Wednesday, March 31, 2004

This morning on page 2 of the English edition of Ha'Aretz I saw a picture similar to the one that illustrates this article. Search and find the differences between these young men/children who throw stones at our soldiers and their Arab colleagues. Also today on my television screen I saw settlers heckling our beloved Prime Minister at the Likud convention. Likud mass meetings always make me wonder whether Israel isn't really a shoutocracy ( or crimocracy, see here, and remember that many questioned MK's Gavrieli's qualifications for membership of our parliament and the way in which she received a prominent place on the candidates' list in her party's primaries; that two of the few times that she professionally made major headlines were when she insisted - against the urgent advice of the police - that she had the right to go up the Temple Mount and when she used some very not nice qualifications to describe her respect for the police force, after her father had been the target of what seemed to be a gangster-style assassination attempt ), but this time even veteran Likudniks were surprised by the creative interpretation of democracy by their leadership. Really, all the signs have been there for many years. I arrived in Israel in 1992, and, as much as I love the country ( this afternoon I talked with a colleague at the university and told him how good it was to get back home after six months in France ), it was never as beautiful as the one which tempted me to come here in the first place. Still, today I have the impression that records of corruption, of selfishness, of contempt for the state and all of its institutions, and of mutual hatred between the different components of Israeli society are broken on a daily basis. I am ashamed to admit that, although I share the concern expressed by their authors, when I read articles such as this one and this one, I shrug my shoulders and at the very most write some angry lines here on my blog, whereas if I really was an engaged and responsible citizen I would go into the streets, try to be heard and improve things, even just a little bit. These days, my faith in politics has reached rock bottom. Seeing how businessmen, sportsmen and some Argentinian youngsters succeeded in serving Israel's interests better than any politician ( see here and here ) brought a big smile on my face, something that these days is rarely caused by reading the newspapers or watching television.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Yesh! The Final Four of the Euroleague will be held in Tel Aviv on April 29th as planned. In addition, Valencia will be punished with a technical loss and a fine for not showing up last week for its game against Maccabi TA. I have no idea what convinced those who were supposed to vote ( business, the fact that alternatives such as Barcelona and Moscow are located in countries that have known terror attacks much worse than some of the bombings here, a video recording with the actors of the Argentinian youth-soap opera Rebelde!, who have come to visit here many times ) but the result is definitely a defeat both for those who want to give in to terrorists' demands and for those who want to take advantage of the fears of the supporters of appeasement. Now let us hope that things will remain calm for at least another month. Thirty days is a very long time here.
Je moet toch wel erg van het koningshuis houden ( of gewoon te veel vrije tijd hebben ) om ruim zes uur buiten achter een dranghek te wachten teneinde "niets te hoeven missen" van de uitvaart van prinses-koningin Juliana, terwijl alles live wordt uitgezonden op de televisie. Zouden koningin Beatrix en de andere dochters, kleinkinderen en verder familie van Juliana op een dag als vandaag niet nog meer dan anders gewoon een doorsnee Nederlands-Duits-Spaans-Cubaans-Argentijns gezin willen zijn, zodat ze met elkaar en zonder alle poespas en gluurderij hun moeder, oma etc. rustig konden begraven of cremeren? Ik wens mijn lezers in Nederland een fijne dag, veel kijkplezier en sterkte bij het verwerken van dit verlies ( doorhalen wat niet van toepassing is ). PS: Ik heb net een uitgebreide beschrijving van de ceremonie op de website van de Telegraaf gelezen, en het ziet er allemaal wel erg indrukwekkend uit. Om met ( als ik hte me goed herinner ) Herman Berkien te spreken, " Het kost wel een paar centen, maar je hebt er ook wat voor."
The following article is a 'raw' translation of a Dutch original that I wrote last week, right after the killing of Ahmad Yassin, and that appears today in the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad. ( Het Nederlandse origineel zal later deze week op het blog verschijnen ). Save us from our non-leaders! By killing the leader of Hamas the Israeli government has shown that it thinks it should and could wage the war against terror by military means only. As many times before in history, considerations of a domestic-political nature determine government policy outside a nation’s borders. Israelis and Palestinians cannot trust their own leaders to serve their nations’ most essential interests. Aid and pressure from Europe are more than ever of vital importance. After Ahmad Yassin and some of his followers were killed by Israeli rockets we heard, saw and read several stories told by people who – whether or not maimed and/or handicapped for life – survived attacks perpetrated by Hamas, and by relatives of victims who were murdered by terrorists whom Yassin had guided and sent. It comes as no surprise that nobody here shed a tear because Ahmad Yassin paid with his life for his crimes. Still, a fierce discussion has started concerning the question whether it has been necessary and wise to liquidate terrorist leaders in general - and this one in particular -, whether the human and political costs of a policy of deadly pursuits against terrorist leaders are outweighed by its benefits, and especially whether or not the timing of the attack against Ahmad Yassin was determined very much by domestic-political concerns. During the last months Ariel Sharon has had to make bigger efforts than ever before in order to survive politically. Entangled, both personally and through his youngest son, in a complicated financial-juridical net, the old fox started his survival campaign by openly talking about a possible Israeli withdrawal from important parts of the occupied territories, something which provided him with support and sympathy from a large proportion of the Israeli population and from the American government. Until now he has only been talking about it. This results in an absurd situation, in which the leftwing opposition is afraid to politically attack the Prime Minister because it considers him to be the only one who somehow will be able to more or less end the occupation, whereas all parties on the right side of Israel’s political spectrum hesitate to stop supporting for Sharon, as in their eyes he remains the only effective bastion against the Left’s fatal indulgence. By occasionally satisfying this or that party through some tentative suggestion or by means of a perfectly timed military action the current Prime Minister of Israel managed to remain at the state’s helm longer than each of his two predecessors. The timing of the rocket attack against Ahmad Yassin should also be viewed within this context. One day after Sharon’s proposal for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza-Strip met with serious opposition within his own Likud parliamentarians, the threat that for many months had been launched at the paraplegic Hamas leader were finally translated into action. Of course the terror attack in the port of Ashdod early last week played a role here, but it is obvious that the timing of this attack against a man who for a long time had appeared on Israel’s hit list and who, because of the limited deviations in his daily routine, could be liquidated by the army on any moment once the political green light was given, was determined most of all by (party-)political factors. Even though their actions, world views, goals, and methods are incomparably different, the so-called leaders of the Palestinians and Israelis have more in common than they care to acknowledge. The Sharon government as well as the different Palestinian terror groups and the Arafat-led elite within the Palestinian Authority have all indicated more than once that they neither are interested nor believe in a political solution for the conflict which has been dragging on far too long already. In addition, all of them – when making decisions of a military or terrorist nature – frequently were led by considerations that are not exactly linked directly to the interests of their state or people. Obviously when we are talking about political and military conflicts this is not a unique phenomenon. Nevertheless in the case of the Palestinian-Israeli war it is more worrisome than anywhere else, because of the consequences each drop of blood shed here has on the stability in many parts of the world. This is illustrated by the developments on the international stock markets and the threats by various Islamist organizations against a number of potential Western targets, right after the death of Ahmad Yassin. More than ever there is a direct connection between Israeli and Palestinian suffering and violence on the one hand, and violence, political, economic and social unrest in large parts of the rest of the world. According to almost all experts, an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a sine qua non if one wants to reduce the tensions between the West and ‘the Muslim world’ to reasonable and workable proportions. Since the non-leaders of Israel and the Palestinians are unwilling or unable to end the conflict in a way that is just and satisfactory for most of the parties involved, active involvement from outside is essential. Such an involvement should consist of practical aid and carrots, as well as of political pressure and the possible use of some sort of stick. Under the label ‘the Quartet’ four world powers tried to play a mediating role. The United Nations are not decisive enough and never gave Israel the chance to become a truly full member of its main bodies. On the other hand, the United States – in particular under the current government – did not generate any trust among Arabs and Muslims when it comes to a minimal impartiality. Besides, the presidential elections in November paralyze that country’s foreign policy during the coming year and a half. Russia has too many internal problems and not enough military and economic influence outside of its national borders to play any significant role. The only Quartet member that could play a decisive role is the European Union. Not only does the Union – more than any other world power – have a direct interest in an end to the conflict, but because of the different foreign-political traditions of its individual member states it also should be able to convince both Israelis and Palestinians that it aims at a balanced and fair approach, which takes seriously the interests of all parties involved in the conflict. In addition, the EU possesses the economic means necessary to help set up – together with other donor states, such as Japan and the United States – a viable Palestinian state. Such a state, together with Israel and other states in the region, could cooperate with an extended European Union, offering the people of the Near and Middle East economic cooperation, growth and prosperity as an alternative to divisiveness and religious and ethnic hatred. In order to be able to take up such a role, the EU should stop automatically issuing gratuitous condemnations or calls for self-control after each and every dramatic development in the Middle East. There is no lack of comprehensive blueprints for peace in the region. What is lacking – and the European Union could fill that void – is a determined willingness to participate actively in the execution of those blueprints and in the processes that take place here, a willingness that should not exclude the possibility of physical intervention, obviously with respect for the sovereignty of Israel and other states involved. A framework for such an involvement can be found within the already existing Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. If the EU is to commit itself fully and with conviction to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, more than ever before peace, stability, and a more than considerable decline in the number of terror attacks and threats will come within our reach. Never were such aid and commitment needed as much as they are today.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Read this and you prabably will be as amazed as I am. A "star-studded event" to counter anti-Semitism, with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Ariel Sharon being the stars of the event, which should "provide political profit to the state and economic profit to [Orly] Shani and fellow organizers"? What is next, "Shoah: the musical", featuring Dudu Fisher, Haim Topol and Nathan Sharanski together with Yael Bar-Zohar, Michal Yanay and Limor Livnat?
In an analysis of a parliamentarian panel's report of Israeli intelligence assessments of threats against Israel before and during the war in Iraq, Ze'ev Schiff makes an intersting comparison. Whereas after the Yom Kippur War the intelligence agencies were blamed for knowing about the Egyptian and Syrian capabilities but ignoring threats because of over-confidence, the panel stated that this time Israeli intelligence did not know enough but nevertheless overestimated Iraq's non-conventional capabilities, unnecessarily causing some panic and a serious waste of money.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

It is said that Jacques Verges will defend Saddam Hussein in court. Personally, I would think twice before hiring Mr Verges as my legal defender. In the two cases which made him so (in)famous, besides generating a lot of publicity for the lawsuits and for himself he did not really succeed in securing the release or otherwise serving the interests of his clients ( Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal ).
Via de Hoe-link die NedStat Basic me biedt om te kunnen zien wie mijn blog via welke link bezoekt vond ik twee sites van collega-webloggers die - zonder dat ik me daarvan bewust was - permanente links naar mijn blog op hun site hebben staan. Daarom is vanaf vandaag in de linker marge ook een permanente link naar het Republikeinse weblog en naar BW 14 te vinden. Het spreekt vanzelf dat niet alles wat op de door mij uitverkoren weblogs staat mijn goedkeuring kan wegdragen. Wel kijk ik af en toe op de verschillende websites om te kijken of ze geen al te in mijn bebrilde ogen afkeurenswaardige dingen bevatten.
This posting by Out-of-Step-Jew tells us about the pre-Pesach cleaning we are supposed to be doing right now. It is good to know that I am not the only one who has to make the most of book shelves' space available.
Regarding "A sudden concern for the Palestinian child" by Gideon Levy, Ha'Aretz, March 28, 2004: Mr Levy is right when he writes about our selective outrage regarding the fate of Palestinian children. Still, like most people on the different sides of the dividing lines of 'the conflict' he tends to blame only one party for the suffering of one particular group of victims. Instead, he should stress the responsibility of both our and the Palestinian/Arab non-leaders when it comes to the suffering of all innocent victims, be they Palestinian or Israeli, Jewish, Muslim or Christian.
While we are waiting for the mega-response which the followers of Ahmad Yassin promised us after he was killed - and they unfortunately tend to keep their promises - on a daily basis we read commentaries and analyses on his lifetime achievements and on how his death will affect us. Today there is one commentary by Uzi Benziman on Ha'Aretz' Opinion & Comment page. He is right when he concludes: "...the conflict cannot be solved with gimmicks and partial moves. The withdrawal from Gaza - a welcome initiative in itself, if indeed it is carried out - is no substitute for a comprehensive solution that ends the occupation and restores self-respect to the Palestinians and security to the Israelis."
I am always glad to receive feedback from readers. This morning I found this message in my mailbox: I just read the current page of your revolting leftwing blog. You remind me of the "joke" about the idiot Jew facing the firing squad. He shushes his friend who is cursing the nazis getting ready to shoot them both: "be quiet, you'll make them really mad!" Get this straight: Rabbis' For Human Rights are encouraging MORE terrorism and killing Yassin was A BLESSING FOR HUMANITY. Dag... Y. B. David Editor, JewPoint Mr ( for some reason I automatically asumed we are dealing with a male reader ) David's weblog can be found here. The two of us have only three things in common, I am afraid: we are both Jewish ( only one of us living in Israel ), and we share the same blog-provider and the same Blogger-template. I wrote him a reply, telling him that I would put a link to his blog, expecting him to put one to mine. PS: As can be seen on his posting of last Friday, Mr David does not really owe me credit for reminding him of the firing squad joke. Instead he was reminded of this witz-with-whiskers by the conservative columnist Paul Greenberg.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Now that State Prosecutor Edna Arbel has recommended to charge Ariel Sharon with accepting bribes from David Appel in the Greek island affair, Mr Rantisi and other leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Brigades etc. should take more seriously than ever before the threats uttered by Israeli officials after Ahmed Yassin was killed.
In yesterday's International Herald Tribune I read a fascinating article, which deals simultaneously with German, Jewish, South-African ( and, in a way, Dutch ) history. The name of the woman on the picture that accompanied the article seemed familiar, and later in the article I indeed read that she is the sister of Pieter-Dirk Uys, who during the last years of apartheid created a very funny and popular alter ego on stage: Evita Bezuidenhout, ambassador of South Africa to the independent black homeland Republic of Bapetikosweti.
Last week, the Week's End supplement of Ha'Aretz contained a one-page open letter, which on the same day was also published in the Forward and in the New York Jewish Week. In the letter, Rabbis for Human Rights turn to Prime Minister Sharon to express support for rabbi Arik Ascherman and two codefendants who face trial in Jerusalem for their attempts to prevent the demolition of two Palestinian homes. The homes did not house terrorists or their families, but " were demolished because of a violation of zoning regulations in the context where it is almost impossible for Palestinian families in those parts of the West Bank under Israeli civilian control or in Jerusalem to legally obtain building permits." As I see the name of the Dutch rabbi Awraham Soetendorp on the long list of American, Australian and European rabbis associated with RHR, I almost certainly know that this organization is kosher enough for my standards, and after shabbat I will have my name added to the list of signatories, even though obviously I am not a rabbi.
If you have some spare time, I would recommend reading the following articles, which I cut and pasted in their entirety from the website of Ha'Aretz in , since I agree with much of what their authors have to say. Parts that I agree with in particular appear in bold italics. Our seared memories ( Yitzhak Laor, March 25 ) Israeli memory has some marvelous characteristics. It can bear an old sheikh's grave and call it the grave of Otniel Ben Knaz (the first judge in Eretz Israel following the death of Joshua), and even turn it into a territorial dispute between nations. But that same memory tends to forget what happened on Purim only 10 years ago, and what had been the tradition of Purim until then, meaning the Purim tradition of children taking to the streets in costume, and often in parades. But the carnival tradition has been put to an end. The Purim holiday tradition born in secular Tel Aviv in the 1930s was destroyed by an American named Baruch Goldstein. His connection to our new Purim with its "special deployments of the security services," has been forgotten in the Israeli memory. On the other hand, we are ordered to remember that "anyway, they started," and that any examination of "their reasons," is "surrender to terror." That's how Goldstein has been forgotten as the person responsible for the ruination of the holiday that starts our spring season. Moreover, that last Purim was also the opening of the "tradition of mass terror attacks," we are also ordered to forget in our culture of selective memory. Instead, we are supposed to remember "there are extremists on both sides," but that "the IDF does not belong to either one of those sides." All these orders to remember, together with other orders, now form the system of reasoning that an Israeli provides himself with regard to the difficulties of life, which might be less difficult than the lives of the Palestinians but nonetheless, as far as the dead are concerned, the death rate is always 100 percent. Now, with the Pesach vacation coming and the spring practically aflame with blooming flowers, turning the season into self-imposed curfew in Jewish homes out of fear of the vengeance attacks for the killing of the Hamas leader, it is easier to see what was very difficult to argue to Israelis throughout the year, because of the sanctity of the army, the sanctity of the custom of blaming "them," no matter what the chronological order of the events, no matter what the logic behind them. It is easier to show that the policy makers and the uppermost echelons of the army have not the slightest interest in our daily lives. They are completely blind not only to the suffering of the Palestinians, but also to the interests of daily life, the simple, difficult lives of Israelis. Only a few hours before the killing of Ahmed Yassin we were told by an official source that it is not recommended to travel to Istanbul and Sinai this Pesach. Whether that was preparation for the killing of Yassin or simply coincidence, now we know it is dangerous to visit even our own nature parks, the only parks the poor of our country can afford to visit, not only this Pesach, but perhaps next year, too, on the anniversary of Yassin's killing, and perhaps henceforth ever after. The settler rightists and the army have in common a faith in "Jewish fate" - in any case, it's always the same thing, always, and what does it matter if we killed him now or later and what does it matter if we killed him or someone else and what does it matter if killing him had no military value. That's the common denominator between the army and the settlers: the daily enlistment into service, from which only death will free us. In any case, there's no such thing as a private life. Nonetheless, it is still a mistake to think there was no military logic behind the killing. Yassin is a symbol. For killing a symbol (on both sides) the response is a mass massacre. Thus, in response to the response will come a response. In response to the terror, which will be in response to the killing of Yassin, while we go skyward in buses and entertainment spots, it will be possible to attack the Strip in a way that was impossible beforehand, not because of the living Yassin but because the rolling operation hasn't rolled in enough blood - and it's already been proved that under cover of the images of the horror of attacks on us, in other words, the people on the buses or in the markets or at work, the army can conduct more bloodied raids. No matter what the tangible nature of the disengagement from Gaza, practically it means more and more killing. No management of an economic enterprise that ran its affairs the way our defense establishment runs our affairs would remain on the job very long. But the army remains outside the realm of criticism. Searing the minds of the Palestinians, that famous strategy formulated by the chief of staff, is also erasing something from our brains. A state without a conception ( Gideon Samet, March 26 ) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's greatest cruelty to his subjects is that he isn't prepared to reveal the method behind the madness into which he has dragged them. It would have been possible to manage somehow were it not for the mystery of this unique experiment in Western democracy: One person brings an entire country into an experience of the absurd that ranges between Samuel Beckett's plays and Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin's satires. It is not only the street, where most people do not believe him any more, that he has managed to hoodwink. An entire political establishment is flipping through his fingers like a card in the hand of a master of deception. Last week he was just a single vote away from no-confidence in the Knesset. This week, a sortie on Sheikh Ahmed Yassin slipped him easily into the Passover recess with an extreme right purring in satisfaction and a stammering main opposition. This stalling of all of the political apparatus' wheels is already considered an incurable national malady. In the midst of the sound-and-light effects of the attack, helicopters, and vain policy promises, the fact that there has never been a period of such crashing in the parliamentary system has been forgotten. It is infected with the suspicion of corruption from the Sharon family on down. The insubstantial gallery in the Knesset is insulting. Even since Haaretz proved for the first time in the 1970s that there is organized crime here, the elders of Safed never dreamed that the mafia would penetrate there. The left in the age of former Meretz head MK Yossi Sarid and Yossi Beilin (formerly a Labor Party MK and minister, now extra-parliamentary head of the new party Yahad) has become the target of unprecedented enmity. Even a first-rate journalist and sworn dove like Nahum Barnea of the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth heaps syntactical acrobatics of scorn on this beleaguered camp. With Sharon, even more than in the nightmarish days of former prime minister Golda Meir, Israel has become a state without a conception, or what in Hebrew they call a konseptzia. Golda had at least two conceptions. One was that there is no such thing as the Palestinian people. The other, most famously, was what led to the Yom Kippur War. And she also had a third - that the protesting Sephardi Israelis "aren't nice." For three decades, the former hegemony party has spent most of its time at the playing field on the bench. The Labor Party has become accustomed to this to such a despairing extent that hardly anything remains of the slivers of creative enthusiasm in its political thinking. This is a special achievement of Sharon's, because there has not yet been - and you can count in Benjamin Netanyahu - a right-wing leader in power so destructive and so worthy of being deposed. The hoof and mouth disease of a possible alternative government has been exacerbated by the strange crash of the center. The chance of a political center in days of national cholera is to funnel support into it from people who abandon the right and the left. Shinui did this, but blended into the murky wave of anti-conception. With a resounding electoral success, it began to erode most of its principles. Shinui is marching vigorously to a bad place in the center, joining that same channel of lack of direction. The extreme right has afforded the phenomenon a surrealistic dimension. These margins are striking terror into Sharon's heart, precisely at a time when the notion of the greater land of Israel - one of the most rooted conceptions ever in the history of political thought in Israel - has evaporated. Even Sharon, in what used to be the exclusive province of the lexicon of the left, has begun to talk against "the occupation." But his actions and his inactions have only underlined the new nullity of conceptual discourse: He said no to the occupation. So what? This matter of non-conception has to do not only with formulations, of course. In a very important way, it is connected to the process of producing native leaders. Thus far, not a single one of them, with the exception of the late Yitzhak Rabin (and in a partial way Shimon Peres and Moshe Dayan, who never became prime minister) ever managed to perform as a leader with a firm, clear and comprehensive outlook toward resolving the conflict. This failure is the public elites' betrayal of their destiny. Therefore, Sharon, Ehud Barak, Netanyahu (and Yigal Allon, as is chillingly shown in the new biography by Anita Shapira) were such huge failures. And Sharon more than all the rest, because of his special potential for advancing a solution with the help of the right. Israel under Sharon has become a sick country(*). It is gradually losing most of the promises that were borne by the Zionist movement before and after the establishment of the state, and especially so when the sand in the national hourglass is trickling away at a most alarming rate. Therefore, a question like whether it was correct to assassinate Yassin is dwarfed compared to several profound and frightening fundamental questions that go beyond this or that intifada - no matter how excruciating its contribution to the national anxiety. Without a change of direction, will the state be able to continue this way without collapsing? Has a rooted flaw in the national conduct come to light, some kind of extensive systems malfunction that is bringing down an almost existential danger on us? In short, is this national business approaching the threshold of an even graver crisis than is apparent, to a crumbling of the sort that has afflicted even great powers in a vortex of fatal mistakes? This is the context - and nothing less - in which it is necessary to view the worst and most dangerous period of leadership we have ever had here. (*) I think Israel has become sick years before Ariel Sharon came to power. I have been in the country since 1992, and it already had many symptoms of serious illnesses back then.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I think it was Golda Meir who once said: "We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us." It appears that that moment is still far away.
It is sad and ironic to see a basketball team from the country that less than two weeks ago witnessed one of the worst terrorist attacks in modern history refuse to come and play here for a Euroleague game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, "given the tense atmosphere of violence in the region". Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman Shimon Mizrahi is probaby right when he says: " Valencia isn't concerned about the whole Yassin thing [...], they just want to stop us enjoying home-court advantage." The Euroleague organization - unlike its soccer counterpart - deserves praise for not giving in to terror, telling Valencia it must come to Tel Aviv for tomorrow's game and stating " Maccabi Tel Aviv is very organized when it comes to security matters."
Even though I seldom agree with what Amira Hass and Gideon Levy write, they often provide us with important information that otherwise would not be avaliable to us. Today Amira Hass has a very good article on the Op-Ed page of Ha'Aretz. It deals with the absurd way of thinking which lies at the basis of the vicious circle of violence in Israel and Palestine. She makes one very good observation about something that should worry all those concerned with the well-being of the Jewish state: "In Israel, military superiority was once presented as a precondition for any diplomatic settlement. But in effect it is the substitute that makes any diplomatic settlement superfluous."

Monday, March 22, 2004

Ariel Sharon and his government have shown that the interest of the Israeli people is the last thing that they care about. An Israeli Apache helicopter killed an invalid, while he came out of the mosque. No matter what the main motive of the Israeli government and military might be ( to prove the point that they were serious when they said that the Islamists would know no rest; to postpone any serious talk about a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip or at least to keep those opposed to it within the coalition; to make sure that the reports about Sharon's shady business interests remain hidden from the front pages ), this assassination will change the lives of Israelis and Jews all over the world, and not for the better. Right now I am too angry and stressed to write something coherent, but I am sure that in the coming weeks I will have enough to write about.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

An example of the way in which hardly caring, time-pressed or sometimes simply incompetent editors - who understandably have to shorten op most contributions to their websites, newspapers and magazines - change what was originally said or written. On the website of Sky News readers could give their view on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Here is what I wrote: The war in Iraq is a good example of something that is basically not a bad idea but becomes more or less a disaster because it was not thought out well from the very beginning. Removing Saddam from power certainly has been a blessing for most Iraqis, and the citizens of those countires who sent troops to get rid of the dicator and his murderous regime can be proud of most of what their soldiers have done. Still, all of the ordinary, non-fanatic people in the Middle East would be better off if the political leaders of Europe and the United States of America finally came up with a solid, realistic, workable, just, and comprehensive long-term plan for the MidEast as a whole. Such a plan should include Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories and the building of a viable, preferably de-militarized Palestinian state; a gradual and controled introduction of democracy all over the region; a distribution of wealth and knowledge between men and women and between the different parts of the region. Only with an all-out approach, in cooperation with the moderate forces that do exist here, will the West succeed in dealing with terror and Muslim extremism, and will the sacrifices made in the course of the war not be in vain. And here is what appeared on Sky's website: The war in Iraq is a good example of something that is basically not a bad idea but becomes more or less a disaster because it was not thought out well from the very beginning. Removing Saddam from power certainly has been a blessing for most Iraqis, and the citizens of those countires who sent troops to get rid of the dicator and his murderous regime. Still, all of the ordinary, non-fanatic people in the Middle East would be better off if the political leaders of Europe and the USA finally came up with a solid, realistic, workable, just, and comprehensive long-term plan for the Mid-East as a whole.
When George Khoury’s murderers shot them they at least thought he was a Jew, i.e. their natural enemy, a fact that in their bloodthirsty eyes justified killing him. What could yet possibly be the excuse of Eli Cohen, Avihai Weinstein and Leib Kohn, who - for the third time in a decade, which raises question about police and Defense Ministry procedures regarding arms trade licenses - are being investigated for smuggling arms to Iran? If some among ourselves have no qualms about delivering weaponry to our most deadly enemies, how could we ever expect those enemies to give up trying to exterminate us?
The Khoury family knows better than most Arab families that terror does not discriminate when it comes to randomly claiming victims. On Friday night the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade murdered 20-year old George Khoury, whose father is a well known attorney whose father was killed with several others by a booby-trap placed in a refrigerator by Fatah terrorists on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem almost thirty years ago. George Khoury was jogging near the French Hill in the Israeli capital when he was shot twice by his murderers, who thought he was a Jew. The ‘Brigades’ said they were sorry and declared him to be a ‘shahid’. Yeah right! As another George, ( G. Costanza in Seinfeld ) said, “You can stuff your sorries in a sack!”.
Under Flash News, at the website of Ha'Aretz, I read this ( please note the second sentence ): "Court extends by 8 days remand of Elhanan Tennenbaum, his lawyer says this is the last time his client will agree to an extension". Awfully nice of Mr T. to agree to such an extension, don't you think?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Also in today’s Ha’Aretz, on the same page we find two articles on two totally opposed – and, one might argue, mutually exclusive – versions of modern Zionism. First there is a portrait of Yossi Beilin, the diplomatic intellectual or intellectual diplomat who has become the leader of what – with Labor not really being leftwing anymore, nor conducting any serious opposition to Sharon’s non-policies – is supposed to be Israel’s main left-wing opposition party, Yahad ( Social Democratic Israel ). As much as I admire Mr Beilin’s enthusiasm, intellectual integrity and seriousness, he seems to have about the popular appeal of his mentor Shimon Peres. He is a marvelous statesman, admired and welcome in many of the world’s capitals, but in order to really improve things here we are desperately in need of someone who can convince the Israeli electorate, and unfortunately Yossi Beilin just will never be able to pull that one off. Then another article tells us about the identity crisis within the Israeli Right, following the opposition of many towards Sharon’s apparent plans regarding the future of Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the Westbank. Some of the most fascinating – because eclectic – and frightening views on democracy and the rule of law that I ever read are presented by good old Elyakim Haetzni of Kiryat Arba: "It's not enough to define the transfer, the expulsion of Jews from their homes, as a crime. [...] If it's a crime, that crime cannot be accepted, and it makes no difference by what majority the decision to carry it out is made. Even if the Knesset decides by a majority, and even if a national referendum decides by a majority of 99 percent to carry out this thing, to remove me from my home, this isn't only a crime, it's first and foremost a blow to democracy. One cannot decide to carry out a pogrom, and this is a pogrom: We are taking our soldiers and policemen to carry out a pogrom, to destroy houses, to drag people out of their homes, to remove the bones of the dead from the cemeteries. Democracy cannot do such things according to the rules of democracy itself. A local newspaperman came to me and asked me, `And what if there's a majority?' I told him: `We are five in a boat and there's no food. We're going to die of starvation, and decide by a referendum, four against one, to eat you. Does that obligate you? Will you still say `democracy'?" Haetzni shows once again how the hysterical use of Holocaust-related imagery delutes the impact of the vocabulary that historians and survivors use to describe the atrocities committed against the Jews in the years 1933-45. That abuse makes it easier for our enemies to exploit the vocabulary for their own particular causes. In addition, this spokesman for the settlers associates the young men and women who defend our very existence with those who perpetrate pogroms. Just as any comparison between the plight of the Palestinians after 1948 and the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe is ridiculous, unhistorical and morally wrong, so is associating the possible evacuation of settlements - legal or illegal - by a democratically elected Israeli government with some of the most painful chapters in Jewish history. At the end of that same article professor Aryeh Eldad of the National Union says what in fact already is obvious to us: political Zionism is in a very, very deep crisis ( he says “bankrupt”, but I refuse to give up all hope of recovery ). For him the only alternative is religious Zionism, “ which says the Land of Israel is a value in itself rather than a tool ”. I am very much afraid that professor Eldad has a point. All those for whom Zionism is much more than a Jewish-spiritual version of Blut-und-Boden should start seriously working towards creating and upholding parallel, viable versions of an ideology that embraces Jewish nationalism while working towards a true liberation of us as a people, a civilization, and a religion.
Although I did not see ‘ Route 181, Fragments of a Voyage to Israel-Palestine ’, it was with much interest that I read a long article in today’s Ha’Aretz about the controversy this film by a Eyal Sivan and Michel Khleifi has created. In the article Alain Finkielkraut says some very true things, which refer to a subject that I wrote about in earlier postings: “ The people who claim that Sivan’s film should be shown for the sake of freedom of expression are the same people boycotting Israeli intellectuals. It is not possible to boycott on the one hand, and to cry out in favor of freedom of expression on the other.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Het volgende artikel staat vandaag op de Podium pagina in Trouw. Het kan tevens gelezen worden op de website van CIJO, de jongerenorganisatie van het CIDI: New York – Jeruzalem – Madrid Osama Bin Laden kan tevreden zijn: de eerste democratische politieke wisseling van de wacht als gevolg van zijn misdaden heeft plaatsgevonden. Het wordt tijd dat de westerse democratieën hun traditionele binnenlandse en onderlinge wrijvingen en machtspelletjes achter zich laten om het enorme gevaar van Al-Qa’ida te onderkennen, en eensgezind en zonder compromissen wereldwijd de strijd aan te binden met de islamistische variant van terreur. Op het moment dat ik dit artikel begon te schrijven kwamen de eerste berichten over een dubbele zelfmoordaanslag in de haven van Ashdod binnen en brachten miljoenen Spanjaarden hun stem uit voor een nieuw parlement. In een zich langzaam maar zeker globaliserende wereld is de afstand van Madrid naar Tel Aviv, van New York naar Baghdad, of van Moskou naar Jeruzalem te verwaarlozen. Ook al hebben we allemaal te maken met wat in feite één en dezelfde vijand is, toch bekijkt iedere regerings- of oppositieleider in elk land het wereldwijde islamistische terreurprobleem met een andere bril, ziet de oorzaken voor de terreur deels in het beleid van zijn politieke tegenstanders, en draagt zijn eigen oplossingen aan. Dit verklaart voor een aanzienlijk deel het succes van Osama Bin Laden. De aanslagen van afgelopen donderdag werden door de twee grootste partijen in Spanje cynisch gebruikt om hun ‘gelijk’ te krijgen. Terwijl de Volkspartij van premier José María Aznar maar wat graag de ETA als daders had willen ontmaskeren hebben de socialisten onder leiding van José Luís Rodriquez Zapatero ( met Miguel Angel Moratinos, de voormalige EU-afgezant in het Midden-Oosten, als beoogd minister van buitenlandse zaken ) ‘ hun zin’ gekregen: alles wijst er op dat Al-Qa’ida achter de aanslagen zit. De vraag zal altijd blijven of de nederlaag van Aznar’s partij een direct gevolg was van het bloedige geweld in Madrid of van de krampachtige leugens met betrekking tot de mogelijke daders, of dat zij sowieso de macht uit handen had moeten geven. Feit blijft dat van de drie belangrijkste supporters van de aanval op Irak de eerste verslagen is. Ook Tony Blair heeft het politiek moeilijk, en George W. Bush moet nog maar zien of hij over een jaar ’s werelds machtigste land leiden zal. Vanmorgen, een dag na de verkiezingsoverwinning en vier dagen na de aanslagen, maakte de toekomstige Spaanse premier bekend dat hij inderdaad de troepen uit Irak zal terugtrekken. Tegelijkertijd zei hij dat de strijd tegen de terreur het belangrijkste doel van de nieuwe regering is. Mij schijnt het toe dat deze twee besluiten elkaar tegenspreken. Immers, zonder de aanslagen in Madrid zou het terugtrekken van de Spaanse troepen uit Irak een uitdrukking van de wil van het Spaanse volk zijn geweest. Als Zapatero zijn verkiezingsbelofte echter nu waarmaakt, dan kan zo’n stap ook en misschien wel vooral worden gezien als een toegeven aan de dreigementen van Osama Bin Laden’s getrouwen. Voorlopig is het dus minstens 1-0 voor Al-Qa’ida. In Israël worden de ontwikkelingen in Spanje met grote interesse gevolgd, ook al worden de voorpagina’s – zoals te verwachten valt – vooral met ‘onze eigen’ terreur gevuld. Dat we hier nog nooit een aanslag van het formaat Madrid hebben gehad ligt zeker niet aan de goede bedoelingen of het gebrek aan motivatie van onze tegenstanders. Wij hebben leren leven met de gedachte dat iedere dag voor ons een 09/11 of 03/11 kan zijn, weten dat zowel de terroristen als hun slachtoffers een naam en een gezicht hebben, en dat terreur niet alleen de vermoorde slachtoffers treft, maar ook hun familieleden en vrienden. Vanmorgen om zeven uur begon het journaal hier – niet bepaald voor het eerst – met het voorlezen van de namen van de tien mensen die gisteren in Ashdod waren vermoord: Mazal Marciano, 30 jaar, getrouwd en moeder van twee zoons van 2 en 5 jaar oud; Moshe Hendler, 29 jaar, getrouwd en vader van een 2-jarige dochter, enzovoort. Voor ons zou een kop zoals ik die vandaag in de International Herald Tribune las, “ Europe: Terrorism is suddenly real ”, dan ook bijna lachwekkend zijn, als de situatie niet zo triest was. Het is waar, de Palestijnse terreur wordt deels gevoed door gevoelens van woede, frustratie en wanhoop als gevolg van de onrechtmatige Israëlische bezetting van de Gaza Strook en de Westoever. Die bezetting moet ook zo snel mogelijk beëindigd worden. Toch is het naïef en dom om te denken dat met een einde aan de bezetting van de bezette gebieden een einde aan de terreur zal komen, net zoals een einde aan een Westerse aanwezigheid in Irak de terreur daar niet zal stoppen. Het wordt tijd dat de regeringen en bevolkingen in het Westen inzien wat wij hier al jaren weten: we staan met ons allen niet tegenover een vijand die ( slechts ) grotendeels legitieme en relatief gemakkelijk in te willigen nationalistische eisen stelt. Het gevaar dat het Westen als geheel bedreigt heet niet IRA, ETA , Yasser Arafat of zelfs Saddam Hussein. Dat gevaar wordt gevormd door een religieus fanatisme dat volkomen rationeel denkt en werkt, ook al volgt het niet de ratio waarmee we vertrouwd zijn. Weliswaar zijn er ook christelijke, joodse en andere varianten op dit fanatisme, maar door het aantal actieve fanatiekelingen en de aard van hun geloof verdient de moslim-variant het overgrote deel van de aandacht en energie van de westerse veiligheidsdiensten, strijdkrachten en politici. De vijanden van Osama Bin Laden & co. zijn niet alleen joden, christenen en hindoes: een ieder die geen aanhanger is van hun verkrachte versie van wat in feite een prachtig geloof is is een potentieel en legitiem doelwit. Het niet te benijden lot van de Palestijnen, van de moslims in Kashmir, Tsjetsjenië of elders kan hun geen moer schelen en wordt slechts als onbevredigend excuus voor hun wandaden gebruikt. Het sluiten van compromissen vormt de basis van elke democratie. Het samenwerkingsverband van de Europese Unie versterkt de behoefte tot compromissen. In de strijd tegen de terreur zouden de oppositie- en regeringspartijen binnen de verschillende deelstaten, evenals de deelstaten zelf, hun individuele belangen en voorkeuren minder moeten laten meewegen dan het algemeen belang van het Westen. Dat belang vereist een goed gecoördineerde Midden-Oostenpolitiek ( met daadwerkelijke druk op Israël en de Palestijnen om hun conflict de wereld uit te helpen ) en een keihard, compromisloos beleid dat gericht is op het elimineren van de terreur. Bij dat beleid moeten democratische beginselen niet uit het oog worden verloren, maar de onmacht en besluiteloosheid die soms het gevolg zijn van democratische besluitvorming mogen een uiteindelijke overwinning op Osama Bin Laden, zijn handlangers en geestverwanten niet in de weg staan. Bin Laden is al in sommige van zijn doelstellingen geslaagd: hij is mede verantwoordelijk voor de vervreemding van veel moslims in het Westen, voor het creëren van politieke splijtzwammen tussen Europa en Amerika en binnen veel democratieën, en ( met het non- of wanbeleid van Ariël Sjaron als secundaire medeschuldige ) voor het demoniseren van Israël sinds 9/11. De kans op het bereiken van zijn uiteindelijke doel moet hem worden ontnomen.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

De twee artikelen die ik de afgelopen dagen had gepost ( Vietnam - Baghdad - Gaza en New York - Jeruzalem - Madrid ) heb ik tijdelijk verwijderd. Een ervan wordt als het goed is morgen in Trouw gepubliceerd ( zie de Podium pagina in die krant ), het andere ligt voorlopig even in de ijskast. Ik wacht op antwoord van de krant aangaande hun beleid ten aanzien van het publiceren van een nog niet verschenen artikel door zijn auteur op diens weblog, op een forum, website etc. en zou het zonde vinden als men tot het niet plaatsen van het stuk zou besluiten omdat het al eerder gepubliceerd is, zij het voor een zeer klein publiek. Nog even geduld dus, de stukken worden binnenkort wederom geplaatst.
On the day that Ariel Sharon was supposed to meet the Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei, our beloved leader is going to be busy doing something that he seems to like doing much more than meeting any Palestinian leader, non-leader or pseudo-leader: meeting with his political-security cabinet to discuss Israel's responses to yet another terror attack. In the meantime, Sharon yesterday narrowly escaped serious humiliation, when his statement to the Knesset on his disengagement plan passed only by a single vote, 46-45. Implementation of any such plan will probably be postponed once again as a result of the latest attack. Still, Arik will remain in the saddle, satisfying his political oponents on the Left and abroad by now and then suggesting a possible Israel withdrawal from the Gaza Strip ( and creating false hopes regarding his intentions of withdrawing from additional parts of the occupied territories ), while letting his political soulmates know that for the time being their interests - be they financial or nationalist - remain served very well. He must be very sorry that any news items related to his and his sons' shady business once more can be found only deep inside the newspapers. All this would not be so sad if there was any viable opposition. In my eyes, the lack of that is the most serious problem facing us. Labor is lead by a 80-year old who heads the list of public figures receiving large pensions on top of very generous salaries. Left of Labor, the new Yahad party will choose its leader today. It is almost amusing to see how important both Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen think their role in Israel politics could or should be, and how they try to convince each other and potential voters of their own worthiness. On one hand, we do need a strong personality to lead the country out of the current mess. On the other, a little less egos and much more spirit, cooperation and belief in a common cause among all Zionists on the left would truly further the interests of the only state we have.
Klik hier om een boeiend interview met de Frans-Libanese schrijver Amin Maalouf te lezen. Hij heeft verschillende belangrijke en interessante dingen te zeggen over geschiedenis en cultuur, en over de verhoudingen tussen de Arabische wereld en het Westen.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Every now and then our enemies succeed in suprising us with the low ethical and moral level that they are able to reach. Click here to read and be surprised yourself.
Hier is een link naar een mooie column van Frits Abrahams, over de the-show-must-go-on mentaliteit van sportbobo's.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Regarding "Rightist Romanian candidate hires Israeli adviser", Ha'Aretz, March 14, 2004: The former media adviser of our beloved prime minister says about his new employer, whom he alleges to be an ex-anti-Semite ( if ever such a thing existed ): " I believe that he wants to change his bad ways. A woman who forgives a man who has betrayed her remains suspicious." Corneliu Vadim Tudor never betrayed us, as he never owed the Jewish people any loyalty. Paraphrasing Eyal Arad's strange analogy, one might say that he himself is both the man who betrays and the woman who claims to be betrayed while prostituting herself.
Alhoewel ik niet bepaald een fan ben van ( lees: eigenlijk best wel een gloeiende pesthekel heb aan ) Bush en Balkenende, word ik kotsmisselijk van het laffe gedrag van veel Europeanen, die Bin Laden en co. hun zin geven door hun angst te verdoezelen met anti-Bush-geneuzel. Een mooi voorbeeld hiervan vond ik vanmorgen op het blog van de overigens door mij zeer bewonderde Wim de Bie. Zijn zin "...het lijkt me voor ons iets veiliger als we nu even niet zo opzichtig met onze vriendschappen te koop lopen" verklaart veel en zou door een goed analyserende cynicus in feite als een indirecte witte vlag, zo niet steunbetuiging aan Al-Qa'ida kunnen worden gezien. Kritiek op het wanbeleid van de Verenigde Staten in het algemeen en dat inzake het Midden-Oosten in het bijzonder is volkomen legitiem en hard nodig, maar het moet wel duidelijk worden gemaakt wie de uiteindelijke vijand van het Westen en van de westerse waarden is, en op dat gebied verslaat Osama George W. met ruime voorsprong.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Vietnam-Baghdad-Gaza Both the wars in Vietnam and Iraq and Ariel Sharon’s business-related politics will determine the course ( and maybe even the outcome ) of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A victory of John Kerry and an end to the Israeli presence in the occupied territories would clarify the international political reality, something which would benefit not only Israelis and Palestinians. Europeans are often fascinated by the way in which in the United States something like the war in Vietnam, fought 30 years ago, can still be so important in choosing the right man as the leader of the nation. On the other hand, it is obvious for all of us that another war, the one in Iraq – which still continues, no matter what president Bush may claim – will be crucial in determining the results of the presidential elections. During the election campaigns all aspects of that war will be scrutinized and involved: the ( lack of ) justification for the attack, and the way in which it was carried out; whether and how America should cooperate with other countries and with the United Nations in (re)building Iraq; the conditions under which American soldiers are serving abroad; the consequences of the war for America and for its position in the world, etc. In Israel the military past of candidates for the position of national leader plays a much more important role than in the US. Ariel Sharon’s record is much richer and more impressive, though also much more controversial than that of Bush junior. Still, not the less kosher parts of his military past are what might bring the current Israeli prime-minister down. If Ariel Sharon is not to survive politically until the next elections ( which must be held towards the end of either the year 2006 or 2007 ), then mainly the entwining of his family-business-related and political interests will be to blame. Scandals are not something unfamiliar to Ariel Sharon, but never before were journalists and judges breathing so much down his neck as today, and never did scandals exert such an influence on his work and policy as during what are widely considered to be the last years of his active political career. The hope that ‘Arik’ will extricate Israel from the occupied territories because maybe he finally and fully understood that the occupation only brings disaster upon us and hurts the very interests of Israel, evaporated a long time ago. Most of those who voted for him and all those who gave him the benefit of the doubt were disappointed in every possible way, and his total lack of vision and unlimited talent to corrupt even further an already quite corrupt(able) society damaged his ratings considerably. If he decides to end at least the occupation of the Gaza Strip, his main and probably only motive will be his wish to survive politically and to fend off the vultures that – within and without his own party – are only waiting for the right moment to attack him. The Israeli presence in the narrow strip of land is considered useless and unnecessarily dangerous by a majority of the Israeli public, and a withdrawal – even if it is unilateral – will provide Ariel Sharon once more with a vital political breathing pause. Waiting for Sharon-Godot will not really bring us any redemption. What we need is an Israeli political leader who has the vision, political support and courage to get us out of the treacherous swamps of Judah, Samaria and Gaza and who will secure the future of the Jewish state as a democracy. Before the Americans and British started their massive bombardments and invasion of Iraq, I reluctantly supported the war against that country, simply because I could not think of any other way to get rid of the Saddam Hussein regime and because the interests, sympathies and desires of many among the war’s opponents are square to my interests, sympathies and desires. Those two reasons for supporting the war are still relevant, and I also still have an enormous respect and appreciation for the hard work and commitment of the many Americans, British, Dutch and other servicemen and -women who serve in and around Iraq. Nevertheless I think that – from the perspective of the interests of Israelis and Palestinians – it would be good if the Bush government were sent home by the voters in November. I do not blame Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Powell for telling lies and half truths when justifying the war against Iraq ( hey, they are politicians, aren’t they? ). Still, I do give them the full blame for never having seriously devised and promoted a long term blue print for the Middle East, as they appeared to be totally confident that after Saddam’s death or capture all problems would solve themselves. The roadmap never was a genuine and determined effort to reach a peaceful and negotiated solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and under Bush the Americans constantly allowed Arafat, Sharon and others to preserve the disastrous status quo or to mess things up just a little bit more, while showing no real interest in finding any way out. This indifference has cost the lives of hundreds of innocent Palestinians and Israelis. Even though not too many details are known about John Kerry’s plans regarding the Middle East, they can hardly be worse than the current American non-policy for the region. Besides, the large number of former advisors and experts from the Clinton-era who support Kerry seems to guarantee a possible larger and more substantial American involvement with and interest in searching for solutions for the problems that afflict Israelis and Palestinians and make stability here ( and in the rest of the world ) an impossibility. President John Kerry and Israel without the occupied territories, for anyone who is interested in a just, more or less peaceful outcome of ‘the conflict’ that sounds like a combination too good to be true, one that will serve the interests of the Palestinians, Israel and the United States ( and of the West in general ). We can be sure about one thing: the international political reality will be much more clear and workable in a post-Sharon/post-Bush era. One secondary but altogether not less interesting consequence would be that without Bush and Sharon at their countries’ helm it will finally become known who – among those who have claimed for years that they are not anti-America but anti-Bush, or that they are not anti-Israel ( or, heaven forbid, anti-Semitic ) but anti-Sharon or anti-occupation – has consistently spoken the truth, and who among them has been lying all along.
Although I understand that it makes electoral sense for the current Spanish government to prefer the ETA being responsible for Thursday's bombings in Madrid, I have no idea whatsoever why the socialist opposition 'prefers' Al-Qa'ida as the main suspects, claiming that a link between 3/11 and Islamist terror would somehow prove leftwing and other opposition against Spain's participation in the war against Iraq to have been right. From the very moment of the blasts onwards many clues have justified Al-Qa'ida or one of its many affiliated organisations or cells as the main suspect, whereas ETA involvement still seems highly improbable. As one expert said on CNN this evening, there is a limit to how many people a local terrorist organization can kill without losing all possible legitimacy and support needed to achieve its goals. Foreign and global terrorists have totally different agendas and considerations. I just read that five suspects were arrested who not really appear to have any link to the Basque nationalist armed struggle. Does all this mean that the opponents of the war in Iraq can be satisfied, as their cause has been proven right? I don't think so. Just as much as there was no real relation between the war against terror and the war against Saddam Hussein, there is no link between support for the war that ousted Saddam's regime and the wrath of Bin Laden c.s. Islamists do not need any specific reason to attack, theirs is a continuous war against anyone who does not share their worldview, be it Christians, Hindus, Jews or moderate Muslims, and that war is fought mainly according to opportunities offered. Whenever and wherever they can hit with maximum results they can be expected to hit. The only way we can beat them is by hitting them first, as well as by not adopting and applying the way of thinking and argueing which they want us to adopt ( claiming a cause-reaction link between support for the hated Americans and Zionists/the suffering of the Palestinians or other oppressed Muslims on the one hand, and being attacked by Al Qa'ida on the other ). Thinking - or even worse, openly saying - that the assault against Madrid was caused ( and implicitly is justified ) by Spain's support for the Bush government in the war in Iraq provides legitimacy to the terrorists' cause, and thereby strengthens the terrorists.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Wederom een geslaagde column van Frits Abrahams. Vooral het gebruik van het volgende citaat van Abel Herzberg is knap: ,,Och, wat zouden er aangrijpende verhalen te schrijven zijn geweest als de joodse staat, volgens het opgezette plan, vernietigd was! De tranen die men geschreid had werden al in reserve gehouden. Nu worden zij aan de Arabieren gewijd, die immers de plaats van de underdog hebben ingenomen. In Nederland noemt men dat 'genuanceerd denken' of 'objectiviteit'.''

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I sincerely hope that this heading for an article about the Palestinian policemen and the terrorists killed yesterday at the Erez crossing is only a result of a bad choice by an editor, and does not reflect the true feelings of the NYT's staff. ( Thanks to Tikun Olam's Richard Silverstein for refering to a new site that provides bloggers with links to articles that appeared in the New York Times ).

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

A week ago I returned to Israel, and almost every day there was something that I could have written about or commented upon. Still, as I am taking my time to get organized, visit friends and return to what will become my normal routine again, I just have not had the time or peace of mind yet to sit down and write something. Please allow me another week, after that I will start writing and posting on a regular basis again. One short comment about the 'revelations' in today's Ma'ariv newspaper regarding the business contacts between the Sharon family and the father-in-law of the IDF officer ( res. ) / drugsdealer / spy / traitor ( we might never know which of these descriptions is closest to the truth ) Elhanan Tennenbaum. This does not seem to be something that might bring down the government. Still, one MK of the NRP ( I think he has the longest Ashkenazi name of all NRP MKs, something with an S ) said on television tonight - I paraphrase and strongly agree with his words - that there have been too many revelations about things related to Sharon's business interests which he claims not to know anything about, and that if he is not lying one should wonder if he knows anything about the political work he is supposed to carry out as leader of this country. I believe that someone who has so many business interests as Ariel Sharon ( e.g. deals and political decisions involving land and agriculture, the shady dealings of his son(s) ) can hardly be expected to properly lead any country.