Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Marwan Barghouti's True Colors

Over the last decade or so, many left wing Israelis have called for the release of Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for launching deadly terrorist attacks during the Al-Aqsa Intifadah. These well meaning Israelis think this  terrorist-turned-peacenik-turned-terrorist has turned back to peace, since he has made conciliatory statements, declaring he was wrong to turn to violence. As one of the most popular Palestinian leaders, they believe he can bring peace more than Mahmoud Abbas can. The problem is that they ignore history and the likelihood that he will return to terror. Now it is no longer just likelihood.

Two years ago, Barghouti called for "popular resistance", which could be interpreted as nonviolent action. Today, in a letter marking the tenth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death, he stopped pretending. He called for a third Intifada, including armed resistance.

Marwan Barghouti is, and always has been, a terrorist. He must not be released from jail. I hope his naive Israeli supporters realize this now.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

October 2000/Cast Lead All Over Again?

It started with the heinous murders of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas-affiliated terrorists and the equally heinous suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager by Israeli extremists. Now it seems to be escalating into a combination of the October 2000 Israeli-Arab riots which took place at the beginning of the Second Intifadah and the December 2008-January 2009 Cast Lead Operation in Gaza, Israel's response to Palestinian missile strikes inside Israel.

Let's start with Gaza. Israel has been very restrained, responding to the barrage of rockets on border communities with a proportional response - attacking missile launchers and a bunch of symbolic, yet empty, buildings. Rockets haven't stopped, though. Today, rockets were fired on Be'er-Sheva, 40 kilometers from Gaza, the largest city attacked so far this round. This is undoubtedly an escalation. I believe it would be hypocritical of anyone in the world to criticize Israel for going on a large scale operation (one which I hope will not be necessary, but might be if attacks continue on Sunday) after giving Hamas the opportunity to stop the missiles it and other groups have launched.

Now, to the other front of this round of the conflict. Palestinians have rioted in East Jerusalem and inside the green line, while barely anything has happened in the West Bank. Anger over the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir is understandable, especially in East Jerusalem, where he lived and died. However, violent riots, including the destruction of property and attacking civilians, are beyond the pale. Within Israel, Palestinian citizens of the state have blocked roads, pulled Jews out of their cars and burned the vehicles and laid siege to the village of Mei Ami. This is unacceptable. 

The Palestinians of Israel cannot join their brethren, the Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, in their war against the state. This will not be tolerated. The police's harsh response in October 2000 resulted in the fact that the rest of the Second Intifadah did not include Palestinian citizens of Israel. Unfortunately, 14 Palestinian rioters (13 citizens, one non-citizen) were killed, as was one Jewish citizen who was killed by rocks thrown at his car. This time around, better riot dispersal equipment should be used so there will not be civilian casualties (Arab or Jewish) while still quickly crushing this insurrection. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Israel Doesn't Need a President

The end of Shimon Peres's term in July would be an excellent opportunity to abolish the Israeli presidency. It's a largely ceremonial position that costs taxpayers a lot of money. Sure, almost all parliamentary democracies have a separate head of state, either a monarch (e.g., the UK and the Netherlands) or a president (e.g., Ireland and Italy), but just because it's a common practice doesn't mean every country has to follow the same model.

If it were up to me, I would have a three-member presidency. The prime minister, speaker of the Knesset, and the Chief Justice, the heads of the three branches of government, would be co-Heads of State. Some presidential duties would be shared by all three, like signing bills into law, while other duties would be divided between them. The prime minister would be in charge of the more executive aspects of the presidency, such as signing the credentials of Israeli diplomats and receiving the credentials of foreign ambassadors. The speaker of the Knesset would officially appoint the prime minister, comptroller and other positions elected by parliament. The Chief Justice could be in charge of pardons and commutations.

Of course, none of this will happen. Politicians like the idea of the presidency too much. Some of them dream of being elected to the position. For even more of them, having another office they have the power to elect, especially when it is the most prestigious one in the country, makes them feel all the more important.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Roger Cohen Sees the Real Goals of BDS

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Roger Cohen says what I've been saying all along about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement:

"I do not trust the B.D.S. movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. The first objective is essential to Israel’s future. The second is laudable. The third, combined with the second, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This is the hidden agenda of B.D.S., its unacceptable subterfuge: beguile, disguise and suffocate."

Friday, January 03, 2014

Ariel Sharon Has Been Dead For 8 Years

On January 4, 2006, the almost 78 year old prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, suffered a debilitating stroke. He has been in a minimally conscious state ever since. Technically, it's better than being brain dead or in a permanent vegetative state, but for all intents and purposes, he has been dead for eight years. He now has gone into kidney failure and other bodily systems will shut down soon. One report on TV said he has no more than four days left.

Just like eight years ago, news crews are waiting outside his hospital room. Eight years ago, when he was still prime minister and it wasn't clear whether he would recover or not, the coverage was warranted, even if it suffered from the usual problems of having to fill airtime without having any new information. Now, however, the media vigil is odd. Reporting on his condition once a day would be more than enough.

It might be horrible to say, but once Sharon dies, it will be a great relief to his family. His sons lost their father in 2006, but got stuck in the limbo of minimal consciousness with him. Now they'll be able to bury him and move on.

Ariel Sharon would turn 86 in February. That's a ripe old age for anyone, let alone someone who has been kept alive artificially for so long.