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.

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