Articles which have caught my interest. Mostly Israel stuff and other nubbins from the ongoing holy war.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Why Europeans Suck, contd.
Actually, I don't know if I even have the energy to get into a lather about this again. However, the little display of Franco-German solidarity once again underpins the shameful display of cowardice -- oh, so stereotypical European cowardice -- evinced by supposedly sophisticated European statesmen when it comes to opposing evil.
But Europe doesn't count for anything. All they can do is stand on the sidelines and talk out their asses about the need for creative diplomatic engagement, an eternal sanctions regime, and any other failed idea you care to mention. It won't deter Bush (and Tony Blair, it should be added) from going out to do what needs to be done.
The sad thing is, the moment the troops do go in there and liberate Iraq from their Beloved Uncle from Tikkrit, you know that these same Europeans will suddenly be cheerleading.
Labor's main slogan in this election is "We Believe in You, Mitzna", a pathetic tagline especially since all evidence points to the contrary. Labor continues to drop in the polls. Mitzna's declaration that his party would not join a unity government was a tactical failure from any perspective, and his political rivals in the party have already drawn their knives. The elections haven't even been held and already the backstabbing has begun.
It seems that the only people who still do believe in Mitzna are the Palestinians who have yet to internalize the fact that their intifada has done nothing to shake Ariel Sharon's popularity, and in fact has done the opposite. They're still hoping that Mitzna will win on Tuesday and change the situation for them.
I'm still one of the 16 percent of voters who still haven't made up their minds. I'm kind of torn at the moment between being disgusted at the pathetic spectacle of loserdom that is the Labor party these days (which would deter me from voting for them) and a feeling that despite everything I need to support one of the two mainstream non-sectarian parties (which would have me voting for them). Tuesday looms.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
The elections are a week off and I still don't have any idea who I'm voting for. This is a first for me, and I've been voting in elections for going on 15 years.
I had been leaning in the direction of Labor, but the recent merriment surrounding Mitzna being replaced by Peres has put me right off. The Labor party increasingly looks like a pack of losers, and sad, backstabbing losers at that.
Which leaves me watching the election commercials again, for what that's worth. Shas have come up with a winning new idea, essentially telling people that "The Almighty would vote Shas" and "Vote Shas and you'll get into heaven". Pretty much in those exact words.
United Torah Judaism still has the best ads. Strangely enough, they seem to be the only ones other than the Green Party talking about environmental issues. The line is that "Nature is God's creation, so we need to preserve it." It then occurred to me that UTJ's ads are not targeted at the haredi audience, which by and large doesn't watch TV and vote how the rabbis tell them to vote. Instead, they're trying to catch the non-Ultra Orthodox religious, as well as traditional Jews, and possibly people like myself who are religio-friendly. Their election spots certainly hit all the right notes, and you have to credit their ad guys for that.
Still, they are corrupt, and then some. No vote there.
So, I'm left in the position described in Tom Friedman's column yesterday. I suppose worst comes to the worst, I can always vote for the dope-smoker's party.
Monday, January 20, 2003
More Israeli Election Funnies
Elections around here tend to become an opera buffo after a while. Today we saw one of the traditional election-year rituals played out, the ceremony of Shimon Peres and the polls. In just about every election that Peres has run in, polls always show him coming in first. On election day, however, he loses.
A poll commissioned by the Ma'ariv newspaper showed that were Peres to switch Mitzna as leader of the Labor party, Labor would jump from 19 seats to 29 in the upcoming elections, and the left-wing bloc as a whole would have a majority. Shortly thereafter, some Labor MKs started calling for Mitzna to step down in favor of Peres. A similar process happened in the last elections in 2001, this time showing that Peres would be able to beat Sharon, unlike Ehud Barak.
Peres ran for Prime Minister in 1981, 1984, 1988, and 1996. He lost twice and a twice it was more or less a draw (he ended up in a time-share agreement with Yitzhak Shamir). He has also lost a number of races for Labor party chair, as well as the race to be Israel's president. The old joke goes "If Peres entered a competition for the world's biggest loser, would he win?"
Gidi Peres, Peres' brother, was asked on the news today what is the problem with Shimon Peres that he always does so well in the polls and so poorly on election day. His brother answered "The problem isn't with Shimon, it's with the voters."
Given this state of affairs, I don't think much will come of this latest development. Even if something did, it wouldn't help Labor at the polls.
Useful Idiots, Redux
This weekend's pro-Saddam rallies went by without too much of a fuss. The requisite puppets, a couple of arrests, and a few thousand people chanting "No Blood For Oil" (which was as stupid and meaningless today as it was back in '91). And over in Baghdad, the great moustachioed one sits back and smiles.
Of course, the Not in Our Name crowd argues that they are not participating in a pro-Saddam movement. They pay the appropriate lip service against the Benevolent Uncle from Tikkrit, but say that they are against the use of force to get rid of him. To me, this begs the question what they do intend to do about changing the regime in Iraq. Perhaps we need to all go over to Saddam's house and have an intervention. See if we can help him get to the roots of his personal problems, heal his inner child. Give him a big hug. You won't find any answers at these rallies, just a bunch of misguided knuckleheads.
Spearheading the knuckleheads are the growing list of celebrity types who go to Iraq on "fact-finding" missions (the idea of them actually getting any facts in one of the world's most repressive dictatorships is, of course, ludicrous) and end up as fodder for the Iraqi propaganda machine. The slightly more self-aware ones, like Sean Penn, are at least shocked to see themselves quoted in the Iraqi state media peddling a pro-Saddam line. The more dense ones, like Bianca Jagger, don't believe that it can happen to them.
I just wonder what happens to these people if they happen to be stuck in Baghdad when the bombs go flying.
Ozeri Burial Update
So, 15 hours after his funeral procession started, Nethanel Ozeri was finally laid to rest in the Hebron Cemetary at around 3 A.M.
Ozeri's friends proved once again that they are indeed the nasty underbelly of the settlement movement. This is a bunch of racist thugs, some of whom I'd even label home-grown terrorists. The shocking displays of violence towards innocent Palestinians, not to mention the police; the lack of consideration toward's Ozeri's parents; and the repulsive disrespect for their own dead comrade really boggle the imagination.
Sunday, January 19, 2003
Latest Terror Victim Wanders in Search of Burial
This story is weird, even by local standards. Nathanel Ozeri was killed by Palestinians Friday night in his house, a remote outpost settlement in Hebron.
His funeral procession was supposed to take place at noon today, and he was supposed to have been buried in the Hebron cemetary. However, friends of Ozeri decided that he should be buried at the outpost where he lived. So, they snatched the body and headed in the direction of the outpost. They were stopped by police and forced to turn around. Then the procession was stopped when Ozeri's father declared that his son should be buried in Jerusalem.
The procession -- which was accompanied by settlers rampaging and attacking Palestinian homes -- started off in the direction of Hebron, when Ozeri's widow decided to hijack the body and head off to Jerusalem in order to protest the ban on his being buried outside their home. How will it end? Tune in tomorrow.
Normally, I don't like to make distinctions between victims of terror. The Palestinians, the Europeans, and the Left seem to think that it's AOK to kill Jews as long as they're settlers. I think that killing a father of four and wounding his 3-year-old daughter is wrong, no matter who they are.
This case, however, really tests the limits of my patience. Ozeri was a member of the extreme, violent, and racist Kach movement. He chose to live in a remote outpost surrounded by tens of thousands of enraged, violent Palestinians. Worse, he chose to raise his children in this environment. His funeral procession, tragicomedy aside, was marked by violence against Palestinians, the Israeli police, and the media. In short, shame, shame, shame on all involved.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) is one of the more established bodies operating on the far Left of Israeli politics. In the last year or so, a civil war has been going on inside the organization between the radicals who think ACRI needs to act against the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the moderates who think they need to limit their protest against the outcome of the occupation, that is the activities of the IDF and the settlers. The group, which used to be founded on Jewish and Arab cooperation, has lost a lot of its Arab members amidst (fairly specious, IMHO) allegations of racism.
Basically what it comes down to is one group arguing that the organization needs to act within the consensus of Zionism while another one says go outside the consensus and take an extreme, uncompromising stand. The issue came to a head following the Passover bombing in Netanya in April and the IDF's subsequent incursions into the West Bank. The ACRI radicals were incensed by a letter -- one to raise concerns about the IDF's treatment of the Palestinian civilian population -- which began with an expression of sympathy for the victims of the Passover bombing.
Personally, I have no particular love for the ACRI and organizations like it. Their myopic take on the current conflict opens them up (rightly, I think) to the charge that they are much more concerned with Palestinian suffering than they are for Israeli suffering.
And yet, I can't muster a satisfying sense of schadenfreude when I read about ACRI's travails. As annoying as they are, they serve a necessary role in a democracy. You don't necessarily need to agree with what they're saying, but it's healthy that you at least hear them yelling in the background.
The group is entirely ineffective in Israeli society, not only for its extremist views but also from a strategic choice not to propose alternative policies to the things they are protesting. Now it looks like they're suffering the same fate as a lot of extreme-ideological organizations. In the quest for ideological purity (the more cynical among us would call it extreme self-righteousness), some members would take the group into the realms of the utterly irrelevant.
And Speaking of Sour, Self-Righteous Leftists...
I was waiting for this article, or some variation of it, to come from someone on the Haaretz editorial team. Surprise surprise that my old pal Gideon Levy is the one to deliver the goods.
Basically, Levy is whining as usual, this time about how all the hoopla concerning Ilan Ramon's space mission has taken the public's focus away from where it needs to be: the suffering of the Palestinians.