Thursday, March 17, 2005


The Good (via Aron's Israel Peace Weblog):

Some 250 high-school seniors have signed a letter stating that they will not serve in the Israel Defense Forces or take part in military activities, and sent the letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Education Minister Limor Livnat.

"We call on all youths ahead of service in the IDF, and all soldiers already in the Israeli army to reconsider endangering their lives and taking part in a policy of oppression and destruction," the letter states.

The letter, originally published on the ynet Website, states that the signatories will not serve in the IDF, which they claim is a tool of a policy of occupation and oppression.

"The current policy is not the result of security needs, but of a nationalist-messianic worldview," the students wrote. The signatories note that they will refuse to take part in the policy of occupation and oppression, and would like to contribute to society by alternative means "that do not include hurting other human beings."

Responding Monday to the letter, President Moshe Katsav told Army Radio that with time, the youths would shift from their "mistaken attitude and outlook." According to Katsav, "Something went wrong during the process wherein we tried to shape the younger generation. I can't place my finger on the defects during this process. The mistake can be rectified - it's not irreversible."

That Katsav quote is priceless: Apparently our revisionist Zionist indoctrination, wherein children are taught that Israel belongs to the Jews alone and the Palestinians have been squatting for the last two-thousand years, didn't take, and thus the children will have to be reeducated to have their defects rectified. Not to worry, soon they'll get their heads on straight and before you know it they'll be harassing elderly Palestinians at checkpoints and responding to human rights observers, without a hint of irony, that they are "just following orders."

The Bad:

Sources in both Jerusalem and Washington are impressed with Abbas’ efforts to build democracy and to eradicate terrorism. Although Israel would prefer that Abbas move more quickly toward dismantling the terror organizations, the Sharon government is allowing Abbas time to consolidate his position...

Bush is so confident about the direction events are moving that he asked Congress to help the Palestinians (and thereby Israel) get to a point where they can effectively repulse terrorism and establish a working democracy. The Bush administration believes that bucking up the PA is critical if Abbas supporters are to prevail against Hamas in the July legislative elections (some observers say that right now Hamas would pull 45% of the vote, a result that could be disastrous for the US and Israel, not to mention the Palestinians).

To demonstrate his commitment – and his view that it is a new day – Bush has asked Congress to provide $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority...

And what has been the Congressional response to that request?

We found out on Tuesday. The answer was “yes, but….” There were so many “buts” that they rendered the “yes” almost meaningless.

The House Appropriations Committee attached a host of conditions to the aid which, amazingly, are more onerous than those placed on Palestinian aid when Yasir Arafat was in charge. Not only does Congress rightfully demand an end to terrorism and incitement (which, is, of course, the Bush policy), it wants “schools, mosques and other institutions…to promote peace and coexistence with Israel.” It demands investigations into Yasir Arafat’s finances. It wants the internet monitored for hate speech. The list goes on and on.

But then you have to understand that for some people on Capitol Hill, Yasir Arafat is still alive. At the Appropriations Committee session in which the aid was decided upon, one Member of Congress after another got up and talked about…Arafat. The late PLO chairman would be so pleased. Most people do not continue to be major players on the Washington stage after their death, but Arafat is...

This phenomenon is particularly jarring because you just won’t find anything similar in Israel. Yes, there are Israeli politicians who insist, with no evidence whatsoever, that Abbas is a clean-shaven Arafat but they are in the fringes of the radical right. You won’t hear that from Ariel Sharon or Ehud Olmert. You’ll hear it from the most die-hard settlers and their supporters. You’ll hear it from the crowd that supports ethnic cleansing of the West Bank. You will not hear it from anyone in the mainstream.

The Christian Zionist lobby opposes any peace which requires Israel to withdraw from the "biblical" land of Israel, which is to say the Christian Zionist lobby opposes peace. They are intent on frustrating any legislation which could be perceived as strengthening the Palestinian position, even if it means taking actions which even Israeli hardliners view as counterproductive. Anxious for Armageddon, indeed.

And the Ugly:

Some 40 yeshiva students from a West Bank settlement attacked a group of eight Palestinian laborers on Thursday morning, wounding at least five of them.

Jewish students in Nahliel threw stones at the Palestinians and attacked them with clubs. The Palestinians were legally contracted to work in the West Bank settlement located west of Ramallah.

Military sources told Haaretz the Palestinians were severely beaten and that they were "almost lynched," an expression connoting an execution of defenseless victims.

No word on whether the settlers wore white sheets.

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