Monday, September 18, 2006

Five Observations

I don't have any particular theme to rant on about so I thought I'd rather put down 5 observations of the situation in the last week that has caught my fancy.

1. Palestinian Unity government - the Pal. are obviously desparate to get the overseas doners on board again but whether this will do so is another story. The formulations of the government are vague and give Hamas a way out of not recognising Israel, not being bound by international agreements and allowing violence to continue within the territories itself. At the same time, compared to what Hamas were like a year ago it is a significant improvement. Could you imagine Hamas being bound by the Saudi initiative? Israel's dilemma is if they continue the boycott and refuse to meet with Pal. such as Abu Mazen, ultimately the PA will collapse and Israel will be stuck with administering the territories. Israel needs to start being a bit more creative beyond "NO" or "lets return to the road map" - or should I say, the road to nowhere.

2. the Pope's speech - what the fuss about? He made a reference to some medieval source critical of Islam and we get a hysterical reaction from the Muslim world. Stop the hyper-sensitivity! There's nothing wrong with critiquing religions - which the Pope was not even doing. Its about time the Islamic world engage in a bit more introspection rather then playing the role of victim all the time.

3. Yaalon's interview - Did anyone read former chief of staff Bogey Yaalon's interview in Haaretz. He basically said that Israel's response in the Lebanon war was over the top and unncessary and the last 2 days of fighting which saw a large number of Israeli soldiers killed (not to mention devastation to Lebanon) was just political spin. If someone had said that in Israel during the war, they would have been considered some fringe reckless fool. Now that the time for sobre analysis has begun, the utility and tactics agreed by Olmert, Peretz and Halutz is rightly being questioned.

4. Effie Eitams' comments - Effie Eitam MK made one of the most blatant racist comments I've heard from an MK calling for the expulsion of Pal. in the WB and the disenfranchisement of Israeli Arabs. There is a danger that in times of confusion as they are now in Israel since the end of the Lebanon War, simplistic and dangerous solutions can take hold. Already - Bibi eyeing the job of PM next time round. The right again have drawn the wrong conclusion - contrary to Bogey Yaalon - who has cautioned restraint and suggested diplomacy, the likes of Bibi and the right suggest the failure of Lebanon lay in the fact that not enough force was used. As has always been the case with the Israeli right, their solution to any conflict is always force, and when that fails more force.

5. As the Jewish New Year approaches - the next year as in every year will be critical - on the Iranian front and on the Palestinian front. Let's hope this year will be a peaceful and prosperous year. But hope is not enough - it needs to be translated into action (like Tshuva). Whether the current leadership group of Olmert, Peretz and others have the ability I do not know - whether they survive politically is another question - but let's hope they do something positive in the mean time.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Stop this stupidity

According to a recent news flash on haaretz Israel has approved the building of hundreds of new settlements in the so called 'concensus' settlements south and west of Jerusalem. There are also suggestions that settlements built illegally without government approval are going to be legalised by the government or as it is put "laundered". Whoever remembers Talia Sasoon's report on the settlements?

In the background "Operation Summer Rains" continues to go on in Gaza, which basically consists of a series of futile military operations, the unnecessary closure of the karni and rafah crossing and a "basket" of other measures, which have included the bombing of Gaza's electricity station. All ofcourse this will somehow miraculously lead to Gilad Shalit's release and the a complete cessation of Kassam rockets.

A number of interesting op-eds have been printed in Haaretz of late most notably Danny Rubinstein's in today's Haaretz and Gideon Levy in Sunday's edition. Danny Rubinstein correctly observed today that the real commission of inquiry should be into Israel's policies in the territories. He points to Moshe Dayan's policies, that for over 20 years there were no check points at all in the territories and obviously complete freedom of movement for Palestinians. Not that Dayan was particularly sensitive to the problems Israel confronted in the territories. Gorenberg's comprehensive book on the settlement enterprise released earlier this year provides plenty of ammunition in this regard. The point is it is now taken as normal that the territories can hermeuretically sealed for long periods of time and its no big deal. Its Israel's security after all.

The current situation can not continue to go on. I can not believe that a Centrist Israeli government can be behaving with such reckless regard on this issue. Where is Amir Peretz, in respect of what is happening in Gaza? As Defence Miniser, surely he knows what the IDF is doing down there? Olmert has repeated that his silly "realignment" plan is shelved for the time being. Does this mean his not wiling to reengage on the Pal. issue at all?

Its not good enough for Israel to simply build a wall, separate and not deal with the Palestinian issue. It is a lazy, foolish attitude, which will get Israel nowhere.