They had space to give detailed accounts of what the Israeli settler women were wearing, and an incendiary quote from someone from a pro-settler party. But the fact that the lives of 20 members of the Abu Sa’afan family were directly threatened during an anti-Palestinian pogrom, conducted by Jewish extremists while the Israeli security forces stood aside– ?
Nah, no room for that in the New York Times.