September 2003 Archives

What goes around . . .

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I've managed to surface long enough to notice that Abdulrahman Alamoudi was arrested yesterday. Interesting details here and here and, of course, here.

If you have access to a recording of Steven Emerson's incredible 1994 documentary "Jihad in America," that includes the Charlie Rose roundtable follow-up, it's a great opportunity to see Mr. Alamoudi in action. As one of Rose's "moderate Muslim" guests, his bombastic and deprecating remarks about Mr. Emerson's work take on a new aroma in light of the indictment against him. My own videotape is worn pretty thin, but that comes through just fine.

A fascinating commentary on Mr. Alamoudi and his performance in that particular forum can be found here:

This mind-set, so incomprehensible to Westerners, was on full display on a special segment of the "Charlie Rose" program immediately following the PBS airing of "Jihad in America" in 1995. The documentary included shocking footage of Islamic radical groups in America. Abdul Zindani of Hamas in Brooklyn was seen calling for "killing and finishing off" the "idol worshippers." Muslim radicals were shown meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, and a dozen other Middle American cities, spewing hatred of America and praising murder and terrorist acts.

One videotape of a meeting in New Jersey in 1993 showed Muslims chanting "we want the blood of Jews." In videos of Muslim summer camps in the U.S., young kids were saying "butcher the Jews." A man named Abdulla Azzam was shown speaking in Oklahoma City, Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Lawrence, Kansas, urging holy war against the West.

Instead of denouncing these barbaric calls to violence by American Muslims, the respectable "moderates" on the Charlie Rose panel – Clinton ally Abdurahman Alamoudi among them – all denounced the documentary for provoking anti-Muslim feeling. Alamoudi insisted that Hamas is not a terrorist group. Most amazingly, he and his fellow "moderates" said that Americans should not feel threatened by extremist leaders addressing large Muslim audiences in this country calling for "Jihad of the sword" and chanting "Kill the Jews, kill the Christians."

Shana Tovah

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Somehow, the day got past me. Time to get ready for shul.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Shabbat Shalom.

L'Shana Tovah Tikatevu.

So long, Eddy

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It isn't nice. I know. But I can't bring myself to shed even a small tear for the passing of Edward Said. The world is a better place without him.

The big bash

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There have been any number of interesting post-mortems on Shimon Peres' lavish 80th birthday celebration this past weekend. The Jerusalem Post published this odd piece by Michael Freund, in which he thoroughly castigates Peres and attempts to elevate the concept of "Greater Israel" to a fundamental tenet of Judasim.

Simply put, the idea of "Greater Israel" is the fulfillment of Zionism itself. It is the dream that the Jewish people have faithfully carried over the past 19 centuries, during the darkest hours of the Exile, to return to the cradle of their ancestral home, the Land of Israel.

This idea nurtured the Jewish people throughout the millennia, giving them hope in the face of despair. Its validity rested on the promises of the Prophets, who long ago foretold Israel's exile and return.

Yes, but. There's a conflation of two very different concepts here that borders on the blasphemous. And among Peres' sins, his opposition to the concept of "Greater Israel" is surely not at the forefront. More on this later, perhaps.

But the Post also offered this editorial, in which it's pointed out that, as misguided as Peres' policies have been, he is still, in many ways, one of Israel's great heroes.

Outside the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, where the day's formal festivities were held, protesters called for bringing the "Oslo criminals" to justice. No Israeli newspaper has been more steadfast in its opposition to the Oslo Accords than The Jerusalem Post. But we do not join in the protesters' sentiments.

Surely the "Oslo criminals" did not build the reactor at Dimona, or Israel Aircraft Industries, or many of the settlements. Surely the "Oslo criminals" did not organize the Entebbe rescue, or rescue Israel's economy from hyperinflation, or arrange our peace with Jordan. These are the foundation stones upon which the modern Jewish state is built. The man who did so much to put them there deserves, at the very least, a more intelligent opposition.

Not surprisingly, though, the best commentary I've found on the event and its implications is from Imshin.

Things are far worse now than they were before the Oslo Accords, for us and for the Palestinians. I am saying this as one who was once a staunch supporter of these accords. Things are not worse because terrorism takes its daily toll on ordinary Israelis and because life for the Palestinians is unbearable in the shadow of the Israeli tanks. Things are worse because where there was once hope for a better future for Israelis and the Palestinians living here alongside us, now there is none.

My belief in Oslo was based on my personal acquaintance with some of these local Palestinians. They wanted a bit of what we had. They wanted to be able to run their lives themselves. I wanted it for them too. So did most of my friends. But it never happened. What happened was that for various inner-Palestinian political reasons they couldn't accept a leadership other than that of Arafat and his cronies. And they got it. Some of them said, quietly, that what they got was far worse than what they had before. Israeli rule was exchanged for the rule of Palestinians who came from without ("Tunisians"), foreigners who knew nothing of Israel and the life the local Palestinians had been watching and wanted a piece of. They enforced their rule over the local Palestinians brutally. Their torture chambers made Israel's prisons seem like summer camps. Furthermore, they saw no need to learn from Israel's example of proper administration. And most of all, they hadn't internalized what the local Palestinians had: That Israel and the Israelis weren't going anywhere, and it would be better to get along with them and compromise, compromise.

Yeah, go read the whole thing.

Yes, we have no militants

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There are extremist lunatics of every persuasion. Here's how we handle ours.

Some of the suspects held by the Shin Bet under suspicion of belonging to a Jewish underground terror cell were not only responsible for killing 8 Palestinians in shooting attacks, but also planned a mega-terror attack targeting a number of mosques simultaneously, including those on the Temple Mount, Maariv reported today.

According to the newspaper report, investigators from the Shin Bet internal security service believe that the recent arrest of suspected members of a terror cell prevented the group from carrying out its plans for the attacks against the mosques. The attacks were to have been perpetrated simultaneously during Friday prayer services, according to the report.

Way to go, morons.

Last week, hundreds of persons attended a "thanksgiving" event in Jerusalem to celebrate the release of the other suspected members of the terror cell, after the Shin Bet failed to gather enough evidence to extend their remand.

Yes, and they even have a few friends.

"Our investigation is not directed at the settler population, but at the minority within it that is trying to carry out attacks," a Shin Bet official said, quoted in Maariv. "This minority doesn't recognize the authority of the security forces, and is even acting against the settlers' leadership, that opposes these attacks."

The Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip issued a statement in support of the Shin Bet's investigations. "We praise the Shin Bet for discovering this weapons cache and for its efforts to find who is connected to it." The council reiterated its total negation of any actions taken by individuals or groups who would arm the Arab population. Council leaders recently met with Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter to offer their full cooperation with the organization.

Interesting typo. I'm quite sure it was supposed to say The council reiterated its total negation of any actions taken by individuals or groups who would harm the Arab population. "Harm." Not "arm."

Yes, there are extremist settlers bent on comitting terrorist acts. But they're nobody's heroes except their own, there are precious few of them and, for the most part, the Israeli authorities are managing to prevent them from doing any serious harm. Compare and contrast.

Rats!

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Marduk has decided to hang it up. Blogging, that is. He says his heart just isn't in it any more.

I'm hoping he'll come back some day. Blogging seems to be addictive, and I've lost count of the bloggers who've quit for very good reasons and found themselves eventually drawn inexorably back to the blog.

Either way, here's wishing Marduk and his family all the best. His humor and incisive sarcasm will be sorely missed, as will his fabulous fantastic photo expositions.

PA to US: Up yours

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From today's Jerusalem Post:

US says it won't deal with 'Arafat cabinet'
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

The US has warned the Palestinian Authority that it will not deal with a new cabinet controlled by Chairman Yasser Arafat and that is not committed to the implementation of the road map.

The warning was delivered by US special envoy John Wolf to PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), who is expected to announce his cabinet sometime next week.

PA officials said Washington also made it clear that its policy on Arafat remains unchanged and that he is not a partner to any peace talks.

Right on! So they got the message, loud and clear. There's no question. Their response?

"The Americans insist on boycotting President Arafat," said a top PA official in Ramallah. "They are making a big mistake if they believe that things could move without the president."

Another official accused the US of succumbing to "Israeli and Jewish pressure" to maintain the boycott against Arafat.

"[President George W.] Bush should be a member of the Likud Party, not president of the US," he said. "It's clear now that Bush is backing [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon on every single decision he makes."

Hatem Abdel Kader, a senior Fatah official, said the new cabinet is being chosen in full coordination with Arafat. "We don't want a cabinet that would engage in a power struggle with President Arafat," he said. "It's not the job of the cabinet to undercut Arafat's authority."

Fatah scored a major victory on Thursday when Arafat and Qurei agreed to the appointment of 16 of its members as ministers in the 24-member cabinet. The two had given the Fatah central committee a free hand in selecting its own nominees for the posts.

One Fatah official boasted that this is the "first Fatah government."

He noted, however, that the new cabinet would be "under Arafat's full control... and this should be clear to all."

It's pretty clear to me. How about you, Mr. President? How about you, Mr. Powell? Dr. Rice? Are we done yet?

Abu Ala doesn't seem to think so.

Qurei said that, as soon as he takes office, he plans to call on Israel to start negotiations in an attempt to reach a new cease-fire. "We want to pave the way for the implementation of the road map and the return to the negotiating table," he said.

Perhaps, just perhaps, he has another think coming? I would certainly hope so, but I'm not counting on it.

Shabbat Shalom.

Then again

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For anyone who still, somehow, has any question as to whether Ahmed Qurei is a plausible partner for peace, I stongly recommend this comprehensive profile of the man, published yesterday by MEMRI. It should quickly resolve all doubts.

This quote, from an interview following the Aqaba summit this past June, is particularly chilling:

"The words of President Bush, that Israel is a Jewish state, aroused great concern among us. These words should not have been said. This summit has positive elements and they are the emphasis that the Palestinian state is the right of the Palestinian people. But issues regarding the essence [of this state] and its nature will be determined in negotiations…

"What is the meaning [of Bush's words] 'Jewish state?' Do we say: 'This is a Jewish state, this is a Sunni state, this is a Shi'ite state, or Alawi, and this other [state] is Christian?' These are definitions that will bring the region into turmoil. It also causes concern regarding the right of return, which is one Palestinian principle that none must discuss before we come to the negotiating table."

When I read stuff like this, I find myself seriously rethinking that transfer option. Sorry, but there's a limit.

Unbattened

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Axis of Isabel
Chester County, Pennsylvania

The power is finally back on, the contents of the freezer are still close enough to frozen and it only took an hour or so to clean up the hunks of tree in the driveway.


We were pretty lucky.

Arafat - another idea

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So many points of view. So few viable options.

There's very little in this article (by Arno Weinstein) that I disagree with. In principle.

The release of an enemy leader may be theoretically possible after a complete victory is achieved -- a victory that ensures the opposition's sound defeat -- and only then if it serves the goals of the victor. However, the notion that the leader of an enemy force be set free while the conflict rages, is ludicrous. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, without a moment of hesitation, should be put under arrest. As the war continues, each and every enemy leader in that fight should be either arrested or killed. As for Arafat, he must be tried as a war criminal, the charges: attempted genocide and crimes against humanity. The trial could take place either before or after the war has been won, depending on the necessities of the Israeli government and her allies. Any government of Israel that permits Arafat to go free and consort with his European Union "brothers in arms" is shirking its responsibilities, to say the least. In fact, it might be argued that such a government has lost its right to rule.

An Israeli security cabinet whose first and foremost concern is for the well being of its own people would reexamine its purpose and come to an understanding of the historic decisions it could now make. A Jewish government, instead of debating what to do with Arafat, would be discussing what to do with the legions of his supporters in Israel. This Jewish government would understand the problem an authentic fifth column represents. They would stop pretending that if only Arafat were gone, all would be well. Finally, it would know that such nonsense is for children, not the leaders of the Jewish State.

And he's right, of course. It's ludicrous (thought tempting) to think that if we can just make Arafat go away, peace will follow. The problem with this proposal, as with so many others, involves logistics. And then, of course, if you keep reading, you come to this:

That being said, what the current Israeli security cabinet must do is state unequivocally that "in principle" it endorses the transfer of the Arab population out of the State of Israel. That is, it supports the completion of the exchange of populations that began at the founding of Israel. During those nascent years the Jewish People experienced an upheaval of mammoth proportions. Not only had the Holocaust devastated her population, but with the declaration of a Jewish State, hundreds of thousands of Jews were forcibly removed from the Arab countries they had lived in for hundreds of years. In total, some 800,000 to 900,000 Jews were either forcibly or voluntarily displaced without their material possessions from Arab countries. With nothing more than the shirts on their backs these refugees were welcomed into the newly created Israel. Through rationing and shortages the Jewish People cared for their own. And in time, Israel absorbed the helpless throngs of humanity with no other home.

See, I have no problem with such proposals of "transfer" in principle. It's the actual "transfer" of real live human beings that I continue to find repulsive, no matter who they are. I'm also well aware that it's an option most Israelis, for good reason, just won't consider.

Battening down

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Axis of Isabel
Chester Country, Pennsylvania

Well, I think we've done about as much as possible at this point. Potted plants and patio furniture have been moved inside, the garage has been cleared out to make room for the cars (imagine that!) and S. went up on the roof early and cleaned out all the gutters. The wind is picking up now, and I'm keeping an eye on that extremely tall tulip poplar in the back yard that tends to bend dangerously toward the house on windy days.

Isabel will probably be somewhat tuckered out by the time she reaches here, but flooding is still a major concern, especially since the area just west of us already had flood damage earlier this week. I'm relieved to hear that Meryl is taking shelter at Heidi's. It looks like some serious stuff is headed for the Richmond area. And in addition to not having to worry about your car getting attacked by flying tree limbs, it just feels better to ride out a storm with friends. I think it must be one of those primordial instinct things.

One compelling argument

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The Israeli Labor Party misled its people when it approved the Oslo process. At the time, Israelis were told that the process was designed to test the motivation of the Palestinian Arabs to enter into a lasting peace arrangement and was reversible if it was found that assumptions about Arab intentions were wrong.

As it turned out, no such interest in peace has shown itself among the Palestinian Arabs. They have regularly evaded their obligation to fight Arab terror and to promote reconciliation between Arab and Jew. From day one of the process, continuous incitement of the Arab masses has been the rule as the Arab hordes turn out to cheer Hamas terrorists, bus bombers and deliberate killers of children. What is also evident, contrary to the Oslo agreements, Arafat has unilaterally assumed the role of head of state and his people to be a sovereign nation. At this very moment, under Arafat's new conscription order, he builds an illegal Arab army, already having brought under military arms more than twice the "police force" he was authorized under the agreement.

In short, the Arabs have failed their test of peace. Israel is now challenged by a hostile, irredentist, and rising power within her own borders. The promise of reversibility made by the former Labor government had been a sham and reveals at the least the total incompetence and dangerous other-worldliness of its leftist originators. They had breathed life into a virtually dead PLO in Tunisia, gave the arch terrorist Arafat legitimacy, gave his terrorists -- there is not a dime of difference between him and the Hamas -- sanctuaries adjacent to Israeli population centers, and even fitted these unreconstructed enemies with weapons that have already been used against Israel. It is not difficult to visualize what would happen in the event of war with outside Arab forces. An Arab "fifth column" behind Israeli lines could crucially add to the dangers. The impact of these realities must be faced.

The above excerpt, which only on close reading reveals itself to be anything other than contemporary, was published almost six years ago. It was called "Impacting Reality," and its message has, unfortunately, only become more real and urgent with the passage of time.

Back in 1997, Oslo was still in full swing and those who dared to point to the writing on the wall were labeled "extremists" and "enemies of peace." President Clinton was entertaining Arafat regularly at the White House. Terrorist attacks were still considered by most Americans to be other people's problem, notwithstanding the first World Trade Center bombing. It seems like a different world. But the sad thing is, it wasn't. It's just that few were willing to see it as it was.

At the time, Israelis were told that the process was designed to test the motivation of the Palestinian Arabs to enter into a lasting peace arrangement and was reversible if it was found that assumptions about Arab intentions were wrong.

The motivation and intentions that were being tested were clearly expressed in this letter, written by Yasser Arafat to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Septembr 9, 1993. In it, he pledged:

The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations. The PLO considers that the signing of the Declaration of Principles constitutes a historic event, inaugurating a new epoch of peaceful coexistence, free from violence and all other acts which endanger peace and stability. Accordingly, the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and Personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators.

On the basis of that commitment, Arafat and his cronies were permitted to emerge from exile in Tunis and "return" to the disputed territories. They were permitted to do so for the express purposes of combatting terror, of planting the seeds of a democratic society that would renounce violence and pursue peace in concert with its Israeli neighbors, of bringing law, order and prosperity to the palestinian people. Instead, Arafat has consistently aided, abetted and encouraged terror and violence, crushed any spark of dissent or democratic reform, stolen a king's ransom from the people he governs and sabotaged the peace process at every opportunity.

At that time, Israelis were told that the process was designed to test the motivation of the Palestinian Arabs to enter into a lasting peace arrangement and was reversible if it was found that assumptions about Arab intentions were wrong.

There are many arguments to be made both for and against expelling Arafat from the territories, and I continue to waffle. But among the most compelling in favor is this: his sojourn in Ramallah was conditional. He's violated every condition. Many of the concessions made at Oslo were, in fact, irreversible, but this one is not. One way or another, it's time for him to go.

More questions

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Why am I still shocked when I read things like this?

The following appeared last week in the Palestinian daily Al Hayat Al Jadida:

"The teacher wondered how any Geography teacher in the Arab schools could convince his students that Safad [in Arabic] was changed to Zefat[Hebrew] and that Sefuriya [Arabic] had suddenly become Zipori[Hebrew.] He expressed the opinion that the students would rip up these maps and the teacher who would accept them would be considered a traitor... He was reminded of [a recent] distribution of Israeli flags... the students ripped them to pieces and threw them in the garbage..."

These words wouldn't be surprising if they were said by any teacher in a Palestinian Authority [PA] school. However the person being quoted was an Israeli Arab teacher. The children ripping up Israeli flags were Israeli Arabs kids. The teacher who will not consider using a map showing Israeli cities in his classroom is an Israeli Arab on salary from the Israeli Ministry of Education.

With the media focus this week on the Or Committee's criticism of Israel's police during the Israeli Arab riots, it was virtually forgotten why the police were shooting. It was October 2000. The Palestinian Authority had started war against Israel. Two days into the war thousands of Israeli Arabs throughout the Galil joined the battle on the side of Israel's enemies, supported vocally by Arab leaders and passively it seemed by the general population. They threw stones, firebombs, burned tires, killed one Israeli Jew and injured many others, as they closed down the main roads of the North for days. Israel, it seemed, had lost the allegiance of 20% of its citizens, who in a time of war, had sided with the enemy. How did it happen?

While there certainly are many contributing factors, there is ample evidence that this transfer of allegiance was one of the prominent goals of the Palestinian Authority long before the start of the October 2000 War. The PA implemented a systematic and determined policy towards Israel's Arabs, especially the youth, targeting them continuously with the message that their identity and allegiance should be with the PA alone.

This article at Palestinian Media Watch goes on to detail a truly insidious program specifically designed to create a fifth column in Israel. How is it possible to respond rationally to such a situation? It goes without saying that a democratic society must fight bigotry and racism at every turn. But what do you do with a large and vocal minority that continues, in increasing numbers and with increasing ferocity, to pledge allegiance to those who seek to annihilate you?

In Arafat's office there was a special wing, called 'the Committee for Contacts with the Residents of Occupied Palestine'. Terms like 'Inside Arabs' and the 'Residents of Occupied Palestine' are all PA euphemisms for Israeli Arabs. The PA denied the possibility of the existence of an 'Israeli- Arab' writing in one 1999 editorial - "there can not be an Israeli Arab. How can the executioner and the victim be one?"
[Al Hayat Al Jadida August 18, 1999]

[ . . . ]


The opening gestures by the PA were actively accepted by Israel's Arab leaders who joined in urging Israeli Arab youth to reject any Israeli identity they may have considered. MK Azami Bashara, for example when campaigning in Israel, marched with tens of Israeli Arab youth holding PA flags. He explained on television that were they to lose their Palestinian identity, all that would remain would be their family and tribal identity, but not an 'Israeli-Arab' identity, because 'there is no such identity.' Speaking to Arab youth he said "The blue card [Israeli ID card] you have in your pocket is not an identity card; it is a residence card."

Can we imagine members of the U.S. Congress making speeches stating that there is "no such identity" as "African-American?" Or "Arab-American?" Or "Jewish-American?" Speeches advocating not the dreaded "dual loyalty," but a treasonous, monolithic loyalty to one's own ethnic or religious group or country of national origin? What would America do in the face of a blatant campaign to recruit any of our sizeable minorities to the cause of our enemies? And is that, in fact, an entirely theoretical question?

Is there a point where the values of tolerance and pluralism must give way to self-preservation and, if so, how do we know where that is? And what, exactly, do we do if and when we reach it?

Beats me.

Don't miss this

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Solomon has found something utterly amazing. Lego imitating impossible art. Some of my favorites, in fact.

And while you're there, be sure to check out the rest of his blog, if you haven't already.

UPDATE: Wow! Haggai brought my attention to these looped animations (start here), which are even more fantastic.

Fists and tears

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As you can see, I didn't have much to say yesterday. I decided to observe my own moment of blogging silence and do a little reflecting on the past two years since 9/11, the past three years since the beginning of the terror war against Israel and the past year since last Rosh Hashanah. I also spent some time watching TV and listening to the radio.

Lots of names were read. So many names. Lots of close-ups of people wiping their eyes and tears trickling down cheeks were shown. So many tears. I mopped up a few myself. And lots of pontificating was going on, politicians and pundits using the day to hammer home some point or other that they figured would hit harder against the emotional 9/11 backdrop. Bravo inserted into its syndicated West Wing re-run schedule the insipid 9/11 special episode ("Isaac and Ishmael"), in which we were told repeatedly that "Islamic extremist is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity."

The front line of resistance to any meaningful response to the terrorist attacks of two years ago is this mantra: if you get angry, they win. If you compromise civil liberties, they win. If you allow yourself to hate them, they win. We aren't like them, we're better. And we'll prove it by, what? Bending over and asking for more? We'll prove it by opening our hearts and our borders and our neighborhoods to suicide bombers and by inviting terrorists, their apologists and their sympathizers to teach our children in our schools? Sorry, I don't think so.

I've seen a lot of comparisons between palestinian and Israeli funerals lately. The palestinians in a rage, screaming, waving their fists and their guns in the air and vowing bloody revenge. The Israelis silently weeping and embracing each other, vowing to renew efforts toward peace while maintaining vigilant defense against the ongoing war. We're quite sure that the latter is the civilized response, the way rational people deal with grief, the right way to react to such atrocities. I just don't know. Across the cultural gulf that divides us, maybe we need to learn something, just a little hint, about the value of anger and outrage and, yes, even vengeance, from our enemies. Maybe a fist or two in the air is appropriate along with the tears.

Here's the thing. This myth, that the goal of our enemies is to make us resemble them, is a sort of giant tranquilizer dart aimed at our initiative and our resolve, designed to keep us watchful but docile. What can we do to fight terrorism (or, more to the point, terrorists)? As Josh Lyman put it in "Issac and Ishmael," all we have to do is "keep accepting more than one idea." Well, that's good. That's always good. But it's not going to do squat to prevent or even discourage terrorist attacks. And we don't need to "make them absolutely crazy." They're already there.

They don't want to make us resemble them. Where did that idea come from, anyway? They don't want to corrupt us, they want to crush us. They don't want to compromise our beliefs, they want to humiliate us. They don't want to stifle free speech, they want to prevent us from speaking at all. In Hebrew, a passive verb can be made into an aggressive verb merely by adding a letter. Islam means surrender, a passive verb. But the goal of "militant Islam," whatever that is, is precisely the opposite. To impose surrender, utter and complete, on anyone and anything that is other. We just aren't going to win that battle through tolerance and acceptance and political correctness. It would be nice if we could, but it's not going to happen.

This post has been painful to write. Some of it, I may regret tomorrow. I expect I'll be returning to this subject in any event. It's been bothering me for a while, and I'm not expecting to find answers any time soon.

Shabbat Shalom.

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09/11/01

Never forgive, never forget

So many precious souls, lost forever

Zichronam l'vracha
(may their memory be a blessing)

Zichronam L'Vracha

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Father, daughter buried together on her wedding day

By THE JERUSALEM POST INTERNET STAFF

A father and his daughter out together on the night before her wedding were among the seven killed and 57 wounded in a suicide bombing at a popular coffee shop in Jerusalem Tuesday night.

Dr. David Appelbaum, 50, and his daughter Nava, 20, were buried Wednesday at 10:00 in Jerusalem.

Applebaum, born in Detroit, raised and educated in Cleveland, was head of the emergency department in Shaarei Zedek Hospital and founder of the Terem 24-hour emergency clinic in Jerusalem.

As the Shaarei Zedek crew of nurses and doctors were treating the dozens of wounded at Cafe Hillel, they received word that the attack had killed one of the most senior and beloved doctors of their hospital.

Nava Applebaum, a volunteer with children suffering from cancer as part of her national youth service, was to be married Wednesday evening. She and her father were celebrating their last night together before the wedding.

Applebaum, well-trained in treating bombing victims after years working as a hospital emergency room director, was usually the first to report to the hospital after a bombing. There was no sign of him Tuesday night.

"It was clear to me from very early on that David Applebaum - when he didn't show up and I knew he was in Jerusalem and he hadn't called - that a terrible tragedy had occurred," said Shaarei Tzedek Hospital Director Yonatan Halevy. "Confirmation of my suspicions came shortly."

A paramedic on the scene recognized Applebaum, and notified the hospital. The nurses and doctors, shocked and grieved, kept on treating the stream of casualties.

"Thousands of Jerusalemites owe Dr. Applebaum their lives," said Halevy. "This is a terrible loss."

"Dad dedicated his life to saving others," Applebaum's eldest son Natan told the web site ynet. "Dear Nava should have been married today. They went out for a last night before the wedding to talk."

(Click here to read a recent profile of Applebaum.)

Hearing the news, the family arrived at the emergency room, which was like a second home to them. Nava's fiancee, Chanan Sand, 20, fainted upon hearing and had to receive medical attention.

At the funeral Chanan placed their wedding ring on her body as it was lowered to the grave.

Thousands, among them many of the wedding guests, attended the funeral.

Part 2

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I did say I'd put this up, so for those of you who were waiting with baited breath, here it is. In fact, now that I think of it, the events of the past 24 hours put this in an even more absurd light.

Peace Front Faces Schism Over 'Right Of Return'

By ERIC MARX
FORWARD CORRESPONDENT

Arab groups are threatening to quit the country's largest anti-war coalition unless it does more to support the Palestinian cause, but Jewish members say that such a move would lead them to break ranks.

Several Arab and Muslim groups announced last week that they would drop out of United for Peace and Justice, a leading American-based coalition opposed to the Iraq war, unless the umbrella group explicitly endorses the Palestinian "right of return" to Israel. But Rabbi Michael Lerner, founding editor of Tikkun Magazine and chairman of the Tikkun Community, which is part of the anti-war coalition's steering committee, said he would quit if such a position is adopted.

This little schism is nothing new. Remember last spring when Michael Lerner was denied the podium at the A.N.S.W.E.R. rally in San Francisco last February for being too pro-Israel? That was just the opening bid in an obvious trend on the part of the lunatic left toward advocating the outright destruction of Israel without equivocation. Too bad Lerner and his fellow misfits still don't get it.

The complaints from pro-Palestinian groups come despite their gains in recent months. United for Peace and Justice, which brought together 650 local and national groups from 38 states last October to oppose the invasion of Iraq, has formulated a pro-Palestinian stance, arguing that American political, economic and military aid to Israel is underwriting the occupation of Palestinian territory. Still, at its June conference in Chicago, the anti-war coalition refused to explicitly endorse the "right of return" for Palestinians out of fear of alienating the bulk of its members with a phrase that's commonly associated with the eventual demise of Israel as a Jewish state. Coalition leaders also rejected a description of Israel as an "imperialist" state and opted not to join what many Jewish groups say was an anti-war demonstration deliberately scheduled by pro-Palestinian groups to take place later this month during Rosh Hashana.

I've been wondering why the date of the big International A.N.S.W.E.R. protest weekend hasn't provoked more comment. They say it was scheduled to coincide with the third anniversary of the beginning of Arafat's terror war. Conveniently, it happens to fall smack dab on Rosh Hashanah this year. I guess that'll create an even more serious dilemma for all of those observant Jews who want to participate (sarcasm intended).

The debate over such decisions played out last week in postings to an Internet message board operated by members of United for Peace and Justice. The dispute could end up undermining both the anti-war effort and the Palestinian cause, but Palestinian solidarity groups, including Al-Awda, Badil, and International ANSWER, say settling for anything short of an endorsement of the "right of return" would be "morally repugnant."

And so the in-fighting continues. It continues at Rutgers in the same vein, and I have to agree with Judith. No matter what internal squabbles they may be having, there's little daylight between the parties here. Besides, the idea of "palestinian solidarity groups" opining about what is or isn't "morally repugnant" makes me sort of queasy.

"Right Of Return [ROR] is the litmus test of whether one really supports the cause of Palestine or not," wrote one Al-Awda member. "What we are witnessing today is the mushrooming of Arab and Palestinian voices calling for outright abandonment of ROR as defined by the refugees themselves. Others are trying to dilute and weaken ROR by de-linking it from the issue of occupation.... This is something which Al-Awda, by definition, must not tolerate and support."

Some activists countered that, though in principle they supported such demands, pro-Palestinian groups could end up isolated if they push the issue too hard. Other anti-war activists warned that adopting a more anti-Israel measure would undermine general support for the anti-war cause.

Ah, now this is interesting, because it demonstrates consistency. Notice that whenever a "moderate" palestinian offical "condemns" a suicide bombing in Israel, the reason given is always, without exception, that such actions tend to undermine popular support for the palestinian cause. Not that they're "morally repugnant," or just plain obscene, certainly not! They - undermine - support - for - the - cause. And so, in our own little domestic drama, we have the same argument being given by the so-called "moderate" anti-war activists against calling outright for the destruction of Israel. Not because it's wrong, not because it's tantamount to an invitation to genocide, but because it "would undermine general support for the anti-war cause."

Yeah, whatever else it may be, at least it's consistent.

I'm back

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Nice weekend!

As usual, things hit the fan while I was away, so I have a lot of catching up to do and I'll spend the next few days wishing I'd been able to post various thoughts in a more timely manner. Having spent the past few days at my mother's (stateside) apartment with a very slow dial-up connection, I made do with the available print media for most of my news. So my blood pressure took a bit of a beating. Two especially irritating items, which I've since been able to locate on the web, were these:

Despite Mideast Setback, U.S. Is Forced to Stay the Course

By STEVEN R. WEISMAN

See, the headline was annoying enough.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 — The sudden resignation of Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority stunned Bush administration officials today and raised fresh questions about the administration's strategy of trying to marginalize Yasir Arafat and work only with so-called moderate Palestinians to achieve peace with Israel.

"Sudden?" "Stunned?" Where's this guy been? And though the expression "so-called moderate Palestinians" sounds promising, it's not. I'm not sure exactly what it's supposed to mean, but I am sure that it doesn't mean that the "so-called moderates" are actually pretty much just as extreme and the "extremists."

This part was sort of funny, though.

A bitter consequence of the day's developments was that, with Iraq still deeply unsettled, it will now be even harder for President Bush to paint an optimistic picture when he addresses the nation on terrorism on Sunday night, a speech evidently scheduled before reports late Friday that Mr. Abbas might resign.

"Even harder" than what? Harder than it was after the bombing of the Jordanian embassy or the UN headquarters or the mosque in Najaf? Harder than it was after a bus full of women and children returning home from prayer got blown to smithereens in Jerusalem? See, I didn't think there was a whole lot of reason for optimism even before Abu Mazen resigned and the IDF missed Yassin. But maybe it's me.

Anyway, someone must be blamed for this sorry state of affairs. And Mr. Weisman sums it up thusly:

While the Bush administration has blamed Mr. Arafat, there has also been a feeling among some that Israel had not done enough to shore up Mr. Abbas so he could stand up to Mr. Arafat and take action against Hamas and other militant groups.

OK, it's the New York Times. What did I expect? (But just who, exactly, is/are "some?" I'd really like to know.)

The other one, though, is from the lefter-than-thou Jewish weekly The Forward. And on second thought, I'll save that one for later. In the meantime, you can enjoy this week's front page editorial entitled "Bush's Quagmire, and Ours," in which The Forward does its best Howard Dean imitation, calling the war in Iraq "a clueless blunder into a bottomless quagmire." (They just love that word, don't they?)

To be continued . . .

Time out

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There'll be a lull here for the next few days. It's going to be a family weekend.

Have a great one!

Deranged rantings

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The Arab News has been on a roll this past week. IMRA pointed to two outrageous articles a few days ago. Fisking is tempting, but I have no time right now, so I'll merely throw out a few excerpts and let someone else bite:

Disorganized and Weak, but Not Ready to Surrender
Amr Mohammed Al-Faisal

The Arab people today encounter a great deal of contempt and derision from much of the world, especially in the West. The belittling of every aspect of Arab civilization, including the way they look, has reached the level of unacceptable racism. There are many reasons for this and following is a sample of some of them:

• The West has propagated this negative image in order to justify invasion, colonization and exploitation of Arab countries.

• The Jews who control most of the world media propagate this image to justify Israel’s conquest and occupation of Palestine.

• The incompetence and impotence of Arab regimes to defend the interests of their people.

The world, however, is unaware of one endearing characteristic of the Arabs, which is their uncanny ability to be involved with the defeat and humiliation of great world powers. In their own bumbling and seemingly disorganized fashion, they have inflicted some of the most humiliating defeats on some of the most powerful nations on earth.

You have to go and read the article to find out what these humbling defeats consist of. I'm not wasting any more space on it here. Besides, I'm too busy shaking in my boots.

This next one is equally hilarious. Seriously. If you read this stuff as comedy, it's a little easier to take.

We Don’t Shy Away From Confrontation
Khaled Al-Faisal

[ . . . ]

The great surprise was a statement made by Dr. Khaled Al-Dakheel, a professor of political science at King Saud University, which was broadcast on satellite television several days ago and in which he claimed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia avoids confrontation. With one fell swoop, the professor nullified the history of an entire nation that without exaggeration has and still does unilaterally confront many of the challenges within the region.

Here are but a few examples to show that truth is not on the professor’s side:

[ . . . ]

• The Kingdom confronted the tripartite aggression against Egypt in 1966 by cutting relations with France and Britain and mobilizing its sons — including Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd — who underwent military training in readiness to defend Egyptian soil.

• The Kingdom faced off against Israeli aggression toward Egypt, Syria and Jordan in 1967 through the strongest moral and financial support. Despite all the disagreements between Nasser and King Faisal (which reached a peak when Egypt invaded Yemen and Saudi Arabia defended its neighbor) it was the king who called for funding to rebuild the Egyptian Army, which went on to cross the canal and liberate its land in 1973.

• The Kingdom confronted the US bias in favor of Israel in the war of Ramadan 10 [a/k/a The Yom Kippur War]. It cut off oil supplies to the US and European countries that collaborated with Israel. It was the first and last time that the oil weapon was used so effectively. Sadat reportedly said: “Faisal is the real hero of the Battle of the Passage.”

• The Kingdom confronted the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and allowed the allied troops passage through its territory despite strong opposition, which regrettably included a number of Arab and Islamic countries. Were it not for King Fahd’s insistence on the return of the rightful government, Saddam’s army would not have retreated nor Kuwait liberated.

• The Kingdom firmly dealt with attempts by foreign ambassadors to interfere in its affairs and requested that the US ambassador be removed twice, the first time during the reign of King Saud and the second time during King Fahd’s reign.

• The Kingdom confronted terrorism before the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and was among the first to put into place and sign an agreement with Arab interior ministers to combat terrorism. It continues unwavering in this battle.

• The Kingdom still confronts Israel by standing shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinians, supporting them morally and financially. It is making every effort with the American side to push Israel to resolve the problem.

• Despite the fierce global campaign against Islam and Muslims, the Kingdom deals with many of the problems of the world by giving what moral or financial assistance it can and looking out for the needs of the nearly seven million Muslims who travel to the Kingdom to perform Haj and Umrah.

• Finally, the Kingdom now confronts a strange alliance between Al-Qaeda and global Zionism, one attempting to unsettle the Kingdom, the other trying to pressure the US into further hostility toward the Kingdom.

What's too funny about this list is that, through every conflict listed, the Kingdom admittedly "confronted" the menace by throwing money around, cowering behind its borders and letting other people do the fighting. Oh, but they "underwent military training." And they used "the oil weapon."

Ah, well. Whatever floats their boat. One would think that as long as the Arab world labors in this state of senile dementia, it wouldn't be a threat to anyone but itself. If only.

What's the problem?

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Palestinian Media Watch reports that the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating under the Palestinian Authority have unanimously refused to sign this statement as a condition to receiving USAID grant money.

"The beneficiary institution has not supplied, and will not supply in the future, any material or other form of aid to any individual or other body that is known or has any reason to be considered as a person or a body that incites, plans, supports, or is involved in any terrorist activities of any kind." [Trans from Arabic, Al Ayyam Aug. 25, 2003.]

Why? Because, they say, they aren't political organizations. Because, they say, the statement is "provocative." Because, they say, the intent of this condition is to damage palestinian civic institutions. Because, they say, the U.S. definition of "terrorism" includes "legitimate resistance." Ah. Getting closer now.

The real reason, of course, is that the PA NGOs have every intention of using USAID grant money to sponsor and encourage terrorist activities, as they have done in the past. Sure, they'll take our money. But only on their conditions.

Read more about it here. (The report isn't up on the PMW site yet)

Looking for clues

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I've been looking for this article for several days now. I should have known I'd find it here. Somehow, I had forgotten to bookmark it back in March when I first read it. But I keep coming across references to the lower standard of municipal services provided to Arab neighborhoods in Israel, and I finally resolved that I would find it and link to it and emphasize a few of its main points.

There's no question that a vast gulf exists between the standard of living in most of Jerusalem's western, predominently Jewish neighborhoods and that in its eastern, predominently Arab neighborhoods. This discrepancy is often cited as evidence of Israeli "racism" or "bigotry." Justus Weiner explains the actual roots of the problem:

1. the vast differences in resources that were devoted to urban development by the Israeli and Jordanian governments, respectively, during the years 1948 - 1967;

Per-capita expenditures for public services in the western sector was almost five times that of the Jordanian administration in the Arab neighborhoods. [fn]

2. the cultural and political differences between the residents of these neighborhoods as manifested in housing density and construction practices;

. . . the low-density pattern of housing in the Arab neighborhoods, reflecting Arab cultural preferences, increases the cost of infrastructure in those areas. [fn] The unchecked building of thousands of illegal, free-standing structures on open land that has occurred, dramatically increases the city's costs in bringing electricity, water, paved roads, sidewalks, and parking to the dispersed living units.

and

3. the failure of the Arab East Jerusalem population to participate in the political system that could bring improvements to their lives.

A prerequisite for influence in any city's planning process is political clout. When Israel declared sovereignty over united Jerusalem in 1967, the overwhelming majority of Arab residents chose to remain citizens of Jordan, declining the offer of Israeli citizenship. [fn] In the years that followed, many engaged in various kinds of resistance to Israeli rule, ranging from non-cooperation, not voting in municipal elections, and evading municipal taxes, to occasional street violence. The Palestinian leadership has shown no interest in bettering the position of the Arab residents within the Israeli system. Instead, it seeks only to "liberate" them from their involuntary incorporation into Israel. Most importantly, the Arab residents of Jerusalem have refrained from pursuing the political power that would normally accrue to a minority comprising approximately a quarter to a third of the city's population.

So, to summarize, the inequality began under Arab rule, it was exacerbated by the widespread practice of badly planned, illegal building, and the "oppressed" residents refuse to so much as lift a finger toward solving the problem. Obviously, the Zionists are to blame.

But what happens when some of those residents do try to use the system to improve their lot?

Due to the Palestinian leadership's policy of non-cooperation or samud, [fn], Jerusalem Arabs do not present themselves as candidates for the City Council. Only a miniscule percentage vote in the municipal elections. [fn] Most refuse to cooperate with the Israeli municipal administration, either because they reject any act that might be construed as submitting to Israeli rule or because others have intimidated them. [fn] Indeed, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority strive to coerce Jerusalem's Arabs to observe their policy of total non-cooperation. [fn] Consequently, the city's Arab residents have abdicated any direct role in the democratic political process by which the city is governed. [fn]

And let's not gloss over that "intimidation" aspect. It's a serious problem.

Over the past 35 years there have been two instances when daring individuals sought to run for municipal office. In 1987, Arab newspaper publisher Hanna Siniora considered running for mayor at the head of a list of Arab candidates for the City Council. [fn] Then-Mayor Kollek (1965-1993) warmly welcomed Siniora's initiative, stating, "we have always wanted Jerusalem's Arabs as our partners in running the united city." [fn] Yet, after arsonists torched his two cars and his home was daubed with graffiti at the hands of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, [fn] Siniora withdrew his candidacy.

In the 1998 municipal elections, an independent Arab list participated, headed by insurance agent Mussa Alayan, an Israeli citizen and resident of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Bet Safafa. Alayan defied calls by Palestinian leaders to boycott the election, but received only 2,977 votes, falling short of the threshold needed to gain even one seat on the City Council.

Alayan filed a legal challenge against the results in Jerusalem District Court, [fn] alleging that Palestinian activists from Fatah and other PLO factions carried out an aggressive campaign against his candidacy. Alayan further claimed that his election workers were beaten and harassed. On election day, masked men obstructed access to the polls in Arab neighborhoods and the lives and property of Arabs who came to vote were threatened. Jerusalem Arabs were told that if they voted, they would be regarded as traitors to the Palestinian cause and would be punished with an iron fist. Such coercion has been a major factor in the very low turnout of Arab voters in every municipal election since 1967. Hence, the lower standard of municipal services in the Arab neighborhoods is a consequence of, not the cause for, the boycott of the political process dictated by the Palestinian leadership.

That's why I get so annoyed when I read nonsense like this:

Virtually no municipal or governmental services reach Kfar Aqab -- even if it is part of "the undivided capital of Israel which will never be re-divided." The neighborhood hasn't had a sewage system for 35 years. (And, oddly, sewage even in Jerusalem obeys the laws of gravity, not the Likud party platform or the PLO covenant.) Complaints and pleas didn't help, and despite repeated promises, nothing was done. But four months ago, Samih marched into the Jerusalem Municipality offices, grinning from ear to ear, and confessed to a crime. He had collected money from his already impoverished neighbors, gotten a sewage line built and had it hooked it up illegally to the city pipelines. Initially taken aback, municipal officials are now hoping to replicate this model of self-empowerment in other areas of endeavor.

In the context of Justus Weiner's analysis, this heroic tale is revealed as the silliness it is. And, of course, a plausible end to the story is that the illegal hookup boasted of will back up the system, causing sewage problems for everyone on the line. This is hardly an unusual occurance in East Jerusalem. Water and electricity are also often stolen by enterprising citizens. And when the predictable results occur, it's simply more evidence of discrimination by the Municipality. Right.

There are some glimmerings of hope. All too often, however, they're rapidly extinguished by the "democratically elected" palestinian leadership, as Dr. Weiner points out:

Yossi Cohen, the Jerusalem Mayor's Advisor for Neighborhoods, has made inroads in addressing this long-standing problem with the help of neighborhood committees. Thus far, groups of residents from several Arab neighborhoods have turned to the municipality for assistance in completing the planning for their neighborhoods. The city heralds these contacts as demonstrating the Arabs' interest in cooperating with the city by becoming involved in planning their own neighborhoods. [fn] This cooperation is an anathema to the Palestinian Authority. For example, a poster distributed by Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction in the 1998 elections stated that, "not recognizing legitimacy of the Israeli occupation is more important than our day-to-day services....We in the Fatah movement call on our holy people to boycott the elections and to fight a war of existence and identity." [fn]

So there you have it. Keeping their priorities straight, as always.

The full article, complete with footnotes, is well worth a read.

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