Tuesday, December 20, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 19, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner akushner@netvision.net.il

December 19, 2005

[] Barry Rubin, Director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center, has written a superb and very somber piece in today's Jerusalem Post, entitled, "The death of Palestinian moderation."

His thesis, very simply, is that the forces rising in the Palestinian areas -- both Hamas and the young Turks of Fatah represented by Marwan Barghouti -- represent radical, hard line positions. There is no leader present speaking for moderation, and the agenda of Hamas, which is the destruction of Israel, is gaining ascendency.

He says, "For a dozen years, Palestinians have been subjected to an intense campaign of incitement to hate Israel and to believe that it will be defeated by violence. While many do not completely accept this and hold such reasonable goals as enjoying peaceful lives and educating their children, this perspective has no place in Palestinian politics today.

"In short: There is no peace process and there isn't going to be a peace process. This is disappointing and shocking to many around the world; it certainly runs contrary to their expectations. One day it might change but for the foreseeable future what is needed is a new framework for understanding the conflict. How about this one:

"Israel is tarted by genocidal reactionaries using terrorism, incapable of keeping their commitments, and unwilling to take the offer of their own state living alongside Israel in peace. As a result Israel has a right to defend itself and a claim for the world's support.

"...Now this process of collapse and radicalization has visibly passed the point of no return..."

Unfortunately (I've run into this problem before) there seems to be a lag time between when an article appears in the hard copy of the Post and when it is up on its website, and so I cannot yet provide a URL. This is a message that needs to be shared with decision makers in the States.

[] The threat of terrorism hangs over us. Every day there is something else. Today, outside of the Har Homa neighborhood of southeast Jerusalem, police caught two Palestinians teenagers, members of Hamas, who had come out of PA controlled Bethlehem. They had guns, firebombs, and the makings of pipebombs, and were planning a terrorist incident. Elsewhere a terrorist was caught with an explosive belt. And tonight an Israeli motorist on the Gush Eztion-Hevron road was targeted by a firebomb.

There seems to be a general rule, a very unfortunate rule, that there is no action taken by the Israeli government unless an incident is successful. If a car full of explosives intended to catastrophically blow up in a tunnel is caught before harm is done, if the belt with explosives is confiscated and safely exploded... it's as if nothing happened. But the intention for something to happen was there. The planning to make it happen was there. The Palestinian desire to do us major harm was exhibited. Yet if no Jews die, no action is taken. Jews have to die first.

[] There is growing concern about the barrage of Kassams coming out of Gaza. While Israel is responding by air, Minister of Defense Mofaz says there are no plans to re-enter Gaza on the ground. Not at this time, anyway. The talk is that ultimately such an operation may be necessary. Are you ready to guess where? In the area that used to be Gush Katif, to push back terrorist forces so that they are not close enough to aim at Ashkelon, where there is danger of a pipeline and powerplant being hit.

Forgive me, but the colossal idiocy of this entire situation, which we brought upon ourselves, defies description.

[] Ariel Sharon's health will undoubtedly be an issue in the upcoming campaign. And legitimately so. Sharon's stroke was minor and doctors have declared him fit to govern. But there have been whispers about his health for a long time that are now being spoken outloud. Sharon, at almost 78, is grossly overweight. He is heard to breath heavily sometimes, and has been seen dozing at meetings.

Sharon, and his party, will do their utmost to show how healthy he is. But it is exceedingly likely that this will pull down his drawing power come election time. There will be people who might have been inclined to vote for him who will now wonder if he should be given an additional mandate to govern.

What we're already seeing is a scrambling within the Kadima party. This is highly amusing, from where I sit. Kadima was founded on Sharon's initiative and on his personality; people followed him. Now those who followed are growing uneasy. Suddenly the message coming out is that people should know that Kadima is a REAL party, and not just about Sharon. My best laugh will come when (please G-d) the party falls on its face and these opportunists says, "Uh oh, we made the wrong decision. Now what?" As commentator Herb Keinon puts it, "Without Sharon, there is no cement keeping Shimon Peres and Shaul Mofaz in the same party."

[] The Likud primary. No word. Nothing to report, as yet, except that turnout is exceptionally low. Says candidate Shalom, "Likud has lost its fighting spirit." No prediction on what the low turnout portends in terms of a frontrunner (with a run off likely to follow). In polls it was reported that those for Shalom also said they weren't sure they would vote -- Netanyahu supporters were more likely to say they'd vote. However, elsewhere I read that Shalom's machinery for getting out voters was better and I know Netanyahu was calling for each supporter to bring another to the polls. Waiting is the name of the game...

The big question is, in light of this lack of moderation and leaderhsip on the Palestinian side, isn't Sharon correct in wanting to give up on them and secure ourselves from them?
It might feel and smell like surrender but might it feel more secure and better afterwards?
The present lack of moderation is obvious. Thus, the unilateral actions of Sharon imperative. Still, I now subscribe to the motto "Rok Sharon Yechol" rather than "Rok Likud Yechol".
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