Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Monday, January 30, 2006
- terrorism: "The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims"
- terrorist: "A person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims"
While these are slightly problematic definitions ( they could apply to several Western, democratic governments and their war-time policies ) they do cover the activities of most extremists in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including most of the militants among the settlers and their sympathizers.
Since Israel always has said - rightly so, in my opinion, though it did not always apply that rule, see for example its deals with Hizbollah - that it will not negotiate with terrorists, this morning I was surprised to read this report ( here is the same news item on the website of Ha'Aretz ). Of course I am not making any comparisons, but yet again it becomes clear that extremist violence pays off.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Friday, January 27, 2006
Fortunately I opened my mailbox half an hour ago, before I started the weekly cleaning of our house. A Dutch newspaper asked if I could send them an opinion article that deals with the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, for tomorrow's issue. Since I know quite clearly what I want to say on the subject I eagerly accepted the order. That order is the reason why I probably won't blog today, apart from this posting. For the loyal visitors of DBI here are my two favorite Dutch cartoonists' views on the Hamas victory. Shabbat shalom.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
- Understandably Palestinians were really fed up with the corruption and infighting of the Fatah-related factions. Like other Islamist political parties, Hamas has a reputation of honesty and modesty.
- One could seriously start to wonder whether a majority of Palestinians wants/believes in a peaceful, negotiated solution of the conflict with Israel. For decades support, among the Palestinian population, for the various ( terror ) organizations that make up the political spectrum in the territories has been linked directly to those organizations' success in their 'struggle' against Israel, i.e. the more Jews an organization managed to murder and maim, the more respect and popular support it has received. Hamas is the organization that - by turning suicide terrorism into a byword for the Palestinian nationalist struggle - has been the most 'successful' in that struggle. Although the organization has tried to present itself abroad as pragmatic, few Palestinians voted for it because they believed in pragmatism and some sort of peaceful coexistence of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
- The assumption on which Oslo was based ( as soon as the Palestinians understand that peace is in their own interest - only through peaceful coexistence alongside and economic cooperation with Israel will they be able to improve their lives - they will give up terror ) was faulty, to say the least. Like the extreme and not so extreme rightwing Israelis, Palestinian voters made clear that they believe only in absolute solutions: their right exludes the right of the other side. If - and this is a big if - Israeli policy planners ever took the Palestinians' wellbeing into account ( assuming that their wellbeing is Israel's interest ), they can stop pretending to do so from now on, and make their plans and carry out their policies based on one consideration only: Israel's wellbeing and security interests.
In diverse media I heard people say that once in power Hamas will become more realistic and less fanatic, but I find that hard to believe. True, the Muslim Brotherhood - which, one could say, inspired the founders of Hamas - has participated peacefully and democratically in Egyptian and Jordanian politics, but in neither country that Islamist organization ever had an absolute majority, and terror has never been the Brotherhood's raison-d'etre. While I do not believe in historical comparisons I could not help thinking that in the 1930s some people believed that being in power would soften the Nazis' anti-Semitism and other radical ideas. On the contrary, their hatred only intensified, with one big difference: now they had all the means to implement their promises.
PA officials blamed Israel and the US for the Hamas victory. Such claims are not entirely baseless, of course, but Fatah officials - and most of all their late leader, Arafat - are also to blame. If they had put their people's interests before their own, if they had fought terror instead of allowing and encouraging it, if the US had not remained on the sidelines for the last five years or so, if Israel had realized sooner that the occupation hurts 'us' as much as or even more than it hurts 'them', if..., if..., if... As Matan Vilnai said to the Dutch journalist whom I accompanied, there are too many ifs, we have to wait and see, and deal with reality. While that reality has become clearer now, it also has become more complicated, and based on common sense I would say that both a Palestinian state and some kind of a peaceful solution/end to the conflict have become less feasible now than ever. On the other hand, based on common sense I would say that this whole conflict is unnecessary and absurd. Apparently common sense was not invented and has never really taken root in the Middle East.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Two cartoons and then it is back to work for me.
Friday, January 20, 2006
- Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte - Daniel Barenboim
- Aangenaam Barok
- Aangenaam Barok Plus ( two baroque compilations, issued in 1992 and 1993 respectively )
- Back to Bach - Dave Matthews and the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
- W.A. Mozart: Complete violin concertos - Emmy Verhey and the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
- The Hidden Light - The Andy Statman Quartet
- Songs of our Fathers - Andy Statman & David Grisman
- Themes - Vangelis
Monday, January 16, 2006
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Friday, January 13, 2006
As promised, three cartoons that make fun of Pat Robertson and his understanding of divine punishment. The one by Mike Luckovich is brilliant, I think.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Looking for cartoons about Ariel Sharon I found some at this website. Here are seven of them. Tomorrow I will post three cartoons that ridicule the comments by Pat Robertson. As you can see, there is a certain similarity between the second cartoon of Christo Komarnitski and the one made by M.E. Cohen. This is not the first time that I noticed such a similarity ( see here ). In both cases the two cartoonists centered their message around the Israeli flag. Of these seven the best cartoon, in my opinion, is the one made by Petar Pismetrovic.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Monday, January 09, 2006
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
- is what was published yesterday about the Sharon-Kern affair something new, is the timing of its publication politically motivated, should Sharon resign, should he be allowed to run for re-election, does the publication affect the voters' opinion, etc.?
- the investigation of the Israeli ( or Israeli-Russian, I am not sure ) Arkady Gaydamak. Finally more and more Israelis are starting to remember and pronounce his name properly, which is hard not to, since he has not been out of the spotlights since July, when he started a highly publicized 'shopping/donation' spree, buying a soccer team, a basketball team, donating enormous sums to different charities, initiating a new political movement or party, having the biggest New Year's party of Israel etc., while all the time it was known that he is being investigated in a large whitewash-affair at one Bank Ha'Poalim branch ( on the television I heard this afternoon that he is even wanted by French authorities ). Three of the main questions that were asked today are: what is the origin of some of his wealth, did that origin make it necessary for him to engage in whitewashing large sums of money, and was his public campaign partly aimed at buying political influence and/or public sympathy?
The only thing that really worries me is that somehow the renewed corruption scandal will cause Bibi N. to replace Sharon after March 28th, or - maybe even worse - that Sharon will be tempted to take some rash action to boost his chances in the elections. I do not have to spell out here what kind of adventures I mean ( and I am not talking - only - about the country that today is by far the most dangerous threat for Israel ) but we all know that such operations could do us a lot of good if carried out properly and successfully, but if they fail - and haste makes waste, particularly if we are talking about soldiers doing things in a hurry because of political pressure - the consequences could be disastrous for all of us.
PS: While I am writing this I read online that Ariel Sharon has been taken to the hospital because he did not feel well. Let's hope and pray that he will recover and hang on for some more years. I normally wish most human beings all the best, especially if they are ill and have loving families, but as much as I had my doubts about Mr Sharon in the past ( and I still think parts of that past are not glatt kosher in some respects ), my wishes for him are a bit more anxious and heartfelt today than they are for other people. Apart from all the political repercussions, just imagine how 'our' and 'their' Hamasniks would celebrate his - heaven forbid - demise. May he live long and prosper.