Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Rational Approach To Sinai


The vote is in

It goes a long way back, some twenty years. All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!
Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man

And the motion carries.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Winning hearts and minds wherever ones goes. Ynet News:
Armed Egyptian Bedouins opened fire in the air to warn away Palestinians, highlighting growing anger over food shortages and price rises triggered by the breaching of the border wall with Gaza, witnesses said.

The confrontation in the town of al-Joura occurred as residents on the Egyptian side of the border said shops had run out of goods since hundreds of thousands of Palestinians poured into Egypt when Hamas blew up the wall last week.
"The stores are empty and what is available is so expensive," said Youssef Ali, a Bedouin in the divided border town of Rafah. "The Bedouins are poor. The income of many Bedouins is not more than $30 a month."

The emptying of shop shelves and a block by Cairo on new supplies has prompted thousands of Palestinians to go home since Sunday, with some saying it was now easier to shop in Gaza than in Egypt. "The places are closed or empty. I am going back empty handed," said Mahmoud Mansour, a 52-year-old from Gaza City. Rafah residents and shopkeepers said the price of tea and some other goods had tripled. A pack of cigarettes had increased to 5 Egyptian pounds (90 cents) from 1.5 pounds.

The border breach prompted Egyptian authorities to seal off the boundary crossing from the Sinai into the Egyptian mainland. Little is moving in or out – including supplies. If the Bedouin are firing their guns at Palestinians now - just watch and see what happens if the reports of Palestinians using “funny” money to shop in the Sinai turn out to be correct.

On the other hand, a delegation of Israeli high school students traveled to Qatar to take part in a mock UN convention. Ynet News:
The Israeli delegation – along with the Qatar one – was the largest delegation sent to the convention, representing four Israeli high schools, as opposed to one or two by the other delegations.

The diplomatic simulation also included delegations from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, Ethiopia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, El-Salvador, Greece, Hungary, India, Thailand and Turkey.

The Israeli students found themselves debating with representatives from nine countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel; two of the countries – Syria and Lebanon – prohibit any contact with Israelis by law.

The Israeli delegation reportedly made an exceptional impression, showing great proficiency in debates mimicking Arab League meets and US Security Council sessions, as well as excelling at describing the Israeli-Palestinian reality and issues involving the Iranian nuclear program, winning eight awards by the time the convention came to its end.

Undoubtedly, a large part of the convention took part on the sidelines of the official debates: The Israeli students soon befriended their Jordanian, Palestinian, Gulf and Lebanese peers, and eventually even the Syrian ones, as the heated debates soon turned from politics to soccer and electronic gadgets. The UN-model ended with a gala dinner, attended by all delegations, Arab and foreign ambassadors and the Israeli commerce attaché to Doha, Roi Rosenblit.

The Israeli student delegation even managed not to get condemned. Go figure. Some government type figures should be taking a serious look into hiring these students in the future.

And double kudos to the parents who can raise these rather remarkable young people. I am a parent myself, and one of the things I do quite well is worry. In fact, that seems to be the most common denominator which unites most parents regardless of borders, ethnicity, language or religion. We (parents) do worry well.

I cannot imagine the circumstances in which I would allow my Israeli teenagers to travel to Qatar, and yet, I have been the beneficiary of Arab hospitality first hand and know it is legendary for good reason. I know that if the government of Qatar accepted such a charge - no grain of sand would be left unturned to ensure their safety…but bad things happen to good people all the time. I have yet to meet any parents (whether they were parents of two or 15 children) who claimed they had any ‘spare’ children. And yet, these parents seemed to be able to contain their fears enough to raise adventuresome optimistic children. Absolutely Remarkable.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Border Control

The Egyptians have yet to resolve their border control issues. This Jerusalem Post highlights part of the Egyptian dilemna’s:
At least 38 Egyptian border policemen have been hospitalized, some in critical condition, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said. Egyptian security officials expressed fear over the weekend that Hamas and other radical Islamist organizations would take advantage of the chaos to try to destabilize President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Cairo was now caught between the hammer and the anvil, the officials said.

On the one hand, they said, Egypt did not want to use force against the Palestinians for fear of being accused by the Arabs of taking part in the blockade on the Gaza Strip; on the other hand, the Egyptians were very worried that Hamas and its allies would "occupy" the northern Sinai, turning it into a center for Islamist terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida. The Egyptian authorities are now focusing their efforts on preventing Gazans from heading toward Cairo and other cities. Authorities also warned Egyptians not to allow Palestinians to stay with them.

So guess who steps into the breach and offers to help the Egyptians seal their border? Jerusalem Post
Iran on Sunday offered to help Egypt deal with growing chaos on its breached border with Gaza, Egypt's Foreign Ministry said. The offer came during a rare visit to Cairo by a top Iranian diplomat, Ali Asghar Mohammadi, who serves as the Iranian Foreign Ministry's director-general for Arab, Middle East and North African affairs. He met Sunday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Egypt and Iran have had no formal ties in nearly three decades, but government ministers from the two countries have met frequently in the past two months. Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad telephoned his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, for the first time to discuss the Gaza border crisis.

Mohammadi offered Iran's "cooperation with Egypt to provide help to the Palestinians," said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki. He did not give details of the Iranian offer, but said Egypt welcomes cooperation between the two countries through their Red Crescent branches.

Teheran cut diplomatic ties after Cairo signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979 and provided asylum for the deposed Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Relations further deteriorated when Egypt backed Iraq during the 1980-1988 Gulf War. Since then, the two countries have had limited diplomatic contacts

Guess who is rumoured to be one of the largest backers of the Muslim Brotherhood? Iran, and that folks, marks officially the beginning of the end of Egyptian hedgemony in the Arab world.

Not Dead Enough for Me

While I have been off schlepping with the family all weekend Geroge Habash has died but the noteworthy bit is how the moderate leader of the Palestinian Authority has chosen to honour the life’s work of George Habash. Ynet News:
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning in the wake of Habash's death. The PA chairman also ordered Palestinian flags to be brought down to half mast and mourners to be received at the presidential office in Ramallah.

Meanwhile Israeli Arab Knesset members announce they will attend his funeral reports Ynet News:
Israeli-Arab Knesset members, including Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) and Jamal Zahalka (Balad), will attend the funeral of George Habash, the founder and former secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
And people wonder why a growing number of Israelis are starting to refer to Arab Knesset members as Israel’s fifth column.

George Habash lead a Palestinian terror group which was responsible for some horrendous acts of barbarity. Think Beslan, was a unique low? PFLP held a children’s room hostage long before the Chechen terrorists ran with the idea. Habash clashed often with Arafat because of Arafat’s preceived ‘ability to compromise’ or the use of his “restraint”. Here is an excerpt from Arutz Sheva:

• 1970, the PFLP blew up a Swissair flight to Israel in midair. 47 people died, including 15 Israelis.

• 1972, Japanese terrorists trained by the PFLP murdered 24 people, including 16 pilgrims from Puerto Rico, at Lod airport. 1976, PFLP terrorists cooperated with German terrorists and hijacked an Air France jet to Entebbe, Uganda. The hostages were freed by Israel in a daring raid.

• 1980, PFLP terrorists took over the children's room at Misgav Am in northern Israel, and murdered a baby, as well as the kibbutz's director.

• 2000, Habash retired from active leadership of the PFLP, for health reasons.

• 2001, a PFLP squad assassinated Israeli Minister Rechavam Ze'evi.

• The PFLP carried out three suicide bombings between 2002 and 2004, at Karnei Shomron (3 murdered) at Geha Intersection (3 murdered) and at Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv (3 murdered).

As far as I am concerned, the man can never be dead enough.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wow, No One Does Humanitarian Crisis Quite Like Hamas

So is the suggestion from the PalPress News Agency run from Ramallah. This report was run on the 21st of January and autotranslated by google:
Ramallah - Palestine Press - reliable local sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas militia outside the law, the decision of the supreme political leadership, ordered bakery owners in the towns and camps sector prevent the sale of bread for citizens and closing doors Mkhabzhm, in a continuation in its scheme aimed to deepen the humanitarian crisis it is going through the Gaza Strip in order to achieve narrow partisan gains.

It quoted the sources, a number of bakery owners in the sector saying, "they had received orders from Hamas militias before closing Mkhabzhm immediately and prevent the sale of bread for citizens, and not presented themselves to brutality and vengeance of those militias in the absence of Anasiallm orders."

The bakery owners, "that the stocks of material sufficient to meet the precise needs of the population of the Gaza Strip of bread for one full month and more", who indicated that they are able to provide this basic commodity for the Palestinian citizen throughout this period of no orders militia Hamas, which prevented them from doing so. "

They "noted that even in the light of legalizing the distribution of electricity in the provinces sector from discontinued power station Strip for work, they are able to fill the needs of the local market in the Gaza Strip good bread," as confirmed the existence of material reserves of diesel to run their generators in Mkhabzhm in the event of power outages of the distribution company.

It is noteworthy that the militia movement Hamas, in a continuation of its policy to create a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, the evening yesterday, Sunday, looted a large quantity of fuel oil stations deployed in the Gaza Strip which had been earmarked to cover the necessary needs of the hospitals.

The owner of fuel stations that, "This amounts seized by Hamas was necessary to cover the needs of hospitals, where Hamas Bajtzaha taller and putting them in camps in the Gaza Strip for use in processions leadership lighting and ceiling space, and houses Hamas leaders and the headquarters of security only," while local sources said The eyewitnesses, "The guards Ismail Haniya President of the Government of Hamas in Gaza article stole fuel from a depot Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, some fuel stations and forced at gunpoint in order to secure fuel for cars and luxurious and parade his house and the Cabinet Office article."

The hat tip goes out to the Elder of Ziyon, and if you are not reading him, shame. The Elder rightly points out that the Palestine Press is published in Ramallah and can be considered pro-fatah, anti-Hamas newspaper, but in this case, I think its safe to presume the Palestine Press is on track as it jibes the images published around the world showing Palestinians buying televisions, cigarettes, computers etc. in Egypt.

No one does refugee like the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip

I am having this internal debate with myself which revolves around how one has a humanitarian crisis without a financial crisis as well. Apparently, Hamas has not just finessed this situation but raised it to an art form. Taken from the New York Times:
Gaza’s population of 1.5 million depends on imports for most basic supplies. After the border wall fell, Egyptian merchants brought goods to the Egyptian side of Rafah to sell, and some Palestinians were bringing home televisions and computers.

This has to be the first “humanitarian crisis” I have ever witnessed where the purchase of televisions, computers, cement and cigarettes alleviate the suffering of humanity under crisis. We should try sending televisions & cigarettes the next time there is a famine somewhere in the world - hey it works for Gaza. I digress, but the paragraph which put this crisis in sharp focus in my mind was this bit:
Ahlan Ashour, 38, came with his wife to visit the Egyptian family, the Barhoums, who had put them up for 24 days during an earlier period when the Rafah crossing was shut. Mr. Ashour’s wife, Mohsin Elloulu, said she was struck by how much poorer the Egyptians of Rafah are. “At least our streets are paved,” she said of Gaza. The current lack of electricity and supplies is terrible, she said. “But materially, we’re so much more advanced in Gaza.” A driver here, she said, makes less than $1.50 a day, and in normal times in Gaza, $27. “But nothing is normal now,” she said.

No one does “refugee” or refugee camp quite like the Palestinians. No really, I mean that and I stand in awe. Since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip last June I have been hearing all sorts of international aid agencies presenting the dire financial plight of the Palestinians and the destruction of their economy. I can’t quite get a handle on how many Gazans are without work and presumably without income.

Figures run the gauntlet of 50% to over 80% unemployment depending on which aid agency is canvassing for money to help the Palestinians. (Check Google yourself.) There sure are a whole lot of Gazans with a whole lot of money in their pocket to buy a whole lot of goods in Egypt. I would dearly loved to know how one can be unemployed, destitute & suffering but still have plenty of money to spend. Economists should study this phenomenon. Workers of the world deserve to know.

And one more thing - why are there still refugee camps in the Gaza Strip? Doesn't it strike anyone other than me as a trifle odd that at no time did either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas make arrangements for these people to acquire land in the Gaza Strip on which to build permanent homes? Or are they waiting to relocate these people to Tel Aviv?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Background and Context

For modern context and background to my post below, please this post at Dean's World.

Ancient Origins of Complex Sentiments Toward the Jewish People

After miraculously passing through the sea, and after coming to understand that their pursuers did did not fare likewise, the Jewish people are led by Moshe in prophetic song.

Towards the end of the song, when the people sing of the reactions of various nations to the great event, the Jewish nation sings of how the “the chieftains of Edom were confounded” and of how “trembling seized the powerful men of Moab.”

Having nothing to fear on account of Israel--those nations were not Cana’anites--Edom and Moab simply burned up at the glory and grandeur of the Jewish people. (Rashi)

Commentaries--speaking to why Edom and Moab, specifically, took unique umbrage at what had happened to the Jewish people--explain that the nations of Edom and Moab, stemming as they did from the family of Avraham, believed that they too had a claim to special honor. (Edom is Eisov, Jacob’s brother; and Moab is the son born of Lot’s (Avrahams nephew) incestuous relations with his eldest daughter.)

However, this raises a question as to why, despite equally illustrious lineage, the nations of Yishmael and Amon were not similarly bothered? (Yishmael was Isaac’s brother; Amon was Moab’s.)

The Lubavitcher Rebbe resolves the question thusly:

As for Yishmael:

When Genesis tells how “Isaac and Yishmael [...] buried [Avraham] in the Makpelah cave”, the verse mentions the younger Isaac before the elder Yishmael. Commenting on scripture’s preferencing of Isaac, the Talmud explains that Torah wished to convey that although Yishmael had spent his whole life in contention with Isaac, by this point he had repented, and had himself preferenced Isaac in all of the procedures.

Thus, the nation of Yishmael, because of their patriarch, accepted Israel’s superiority.

And as for Amon:

These are the circumstances surrounding the birth of Moab and Amon:

Having narrowly escaped the destruction of Sodom, Lot and his two (remaining) daughters take shelter in a cave. Not knowing the death toll on humanity, Lot’s daughters begin to fear that they will never find men with whom to propagate. So following the plan of the eldest daughter--the future mother of Moab, and less modest of the two sisters--the young girls get their father drunk and lie with him. Moab and Amon are the fruit of that act.

Interestingly, the elder daughter feels no shame in the event. And when the time comes to name her son, she (proudly?) chooses “Moab”, a compound word made up of the Hebrew
for ‘from’ (mo) and ‘father’ (ab). The younger daughter, on the other hand, is far more discreet-- a fact already alluded to in the wording of the verses--and when the time comes for her to name her son, she chooses “Amon”, a name derived from only part of the Hebrew phrase translating into ‘a member of my nation’ in English.

So while Moab, because of their shameless matriarch, proudly carried the banner of membership in Avraham’s family, Amon, because of their discreet matriarch, never made an explicit issue of that relationship, and therefore never internalized a claim to honor because of it.

What if nothing is how it seems?

One of the things I always asked myself when I watch world events unfold is why now? Why at this time and not another? Sometimes, it is a question of random divergent elements only being able to meet at one given point. Other times, those same seemingly divergent elements; merge in a very deliberate fashion and build one event upon another like moves in a game of chess. The interconnectedness of it all only becomes clear in hindsight.

Reading about the events unfold a half a world away I started to ask myself a series of questions once it became clear that the destruction of the Rafah border wall/crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt had been planned by Hamas for months and was not the result of spontaneous uprising/demonstration by the Palestinians. Now I have to ask myself – why at this time rather than another? What does Hamas gain?

I have no answer for question one but an easy answer readily appear for the second question. Hamas breaks the Israeli blockade and controls its own border but here’s the deal. Although, it appears there was nothing substantial (except heavy equipment) which could not be brought in through the seemingly endless tunnels under the Rafah border. Bringing in 100 lbs bags of flour is just as easy as bringing in large cartons of assault rifles. Food was never in short supply until Hamas deliberately shut the bakeries a few days ago. Gaza was the Israeli agriculture bread basket, and while the Palestinians were never able to match the quantities Israeli production methods were able to produce, there was no shortage of produce for local consumption.

Obviously, controlling the border is advantageous to Hamas as it offers a potential revenue stream and allows for the free flow of goods, weapons and men. Ah, there is the rub because free flow works two ways. Hamas can establish a beach head in the Sinai from which to launch attacks against Israel which would be difficult for the Israelis to effectively repel. Imagine the outcry in the aftermath of an Israeli missile strike against a Hamas crew launching rockets into Israel in the midst of Egyptian civilians.

Controlling the Sinai has huge military advantages which was why the Camp David Peace Accords called for the strict demilitarization of the Sinai. For the Egyptians to place the numbers of soldiers needed to combat a counter-insurgency launched by Hamas against Israel from the Sinai means a break with the Camp David Peace Accord - not to mention the general Egyptian antipathy to anything Israeli.

For the Egyptians, policing Hamas’ activities would be an enormously unpopular move. In fact, it could be downright dangerous for the Mubarak government to order a crackdown on Hamas activities. To do so, could potentially play big time advantage into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. And you need to ask yourself – who is Hamas? The short answer is; the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. While most prefer to think of Hamas as nothing more than a localized terror group restricted to the alleged liberation of the Palestinians, Hamas’s ideology has always possessed a larger key component - the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate with a fully integrated Palestinian chapter.

This could be the opening moves of a potentially much larger and far more ambitious offensive for both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. There is no downside for the Muslim Brotherhood in having their armed, trained and ready to die Palestinian brethren establish a forward operations base in the Sinai. Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip last June there have been reports of large scale military style training operations within Gaza. It seemed obvious to conclude (at the time) that Hamas was just preparing for an inevitable Israeli offensive but what if it was a question of training enough troops to use as a dual or multi-use force?

Mubarak is an old man with a few health scares recently. His government has just shown the world their own impotence by failing to act decisively to secure the Egyptian border before the world’s cameras. This is all conjecture on my part but I think I will start actively searching and watching for news or any movement from US MFO bases in El Arish and Sharm El-Sheikh as well as taking a real long second look at the recent activities of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And Pharoah said, "Let my people come!"

For three months I watched as the Lebanese Army shelled a civilian Palestinian refugee camp - with nary a word raised in protest by the international community concerning the potential for harm in such an action. If anything, I read word after word of praise in the international press from all corners of the world community for the "good job" the Lebanese Army was doing. Go figure.

Yesterday, Hamas organized and stage-managed a protest of women and children at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip border. Over 90 Palestinians were injured by Egyptian border guards. If you were not reading an Israeli or Egyptian daily - the odds are high you would simply not know a thing about it. Here is an excerpt from the Jerusalem Post's account:
At least 90 Gazans, most of them women, were wounded by Egyptian border guards using tear gas, clubs, water cannons and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, who were protesting against the continued closure of the border crossing. One Egyptian policeman was wounded in the clashes, the worst since Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip in June. "The Egyptian government has delivered a strong warning to Hamas following the incident," an Egyptian diplomat told The Jerusalem Post. "We hold the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip responsible for the riots that occurred along our border today."

The clashes erupted after the demonstrators stormed through the border terminal, chanting slogans against President Hosni Mubarak and other Arab leaders. Huda Naim, a Hamas legislator who participated in the protest, accused the Egyptian border guards of unleashing dogs against the demonstrators. She said that some of the women who managed to cross into Egypt were refusing to return home until Egypt reopened the terminal. "The Egyptians are participating in the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip," Naim said. "We appeal to President Hosni Mubarak to open the border so that patients can go to hospitals in Egypt and other Arab countries." Hamas officials expressed deep disappointment over Egypt's refusal to help the people living in the Gaza Strip.

Now, if the Egyptian border guards wore the uniform of the IDF, you can bet your fanny that the UN Security Council would be debating a motion to censure the Israeli government's conduct as well as an attempt to force the Israelis to wear sack cloth and ashes for at least a generation. But guess what? As of this morning's scan of the newspapers - there is not one measly word panned in outrage at the conduct of the Egyptian border police from any western sources - let alone for it to be up for discussion at the UN Security Council's morning agenda. In fact, on the UN Security Council's agenda was a meeting today to discuss a motion to censure's Israeli's embargo of the Gaza Strip under the guise of "collective punishment."

And if you believe a trade embargo/boycott equals 'collective punishment' of a people, than I suggest the next time anyone requests you sign on or lend your support to a trade boycott/ embargo of Israel; you remember the Israeli people and refuse on the principle that you do sanction the collective punishment of a people for the actions of their government.

The major Canadian newspapers all carried stories from the Middle East but the buzz concerns the unidentified masked Palestinian gunmen who just happened to blow up the border wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt under the ever vigilant eyes of Hamas - imagine that. Just as a general observation – imagine being the guy running the business of importing black balaclavas for the Gaza Strip. This account is from the Globe and Mail:
Masked gunmen destroyed about two-thirds of the 11-kilometre-long metal wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the town of Rafah and tens of thousands of Palestinians poured across the border to buy supplies made scarce by an Israeli blockade of the impoverished territory.

The gunmen began breaching the wall dividing Rafah before dawn, according to witnesses and Hamas officials, who told The Associated Press that they later closed all but two of the gaps in the wall. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said they were allowing Palestinians to move freely through the two gaps.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Wednesday he had given his security forces orders to let Palestinians in from Gaza to buy food and then go home. "I told them: 'Let them come in to eat and buy food', then they go back, as long as they are not carrying weapons," Mr. Mubarak told reporters at a Cairo book fair.

Palestinians cross the Rafah border into Egypt on Wednesday over a barrier destroyed by masked Palestinian militants overnight. Tens of thousands of Palestinians flood into Egypt to buy supplies made scarce by an Israeli blockade. Mr. Mubarak's remarks were the first indication from the Egyptian authorities on how they intend to handle the sudden influx of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade for most of the time since June.

Ha'aretz puts the number of Palestinians who have crossed into Egypt at 200,000. In a few days (at this rate) there could potentially be nobody left in the Gaza Strip - if this BBC report is anyway accurate of the Egyptian position.

The Chicken Chronicles

Last night, I was in a hurry and ran into my local bargain grocery stores in search of inspiration for dinner. Chicken breasts were on sale and I brought home around 3 ½ pounds for dinner for under $5 which is really cheap here.

As I took the chicken out of the plastic wrap and got ready to wash, I noticed it had to be some of the worst plucked chicken pieces I had ever seen. I know plucking a chicken is a big pain in the butt. I had a grandmother who not only taught me to cook but insisted I learn how to pluck a chicken or clean fish properly. But this was crazy. I actually had to soak the chicken in cold water so I could pull out the remnants of the feathers.

My mind, never content with leaving well enough alone, had to start to wonder if the store got the chicken so cheap because it was so badly plucked it could not be offered in any of the big name supermarkets. Then I got to wondering; who plucks chickens this badly? Of course, it crossed my mind to speculate if we are now buying chickens from China. And even if we are not buying chicken from China; where are our standards?

I got myself so worked up I couldn’t eat the chicken. Then I shared with worries about the chicken with my daughter, the Last Amazon, because that is what a mother does. She shares her worries. Now the Last Amazon is an incredibly picky eater and has a real phobia about germs/bacteria in general – too much science too early can do that to a teenager. So now I had this wonderful dinner all centered on the chicken which two of us won’t eat. The boys did not seem troubled at all with any of my concerns and they literally stepped up and cleaned the plates.

The Last Amazon looked a crossed the table at me and asked if I knew what this meant? Not to buy chicken on sale at the bargain grocery store again? Apparently, that was the wrong answer. So I tried again and still struck out. Eventually, she suggested I only buy chicken and meat from kosher butcher shops. And I groaned. I have been fighting this for a long time. It is not that I don’t like kosher meats. I grew up eating kosher meat, and not for any religious reasons, but give my grandmother a choice between a kosher and a non-kosher meat; she always took the kosher butcher’s meat for two reasons. She was guaranteed a certain standard in preparation and it tasted better when cooked.

I don’t live in a Jewish neighborhood; in fact, I live far from outer edges of one. I don’t drive and it is too far to ride my bike in this weather. This means I would have to take the public transit. The issue with taking public transit for any extended rides, is because, I only stand at most people’s armpit level. Already I am groaning thinking about it. And then, when I think of amount of meat I would have to buy and lug home on a regular basis just to keep the boys filled it becomes like a trial out of the Odysseys. Then there is the whole price issue…but in the end, I realize this is just another thing I am going to have to suck up. I can hear the echo of my grandmother’s voice in my mind saying she told me so. And even though it has been over 15 years since I could call her on the telephone or drop in at the house; it hurts just as if it happened yesterday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Star of David is not our flag, and HaTikva is not our national anthem.

Elyakim Haetzni’s was invited to speak before a mixed group of Jewish and Arab Israelis. And then he wrote an opinion piece for Ynet News based on his experience:
The discrimination, said the Arab student, is not the problem. Even if you grant us full equality, the conflict will go on as long as Israel is a Jewish state. This country was our home, and you turned it into a foreign place for us. In a Jewish state we will always feel like foreigners: The Star of David is not our flag, and HaTikva is not our national anthem. It is impossible to replace our Palestinian dream by a Zionist dream.

These words, which were uttered calmly, put an end to the internal Jewish debate at once. Burning issues such as "territories" and "settlements" suddenly became irrelevant. I realized that the Hamas spokesman, who refers to the southern town of Sderot as a "settlement," gives expression to a deep sense felt by all – Hamas, Fatah, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinian Authority residents. I recalled the refusal of our "partner," Mahmoud Abbas, to recognize the Jewishness of the state – a position that was openly backed by Egypt. This shows us that it is possible to sign a "peace treaty" with the State of Israel while at the same time fight against the fact it belongs to the Jewish people.

With the help of the Arab girl, the layers of dishonesty disappeared and I responded to her that we do not need her to "recognize our existence" – if we exist, her recognition won't add a thing, and if we do not exist, her recognition won't help. As recognition is not some kind of merchandise, there is no need to pay for it.

The Left asks the Arab girl to give up Jaffa, and in exchange is willing to give up Hebron. Yet even if she signs such deal a thousand times, it is clear that she would take Jaffa back as well once she is able to do so. And still, even such meaningless signature is incredibly difficult for her and she may even pay with her life for doing that - because a de facto reality is tolerated by the Arabs, in the absence of any other option, while a formal de jure concession is considered treason.

And if an agreement is impossible, there can be no meeting of the minds between side A that does not reconcile itself to the existence of side B, so there is no point in negotiations and a process of give and take – particularly the "give" part of the equation.

The student expressed an authentic Arab position, which the Jewish Left has been ignoring: A complete rejection of the "1967 in exchange for 1948" formula: You will concede what we already occupied and expelled and settled in the 1948 War of Independence and we will concede what we took in the 1967 Six-Day War. An Arab "partner" who pays some lip service to such "deal" is simply deceiving us.

This explains the Arab emphasis on two of the "core issues" – Jerusalem's Old City, because the Jewishness or Arabness of the entire country is determined based on this, and the demand to allow millions of refugees into a Green Line state, which would erase Israel's blue-and-white character.

And that, in a nutshell, is why there will be no peaceful resolution to this conflict until only one people live in this land. I invite anyone to attempt to dispute by showing me your proof that it can be otherwise but I have 60 years of history on my side.

So much for the Kadima Coalition resolve.

Ehud Barak caved, and authorized a "one-time" (until the next time) delivery of diesel fuel to the Gaza Strip reports Ynet News:
A day after Gaza went dark following the shutdown of its only power station due to Israel's decision to stop it supply of fuel to the Palestinian territory, Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized a one-time shipment of diesel fuel to power the Hamas-controlled region's only electricity station. Barak also authorized the entry of humanitarian aid to the Strip, including medicines. Defense officials clarified that despite the drop in Qassam rocket barrages against Israel's south over the past few days, the current restrictions being imposed on Gaza will remain. Six Qassam rockets were fired towards Israel on Monday compared to a daily average of over 30 rockets recorded last week.
Only six rockets…oy, I am sure Sderot experienced a profound sense of relief for the "restraint' of Hamas….and only 4 rockets have been launched this morning. No doubt Palestinian snipers are relieved to be back on the job as well.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The night the lights went out in Gaza….

For years I have been waiting for some quasi-official type person to publicly tell the Palestinians to buck up and take care of yourself. According to this report from the Jerusalem Post someone has.
"We will not allow a humanitarian crisis to develop there," a senior defense official said. "In the meantime, if the Palestinians want food or medicine, they can turn to Egypt and start to take care of themselves."

Unfortunately, it always seems to be the very people the Palestinians refuse to believe under any circumstances. Of course, this whole situation could turn around immediately; if the Palestinians would stop firing rockets at Israel. They don’t even have to return IDF Corporal Shalit, give up the right of return or any land for the full blockade to end - just stop firing rockets at Israeli civilians. But apparently, the opportunity to launch kassam rockets at Jewish civilians has been alleviated to a status of a human right for Palestinians.
In a letter to the UN, the PA president said that fuel supplies must be restored to the Strip to enable hospitals to function and to avoid a humanitarian crisis. Abbas also called on the Arab League to urgently convene a meeting on the situation in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement released by his office, the PA president urged the Palestinian people to maintain patience, tolerance and unity. "We will continue to act to resolve the crisis, to end the occupation and to establish a Palestinian state," he vowed. Abbas also appealed directly to Israel to lift the blockade, said the PA president's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh. Earlier, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal urged the PA president and Arab leaders to forget their differences and help the beleaguered Gazans.

But at no time did the so called moderate leader of Palestinian Authority call out publicly for the ending the kassam attacks on Israel. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to play kiss and make-up with Hamas. Of course he wasn’t the only one acting in front of the world’s media:
The plea was a rare show of emotion for the hard-line Khaled Mashaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, Syria. "All Arab leaders, exercise real pressure to stop this Zionist crime ... take up your role and responsibility," he told Al-Jazeera satellite TV in a live interview from Syria. "We are not asking you to wage a military war against Israel... but just stand with us in pride and honor."
Mashaal said he had been in contact Sunday with some Arab countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia to see if they would pressure Israel. He also said he asked Egypt if it would provide fuel to Gaza plant. Egyptian officials were not immediately available for comment.

Who wants to bet Hamas asked the Egyptians supply the fuel under the same payment terms Hamas offers Israel? The more I watch this situation the stronger I get that this is a Pallywood production in the making.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Time To Forget?

Having witnessed the hand of G-d acting on their behalf, and having just been miraculously led out out of their enslavement in Egypt, the Jewish people find themselves trapped between the bank of a forbidding sea and an approaching Egyptian military force. Terrified, they call out to G-d; who promptly instructs them (through Moshe) to shut up and move on.

So they do; and the sea splits; and the rest is history.

The Ibn Ezra, in his commentary to Exodus, wonders why a people possessing 600,000 fighting (age) men shrank in fear of the Egyptian force?

He answers that since the generation who left Egypt had from youth been accustomed to see the Egyptians as masters, their self perceived lowliness made them unable even to imagine waging war against Egypt. And for this reason, the Ibn Ezra adds, G-d in his mysterious ways arranged for that generation of men to die in the wilderness, putting the conquest of Cana’an in the hands of its children, a brazenly confident generation.

Seven years ago, almost immediately after passing through the entrance of the holocaust museum in Washington D.C. I gave a member of my group my cell number and walked out.


Well, as you pass through the corridor leading to what I assume is the main body of the museum and you are engulfed from all around by either the engraved names of Jewish children or by their shoes or by their pictures, you get to hear-in brilliant surround sound, no less-voices of little children whom the mind imagines to be headed to their slaugter. I”m in the middle of this ‘experience’ when I think to myself, “if G-d wanted me to experience the terror, I would have.”

So I left; I want all the Jews to leave.

I did not bring the above ‘Ibn Ezra’ to cast aspersions on the generation of the Shoah. Indeed they, growing up in the Jewish powerhouse that was Europe, were far more strong in every way than we will ever be. Rather I am concerned for some of our generation of Jews, many of whom are being wronged by their elders.

To perpetuate, in memory, our slaughter at the hands of animals is to compete with carefully nurtured national memories of Divine protection (Purim) and Divine assistance to Jewish bravery (Chanuka). Emphasizing that our fate is in the hands of G-d and that we are his people, our true national memory engenders brazen courage. While this new competing memory engenders nothing but fear and timidness.

My kids will never go to a holocaust museum. Nor will any education program under my directorship ever offer holocaust education.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A new keyholder

There is a new poster at the Last Amazon. I have been reading a writer called Naftali for the last couple of months. One of the things I enjoyed about his writings was how he juxtaposed Torah with world events and the lives we live around us. Sometimes, he uses well-known stories from the Torah, other times he expands on how the law should apply in life and sometimes he just shares a little of himself. My biggest complaint against Naftali is that he does not write often enough to suit me, which is why I offered him the keys to the blog.

This post, while written as a backdrop for dating Jewish (at his own site) also has a greater application and message for the wider world as well. In fact, this post really resonated with my heartstrings. Why? Because it is exactly the same advice my grandparents gave to me over 30 years ago. Although I strayed from the strict application of it from time to time, and then, usually to my sorrow. It is also the same message I have been trying to pass on to my own teenager daughter and sons.

At 45, I have met scores of women who have never been married though they wanted to be. It is not that these women rarely have had dates or even that they cannot get a date. Often these women have been in 'serious' relationships, and some of them, were even in long-term common-law relationships which eventually soured, but in all that time, no one ever asked them to marry them. As outrageous as it appears to me, most of these women have looked at me - the serial widow, with envy. Why? Because, in spite of all my flaws, inadequacies, and short-comings; I am obviously the marrying kind of gal.

I cannot count the legions of men I have met in the course of my life; who married their party girls, and discovered to their dismay that both betrayal and sorrow has a distinct taste and flavour in the human heart. I have seen many men pour every inch of their heart, mind and soul into these women, and at the end of the day, receive even less than a party favour in return. And if unrequited love is a bitter pill to sallow; it is absolutely saccharine compared to being the child of the party gal.

Sderot under Seige

Over 130 rockets have landed in the Israeli city of Sderot in the last 72 hours as of last night’s count. Nine have already landed in Israel today – one near a kindergarten. Ha’aretz offers this glimpse under seige:
A little before eight o'clock in the western Negev and the Color Red alert sounds in the background. The bus is just arriving at the Shkamim Maoz school. The children and driver rush off the bus and run for cover in a reinforced bus station. Three pupils - frozen by anxiety - are stuck in the middle of the street, screaming, unable to move. Two adults pick them up and carry them into the shelter.

In the next half hour, about 10 Qassam rockets land on Sderot. One strikes the Cohen home, not far from the Shkamim Maoz school, inflicting extensive damage. Bus driver Eli Cohen was not at home at the time of the strike, but his mother and sister were sheltering in the reinforced room. Eli got a phone call and rushed home.

About the same time, a rocket strikes the entrance road to the Hollandia furniture factory in the city, damaging the structure. Hollandia has been preparing to move the factory out of the battered southern city for a few months, despite reinforcing the structure three months ago.

During the course of the day, more than twenty Qassams fall on the city. At 5:50 P.M., Alon Davidi of the Committee for a Secure Sderot organizes a protest. Residents burn tires and two are arrested for disturbing the peace.

Also at about 8 A.M., a Qassam lands at Shaar Hanegev junction near Sapir College. The kibbutzim in the Shaar Hanegev regional council are also battered by dozens of rockets throughout the day. Even so, two hours later, Sapir students are sitting on the grass enjoying the sunshine. Students in line at the college cafeteria discuss the menu and only five Bedouin women are talking about Qassams.

But the guard at the college entrance - a Sderot resident - says the entire region should be evacuated. "It is impossible to raise children in this region, they should evacuate us," he says, recounting the morning's events. "Two students reached the campus gates this morning, heard the alert and fled homeward. Students don't want to be here."
Rockets continue to fall but it is citizens protesting the government’s inability to protect them who are arrested for disturbing the peace. Go figure.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

US & Israel placed on Canada's torture watch list of countries

Once again, I have to read the Israeli online newspapers to find out what is going on in my own country. This report came from Ynet News:
Canada's foreign ministry has put the United States and Israel on a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured and also classifies some US interrogation techniques as torture, according to a document obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The revelation is to embarrass the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel. The document -- part of a training course on torture awareness given to diplomats.

The Ynet news brief is based on a Reuter’s report which I eventually tracked down:
Under "definition of torture" the document lists U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners. "The United States does not permit, tolerate, or condone torture under any circumstances," said a spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Ottawa. A spokesman for Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier tried to distance Ottawa from the document.

"The training manual is not a policy document and does not reflect the views or policies of this government," he said. The government mistakenly provided the document to Amnesty International Canada as part of a court case the rights organization has launched against Ottawa over the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.

So much for Stephen Harper being Bushitler’s lap dog. I did vote for Stephen Harper’s Conservative party but I have to admit to being completely under-whelmed by the government’s performance to date, and I have to ask; is there any Conservative ministers who have the slightest clue as to what is going on in their ministries? Even one would be nice.

A Parent Dilema

Last night before putting the kids to bed, my wife mentions to me that our three year old, we will call her ‘Sarah’, “is shoving kids in her class”.

Since my wife teaches in the school, I don’t bother to ask her how she knows. So with the contempt I have for those parents who look the other way while their little bullies menace other kids lurking in the back of my mind, I calmly walk up to Sarah, calmly exhort her to look me in the eyes, and calmly but sternly inform her that “we don’t push other kids”. I then ask my wife, in front of our sullen toddler, that she tell me if it happens again. Sarah gets the point. In our house those tactics tend to work.

My kids will not be bullies.

Well today, filling in the details of Sarah’s recent flirtation with bullying, my wife tells me that Sarah’s teacher, Morah F., told her how she saw our Sarah shove Rachel.

Sarah shoved Rachel, I think to myself. What happened to your “Sarah is shoving kids in her class”, I’m smart enough to stop short of asking my wife.

So my kid isn’t a bully after all. Well, not like I overreacted or anything; shoving is wrong after all, even when it’s not a regular behavior.

A little later on, my wife--again, who is a teacher in the school--complains to me how she saw how Rachel, after having filled her mouth with water from the water fountain, emptied its contents on my daughter Sarah’s head.

And at that point it hits me: The school yard is a rough place. Well, not all that rough in our school, but rough enough. And I wonder if I am I trying to take away from Sarah vital tools she may need, getting along in a kid world, where not every one will behave nice all the time. How else will our daughter communicate to Rachel--whom we all love dearly, by the way--that Sarah can give as well as receive. How will she work to ensure respectful relations between herself and her peers, if she cannot exact a fitting price for untoward behavior?

So I sit her down, and explain to her all about the appropriate use of force: self defense, preemption, proportionality-----just kidding. She’s three.

What to do:

I can’t tell her it’s cool, waiting till she gets older to tell her when it isn’t; that would be teaching the exception as the rule. Nor do I feel comfortable ignoring it, obligated as I am to teach her right from wrong.

I could teach her that it’s wrong, punishing for it when done in my presence, but ignoring it when it happens out of sight (unless it develops into a problem, of course). Or I could try to stamp it out, forcing her either to get by without it or to learn how not to get caught.

I”m leaning towards the former.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Go Lieberman.

I admit that I get an enormous amount of entertainment watching Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman in action. It is not so much that I agree with his positions or political party but watching all sides of the political spectrum go into meltdown over most of what he says gives me hours of enjoyment. This guy is definitely not for the PC crowd.

The Ynet News reports Lieberman has finally snatched his manhood back from Olmert:
Fifteen months after being sworn in, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman and Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman announced Wednesday he was resigning his office and that his party was leaving the coalition.

The move, which was announced in a press conference, came just two weeks before the Winograd Commission, probing the Second Lebanon War, plans to release its final report; but the official reason behind the move was disagreements with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert regarding the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the core issues.

Lieberman told reporters he had given Olmert he letter of resignation, which will come into effect in 48 hours: "We haven't always seen eye-to-eye but we were always frank with each other," he said. Lieberman's position as minister for strategic affairs was tailored specifically for him in exchange for Yisrael Beiteinu joining the collation, as he was made responsible for gathering "strategic intelligence" on Iran. Besides Lieberman, Yisrael Beiteinu's Yitzhak Aharonovitch was named tourism minister and MK Stas Misezhnikov the head of the Knesset's Finance Committee.

The move, said Lieberman was made despite it's being contrary to the party's electoral interests: "Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not reckless… as I've said dozens of time, we have to do what we can to stop the Annapolis process." Yisrael Beiteinu's contribution to the government, he added, should be measured by the bills it passed: "We allowed the IDF time to regroup by providing political stability… compared to the days after the Second Lebanon War, we now have a completely different military."

The negotiations with the Palestinians, said Lieberman, have already hit a dead-end: "Anyone believing the fight is about territory is kidding himself and others… if we adopt Beilin's way (Meretz-Yahad Chairman MK Yossi Beilin) and go back to the '67 line will the fighting stop? Will the terror stop?

"Israeli Arabs will keep their Palestinian citizenship and keep colleting their social security benefits from the State of Israel… they come right out and say 'we will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and we want autonomy in the Negev and Galilee. That's what will happen if we go back to the borders of '67," he added. "We find the entire principle of territories for peace wrong. It should be about the exchange of both territories and populations… Our problem is not Judea and Samaria but the fanatic leadership in the Knesset."

The Israeli people, he continued, are ready – now more than ever – to consider such an exchange: "There is no reason not to mention Israeli-Arabs, just like we mention the refugees… anyone who burn the Israeli flag on Independence Day, any professor who kicks out a reservist or won't let a student sporting the flag on his backpack into class – it's utter madness. "Our biggest problem are (MK Ahmad) Tibi and (Hadash Chairman Mohammad) Barakeh, who are even more dangerous than (Hamas politburo chief Khaled) Mashaal and (Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan) Nasrallah, because they work from the inside."
Now if only Shas would go, but there maybe hope there too according to this brief snippet at the Jerusalem Post:

Aware that Shas would soon be the only right-leaning member of the government, the party's mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, issued a directive Tuesday for it to leave the coalition as soon as serious negotiations begin on the fate of Jerusalem.

Previously, Shas had said they would only quit the coalition if a deal were reached on the core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But Yosef upgraded the threat Tuesday and said that raising the Jerusalem issue with the Palestinians in a serious manner was reason enough to leave. Shas chairman Eli Yishai, currently visiting China, informed Lieberman of the rabbi's new instructions in a phone call. Lieberman did not tell Yishai whether or not he would resign from the government.

Go Shas. Go Labor and Pensioners (Meretz can stay) but mostly; Go Olmert.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

keeping an eye on the house of peace

Update: Ynet News has posted a video tape made by the Hebron Community showing the transaction and sale of Beit HaShalom by the original Arab owner. This should be game, set and match.

I haven’t written about Beit HaShalom since the Hebron Community took possession of the house but it does not mean I have not been watching. The case is now being argued before the Israeli courts with the state alleging the Hebron community forged the documents of sale. Ynet News carries this potential insight into the government’s case.
Leading specialist employed by State's courts as expert on forensic document examination validates papers proving Palestinian owner sold home to Jewish buyers, rejects conclusions of police forensic team as result of substandard scientific work.
The heated battle over the property centers on the claim made by the Jewish Community, which asserts that it legally purchased the house whereas the State asserts that any proof of its purchase by the Jewish residents was forged.

The State Prosecution based its case on the report issued by the Jerusalem Police forensics laboratory, which examined the documents provided by the Hebron Jewish Community. The community claims that the documents that raised the authorities' suspicions were not the actual contracts proving the purchase of the house but rather supplementary paperwork such as the authorization of the Palestinian notary in Jericho.

The community enlisted the services of document examination expert Dr. Mordechai Vardi, a specialist who serves as the top authority on document analysis for the courts. After reviewing the case Dr. Vardi said the police report which the State built its case on did not comply with the necessary professional criteria and was overly vague; failing to provide detailed explanations for its assessments.

Vardi heavily criticized the fact that the police forensic report failed to acknowledge the most important document, the authenticity of which has not been challenged – the deed signed by the Palestinian owners transferring ownership of the house. According to Vardi there is no questioning the genuineness of the documents and signatures of the Palestinians who made the sale. Vardi said it was probable that the police based their analysis on a so-called 'self-forgery' made by the Palestinians. Meaning that the signatures they provided to the police for comparison's sake were purposely altered to mislead the forensic investigators.

Of course, any Arab convicted of selling land to Jews faces an automatic death sentence within the control of the Palestinian Authority - so would it really be out of the bounds of possibilities that the Palestinians involved would supply the Israeli authorities with forged documents?

The Blame Game

In course of writing this blog I have archive postings filled with more criticism of the Israeli government than praise, and yet, the most common label applied to me is not ‘anti-Semitic’ anything but ‘Jew Bitch’. Although, I did have an anonymous commenter accuse me of being single-handedly responsible for the rise of anti-Semitism in the world today.

Critics of Israel complain ad nauseam that any criticism of the Israeli state gets labeled immediately with cries and charges of ‘anti-Semitism’. While I am not suggesting all criticism of the Israeli state passes the litmus test for anti-Semitism it has become increasingly harder for me to ignore the incredible lack of good faith/good will those same critics exhibit towards any action the Israeli state attempts to defend its citizenry with. Take the hue and outcry against the Israeli state for even discussing the possibility of cutting diesel fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip (just google it – I am feeling lazy as well as running a fever).

Better yet, let me quote Barry Rubin’s latest column at the Israeli Insider, as it illustrates perfectly what I mean.
The story in question here is by Ibrahim Barzak, "Israel cuts fuel, electricity to Gaza," January 7, 2008. Like all individual articles it might be of limited importance by itself but it is an example of a phenomenon which has grown to be almost daily.

In the version run by the Philadelphia Inquirer it carries the following subheadline: "People have only a third of winter needs, said an official. The intent is to halt rocket attacks." It is important to emphasize -- do a computer search if you like -- that this article has been published and broadcast around the world by huge media outlets, not to mention websites.

And the main point -- and impact -- of the story is a fabrication.

Here is the lead:

"With winter deepening, Gazans will be forced to live without lights and electric heaters for eight hours a day because Israel has cut fuel supplies to the territory's only electric plant in half, Gaza's top energy official warned yesterday....

"Yesterday, Kanan Obeid, chairman of Gaza's Hamas-run energy authority, said Gaza now has only 35 percent of the power its 1.5 million residents need."

Well, perhaps Gaza's top energy official said that but it is a lie. AP and the media that depend on AP -- fell for this lie. Or perhaps the author and institution are not so innocent because there is no Israeli source provided for the main issues at stake. When I investigated the story it took me five minutes to get an official who totally denied the claims made by it.

Here is the true story, so obscured by the AP article that one can only believe the distortion was deliberate.

1. Gaza's electricity comes about 70 percent from Israel (the article says 60 percent though this changes nothing about the analysis that follows), 5 percent from Egypt, and 20 percent from Gaza itself.

2. There has been very little cutback in the electricity provided directly by Israel.

3. The only reduction is in supplying diesel fuel, some of which is used in the Gaza generating plant, though more is used by trucks.

4. Thus if the diesel fuel supply was cut back by half, the Gaza generator would lose less than half of its supply, even less if the Hamas government made it a priority. At most, the electricity supply would be cut no more than 10 percent -- not 65 percent.

5. Note also that while it sounds rather horrible not to have electricity eight hours a day, this merely would mean that you don't use electricity when you are sleeping. It should also be added that winter in Gaza is not exactly like Maine.

6. In addition, Barzak tries, and no doubt succeeds, in fooling readers by stating in passing: "The power outages, which will rotate across Gaza." In other words, at worst each sector would only have temporary power reductions, taking turns, rather than -- as the article states earlier -- everyone having eight hours without electricity.

After trying to convince readers that people in Gaza are suffering greatly from existing cuts, the article slips into making its case by talking about things that have not happened yet. The Israeli government wants small cutbacks in the electricity directly applied to the Gaza Strip. Even if these cuts were made -- and this may not happen -- the result would still fall very far short of the claims made about huge reductions and tremendous suffering.

The article continues:

"Israel said the purpose of the cutback was to nudge Palestinians to call on extremists to stop their daily rocket attacks on southern Israel. But Gazans contended they have become targets of unfair punishment, and 10 human-rights groups took that argument to the Israeli Supreme Court."
Note that while, technically, Israel's motive is presented -- so the AP can claim to be balanced -- we are quickly told that this claim is untrue. Israel's statements are questioned; Hamas's statements are accepted as fact.

I'll go one better than Barry Rubin and offer a rationale as to why Hamas's statements are accepted as facts. In fact, I'll offer a simple one compound word consisting of 12 letters and a hyphen as an answer. Does anyone still need to buy a vowel?

Look it has become all convenient for many to forget the Gaza Strip would not be under sanctions if the Hamas leadership would do two very simple things which do not even require the disbursement of one shekel or turn over control of the Gaza Strip to Fatah - recognize Israel as the Jewish state and give up all pretense, either overt or covert, of destroying the Israeli state. That’s it folks - game over.

And for those who prattle on endlessly about the plight of the innocent Gazans, while penning not one word of outrage for the school children of Sderot; let us not forget those same innocent Gazans duly voted to elect overwhelmingly Hamas as parliamentarians to the Palestinian legislature. Hamas did not change one iota of its charter or rationale for existence in order to carry the vote. Sometimes one gets exactly what one votes for, and then some.

Of course, if the Egyptians were running the Gaza Strip, like in the old days of pre-1967 Gaza, most Gazans wouldn’t even notice any power outages as the Egyptians (in their infinite wisdom and exercise of good governance) didn’t invest much in the way of hardwiring the Gaza Strip for electricity. So you can add wiring the entire Gaza Strip for electricity to your list of things to blame the Jews for.

No plowshares in sight but there was plenty of fertilizer and fuel for Gaza

Less than 2 weeks ago the Israelis discovered 6.5 tonnes of potassium nitrate in bags of ‘sugar’ labeled as aid from the European Union. Reuters carried this report:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The European Union on Sunday denied any connection to bags that Israel said were marked as containing EU aid "sugar" but actually filled with bomb-making chemicals bound for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said on Saturday it seized 6.5 tonnes of potassium nitrate aboard a Palestinian truck travelling through the occupied West Bank en route to Gaza.
Video footage of the haul showed white sacks with the spray-painted label: "EEC 2 Sugar Exported from E.U."

Potassium nitrate can be used to make explosives and power homemade rockets. It can also be used as a fertilizer.The European Union is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. EU spokeswoman Alix deMauny said the bloc distributes its food aid through U.N. agencies, rather than directly, and does not export any sugar to Gaza.

"Based on the information received, it appears that these bags cannot be confused with any kind of EU humanitarian aid," deMauny said. "We would consider it an isolated criminal act and we condemn it."

Ha’aretz carried this report yesterday of another case of Gaza Humanitarian aid gone awray:
Israel Airports Authority security personnel on Monday thwarted an attempt to smuggle a chemical substance that can be used to manufacture explosives and rockets, from Israel into the Gaza Strip though the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The IAA recovered two tons of the bomb-making material from a truck attempting to smuggle the material into Gaza in the guise of a humanitarian aid delivery. According to security sources, last week a larger amount of the material was found on a similar truck attempting to cross into Gaza.

The source also said that the amount apprehended Monday, could have been used to produce 500 rockets. The chemical substance was found in a test sample. It can be used to fuel rockets and to create explosives.

I am not suggesting the European Union is involved in the smuggling of ammo, weapons, or rocket making material – although, it would make my defense stronger if various EU countries were not actively involved in financing alleged “human rights” groups in Israel. I suspect it is a case of very little managerial oversight by the EU when using locals for labour.

Friday, January 11, 2008

those poor, poor...

I have been watching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since I was a child. I would catch glimpses of it in the news and it scared me. For a while, I was absolutely petrified at the idea of traveling anywhere on a school bus. I really believed at any moment, the PLO would hijack or attack the school bus because that was exactly the kind of thing the PLO did on a regularly basis. I had no concept of how the large the world was. I only knew that it could be a deadly place.

So my point is not to discuss the irrational fears of my childhood but to stress I was been watching this conflict for a very, very, long time. I have watch it go through many, many changes but consistently there has been one constant and it was the utter barbarity of the Palestinian terrorists.

I admire and marvel at the Israelis a great deal. I cannot think of another western-styled style country which has to live with the consequences of such barbarism within its doorsteps on a daily basis, and still be able to exercise restraint rather than wiping them and their descendants off the map.

So go ahead, laugh all you want at my opinions, but watch this video (very gory) and then tell me where one finds the Israeli equivalent? I will give you a hint – there isn’t one. Not even Baruch Goldstein, when he killed 29 Arabs in a mosque pulled the bloody entails from the dead and danced with them in his hands in a public square.

h/t: Israel Matzav

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bush cuts the cheese

US President George Bush gave a speech today calling for an end to the occupation of Arab land. Silly me, I thought he meant Iraq and was calling for a US troop pull out. Ynet News set me straight:
Resolving the status of Jerusalem will be tough, he said, and he called for the end of the "occupation" of Arab land by the Israeli military.

Of course that wasn't all Bush called for.
At the same time, Bush reiterated that any viable Palestinian state must be "contiguous," saying Palestinians deserve better than a "Swiss cheese" state.

But the reality of establishing a second Palestinian state with contiguous land mass requires Israel to sacrifice Zion and become the Swiss Cheese state. So if it is unacceptable to the Palestinians; why does Bush believe Israel should be raped into it? Caroline Glick provides one such answer.

with friends like these

US President George Bush is currently visiting Israel and not everyone is thrilled.

Rocket fire on Sderot continues during the Bush visit reports Ynet News:
Five Qassam rocket were fired from the Gaza Strip Wednesday afternoon, including one that hit a house in Sderot. Another rocket landed in the center. Four people sustained injuries in the latest attack, including a 17-year-old girl who suffered shrapnel wounds to her arm and a boy who was hurt while attempting to take cover. Meanwhile, a 60-year-old man arrived at hospital after reporting chest pains in the wake of the attack.

Then there are the Palestinian claims of responsibility and rationale for the attack.
The Salah al-Din Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for both rocket barrages. The group's spokesman, Abu Mujihad, told Ynet: "The firing was undertaken in the framework of continued messages to US President Bush that no plan would be able to defeat Palestinian resistance. The Palestinians will not cave in to this joint scheme with Israel to defeat the resistance."
If launching rockets against an Israeli civilian population living behind the 1949 armistice lines is to send a message of disapproval to a US President for supporting the establishment of a second Palestinian state isn’t an example of a deeply twisted pathology on the part of Palestinian ‘militants’ – then just what is?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

When biology is destiny - the redux

I have legions of pet peeves. One of them just happens to be the treatment of young boys within our school system. I never really paid attention to how young males were treated until I had two sons of my own enrolled within the system and I have been outraged ever since.

I read this posting at Unambiguously Ambidextrous and understand exactly where he is coming from. As in; been there – suffered through that. I decided I would recycle an old 2005 posting originally titled When Biology is Destiny. As a post-script, both my boys are still boxing and loving every minute of it. Both sons remain surprisingly passive in school - just as long as they still get to climb into the ring a couple times a week in an attempt to plummet someone else senseless.

When I entered motherhood I had just so many fine ideals and theories of raising the most perfect children. The first resolve to drop off the radar was cloth diapers. I wasn’t going to use those environmentally toxic unfriendly disposal Pampers or Huggies. That resolution ended after the first sleep deprived week at home. After that - Pampers all the way - Baby!

I threw out the baby books that I had been given after the first week of breastfeeding. All those promises/warnings of “don’t be surprised if you experience multiple orgasms while nursing”. Hey, I was always up for multiple orgasms which was no doubt why I had three children in four years. Although, the reality is, only a dominatrix could think the initial stages of breastfeeding could ever produce an orgasm. Even after the extreme pain vanished, there was never the slightest chance of orgasm, which leads me to speculate that other people have a much more bizarre sexual life than I could possibly imagine. And if the books were will filled with such utter rot about breastfeeding - I wasn’t willing to chance the rest. I figured I was better off on my own instincts, and if all else failed; there was always my angry GP, Dr. Freddie.

I was not ever going to allow my children to play with toy guns or encourage aggressive play, and if I had a son; by golly, he could play with all the dolls or Barbies his little heart desired and then some. I never bought toy guns but I was taught by my first son that everything is a weapon. And I do mean everything. To this day, I never understood where he got the idea of stripping the Barbies down to the buff, bending them overm and sticking them feet first in the front of his pampers to use as his six-shooters. Who would have thought it would be the daughter who ended up as the designated marksman?

I was forced to acknowledge that time-outs could not be the only form of discipline with a toddler after the Last Amazon was interfering with her younger (18 month old) brother’s Lego Mountain. After she destroyed his mountain he just hauled off and nailed her with a right jab in the eye as I stood stunned just a few feet away. Without a word from me, he walked himself into the time-out chair and grumbled on and on. Every once in a while he would turn around, raise his fist in the air, and issue baby gibberish threats to the Last Amazon. She never again interfered with his Lego Mountain.

I was also forced to acknowledge by the time I had two sons that the male mind really does approach problems differently than the female mind. Before I had the second son I put down the differences between the male and female minds as all due to the socialization process. Two sons tipped the balance. It’s like this - the bookcases looked cool to climb to the Last Amazon. She tries once when my attention is on other matters, falls and deduces it was a bad idea. The sons’ perceive the bookcases as a mountain to be conquered at all costs and they are prepared to pay any price to crown themselves King of the Bookcases. See the bookcases, take the bookcases or die in the attempt. It did not matter how many times they were thwarted or injured, they refused to give up. Each time they went into the assault with the premise that this time - it will end in triumph.

In the course of raising two sons less than two years apart I was forced to develop the “voice”. My mother referred to it as that “awful Sgt’s voice” and was appalled when I used it to enforce rules or order. She came for a visit one year when the Last Amazon was about 4 and a half and insisted that she wanted to take the children and I out to a nice lunch at a “real restaurant” - no McDonald’s for her. I was not to use the “voice” under any circumstances. She would show me how to control the children without the voice. Right off the bat, I insisted it was a bad idea and pointed out that she had no experience in raising sons but she insisted she knew better than I, and she had forgotten more, than I had learned.

Off to the Olive Garden we went. Within 20 minutes the boys had taken total control of the restaurant and were in a free fire zone. Despite her best efforts, she could not mentally or physically control the boys’ ability to run, use their throwing arms, dart, squirm, or drop and roll. She conceded defeat and demanded I used the voice in a loudest voice I had ever heard her use. Within seconds of using the “voice” I had them and every other man in the room sitting straight in their chairs with their hands folded in their lap. That was the last time we went to a restaurant until the children were significantly older. She also gave me a free pass with the voice from then on.

One of the biggest challenges I have had to face has been the issue of fighting. This is where I just might have to concede defeat. I never forgot one of many melees when Montana was about 3 years old. I was explaining patiently that fighting is bad, wrong, bad, and he turned to me and said, “But, Momma, I like to fight, fighting is fun.” Ah, I thought, now I have got him, and patiently explained that when you fight you can get hurt, and you don’t like to get hurt do you? He lifted his soft brown eyes into mine and very earnestly said, “No, I don’t like getting hurt but I sure do feel a lot better when I hit’em back! In the end, I was forced to rely on that old parental standby, superior fire power triumphs all. You fight, I fight you. That worked fine until he went off to school and was no longer under my eye.

We have lived in this 19th century townhouse in the downtown eastside of Toronto for the past 10 years. There are many advantages to living here but the one downside has been that the local school he attends is also a feeder school to three of the toughest housing projects in the city. I was forced to reach back into my childhood and make him learn the kid’s rules of fighting. Don’t fight girls, any one younger or smaller, anyone with glasses, physical impairments, etc. And don’t ever throw the first punch. That worked more or less okay. He never started a fight though he never did learn the art of standing down or walking away. It also made him a big hit with the girls and younger kids. Anyone pick on a girl or a younger child and Montana was in their face, ready to go.

During my son’s early years his father kept me calm, sane and out of jail. I remember one call from the school when I was informed that my son had been injured in a fight and I should pick him up and perhaps seek medical attention for his injuries. Turns out, he was playing with his friends when another little boy just came up and clawed him down the face over his eyes for no reason. Apparently, after the little boy clawed him, Montana threw him on the ground and pinned him down till the bell rang. Montana went to class and was sitting in the back with his sweatshirt hood over his face. The other little boy went to the principal to report that Montana threw him on the ground. The principal called Montana’s teacher and asked her to send him to the office. It was at that point the teacher realized Montana had blood running down his face. It all worked out in the wash. The little boy was suspended for fighting and Montana’s faced healed up but I was ready to call the boy’s parents and give them a good what for and it was Montana’s father who held me back. He sat me down and explained that this is how boys bonded. They beat each other up and then became best friends and I should just chill myself out. He very patiently explained that he had beat up all his friends, at one point or another, and today; they would die for each other. Frankly, I thought it was the daftest thing I had ever heard. The thing was, he was right. Within a few weeks the two of them were fast friends and remain so to this day. Over and over again this scenario was repeated and Montana’s collection of friends grew and grew. The strangest part is that they are some of the nicest boys you could ask for. Helpful, polite, respectful, hardworking and yet, they all love nothing better than to make fun of each other and pommel each other senseless the minute grown-ups eyes wander off them.

All of which brings me to a decision I made last week. I got the dreaded call from a new principal. Montana had been fighting at school and was suspended for one day. The worse part, at least in my mind, was that for the first time in his life he started the fight. He was fooling around with one of his friends, they were calling each other names and Montana gave his friend a shove, the boy shoved back. Montana shoved harder and the boy hit his head. Then he punched Montana which turned out to be the punch that crossed the line from horseplay to fighting.

Thank the Lord that neither boy was hurt, and they both have had a turn washing my floors and walls. And yes, they are still friends.

I admit to being a little more than angry and frustrated myself. Partially it is at a school system that won’t allow boys any physical activities where they can blow off steam. No football, soccer, hockey, baseball, dodge ball, or any other kind of game that “promotes aggression” or the “possibility of injury”. Volleyball and cross country running are all well and good but they are seasonal, and frankly, to a lot of boys; it blows. I do understand that not all boys are the “physical” sort but more are than not. While I realize no parent wants their child injured; it just seems that by denying that boys really do need a way to physically deal with aggression, you set them up for horseplay which eventually leads to fighting. How can anyone expect boys to spend all recesses at the wall or standing around chatting about the weather?

This time I don’t have Montana’s father to steady me or give me the dreaded whacked male perspective, and quite honestly, I cannot begin to fathom what his advice would be. So I am left to muddle on my own on what to do with son and his love of fighting. I thought about enrolling him in a martial arts program. He did take karate when he was younger but he really didn’t like it much. He said it was not enough of challenge and he complained that they really didn’t fight. So what I did was call a boxing club. I took him to the club on Saturday to register him.

At first, the coach was reluctant to register him and wanted to give him a week to think it over. The coach’s mouth dropped when I told him that my son didn’t have a choice. He loves to fight and I want him to do it all in the club and not in school. What was supposed to be a half hour session turned into a three hour ordeal with a different coach every hour. They didn’t let up on my son. Every once in a while a coach would pick up a water bottle and squirt water in his mouth. He was in constant motion. By the third hour, Montana entered the ring and watching him spar with a coach I saw an expression cross his face I had never seen before. He never looked so mean, and yet, so utterly euphoric. That thought caused a chill to run down my back and I was struck that perhaps I was watching biology being made destiny.

Near the end of the session, the first coach sits down besides me and tells me that they will take care of him at the club and boxing can be a great life. He’s traveled all over the world by boxing. Frankly, I thought that the coach should have made ducking a punch a bit more of a priority than he obviously had in his own career. I made a mental note to tell Montana to make it a priority. When the coach finally called my son out of the ring he asked me for the school telephone number and the principal’s name. He warned my son that if they find out he’s fighting in school he will be suspended from the club. I would have thought Montana would be exhausted (I know I was from watching) but no, he was walking on clouds.

He’s been back twice this week and each time I have had to go drag him out of the gym when he failed to come home when he was expected. I try to comfort myself by saying there are worse things; it could be drugs, drinking or even floozy girls. But no matter how hard I try; I don’t understand the appeal of bashing someone over and over again, but then again, I loved ballet.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

So just whose land is it anyway?

On of the innate problems of land claims in Israel or the disputed territories is determining ownership of any given plot of land. What you think was Arab land prior to 1949 can never be just assumed to be Arab owned land. Talk about the fluidity of ownership.

Although, I must say US Secretary of State Condi Rice does give the impression she has all the subtleties fleshed out. The Jerusalem Post ran an article reconfirming the American opposition to even the idea of the Israelis building 300 more homes in the Jerusalem suburb of Har Homa.
On the eve of US President George W. Bush's visit to Israel and the region, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice placed the issue of settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem at center stage, telling The Jerusalem Post that "Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning."

Rice, who was accompanying Bush en route to Israel overnight Tuesday, said that "the United States doesn't make a distinction" between settlement activity in east Jerusalem and the West Bank and that Israel's road map obligations, which include a building freeze, relate to "settlement activity generally." Rice's comments underlined that the settlement issue will be high on the agenda of the talks between Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Apparently, the previous owners of Har Homa were Jews who purchased the land legally from Sheikh Shehade al-Faghuri in 1944. Of course, the legal owners of the land lost it when Jordan illegally seized Har Homa in 1949. This cool historical fact comes courtesy of the Elder of Ziyon and was sourced from to Hillel Cohen’s book the Army of Shadows: Palestinian collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948.

Another book I will have to find the time to read. So many books, so little time...

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Force and Sons

I saw this Fox News item last week and meant to post it, but I got too busy playing with the children to post it till today.
An 11-year-old boy demonstrated The Force when he defended his mom by hitting an attacker with a toy lightsaber. The man, in his 30s, fled after being confronted by the youngster outside a bakery in Swardeston, near Norwich, England. Police said the boy hit the man with his toy after the man had punched and verbally abused his mother as she approached her car.

Lucky for me, I have an Amazon, two sons and six Star Wars light sabers.

Right Hand, Meet Left Hand

On Friday, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal rejected any European mediation of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Yesterday, Hamas leader on the ground in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh suggest France can mediate the conflict and put a ‘peacekeeping’ force on the ground. The Jerusalem Post:
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday called on France to provide assistance to the Palestinians, saying he welcomed "all international efforts" aimed at enhancing security in the region, AFP reported. In a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Haniyeh said the Gaza government is "prepared to cooperate with all international efforts to establish security and stability in the region."

According to AFP, the Hamas leader praised Sarkozy's call for an international peacekeeping force in the Palestinian territories, made at an international donors conference in Paris last month. Haniyeh said Sarkozy had proposed some "positive and encouraging initiatives" at the conference.

"We followed your speech at the recent Paris conference in which we found many positive and encouraging initiatives aimed at ending the occupation and restoring the legal rights of the Palestinian people and ending their suffering," wrote Haniyeh. He also said he would accept French mediation in resolving the Hamas-Fatah feud. However, Haniyeh blasted the revived peace talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
You have to ask yourself – why France, and not, say Norway? Afterall, Norway has been a long time supporter of the Palestinians with words, deeds and pocketbooks. All I can do is wonder if Haniyeh is gambling that any French troops being deployed in the Gaza Strip would be reflective of French UNIFIL forces which have been deployed in Lebanon.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Only the lucky may grow old in Canada

One of the reasons I read the Israeli dailies is to know what is going on in my own country. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
A Canadian judge is due to decide this week whether to renew a temporary injunction against Winnipeg's Grace General Hospital, whose doctors want to detach an 84-year-old Orthodox Jew from a respirator and hasten his death, against his family's wishes.

However, it was learned Sunday that the patient, Samuel Golubchuk, regained consciousness several days ago and appears to be improving. Although a hospital doctor treating Golubchuk wrote "Awoke" on his chart, the hospital did not disclose this to the court. The family said the hospital had been trying to make the patient appear to be dying and with minimal brain function. Grace General Hospital has received the backing of the Canadian Medical Association in its efforts to bring about active euthanasia.

According to the chart, which the judge was not apparently not shown, the supposedly "imminently dying" Golubchuk is not only awake but has interacted with people and made purposeful movements. The case has aroused anger and anxiety within the North American Jewish community that it will set a precedent for doctors to have exclusive power over life and death decisions. Rabbinical and community leaders worry that budget-conscious hospital systems may decide to shorten patients' lives to save money or to free up beds.

Image omitting a little bitty piece of medical information like “awoke” on a chart of a supposedly comatose patient in a court application to terminate life support…maybe socialized medicine isn’t all it is cracked up to be - if your old.

Fatah Update

Let us file this one under “who knew?” (Jerusalem Post):
Despite international political and financial support, the popularity of the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has declined over the past month, partially because of mistrust in the group's leaders, according to a poll published Friday.

Fatah still commands a strong lead over Hamas that controls Gaza, with 39 percent of Palestinians trusting it, as opposed to 16 percent backing for Hamas. But in November, 46 percent of those surveyed for a similar poll favored Fatah, and 13 percent backed Hamas. Forty-one percent of those polled said they didn't trust either faction, up from 32 percent in November.

The telephone poll, conducted in late December by Near East Consulting, interviewed 959 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. While most Palestinians trust and approve Fatah's peace moves, they have little trust in Fatah's ability to improve their own living conditions, said Jamil Rabah, director of Near East Consulting. "People don't have a problem with the thinking and ideology of Fatah, but they are not happy with the symbols and leaders of Fatah," Rabah said. "They are getting so much money, but will they bring an end to the (deteriorating) situation?"

In other news, the Palestinian Authority rejects a ‘demilitarized’ view of statehood.

Hamas, on the other hand, rejects European offers to mediate the conflict with Israel.
Hamas has rejected a European offer for an indirect meeting with Israelis to discuss a possible truce, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Friday, adding that the Palestinian people have no choice other than "resistance."

Speaking at a rally in Damascus marking Hamas's 20th anniversary, Mashaal also called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to hold unconditional talks with Hamas. Mashaal went on to claim that "some Europeans have offered us to meet indirectly with Israelis to discuss a truce and we told them no and one thousands nos." He did not say which European country made the offer.

And then there is the imaginary disarmament of Fatah militas in the West Bank.
The massive IDF operation in Nablus has shown that, contrary to claims by the Palestinian Authority, Fatah's armed wing has not been dismantled. It has also proven that dozens of Fatah gunmen and activists in the West Bank have not surrendered their weapons and are continuing to plan attacks against Israel.

During the operation, which began on Thursday, the IDF arrested 19 gunmen belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The IDF has also arrested two security officers working for the PA's Military Intelligence Force: Shadi al-Sakhel and Ahmed Hisham. The two officers are suspected of helping the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the city. IDF soldiers discovered a workshop in Nablus's Old City where the group was said to have manufactured two rockets.

The raid came days after PA Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yahya announced that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank had ceased to exist. It also came against a backdrop of media reports suggesting that the PA security forces had succeeded in imposing law and order in Nablus. The Aksa Martyrs Brigades has openly scoffed at Yahya's declaration, dubbing him a "collaborator" with Israel and calling for his dismissal.

The group continues to issue daily statements about its members' activities both in the West Bank and in Gaza. And in the Strip, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades are continuing to take credit for many of the rocket attacks on Israel. In one of the largest operations of its kind, the PA, with the help of Israel and the US, deployed some 300 policemen in Nablus several weeks ago.

Many Palestinians in Nablus said over the weekend that while the PA security forces did clamp down on local criminals, they did not do enough to stop the Fatah gunmen from continuing to operate in the city. They added that while many of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades members had been recruited as officers by various branches of the PA security forces in the past few months, they were continuing to operate within the framework of the armed group.

Col. Abdullah Kmeil, commander of the PA's General Intelligence Force in Nablus, confirmed over the weekend that most of those who were arrested by the IDF belonged to the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. He said that all the Fatah gunmen had been incorporated into the PA security forces. He also confirmed that two PA security officers were among those arrested by the IDF.
The advantage of holding imaginary events is how often these events can be recycled.