Peace is really quite simple. The Israelis have to hand over the 1967 territories, which, even with land swaps, means massive evacuations, not just trimming far-flung settlements, as well as something like half of Jerusalem. The Palestinians have to agree that no - or very, very few - refugees will go back to Israel. The Americans have to push and on occasion coerce. Otherwise the new peace process will become again what the old one was in the 90s: a means of avoiding peace rather than of achieving it.
Shouldn't the concept of peace include an end to the killing of Jews?
The editor of a student journal seeking Muslim viewpoints runs into wall of political correctness. Julia Bertelsmann describes the stifling of Harvard debate:
Many Muslim and Arab students preferred not to publish their views, fearing the threat of reprisal.
An Iranian student who had privately expressed opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declined to write, saying he preferred to “lay low” for fear of political consequences back home.
Another Iranian-American student backed out after sending me several articles about Iranian academics based in the U.S. who had been arrested on visits to Tehran. One such academic, Haleh Esfandiari, on a visit to her elderly mother, was detained for eight months and charged with crimes against “national security.” The student told me he feared the same fate and worried about what would become of his family if he ever expressed his views about Iran’s theocratic regime.
Similarly, an Arab student who was approached to speak about the situation in Darfur refused, saying that he was certain some of his compatriots at Harvard would report back home about his activities abroad and that he feared being arrested or harassed by his country’s security services. . . .
As an editor, I have yet to encounter a student—Jewish, Muslim, Christian or otherwise—who is the least bit afraid of criticizing Israel in public or in print.
Not everyone at Harvard experiences such problems. One professor's view was stifled up to 20th place on the NY Times best seller list a month ago.
While Mahmoud Abbas was on his way to Annapolis, Washington Times reporter Paul Martin spent time with a Gaza rocket crew allied with Israel's negotiating partner:
Abu Haroon, a black-clad bearded militant from the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, placed a Kalashnikov automatic rifle in the hands of his nephew. The rifle was twice as big as the child.
"Remember, as I may not be coming back: Learn to use this against the enemy one day," he said, giving the boy a farewell cuddle.
"I am proud of you, my son. Sometimes, it is necessary to kill," said Haroon, handing his son dates freshly picked from the tree towering over a small house in this densely populated town — one of the main centers of clashes in the intifada that started seven years ago.
Now that the sides are committed to negotiating, will the Palestinians finally Teach Kids Peace?
This week happens to be the 60th anniversary of the UN resolution 181 which partitioned the holy land between Jews and Arabs, leaving Jerusalem under the UN's authority.
The Guardian's Ian Black points out that the city's designation as a corpus separatum undermines Palestinian claims on the capitol:
Jerusalem, in a decision worthy of the setting for Pontius Pilate's famous manual ablutions, was to belong to neither. It was to become a "corpus separatum" under UN direction - which is why today, except for a few banana republics, no country in the world, not even the US, will build an embassy there, or recognise it as Israel's capital, eternal or otherwise. Indeed, it is a telling argument against Palestinian claims to the city as its capital - but for obvious reasons it is not one that Israel and its supporters are likely to make.
Food for thought: The official map of what would have been the UN's Jerusalem district includes the areas of Bethlehem, Maale Adumim, Motza, Shuafat and beyond, far surpassing anything Israelis or Palestinians would now define as "Greater Jerusalem."
Do digitally altered images alter our perception and memory of public events? This study says yes.
"It’s potentially a form of human engineering that could be applied to us against our knowledge and against our wishes, and we ought to be vigilant about it," said UC Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who designed the study.
Two Israeli cinemas reached an out of court settlement with five IDF reservists who said Jenin Jenin slandered the IDF, their unit, and soldiers they served with during Operation Defensive Shield.
Muhammad Bakri, who wrote and directed Jenin Jenin, admitted that much of his information about alleged atrocities was inaccurate and sometimes constructed by "artistic choice." Bakri also admitted that the film received funding from the Palestinian Authority.
The reservists are pursuing a separate lawsuit against Bakri.
Thomas Friedman once wrote that for a peace settlement to be reached, both an Israeli and a Palestinian leadership would have to be prepared to fight a civil war against sections of their own populations. The Palestine Liberation Organisation does seem willing to fight such a war against Hamas if it is offered a real state to rule, not some Israeli-dominated Bantustan. Israeli governments, however, have so far stopped short of a real showdown with their settlers, and it does not seem that they are yet close to being willing to face this.
Contrary to Lievens' assertion, Ariel Sharon's disengagement was a move that certainly marginalized the settler movement. As for the preposterous idea that the PLO -- Bantustans notwithstanding -- is willing to fight a war against Hamas, Lievens missed the "Palestinian Altalena moment" that took place in June.
• I’m thankful that the Jewish people have a Jewish state.
• I'm thankful that Western society by and large respects Judeo-Christian values.
• I’m thankful to have the freedom of speech needed to make this blog meaningful.
• Despite its shortcomings, I’m thankful the Western media is free to share info and ideas.
• I’m deeply appreciative of the sacrifices soldiers around the world (and their families) are making to defend my freedom.
• I’m thankful that independent-minded bloggers raise important issues that would otherwise fall through the cracks of social debate or get swept under the rug.
• I'm especially thankful my wife puts up with the crazy hours I put into this blog.
• Last but not least, I’m thankful to you – the readers – for your timely tips, spirited comments, constructive criticism, kind encouragement and even the hate mail. Feedback tells me this blog's making some kind of difference in the vastness of cyberspace. Keep it coming.
State comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss slammed the government's hasbara efforts during the Second Lebanon War. The Jerusalem Post writes:
The comptroller further found that the public-relations burden throughout the war was incorrectly placed on the IDF. In his report, Lindenstrauss wrote that a severe lack of coordination between the Foreign Ministry, IDF, Defense Ministry and Prime Minister's Office was evident and contributed to Israel's failure in properly transmitting its messages to the public and the world.
Lindenstrauss also concluded that the government failed to set up an effective media center during the war for the foreign press. The Foreign Ministry, the report claimed, was not prepared to handle the press during a state of emergency.
When Lebanese officials prevented him from entering the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, reporter Raed Rafei volunteered with a humanitarian organization to gain access. After distributing a few bottles of water, he switched back to reporter mode to file this dispatch. Rafei admitted as much on an LA Times blog.
It’s a gutsy way to get an important story.
It also raises a question: If reporters can pass themselves off as humanitarian workers for a scoop, do they have any right to protest when Israeli police (or, dare I say, Palestinian terrorists) pass themselves off as journalists?
The Economist reports that the Palestinians found another use for Google Earth:
The smugglers are almost always private entrepreneurs. They first select a piece of land close to the border wall and then dig a large hole with a mechanical digger. They then enclose an area of dozens of square metres and start digging, filling the first hole with the earth from the tunnel. They can map the length and direction of the tunnel accurately using satellite pictures from Google Earth.
For days, we scoured the MSM looking for any A) English-language B) non-Israeli and non-Jewish C) mainstream newspaper that D) reported as a straightforward news story on last week's Paris hearing where the Mohammed Dura video was discredited.
On that count, cheers to Scotland's Sunday-Herald and nobody else.
AP reports that Mohammad Dura's father, Jamal, was briefly detained by Hamas for "allegedly shooting in the air during a family wedding."
Unfortunately, the wire service's background on Jamal's claim to fame doesn't mention France 2's footage was discredited in a Paris courtroom just last week. AP's editors must have missed our video from the courthouse.
HonestReporting together with Take-A-Pen covered this afternoon's hearing in France where raw footage of the Mohammed Dura was publicly screened for the first time. HonestReporting/Take-A-Pen's Alain Benjamin, who saw the video in court, discussed by phone the proceedings with MediaBackspin editor Pesach Benson.
What did the raw footage show?
We can definitely say that nobody can say who was shooting at who. Charles Enderlin said in court that the Palestinians started shooting first, but in the end, there's no way we can say what happened that day. You can't tell who did what. The assertion from Charles Enderlin, that the Israeli army killed the boy, is totally wrong. The least he could've said was that the boy was killed--but we don't know by who.
There was a dispute over how much footage was to be screened. Was the full video shown?
Charles Enderlin submitted 18 minutes of footage. The judge, without any prompting from Philippe's lawyers, asked what happened to the 27 minutes. Enderlin said on record in court that he had to manipulate some footage that was not relevant to that day. He said he transferred the footage onto DVD for the court. That was amazing.
So she asked if anyone in attendance had seen the full footage. Luc Rosenzweig was there, stood up , and said he saw a tape that was more than 20 minutes long. Richard Landes also stood up. He saw the footage at Enderlin's office. He said the timer he saw was at least 21 minutes long. The judge basically let that issue rest, but there was serious doubt hanging over the room that the footage was tampered or doctored.
After the hearing ended, how did people react to what they saw?
Not one person believed that the version of France 2 was right. Some people maintained that the footage was staged. Others think the footage was real. Clearly, nobody believed that anybody died.
Does the footage vindicate Karsenty?
Everyone was going, "Wow" and talking about whether he'll take action against France 2 for trying to swindle the court. He can wait for the verdict, or sue France 2 for tampering with the tape. He has quite a few options. Clearly, the judge wasn't convinced by France 2's version. The judge's verdict is to be given on February 27.
How did the France 2 people react after the hearing?
France 2 left immediately. They just ran out and left. They didn't want to speak to anyone.
Some people were concerned that reviving the footage would harm Israel's image.
There's absolutely no reason to be concerned for that now.
How was the media turnout?
Very large. There were four or five TV crews, 30 journalists from TV, radio and print. Only a third of the journalists and public could get in to the courtroom to see the footage. The whole thing was delayed because of the crowd. They came from all over. At one point, I saw Philippe being interviewed by Kuwaiti TV.
What's the most important lesson to take from today?
One guy stood his ground for four years. It's a lesson in perseverance.
Israel should take a cue from this trying to pursue the truth rather than put what they can under the carpet quickly. If Israel's P.R. people had pursued all these different things that showed this wasn't Israel's fault, things would've turned out differently.
The other lesson sheds a light on a process very wide spread in the region. People don't realize that Palestinians get their jobs as journalists because they're sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. They're out to push an agenda. It's up to the news services to disclose that they're using local TV personnel to capture breaking news.
Stay tuned for Alain's video coverage outside the courthouse.
Hamas further tightened its restrictions on journalists. AP writes:
. . . in an edict published on its Web site Wednesday, it said journalists who do not hold official press cards from the Hamas-run Interior Ministry would not be allowed to work in Gaza. News organizations have resisted obtaining the cards because it entails submitting to restrictions, including a vague ban on stories that do not uphold "national responsibilities."
The restrictions were first enacted by Fatah in 1995 when it was in power, and used to crack down on Hamas at the time.
"The government will not allow any reporter or photographer to work unless they get the press card," Hamas said. "This decision came after the rally of the Fatah movement in which dozens of cameramen and photographers were observed, not working for any media organization, but using these cameras for political parties and for personal reasons."
Hamas did not say what action would be taken against journalists who do not comply.
"Even the Israelis do not do this," said Ibrahim's uncle, Jihad Auda, 52, adding of the rally: "It was like a party, a wedding. They know that these weapons will kill. Why do they use it against their own people?"
A Lebanese priest says the word "martyrs" is a loaded term meant to incite. Watch this Memri video.
Here's the snippet of his compelling argument:
Interviewer: Take, for example, the people who were killed in South Lebanon, while fighting the Israelis – should they be considered martyrs?
Father Samir Khalil Al-Yasou'i: Definitely not. They are not martyrs, because they were fighting. This is political defense...
Interviewer: So they are by no means martyrs? Is it wrong and inappropriate to use the word "martyr" in this case?
Father Al-Yasou'i:This word is used to incite people and to justify one's positions. If I take my weapon and go to war against another armed person, this means that one of us could get killed. There are victims... In any case, I am considered an aggressor, just like him. Even if he managed to hit me, and I did not manage to hit him, it does not mean that I am considered a martyr and he is the executioner. Moreover, like Dr. Samir said, Gandhi should indeed be considered a martyr, because he was killed fighting for the sake of non-violence, and because he sought to unite the Muslims and the Hindus. In addition, some Buddhists, like those we are seeing now in Myanmar, can be considered martyrs.
Interviewer: They are victims of the lack of religious freedom.
Father Al-Yasou'i: Yes, because first, there must be non-violence. The violent cannot be considered a martyr . . . .
Palestinian negotiators charged Tuesday that Israel is sabotaging the conference by making new demands. The latest is that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians could not do that. Such a declaration would imply conceding the "right of return" of 4 million Palestinians — refugees and their descendants from the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948.
Israel insists that the refugees must be repatriated in the Palestinian state to be set up, not in Israel.
While a deal might eventually be worked out, Palestinians were not prepared to give up their traditional demand even before negotiations begin.
Memo to AP: The idea of Israel as a Jewish state is also a "traditional demand."
Today's hearing where France 2 is to screen its raw footage of Mohammad Dura is already generating fireworks. Philippe Karsenty and the French network dispute how much footage Talal Abu-Rahma shot. The Jerusalem Post writes:
France 2's correspondent in Israel, Charles Enderlin, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he had no idea why anyone had thought there were 27 minutes of footage.
"I do not know where this 27 minutes comes from," he said. "In all, there were only 18 minutes of footage shot in Gaza."
But Philippe Karsenty, the director of the media watchdog group Media-Ratings - and the man whose assertion that France 2's coverage of the incident was "a hoax" lies at the heart of the ongoing legal battle - was adamant that there were indeed 27 minutes of footage. He vowed further legal action "if France 2 remains stubborn and refuses to hand over the complete 27 minutes of unedited footage."
Violence at a massive Gaza rally killed seven Palestinians, injured 85 more, and now Hamas has arrested a whopping 400 Fatah supporters in an overnight sweep. Judging from MSM coverage, Hamas is taking a P.R. beating. Consider:
• AFP directly contradicts Hamas’ explanation for the gunfire:
Hamas blamed Fatah gunmen for instigating the clashes, accusing them of firing down on police from the rooftops around the square. . . .
His account was disputed by an AFP correspondent and several witnesses, who said Hamas police opened fire on the demonstration.
• The Washington Post noted the same contradiction, adding that journalists also took a beating:
A Washington Post reporter on the scene saw no Fatah gunmen at the rally or in its vicinity. Other reporters gave similar accounts. . .
Following the shooting, other Hamas militiamen moved in to arrest and beat people in the crowd, and ordered journalists not to film the event. Hamas security forces attacked some local journalists.
• See AP for a remarkably detailed first-hand account of Hamas security conduct:
In one confrontation, an Associated Press reporter observed about 30 Hamas policemen — some posted on the rooftop of a government ministry, others on the streets below — firing heavily for about 10 minutes. Some appeared to be shooting over the heads of Fatah stone-throwers while others were firing randomly.
In another, AP Television News footage showed hundreds of young Fatah activists, some wrapped in yellow flags, facing off against Hamas police in black or blue-camouflage uniforms across an intersection.
The Fatah supporters pelted Hamas troops with stones, surging forward even as they were met by heavy bursts of gunfire. One Hamas policeman dropped to one knee for better aim. At one point, a young stone-thrower collapsed and was carried off by others.
Elsewhere, AP photographers observed frantic demonstrators commandeering private cars to take the wounded to hospitals. Medical officials said seven civilians were killed and 85 people were wounded.
The Palestinians are observing three days of mourning -- and not for Hamas' image.
Don't think Walt and Mearsheimer can have a negative impact on Britain? Dave Rich comments on the pair's UK book tour:
The problem on this side of the Atlantic is that British politics lacks anything approaching the American system of openly declared political lobbies; a similar, AIPAC-style operation in Westminster would not just influence policy, it would also subvert fundamental democratic mechanisms. . . .
Those who assume that Zionism has a global reach and unlimited power cannot but assume that what they now "know" - thanks to Mearsheimer and Walt - is done in Washington must have its equivalents in London, Paris and elsewhere.
So the might of Jewish organizations is inflated, conspiracies imagined, to fill the gap between the reality of a Jewish community trying to do its best for Israel, and the fantasy of politicians and prime ministers bowing their knee to the power of the almighty Lobby.
In an exclusive video from HonestReporting and Take-A-Pen, Philippe Karsenty discusses this week's scheduled screening of France 2's raw footage of Mohammed Dura. We hope a general strike doesn't postpone the proceedings.
If Annapolis fails, will a backlash against Israel be in the offing? Daled Amos points to arguments saying yes and no.
But with expectations so low, the only imaginable backlash might come from experts of Hebrew grammar. According to the NY Times:
The long buildup to Annapolis, together with Ms. Rice’s many trips to the region, have given birth to a new verb in Israeli government circles: “lecondel,” meaning, to come and go for meetings that produce few results. The word is based on Ms. Rice’s first name.
Bureau chief Jeremy Bowen demonstrates that the definition of "proportionality" is actually subjective.
He proves that a reporter on the ground -- let's say Beirut during last year's war -- cannot make an informed judgment if he cannot see what is going on elsewhere -- like northern Israel under a volley of Hezbollah Katyushas.