Saturday, April 08, 2006

Deepening military crisis in the Gaza Strip

From Debkafile, April 7, 2006, 5:25 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

Palestinian missile crews shelter in six bases embedded in civilian centers, learn how to cheat Israeli surveillance.

The abrupt escalation Tuesday, April 4, of Israeli military measures to counter the daily Palestinian missile barrages was prompted by a significant upgrading of Palestinian military skills, longer range and better organization.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report the Palestinians have moved their line of missile fire south of the evacuated Israeli locations of the northern Gaza Strip and the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun, their former sites. Highly mobile, they now shoot from two lines – one in the northern sector, dragging the Qassam missiles to launching sites after learning to cheat Israeli surveillance drones and helicopters, and the second line further south, using longer-range missiles.

By shooting multi-missile salvoes before melting away, as they did Tuesday, the Palestinian launch-teams are able to better elude IDF fire.

All the Palestinian organizations, barring Hamas, are now engaged in the daily barrage of missiles from the Gaza Strip against a widening radius of targets: north to the oil port and power center of Ashkelon and east into the southwestern Negev along a strip from Nahal Oz to Sufa and the Besor Belt near the Egyptian border. The launch crews are virtually impervious to Israeli artillery and air assaults.

Tuesday, April 4, after seven Palestinian missiles exploded inside Israel – one damaging an Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline installation - the IDF finally gave up shelling empty spaces, a futile practice adhered to for more than a year, and turned their artillery on populated areas. A house in Beit Lahiya was shelled, killing two Palestinians and injuring ten.

DEBKAfile’s military sources say this is just the beginning of the deepening military crisis in the Gaza Strip. Two developments make this deterioration unavoidable.
1. All the Palestinian organizations, excepting Hamas, have joined the Qassam offensive against Israel. They are using it to practice activating mobile missile teams while dodging Israeli electronic surveillance and preparing to apply their enhanced capabilities in other arenas.
2. The Palestinian organizations have established six military-type bases outside the range of IDF artillery and tanks as sanctuaries for the missile launchers. They are all embedded in civil population centers and serve also as training installations for Jihad Islami, Popular Resistance Committees, Hamas, Abu Rish Brigades, Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades and the Return Brigades. The last group is being drilled to defend the Gaza Strip against an Israeli raid and carry out raids deep inside Israel.

Israeli gunboats shelled these installations twice last week. But the IDF ground forces deployed around the Gaza Strip will have little choice but to lengthen their sights to bring those six bases within firing range.

How Israel Can Win

From (published in New York Sun April 4, 2006) by Daniel Pipes ...

...The ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu observed that in war, "Let your great object be victory," and he was echoed by the 17th-century Austrian war thinker, Raimondo Montecuccoli. His Prussian successor Clausewitz added that "War is an act of violence to compel the enemy to fulfill our will." These insights remain valid today: Victory consists of imposing one's will on the enemy, which typically means compelling him to give up his war goals......

...Israel should be urged to convince the Palestinian Arabs that they have lost, to influence their psychology..... perceptions of Israel's weakness lessen the possibility of Palestinian Arab defeat; thus did Israeli missteps during the Oslo years (1993-2000) and the Gaza withdrawal inspire Palestinian Arab exhilaration and more war.

Israel needs only to defeat the Palestinian Arabs, not the whole Arab or Muslim populations, who eventually will follow the Palestinian Arab lead. I refrain from suggesting specific steps Israel should take in part because I am not Israeli, and in part because discussing tactics to win is premature before victory is the policy.

Suffice to say that the Palestinian Arabs derive immense succor and strength from a worldwide network of support from NGOs, editorialists, academics, and politicians; that the manufactured Palestinian Arab "refugee" problem stands at the dank heart of the conflict, and that the lack of international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital festers....

... Israeli success in crushing the Palestinian Arab war morale would be the best thing that ever happened to the Palestinian Arabs. It would mean their finally giving up their foul dream of eliminating their neighbor and would offer a chance instead to focus on their own polity, economy, society, and culture. To become a normal people, one whose parents do not encourage their children to become suicide terrorists, Palestinian Arabs need to undergo the crucible of defeat.

Harvard posts rebuttal to paper

From the Boston Globe, April 6, 2006 by Charles A. Radin ...
Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government yesterday posted on its website a rebuttal from Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz to a paper that alleges that US foreign policy is dominated by a pro-Israel lobby to the detriment of the US national interest.

The original paper, written by University of Chicago political scientist John J. Mearsheimer and Kennedy School academic dean Stephen M. Walt, has stirred an uproar in academic circles since it appeared in the working papers section of the school's website in mid-March.

Follow this link to view the Mearsheimer / Walt paper online.

The Dershowitz rebuttal attacks the scholarship of the Israel lobby paper for allegedly uncritical use of material from authors known for antipathy to the United States and to Israel, for allegedly distorting the historical record, and for 10 assertions about Israel and the Israel lobby that Dershowitz says are demonstrably false.

Follow this link to view the Dershowitz paper online.

This is the first time the Kennedy School has posted a rebuttal to a working paper on its website, under a new policy announced by Dean David Ellwood in response to widespread complaints about the Mearsheimer-Walt paper. Under the policy, any full-time Harvard faculty member is entitled to rebut assertions of the Kennedy School faculty so long as the rebuttal is scholarly in nature. Rebuttal papers must pass review by senior faculty of the school before they can be posted.

Yes, It's Anti-Semitic

From Washington Post, Wednesday April 5, 2006; Page A23, by Eliot A. Cohen ...

Academic papers posted on a Harvard Web site don't normally attract enthusiastic praise from prominent white supremacists. But John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" has won David Duke's endorsement as "a modern Declaration of American Independence" and a vindication of the ex-Klansman's earlier work, presumably including his pathbreaking book, "Jewish Supremacism." (See our previous postings on this paper.)

Walt and Mearsheimer contend that American national security dictates distancing ourselves from the state of Israel; that U.S. support for Israel has led to such disasters as America's status as the No. 1 target for Islamic terrorists; and that such an otherwise inexplicable departure from good sense can be accounted for only by the power of "The Lobby" (their capitalization), an overwhelmingly Jewish force abetted by some Christian evangelicals and a gentile neocon collaborator or two, who have hijacked American foreign policy and controlled it for decades.

One of Mearsheimer's University of Chicago colleagues has characterized this as "piss-poor, monocausal social science." It is indeed a wretched piece of scholarship. Israeli citizenship rests "on the principle of blood kinship," it says, and yet the country has a million non-Jewish citizens who vote. Osama bin Laden's grievance with the United States begins with Israel, it says -- but in fact his 1998 fatwa declaring war against this country began by denouncing the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia and the suffering of the people of Iraq. "Other ethnic lobbies can only dream of having the political muscle" The Lobby has -- news to anyone advocating lifting the embargo on Fidel Castro's Cuba. The Iraq war stemmed from The Lobby's conception of Israel's interest -- yet, oddly, the war attracted the support of anti-Israel intellectuals such as Christopher Hitchens and mainstream publications such as The Economist. America's anti-Iran policy reflects the dictates of The Lobby -- but how to explain Europe's equally strong opposition to Iranian nuclear ambitions?

Oddly, these international relations realists -- who in their more normal academic lives declare that state interests determine policy, and domestic politics matters little -- have discovered the one case in which domestic politics has, for decades, determined the policy of the world's greatest state. Their theories proclaim the importance of power, not ideals, yet they abhor the thought of allying with the strongest military and most vibrant economy in the Middle East. Reporting persecution, they have declared that they could not publish their work in the United States, but they have neglected to name the academic journals that turned them down.

Inept, even kooky academic work, then, but is it anti-Semitic? If by anti-Semitism one means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information -- why, yes, this paper is anti-Semitic.

Mearsheimer and Walt conceive of The Lobby as a conspiracy between the Washington Times and the New York Times, the Democratic-leaning Brookings Institution and Republican-leaning American Enterprise Institute, architects of the Oslo accords and their most vigorous opponents. In this world Douglas Feith manipulates Don Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney takes orders from Richard Perle. They dwell on public figures with Jewish names and take repeated shots at conservative Christians (acceptable subjects for prejudice in intellectual circles), but they never ask why a Sen. John McCain today or, in earlier years, a rough-hewn labor leader such as George Meany declared themselves friends of Israel.

The authors dismiss or ignore past Arab threats to exterminate Israel, as well as the sewer of anti-Semitic literature that pollutes public discourse in the Arab world today. The most recent calls by Iran's fanatical -- and nuclear weapons-hungry -- president for Israel to be "wiped off the map" they brush aside as insignificant. There is nothing here about the millions of dollars that Saudi Arabia has poured into lobbying and academic institutions, or the wealth of Islamic studies programs on American campuses, though they note with suspicion some 130 Jewish studies programs on those campuses. West Bank settlements get attention; terrorist butchery of civilians on buses or in shopping malls does not. To dispute their view of Israel is not to differ about policy but to act as a foreign agent.

If this sounds personal, it is, although I am only a footnote target for Mearsheimer and Walt. I am a public intellectual and a proud Jew; sympathetic to Israel and extensively engaged in our nation's military affairs; vaguely conservative and occasionally hawkish. In a week my family will celebrate Passover with my oldest son -- the third generation to serve as an officer in the United States Army. He will be home on leave from the bomb-strewn streets of Baghdad. The patch on his shoulder is the same flag that flies on my porch.

Other supposed members of "The Lobby" also have children in military service. Impugning their patriotism or mine is not scholarship or policy advocacy. It is merely, and unforgivably, bigotry.

The writer is a professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

Will the real John Mearsheimer please stand up?

From Camera (Committee for Accuracy in Middle eat reporting in America), March 30, 2006 by Alex Safian, PhD ...

(also see our previous postings on this subject)

John Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, is the coauthor of a by-now very controversial study charging that the “Israel lobby” has distorted the foreign policy of the United States in favor of Israel, and to the detriment of U.S. interests. The bill of indictment, for that is how it is written, charges that the lobby had a “critical” role in arranging the Iraq war, and even that it caused the United States to be targeted on 9/11.

....Walt and Mearsheimer focus especially on an alleged pro-Israel role in the decision to topple Saddam Hussein’s Iraq: "Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the U.S. decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was a critical element. Some Americans believe that this was a “war for oil,” but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure. "

...It couldn’t be more striking then, to read Professor Mearsheimer stating in late December of 2004 almost exactly the opposite concerning the origins of the Iraq war. Interviewed on a website called American Amnesia ...

Prof. Mearsheimer stated clearly that administration officials went to war in good faith, expecting “in their heart of hearts” to find WMD and ties between Osama bin Laden and Saddam: "A number of [Bush administration officials] who were in favor of the war believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that he was joined at the hip with Osama Bin their heart of hearts they believed that both suppositions would be proven true once we were in Iraq and gained access to the evidence..." So according to Mearsheimer, Wolfowitz and the other senior administration officials were actually acting in the interests of the United States rather than of Israel.

The good professor continued: "What you often discovered when debating proponents of the war was that if they admitted that Saddam might not be an imminent threat, they would invariably fall back on the argument that this is actually the ideal time to attack him because he is not especially dangerous at the moment. Why wait until he is armed and a serious threat to the United States? Let's get him when he is weak and vulnerable." Note that according to Mearsheimer, for these supporters of the war it wasn’t Israel that was the issue, but rather that Saddam could well become “a serious threat to the United States.”

And in a long answer, Mearsheimer specifically attributed Wolfowitz’s support for the war not to any concern for Israel, but rather to his belief in the transformative power of democracy: "I think that Wolfowitz, who was the war’s principle architect, believes very strongly that the most powerful political ideology on the face of the earth is democracy ... I think he believed that once we decapitated the regime in Iraq...that democratic impulse, once unleashed, would produce a democratic form of government that would not only be friendly to the United States, but would allow us to leave Iraq quickly and painlessly...." Notice especially that Mearsheimer says that he believed that Wolfowitz expected the new, post-Saddam Iraq would be “friendly to the United States” – with no mention of Israel.

Questioned as to whether Wolfowitz might have been lying about the reasons for going to war, Professor Mearsheimer responded ...: "No.... Wolfowitz had a particular view of international politics that he honestly believed in ...." So Wolfowitz acted in good faith, in the interests of the U.S., and based on perceptions that “he honestly believed in.” the Harvard paper Mearsheimer scoffed at the threat to the United States from nuclear-armed rogue states or terror groups, in the interview he took a very different view..."... [Bush] made hard-nosed realist arguments for the war. For example, he talked constantly about the threat from WMD and terrorism. He talked about rogue states like Iraq and Iran using WMD to blackmail the United States. He talked about those states giving WMD to terrorists, who would surely use them against us. So there was both a realist and idealist logic at play in Bush’s mind, which is what allowed him to think that his behavior was morally as well as strategically correct." So, according to Mearsheimer, the chance that rogue states might pass WMD to terrorists is not “remote,” and the belief that they “would surely use them against us,” far from being alarmist fantasy, is actually “hard-nosed” realism.

How then to explain these sharp contradictions in Professor Mearsheimer’s stated views? How to explain that, despite the interview being specifically about the decision to go to war in Iraq, nowhere in it is there so much as a mention of Israel? Did Professor Mearsheimer, in the interim, come upon some evidence that turned his thinking around on this question? If so, there is no evidence of any such “smoking gun” in the Walt/Mearsheimer paper – on the contrary, they present their charges against Israel as commonplace and familiar: “the facts recounted here are not in serious dispute among scholars” and “readers may reject our conclusions, of course, but the evidence on which they rest is not controversial.”

Is the explanation that the Harvard study was more Walt than Mearsheimer? Perhaps, but that’s not to say that Professor Mearsheimer in the past was at all well-disposed towards Israel, or even neutral on the subject. Before the start of the Iraq war, for example, he signed onto an absurd and embarrasing “Letter Against Expulsion of the Palestinians,” which charged that Israel was quite likely planning to use the distraction of the Iraq war to expel Palestinians and possibly Israeli Arabs as well. According to the letter, signed also by such luminaries as Edward Said and Noam Chomsky, the “fog of war” could be : "exploited by the Israeli government to commit further crimes against the Palestinian people, up to full-fledged ethnic cleansing…" ...But even the wacky, anti-Israel views required to agree to such nonsense still can’t explain how a “hard-headed realist” like Mearsheimer coauthored a paper on the “Israel Lobby” that so contradicted views he had strongly expressed just 15 months earlier, especially since the Harvard paper was long in the making.

The bottom line is that Professor Mearsheimer, who has been virtually silent since publication of the Harvard paper, owes his readers an explanation.

A two-face Solution

from a Ynet News Report 7/4/06 by Ali Waked . . . .

In light of reports on the European Union and the United States ' decisions to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas prepared for a meeting between PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh which took place Friday evening.

Palestinian sources said that Haniyeh will present Abbas with a "pragmatic diplomatic program" aimed at minimizing the disputes between the presidential institution headed by Abbas and the prime minister.

According to the sources, the government will acknowledge Abbas' right to manage all the diplomatic affairs without Hamas involvement, and will maintain the right to oppose – or agree to – any diplomatic agreements achieved by Abbas.

. . .Haniyeh went on to say that he would discuss with Abbas the international decisions concerning the boycotting of the Palestinian government and promised that the international community would hear "a different Palestinian approach" by the new government.

"An approach based, on the one hand, on the Palestinian rights, and on the other hand, on our real desire for peace based on returning all our rights," he said.

.....Hamas officials told Ynet ....that the movement was not changing its strategic positions and does not intend on conceding its historical principles and the rights of the Palestinian people on the entire territory of Palestine, including the right of return......

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Humanitarian Regional Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Jerusalem Summit has commenced an advertsing campaign that provides a link to an article entitled "Humanitarian Regional Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Synopsis". The following is extracted from that article ...

A. Assessment
1. The conventional-wisdom paradigm for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has failed woefully, bringing nothing but misery and despair to both sides – but particularly to the Palestinians as individual human beings.
2. This conventional paradigm has attempted to solve the conflict by means of a Political Solution involving the establishment of a self-governing Palestinian entity on territories in Judea Samaria and Gaza which have been under Israeli control since 1967 i.e. on the basis of a "Land for Peace" approach.
3. Dispassionate assessment of the history of the conflict and its current development will strongly suggest that persisting with attempts to attain a political solution on the basis the conventional paradigm is at best futile - and at worse harmful. Accordingly, alternative modes of resolution must be pursued.

B. Analysis
1. Analysis of their deeds and declarations over the years make it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Palestinians are in effect both unwilling and incapable of achieving and maintaining statehood....
2. It is thus far easier to understand Palestinian conduct if one assumes that it is driven ... less by the aspiration to establish a Palestinian state and more by the aspiration to dismantle a Jewish state.
3. ...rejection of Jewish self determination and the dismantling of the Jewish nation state – reflects an agenda totally unacceptable by any international standards and thus must be branded as devoid of any legitimacy....

C. Conclusion
1. The establishment of a Palestinian State must removed from the international agenda.
2. However, removing the issue of a Palestinian state from the international agenda will not eliminate the humanitarian predicament of Palestinians residing in Israeli-administered areas.
3. This is clearly an issue that must be addressed and resolved. But it must be addressed not in political terms but in humanitarian ones.
4. Thus, to successfully resolve the Palestinian problem, the Political Paradigm must be replaced by a Humanitarian Paradigm. This, however can only be done if the current Palestinian narrative, which fuels the Political Paradigm, is de-legitimized.
5. Thus, the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative becomes a vital prerequisite to any comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue.

D. Proposal
1. A comprehensive Humanitarian Solution to the Palestinian issue would entail three major elements:
(a) The dissolution of UNRWA – which will end the discriminatory treatment towards the Palestinians with regard to their status as refugees;
(b) The termination of ethnic discrimination against Palestinians living in the Arab world - which will end the discriminatory treatment towards the Palestinians with regard to their status as residents;
(c) Generous relocation grants to Palestinians living in Israeli administered territories on an individual basis and not via any official Palestinian organization. ....
14. A survey conducted among the Palestinians in Nov. 2004 indicates that only about 15% of the Palestinian population resident in Israeli administered areas would reject such an offer outright. By contrast, over 70% would accept some form of material compensation as an inducement to emigrate permanently from the areas currently under Israeli administration (see
15. The economic cost of such a policy of generously financed humanitarian relocation and resettlement would be eminently affordable and would compare favorably with almost all other settlement proposals on the table today. Indeed, its total cost would be around 50% of the present total US outlay on the War in Iraq!!....

E. Summary
The proposed initiative constitutes a "win-win" proposal which will:
Alleviate, and even eliminate, the humanitarian plight of individual Palestinians
Ensure the continued security and survival of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish people Provide a significant boost to the economies of the developing world Transform poverty stricken refugees into affluent émigrés

The organisation's Web site states:
The First Jerusalem Summit was held in ... October..., 2003. Outstanding political and academic leaders met to develop a joint strategy against the Totalitarianism of the East represented by radical Islam, as well as against Moral Relativism of the West , which erodes our resolve to fight that evil. After Fascism and Communism, Radical Islam is the third major totalitarian threat to civilizationin the last hundred years. The State of Israel is both a symbol and a front-line state in the battle for our civilization. A terrorist PLO state will pose mortal danger to Israel and the free world at large. Jerusalem Summit will develop and promote efficient alternatives to the Oslo process.

The Presidium of the Jerusalem Summit consists of:

Baroness Caroline Cox, Deputy Speaker, U.K. House of the Lords
Sam Brownback, U.S. Senator, R-KS
Prof. Moshe Kaveh, President, Bar-Ilan University
Prof. Daniel Pipes, Board Member, United States Institute of Peace
Dr. Yuri Shtern, Knesset Member, National Union
Mr. Michael Cherney, Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Follow the link for more information about the Presidium.
I've added the link to the Jerusalem Summit English Home Page to our permanent list of links at the right of the page.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Al-Zahar wants 'Palestine from river to sea'

From Ynet News 5/4/06, by Ali Waked . . .

Israel must not be recognized and the Palestinian Foreign Ministry should aim to establish a Palestinian State from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, in place of the Jewish State, PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar said according to Palestinian media reports.

Al-Zahar made the remarks during his first meeting with Foreign Ministry officials and ahead of the first session to be held by the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Fatah officials, who are closely monitoring the situation, said in recent hours that prospects for the continued existence of the Hamas government appear slim. Such government would not be able to last as long as Hamas refrains from modifying its positions, which only serve to isolate the cabinet, the Fatah sources said.

The Hamas-led government's first session will be held Wednesday...

. . . London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported that Fatah is considering the establishment of a shadow cabinet that would operate along the Hamas government and be ready to take its place should the official government collapse.

. . .Palestinian Finance Minister Omar Abdel-Razek said that the government continues to engage in fundraising efforts in order to pay the salaries of Palestinian officials. Starting this month, the Hamas government's mission will be first and foremost to guarantee the payment of salaries to approximately 150,000 Palestinian clerks and security personnel.

PA sources estimated that the delays in salary payments would in fact mark the beginning of the government's countdown toward collapse, but Hamas officials said that the movement plans on undertaken all efforts in order to prolong the government's life "for the sake of the Palestinian people." . . .

Lost cousins reunite after 66 years

This article from JPost, Apr. 5, 2006 By ETGAR LEFKOVITS, will bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your face ....

ELLA FRIEDVALD and her sister Lila embrace their cousin Krystyna, whom they hadn't seen in 66 years, at Ben-Gurion Airport
Photo: courtesy

For 66 years, Ella Friedvald, 82, and her 79-year-old sister Lila were sure that their cousin Krystyna had been killed in the Holocaust, just as she was convinced they were long dead. After all, the three women were barely teenagers when the Germans invaded Poland and their families were separated, their paths seemingly forever split as their world shattered before them.

After the war, Ella and Lila settled in Israel, while Krystyna, 79, made her home in the US, all having failed to find traces of their respective parents. But, as fate willed it, a faded postcard sent from a German labor camp 60 years ago and the determination of a very persistent octogenarian to claim her family's pre-war life insurance benefits led to their reunification here this week.

The Friedvald girls grew up in Warsaw in the 1930s. After the Nazis invaded Poland, their families fled to Lvov, at the time still part of Poland, but under Soviet control. Although they escaped the Germans, Ella, Lila and their parents were forcibly taken by the Soviets to a closed labor camp, while Krystyna and her parents eventually made their way back to Warsaw once the Germans entered Lvov.

Krystyna's last childhood memory of her two cousins was that of her father racing to the train station in Lvov in the hopes of bribing the Russian soldiers to free the two girls, only to come back home empty-handed having failed to find the family at the station. Her last piece of information about her cousins for the next six and half decades was a letter that Lila wrote her from the Soviet camp in which she said that her parents and older sister were dying of hunger.

The two sisters were indeed soon orphaned, but they managed to survive the war, and eventually made their way to Israel where they married and had families. Their cousin's parents fared no better than their own, as both were killed by the Nazis in Warsaw. But young Krystyna, who was living on the Aryan side of the city and who took part in the Warsaw uprising, managed to survive the war against all odds, largely since the Germans had no clue that the Polish-speaking teen was Jewish.

After the Nazis crushed the Polish rebellion, she was taken, together with a group of Poles, to a labor camp in Germany, where she remained until the war ended with the Red Army liberating the camp. While she was still at the camp, Krystyna sent out postcards to various places in Poland in search of family members and friends, but they were returned to the camp with no such persons found. "I was positive they were dead," Krystyna told The Jerusalem Post, "and they were sure I was killed with the rest of the Jews of Poland."

After the war, Krystyna's uncle brought her to England, where she would meet her future husband. After the young couple married, they decided to move to the US since they did not want to start a family in war-ravaged Europe. For the next 50 years, Krystyna, of Eastchester, NY, was unaware that her two cousins were alive and well in Israel.

Then, five years ago, her cousin Ella began to make inquires about possible remuneration from the Generali company for life insurance taken out by her family members before the war. The Polish offices of the company did not find any policies for her parents or grandparents but they did find one for her cousin's father. Ella Friedvald then contacted a Polish organization of authors and composers, where he had worked, to see if they had any record of him. The organization wrote back that their cousin had informed them in a letter in 1947 that her father had been killed in 1942.

That letter opened up a whole new world for them. "At that moment we knew that she had survived the war," Ella said. The next thing to do was to see if she were still alive. Coincidentally, around the same time that Ella began to make inquiries, her cousin had answered an advertisement put out by the Polish Consulate in New York in search of survivors of the Warsaw uprising.

A representative of the consulate then visited Krystyna in her home, and when he asked her if she had any memento for a museum to mark the uprising, she gave him a postcard she had written from the German labor camp 60 years earlier that had been stamped "return to sender." The Polish official was very happy with the postcard, and the museum subsequently put it on its Internet site, which would prove critical in her cousins' search for her, which they carried out with the help of two Polish friends. Last month, Krystyna Friedvald got a call from the Polish museum. "Someone is looking for you," the voice on the other line said in Polish. "Who?" she asked. The museum staffer asked her if she had any cousins, using their married names. Krystyna said she did not know of any such people. "How about Ella and Lila?" the voice - like a dream out of the past - asked. "Where are they?" Krystyna cried, thinking her cousins were in Poland. "They are in Israel," came the reply. The next morning at 5 a.m. Krystyna's phone rang. It was her long-lost cousin calling from Israel. "We talked and we talked and we talked," she said.

The following week Krystyna was on a plane to Israel to reunite with her cousins. After 66 years, the three, who look remarkably alike and who communicate with each other in Polish, were clearly trying to squeeze a lifetime into Krystyna's one-week visit, her first ever to Israel.
"It's these two stubborn ladies, they decided to find me," she concluded with a smile.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Re-think the conventional wisdom

From Ynet News, (04.03.06, 14:08), byMartin Sherman, political scientist at Tel Aviv University ...

Corrupt kleptocracy vs. tyrannical theocracy
It is time to re-think the conventional wisdom about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

A central tenet of prevailing conventional wisdom regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict is that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the territory that came under Israeli administration in 1967 – the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza - is a sine qua non for a resolution of a seemingly intractable dispute. Indeed this position is so widely held that it has become almost an "article of faith" in international circles - and woe betide anyone with the temerity to question its validity. In fact, one of the remarkable aspects of this belief is that appears totally immune to the ravages of empirical fact and historical experience.

While it is reasonably understandable why this view has taken root in the Arab and Muslim world, it is far more puzzling why this should be the case among those who purport to be liberal intellectuals. For there is an accumulating body of evidence to suggest that the establishment of a Palestinian state, under any foreseeable future leadership, is likely to have the perverse consequence of promoting values that are diametrically opposed to those to which its liberal intellectual proponents allegedly subscribe… and which, curiously enough, they invoke to justify their support for such a state.

Little reason for hope
There is, of course, little reason to believe that a nascent Palestinian state will blossom into a political entity significantly different from all the other Arab states in the region, where accepted parameters of liberal democracy such as the freedom of the press, individual liberties, due process, the equitable dispensation of justice and the rule of law, and the status of women are hardly the distinguishing hallmarks of the incumbent regimes.

And although the Palestinians indeed managed to conduct a reasonably orderly election (albeit in large measure under Israeli auspices and which brought Hamas to power), the first decade of self-rule has often been characterized by persecution of journalists, harassment of the press, arbitrary arrests, mob lynchings (by Palestinians of Palestinians), and a high rate of "honor killings" of Palestinian women by their male kinfolk.

With the election of Hamas, it is doubtful, to say the least, that matters will improve. Indeed, quite the reverse is likely to be true. Thus, it is puzzling why those who profess support for the tenets of liberal democracy should push for the establishment of an entity in which such anti-liberal features are likely to flourish.

Intellectual honesty
This conundrum needs to be addressed seriously, for it seems highly anomalous that the notion of statehood should be given such overriding sway that it outweighs all other considerations – including those of the personal welfare and quality of life of individual Palestinians who have been left languishing in misery while a failed and fraudulent leadership has lead, or rather mislead, them deeper and deeper into an endless saga of tragedy.

... In many respects it is becoming increasing difficult to defend the moral merit and the political prudence of the entire endeavor.... only the dogmatic, the doctrinaire, and the demagogic can overlook the irksome question of why the Palestinians have failed so resoundingly and consistently to achieve statehood when so many other national movements with far less moral and material support have succeeded in far more daunting conditions ... should also be remembered that for almost four decades, the Palestinians, too, had had even more unmitigated support from a superpower, the USSR, plus that of China and of India, the whole "non-aligned" bloc of nations, and the entire Muslim world. To this one might add the strong endorsement of major international institutions such as the U.N., and highly favorable coverage of nearly all the leading media channels together with strong sources of sympathy within the U.S. administration....

So a lack of international political backing certainly cannot account for the poor Palestinian performance. Neither can the lack of international economic support - for in the period between the signing of the Oslo Accords in the early 90's and the outbreak of the Palestinian "intifada" late in 2000, the Palestinians the highest per capita recipients of international aid in world. Yet in spite of these very favorable conditions – certainly far more benign than those experienced by almost any other movement of national freedom since WWII - the Palestinians have not managed to produce any semblance of a stable productive society. Indeed, quite the opposite is true.

... the Palestinian leadership used the Oslo process to create a repressive and regressive interim regime that provided little, but successfully managed to pillage the Palestinian people. Indeed the Palestinian Authority has perhaps the unique, if dubious, distinction of attaining "failed state" status even before it was established.

Kleptocracy or theocracy
It is highly doubtful that the radical Islamists who have now assumed power will be able to remedy this condition. Almost half a century after the establishment of their "national liberation" movement, the Palestinian leadership has provided its people with a harsh choice between two distinctly unpalatable alternatives: the corrupt kleptocracy of the former regime or tyrannical theocracy of the present one.

In light of these grim and grisly facts, it seems only proper that the international community pause to reflect on the feasibility and desirability of persisting with the idea of a Palestinian state as if it were an axiomatic inevitability.

It seems not only proper, but pressing, that the international community begin to seriously consider scenarios for the resolution of the Middle East conflict that do not include the creation of a Palestinian state. Such alternative paradigms should focus on attempting to alleviate genuine humanitarian suffering rather than endeavoring to implement spurious political enterprises. alarming point should, in closing , be emphasized: Unless there is a paradigmatic shift in the thinking applied to the Palestinian predicament, the recent events in the Palestinian administered territories – particularly the widespread lawlessness and factional gunfights – suggest that the Palestinian people may soon be forced to face a third alternative even more uninviting than the previous two – that is the prospect of a descent into chronic chaos and anarchy.

Labor loses Knesset seat

From Ynet News 2/4/06, by Ilan Marciano ...

Central Elections committee: Labor party loses Knesset seat, United Arab List – Ta'al gains one as result of errors; new seat arrangement means no Jewish majority for Olmert's 'convergence plan'

The Labor party lost one Knesset seat while the United Arab List – Ta'al gained one, the Central Elections Committee announced Sunday night after looking into errors in recording election results. During the examination it turned out that each one of the five ballot boxes under scrutiny featured errors that saw the Arab list's votes recorded in the wrong lines and counted in the total of other parties.

Now that the errors have been rectified, Labor dropped to 19 Knesset seats, while the United Arab List – Ta'al went up to 4.

.... The new seat arrangement holds immense political significance, as it means that there is no Jewish majority that would support Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's convergence plan, aimed at further West Bank pullouts.

At this time, the so-called "convergence coalition" only amounts to 60 seats, following the new seat arrangement. Meanwhile, Shas' and Israel Our Home's bargaining position in coalition talks with Kadima will be strengthened as a result of Labor's weakening.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Shift in counterterror alliance with U.S.

From IMRA, Sunday, April 2, 2006 (original article at Geostrategy-Direct,, April 5, 2006 (subscription needed) ...

... Bush and some of his aides have been quietly concerned over the image of Israel as a country ready to withdraw in the face of terrorism. Privately, leading aides and strategists believe that Israel's hesitancy to fight Hamas, Hizbullah and other terrorist groups could encourage Al Qaida and those sworn to defeat the United States. They also see Israel's failure to defeat Palestinian insurgents as encouraging Iran's belligerency.

"Israel screwed us up with its unilateral withdrawal plan because this is what is expected of us in Iraq," a senior Bush aide said in a recent private conversation with a Republican House member. "But we can't be seen as intervening."

... Until 2002, Bush saw Israel has a powerful ally of the United States and able to deter its enemies. Today, the president sees Israel as weak and Bush has publicly pledged to protect the Jewish state from an Iranian attack. ....

Protocols of the Elders of Harvard (and Chicago)

Also see the following postings on the same subject: