The following is a piece of a Socratic dialog, from an article by Israel Zwick. As a former student of Philosophy, I absolutely love it! Socrates is the guy from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (IMFA). You’ll recognize the other guy.
Archive for March, 2007
Yes, I know I said something nice about PM Olmert yesterday. But now I need to make up for it. Here is what he told the Israeli Newspaper Yediot Aharonot yesterday:
Israel won last summer’s war with Hizbullah despite a hailstorm of criticism by the Israeli public of the army’s poor performance, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Ynet in a special Passover interview.
“I say we had positive results in Lebanon, we had big achievements, we won this war and we were also exposed to some weaknesses,” the prime minister said. “I think that eventually this will be the historical judgment, and I will get credit for that.” — Ehud Olmert (YNet)
But he should know better:
Mossad Chief Meir Dagan and Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin arrived at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem shortly after the war…[and told him that] the war was a national catastrophe and Israel suffered a critical blow.” — YNet
Olmert actually said in another interview that not only did Israel win, but everything went exactly as he had planned:
So, from the outset, the ambition was not to take over a territory or to cross the area. The strategy was to establish pressure that would create the involvement of international forces to force the army of Lebanon to take over the South. That was the purpose of the war. Look at the statement I made on the 17th of July, and the cabinet announcement of the 19th of July. From the beginning, we were not interested in the typical knock-out kind of victory which doesn’t exist when you fight against terrorists. [The aim] was the arrangement that had to be approved by the Lebanese government, and to be drafted and phrased properly by the United States and the members of the Security Council. And that’s what we did. — Jerusalem Post
By Vic Rosenthal
The UN Human Rights Commission suggests that freedom of speech can go too far:
The EU is optimistic about the possibility of Mideast peace, says the Jerusalem Post. The only problem is that one of the parties refuses to even lie about preferring war:
Still, they have faced a dilemma over how to deal with the newly formed Palestinian unity government – a coalition between Hamas and the more moderate Fatah of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Its platform falls short of international demands that it recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by existing Palestinian-Israel agreements.
On Saturday, the Europeans agreed they will judge the new government by its actions rather than its words and progressively help it build up credible government institutions
The cynicism is thick enough to cut with a knife.
The new government’s actions consist of preparing for war by stockpiling smuggled arms, building and firing rockets, developing new kinds of rockets, and constructing Lebanon-like fortifications in Gaza. They are also continuing incitement against Israel in schools, mosques, media, and every other institution.
In fact, it’s impossible to find either actions or words of peace coming from this ‘government’ that we in the West are paying for.
By Vic Rosenthal
Ehud Olmert has an interview in today’s Jerusalem Post. It’s a long interview, and quite interesting. For now I want to quote his response to the refugee issue in the Arab initiative, about which I wrote yesterday.
By Vic Rosenthal
Iran, as everyone knows, is still holding the 15 British sailors captured a week ago. They’ve not released the one female captive, Leading Seaman Faye Turney, as it was thought that they were about to, and in fact have dressed her up in Islamic garb and displayed a letter allegedly written by her which ‘apologizes’ for the British vessel’s presence in Iranian waters (which Britain categorically denies). They also broadcast a taped ‘confession’ by one of the Royal Marines among the captives.
Some people will never get it, especially Yossi Beilin, chairman of Israel’s left-wing Meretz-Yachad party, who said recently,
The rejuvenated Arab initiative, the Arab Quartet (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), and US willingness to help the process along are making possible a diplomatic step forward. Rejection is liable to cost Israel heavily. Olmert, who entangled Israel in a failed war in Lebanon, is now taking it upon himself to pass up a rare opportunity for significant diplomatic progress. This is unforgivable. — Yossi Beilin, on the Meretz USA web site
The Arabs say that the proposal must be accepted as it is written, with no changes. Olmert has called the original Saudi initiative ‘interesting’ and has indicated that he would be willing to talk to the Arabs about it. Why is this position unforgivable? Does Beilin want him to say “yes, I agree with the Arab proposal as written, send the 5 million refugees over tomorrow?”
Beilin, one of the prime movers of the failed Oslo peace process, has been consistently wrong in assuming that concrete concessions by Israel will lead to peace. In 1995 he signed an extra-governmental peace agreement called the ‘Geneva accord’ with Palestinian Authority minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. The Geneva accord, financed primarily by European nations, called for almost complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, and included a fiendishly ambiguous statement about the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. It never received government (or even opposition) support.
What about the al-Aqsa martyrs brigade?
The declared “military wing” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party took credit for two of seven rockets fired into Israel on Tuesday, vowed to break a Gaza ceasefire and told WND that US financial aid pledged for Fatah security forces will be used to “attack the Zionists.” — Aaron Klein, YNet
Has anybody asked ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party we in the US are supporting — the US announced Tuesday that $59 million was being transferred to his organization — why this terrorist militia is allowed to remain part of this ‘moderate’ organization?
The al-Aqsa brigades shared credit for the suicide bombing in Eilat in January which took three lives, and has been involved recently in fighting with Israeli troops in the West bank.
By Vic Rosenthal
Arab leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas, have been trying to pressure Israel to accept the Arab initiative:
Tuesday’s flood of human excrement from a broken sewage reservoir, described as a “frothing cascade of waste and mud” which killed five people (and who knows how many will fall ill from it), nevertheless did not stop Gazans from their most important enterprise, trying to kill Jews.
A total of seven Qassam rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza today, and the IDF attacked from the air a cell of three terrorists who were in the process of firing more.
The tsunami of stinking slime was probably caused by local residents stealing sand from the embankment of the reservoir in order to sell it to construction companies.
Rescue crews and Hamas gunmen rushed to the area to search for people feared buried under the sewage and mud. Dressed in wetsuits, they paddled boats through the layer of foam floating on the green and brown rivers of waste. Others waded up to their hips into the sewage.
The noxious smell of waste and dead animals hung in the air.
Angry residents drove reporters away and mobbed government officials. When Interior Minister Hani Kawasmeh arrived to survey the damage, his bodyguards fired in the air to disperse the crowd. — AP
Could they be tired of watching billions of dollars of aid from international donors flushed into the pockets of the terrorist militia leaders or used to buy weapons and explosives to kill each other and attack Israel, rather than being used to fix the deteriorated infrastructure?
Update [1638 PST]: The death toll from the accident has reached six.
By Vic Rosenthal
The so-called Arab peace initiative is on the agenda for the Arab summit in Riyadh that begins today. There has been a great deal of recent interest in this plan, much pressure on Israel to accept it, and suggestions from Israel that it might be acceptable in some modified form.
The British hostage crisis continues, with Tony Blair saying that if Iran doesn’t release the 15 sailors soon, he will move to a “new phase”. This sounds aggressive, but it probably only means that he will release GPS information proving that they were in Iraqi — not Iranian — waters. This could have been done in phase 1, in my opinion.
The Iranians are holding out 1) to humiliate the UK and punish them for voting for sanctions in the UN Security Council, 2) possibly to trade the sailors for Iranians (captured in Iraq) held by the US, or 3) even just to create some excitement in order to drive up the price of crude (it did go up a bit, to nearly $63 today).
The US Navy has two aircraft carriers and about 100 planes in the area, and is holding war games. This was almost certainly planned before the British sailors were captured, in part to show Iran that we are prepared to protect shipping in the gulf in the event that we attack their nuclear facilities. Of course the US will not unleash the Navy to recover a few hostages.
Keep in mind that it’s relatively certain that Ahmadinijad played a central role in the taking of 66 American hostages in 1979, most of whom were held for 444 days. So he’s an old hand at this highly effective form of asymmetric warfare.