Sunday, December 31, 2006

Haven't I heard this tune before?

Maybe it’s me, but I just can’t get too hyped up over rumors and suggestions of rumors from Arab sources predicting an end to the captivity of IDF Corporal Shalit’s, Ha’aretz carries this report of an alleged breakthrough:
Palestinian sources said Sunday that Israel and Hamas have agreed on the details of a deal that will see the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who was snatched from his base near the Gaza Strip on June 25.

Under the terms of the deal, Hamas will transfer to Israel a videotape showing Gilad Shalit alive, and in return Israel will release a small number of prisoners in its jails.

But uncertainty marred the reports of a breakthrough Sunday afternoon, as the Prime Minister's Office denied having any knowledge of such drastic developments in the affair.

Skepticism relating to Shalit's release was also expressed by senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who said he has not been notified of such progress on Shalit's release, according to Israel Radio.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan, however, told Associated Press Television that there has been progress in the contacts. "We expect a declaration of a complete deal of releasing Palestinian prisoners for the imprisoned Zionist soldier soon. But this all depends on the Israeli side," he said. "We hope that the results of this deal will be soon, God willing."

A spokesman for the Palestinian Resistance Committee's, Abu Mujhad, told Haaretz a breakthrough has indeed been achieved in the talks on Shalit's release. He refused to offer details but did confirm that Israel made substantial progress in agreeing to the demands made by Palestinian organizations.

According to a Palestinian source, in the second stage of the deal Shalit will be handed over to the Egyptians, and then will be transferred to Israel. At the same time, 450 Palestinian prisoners will be released by Israel.

Hamas will present Egypt with a list of all the prisoners whose release it will seek and ask for Israel's authorization. Two months later, Israel will free another group of prisoners, the size of which and those included will be decided in Jerusalem. Israel has promised to be "generous" on this issue, the source said.

A senior Hamas official told Haaretz that members of the group in the territories were informed that there would be good news coming soon, although they had not been given any details.

Earlier Sunday, the spokesman of the military wing of Hamas said that there has been a "substantial breakthrough" in contacts toward Shalit's release, and that a prisoner exchange deal could be clinched soon.

"If the matters continue to progress in the channel in which they are currently progressing, I foresee a rapid deal, and in the very short term," Abu Abeida said in an interview to Israel Radio.

Shalit was captured on June 25, as part of a joint Palestinian raid, during which Hamas and other armed groups used a tunnel to cross under the Gaza border fence and attack an IDF position inside Israeli territory.

The radio reported Sunday that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu al-Gheit told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that a deal is effectively ready, and only awaits Palestinian Authority approval.

It’s not surprising that Chief Palestinian Negotiator, Saeb Erekat, knows nothing. He’s Fatah through and through and the June 25th attack launched on the Israeli border was strickly a PRC/Hamas operation. There has been a time honoured Arab dance Israelis typically go through when one of their own is held hostage….just think Ron Arad. But what puzzles me, is why is Hamas seeking to create a buzz on their dance card?

If the Ha’aretz outline of the possible deal is accurate; am I the only who feels it would be problemtic for the Egyptians (as in Camp David Peace Accord) to receive custody of an IDF soldier and hold him hostage pending approval for his release from a foreign terrorist organization? And what if Hamas reneges on the deal for whatever reason and demands the Egyptians not release Shalit to Israel? Are the Egyptians prepared to back Hamas against Israel?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Faithlessness of the Terror Street

I had to snicker when I read this at Arutz Sheva:
Meanwhile, Channel Ten reported on Friday night that top officials in Fatah are considering running a candidate other than Abbas, the current PA chairman as well as the Fatah faction leader, despite the fact that the early elections were initiated by Abbas himself. Senior faction members are concerned that Abbas may not retain enough popularity to beat the Hamas terrorist organization that won control of the government by a landslide victory during the elections a year ago.

Their Number One choice thus far is arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life terms in an Israeli prison for his role in the murder of over 30 Israeli Jews. If he is elected, Fatah officials contend that Israel will have no choice but to release him. Israel has said Barghouti will never be freed.
I have no idea if this will come to pass but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibilities, and unlike those anonymous Fatah officials, I see no reason why the Israelis would or should release Barghouti. Barghouti’s hands are so drenched with blood that four years later - they are still dripping.

But if this comes to pass, what I wouldn’t give to a fly on the wall when the Bush Administration learns how all their best efforts to remake and prop up their man Abbas has all come to naught.

Birds of a Feather Mourn Together

According to the Jerusalem Post the Palestinians are mourning the death of the tyrant:
The execution of Saddam Hussein sent many Palestinians into deep mourning Saturday as they struggled to come to terms with the demise of perhaps their most steadfast ally.

Unlike much of the rest of the world, where Saddam was viewed as a brutal dictator who oppressed his people and started regional wars, in the West Bank and Gaza he was seen as a generous benefactor unafraid to fight for the Palestinian cause, even to the end. In Israel, where Saddam was seen as a bitter enemy, there was little sadness. But Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh expressed concerns about Iraq's path in the post-Saddam era.

Sneh told Israel Radio that Israel was concerned about the strengthening of Iranian influence in the Shi'ite sections of southern Iraq and also in the central government. Iraq had also become a regional "power station" for terror that could spread chaos throughout the Middle East, he said. "We have to be worried about what is going to happen now," he said. Saddam's final words were reportedly, "Palestine is Arab."

"We heard of his martyrdom, and I swear to God we were deeply shaken from within," said Khadejeh Ahmad from the Qadora refugee camp in the West Bank. "Nobody was as supportive or stood with the Palestinians as he did."

During the first Gulf War in 1991, the Palestinians cheered Saddam's missile attacks on Israel, chanting "Beloved Saddam, strike Tel Aviv," as the Scud missiles flew overhead. He further endeared himself to the Palestinians during the recent uprising with Israel by giving US$25,000 to the family of each suicide bomber and US$10,000 for each Palestinian killed in fighting. The stipends amounted to an estimated US$35 million. Saddam's support for the Palestinians, whose cause is deeply popular with Arabs throughout the Middle East, was at least partially aimed at gaining widespread support throughout the Arab world.

"Saddam was a person who had the ability to say, 'No' in the face of a great country," said Hosni al Ejel, 46, from the al Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. "He wanted the Palestinian people to have a state and a government and to be united. But God supports us, and we pray to God to punish those who did this," said Ghanem Mezel, 72, from the town of Saeer in the southern West Bank. Others were happy to hear Saddam's final words, knowing that his support for them remained unshakable until the end.

Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bethlehem opened a "house of condolences" where people can gather to mourn Saddam. The organizers hung Iraqi flags, pictures of Saddam and broadcast Iraqi revolutionary songs.

It's not that I am surprised that the Palestinian's mourn the passing of Saddam. After all, these are same people who pioneered suicide bombings against civilians, airplance hijackings, school seiges, and refined the use of teenagers as guidance systems for suicide operations. But the Palestinians do seem to be somewhat out of step with a significant number of Iraqis. Taken from the Telegraph:
Thousands of Iraqis sang, danced and unleashed celebratory bursts of gunfire yesterday as Saddam Hussein finally faced the consequences of his tyrannical rule in a Baghdad courtroom.
But in Shia parts of the country volleys of gunfire filled the sky and in Baghdad's Sadr City, a Shia stronghold, crowds ignored the curfew to take to the streets and hand sweets to children to mark the joyful and cathartic moment.
In Najaf there were people dancing on the street and Shia policemen were seen firing their weapons into the air.

NBC has this brief account of the Kurdish reaction:
Celebratory gunfire also rang out in Kurdish neighborhoods across the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where taxi driver Khatab Ahmed sat on a mattress in his living room to watch trial coverage with his wife and six children. "Thank God I lived to see the day when the criminals received their punishment," the 40-year-old exclaimed on hearing of Saddam's death sentence.
Me too.

The Death of Baal

I am not sure where my love affair started with is commonly called the Old Testament or Torah. It’s hard to pin-point really. I’ve always been aware of it on a more or less nominal basis. No little girl who spent as much time as I did in my Grandfather’s workshop could avoid it. My grandfather was a presser by trade in a garment factory who dreamed of being a scholar and having a house on Avenue Road. Tradition dictated that he should have been a luthier after his father, but my grandfather’s father abandoned his family before my grandfather met his 12th birthday. The repercussions of which meant as the oldest child, he had to take his turn making a living to help support his family.

My grandfather use to tape himself reciting poetry, psalms, and the Old Testament. He would take those tapes to work with him and as he while he worked he would play them back. I asked him one time why he made those tapes. He told me that sometimes his job would get very hard and he needed something to make his soul sing so he could do whatever hard thing was required in order that he could continue to care for all of us. To this day, there are lines of psalms which I cannot read without hearing the sound of his voice inside my head.

After I left my grandparent’s house I don’t think I bothered much with any religious writings until after I had children of my own. As part of their religious education in school stories from the bible were told. My children, being my children, were never content with the lessons and incessantly questioned every single word of the stories told much to the despair and frustration of their various teachers. I realized early on I would have to actively intervene to supplement those lessons if there was to be peace at the dinner table.

Around the time the Last Amazon was being prepared for her 1st communion we ran into great snags on two fronts. The Last Amazon had a hard time understanding or believing how the priest turned the communion wafer into the body of Christ. And even if she was to believe the priest was invested with magical and mysterious powers which turned the wafers magically and mysteriously into the body of Christ she was repelled at the idea of eating man-made flesh.

The second front concerned her younger brother Montana. He just couldn’t wrap his head around the concept of the trinity. He was insistent and convinced that it was a ridiculous concept for the Creator and Master of the Universe to make himself into human flesh in order to be his own human son to save mankind from the folly of sin. The more I tried to explain it, the more he felt in his six year old mind that all his grown-up authority figures were trying to pull the wool over his eyes.

It was at that point that Montana announced he preferred Moses to Jesus because Moses didn’t try to be a god, but he spoke to Lord, and the Lord who answered back in a language he could understand. A formula for the redemption from sin was already given which was logical and just to his mind. Just as sin was within the preview of human choice so was the path to redemption with no human sacrifice required.

So once again I was at a loss. You see, the various questions my children were asking were the same ones as I child I asked, and just like them, no grown up ever answered my questions to my satisfaction. A saying of my grandfather’s came to mind; what is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh. And so, the Heretic breeds little Heretics.

In the end, we were able to reach a compromise position of sorts. I admitted I shared the same doubts but we would only study what I was sure of, and they would follow the religious traditions of the school until they graduated without too much fuss until such time that they could come to their own understandings.

The question became just what was I sure of? When I was very young I believed in a creator and master of the universe but by adolescence the weight of all my unresolved questions and resentments accumulated so deeply that I preferred public agnosticism while an inner atheism took root and cultivated in my soul.

I avoided religion and squirmed at all public rituals or professions of faith, preferring what I could touch and see rather than what was to be known by faith alone. That worked just find until the birth of my first child.

Most of my generation is probably better prepared for childbirth than at any other time in human history. We have books telling us one is going on in our bodies. We have movies of births to watch and experts to dispense knowledge and wisdom, and yet, I will tell you truly that nothing really prepares you for the experience. Every mother has her stories of childbirth. I am no different but I will only say. forget all the good advice the books and experts suggest on dealing with pain management without drugs once you hit the 10 hour mark. Take the drugs. Even with the drugs, it can be a tremendous physical and mental ordeal.

It was the birth of the Last Amazon who was my epiphany. My revelation of the knowledge of the presence of the Divine in my life. I held the proof in my arms and I knew I was blessed for I had received the gift beyond all human measure. I could not tell you what rituals or profession of faiths were correct but the words which came unbidden from my mind to my lips as I held my daughter for the first time was the first prayer my grandfather taught me. I have done absolutely nothing to have merited or earned such gifts, but I have strived to earn the trust which has been placed in me. For it is written; those who the Lord gives much, expects much in return.

I was going through the book store one day pondering the very question of what did I know for sure, when I spied a book called “A Guide for the Perplexed.” It was written long before I was born, but it seemed to be part of an answer for what I was searching for. Besides I was perplexed and I certainly could use a guide. It seemed tailor made for me and so I bought it.

I would like to say it was an easy read but it wasn't. Suddenly, for the first time since I learned to read with any proficiency, I was challenged beyond what I knew. It took a long time to finish reading that book. Me, who can devour a book of hundreds of pages in a few hours sitting - if all conditions are optimal. I was introduced to concepts and a religious complexity and tradition in which I had never been prepared for. I had no points of reference on which to follow along easily. One reference lead to another, and then another, but I was forever coming back to one common source; the Torah or Old Testament. There was nothing for it but to read it fully, and with commentaries written by others far more knowledgably than I.

I have often heard Christians remark they prefer the God of the New Testament than to the old. They perceive the G-d of the old as a cold, ruthless and demanding G-d. A deity, who demands obedience and metes out punishments to rain on both the just and unjust alike. Where is the love, the forgiveness or the redemption they ask? Where is the mercy?

And yet, this was not the G-d I encountered this time. I begin to marvel at the beauty and the wisdom contained in that book. There is literally no relationship between Divine and Man or between human and human which was not touched. I wondered at how these ancient people knew which stories to tell and which were of no consequence for future generations. Just how did they know? And what was their yardstick?

And the Exodus, I have come to fall in love with the Exodus beyond all other books contained in that writ. Here is the mercy, the love and the redemption. Here is the birth of mankind’s soul both collectively and individually. This is the fount from which all else springs. The Iraqi people, just like the Hebrews of the Exodus, have been delivered from their oppression. Today, the tyrant Saddam Hussein is dead and is of no more consequence than the shattered golden calf, but what is yet to be seen; is if the Iraqi people will collectively take up the yoke of the law and stand to be counted as a free people living in their own promised land of milk and honey.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blood Money

The Jerusalem Post is running an article suggesting that Hezbollah has been paying various and sundry terrorist groups to fire rockets at Israel during the “cease & fire” including Fatah. None of which should come as a big surprise to anyone watching the Middle East but the larger question goes on unasked and unanswered. What we all should be asking - is why does the Iranian Foreign Legion feel it can do so at this time with full impunity?

A nuclear armed Iran while scary in its own right, is not half as scary as a nuclear armed Iran who is willing to share with every Abdul, Ahmed and Fadi with a supposed grudge and a death wish mission. Iran’s willingness to share money, weapons and training to any and all Islamist who come knocking with hat in hand is a clear and present danger to us all on five continentals.

Kadima's Death Wish

According to this Ynet News article the IDF is ‘bracing’ for a new and more dangerous onslaught to be launched from Gaza:
The Israeli army is preparing for the possibility that Palestinian armed groups would improve the range of makeshift rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, with the Home Front Command drafting plans to expand the protection zone around the tiny coastal territory to 20 km, three time wider than currently.

So what does the Kadima government do? Ynet News also carries this report:
Two thousand rifles were transferred from Egypt to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, a move approved by Israel in an attempt to boost moderates in the Palestinian Authority. The rifles, as well as 20,000 magazines were shipped in to the Gaza Strip through an unnamed border crossing.

Israel is concerned over Hamas' rising military power as the Islamic group continues to smuggle explosives and arms into Gaza from Egypt through underground tunnels. On Wednesday Abbas called for a new chapter in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, expressing his readiness to discuss the thorniest of issues with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Abbas made the comments following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.
Too bad guns and ammo don’t carry a best before date.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fool's Farmers

Remember those greenhouse farmers of Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip? Well Arutz Sheva does:
The members of the Knesset's Audit Committee heard harrowing stories today from former residents of Gush Katif who continue even now, nearly a year and a half later, to suffer the consequences of being thrown out of their homes and lives.

One of the farmers who appeared at the Knesset today is Dudu Michaeli, formerly of Gadid (near N'vei Dekalim) and now of Nitzan. "I'm one of the very few crazy ones who has decided to jump into the water and return to farming," he told Arutz-7 afterwards, "but the other ones learn from my example and see why it makes no sense. I have 4.5 million shekels [over $1 million] invested in this; do you understand what that means? And yet the government has not provided me with my most basic needs: a permanent electric connection, phone lines, sewage, and the like. How do they expect me to run an international business without a fax?!"

Though he grew tomatoes and organic peppers in Gadid, Michaeli now grows mostly organic tomatoes. "But there are frost conditions here that kill off 20% of the produce," he says about his new location in Zikim, between Gaza and Ashkelon. "Not to mention the Kassams flying all around us. They remind us of the mortar shells we had in Gaza; they're the only thing we were able to bring with us in toto from Gush Katif."

Though Michaeli wants the government to provide him with weather protection for his greenhouses to protect against frost, and to supply better infrastructures so he can run his business, his main concern is the financial compensation that has not yet arrived:

"Most of the farmers have not received their promised compensation from the government for their homes and businesses. Imagine that you sell your home and then you're told that you won't get paid for a year and a half, or more; would you be able to exist like that?"

"The tragedy is," Dudu continued, "that there are five or six of us crazies who returned to work - but because of the government's inaction, there are another 200 who simply sit at home and have to answer their wives and children who ask, 'So what are you going to do today?' These are men who used to managing thriving businesses that brought money into the country, giving instructions to 20 or 30 workers - and now they sit at home."

"Even worse is the waste of resources in another way. Just like I have ten Jewish workers working for me in the packing plant, each of these 200 farmers could be employing another ten people. If just 40 more farmers were working now, another 400 people could be working! What a sad waste!"

The Knesset Members were moved by the stories of Michaeli and the others who came to testify, but it is not clear what they can do to alleviate the problems. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon (Labor) said that the Evacuation/Compensation Law must be changed in order to help rehabilitate the expelled farmers. Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union) is at work on just such an initiative.

MK Ami Ayalon (Labor) said, "This is a problem of the entire State of Israel, and the Prime Minister - who wants to carry out another withdrawal in 2007 - must come here to give explanations. This is pure Chelm."

Forget for a minute the reasons why those farms don’t exist and focus on the compensation packaged brokered by the World Bank wherein the Economic Cooperation Foundation bought those greenhouses, and ask yourself; where did the money go, and why over 18 months later has the compensation not been paid to the former farmers of Gush Katif?

Is there any act of carnage a Falling Star won’t excuse or absolve the Palestinians of?

Its no wonder there is so little clarity on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when a main stream news paper like the Toronto Star leads with this headline:
Israeli strikes threaten Gaza Truce

JERUSALEM – Israel decided on Wednesday to resume pinpoint attacks against Palestinian rocket-launching cells in Gaza, seriously jeopardizing what is already a shaky, month-old truce with Gaza militants. The decision came hours after a rocket seriously wounded two Israeli teenage boys in Sderot, a town in southern Israel close to the Gaza border. Although Israel declared it remained committed to the truce, the decision to strike against rocket launchers clearly raises the level of violence.
I have always wondered why the main stream media in the West infantilizes the Palestinians to such a degree that no matter what acts or sins it commits it can never be held truly accountable.

Sixty-one rocket attacks have been launched against Israel since the “ceasefire” went into effect, and it is only now, when the Israeli government orders the IDF to act in the event it observes a Palestinian terror cell is launching an imminent kassam attack that the “truce” is threatened by Israeli actions?

I’d say shame to the Toronto Star but perhaps it would be better understood if I said it this way - HARAM ALEKEM

The Consequences of Breaking Faith

One of the unexpected lessons of parenthood for me is the degree one learns to know fear as a state of being. Before parenthood I was fearless, and since parenthood, I have come to know fear in such an intimate way. And while in the midst of fear it’s true - time does slow down so that every moment carries the full weight of an eternity spent in hell.

Every parent who has witnessed their child have an grave accident, every parent who has stood vigil as their child slips into the grips of a serious illness or who has received the dreaded call advising them that their beloved son or daughter has been injured knows this demon.

I reminded of my own sojourns into the heart of fear when I read of the kassam attacks launched yesterday which left two fourteen year old boys gravely injured in Israel and but for grace it might have been my beloved 14 year old son. Jerusalem Post reports:
The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the Kassam attack on Sderot that wounded two ninth-grade boys, one critically, on Tuesday evening. The rocket was the seventh to have been fired at Sderot since Tuesday morning.

Shortly after 10 p.m., the Red Alert alarm sounded throughout Sderot; 10 seconds later, the rocket landed near a group of schoolchildren who were headed for the nearest shelter. Ninth-graders Matan Cohen and Adir Bassad, however, had no time to reach the shelter and were hit by shrapnel. The two were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, where doctors began operating. (..)

Doctors told an Israel Radio interviewer shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday that Bassad, who suffered hits to his chest and stomach, was not yet stabilized, and a surgical team was battling to save his life. Cohen, whose major wound was to his leg, was reported stabilized. A number of other people were reported in shock.

One of the medics who treated the boys reported that one of them was likely to lose his legs. One of the boys had a bone sticking out of one of his legs, he said, and the other's ankle was completely twisted. Meanwhile, the scene outside was chaotic as agitated residents came out of their homes to survey the damage. Cars windows were smashed, and the upstairs windows of homes in the vicinity were completely shattered. Frustration and anger were the prevailing emotions at the scene of the attack. "Our children are getting hurt over here and nobody's doing anything about this," one resident shouted.

So much for the alleged harmlessness of Kassams or the Olmert Administration policy of restraint when confronted by flagrant violations of the “truce”. An emergency security meeting was held by the Olmert Administration after the harm done these two young boys which has only just now freed the IDF to act to when it observes imminent kassam attacks from being launched reports the Jerusalem Post:
Israel will continue to adhere to the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and will demand that the Palestinians take immediate steps against those firing Kassam rockets, it was decided at the end of an emergency meeting between Prime Minster Ehud Olmert and leaders of the security establishment on Wednesday morning.

The meeting was called after the previous night's rocket attack on Sderot that wounded two boys, one critically. Nevertheless, Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz instructed the security establishment to target Kassam rocket launching cells, something IDF troops have refrained from doing in recent weeks.

The defense establishment has been instructed to take pinpoint action against the rocket-launching cells," Olmert's office said after the morning meeting. "At the same time, Israel will continue to abide by the cease-fire."

It astounds me that any government would order its security to forces to idly stand down when it observes a terrorist cell making preparations to launch a rocket attack against its’ own civilian population base, but apparently, maintaining this sham of a ceasefire was far more important than fulfilling a government’s primarily reason for being – the security of its people.

And it is only now when the children of Sderot bleed in the streets the government gives the IDF permission to take action against imminent attacks is nothing less than a travesty of the highest order. What cold comfort Olmert Administration offers to the parents of the children of Sderot. It almost makes me wonder if Olmert is aspiring to be the first Jewish Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority.

I can only hope that the families of those two boys live to witness their sons dance at their weddings.

Rest in peace

Former US President Gerald Ford has died at 93. I remember Ford being widely criticized and vilified for pardoning US President Richard Nixon during the seventies but in retrospect, it was just the right thing to do.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Olmert Insanity continues unabated and it’s not just Jews paying the price

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that PLO negotiator, Saeb Erekat, has gone on record to announce that the terrorists who were expelled to Europe after the Church of the Nativity Siege of 2002 well be returning shortly:
Reports that Israel is considering allowing a group of gunmen who were deported in 2002 after hiding inside the Church of the Nativity to return home have left some Christian residents here seriously concerned for their safety. Thirteen of the gunmen were deported to different European countries, while another 26 were expelled to the Gaza Strip. The gunmen, belonging to both Fatah and Hamas, were holed up in the church for 39 days before European mediators reached a deal with Israel according to which the fugitives would be permitted to walk out unharmed.

On Saturday, Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that the deportees would soon be allowed to return to Bethlehem. The announcement was made following the summit between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem.

While most Muslim residents here welcomed the news about the impending return of the gunmen, some Christian families expressed fear that the deportees would once again impose a reign of intimidation and terror in the city. "What a wonderful Christmas gift from Father Christmas, Ehud Olmert," commented a local businessman. "These men were responsible for a spate of attacks on Christians, including extortion and confiscation of property." He said the biggest threat came from those gunmen belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, whose members often targeted "peaceful" Christians.

"I'm aware that most Christians living here are afraid to speak publicly about the issue, but the overwhelming majority was not unhappy when these thugs were deported from the city," he added. "Now some people here are once again worried because of the reports that they will return. They remember all the bad things that happened to the Christians when these gunmen were roaming the streets. People also remember how the gunmen mistreated the monks and nuns who were held hostage during the raid."

The families of the Bethlehem deportees have been campaigning for the past four years to allow their sons to return home. The issue has been raised several times during meetings between Israeli and PA officials, but no solution was ever found. Former prime minister Ariel Sharon agreed at the 2005 Sharm e-Sheikh summit with Abbas to the formation of a joint committee that would discuss and solve the problem of the deportees.

Mary, who works in a local tourist agency, said not all the deportees were involved in anti-Christian actions. "Some of them were good boys, but there were a few who used their guns and rifles for criminal purposes," said the 44-year-old woman. "Some residents are now worried that these guys will return to the streets of Bethlehem. We heard that one of them, who is now in Europe, was involved in the murder of two Christian sisters in Beit Jala."

Tony [not his real name], who owns a small souvenir shop near Manger Square, said he and many of his fellow Christians used to live in fear when the gunmen were around. "They used to take cigarettes and other goods for free from my neighbors," he recalled. "When they were deported from the city, there was a sigh of relief not only among Christians, but some Muslims as well. Let's hope that when they come back, they will return to normal life." The few Christians who agreed to go on the record had only words of praise for the gunmen.

Gee, I wonder why that is? Caroline Glick’s recent Jerusalem Post column takes us back to April 2002 and the Church of the Nativity siege:
On April 2, 2002, as IDF forces swept into Bethlehem to root out the terrorists who had taken control of the city, between 150 and 180 Fatah terrorists under Yasser Arafat's command shot their way into the Church of the Nativity. For the next 39 days they held the sacred site and some 150 clergymen hostage.

Three weeks into the siege, three Armenian monks escaped from the church through a side entrance and revealed what was happening inside. Friar Narkiss Koraskian told reporters: "They stole everything. They stole our prayer books and four crosses. They didn't leave anything."

When the siege ended, the released hostages told of frequent beatings of clergymen. The terrorists, they told The Washington Times, "ate like greedy monsters," gorging themselves on food and slurping down beer, wine and Johnny Walker scotch they stole from the rectory as their hostages went hungry.

CATHOLIC priests said that the terrorists used their bibles as toilet paper. Franciscan priest Nicholas Marques from Mexico reported: "Palestinians took candelabra, icons and anything that looked like gold." Thirteen of the ring-leaders of the siege were deported to Cyprus and then dispersed to European countries. Twenty-six were sent to Gaza.

Bethlehem's Christians could not hide their relief at the expulsions. They spoke of a "reign of terror," of rape, murder and extortion that the men had waged against them over the previous two years. Helen, a Christian woman, told The Washington Times, "Finally the Christians can breathe freely. We are so delighted that these criminals who have intimidated us for such a long time are going away."

On Saturday night, as part of his massive effort to "strengthen" Abbas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to convene a joint committee to discuss the return of these terrorists to the city. Speaking of his good friend Mahmoud on Sunday afternoon to a Kadima audience in Ashkelon, Olmert allowed that "Abu Mazen [Abbas] is an adversary." But, he explained, he is an enemy Olmert can do business with.

Pre-Olso, the Christian population of Bethlehem numbered over 80%. Today the Christian population hovers below 20% and dropping steadily. Olmert may able to do business with Abbas but can Bethlehem’s ever dwindling supply of Christians afford to pay the price?

It’s strange how many in the Christian dominated Western world obsesses endlessly over the alleged plight of Muslim Palestinians but show not the slightest regard for the health and well being of the Christian minority under the Muslim dominated Palestinian Authority.

There is no question if I had to choose between living as a minority under Israel or the Palestinian Authority; Israel would win hands down. What I have a hard time understanding is why so many who support the “two state solution” as the path to peace believe that statehood is the answer for what ails the Palestinians? It just seems to me to establish or confer the legitimacy of statehood on the Palestinian Authority at this time is to internationally sanction rule by thuggery. And just how many Arab repressive regimes does the world really need?

Florida North - Rain in Toronto, but Snow in Jerusalem

Ha’aretz is reporting that SNOW is forecasted for Jerusalem:
Unusually heavy rains and extreme cold are expected to hit most parts of the country Tuesday night and Wednesday, raising hopes for snow in Jerusalem, the Judean hills, Safed, and even some regions of the northern Negev.

The snow is expected to start in the north Tuesday night, extend to the hilly regions in the center of the country on Wednesday morning, and move on to the Negev on Wednesday afternoon. The storms will end Wednesday afternoon, but an extreme cold front is expected to last until the end of the week.

"Toward this evening and tonight, the weather will worsen," said Amit Savir from the meteorology company Meteo-Tech. "Strong winds will blow, there will be rain and thunderstorms in the north and the center, when it will also begin to snow in the north of the country.
Meanwhile, back in Toronto of the Great White North, the forecast calls for rain with sunny breaks and a high of 3° Celsius.

I feel so incredibly cheated by this.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The day is mine alone.

The presents have been opened and the children are fed. The Last Amazon’s nose is lost in an appropriate weighty tome and the boys are glued to the new Xbox 360 with 10 new games to beat. At the boys' feet are two full sized cartons of snacks and a cooler of juice/pop so they need only to leave their chairs to use the washroom facilities.

I could take off all my clothes and run buck-naked through the house giving a personal rendition of My Way (a la Sid Vicious) and not one of the Tribe would be the wiser.

And what do I find to keep me entertained? Pimp My Nutcracker.

Full credit goes to Nicholas at Quotulatiousness.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Reading the Israeli papers in the last few days has become such a surreal experience. I find myself double and triple checking that I have typed in the correct address after perusing the headlines. There is such a schizophrenic quality to what is being reported that I can’t imagine any Israeli Prime Minister doing or saying the things Olmert is doing and saying. I keep looking for reports of protests against the government in Jerusalem, Haifa or Tel Aviv, and yet all, is quiet in the Israeli state.

Yesterday, the Palestinian flag was raised at the Israeli Prime Minister’s office and Olmert promised money to Abbas. Today, he is ready to release Palestinians held in Israeli prisons without any agreement in place to release Israeli Corporal Shalit as a measure of ‘good will’. Ynet Reports:
A day following his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tried Sunday to see whether his ministers would be willing to consider the release of Palestinian prisoners in the near future.

"It's time to show flexibility and generosity on this issue," Olmert said during a cabinet meeting, "this view may differ from the ones expressed in previous cabinet meetings, but this is my opinion."

Olmert reported that the matter has been discussed during his meeting with Abbas Saturday, and hinted that the coming Muslim holiday could serve as an appropriate date for the release: "It is customary to make such a gesture on Eid el-Adha." The prime minister consulted several of his ministers on the issue. Vice Premier Shimon Peres said that there was no reason to refrain from such a gesture prior to kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release, in a bid to strengthen the moderate Palestinian factions and Abbas. Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz also agreed that a gesture of goodwill was in order.

Olmert concluded that the matter will be discussed in the coming days, but stated that, "it must be noted that the situation has changed since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit."

Sunday noon Defense Minister Peretz also hinted that other gestures to the Palestinians are expected in the future. "The gestures are an interest of Israel, and we are willing to extend some more," he stated.

The Palestinians answered this gesture of good will with one of their own.

A Qassam rocket was fired Sunday from the northern Gaza Strip and landed in a Sderot neighborhood, near a nursery school. Several children were inside the kindergarten at the time of the attack. The building and an electric pole were damaged, as well as some of the street lighting in the area.

Adi Rafael, who owns the apartment used by the nursery, told Ynet, "The rocket hit a hedge we built to separate between the nursery and the yard. This wall saved the children who were here, because it was very badly damages. Had the rocket hit the house, I don't want to think what would have happened."

"Some of the children are trembling and scared, and we are all quite shocked by what have happened here," he added. Avi Farhan, who lives nearby, rushed to the scene and said he plans to file a petition to the High Court of Justice in the coming days on behalf of Sderots' residents, calling on the government to instruct the army to act against the Qassam cells and put a stop to the attacks against Sderot.

"How long can the government continue to restrain itself, risking the residents of Sderot and the near-Gaza communities in the process?" Farhan asked, referring to a report in the cabinet meeting Sunday according to which the army was refraining from targeting Qassam cells.
How long indeed.

The Israeli Nero

I haven’t really been posting much on the Middle East and it’s not because I have not been watching or things aren’t happening. I’m just slacking off because I am on holiday and I want to catch up with my reading and writing on other things.

Anyway, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas yesterday in Jerusalem. No doubt they were discussing all the burning issues of the times. Like how to crave up what’s left of the Israeli state and how much money Abbas needs to outfit and supply his murderous bastards with enough weapons and ammo to murder Hamas’ murderous bastards.

While Olmert and Abbas made nice, rockets continued to be launched against Israel. The total count since the ceasefire was reached between Israel and the PA stands at 51 and counting. Arutz Sheva reports:
Despite the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas last night, or possibly because of it, terrorists in Gaza fired two more Kassams towards Sderot and nearby Kibbutzim this morning. One landed shortly after 6:30 AM, and the second one an hour later. Neither caused damage or casualties.

Over the Sabbath weekend, three rockets were fired towards Sderot and the Negev, causing extensive damage to a bank and apartment building. One person was lightly hurt by shrapnel, and five were treated for shock.

Four weeks ago, Abbas informed Olmert that all the Palestinian terrorist factions had agreed to stop all hostile Gaza-based activities against Israel, including tunnel-digging, suicide bombers, and of course Kassam rockets. Israel, in turn, removed its forces from Gaza and has not initiated anti-terror actions. This morning's 51st Arab rocket since then brings the daily average to nearly two a day.
I never realized how much Olmert reminds me of Nero before now.

Life with Sons

I grew up surrounded in my father’s family by young male cousins. I was not only the youngest but the only girl. It gave me a rather skewered impression of males. For a long time I refused to believe we shared a common species. At adolescence, my early impressions didn’t necessarily change much but by early adulthood I was willing to concede some males bore the resemblance of humanity. The real evolution in my thinking didn’t occur until I had sons of my own.

I was quite relieved when I delivered the Last Amazon and discovered I had the daughter rather than the son the ultrasound had suggested. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I could effectively parent a son. Today, I am blessed with two wonderful sons and I have learned to see the world through their unique perspective, but every once in a while things happen which still astound me. Going hand in glove with rising sons has been the opportunity for learning skills that I might never other wised acquired.

Take plumbing. I started out as a parent knowing absolutely nothing about plumbing, but through the years with my sons, I have learned to make best friends with my toilet bowl plunger and I now own my snake - it just seemed necessary. There is something about a hole which holds an enormous grip on the minds of young males. See a hole and they have an unique desire to fill it up. For years, my toilet has been on the receiving end of their attention.

I now have the Cadillac of toilet seats on my toilet. My oldest son has managed to break numerous inferior models. Besides the teak toilet seat was the only toilet seat that came with metal fasteners rather than plastic ones. For some strange reason my son has a rather alarming tendency to make the plastic ones break. The Caddy has managed to last the last six months without any breakage and is showing no obvious signs of wear, so it seems to have been worth every outrageous dollar I spent on it.

Last night my beloved son broke the handle right off the toilet tank. I have never learned how to repair a handle. No doubt my grandfather neglected to school me in the inner workings of toilet tanks and handles thinking I would always have a husband to manage these things for me or he, like me, just assumed I would never have sons.

I took a good look at the inner workings of my toilet tank and think with a few parts I should be able to repair it. This morning my beloved son and I will be making the trek to Canadian Tire to buy the appropriate parts. I suppose I could call my landlord to fix it.

Allegedly that is one of the supposed perks of renting rather than owning but it just seems to me that I would like a fully functioning toilet before next April. What I can’t decide is if I should buy two handles or just one. Of course, I also need to purchase a new plunger. During the drama in the bathroom last night the boys took to playing Highlanders and somehow managed to break the wooden handle off my plunger.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Some killers are more equal than other killers

US President George W. Bush signs a bill into law designed to outlawing the funding to Hamas run Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile the bill leaves the door open for the US administration to continue fund Hamas’ rival Fatah. Fatah gunmen loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas opened fire on a crowd of Hamas supporters reports Ha’aretz.
Gunmen loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah opened fire on Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, wounding at least nine people, hospital officials and witnesses said. At least one of the wounded was said to be in very serious condition.

They said the gunmen opened fire as about 200 Hamas activists and armed men were preparing for a rally in the city of Nablus. There was no immediate comment from Fatah.
I suppose the Bush Adminstration wants us to believe the difference between Fatah and Hamas is all about the ‘nuance’.

Florida North

Denver digs out and in the Great White North; I am walking around with my winter coat undone and my gloves in my pockets. This is just wrong, and not only that - there is no snow in the forecast for the next 7 days. The highs are to range from 3 to 8 Celsius.

I use to like living in a country which had four distinct changes of seasons. And yes, I like snow. Snow made living in Toronto bearable in the winter. The air would smell clean and the streets would look good; nothing like a snowfall to cover and pretty up the litter. Since the fall, all it has been is one long day of smelly and dirty with a little rain mixed in to stiffen one’s joints. And snow has become nothing more than a childhood memory and that is just wrong.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

a penny saved is a penny to be stolen by the farm teams

With a solid liberal majority in the provincial legislature, there was never any doubt that McGirlieman and his now merry band of thieves would pass his 25% raise increase for MPP’s, but what should be a shocker is how complacent John Tory and his Conservatives played along with McGirlieman’s grand larceny of the public purse. The Toronto Star carries the details:
The Liberals and Conservatives in the Ontario legislature have voted to give themselves a 25 per cent raise, just four days before Christmas. The New Democrats were the only ones to vote against the $22,000 increase in base pay, which raises the minimum salary for all members to $110,000 a year. The legislation also gives cabinet ministers a $31,000 increase to $157,633 a year, while Premier Dalton McGuinty gets a $39,000 raise to $198,620.

For the record, count this as the straw that broke this taxpayer’s back. Since the provincial Tories have shown themselves to be as cavalier with the public purse as the Liberals, they will have to make do without my vote come election time. And to the CPC provincial membership, I would say this is what comes from choosing a Red Tory to lead you.

Al Quds calls Olmerts bluff

Olmert promises to get tough at some unknown point in the future - if kassams attacks continue reports Ynet News:
Associates of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday that Israel's restraint policy in the face of Qassam attacks will not last long. "If the Qassam fire continues, we will have no other option but to respond," an official close to the PM said. The statement comes in wake of the ongoing fire on the western Negev and Ashkelon, and after 10 rockets have been fired by Palestinian gunmen in the last 24 hours alone. A senior official at the Prime Minister's Office said that Israel does not wish to initiate a confrontation in the area, and that in the meantime, the restraint will be maintained.

"We don't want to reach another escalation. It is clear to us that counter attacks or other Israeli actions will strengthen Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Such a reaction might cause Hamas and Fatah to unite forces against Israel once again." The official explained.

Meanwhile kassams continue to fall. This time at a playground reports Ynet:
A fourth Qassam was fired Thursday evening from the northern Gaza Strip and landed near a school in a Sderot neighborhood. Several people suffered from shock. The al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing, claimed responsibility for the shooting. Odelia Peretz, a Sderot resident, told Ynet, "The alarm went off and we heard a very loud explosion."

Her brother Gal, who was close to the place where the rocket landed, said: "We were driving and suddenly heard the Color Red alert. We ran quickly to the community center and stood close to the wall. I looked up to see where the rocket will fall, I saw a flare and then heard a blast. It was really frightening, we were thrown against the wall and the Qassam landed right behind us, on a basketball court next to the community center and the school."

Kobi Cohen, another witness, described the attack: "There was a huge explosion. The Qassam landed in the community center's basketball court. There were no children in the area." The recent attack brings the number of rockets fired at Israel since Wednesday noon to 11. Three Qassam rockets were fired at Israel Thursday morning, following seven rockets launched Wednesday. Two of the rockets fired Thursday landed in Palestinian territory, and one landed in Israel.

I just chalk it up to Islamic Jihad’s mediation efforts to reconcile Fatah & Hamas, but the kassams will continue to land unchallenged in Israel until someone dies. And then, the Kadima Administration will finally be sufficiently motivated to act - even if its only because of shame.

The lengths some will go to for converts

The Mormons failed to convert Simon Wiesenthal in life so I suppose the “Church” figured they could take a shot at Wiesenthal in death. Ynet News reports:
In life, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was among the most famous Jews of the 20th century. In death, he wound up on a list of people eligible to be posthumously baptized as Mormons so they could enter heaven. Bowing to protests from Jewish groups, The Church of Latter Day Saints said on Tuesday that it had removed Wiesenthal's name from its International Genealogical Index, a database of names of people who be could be baptized after death.

A church spokesman said the Nazi hunter's name was taken off the list after receiving a complaint from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human rights group named in his honor.

Rabbi Marvin Heir, the dean and founder of the group, said, "From their point of view they thought they were doing him a favor by making sure he can get into heaven. For us, it is very offensive. Simon Wiesenthal dedicated his whole life to Jews. I don't think he needs help getting into heaven."

In 1995, after the Wiesenthal Center learnt that the church was baptizing Holocaust victims posthumously, the church agreed to stop the practice and removed 400,000 names from the index.
400,000 names – that’s just creepy. Whatever happened to just praying for the departed? Geeze. Count me with the Rabbi on this one.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ceasefires Smeasefire - The Update

Ynet News is reporting seven kassams were fired into Israel today. Islamic Jihad claims credit. Who would have thought that Islamic Jihad has so wearied of its role of mediator between Fatah & Hamas so soon?
Seven Qassams were fired from Gaza toward the western Negev Wednesday, marking a record number of rockets that landed in Israel since the agreed upon truce with the Palestinian Authority went into effect last month. A senior Israel Defense Forces official told Ynet that “Israel’s policy toward the incessant Qassam rocket fire may be interpreted as a sign of weakness.”

This brings the grand total of rockets fired into Israel to 40 since the ceasefire began. Funny how both the first and now the second ceasefire agreement between Hamas & Fatah resemblances the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the PA. Any chance the word for ceasefire and fire are the same in Arabic?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Saving Shlomo so you can kill Gershom tomorrow Deal

Give us a state based on the Armistice lines of 1949 and we will give you a ceasefire - perhaps as long as 20 years announces Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas reports Ynet News:
Hamas is ready for a ceasefire with Israel if a Palestinian state is established, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech delivered Tuesday afternoon. Haniyeh's speech dealt mainly with internal issues. He responded to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call for elections in the Palestinian Authority and called for unity in the struggle against the occupation.

However, he also called for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. If this takes place, he clarified, he would be ready for a long-term ceasefire, which may even last 20 years.
So if the state of Israel evicts nearly a half a million citizens from their homes outside the July 1967 borders, Israel can have a ceasefire for maybe as long as 20 years or one generation. And in that 20 years the Palestinian Authority can raise another radicalized generation fully armed and kitted out. This is progress?

Whatever happened to tough love?

I like Americans, I really do, and as a people, I would judge them to be counted among the most generous, openhearted and kind nation in the world. But then there are times when the actions of the US government infuriates beyond all measure.

Like when former US President Ronald Reagan intervened to save the Arafat and the PLO from utter defeat in Lebanon by negotiating a safe harbor and carrying them safety. Think how many lives on both sides of this conflict would have been saved if Reagan had not chosen to save Arafat and the PLO.

There might have even been a real chance of a lasting resolution and peace in the region. Instead, the world was treated to 20 years plus civil war in Lebanon, Oslo and the radicalization of generations of Palestinian Arabs to perpetuate the conflict to this present day and countless tomorrows to come.

There are times when it’s best just to step back and let the chips fall where they may. The fighting between Hamas and Fatah is just one of those times when a little tough love would go a long way in ultimately ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Arming one side against another is to perpetuate a needless cycle of violence longer than is necessary.

Ynet News reports:
The United States for the past few days has been providing arms to militant groups from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party to bolster it against rival Hamas factions, WND has learned.

According to Israeli and Palestinian security officials, the US weapons shipments have prompted an arms race with Hamas, which has been smuggling into the Gaza Strip larger than usual quantities of weaponry from neighboring Egypt.

The Israeli security officials expressed concern some of the weapons obtained by Fatah and Hamas could be used in attacks against Israeli troops operating in Gaza or in raids of Israeli military stations and communities near the Gaza Strip. "There is a massive increase in weapons brought in (to Gaza) since last week," said an Israeli security official.

Just because Abbas presents better than Hamas should not make the organization he represents any more palatable. If anything, Fatah/PLO has more blood on their hands than Hamas. It is long past the time for both of these groups and their ideology to die a painful and ignominious death.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Initiation Rituals

This is the first written report in recent years that I have seen which suggests a terrorist organization demands the murder of a Jew in order for an initiate to be accepted into a terror organization.Ynet News carries the details of an ongoing murder trial in Israel in which the defendant is said to have murdered a prostitute to fulfill his Jew quota for membership in Hezbollah:
State prosecutors filed an indictment at the Haifa District Court against Yussef Kassem Abu Hanani, a 28 year old Palestinian charged with the murder of a Jewish woman in downtown Haifa in 2001.

The indictment charges that Abu Hanani carried out the murder to demonstrate his commitment to the terror organization he wished to join, with the act serving as the acceptance test. Abu Hanani is also accused of conspiring to murder an Israeli soldier, a plan which ultimately was not carried out.

The indictment claims that the defendant, along with a friend, sought to join the Omar al-Mukhtar terror group, operated by Hizbullah in Jordan. To be accepted into the organization the two were required to kill a Jew. The two terror-hopefuls then planned the murder, equipping themselves with two long knives purchased in the city of Sachnin in northern Israeli. The two then traveled by taxi to Haifa, with the knives concealed on their person.

Attorney Lilach Tamir of the Haifa district prosecution notes that upon arrival in Haifa the two men hailed another taxi, asking the driver to take them to an area where they will be able to find prostitutes. The driver let the men down on Independence St, where the two waited for nightfall.

It was then that they located known prostitute Dina Guetta and after a short haggle she and Abu Hanani headed towards a side alley. "The defendant them removed the knife from his clothes and stabbed the woman in her chest," details the indictment, "the defendant knocked her down to the ground and gagged her mouth with his left hand when she began to scream. He then stabbed her twice more in the chest and in her upper left thigh." The indictment claims that when the woman could finally scream no longer, the defendant left the area.

The indictment also charges Abu Hanani with conspiring to murder an IDF soldier. Along with a friend the defendant had planned to ambush the soldier from behind and break his neck while his friend stabbed the soldier from the front. The plan was never realized.

The indictment was first filed in 2004 to the Samaria military court. The indictment also included a series of terror acts carried out by the defendant in Samaria; including planting explosive devices, carrying out shooting attacks against IDF troops, dealing in arms and more. Abu Hanani's defense attorney claimed during the trial that the charge of the prostitute's murder should be filed in a civilian court.

The prosecution accepted the demand, and the charges were separated from the military court trial. Abu Hanani is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit a crime and membership in a terror organization.
It is by no means the first time allegations of this sort have surfaced. Years ago, I read similar reports which suggested the Dom community in the Palestinian Authority were subjected to similar acts of violence by those seeking membership in al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade in the West Bank.

Hamas to World: Choose sides and the Jews get it

My son and I were discussing the concept of Islamic Jihad attempts to act as peacekeepers between Hamas and Fatah. He took issue with my suggesting Islamic Jihad would say, “Stop fighting or the Jews get it!”, and suggested it would be more appropriate for Islamic Jihad to say, “Stop fighting or the Jews doesn’t get it!”. Little did I realize my little quip was closer to the spirit of the truth. Taken from Ynet News:
Hamas is debating whether to resume suicide bombings inside the Jewish state and may allow its military wing to openly engage in anti Israeli attacks if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is aided in his calls for new Palestinian elections, Hamas members told WorldNetDaily.

"If the Israelis or the Americans and international community interferes in Palestinian affairs and encourages Abu Mazen (Abbas) to go on with elections, this will lead to internal Palestinian clashes, but the fighting will not just remain internal," said Abu Abdullah, who is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department.

Abu Abdullah warned if the Hamas government falters the terror group "will use all tools it has, including coming back to suicide attacks inside Israel." Hamas sources told WND the terror group is debating whether to publicly reintroduce its "military wing" and carry out attacks against Israel. "It is only a matter of a political decision before we restart attacks and put our military wing into effect," said a top Hamas source.

As much as I hate to be in agreement with an organization like Hamas there is no good guys in this fight, and for that reason alone; it is imperative for the west to stay out of the Palestinian OK Corral.

Ceasefire, Smeasefire

Apparently, Fatah and Hamas have reached a ceasefire agreement reports Ynet News but no word if the deal was brokered by Islamic Jihad or PFLP:

Ceasefire? Not for sure. Palestinian gunmen waged a street battle outside the Gaza residence of President Mahmoud Abbas around dawn Monday, but there were no reports of injuries.

During the morning hours gunmen from Hamas and Fatah faced off in a gun battle in the middle of Gaza City, a battle that left a teenager wounded. About 10 masked Hamas gunmen, with rifles, grenades and rocket launchers, took shelter behind walls in downtown Gaza as they fought a dozen other gunmen from Fatah, witnesses said. The fighting wounded a 16-year-old boy with a bullet in the neck.

Amidst reports on a ceasefire agreement reached in the Palestinian Authority Sunday evening and on the backdrop of violent night clashes between Fatah and Hamas gunmen around the parliament building in Gaza, Abbas' office and the home of Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan, official sources in both movements denied that a truce had been reached. Four people were injured in the clashes.

Earlier, Palestinian sources reported that Fatah and Hamas representatives reached an agreement on a ceasefire and on halting the violent incidents in the Palestinian Authority, with the assistance of the Egyptian security delegation visiting the Strip. According to the report, the parties hope that the agreements will be translated into real activity in the field, and that the activists will be calmed down.

Salah Zidan, commander of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the Gaza area, even told al-Jazeera that his organization worked in favor of the ceasefire. He said that according to the agreement, all gunmen must withdraw from the streets.

Senior sources in Fatah and Hamas confirmed at first that a ceasefire agreement had been reached. According to Hamas representatives, as part of the agreement it was decided to resume the talks for the establishment of a unity government, stop carrying weapons in public in the streets, return the security forces to their headquarters and release the people kidnapped on both sides.

The Egyptian security delegation continues to hold talks with the parties in hopes of reaching a stable ceasefire, although reports from the Strip painted a picture of a serious escalation and a real civil war.

On Sunday evening it was reported that gunmen fired another rocket at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office and that an activist was killed in the northern Strip town of Jabalya. The activist, an officer in the Palestinian national security force, was shot to death by unknown gunmen in Jabalya. After he was shot, his body was thrown in the street. The man, Hamdi Rahma, is the brother of a senior officer in the Palestinian Preventative Security Service. This was the third person killed Sunday in the PA clashes. Earlier, Fatah activists kidnapped two Hamas members.

What a strange pathology the Palestinians have as the current ceasefire agreement between Hamas & Fatah bears such a strikingly resemblance to the ceasefire agreements negotiated between the Palestinian Authority & Israel. For years, I have been suggesting in jest what the international community needed to do was to deploy an international team of psychiatrists into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Now I am suggesting it in earnest.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work they go to blow

Fast times in the Palestinian Authority.Ynet news gives a round-up of shoot-outs:
An explosion took place Sunday afternoon near the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza City. Palestinian security sources reported that several mortar shells were fired at the offices in the Gaza Strip and that six people were injured – five security officers and a 45-year-old passer-by. The Palestinian president was in Ramallah at the time and was not hurt.

In the afternoon, Palestinian sources reported that gunmen opened fire at a procession organized by the Fatah movement in the northern Strip. The demonstration, which was held in support of Abbas, turned into a show of force by dozens of Fatah activists and supporters. Eyewitnesses reported that three people were injured by the fire.

Meanwhile, about 4,000 gunmen from the Presidential Guard and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades took over the Transportation and Agriculture Ministries in Gaza. Hamas referred to the incidents as a "military coup," and Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar demanded that the offices be evacuated. According to him, if the gunmen fail to leave the ministries they would be arrested and disarmed. "What is happening is a real military coup – assassinations, assassination attempts, and a seizure of headquarters and government offices," al-Zahar said in a press conference.

The level of violence in the PA reached new highs Sunday, when the Palestinian Foreign Ministry reported in the afternoon of a failed attempt to assassinate al-Zahar. According to a statement issued by the ministry, snipers fired at the foreign minister's convoy, but he escaped unharmed.

Exchanges of fire erupted in the area of the incident in Gaza City between al-Zahar's people and the gunman or gunmen. Hamas officials estimated that the incident was an assassination attempt carried out by Fatah members or the Palestinian Presidential Guard. Meanwhile, there were also reported of gunshots heard not far from the presidential residence used by Abbas in Gaza.

The incident in which al-Zahar was fired at took place after a member of the Palestinian Presidential Guard was shot to death by gunmen. The Guard and Fatah blamed Hamas, but the movement's military arm rushed to deny the accusations.

Geeze, whatever happened to the gun registry which Abbas promise to implement after he was elected to Chairman of the Palestinian Authority? Bet that is one promise he wishes he had made good on.

Fatah needs victory and claims the Jews are the key

Taken from Ynet News:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to move up the Palestinian Authority elections was received with a round of applause by Fatah officials in Ramallah, but also they are not at all certain that they can defeat Hamas in the elections, if in fact such elections do take place. Muahmmad Dahlan and his friends are already working to establish a young and attractive "dream team." They hope that Marwan Barghouti will lead the team.

"The key is still in the Israelis' hands," sources in Fatah said. "Without a serious diplomatic agreement, we will not be able to fight against Hamas." Senior officials in the Palestinian Authority know that the road from Abbas' declaration to the voting stations is very long and complex. Abbas, in spite of his declaration that he does not fear Hamas' threats of civil war, will do anything to avoid such a war.
On the other hand, Abbas and Fatah may reap the benefits if the international community eases the siege on the PA, and if there are signs of a diplomatic process, manifested in an ease of restrictions on the population, a release of prisoners and a release of the funds frozen by Israel. Fatah officials hope that an encouraging diplomatic atmosphere tips the scale in their favor, although according to the polls, the majority of the Palestinian public still supports Hamas' stance on the question of recognizing Israel.

Israel claims that it has nothing to do with what is happening in the Palestinian Authority. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert even forbade his ministers to comment on the issue.

But sources in Fatah believe that Israel has a key role. According to them, a diplomatic agreement with Israel may put them back at the center of the stage. And what solution are they after: A Palestinian state on all the 1967 territories, including East Jerusalem, including a solution to the refugee problem.

"The equation is a just solution based on the '67 borders, or alternatively, a reality in which Israel finds itself with a strong Hamas and a crushed Fatah. Without a real diplomatic solution, we will not be able to fight against Hamas, which will happy to claim that also recognizing Israel did not get us anywhere."

So just why would Abbas call an election in which his party stands an incredibly good chance of losing ground to Hamas? Perhaps he's counting on the three aces in his hands on which to base his electoral fortune.

He has monetary backing of the Bush Administration for his electoral war chest. He can count on the Bush Administration to bring every last ounce of pressure on the Israelis to force the Olmert administration to acquiesce to any Palestinian demands; as never before has an Israeli Prime Minister been so inept, nor so vulnerable to American pressure or likely to be so again.

The Olmert Kadima fraction has no political past, present or potential achievements to offer the Israeli public in the eventual Israeli election. As it stands today, Kadima’s record is one of general incompetence, corruption and a largely unsuccessful war record/performance with only the hope of more of the same.

Olmert has repeatedly made two consistent claims. Despite the obvious failure of the disengagement policy in Gaza he continues to hold onto his policy of “convergence” and the desire to be the Israeli Prime Minister to draw the final borders of Israel. Any other considerations, such as, security are largely irrelevant.

Abbas’ desperate need of serious Israeli concessions and Olmert’s desperate need to retain power and establish a legacy dovetail nicely. Throw in the scare of a fully entrenched Hamas run Palestinian Authority, and coupled it with American pressure on the Israeli’s, and you better believe Olmert will give away the farm; many farms in fact, and not one of them his to give away.

Why would the Americans agree to apply the pressure? Because the Bush Administration is desperate to raise their profile and street credentials in the Arab world thinking it would buy the influence and Arab allies to help mediate successfully in Iraq. It would also go a long way in pacifying the American public who has grown disenchanted with the way the war has been conducted in Iraq.

The Bush Administration is desperate to turn the Iraq scenario around and believes it can do so if it can enlist the support of neighboring Arab nations. Furthermore, successfully mediating an agreement between the Israeli-Palestinians would give Bush a meaningful legacy and enhance the record for Republicans to run on in 2008.

The Bush Administration has placed all its hopes on an Abbas victory and is desperate to do anything to ensure it. Rather than remaining neutral within internal Palestinian politics the US has invested all its remaining international political capital and an astronomical amount of money on Abbas. Abbas may lead a terrorist organization but he represents the American bought terrorist.

What the Americans refuse to fully appreciate is how radicalized and entrenched the Palestinian general population has become and the electoral success of Hamas proves it beyond doubt. Arafat tilled the soil well. The Bush Administration fully buys into the argument offered by official Palestinian apologistas which maintained Hamas was successful in the PA elections largely because Fatah was corrupt and in need of reform. When in truth it was the fully radicalized agenda of Hamas and its radical track record which appealed to the Palestinian electorate’s heart.

Corruption within governance in the Arab world is largely accepted as a matter of course and considered the cost of governing. It does not carry with it the same taint which dooms American political candidates. In ascribing American values and culture to the Palestinians electorate is to seriously misjudge the reality on the ground.

Palestinians have shown repeatedly that it is not longing for the peace made between enemies which lie deep within the Palestinian soul but the peace that comes from absolute victory from vanquishing the enemy.

Let’s play pretend for a minute and say that Abbas’ Fatah gets it desires in terms of a potential peace accord with Israel and electoral success in the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli state gets a signed agreement saying it is a peace accord with the Palestinians but the Israeli state will be flooded with refugees which it will be unable to successful absorb and be faced with the distinct possibility of bankrupting the Israeli economy.

And then what happens next to the substantial element within the Palestinian Authority which is not only heavily armed and financed by outside sources but fully radicalized? Do they go into the great political night or do they continue to use the entrenched positions which Fatah has established to launch continued attacks against the Israeli state and her citizens?

If Palestinian past performance is any measure of predicting future behaviour just remember where Oslo and the Gaza Disengagement led. Land for peace has shown itself a failed strategy when employed with the Palestinians. A Hamas victory could allow the opportunity for the Israelis to do what is needed to be done to change the concept of longing for the peace that comes from the total subjugation of the enemy from the Palestinian soul. Of course, to take advantage of that opportunity requires the Israeli electorate to elect a leader who sees opportunity where the faint hearted fear to tread.

Never underestimate the Hamas

But here’s another interesting suggestion of a possible Hamas strategy in this Ynet News article:
The level of violence in the streets is already rising to the level of an explosion, and the explosion may be fast and sweeping. Hamas will try in the coming days to belittle Abbas' declaration. They will do so by mediating between the factions and through the pressure in the street and an escalation of the physical and verbal attacks. On the other side, the Hamas-led government will continue to convey "business as usual."

Hamas activists told Ynet that one of the ideas the movement will discuss is that if a unity government is not formed in the coming weeks, they will completely ignore the intention to hold elections, claiming that the declaration "is illegal." "We will continue to operate in the government and in the Legislative Council until the end of the four years, and Abbas' advisors should bear responsibility for the existence of two Palestinian authorities, two parliaments and two government," a Hamas member said.

There is a slim chance for such a scenario, but Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal has began building an infrastructure for a new PLO in Damascus, along with rebels from Fatah headed by Faruk Kadumi, a member of the movement's leadership and Abbas' bitter rival. If the model succeeds, Hamas may create institutions parallel to the PA, the government and the Legislative Council.

Hamas officials are conveying the message that they are not afraid of elections and will win any election campaign. This claim is strongly supported by reality and the situation in the Palestinian street. Hamas is transferring funds to the street, particularly to its supporters and their associates.

The dozens of government workers have already received a significant part of the salaries and the unwillingness to recognize Israel is still widely supported by the majority of the Palestinian public.

I am not sure I give this scenario the slim chance that the Ynet News report gives it. If Hamas is able to attract and rally the disenfranchised element within Fatah this might have a better than slim chance of working. If Kaddoumi’s already on board then it potentially becomes a very plausible alternative and offers a viable alternative to large element within Fatah who are disenchanted with the leadership of Abbas and the general direction of Fatah, but don’t want to fully commit to a pure Hamas agenda.

Even if the unity shadow government of a Hamas-Fatah coalition fails to establish viable alternative institutions of governance and Abbas proceeds to name the date for a general election; Hamas has a huge propaganda edge. Hamas will be able to cast the blame for the failure of adequate governance within the PA on the obstructionist mindset of Abbas led Fatah fraction rather than Hamas’ inability to compromise. It would also effectively portray Abbas as nothing more than the dupe/lackey of Americans/Israelis interests.

A very slick political move all around by Hamas.

PA Chairman calls for an election – 18 wounded in the aftermath

Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas calls for an election and what happens - thousands take the streets for another round of high noon at the OK corral reports Ynet News:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' declaration that he plans to move up the general elections in the Palestinian Authority caused thousands of Hamas and Fatah gunmen to take to the streets of Gaza in huge shows of force, which turned into exchanges of fire.

At least 18 people were injured in Rafah, two in Khan Younis, and one in Gaza. In addition, Hamas members reportedly kidnapped a police officer in Gaza. Thousands took part in demonstrations across the Strip.

The Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were trying to mediate between Hamas and Fatah in a bid to end the exchanges of fire.

The idea of Islamic Jihad & the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian playing mediator or peace maker just cracks me up. What do they say? Play nice or we’ll implode! Kiss and make up or we will kassam you! Make nice or the Jews get it?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Election under Fire

Palestinian Authority Chairman calls for new elections within the PA:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a Saturday speech to officials and journalists in Ramallah, declared that he intends to move up elections for the Palestinian Authority. Abbas said that calls for moving up both presidential and general elections, in order to get out of the current bottleneck. "The people are the source of our authority," he said. "I will return to the people in and let them decide." He will decide on a date along with the elections committee. Nonetheless, Abbas left a loophole for Hamas, by repeatedly mentioning the old idea of a unity government.

In an implicit call for renewed talks on a unity government, Abbas noted Hamas' changed stance on the prisoners document: "After Hamas said that the prisoners' document was treachery, and called it an Israeli and American document, now they're insisting upon (adhering to) it." "We have no problem with the document. We see the document as important for a unity government, but (Hamas) must decide once and for all where they stand," he emphasized.

He also emphasized the importance of Hamas to accept international demands from the Palestinian government, including recognition of previous agreements with Israel, highlighting that one such agreement, the Oslo accords, is part of the mechanism that allowed the Hamas government to run for election in the first place.

Senior Hamas officials rejected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' declaration, claiming that Abbas has no legal authority to dismantle the government, and as such, his decision is illegal.

Of course, threatening to have an election and actually holding one are different things. By all accounts, it will shape up to be an election held under guns; which will offer Jimmy Carter another opportunity to find a spotlight with his name on it. The Bush Administration will have another venue to flush good cash down the drain in the act of propping up their preferred candidate and his party.

But stop and pause for a minute and think about the implications of the West Bank going the way of Gaza. No matter who wins, I just cannot imagine all those armed Fatah/Hamas supporters going into that good night without their guns loaded and blazing.

The man who never stops spinning

I always felt that Jimmy Carter had a worldview which was unique onto him. This online Ynet News article opens yet another window into his world:

Former President Jimmy Carter issued a letter to American Jews on Friday, explaining the use of the term "apartheid" in his new book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and sympathizing with Israelis who fear terrorism.

Carter, author of 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid' wrote the letter following a meeting this week with a group of rabbis in Phoenix. The letter was released by the Carter Center, a human rights organization founded by the former president. Carter wrote that the letter's purpose was to reiterate that his use of "apartheid" did not apply to circumstances within Israel, that Israelis are deeply concerned about terrorism from "some Palestinians," and that a majority of Israelis want peace with their neighbors.
Carter wrote that "apartheid in Palestine is not based on racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis for Palestinian land and the resulting suppression of protests that involve violence." He called it "contrary to the tenets of the Jewish faith and the basic principles of the nation of Israel."

Ahem, if I understand what Carter is implying it is the Israeli religious settler’s who are oppressing the Palestinians. I’ve heard the settler’s called many things but to suggest there they do not live according to the tenets of Judaism and to further suggest that their existence in Territories is against the basic principles of the nation of Israel is a first. I wish someone would ask him who he believes sent the settler’s to establish the settlements in Samaria, Judea and the Gaza Strip. I think the answer would be most illuminating.

You know what would be fun to watch. Jimmy Carter debating those religious settler’s – maybe Avi Ran could chair it. Of course, there is no chance in this world for that debate to ever come about. Even if you could get the settler’s to agree to such a debate, Jimmy Carter never would.

Apparently, an American University asked Jimmy Carter to debate Alan Dershowitz. Ynet News carries Carter’s response:
Carter had planned to go Brandeis University to discuss the book but decided against it after the university requested that he debate Alan Dershowitz about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Carter said the outspoken Harvard law professor, who has authored numerous books on the region, "knows nothing about the situation."

"I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter said in Friday's Boston Globe. "There is no need ... to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."

Personally, I don’t see the need to buy a book by a man who deliberately perverts the meaning of language or historical events to further his own twisted worldview.

Friday, December 15, 2006

UN makes Israel Bashing a Full-time Occupation

While the Palestinians are busy battling each other in the streets the UN General Assembly is to vote on the motion to establish an official registry for Palestinians to complain about the Israeli security fence reports Ynet News:
WASHINGTON - Another anti-Israel decision in UN? The United Nations General Assembly is expected to pass a decision Friday evening to set up an official registry to receive complaints from Palestinian citizens regarding damages incurred as a result of the security fence route. It is not yet clear when such a registry would go into effect. Thus far it has been agreed that it would be located in Vienna and would receive complaints via the mail.

Two and a half years ago the International Court of Justice at the Hague gave an advisory ruling stating that the fence violates international law because its route fails to take sufficient account of damage caused to Palestinians. Following the ruling, the UN called an emergency meeting in which they called on Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan to establish a registry to receive complaints about the fence. Annan filed his report one month ago.

At a forum entitled “Israel’s illegal activities in East Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories,” the group of Palestinians who proposed the registry suggested that a large-scale system be set up to receive Palestinian complaints on damages caused “by the Israeli occupation.” European pressures led the proposal to be reduced to a smaller registry solely against the fence.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Gillerman addressed the GA saying that the move would cause great damage. He noted that the Israeli High Court of Justice discusses the fence route and hears Palestinian complaints on the matter, and the Vienna registry would be a wasted effort.

According to Gillerman, the registry would damage the GA’s credibility as well as chances of direct dialogue. “The registry would not help the Palestinian people. Allow me to say clearly: No Palestinian who is hurt by the security barrier will be aided by this mechanism,” he said. Gillerman noted that the security fence was constructed to prevent terror attacks. If there was no Palestinian terrorism, there would be no need for the fence, he declared. The Palestinian strategy to encourage terror hurts Israel and its citizens and damages the Palestinians own interests, he said.

I cannot imagine a more thankless or depressing diplomatic job than to be the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations. Israel has a real gem in Gillerman.

Abbas & Fatah's weak hand

This column by Jerusalem Post reporter, Khaled Abu Toameh, offers a more in depth overview of the some of the issues I alluded to in a previous post:
Hamas leaders have reacted to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's threat to call early legislative and presidential elections by declaring that they have nothing to fear at the ballot boxes. Abbas, according to his top aides, is seriously considering the possibility of holding new elections as soon as March 2007.
Hamas, which ran in the January 2006 parliamentary election for the first time, says it is so confident that its members will win a second vote that it is also now studying the possibility of contesting the presidential election.
The main reason why Hamas is not afraid to run in another election is because Abbas's rival Fatah party has failed to reform itself and get rid of those officials who were voted out because of their role in financial corruption and abuse of power.
Ever since Fatah lost the election about one year ago, its leaders have been too busy searching for ways to return to power at any cost.

Instead of embarking on a process of internal reform, Fatah representatives devoted most of their time and efforts trying to undermine and discredit Hamas in the Palestinian public's eyes. In addition, Fatah remains as divided as ever as its leaders and members continue to fight over money and power. The traditional power struggle between the young guard and the old guard in Fatah is still raging as Abbas and his veteran allies continue to resist demands to hold internal elections.

Ironically, Hamas's presence in power has provided an excuse for Abbas and the Fatah's old guard to continue with their policy of blocking attempts to reform and inject fresh blood into the party's leadership. The [Fatah-dominated] PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee are still in the hands of former cronies of Yasser Arafat.

Besides the historic rivalry between the old guard and the young guard, Fatah is also currently witnessing a severe power struggle between some of its top figures. When Abbas recently tried to convene the Fatah Central Committee in Jordan, he was forced to call off the planned meeting due to sharp differences between him and estranged Fatah leader Farouk Kaddoumi.

Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunis, has been accused by Abbas loyalists of seeking to stage a mutiny inside Fatah against Abbas and his supporters. In recent weeks, Kaddoumi, who has since been effectively stripped of all his powers, has even gone a step further by forging an "unholy alliance" with Abbas's biggest enemy - Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. Kaddoumi and Mashaal, according to Abbas confidants, are now involved in a secret scheme to establish a "new" PLO with the help of Syria and Iran.

Over the past few months, the Palestinian arena has witnessed the comeback of former Fatah officials, operatives and warlords who were largely responsible for their party's defeat in the parliamentary election. These figures, voted out because of their role in financial embezzlement and bad governance, are now projecting themselves as the ultimate "saviors" of the Palestinians. What is absurd is that the international community, including Washington, is once again ready to embrace them.

Given the current divisions and squabbling in Fatah, it is highly unlikely that the party will be able to change dramatically before the next vote. In fact, it is almost evident that the same Fatah candidates who ran in the last election will once again seek the confidence of Palestinian voters. As one senior Fatah operative said, "If we run with the same list and faces, this time we will lose even more votes. The Palestinians are not stupid enough to vote for those who failed them for many years."

Alliances within Fatah can move with lightening speed but its interesting to note that Hamas fingers Fatah leader Dahlan with responsibility for the attack against Hamas leader Haniyeh’s convey yesterday.

Dahlan is the Fatah strongman in the Gaza Strip but he also is considered one of the prominent leaders of Fatah’s new guard fraction. Dahlan’s relationship with the old guard of Fatah now represented by Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas has not always been very rosy or cozy. While there are rumours which suggest Kaddoumi’s relationships with the new guard fractions are quite positive.