Thursday, August 25, 2011

From Libya to Isratine

Jeffrey Goldberg says that now that Muammar Qaddafi has lost power, his proposal for a one-state solution should be dumped. I'm all for the horrible "Isratine" solution going out of circulation, but thinking that the Libyan revolution will lead to widespread adoption of the two-state solution in the Arab world is wishful thinking.

Opposition to Israel's existence and the continued dream of return goes much deeper than Qaddafi. In fact, Africa's self-proclaimed King of Kings didn't even invent the concept, only gave it a new name, Isratine, instead of just Palestine. It would seem Qaddafi's version is more moderate, because part of Israel is still in the name, but the truth is that it is even more deceptive than those who call for one state called Palestine from the River Jordan to the sea. The "Isra" would lose all power to the "tine", with Jews becoming a persecuted minority.

On the bright side, Goldberg may not be entirely wrong. Isratine will not die out, but Qaddafi will not be able to send millions to those who would work toward the one-state solution. One less source of funds means less power. At least there's that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Badly Timed Assassination

I was very impressed by Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the latest round of Gaza-Israel violence. I thought his restraint was admirable, and believed it was smart and responsible of him to reach a ceasefire.

Then the IDF went and assissinated a high ranking member of Islamic Jihad last night. Let me be clear - I mourn no dead terrorist and I don't oppose targeted assassinations. I do, however, oppose the timing of this one. Israel is no less obligated to adhere to the ceasefire than the Gazans. We should not fire into Gaza unless there is imminent danger, such as a squad about to launch rockets or trying to enter Israel.

The IDF says that the dead terrorist was planning attacks on Israel through Sinai. From what I understood, he was not on his way to one, he was just one of the planners of future attacks. Does killing one person really make the operations he was involved in much less likely to be executed? Now there will be more rockets on Israel with no good reason, and the Palestinians can say "Israel started it" without lying. Was it worth it?

The best way to deal with Palestinian terrorism from Sinai is to work with the Egyptians and to complete the border fence between the two countries. That would make Israel much safer than any individual assassination.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tent Protests Going Awry

In what seems like a pathetic attempt to win back media attention, some in the Israeli social justice movement have turned away from peaceful protests. Instead, they took over vacant buildings owned by the Tel-Aviv municipality, declaring they're going to turn them into community centers for the general public. Cops took them out of the building, but these self-proclaimed revolutionaries have declared they will invade the buildings again, and will do the same thing in other cities.

I wish these were splinter groups, acting without the consent of the movement's unofficial leadership. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The Tent Protests' official website features the squatters prominently. On the bright side, newspapers are reporting that there is deep disagreement within the movement regarding these activities, including among its leaders.

Listen to those who want to return to the peaceful protests and stop squatting! Now that the security situation seems to have quieted down, socio-economic issues can return to the forefront without any publicity stunts (other than the part about living in tents). Illegal acts are counterproductive. Take me as an example: I support the tent movement and I've attended one of its rallies. However, if taking over abandoned buildings becomes the symbol of the protests, I will stop supporting them and will not participate in any more rallies. There are many Israelis like me, and at this rate, the "Million Person March" scheduled for September 3 not only will not have a million participants, it won't have 100,000.

Get a grip!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ceasfire Tonight

It has been reported that a ceasefire agreement between Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza has been reached, and will take effect sometime tonight. Good. Israel carried out a measured and limited response today to the Palestinian rockets fired at us during the 24-hour period when the IDF's cannons didn't shoot into Gaza. If the terrorists stop shooting tonight, we won't need to shoot back.

Let's hope for peace and quiet in southern Israel!

Cancellations at Eilat Festival: BDS or Fear?

Pianists Eddie Palmieri and Jason Moran, as well as New Orleans band Tuba Skinny, have cancelled their participation in the Red Sea International Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel. Of course, Electronic Intifada and Philip Weiss immediately jumped up and said the boycott campaign is working. They claim that, at least in Tuba Skinny's case, their withdrawal from the Red Sea festival is a response to the BDS movement's requests/demands that the band not perform in Israel.


Had they announced this decision before August 18, I would have sadly agreed that they caved in to the pressures of BDS. But they decided not to come after the terrorst attacks which killed eight Israelis just a few miles north of Eilat, where Tuba Skinny and the others were scheduled to perform. 

It seems much more likely that the cultural terrorism of BDS had nothing to do with this decision. These musicians were scared away by the physical terrorism of the Popular Resistance Committees. It might also be the case that they're afraid the rockets now blowing up in Ashdod and Be'er-Sheva will reach Eilat, or that the whole country will go to war. I can understand them. I wouldn't volunteer to go into a war zone. That's a far cry from endorsement of the boycott or rebuke of Israel.

Update: Mondoweiss commenter eljay linked to Tuba Skinny band member Erika Lewis's announcement on their Facebook page, which I believe confirms that their decision had nothing to do with BDS. Judge for yourselves:

"In light of the violence in Eilat and the surrounding region, Tuba SKinny will not be performing at The Red Sea Jazz Festival. We are sorry to miss all of you who might be there, and we hope to be able to return at a more peaceful time."

A Time For Forceful Reaction

Israel has not fired on Gaza since last evening. For almost a full day (24 hours), IDF rockets have not retaliated against terrorism, despite the fact that dozens of rockets have fallen in Israeli cities and towns since the last time we fired back. Even before this one-sided ceasefire, Israel's reaction was very limited.

We are acting wisely. Hamas does not want another round of violence, despite briefly taking claim for firing rockets at Ofakim yesterday. Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, however, want to keep fighting. Israel should give Hamas a few more hours to force the other terrorist groups to stop firing. However, Israel can't wait forever.

If, in a few hours, Israel will still be bombarded from Gaza, the IDF will have to react forcefully. Those who fire at us should be the targets, not Hamas, unless they too join the rocket launching business once again. We have the ability to bomb them relentlessly, with minimal civilian casualties, and maximum dead terrorists and maximum destruction of their ammo.

Israel-haters and bleeding hearts will automatically cry out "disproportionate response". We will have all these hours without Israeli reaction as proof that the violence is the terrorists' fault. What do they expect? That we sit quietly for days and days while we're being bombarded? That's what we've foolishly done with Sderot. We should not do it with Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be'er-Sheva.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Palestinian State?

The new round of violence between Israel and terrorist organizations in Gaza reminds us how crazy it would be to declare a Palestinian state next month. Mahmoud Abbas wants to declare both the West Bank and Gaza as sovereign Palestine, but his government does not control the latter at all, and only partially controls the former. Such a declaration would be futile.

Gaza, in a way, is not under anyone's complete control. Hamas may rule over it, but the organization seems unable or unwilling to clamp down on the splinter groups that somehow manage to be even less reasonable than Ismail Haniyeh's band of terrorists.

If Palestinians insist that both the West Bank and Gaza must become part of the State of Palestine simultaneously, then Palestinian independence will have to wait until Gaza is no longer ruled by terrorists unwilling to recognize Israel. That might take a few decades, if not eternity. A "West Bank now, Gaza can join later" approach seems much more realistic. Unfortunately, the Palestinians themselves reject the idea, claiming that Israel is trying to put a wedge between the two parts of the Palestinian people (ignoring the fact that it is the Hamas and Fatah who are responsible for the split).

With this kind of behavior, the Palestinians can kiss their dream of independence goodbye, at least for the foreseeable future.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Palestinian Terror Returns

Just one day before yesterday's lethal string of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians north of Eilat, I declared that this is the Summer of Socio-Economic issues. The Restoring Courage rally wouldn't get much coverage, I claimed, because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been relegated to the sidelines. Well, Jihadists have made sure that war and violence would not be forgotten.

Following the terrorist attacks, and the Qassam and Grad rockets launched against Israelis, the IDF struck back at targets in Gaza. The retaliations have been measured, so far. We need to respond without overkill. The other day, the news reported that we now have very precise rockets with minimal or no collateral damage. Good. Kill those who fire at us and those who send them out. Don't kill innocents.

The Egyptian army better take effective control of the Sinai Peninsula soon. Otherwise, their so-called "democratization" will just result in the Middle East being in deeper shit than before.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Battle of the Rallies: Beck vs. Tents

Next Wednesday, August 24, Glenn Beck will hold his Restoring Courage rally in East Jerusalem. He'll hold a few more events during the days leading up to the RC event. In a way, I think the Tent Cities and popular protests calling for social justice have made Glenn Beck's rally quite irrelevant. Many had thought the biggest political gathering in Israel this summer would be Beck's right-wing extravaganza. Instead, that prize might have already gone to the rally in Tel-Aviv on the weekend before last, which attracted 300,000 people. Since this movement doesn't seem to be going anywhere, a future rally for social justice just might be even bigger.

Will 300,000 people attend Glenn Beck's rally? I seriously doubt it. During the Restoring Honor rally in DC he had anywhere between 80,000 and half a million people in attendance (reports varied wildly). The crowd in Jerusalem won't be as large as the one in Washington, for two reasons. First of all, less Americans will attend. Flying overseas for a rally is much more complicated and expensive than visiting your own nation's capital. Second of all, the places of Americans staying home will not be filled by a lot of Israelis. Beck might be oddly popular among right-wing politicians here, but he isn't very popular among the Israeli general population. I'm not sure how many Israelis even know who the hell he is.

Another factor working against Beck is the fact that this seems to be the summer of socio-economic issues. Beck, like most people (including myself), expected that with the upcoming unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood, this would be a summer centered around the Middle East conflict. Not so. This means Beck will probably get less Israeli media attention than he would have otherwise. If Americans see this isn't as central an event as Beck would have liked it to be, perhaps American media would give it less attention as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ThunderCats and Democracy

A new ThunderCats* series has started airing in the States. This reminded me of the fact that three of my favorite shows - ThunderCats, He-Man and She-Ra - all had magical sword-yielding princes as their heroes. As an adult, I'm not crazy about the idea of shows teaching kids that there are certain people who were born to lead, due to the fact that they were born to the right families.

I've read that the new ThunderCats show has changed a lot of the elements of the original. For instance, Lion-O is no longer a kid trapped in an adult's body. He's a teenager now. However, he is still the Lord of the ThunderCats, just because his father was king. The show is about him learning the leadership skills required of a man in his position.

If it were up to me, I'd change the storyline to something more democratic. I'd start the new show with Lion-O's father declaring the end of the Thunderan monarchy and a transition to a democratic republic. One aristocratic ThunderCat does not want to lose the privileges of power, and schemes to become king himself. However, he can't do it alone, so he calls the mutants, who do a bit of overkill. They destroy the planet, leaving the traitor without a kingdom.

Lion-O and his fellow ThunderCats flee to Third Earth, where he is not expected to become a leader, because of his father's wishes to end the monarchy. However, he still wants to learn leadership skills, because he'd like to earn the leadership position, rather than inherit it.

Wouldn't that be a better, more democratic and educational version?

* As you may have noticed, my logo includes the ThunderCats' Sword of Omens. No deep thought went into choosing the elements of the logo. If I remember my thought process, I wanted a pen and a sword, but since I knew that wasn't very original, I wanted the sword to be special. So, I thought of television shows I liked as a kid. I don't remember why I didn't use the sword from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which inspired this blog's title. Perhaps it wasn't distinctive enough, so I chose another 80's favorite - ThunderCats.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Electoral Power of Israeli Protesters

The 300,000-person protest in Tel-Aviv on Saturday night was an uplifting sight. The Israeli people are angry, and they won't take it anymore!

But then, looking at some polls that came out this weekend, it seems like the protests might be giving a false impression. According to those polls, if elections were held today, the next Knesset would look more or less the same as the current one. The Likud would get just about as many seats as it has in the current Knesset, which is true of the entire right wing & ultra-orthodox bloc. The main difference would be that Kadima would lose some seats, which would go to Labor and Meretz. Also, Ehud Barak and his new party would not get into the next parliament.

According to a Jerusalem Post/Globes poll, if the leaders of the tent protests ran as a party, they'd win 20 seats. But even then, they'd mostly take votes away from other parties on the left and center. They'd take a few seats away from Likud, too, but not enough to deny Netanyahu another term as prime minister. Besides, this is all very hypothetical, since the Tent Party probably will never be established (after all, they say they are nonpartisan). It's also very hypothetical for another reason : the next elections are only in October 2013, and none of the coalition members have any interest in early elections.

The dissatisfaction in the streets and the poll results show one thing: Israelis are not happy with Netanyahu, but see no better alternative. I can relate, though I'd never vote for Netanyahu or any of his coalition partners. While I think Tzippi Livni would be a better prime minister than Netanyahu, I think her party, Kadima, is just as crappy as Likud. The ratio of true liberals to nationalists in both parties is roughly the same.

Instead of dispairing, let's wait and see what happens during the next two years. Maybe the tents will change Israeli politics after all.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Asylum for Mubarak in Israel?

According to Labor Party MK and former cabinet minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Fuad), Israel offered Hosni Mubarak asylum in Eilat, after the former Egyptian president was forced to flee to Sharem Al-Sheikh. It would have probably been a sweet deal for Mubarak. After all, his trial began today in Cairo, and my guess is that he's never going to be released from prison.

What would have Israel gained from this? Nothing. I'm glad he didn't accept. Had he been granted asylum in Israel, it would only have created new tensions with the Egyptian people. I have no idea how the military rulers would have responded to such a development, though. On the one hand, they might have been happy not to have Mubarak around, and some of them may still be his cronies. On ther other, they could have felt pressure to confront Israel and have him extradited.