Monday, October 22, 2007



Putin's visit to Iran made quite a steer in the media.

1) Most of the Israeli newspaper articles cry out that we must not repeat the pre-WW2 mistakes, and prevent WW3 at all cost.

2) Globes had an article saying that the Iranophobia in the Israeli press allows Prime Minister Olmert to continue it's squeeze on the Gazza strip / continue peace talks with Mahmud Abbas / and ofcourse fend off the third investigation against him announced this week. Public opinion is easily shifted when a nuclear threat is on the front page.

3) Aluf Ben - a well known opinion maker - remarks that the Israeli attack on the nuclear facility in Syria went unnoticed by the international community. Israel has not been condemned and there is a reason for that. He suggests that the world signals Israel that it would not mind if Israel would continue doing the dirty job and also bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.

4) Stratfor - an international independent agency - claims that Putin is not helping Iran with their Nuclear Plant as the Iranians may have wanted. Instead, he is taking political and military steps to make a US invasion into Iran - very difficult. This would give Putin, so stratfor claims, more time to prepare for the Eastern Europe military power increase, while the US gets more and more complicated in the middle east.


Monday, February 26, 2007


How Israel keeps it's sanity

Ofir Pines (Member of Parliament from the Avoda) was interviewed on Monday morning radio show and reminded the listeners that Prime Minister Olmert once said that his government does not need a policy, but need a good management. Mr. Pines, that only a few months ago resigned from the Government, said that on one topic Olmert does have an Agenda - weakening Israel's supreme court ("Bagatz").

Bagatz often forces the government to explain it's actions in public and bind them to the existing Parliament laws. In recent years, the supreme court also canceled laws that countered existing super-laws. These super-laws were approved by a majority of the Parliament members (61 out of 120), and are the closest thing Israel has to a constitution.

Israeli politicians frequently use the (ongoing) security events to stir the media focus from domestic issues. As a democracy, this is a disastrous process for Israel. The politicians of course have a domestic agenda, but they bend or overlook democratic principles such as minority group rights, information transparency , human rights and other "constraints".

"Bagatz" is Israel's way to keep it's sanity, and save it from short-sighted politicians. All of the "hot" or "taboo" topics such as Palestinian rights, gay rights, the Shabat end up in "Bagatz" - and it was under criticism for not being diversified.

Recently, a new Parliament member named "Esterina Tartman" proposed a bill that will cancel Bagatz' ability to cancel laws. The political setting was such that she could have easily gained enough votes for her bill. Supported by the newly appointed Justice Minister (who was assigned to this post because he thinks that Bagatz is too powerful), the proposed bill allows Bagatz to force on all of the Parliament members to vote on the subject at hand, but they cannot cancel laws. Had this law passed, it would mean the end of the Israeli sane democracy as we know it.

Esterina was the leading candidate to become the next Tourist minister. What Esterina forgot, is that she is playing a game that is way out of her league. A few days ago, the press replayed her saying that she has a MA degree , while she actually did not. Her press conference only got her into more trouble, and she was forced to remove her candidacy from the Tourist minister post.

Ofir Pines, by the way, forsaw that Bagatz is in trouble, and proposed a bill that would allow Bagatz to cancel a law, but it requires all 9 Judges to adjourn (which means that you need at least five supreme court judges to cancel a law).


Monday, September 18, 2006


Tireless Optimist

Shimon Peres gave an interview to "London & Kirshenbaum" (channel 10). London & Kirshenbaum were considered for a long time a dieing breed. They are older, respect their guests in the show and also take their answers with a grain of salt. When the interview was almost over London said to Shimon Peres, "as always you are a tireless optimist". Peres, who is already 80 and something years old, smiled and answered "aren't you being tired from being so pessimistic?".

Shimon presented his "new" plan for the Middle East which had two parallel axes (the plural of axis, not a sharp metal that cuts trees). The first axis is economic. He would like to see a big industrial zone near the Israeli-Gazza border (the last one was closed after the disengagement from Gazza). Peres admitted that the international donations of 1 billion dollars that the Palestinian Authority got every year, was the source of corruption and bloated organizations, and that is why the PLO lost the elections to the Hamas. An economical change will force a political change, so he claims. Like China, Russia and India the economics will force a change to a more liberal regime. The second axis is diplomatic. Israel and the Palestine are required to take trust building actions (such as releasing Palestinian prisoners by the Israelis and the release of the Israeli soldier by the Hamas). This would not bring peace but would allow the conditions for the beginning of piece talks. Regarding the Palestinian rumors to stick to the Saud's offer (which calls for recognizing Israel by all Arab states in exchange for Israeli complete withdrawal to 1967 borders), Peres said that this offer is a start but it does not deal with the two most important issues for the arab world – Jerusalem, and the right of return.

Jerusalem is a long time fetish of both the Israelis and the Palestines backed up by strong theological reasoning. Both claim that Jerusalem is their eternal capital city. The right of return is a Palestine wish that they will be offered their houses that they abandoned in the Israeli independence war in 1948 (including all of the original families' offspring) – which in practice means a flux of millions of Palestines into Israel and the practical destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.

When thinking about what Peres claimed we need to keep in mind:
1) Some of the "facts" that Peres uses to strengthen his arguments are his making. For us these are facts, for politicians like Peres these are outcomes of an Israeli policy (which to the most part Shimon Perez was part of).
2) The rest of the facts were chosen such to support his arguments. Yes, modern economics requires liberal changes, but they also require a leader that has a vision and the ability to pursue these changes. The Hamas was voted to fight the corruption but they have not created any real democratic instrument to fight the corruption in the Palestinian Authotiry.
3) The Palestinian Authority is required to collect weapons from citizens and fractions that oppose their policy. Any move towards Israel by the official authority can be easily jeopardized by the opposition with an attack on Israel. Since both the PLO and the Hamas are armed, but are not strong enough to disarm each other, a unity government was proposed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Terror Agriculture

Dror Poir in his blog writes about the situation in Gaza and defines a new term: "Terror Agriculture". He reminds us that 49% of the Gaza population are children, and implies that their living conditions (shortage of electricity , unemployment and the blockade ) are the grounds for the next generation of Terrorists. He concludes that it is Israel's responsibility and fault and demand that more people will talk about it.

Dror also points to Igal Sarena's post about a number of families from Gaza that do not support the Hamas activity but cannot do much when their back yard or house is used to fire Kassam rockets into Israel (which means a phone call a few minutes later - get out of the house - and an Israeli bombing).

What I do not like about such articles is that they do not take into account the political settings that created them. Both treat the Israeli government (and consequently the entire Israeli population) as heartless, but do not analyze the political underground currents that stir the Israeli government (leftwards or rightwards).

There were three major events in the recent Gaza history: Israeli settlement pullout, Hamas won the Palestinian elections and the abduction of Gilad Shalit.

The Israeli pullout was part of the US plan for election for Palestinian parliament. You cannot have an election if you do not have any land to control. From Israel's point of view, it released an economic burden, and allowed to close the Israeli-Gaza border (since there are no longer Israeli settlements in the Gaza part of the border). When the border is closed, no terrorists can come into Israel. The only problem was that Israel also needed to withdraw from the Egyptian-Gaza border. This border is now a smuggling route of Terror experts, advanced weapons and money from Iran. Israel closed the door but was forced to leave the window open.

The Palestinian elections were supposed to stop the growing power of Hamas (that won in many municipal elections a few months before) . It was assumed that the PLO will win, and together with Israeli support will crush Hamas. The reality was that Hamas has won by a landslide, and continued his anti-Israeli policy. Some Israeli voices comforted themselves by thinking: "at least now their actions and their statements in English are aligned, which will make the Israeli actions more understandable". Others maybe hoped that the reality of politics will make the wolf act like a sheep. In reality, however, the US, Europe and Israel cut all money trails leading to Hamas. Since there is not much of an economy left in Gaza (no revenues = no taxes) the money comes in briefcases from Iran. The guy who is in charge of the money is the Hamas leader, Halled Mashal which lives in Syria. He is the one that calls the shots, and is not bound to the real-politic of an elected government.

Hamas government and Haled Mashal are one as far as the Israelis are concerned, so I'll call them Hamas in short. Hamas continued the rocket attacks on Israel and conducted the attack on an Israeli patrol tank (in the Israeli side of the border) abducting Gilad shalit. Since then (about 6 weeks ago) the Israeli public opinion shifted even more towards - do whatever it takes we do not care any more - which brings us to the beginning of this post.

US is waiting for the Hamas government to break apart (oh, I forgot to mention that Israeli arrested 45 hammas parliament members and some government ministers as a bargaining chip in exchange for Gilad Shalit). The Hamas are waiting for the Bush / Blair governments to be replaced with a more flexible government.

Only time will tell who "won". One thing is for sure - the Palestinians families leaving in Gaza already lost.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Haifa deputy mayor was fired

Haifa's mayor Yonah Yahav interviewed today and explained why his deputy was fired. According to Mr Yahav, he was the one that ensisted that Haifa will have an Arab deputy mayor. However, during the war he did not act responsibly torwards the Arab population. He said things that increased the tensions between jews and Arabs (which for years are known to be good relations in the city of Haifa), and accroding to Mr. Yahav, he did not show himself in his constituency and relieved the tension as would expected from a deputy major when the tension is already higher than ussual.

Mr. Yahav said, that although his article published in Ynet was moderate, it was done in hebrew and after the wheels of impeachement started rolling. However, during the war his interviews in the Arab media were out of line.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006



Israeli newspapers claim that the kidnapping of the two fox news journalists was done by the same group that kidnapped the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The Hammas political leadership has decided to move Gilad from their hands into a different group, but the original kidnappers want him back. So, they kidnapped two US journalists and released them only in exchange for Gilad Shalit (which selebrated his 20th birthday a few days ago).

LBC (a leading Lebanese TV channel) has released a promo showing a few seconds of Ron Arad (the Israeli pilot that is held in captivity for the past 20 years). The video itself is a small part of a pro-Hezbollah TV show which contains a 70 seconds long video of Ron Arad. Ron looks young and it is believed that his video does not contain any new information on his condition or whereabouts today.

The promo has an emotional impact in Israel. Israeli radio and TV talk about the chance to negotiate his release while he was held by Lebanese (terrorists). Today Ron is believed to to be held by Iran and all negotiation paths have failed.

This all comes only three days before the big demonstration in Tel Aviv for the release of the Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev , Ehud Goldwasser (who were kidnapped on July 12th by Hezbollah) and Gilad Shalit (kinapped by the Hammas on June 20th) .

What all this means is that Israel is sticking its ground not to negotiate their release, and that Hezbollah is under pressure to release them (according to the UN resolution they should have already done that).

Monday, August 21, 2006



The international force that was supposed to deploy in Lebanon is delaying. The Lebanese army does not seem to disarm Hezbollah nor it cannot stop it from rearming itself again. As stratfor indicates, no international force has declared that it is willing to disarm Hezbollah.

Meanwhile in Israel, many journalists and polititians hint that a 2nd round with Hezbollah or Syria is in the near future. It seems that Israel would prefer to increase its military budget on the expense of economical growth, but will not negotiate with Syria at this time. Negotiating with Syria now, would require the Israelies to give more and get in return less, much less. There is no confidence in Israel that the current Syrian government (or the next government to come) will respect a piece agreement. The memories from pre 1967 of Syrian artilery on the Golan Heights bombing the entire Galilei down below, cannot be forgoten.

Meanwhile in the Gazza strip Hammas is gaining confidence. Israeli intelegence reported that the negotiation on a joint Fatah-Hammas has failed and Hammas started hunting down the oposition Fatah members. Hammas has refued to the Egyptian deal in which they will release Gilad shalit and in return Israel would have promisses to release some prisoners. In response to this escelation Israel arested another Hammas official (vice prime minister). Most of the Hammas officials arrested by Israel can face an Israeli trial for terrorist activity they were involved with in the past. The intelegence also reported of a large ammount of explosives and Iranian money moving freely from the Egyptian-Gazza border (that was once in Israeli responsibility, but now is Egyptian responsibility).

Israel cannot afford the West Bank to arm like the southern Lebanon or Gazza, and therfore Olmert's disengagement plan, will be disbanded. In addition Haim Ramon, the polititian behind the West Bank disengagement plan, had to resign from the Ministry of Justice (after one of his former employees complaint to her boss that Haim Ramon hugged and kissed her against her will).

To conclude, at this point in time, it seems that a new arms race has begun.

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