August 2005 Archives

No offense intended


Not that he's sorry for what he said, mind you. It's just that he really didn't mean to offend anyone. Nevertheless, London's mayor Ken Livingstone will face a disciplinary hearing for comparing a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

The Standards Board for England said an investigation into charges that Livingstone "failed to treat others with respect and brought his authority into disrepute" had concluded that the issue should be dealt with by a disciplinary hearing.

The Adjudication Panel for England, which will conduct the hearing, could bar Livingstone from office for up to five years, censure him, order him to apologize or force him to undergo training, said a spokesman for the Standards Board.

Livingstone said the investigation had cleared him of the more serious charge of failing to comply with the Greater London Authority's code of conduct. The Standards Board spokesman, who declined to be identified in keeping with board policy, said he did not have the confidential report and did not know whether it had partially cleared Livingstone.

Here's more.

Odd stuff


Here's a guy who thinks that federal aid to the victims of Katrina is unconstitutional.

Anyone have some rotten fruit and/or eggs handy?

Like, make your point (such as it is) when you're not dumping on people who are helpless, homeless or dead, dude, and maybe someone will listen.

Not. today.

And, in other news,

Vatican mends fences after row over pope's terror comments
Whatever that means. I read the article and I still don't know. It's unclear who mended what, if anything... No, I'm sorry. It actually is quite clear that what happened is that Ariel Sharon apologized for "overreacting" to the omission of Israel from the Vatican's litany of terrorist attack victims. So it seems to me that a more appropriate headline would have been

Sharon does a 180, forgets his so-called principles, totally capitulates and kisses the Pope's...

... but never mind. That wouldn't be news, now, would it.

The politics of freedom


Here's an excellent bit of commentary, "One side fits all" (actually published in the LA Times), by UCLA professor Leila Beckwith.

MOST CALIFORNIANS, including most University of California professors, think that they know the meaning of the term "academic freedom." They assume it's the equivalent of free speech and therefore that it is bestowed on faculty by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Because they conflate academic freedom and free expression, they assume that academic freedom is immutable and eternal and exists without responsibilities.

These misconceptions lead smart people to conclude that any changes to current academic freedom rules, including a pending amendment to the California Education Code proposed by state Sen. Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), sully the ivory towers of academia with politics and thought suppression. In truth, political agitators accomplished that corruption of higher education in 2003 when they succeeded in changing the University of California Academic Freedom rules that had stood since 1934.

From 1934 to 2003, UC regulations defined academic freedom this way: "The function of the university is to seek and transmit knowledge and to train students in the processes whereby truth is to be made known. To convert, or make converts, is alien and hostile to this dispassionate duty. Where it becomes necessary, in performing this function of a university, to consider political, social or sectarian movements, they are dissected and examined, not taught, and the conclusion left, with no tipping of the scales, to the logic of the facts."

Those statements subjugated faculty members' academic freedoms to a student's right to pursue knowledge. Scholarship and teaching were to be concerned with the logic of the facts. Academic freedom was not the same as 1st Amendment rights.

Yet, in 2002, the University of California, in an egregious act of irresponsibility, backed away from these rules after a UC Berkeley graduate student taught a remedial reading and writing course titled "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance."

Yes, there's more. Please go and read (registration required).

Peace any minute now


According to the Jerusalem Post:

The number of terror threats continued to rise on Monday, with the security establishment registering 57 threats of plans by terrorist organizations to launch attacks.

On Monday afternoon, security forces arrested a 14-year-old Palestinian at the Hawara checkpoint north of Nablus, caught attempting to smuggle three pipe bombs.

Paratroopers and military police became suspicious of the teenager, identified as Hassan Khalifa of the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, as he carried a bag containing a box through the checkpoint. They demanded that he pass through the metal detector, and when he set off an alarm he was inspected and the pipe bombs in the box were discovered.

I think this is the sixth teenager (if you count 11-year old Abdullah Kuran), to have tried to get through this particular checkpoint with a bomb in the last 18 months.

Maybe they should just close it down.

One by one


And another one falls.

National Security Council director, Major General (res.) Giora Eiland, has formally tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Eiland told Sharon of his planned resignation some three months ago, but agreed to stay on until after evacuation of settlements in Gaza and northern Samaria.

Eiland said he wished to explore academic and business opportunities, but yesterday he lambasted the decision to bring an Egyptian military force into Rafiah and to abandon the Philadelphi route and without receiving anything in return from the Egyptians and Palestinians.

Eiland said he would conclude his service at the end of the year.

In their dreams


Please tell me they're kidding.

The Palestinian Authority will continue to work toward moving Yasser Arafat's tomb to the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO Negotiations Department, announced Sunday.

Erekat, who was speaking during a meeting with PA security officers in Jericho, said the issue of transferring the late Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat's grave from Ramallah to Jerusalem was a "trust" deposited with the PA.

For this, at least, Israel actually had a response.

"From the Israeli perspective the issue is not on the agenda and neither do I expect it to be on the agenda," said Mark Regev, Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman in response to a query by The Jerusalem Post last night.


Unburying the dead


And burying them again. The new order of the day.

The IDF rabbinate was slated Sunday morning to begin the process of exhuming the 48 Gush Katif graves and re-interring them within Israel.

Two funeral ceremonies were already scheduled: those of Nehamia Winter at 12:00 p.m. in the new Nitzan cemetery, and the funeral of Samion Likah early Sunday evening in Sderot.

IDF Chaplain General Brig.-Gen. Yisrael Weiss explained that halacha calls for the immediate relatives to observe mourning from the moment a body is disinterred until dusk. They are also required to observe kriya, the ritual tearing of their clothing, but without reciting the prayer.

Weiss also said that the full picture would only be determined on Sunday when they open the graves. Not only are the bodies to be disinterred, but the earth around them according to Jewish law and the tombstones too.

The tombstones would likely be shattered during the opening of the graves. They will be collected and reburied in a mass tombstone grave, Weiss promised.

Meanwhile, no dead - yet - in today's suicide bomb attack in Beersheva. But the two security guards who foiled it are fighting for their lives.

A suicide bomb attack at the entrance to the central bus station in Beersheba critically wounded two security guards Sunday morning and caused a total of 48 people to be evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center.

The two security guards in their 20's who prevented the suicide bomber from getting onto a bus were in serious condition at Soroka University Medical Center on Sunday.

Both their lives are still in danger after suffering burns and shrapnel wounds. One of the guards underwent surgery for his wounds, while the other had shrapnel in his eyes.

All the four dozen others who had been treated at Soroka's emergency room, most of them for shock, have been released

Here's the kicker, as if one was needed:

Initial investigations suggested that the bomber had intended to blow up at the Soroka Medical Center, Channel 2 reported.

Democracy in action


I've been reading a lot of glowing commentary over the past few weeks about the beauty of democracy in action. Lately, it seems that democracy has become a very plastic concept. If the writer happens to agree with whatever plan or proposal is being implemented, it's democracy, especially if it's supported by a poll or two. If not, not, and who believes polls, anway? It was getting to the point where I was having trouble keeping the concept of "democracy" in focus.

And then I happened upon this article in the Summer 05 issue of The Middle East Quarterly. It's called "Muslims, Democracy, and the American Experience," and it was written by Salim Mansur, an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Western Ontario. It's one of those pieces that I wish everyone would read. I know I'll be returning to it again and again. But on the subject of democracy, Professor Mansur has this to say:

Democracy is in a cultural sense an expression of the liberal modern world that situates the individual as the moral center of politics and society. The mechanics of democracy rest on an electoral system that provides for contested elections among individuals and parties. It is in the regular functioning of the electoral system, its provisions established in constitutional documents, that a culture of democracy will emerge. When sovereign individuals embrace inalienable rights that no authority may abridge or revoke, non-democracies evaporate. The idea of democracy as a culture is found in the work of Tocqueville and in recent times has been given the most subtle renderings in the writings of the American political philosopher George Kateb.[fn]

It is the idea of the inalienable rights located in the individual, rights that need to be protected, nurtured, and allowed the fullest unhindered expression that makes democracy so morally distinctive from other cultural systems. From this liberal perspective, the common error about democracy is to view it as a majority system of governance. In a democracy based on individual rights, on the contrary, it is the protection of the rights of minorities and dissidents that reflect the different nature of politics within the larger context of democratic culture. Democracy produces a citizenry distinctively different than those in the culture of deference. The cluster of values distinguishing democratic culture from non-democratic culture is qualitative. According to Kateb, "In its distinctive way of forming political authority, representative democracy cultivates distinctive ways of acting in nonpolitical life—of seeking and giving, of making claims for oneself and one's group and acknowledging the claims of others."[fn]

This is a concept of democracy to which I can wholeheartedly subscribe. It's a concept that's the polar opposite, not only of totalitarianism, but also of paternalism. And so it also goes a long way toward explaining why democracy will have such a hard time taking true root in the Middle East. Everywhere in the Middle East.

Shabbat Shalom.

The spin


Let's take the Egyptian media. The Egyptian English language media. And let's remember that this is a nation a) where the media is heavily controlled by the government, b) with which Israel is "at peace," and c) that will be entrusted with preventing the smuggling of arms across its border into Gaza.

Deconstructing disengagement
Despite the smokescreen of his face-off with Gaza's settlers, Sharon has not changed course from his war on the Palestinians, argues Azmi Bishara (the author is an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset)

Gaza hysteria
A duped Palestinian leadership merrily applauded the self-serving media show staged by Israel in Gaza, writes Ghada Karmi (the writer is an information consultant based in Ramallah)

Crocodile tears

...At best, the tears mask the deception thinly yet many in the Arab world and elsewhere have been taken in. Whether they are simply gullible, or deliberately playing along, they have joined the queue to pay condolences to the Israelis over their withdrawal from Gaza, and this in spite of the fact that Israel continues to control Gazan airspace, territorial waters and all ports of entry. (editorial)

It's ours again
With all the settlers removed, Gazans are wiping their eyes, in disbelief and emotion, reports Erica Silverman

Palestinian families gathered on rooftops to witness militant Jewish settlers being hosed with water cannon, throwing paint, gasoline and even acid on Israeli border police, waving giant orange flags, and ultimately forcibly removed, kicking and screaming, from the roof of a synagogue in Kfar Darom settlement in the Gaza Strip. (the writer is a "freelance journalist")

Ah, the acid lie again. Funny how that one just won't go away.



Smooth Stone explains why he is no longer blogging for Bush.


Just a ploy


Khaled Abu Tomeh, reporting from Ramallah:

As far as many residents here are concerned, the evacuation of the settlers from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank is just a "play" designed to show the world that Israel was prepared to make painful concessions for the sake of peace. Only a few Palestinians believe that the confrontations between the settlers and IDF and police forces in some areas were real.

You have to wonder where they'd even get such an idea. You know, that someone would actually stage a fake spectacle for the television cameras to win sympathy and make political points?


Sitting shiva


Another important post from Jewish Current Issues, with photos that will tear your heart out, if you're human.

And, believe it or not, he's quoting an essay by one of my least favorite writers, Ari Shavit. It's typical Shavit -- pompous, condescending, theatrical -- and to a certain extent right on.

The hard-heartedness of the intellectual and legal elites in the face of the catastrophe that befell the residents of Gush Katif will not be forgotten. It will seep into the groundwater of our shared lives and pollute it. The Gush Katif residents were not fanatics; they were not the fascist enemy; they were believers, unfortunate but good-hearted, who devoted themselves with all their might to a false ideal. They were residents of development towns and moshavim who gave their hearts to a belated and useless Zionist enterprise. They had the right to have the intellectual and legal elites listen to them and offer compassion and justice.

Gush Katif was a world of its own - a world of work and faith, of patriotic innocence and communal warmth; a world that touches the heart, that was established in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, as this world is being buried in the sand, Israel must sit shiva for it. For if the entire public does not know how to mourn the death of Gush Katif, its death will poison our lives.

I agree (except for the wrong-place-wrong-time nonsense). But I'd rather read Rick's commentary than Shavit any day. Speaking of which, here's another JCI post-mortem on the 'disengagement, with a different focus.

Wearing thin


I guess it was too much to expect that some serious misbehavior wouldn't occur during the pullout. The problem is, it's hard to know what to believe. By now, everyone knows about the acid lie, started not by the media but by the general in charge of Israel's southern front, Dan Harel. Today's story, courtesy of Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, was a molotov cocktail thrown at an army vehicle. It was all over the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz a few hours ago. Now it's gone. The "acid" turned out to be paint thinner and the "molotov cocktail" was the torching of an (occupied!) IDF truck by Jewish "activists."

Note: Neither of these incidents is acceptable. Neither is excusable. No protester has the right to put a soldier's life or health at risk. Let me be perfectly clear about that. But I'm looking at all of the news out of Israel with a jaundiced eye now, wondering if I can trust it, waiting for the true story to emerge.

Similarly, Arutz Sheva has been running stories of government misbehavior and political machinations that haven't shown up anywhere else. Odd, that.

Now we have this, again from Arutz Sheva:

Two residents of the Gush Katif community of Shirat HaYam, who returned to their homes to pack up their possessions, have blockaded themselves inside their homes.

Negotiation teams and security forces rushed to the location.

Shirat HaYam activists Nadia Matar and Noam Livnat have called upon residents to attempt to return to their homes.

Nadia Matar, as a rule, does more harm than good to any cause she's involved with. It's a pity, because I usually agree with her causes. Those two residents, it's reported, took advantage of the situation and grabbed an army rifle. Fortunately, they later gave it up.

And then there are the shenanigans playing out up north. According to this article in Ha'aretz (yes, consider the source, and see below), many of the residents of Homesh, a largely secular community, sorrowfully vacated their homes weeks ago and moved to Kibbutz Yad Hannah. Now religious settlers from outside have come in and taken over their empty dwellings, determined to make a militant stand against the army. According to Ha'aretz,

Veterans versus newcomers; these seeking to leave in a dignified manner, and those seeking to fight for their right to stay on the land at any price. Different desires and different worldviews stemming from the fact that most of the veterans are secular, whereas all the newcomers are religious. In less than two months, the newcomers have managed to reshape modes of life in the community. The pool is gender segregated; the settlement's roads are closed on Shabbat. Veterans felt their community was being conquered by dark forces. They had chosen to obey the evacuation laws without a hint of rebellion. The newcomers cut the surrounding security fence to allow in infiltrators, and spread nails on the access roads to stymie evacuation vehicles. Veterans decided to fight back in an effort to preserve what had been the character of their settlement since its establishment.

This account, unsurprisingly, is somewhat misleading. While Homesh was founded by and consisted largely of secular families up until 2001, a series of terror attacks that year drove many residents away. Orthodox families moved in to pick up the slack and man the barricades, long before the disengagement plan was even a twinkle in Sharon's eye. They founded a yeshiva and lived peacefully alongside their secular neighbors. So this isn't a battle between the secular and religious so much as between committed members of a community and outsiders with an agenda.

These outsiders and their dangerous games have gone too far. I've been cutting them a lot of slack -- perhaps too much. Those who live in Judea and Samaria do have a stake in making the pullout as difficult as possible. They see their own communities as the next to go. They see their actions today as defending their own homes against yet another retreat tomorrow. I get that. But this battle is lost. The level of violence is increasing. And the patience of the Israeli population with these antics is wearing very thin. The protests are starting to backfire, starting, with the ugly scenes broadcast from Kfar Darom Thursday, to turn sympathizers into antagonists.

Part of the battle is knowing when you've played out your hand, when to bluff and when to fold and retreat to fight another day. As someone said earlier today, this isn't Massada. It's over. Time to move on. The volunteer mercenaries will get no further sympathy from me.

Yad Sarah - An appeal


Yad Sarah Branch In Neve Dekalim Closes Its Doors

After 20 years of activity, the Yad Sarah branch in Neveh Dekalim in the Gaza Strip closed its doors on Tuesday, August 16th. The branch had been open five days a week, and was manned by 12 volunteers, all residents of Gush Katif settlements. The volunteers lent annually hundreds of items of medical rehabilitative equipment. Among those who borrowed equipment were area residents injured during the last four years of terror. In recent weeks an effort was made to collect items which had not yet been returned, and volunteers removed equipment and the contents of the branch for shipment to Yad Sarah's main warehouse.

The farewell letter sent by the Yad Sarah administration to the branch volunteers said: "We have never before parted with devoted volunteers, that worked all hours of the day to assist everyone, who want to continue to do so in the place of their new residences. We wish to thank you for all you have done for the people of Gush Katif, for the respect you demonstrated to every person who borrowed medical equipment; for the improved quality of life you provided for each person, and for the love and smiling good cheer with which you volunteered."

To address the continued needs of the communities, Yad Sarah is considering opening a new branch in the Nitzanim area where many families have been relocated.

Yad Sarah is assisting in a new humanitarian grass root effort "For our Brothers" . A temporary communication center has been established at Yad Sarah Headquarters manned by volunteers almost around the clock to channel offers of assistance from the public to those who have had to leave their homes.

Volunteers at over l00 Yad Sarah branches throughout the country have assisted 380,000 people this past year. Yad Sarah does not receive government funding; all of its activities are supported by contributions.
For additional information: David Rothner, Yad Sarah Spokesperson, Tel. 02-644-4430 or 0523-606-726

Or visit their webpage.

Now they tell us


The Russians chime in -- (via IMRA):

MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) - The withdrawal of Jewish settlements from the Gaza strip will only cause a new round of confrontation, Moscow-based Middle East Institute President Yevgeny Satanovsky told a press conference Friday. "The situation may only aggravate, up to [the point of] a civil war, which Palestine can start from distribution of property left by Israelis and the fight for money allocated by international organizations for land restructuring," Satanovsky said.

Satanovsky said the withdrawal could provoke a large-scale conflict in the West Bank and the whole region.

"A considerable amount of funds allotted by the international community on the establishment of a Palestinian state have disappeared," he said.

According to Satanovsky, the evacuation of the Jewish population from the Gaza strip had not been economically and politically prepared either by Israel or by international organizations.

"The extraordinary actions of Sharon, who is guided by American policy, taken under tough pressure on the part of the U.S. administration, might split Israeli society," Satanovsky said.

He also predicts mass emigration of Israelis disappointed in their government's policies. I don't think so.

But then there's this from Russia's chief rabbi.

MOSCOW, July 20 (RIA Novosti, Dmitry Panovkin) - The unilateral withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip would bring a lot of suffering to Israeli settlers, Russia's chief rabbi Berl Lazar told RIA Novosti.

At least that's something I think most people can agree upon.

Finally, for an up-to-date report on the The Great Israeli Settler Danger, see Meryl's post here. Trust me. You don't want to miss this one.

Some things never change

. . . When God smote Egypt, He wished thereby to demonstrate that Jewish blood always has claimants. Today, also, it is necessary to convince not only the current Egyptian tyrant but also the self-declared saint, Nehru, the British Foreign Office, and the "moralists" in the United Nations that Jewish blood is not ownerless. Therefore, how grotesque is the attempt to convince us that we ought to rely on the declaration of the three great powers guaranteeing the status quo. We all know from experience how much value there is to the promises of the British Foreign Office and to the "friendship" of certain well-known officials in our own State Department. And, in general, how absurd it is to demand of a people that it be completely dependent upon the good graces of others and that it relinquish the ability to defend itself. The honor of every community, like the honor of every individual, resides in the ability to defend its existence and honor. A people that cannot ensure its own freedom and security is not truly independent. The third phrase in God's promise of redemption is: "And I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments" (Exodus 6:7). Blessed be He Who has granted us life and brought us to this era when Jews have the power, with the help of God, to defend themselves!

-- HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik in "Fate and Destiny: From the Holocaust to the State of Israel," pp. 33-44 (Ktav Publishing House, Inc.) (originally delivered as an address at Yeshivat Rabbenu Yitzhak Elhanan of Yeshiva University, Yom HaAtzma'ut, 1956).

And let us say, amen.

Shabbat Shalom.

Not enough


Never enough.

As Israel struggled Thursday to evacuate the Gush Katif settlements, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it must take further steps.

"Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing," she said in an interview with The New York Times. But, she added, "It cannot be Gaza only."

Rice said this is "really quite a dramatic moment in the history of the Middle East," and praised Sharon for proving himself "enormously courageous."

According to the Times, Rice said that while the withdrawal would take several weeks, Israel must take further steps soon afterward, including loosening travel restrictions in the West Bank and withdrawing from more Palestinian cities.

I spit on Condoleeza Rice.

As for the tragic events of the past two days, I'm not ready to try to put my feelings into words right now. I'm not sure I'll ever be.

But this will be my last orange post. It's over.

'My Eyes Fail ...'


A moving essay by Paula Stern.

My eyes fail with tears, my insides churn…at the shattering of my people. (Eicha/Book of Lamentations 1:11)

Over a decade ago towards the end of a hot summer, I landed in Israel. It was August 17 and exhausted as I was, I was still exhilarated to realize that I had finally fulfilled a childhood dream and brought my family home to Israel.

As I sat on the floor in my synagogue this past Saturday night and listened to the mournful tone of the reading of the Book of Lamentations, I thought of the irony that on the anniversary of the day I fulfilled my dream in finding the place I truly belonged, so many might yet experience the nightmare of losing their homes.

You made us filth and refuse among the nations. All our enemies jeered at us; panic and pitfall were ours, ravage and ruin. (Eicha 3: 45-48)

Back in 1993, just one month after my arrival, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords and over the next few months told me that I and tens of thousands of others were meaningless entities to him. He didn’t care about settlers and apparently, because I had chosen to buy a house one kilometer to the right of a line on a map rather than one kilometer to the left, I was a settler. I decided that if Rabin didn’t care about me, I didn’t care about him, and gladly joined an opposing party, believing that they would deliver security and peace to a nation desperate for both.

One failed agreement after another followed. Madrid and Wye, Sharm el-Sheik and the illustrious roadmap to destruction were thrust at the people and still government after government failed to understand the most basic of principles. You cannot make peace alone.

We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows. We pay money to drink our water, obtain our wood at a price. Upon our necks we are pursued; we toil, but nothing is left us. We stretched out a hand to Egypt, and to Assyria to be satisfied with bread...Slaves ruled us, there is no rescuer from their hands. (Eicha 5: 2-8)

Years of violence have yielded nothing. We have lost mothers and fathers, grandparents and children. Doctors and teachers, friends and neighbors. Finally, we were given a clear choice: unilateral action (Amnon Mitzna’s platform) or security and peace, strength and conviction (Ariel Sharon’s platform). We would not retreat under fire, Sharon promised again and again. We would not negotiate with terrorists. In a democratic election, a referendum of the people, we voted for security and peace. We demanded strength in the face of aggression. We chose Ariel Sharon, father of the settler movement, the lion of Judea, the bulldozer, the brilliant tactician. The man who kept his word.

And then, the unthinkable happened. The Lion of Israel, Ariel Sharon, became the Prince of Palestine. Black became white. Right became wrong. All that he promised turned into lies and betrayal. All that he stood for became as nothing in the face of his weak, corrupt manipulations. ...

Also published here. And here.



Very different slants to reports about today's events at Neve Dekalim. The Jerusalem Post :

The clashes broke out after security forces moved to disperse hundreds of resisters, mostly teenage youths, who attempted to block moving trucks from entering Gaza's largest settlement.

By 1:30 p.m. the wild confrontation had largely subsided, thanks in part to settler leaders who addressed the protestors on loudspeakers and appealed to them to let the moving vans through. The vans had come to service families who wished to leave and they should not be hindered, settler leaders said.

One policeman was seen being led away from the scene with blood coming out his mouth. According to Channel 1, a police photographer was wounded when an activist poured an acidic substance on the policeman's face, which entered his eyes.

Utterly inexcusable, under any circumstances. But here's Arutz Sheva:

Tzviki Bar-Chai, the Yesha Council's leading representative in Gush Katif, says that the army has broken its word regarding the way in which it would bring in the large moving containers. "We made a deal with them, they broke it, and everything is off," Bar-Chai said. "This is the manner in which those who are sending the army on this despicable mission have been acting all along. It's very hard for Ariel Sharon to see these pictures of most of the residents refusing to even pack, and therefore he wants to show violence and police clashing with these wonderful residents."

The situation in N'vei Dekalim is now described as a "potentially explosive stalemate." Special Yassam police forces are in the process of trying to bring in containers for the minority of families who wish to pack up. Protestors have tried to impede their progress, burning trash containers and the like, but the police are making their way slowly along. Several communal leaders have called for the residents to allow the police to advance. Voices of protest were raised, but it appears that the stormy atmosphere has calmed down somewhat.

Last minute refusal


There's so much misinformation proliferating right now that I'm wary about most everything I read. But FWIW:

According to [Hebrew], five IDF battalion commanders have warned of mass refusal by soldiers in a document written to Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz last week. The letter reportedly reveals a phenomenon called "last minute refusal." The five lieutenant colonels wrote that there is a possibility that up to half of all soldiers, including officers, assigned to Disengagement duties intend to disclose their objection to the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and Samaria on the day they are ordered to carry out the mission.

The planned "surprise" refusals, according to the letter, have been made explicit in private conversations. The five officers warned the chief of staff and the defense minister that senior officers are ignoring the growing phenomenon.

There has been a steep rise in refusals in recent days, and with Monday's delivery of eviction notices to residents, the trend continues to grow.

We'll see.



Surely someone else has commented on this.

Qur'an, sura 9, verse 111:

Allah has purchased from the faithful their lives and worldly goods and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight for the cause of Allah, slay and be slain.

This is one of the Qur'anic verses most often cited as inducement and inspiration for jihad.

9 11 1 ? Shouldn't we be paying more attention to this sort of thing? But when I went to search for discussion of this on the web, I found nothing.

Pipes on the pullout

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From Daniel Pipes today:

A Democracy Killing Itself

by Daniel Pipes
USA Today
August 15, 2005

The Israeli government's removal of its own citizens from Gaza ranks as one of the worst errors ever made by a democracy.

This step is the worse for being self-imposed, not the result of pressure from Washington. When the Bush administration first heard in December 2003 that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had unilaterally decided to pull all soldiers and civilians from Gaza, it responded coolly. Months of persuasion were needed to get the White House to embrace the initiative.

The harm will be three-fold: within Israel, in relations with the Palestinians, and internationally.

Sharon won the prime ministry in early 2003 by electorally crushing an opponent who espoused unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Sharon declared back then: "A unilateral withdrawal is not a recipe for peace. It is a recipe for war." For unknown reasons, in late 2003 he adopted his opponent's policy of leaving Gaza, thereby reneging on his promises, betraying his supporters, and inflicting lasting damage on Israeli public life.

To Palestinian rejectionists, an Israeli retreat under fire sends an unambiguous signal: Terrorism works. Just as the Israeli departure from Lebanon five years earlier provoked new violence, so too will fleeing Gaza. Palestinians ignore all the verbiage about "disengagement" and see it for what it really is, an Israeli retreat under fire. Indeed, Palestinian leaders have already broadcast their intent to deploy Gaza-like aggression to pry the West Bank and Jerusalem from Israeli control. Should that campaign succeed, Haifa and Tel Aviv are next, after which Israel itself disappears.

The full version, with links, is here.

Expect slanted news


In the next few days, we're going to be hearing a lot of news out of Israel. Most of it will be about the good behavior of the army and the bad behavior of the settlers and their supporters. Peaceful resistance won't make headlines. Hooliganism will. And the terrorist attacks will be played down as much as possible.

It's started already. Tonight's Jerusalem Post headline reads:

Minutes after Gaza closure, youth riot in Neveh Dekalim

But the story has another detail buried inside

Even as the gate came down at the Kissufim Checkpoint, mortars fell near Kfar Darom and settler youth rioted in Neveh Dekalim, foreshadowing the difficult weeks ahead.

Settler leaders' pledge for a non-violent resistance lasted only several minutes after the midnight closure of Kissufim Crossing as hundreds of anti-disengagement youth attacked an IDF jeep outside of Neveh Dekalim, the largest settlement in Gush Katif.

The riot story goes on for several more paragraphs. But did you catch it, the brief reference in there?

Even as the gate came down at the Kissufim Checkpoint, mortars fell near Kfar Darom

"Mortars fell." But "settler youth rioted." In the infamous tradition of the AP and Reuters, attacks on Israelis are disembodied events, while aggression by Israelis are given both subjects and objects.

In the Jerusalem Post.

Expect more of the same.

Update: And we got it. In spades.

Required reading


There are a few things out there on the net that you really shouldn't miss.

For starters, I'll link again to Rick Richman's Disengagement: Land for War.

And then there's a provocative piece at Arutz 7 by Jared Israel. It's called Trial by Lynching in Israel and it suggests that everything you think you know about the latest "Jewish terrorist" may be wrong.

Finally, Reuven Koret, the editor of Israel Insider and a staunch disengagement opponent, has, in the spirit of reconciliation (not really), invited Arik Sharon to a fast-breaking feast. But what to serve? Can you guess? It's funny. Really funny. And I won't give away the punch line.

Update and caveat: In evaluating Jared Israel's opinion piece, you may want to do a little background reading on the author. You can find plenty here. Now that I have, I'd be very cautious with this one.

Land for war


I forgot to link this important post by Rick Richman. Sorry.

Disengagement: Land for War. Read it. Please.

Not a second time

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Tomorrow night at sunset, the fast of Tisha B'av begins. In addition to lesser tragedies that have befallen the Jewish People, this day commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem.

The Talmud teaches us that the Second Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam, senseless hatred. In the Talumudic tract Gittin, a story is told that's meant to exemplify how. You can find a rough translation of it here.

The story is like a puzzle in which close examination will bring to light many human failings. Pride, deception, lack of compassion, apathy, excessive zealousness, revenge, and others not so simple to name. The Talmud paints an ugly picture of strife and contention between and among friends, families and colleagues.

When the fast of Tisha B'av ends, the expulsion from Gaza is scheduled to begin. Surely the irony isn't lost on Ariel Sharon. Will the Ninth of Av, 5765, mark yet another in the series of tragedies mourned by the Jews in the years to come? Or not, whether by aversion of the decree or aversion of disaster following its implementation? In the meantime, I hope that we all, disengagement opponents and supporters alike, can recognize a bit of ourselves in the Sages' portrait of first century C.E. Jerusalem, and try to turn away from senseless hatred, baseless accusations and ugly stereotypes, so that future generations won't have to say that Israel was destroyed a second time by sinat chinam.

Judith has assembled a wealth of information and links for the Temple Mount Blogburst at Kesher Talk, including a section on Tisha B'av. Go and see.

Shabbat Shalom.

Running amok


The festivities begin.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians crowded into Gaza City's small fishing harbor Friday to celebrate the impending Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, waving flags and hearing promises from their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, that the West Bank and Jerusalem will be next.

Meanwhile, in Gaza early Friday, about 1,000 armed and masked Hamas combatants staged a training exercise in which they practiced infiltrating and attacking Jewish settlements.

For the first time Hamas invited TV cameramen to film about 1,000 gunmen training ahead of the pullout. It wasn't clear whether this signaled an intent by the terrorist group to attack settlements during the impending pullout.

The release of the pictures of Hamas members rapelling from high-rise walls and jumping through hoops of fire was also seen as a challenge to the Palestinian Authority.

And yet, they did nothing to stop it. And Hamas felt confident enough to invite TV cameramen to film their preparations for terrorist attacks, "for the first time." Please note that this is an AP item, so any bias can be counted upon to go against Israel.


Disengagement is I think a part of making Israel more secure and peaceful," Bush said in a Channel 1 interview from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. "I believe that the decision the prime minister has made and will follow through on will be good for Israel."

I'm beginning to believe our President is a pod person.

They came


Last night, Jerusalem:

In one of the largest prayer gatherings ever to be held at the Temple Mount, multitudes poured into Jerusalem's Old City Wednesday to pray for a stop to the implementation of the disengagement plan. The event was by far the largest of its kind since the land-for-peace process began at Madrid more than 15 years ago. It is clear from the turnout that a significant number of Israelis believe the plan can still be stopped.

The plan to forcefully drive thousands of Jews out of their homes in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria is the brainchild of the Sharon government and is set to be carried out starting August 15.

[ . . . ]

Estimates of the numbers attending Wednesday's rally varied, with Arutz 7 reporting more than a quarter of a million, opponents saying 50,000, and police -- who traditionally downplay figures at anti-government events -- guessing around 70,000.

Jerusalem Newswire can report that the event was by far the largest of its kind since the land-for-peace process began at Madrid more than 15 years ago.

Police battled in vain to prevent traffic snarl ups as hundreds of buses from around this small country entered the capital and unloaded their passengers as close as they could to the Old City.

As the early evening light painted the ancient walls gold, winding streams of people made their way up the slopes of Mount Zion, flowing in through the Zion and Dung gates and filling all access routes to the Temple Mount in a swaying sea of humanity.

Here and there, groups burst out in spontaneous songs of support for the threatened Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria

Unable to draw nearer to Israel's holiest site, many lined parts of the city's southern battlements, while others massed on rooftops overlooking the plaza at the Western Wall.

They came, men and women, children and babies, on foot, on crutches, in wheelchairs, in pushchairs, many sporting the trademark bright orange anti-disengagement shirts and ribbons; all gathering, in their words, "to cry out to their Father in heaven" to step in and prevent next week's expulsion of thousands of Jews from their homes.

Cry out they did, their voices rising to the skies over the Mount of Olives as they sang and recited, swaying in prayer and emotion. . . .

BTW: here's coverage in The Jerusalem Post (via LGF) and Ynet (with video).



In a completely unabashed admission that Ariel Sharon's posturings about the purpose and advantages of the Gaza pullout are just so much empty rhetoric, Ehud Omert acknowledges that Israel expects nothing in return for its sacrifice.

Israel's upcoming pullout from the Gaza Strip is not a "trade-off" for keeping the West Bank, and the government is ready to resume negotiations with the Palestinians after the unilateral withdrawal based on the internationally backed 'road map' peace plan, Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday.

His remarks, coming just one week before Israel is slated to evacuate all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza, as well as four others in the northern West Bank, were the latest indication yet that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is planning further withdrawals in the West Bank in the future.

Olmert, you will recall, is "tired of fighting, . . . tired of being courageous, . . . tired of winning, . . . tired of defeating our enemies." So although the Gaza expulsion was supposed to be Israel's last response to the palestinians when Ariel Sharon got tired of waiting for a peace partner, his government is now "ready to resume negotiations with the Palestinians" on what's left afterward.

Because they're tired, you see.

Will someone please wake me up from this nightmare?

Disengagement diary


Orit, Israel Insider's very secular, hip and irreverent columnist, is spending the ten days to D-Day in Gush Katif.

Read her reports here, and here, and here and here and here. And today's entry, here. They're not what you would expect.

Meanwhile, back here


Meryl has posted the definitive guide to deceptive missionary practices (a/k/a "messianic jews") over at and The Jewish View. Please read, and follow the links. And then pass on the info.

Moment of truth

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Today we reached the moment of truth. There is a way to reach peace and
security. Unilateral withdrawal under fire without compensation is not the
way. I am not prepared to be a partner to a step that ignores reality and
blindly advances the establishment of an Islamic terror base that will
threaten the State. I am not prepared to be a partner to an irresponsible
move that endanger the security of Israel, divides the Nation, sets the
principle of withdrawal to the '67 lines, and in the future even endangers
the unity of Jerusalem.

Therefore I advise today of my resignation from the Government.

Best regards,
Binyamin Netanyahu

Read the whole thing.

ZOA capitulates


All turned quiet-I have been here before
A lonely boy hiding behind the front door
Friends have all gone home
There's my toy gun on the floor
Come back Mum and Dad
You're growing apart
You know that I'm growing up sad
I need some attention
I shoot into the light

Maybe the ZOA knows something I don't. No, I'm sure they know plenty of things I don't. Nevertheless, this is disappointing, because I still don't see evidence that this was anything other than a disturbed kid asking for attention.

New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned yesterday's terrorist attack upon Israeli Arabs in the Israeli Arab town of Shfaram. Eden Natan-Zada , an Israel Defense Forces' deserter wearing his army uniform, opened fire on passengers onboard a passenger bus in a Druze neighborhood of Shfaram, killing four people and wounding 12. Natan-Zada (also known as Tzuberi) was killed by a mob that boarded the bus after the shooting. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon issued a statement calling the attack "a criminal act of a bloodthirsty terrorist targeting innocent Israeli civilians," and has instructed security officials to make the investigation of the incident a top priority.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, "The murder of four Israeli Arabs and the wounding of 12 more is a terrorist act which we condemn unreservedly. This crime was committed by a deserter from Israeli military service who had been absent without leave for several weeks. His crime has been rightly and strongly condemned by the Israeli government and across the Israeli political spectrum.

Jewish roots


Here's some history, from Israeli Archeologist Eilat Mazal, who's been in the headlines lately for her controversial discovery of King David's Palace.

[ . . . ] the Gaza area was allotted to the tribe of Judah. That tribe did not settle the place, which housed the Philistines who hailed from the vicinity of the Aegean Sea.

Gaza was a strategic crossroads between the Egyptian and Assyrian empires and consequently everyone, including the Babylonians and Persians, fought to control it. Alexander the Great conquered the place and turned it into a splendid Hellenistic city. The Hasmoneans also seized control of it during their short-lived reign. During the Byzantine period (fourth to sixth centuries CE), when Jews were forbidden entry to Jerusalem, they made holiday pilgrimages to Gaza, then home to a large Jewish community.

A synagogue from this period was found with the remains of a mosaic floor showing King David plucking a harp, alongside a Hebrew inscription with the word "David."

In 634 CE the Arabs conquered Gaza. Under their rule there was a Jewish presence in the city and surrounding areas, which included Jewish agricultural settlements. Under the Crusaders, however, there was no Jewish settlement in Gaza.

The earliest evidence we have of a renewed Jewish presence is from the 14th century. In the 15th century Gaza was a large, beautiful city with a flourishing Jewish community. A Christian traveler from this period related that he found more Jews and Christians there than in Jerusalem.

In the 16th and 17th centuries as well the city and its environs included a Jewish settlement that was partly agricultural in character. Jewish settlement in the area ceased in the 18th century and was revived in the 19th century. Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second president of the State of Israel, recalled having visited the Jewish community in Gaza several times prior to World War I. During the bloody Arab riots in 1929 the Jewish settlement was wiped out.

I lost the rest of this post, which discussed the New York Times' "analysis" of Dr. Mazar's findings in East Jerusalem. And I'm just not up to trying to reconstruct it. Miriam has already addressed it better, anyway.

But I now see that the Palestinian Authority has weighed in on the subject. Don't bother to read it. You already know what it says.

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities affirmed Saturday that what an Israeli daily publish regarding the uncover of the so-called King David's Palace in Jerusalem is worthless and groundless. . . .

Not so nice


But very interesting, coming at this point in time. From this week's Torah portion:

In the steppes of Moab, at the Jordan near Jericho, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, you shall dispossess all the inhabitants of the land; you shall destroy all their figured objects; you shall destroy all their molten images, and you shall demolish all their cult places. And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have assigned the land to you to possess. You shall apportion the land among yourselves by lot, clan by clan: with larger groups increase the share, with smaller groups reduce the share. Wherever the lot falls for anyone, that shall be his. You shall have your portions according to your ancestral tribes. But if you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land, those whom you allow to remain shall be stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land in which you live; so that I will do to you what I planned to do to them.

Numbers 33:50-56

What, then, are the boundaries of this land that was given to us? The parasha is very explicit:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Instruct the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as your portion, the land of Canaan with its various boundaries:

Your southern sector shall extend from the wilderness of Zin alongside Edom. Your southern boundary shall start on the east from the tip of the Dead Sea. Your boundary shall then turn to pass south of the ascent of Akrabbim and continue to Zin, and its limits shall be south of Kadesh-barnea, reaching Hazar-addar and continuing to Azmon. From Azmon the boundary shall turn toward the Wadi of Egypt and terminate at the Sea.

For the western boundary you shall have the coast of the Great Sea; that shall serve as your western boundary.

This shall be your northern boundary: Draw a line from the Great Sea to Mount Hor; from Mount Hor draw a line to Lebo-hamath, and let the boundary reach Zedad. The boundary shall then run to Ziphron and terminate at Hazar-enan. That shall be your northern boundary.

For your eastern boundary you shall draw a line from Hazar-enan to Shepham. From Shepham the boundary shall descend to Riblah on the east side of Ain; from there the boundary shall continue downward and abut on the eastern slopes of the Sea of Chinnereth. The boundary shall then descend along the Jordan and terminate at the Dead Sea.

That shall be your land as defined by its boundaries on all sides.

Numbers 34:1-12.

Here's a rather vague map of those boundaries and here are some beautiful photos to go with. Ah! Nice after all.

Shabbat Shalom.

'Progressive engagement'


Has a nice sound, doesn't it?

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) will begin a "progressive engagement" process, using dialogue, shareholder action and divestment, with five companies that it says contribute to violence in Israel and Palestinian lands.

The companies are Caterpillar Inc., Citigroup, ITT Industries, Motorola Inc. and United Technologies.

"We have chosen these companies because we believe that they can make changes that will increase the possibilities for a just peace in the region," said Carol Hylkema, chairwoman of the church's Mission Responsibility through Investment Committee. "... The Presbyterian Church calls on them to act responsibly."

Last year, the church's general assembly instructed the committee to begin a process of phased, selective divestment of stock in companies that do business in Israel. In a news release, the church said it will begin the process with dialogue, shareholder resolutions and public pressure, using divestment as a "last resort."

First the velvet glove, then the iron fist. My response: FOAD.

Ok, now I'm going to try very hard to find something NICE to post.

Here we go


Is anyone paying attention?

The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank is a step towards liberating Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei declared on Thursday.

Addressing thousands of Palestinians during a rally organized by the ruling Fatah party in Gaza City, Qurei said no Palestinian would ever give up one inch of Jerusalem. "The process of national struggle will continue until we reach Jerusalem and celebrate there and in the West Bank," he said.

The rally, marking the beginning of celebrations over disengagement, was also held to celebrate the birthday of former PA chairman Yasser Arafat, who died in a French hospital last November.

Just words, of course. No reason to be alarmed. And speaking of Arafat, remember this? It's back!

Echoing Arafat's famous battle cry, Qurei said: "We will proceed from one victory to another until we achieve the big victory – when one of our roses or juveniles will hoist the Palestinian flag on the walls of the Old City [of Jerusalem] and its minarets and churches."

Qurei said the departure of Israel from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank will bring the Palestinians closer to Jerusalem. "There is no other way," he stressed. "We are at the threshold of a great challenge as we move on a clear path toward the liberation of the West Bank and Jerusalem."

Addressing Israel, he said, "Leave our land and homes, leave us alone and we will know how to build our country – just leave without return."

Absolutely. No return to stop the uninhibited flow of weapons into Gaza. No return to root out terrorist kingpins or Kassam firing thugs. Leave them alone and they'll know how to build their country. They've demonstrated that well over the past twelve years, don't you think?

Referring to the launching of the first armed attack on Israel by Fatah, Qurei added: "The process that started in 1965 is now making its way, through the strong determination and will of our people, toward Jerusalem, the West Bank and the rest of the homeland."

Yes, indeed. We get the message. The whole world gets the message. If they're listening. Terror works. Keep it up. It may take forty years, but you'll get what you want. Clear?

[ . . . ]

In the context of preparations for post-disengagement celebrations, the PA has ordered 20,000 Palestinian flags that will be hoisted over the settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, PA Civil Affairs Minister Muhammed Dahlan announced on Thursday.

He said thousands of T-shirts with the writing, "The homeland has returned to us, let's protect it together," will be distributed in various parts of the Gaza Strip in the next few days as part of efforts to prevent scenes of chaos and lawlessness.

I will not, I repeat not, end the week on this note.

Biting the hand


No one has been more supportive of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard than Israel National News, a/k/a Arutz Sheva. No one.

So today, the Pollard organization slams INN for publishing an article they didn't like. (Why? It included both sides of the story.)

Jonathan Pollard was astonished and dismayed by a report in Arutz7 (5 August 2005, ISRAEL SOUGHT EMERGENCY LEAVE FOR POLLARD).

Arutz7 contacted the Israeli Foreign Ministry and accepted a spokesperson's claim that "a process" was on-going to secure a furlough for Jonathan Pollard, but "unfortunately, Pollard's mother-in-law died in the meantime." Nothing could be further from the truth.

If Arutz7 had had the decency to contact Jonathan Pollard's representatives for a reaction before publishing this disingenuous claim, Arutz7 would have understood that the Foreign Ministry was deceiving them.

Read the report. Note that it includes an extended quote, including numerous complaints and accusations against the Foreign Ministry, by Pollard's "wife." Not good enough.

What planet are these people from?

Not terrorism


No one wants him, and who can blame them? The family of mass murderer Eden Tzuberi/Natan Zada is having trouble finding a place to bury him. Rishon LeZion, where he lived, won't permit it. Neither will Tapuach, where it turns out he didn't.

A statement issued by the Tapuah settlement, where Zada had spent much of his time recently, said "there is no reason to bury someone who is not a resident" in the settlement, thereby preempting any attempts to bury Zada there.

After consultations with Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, the settler leadership decided not to allow Zada to be buried in Tapuah.

Unconfirmed reports stated that Zada would be buried in the Kirya Arba cemetery.

I've long maintained that the Jewish community tends to go overboard to distance itself from the rotten elements in its midst. It's an interesting phenomenon, especially when compared to the responses of other ethnic, religious and national groups under similar circumstances. Some habitually claim it was a set-up, others shrug and say "so what," still others justify and rationalize. And of course each community, including ours, contains all of these elements.

The loudest collective and official Jewish voice you'll hear in the coming days, however, will be the one crying "terrorist! yes, a terrorist!," the one trying to attach the perpetrator to the farthest edges of the extremist fringes, insisting "he's not one of us!," the one beating its breast over our collective guilt at having spawned someone who could do such a thing, the one claiming there is no difference between Natan Zada and a suicide bomber.

Some of these responses are of course legitimate. But there is a difference. A huge difference. This man was a sick, tormented individual. The community he was trying to embrace condemns and rejects him. No group or organization dispatched him on this horrific mission, though it appears a few teenagers (!) knew about it. This was mass murder and a senseless hate crime, to be sure. We should be angry, we should be outraged, and we should insist that everything possible be done to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.

But it wasn't terrorism.

Calling it that just dilutes the meaning of the term. It shouldn't make us feel better and, sorry, it won't win us any points with those who are eagerly seizing on this as evidence that we are "just like them." Read and compare.

That said . . .


The Israeli Arab community is threatening violence.

Sheikh Kamel Hatib – deputy head of the Northern Islamic Movement – told The Jerusalem Post while he hoped riots would not erupt, he did not believe the Israeli-Arabs would let the attack pass by quietly.

"I hope there will not be violence," Hatib said. "But the massacre that happened today will not pass quietly and with the entire Israeli-Arab sector upset things might develop."

Mayor of Umm el Fahm, Hashem Al Rahman, who in October 2000 was deputy mayor of the city, said the mood was not the same now as it was five years ago.

"The people are very upset," Al Rahman said. "Anyone who is sane would be upset by this attack and the people here will need to be allowed to express their anger."

Express their anger against whom? How many horrific attacks by Arab terrorists have Israelis suffered? And how many of them have rioted in response? Al Rahman is correct that anyone who is sane would be upset by this attack. And they are. The Jewish neighbors and countrymen of the victims are, almost without exception, vocally outraged.

MKs from across the political spectrum condemned Thursday's murders in Shfaram, especially Arab MKs, who blamed the government and security officials for allowing the attack to happen.

Hadash leader Mohammed Barakei, who lives in Shfaram, tried to calm down the angry mob that surrounded the bus where the attack took place and tried to mediate between soldiers and the residents of the town. Barakei said the attacker should have been prevented from coming armed to Shfaram.

I don't know. That doesn't sound so much like someone trying to calm down an angry mob to me. It sounds more like someone trying to justify, if not incite, an "expression of anger" against "the government and security officials."

We have a problem

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Clearly, this man was a deranged maniac.

In what police are calling an incident of Jewish terrorism, a Jewish man dressed in Border Police uniform opened fire on a bus in the northern town of Shfaram Thursday evening, killing at least 3 people and wounding nearly a dozen more.

The shooter, Eden Tzuberi, 19, was also killed when he was assaulted by a mob of furied bystanders and witnesses. A crowd of thousands gathered around the site of the attack and surrounded the bus, where the attacker's body still lay.

I expect to hear no excuses, no justifications and no equivocation. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon:

This was a reprehensible act by a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist who sought to attack innocent Israeli citizens. This terrorist event was a deliberate attempt to harm the fabric of relations among all Israeli citizens. Terrorism by civilians against civilians is the most dangerous thing affecting the future of the State of Israel and its stability as a democracy. On my behalf and that of the Government, I send condolences to the families of those who were murdered and my best wishes for a quick recovery to those who were wounded. The entire State of Israel, regardless of race, religion or sex, strongly condemns this act of terrorism.

But how about those right-wing settlers? (via ENGAGE):

The Yesha Council announced this evening (Thursday) that it is shocked and severely criticizes the shooting incident in Shfaram that took the lives of innocent people.

The Yesha Council also criticizes the cynical use of the incident by certain political entities to try to make a connection between a serious incident to the democratic, legitimate and nonviolent protest against the expulsion from Gush Katif.

Is someone really doing that? Of course they are.

Israel media tried to link the murder with anti-expulsion protests and pointed out that the murderer had refused to take part in the planned expulsion. Nationalist Rabbi Chanan Porat told questioning interviewers there is no connection between the protests and the murder.

The murderer apparently lived in Rishon LeZion, near Tel Aviv. The story is circulating that he had recently become a "religious" extremist and moved to a settlement community in northeast Samaria, but the community administrator claims not to know him. Whether he was a settler or not, though, is hardly the point. This despicable act is totally and utterly condemned by Jews and Israelis across the political and religious spectrum. This criminal will have no camps or schools named for him. He won't be called a hero or a martyr.* (Yes, I've seen the idiotic quote in the JPost article. Until the real identity, residence and affiliations of the murderer are established, let's put that aberration on hold.)

In the meantime, let's concentrate on the victims and their families.

*Update: So sorry, so terribly sorry, to be proved wrong. Well, we do have our share of (mostly illiterate) fringe extremists. It's just that I expected better, even from them. My bad.

Family crap


But I don't mean to make light of it. My stepfather, who's been staying here for the last week or so and who I really love a lot, had a minor stroke on Sunday. No stroke is minor enough, though. Anyway, he's doing pretty well and he'll be (God willing*) going home tomorrow, so InContext will be (God willing*) back shortly.

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