Saturday, August 03, 2002

A terrorist bomb ripped through an Egged bus travelling near Safed a short time before 9 A.M. Sunday morning, causing many casualties, police said.
"It is a terrorist attack in a bus and there are apparently many, many casualties," Northern police commander Yehuda Solomon told Israel Radio. More here.
At least nine people were killed and 38 were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up on an Egged bus travelling near the northern town of Safed a short time before 9 A.M. Sunday morning, police said.
Of the wounded, two are in critical condition, ten are in serious condition and one is suffering from moderate injuries.
"I picked up four dead myself," Haim Ben-Shimon, a civilian who was nearby at the time of the blast, told Army Radio. "The bus is simply crushed."
Another witness, Pinhas Cohen, said he was standing about 15 meters (yards) from the bus when the bomb went off.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, Hezbollah's al-Manar television reported.
The station said the Iz a Din al-Kassam military wing of Hamas claimed responsibility in a telephone call for the "martyrdom operation."
""The U.S. is seriously considering a preemptive strike against Iran because it fears Iran might give product from the soon-to-be on line nuclear plant to Hezbollah," the intelligence officer said. "The concern is driving policy talks at the Defense Department and at the National Security Council about the value of a preemptive strike and I understand that the Pentagon is arguing quite strongly for an attack on the nuclear power plant that is still under construction.... The operational planning is quite advanced.""
Thanks to ZionBlog for posting the link.
an Israeli mother of eight overcame a knife-wielding terrorist as he was attacking her husband lying in bed, and stabbed him to death. The.. incident occurred shortly after 3 AM when a well-disguised terrorist infiltrated the Shomron town of Itamar and broke into the Mimran family home. It was later discovered that he began his rampage by going from room to room and bed to bed, looking for the children and trying to stab them; most fortunately, all eight children had left on Sunday night to spend some time at their grandparents' home in the north.
The terrorist's last stop was in the parents' bedroom. The woman, Orna Mimran, described ..what happened:
"I awoke at around 3:15 to see two hands with two knives flailing in the air, and he was attacking my husband. I couldn't grab the knives, as he was holding on to them very tightly, but together we were able to fight with him and stab him back." Though she modestly insisted that she and her husband overcame the terrorist together, it appears that hers was the main role in turning the terrorist's knives back upon himself. Keep reading.
Eshet Hail mi Imtza! (who will find a woman of valor!)
Islamists vs. the West:
excerpts from a 1997 IMRA interview with Hamas leader Rantisi.

Rantisi: ...we consider the liberation of our land - the liberation of our
occupied land - as a part of our religion. We can't give up even
one centimeter of our land to occupiers. Not just in Palestine but
everywhere. ..

Rantisi: All the religious - not just in Palestine but in the
entire Islamic world - believe that they should not give up their
land to anyone because the Koran ordered us to liberate our land
and to defend it from the occupiers.

IMRA: That applies also to parts of Spain as well.

Rantisi: I am speaking now of Palestine [laughs].

IMRA: Historically there were parts of Spain which were under
Moslem control.

Rantisi: I am speaking now about Palestine. I am not talking
about France.

IMRA: But these areas were also, by the same token, under Islamic

Rantisi: It's up to our religious leaders who can give a fatwa on
this. But I am a politician and I am only speaking about our land
in Palestine.
Imshin points out yet another reason to boycott France:
Arafat on Tuesday received a message from the French President Jacque Chirac and a telephone call from the secretary general of the Arab league Amr Moussa.
In a statement, Nabil Abu Rudinah, the advisor for Arafat said that the French president expressed in his message support and solidarity with the Palestinian Authority and people, noting that the message dealt with the efforts made to halt the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and reviving the peace process.

Surprised Chirac didn't congratulate him for the good job he's been doing killing Jews. SHAME ON FRANCE!
Whitehall dossier says Saddam plans biological weapons for Palestinians:
Using mobile laboratories for their research, the team of scientists working for Saddam are believed to be developing a range of biological agents that can be “delivered” by an aerosol system.
The latest assessment in Washington and London is that Saddam’s plan is to produce a basic weapon that can be used by a terrorist group to attack the Iraqi leader’s enemies, the United States and Israel. In the same way that Iran has funded and trained terrorist groups to carry out attacks from Lebanon against Israel, Saddam..could be banking on recruiting a Palestinian terrorist group to act on his behalf.
Analysis of US satellite imagery over the past four years has provided sufficient evidence to show what Saddam has been doing since the expulsion of the United Nations weapons inspectors in December 1998. While the Iraqi leader has pursued all elements of his weapons of mass destruction programme, he has made greatest progress in trying to “weaponise” his biological systems, using the mobile research laboratories to try to deceive America’s spy satellites.
...Saddam has funded Palestinian extremist groups for many years, and the assessment now is that, with the Middle East in turmoil, the Iraqi leader may see that the best way of taking revenge against the US and Israel is by using a Palestinian organisation as his proxy terrorists.

Friday, August 02, 2002

Throughout the past century, the Bahá'ís of Iran have been persecuted. With the triumph of the Islamic revolution in 1979, this persecution has been systematized. More than 200 Bahá'ís have been executed or killed, hundreds more have been imprisoned, and tens of thousands have been deprived of jobs, pensions, businesses, and educational opportunities. All national Bahá'í administrative structures have been banned by the Government, and holy places, shrines and cemeteries have been confiscated, vandalized, or destroyed.
The 350,000-member Bahá'í community comprises the largest religious minority in that country, and Bahá'ís have been oppressed solely because of religious hatred. Islamic fundamentalists in Iran and elsewhere have long viewed the Bahá'í Faith as a threat to Islam and have branded the Bahá'ís as heretics. The progressive stands of the Faith on women's rights, independent investigation of truth, and education have particularly rankled Muslim clerics. Keep reading.
The ever vigilant highlights yet another reason to boycott France.
(courtesy of Agence France-Presse)

"Two Israelis, Two Palestinians Killed in Suicide Bombings and Ambushes"

In this case, two does not equal two. The two dead Israelis were brothers
who had gone on Tuesday to a Palestinian village to sell fuel. The two
dead Palestinians were a suicide bomber (Jerusalem falafel stand), and a
man who broke into a Jewish home and stabbed two Israelis, before being
shot by security guards.

Complaints to:

HonestReporting also highlights the latest round of media failings, below. Did you notice the NY Times used the word
"Militants" to describe the terrorists that perpetrated the attack at Hebrew University? Send your comments to

The media has distorted the events of Wednesday's Hebrew University
bombing in 4 significant ways. HonestReporting encourages members to
monitor your local media and call their attention to the following points.

The media reported the attack as a response to Israel's killing of Hamas
leader Salah Shehadeh in Gaza.

Knight-Ridder correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson leads off by writing:
"Palestinians seeking revenge for a recent Israeli airstrike on the Gaza
Strip detonated a bomb Wednesday in a crowded cafeteria at Hebrew

It is spurious to categorize this attack as a response, when Hamas was
already planning attacks anyway. According to Israeli Defense Minister
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Shehadeh was planning six simultaneous terror
attacks in six different Israeli cities, including mega-attacks intended
to kill hundreds of Israelis. The LA Times reports that Israel's top
internal security official believed that at least 60 terror attacks were
already being planned.

Some media even parroted the propagandist claim that Hamas was on the
brink of a cease-fire. This argument is preposterous, considering that
Hamas has waged a ceaseless campaign of terror against Israeli civilians,
claiming credit for at least 28 major bombing attacks against Israeli
civilians since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. Read more.

The media presents the Hebrew U attack as an appropriate retaliation, a
tit-for-tat for the deaths of civilians in Shehadeh's apartment building.

However, the media fails to note one crucial difference: Israel was
targeting a terrorist mastermind, with the civilians' deaths regrettable
collateral damage. By contrast, in the Hebrew U attack, Palestinians were
intentionally targeting civilians.

This key point is omitted in a Reuters report, which fails to mention of
why Israel attacked "a crowded area of Gaza City," implying that Israel is
no better than Palestinian bombers:

"Palestinian militants have vowed to avenge an Israeli missile strike on a
crowded area of Gaza City last week that sparked strong international

We ask: Would the media consider it an appropriate retaliation for Israel
to now go massacre Palestinian university students? Of course not. As the
UK Independent put it:

"Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Hamas' spiritual leader, said: 'When Israel bombs a
civilian building full of women and children, and kills 15 people, this is
the response they should expect.' It was a response that quickly eroded
the international sympathy for the Palestinians prompted by the Gaza air
strike. 'Why is somebody targeting students sitting down to their

The media failed to report the mass celebrations in Gaza following the
Hebrew U attack. An estimated 10,000 Palestinian men, women and children
celebrated in the streets with clapping, singing and distributing sweets
-- while carrying pictures of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin,
and calling for more suicide bombings. LGF has photos.

This is in sharp contrast to the Israeli soul-searching and regret
following the deaths of civilians in the Shehadeh strike.

Amazingly, mention of the Gaza rally and celebrations was totally omitted
by many major news agencies, including:

- The New York Times
- The Washington Post

Associated Press notes the rally, but doesn't mention any celebrations.

This mysterious omission calls to mind September 11, when Palestinians in
Beirut, Nablus and Jerusalem exploded in street celebrations -- rejoicing,
dancing and handing out candies.

Then, to prevent the world from seeing these incriminating images, armed
Palestinians (some in PA uniform) detained foreign journalists and
confiscated videotape, film and other camera equipment -- while
festivities continued in the streets. Journalists were threatened with
their life if the footage was broadcast. The scene was repeated three days
later, when 1,500 Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza by waving posters of
Osama bin Laden.

Were this week's Gaza celebrations subject to similar forms of
intimidation? Or perhaps journalists are practicing a form of
self-censorship, knowing the consequence of portraying Palestinians in an
unfavorable light.

The media subtly implies some justification for the attack by suggesting
that Hebrew University is located on disputed land.

For example, the Washington Post map places the university clearly in the
West Bank:

Reuters reports that "The bomb exploded in the cafeteria in the Frank
Sinatra International Students Center, on the university's Mount Scopus
campus near Arab East Jerusalem."

In truth, Hebrew University's Mt. Scopus campus was inaugurated in 1925,
and was located on Jewish land long before the establishment of the State
of Israel. It flourished until Israel's 1948 War of Independence, when
Jordanians seized the surrounding land, even as Israel continued to hold
the Mt. Scopus site as an enclave. After the surrounding neighborhoods
were restored to Israeli control in 1967, Mt. Scopus again flourished as
Hebrew University's main campus.
Just when you thought they couldn't sink any lower, LGF notes this latest terrorist depravity:A woman suicide bomber who surrendered to the IDF was going to carry a baby during her attack.
The woman would-be suicide bomber, Umiya Muhammad Damaj, 24, of the refugee camp in Jenin, surrendered to IDF troops on July 27. She allegedly told her interrogators that she had been influenced by the suicide-bomb attack in Jerusalem by a woman resident of Bethlehem in March this year.

She allegedly approached a senior member of the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and offered to be a suicide bomber, saying it was a woman's right to have the privilege of perpetrating such an act.

Damaj was contacted two weeks later and was reportedly informed that she would be given the opportunity to carry out an attack holding a baby as a disguise. In the event, the attack was not perpetrated.

She was later offered another mission. She prepared a letter for her family and was later filmed holding a rifle and a copy of the Koran. A week before the planned attack, however, she surrendered, saying that one of the reasons was concern that her family's home might be demolished. [My emphasis on this last bit. Remember to quote this line to all those who claim demolishing terrorist homes and deporting family members are "unhelpful" , to use a commonly bandied White House and State Dept descriptor]
Of mice and men.. study says: eat less, live longer. Well, if you're a rat.
Time asks Do We Still Need the Saudis?

It's quite an informative article - go read it. Flaws: the writer's acceptance of the Saudi distractionary rhetoric about "U.S. failing to reign in Israel" (not mentioned is ..for defending itself against terror,) and the nonsense about the supposed "Saudi peace plan" that was really nothing of the sort (those of you confused about the so-called "Saudi peace plan" - read this.) Plus no particular mention of Saudi bounties paid out to suicide bombers, or the Hamas telethon held there a little while ago.
Favorite quotes:
..for years, in the interest of maintaining the world's supply of crude, Washington has ignored evidence that the ruling Sauds are allowing the country's powerful religious leaders to propagate anti-Western hate. "If the Saudis sold onions instead of oil," says Gregory Gause, a Saudi expert at the University of Vermont, "we would be talking about how to isolate them."
"If we sort out Iraq and Detroit develops a hydrogen engine," says a U.S. diplomat, "Saudi Arabia will go back to being a fascinating, benighted part of the world that people don't visit."

Folks, the technology to make Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the rest of the oil rich Middle East dictatorships irrelevant exists. Switch to fuel cells. Let's make them drink their oil.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Shani Ladany, 27, from Moshav Olesh, was murdered in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists at an industrial estate where he was working near Moshav Nitzanei Oz on the border of the Sharon and Samaria districts, west of Tulkarm yesterday morning.
Ladany had been bound hand and foot and shot in the head from very close range in what a senior IDF officer described as a lynching attack. Keep reading.
Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi made it quite clear yesterday. He said that terrorist attacks will continue until all Jews leave Israel.
Rantisi made the remarks while claiming responsibility on behalf of Hamas for the slaughter of seven more people in Jerusalem yesterday afternoon. A very powerful bomb exploded inside a school bag on a table inside a Hebrew University cafeteria shortly before 2 PM, killing the seven and wounding close to 90, including 12 people in serious and grave condition. Almost everyone in the cafeteria at the time was hurt to some degree. The wounded were taken to several Jerusalem hospitals, including nearby Hadassah-Mt. Scopus. While the general student population is currently on summer vacation, many foreign students, new immigrants and others are on campus for summer session courses and to prepare for the coming academic year.
Hamas claims that the attack is revenge for the liquidation of arch-terrorist Salah Shehadeh - but Jerusalem diplomatic sources are more than skeptical: "Was the Pesach Seder Massacre in Netanya also a response to Shehadeh's killing? Was the Sbarros slaughter [15 killed, a year ago almost to the day] also a response to Shehadeh's killing?" Read more.

The Hebrew University has compiled biographical sketches of the victims of yesterday's terrorist attack. The loss of each one is the loss of a whole world. May their loved ones never again know such sorrow.

Marla Bennet, 24, from San Diego, CA
Benjamin Richard Blutstein, 25, from Harrisburg, PA.
Dina Carter, 38
Janis Ruth Coulter, 36, of Brooklyn, New York
David Gritz, aged 24, from Paris, France. He also was a US citizen.
David Diego Ladowski was born in Argentina in 1973 and immigrated to Israel in 1992.
Levina Shapira was born in Jerusalem in 1949. Levina Shapira is survived by her husband Alex, a daughter Adi, and two sons, Zvi and Uri.

Help the wounded. Help the families.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Coming to terms with the inconceivable
`It's not Holocaust or mini-holocaust; they're launching pogroms against us.'
Thanks to Imshin for posting the link.
MYTH "Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens."
FACT Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. Out of a population of 6.3 million, about 1.1 million — 18 percent of the population — are non-Jews (945,000 Muslims, 130,000 Christians and 100,000 Druze).
Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs currently hold 10 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Israeli Arabs have also held various government posts, including one who served as Israel's Consul-General in Atlanta. Ariel Sharon's cabinet includes the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif, a Druze who serves as a minister without portfolio. Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. More than 300,000 Arab children attended Israeli schools. At the time of Israel's founding, there was one Arab high school in the country. Today, there are hundreds of Arab schools.
The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own request.
Some economic and social gaps between Israeli Jews and Arabs result from the latter not serving in the military. Veterans qualify for many benefits not available to non-veterans. Moreover, the army aids in the socialization process.
On the other hand, Arabs do have an advantage in obtaining some jobs during the years Israelis are in the military. In addition, industries like construction and trucking have come to be dominated by Israeli Arabs.
Although Israeli Arabs have occasionally been involved in terrorist activities, they have generally behaved as loyal citizens. During the 1967, 1973 and 1982 wars, none engaged in any acts of sabotage or disloyalty. Sometimes, in fact, Arabs volunteered to take over civilian functions for reservists. During the outbreak of violence in the territories that began in September 2000, Israeli Arabs for the first time engaged in widespread protests with some violence
The United States has been independent for 225 years and still has not integrated all of its diverse communities. Even today, nearly 40 years after civil rights legislation was adopted, discrimination has not been eradicated. It should not be surprising that Israel has not solved all of its social problems in only 53 years.

MYTH "Israel discriminates against Israeli Arabs by barring them from buying land."
FACT In the early part of the century, the Jewish National Fund was established by the World Zionist Congress to purchase land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. This land, and that acquired after Israel's War of Independence, was taken over by the government. Of the total area of Israel, 92 percent belongs to the State and is managed by the Land Management Authority. It is not for sale to anyone, Jew or Arab. The remaining 8 percent of the territory is privately owned. The Arab Wakf, for example, owns land that is for the express use and benefit of Muslim Arabs. Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.

MYTH "Israeli Arabs are discriminated against in employment."
FACT Israeli law prohibits discrimination in employment. According to the State Department, all Israeli workers "may join and establish labor organizations freely." Most unions are part of the Histadrut or the smaller Histadrut Haovdim Haleumit (National Federation of Labor), both of which are independent of the Government.

MYTH "Arabs held in Israeli jails are tortured, beaten and killed."
FACT Prison is not a pleasant place for anyone and complaints about the treatment of prisoners in American institutions abound. Israel's prisons are probably among the most closely scrutinized in the world. One reason is the government has allowed representatives of the Red Cross and other groups to inspect them regularly.
Israeli law prohibits arbitrary arrest of citizens, defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty and have the right to writs of habeas corpus and other procedural safeguards. Israel holds no political prisoners and maintains an independent judiciary.
Some prisoners, particularly Arabs suspected of involvement in terrorism, were interrogated using severe methods that have been criticized as excessive. Israel's Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in 1999 prohibiting the use of a variety of abusive practices, including violent shaking, painful shackling in contorted positions, sleep deprivation for extended periods of time, and prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures.
The death penalty has been applied just once, in the case of Adolf Eichmann, the man largely responsible for the "Final Solution." No Arab has ever been given the death penalty, even after the most heinous acts of terrorism.

MYTH "Israel uses administrative detention to imprison peaceful Arabs without trial."
FACT Israel inherited and continued certain laws adopted by the British. One is the use of administrative detention, which is permitted under certain circumstances in security cases. The detainee is entitled to be represented by counsel, and may appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court. The burden is on the prosecution to justify holding closed proceedings. Often, officials believe presenting evidence in open court would compromise its methods of gathering intelligence and endanger the lives of individuals who have provided information about planned terrorist activities.
Israel's policy is that administrative detention is only to be used against violent offenders. Rulings may be reviewed by Israel's Supreme Court. By contrast, in much of the Arab world, administrative detention is not necessary because the authorities frequently arrest people and throw them in jail without due process. No lawyers, human rights organizations or independent media can protest. Even in the United States, with its exceptionally liberal bail policy, people may be held for extended periods awaiting trial.

"One does not judge a democracy by the way its soldiers immediately react, young men and women under tremendous provocation. One judges a democracy by the way its courts react, in the dispassionate cool of judicial chambers. And the Israeli Supreme Court and other courts have reacted magnificently. For the first time in Mideast history, there is an independent judiciary willing to listen to grievances of Arabs — that judiciary is called the Israeli Supreme Court.” — Alan Dershowitz

MYTH "Israel has long sought to deny residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip their political rights."
FACT While defending its existence against hostile Arab forces, Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Facing a violent insurrection, Israel has been forced to restrict some activities of Palestinians. Israel cannot concede to Palestinians all the rights Americans take for granted in a nation that is not at war, while Arab states maintain a state of belligerency with Israel and Palestinians engage in terrorism against Israelis.
Given the constraints of Israel's security requirements, efforts were made from the outset to allow Palestinians the greatest possible freedom. After the Six-Day War, the traditional pro-Jordanian leadership continued to hold many civil service positions and was paid by Jordan. Municipal elections were held in 1972 and 1976. For the first time, women and non-landowners were allowed to vote.
The 1976 election brought Arab mayors to power who represented various PLO factions. Muhammad Milhem of Halhoul, Fahd Kawasmeh of Hebron, and Bassam Shaka of Nablus were affiliated with Fatah. Karim Khalaf of Ramallah represented the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Ibrahim Tawil of El-Bireh was associated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
In 1978, these mayors and other radicals formed the National Guidance Committee, which vigorously opposed any accommodation with Israel, attempted to stir up broad allegiance to the PLO on the West Bank and incited rejection of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Because of their disruptive activities, several other mayors were dismissed from office. In the early 1980s, Israel expelled Milhem and Kawasmeh. They were allowed to return to appeal the expulsion order, but it was upheld by the Israeli Supreme Court.
Two weeks after his expulsion, Milhem said: "There is no room for the existence of the Zionists under a situation of true peace. They are only capable of existing in a situation of tension and war...and that goes for all the parties...[they are] neither doves nor hawks, only pigs."
Kawasmeh was appointed to the PLO Executive Committee in 1984. Later that year, he was assassinated by Palestinian radicals in Amman.
As part of the Camp David negotiations, Israel proposed an autonomy plan to grant the Palestinians greater control over their affairs. The Palestinians rejected autonomy as an option, however, holding out hope for the creation of a Palestinian state.
For the rest of the decade, Israel, nevertheless, attempted to shift increasing responsibilities from the military to civilian administrators and to Palestinians. Efforts to give Palestinians greater responsibility for their affairs were undermined by the intifada. During the uprising, Palestinian Arabs who wished to cooperate with Israel came under attack and were silenced either through intimidation or murder. Israeli government officials sought to maintain a dialogue with many Palestinians, but those whose identities were discovered became targets.

In secret negotiations in Oslo, Norway, in 1993, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to a plan that would give the latter limited self-government. Subsequent negotiations have resulted in Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and increasing Palestinian control over their own affairs. The expectation was that a final agreement would result in the creation of a Palestinian state in virtually the entire area once controlled by Israel.

MYTH "Israel's treatment of Palestinians is similar to the treatment of blacks in apartheid South Africa ."
FACT Even before the State of Israel was established, Jewish leaders consciously sought to avoid the situation that prevailed in South Africa. As David Ben-Gurion told Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami in 1934:
"We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where the whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland."
Today, within Israel, Jews are a majority, but the Arab minority are full citizens with voting rights and representation in the government. Under apartheid, black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they formed the overwhelming majority of the population.
The situation of Palestinians in the territories — won by Israel in a defensive war forced upon it by its neighbors — is different. The security requirements of the nation, and a violent insurrection in the territories, forced Israel to impose restrictions on Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that are not necessary inside Israel's pre-1967 borders. The Palestinians in the territories, typically, dispute Israel's right to exist whereas blacks did not seek the destruction of South Africa, only the apartheid regime.
If Israel were to give Palestinians full citizenship, it would mean the territories had been annexed. No Israeli government has been prepared to take that step. Instead, through negotiations, Israel agreed to give the Palestinians increasing authority over their own affairs. It is likely that a final settlement will allow most Palestinians to become citizens of their own state.
Meanwhile, until the current violence, Palestinians from the territories were allowed to work in Israel and receive similar pay and benefits to their Jewish counterparts. They are allowed to attend schools and universities. None of this was true for South African blacks.

“There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of nations which remains unsolved to this day, and whose profound tragedy, only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question. Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule for saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.” — Theodor Herzl

MYTH "The outbreak of violence in late 2000, dubbed by Arabs the al-Aksa intifada, was provoked by Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount."
FACT To believe Palestinian spokesmen, the violence was caused by the desecration of a Muslim holy place – Haram al-Sharif – by Likud leader Ariel Sharon and the “thousands of Israeli soldiers” who accompanied him. The violence was carried out through unprovoked attacks by Israeli forces, which invaded Palestinian-controlled territories and “massacred” defenseless Palestinian civilians, who merely threw stones in self-defense. The only way to stop the violence, then, is for Israel to remove its troops from the Palestinian areas and cease the fire. The truth is dramatically different.

Imad Faluji, the Palestinian Authority Communications Minister, admitted months after Sharon's visit that the violence had been planned in July, far in advance of Sharon's "provocation." "It [the uprising] had been planned since Chairman Arafat's return from Camp David, when he turned the tables on the former US president and rejected the American conditions."

The violence started before Sharon's September 28, 2000, visit to the Temple Mount. The day before, for example, an Israeli soldier was killed at the Netzarim Junction. The soldier was killed after the explosion of a roadside bomb. The next day in the West Bank city of Kalkilya, a Palestinian police officer working with Israeli police on a joint patrol opened fire and killed his Israeli counterpart.

“The Sharon visit did not cause the ‘Al-Aqsa Intifada.’” — Conclusion of the Mitchell Report, (May 4, 2001)

Official Palestinian Authority (PA) media exhorted the Palestinians to violence. On Sept. 29, the Voice of Palestine, the PA's official radio station sent out calls "to all Palestinians to come and defend the al-Aksa mosque." The PA closed its schools and bused Palestinian students to the Temple Mount to participate in the organized riots.

Just prior to Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 30), the Jewish New Year, when hundreds of Israelis were worshipping at the Western Wall, thousands of Arabs began throwing bricks and rocks at Israeli police and Jewish worshippers. Rioting then spread to towns and villages throughout Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami permitted Sharon to go to the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest place, which Muslims have renamed Haram al-Sharif and regard as Islam’s third holiest place – only after calling Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub and receiving his assurance that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would arise. The need to protect Sharon – with several hundred policemen, not thousands of soldiers – arose when Rajoub later said that the Palestinian police would do nothing to prevent violence during the visit. Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount ended peacefully, with serious rioting erupting more than 24 hours later.

The real desecration of holy places was perpetrated by Palestinians, not Israelis. Palestinian mobs destroyed a Jewish shrine – Joseph’s Tomb – tearing up and burning Jewish prayer books. They stoned worshipers at the Western Wall and attacked Rachel’s Tomb with firebombs and automatic weapons.

None of the violent attacks were initiated by Israeli security forces, which in all cases responded to Palestinian violence that went well beyond stone throwing. It included massive attacks with automatic weapons and lynchings of Israeli soldiers. Most armed attackers were members of the TanzimArafat’s own militia.

“The issues of Jerusalem, the refugees and sovereignty are one and will be finalized on the ground and not in negotiations. At this point it is important to prepare Palestinian society for the challenge of the next step because we will inevitably find ourselves in a violent confrontation with Israel in order to create new facts on the ground. ... I believe that the situation in the future will be more violent than the Intifada.” — Abu-Ali Mustafa of the Palestinian Authority, (July 23, 2000)

More Myths and Facts.
These are the war crimes committed by Arafat and his henchmen against their brother Arabs in the Palestinian Authority.
How soon the world forgets.

MYTH “The hijacking of four airliners in one day on September 11, 2001, was an unprecedented act of terror.”

FACT On September 6, 1970, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijacked three jets (Swissair, TWA and Pan Am ) with more than 400 passengers on flights to New York. A fourth plane, an El Al flight, was also targeted, but Israeli security agents foiled the hijacking in mid-air and killed one of the two terrorists when they tried to storm the cockpit. On the 9th, a British BOAC jet was also hijacked by the PFLP.

The UN could not muster a condemnation of the hijackings. A Security Council Resolution only went so far as to express grave concern, and did not even bring the issue to a vote.

Instead of flying their planes into buildings, they landed them on airfields (three in Jordan, one in Cairo). All four hijacked planes were blown up on the ground – after the passengers were taken off the planes — on September 12.

More than three dozen Americans were among the passengers who were then held hostage in Jordan as the terrorists attempted to blackmail the Western governments and Israel to swap the hostages for Palestinian terrorists held in their jails. On Sept. 14, after releasing all but 55 hostages, the terrorists said all American hostages would be treated as Israelis.

A tense standoff ensued. Seven terrorists were ultimately set free by Britain, Germany and Switzerland in exchange for the hostages. The turning point, however, was when King Hussein decided this was the final insult in the Palestinian campaign to take over his country and waged an all-out war against Yasser Arafat and all the PLO factions, ultimately driving them out of Jordan and into Lebanon. This came to be known among Palestinians as "Black September" (another terrorist group adopted this as its name and murdered 11 athletes two years later at the Munich Olympics).

After the hijackings, shocked congressman called for immediate and forceful action by the United States and international community. They insisted on quick adoption of measures aimed at preventing air piracy, punishing the perpetrators and recognizing the responsibility of nations that harbor them. Virtually nothing was done and hijackings and other terrorist atrocities have continued up to the present day.

The PFLP as an organization, and some of the individual participants responsible for those hijackings still are alive and well, supported by Syria, the Palestinian Authority and others. In fact, Leila Khaled, the person who tried to hijack the El Al jet, was going to be admitted into the territories to attend the Palestine National Council meetings in 1996, but she still refused to disavow terrorism. Today, she is said to live in Amman.
More Myths and Facts.
At least 7 people murdered today by terrorists in Israel: a bomb exploded ripping through the crowded Frank Sinatra café on Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem at around 1:45 this afternoon. Over 80 wounded evacuated to area hospitals. At least nine in serious condition. Officials on the scene believe that the explosive device was hidden in a schoolbag and placed alongside diners in the café, during the busy lunch hour. Hamas has taken responsibility for the attack. Read more.

Gil Shterzer has photos from hell.

Help the wounded. Help the families.

Reuters reports: Thousands of Hamas supporters took to the streets of Gaza to celebrate, as did dozens of Palestinians in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus. In Balata, masked men set fire to an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
LGF has photos.

I can't help but remember Palestinians celebrating after 9/11.

GSS (General Security Service – Shin/Bet) Director Avi Dichter told the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee yesterday, that his agency has intelligence information on at least 60 Arab terrorist attacks in the works. Dichter added that the GSS has thwarted 12 attacks this week alone. Security officials last night arrested a female would-be suicide bomber, and an accomplice in the Ramallah district. an IDF force operating in Jenin uncovered a bomb factory containing over 100 kilograms of explosives. The factory was destroyed... Yesterday evening Arabs hurled grenades at soldiers stationed at the Tarmit Outpost in southern Gaza. There were no reports of injuries… Arabs targeted soldiers operating in the Jenin district with two bombs last night. One officer was taken to an area hospital with light injuries. Source.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

This is the future. Let's spread the word and make it happen sooner rather than later. Make them drink their oil.

GM to Test Fuel Cell Car on Japan Public Roads by End 2002; Mass Production to Start in 2008
TOKYO, July 12 Asia Pulse - General Motors Corp. will test-drive a fuel cell car on Japanese public roads by the end of this year, the U.S. company said.
The auto giant, which sees Japan as a major market for the next-generation vehicle, plans to start mass-producing such cars in 2008.
Toyota Motor Corp. (TSE:7203) and Honda Motor Co. (TSE:7267) are poised to release such vehicles by the end of this year, with Toyota having moved forward the release date by one year. Competition to grab the lead in such vehicles is heating up among global automakers, industry analysts say.
GM's experiment will be part of a series of driving tests for such vehicles to be conducted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry this autumn. GM will be the fifth automaker to carry out such an experiment in Japan, after DaimlerChrysler AG, Mazda Motor Corp. (TSE:7261), Honda and Toyota.
GM will use the Zafira minivan of German group firm Opel for the tests. On a single hydrogen charge, the vehicle is expected to be able to travel 400km and hit a maximum speed of 150kph. The vehicle is similar to a fuel cell car GM plans to mass-produce in the near future, according to a company official.
A major deterrent to widespread use of such cars is the fact that no country has an adequate supply system for hydrogen, a fuel for such vehicles.
Toyota plans to release a total of only 20 fuel cell cars in Japan and the U.S. this year. "The release of such cars will prompt progress in construction of hydrogen-supply infrastructure," said Toyota President Fujio Cho.
GM is capable of making a fuel cell car that can match the performance of Toyota and Honda models, claims George Hansen, manager in charge of fuel cell vehicles at the firm's Japanese unit. But the U.S. company will start mass production only around 2008 because the release of such cars before an adequate hydrogen supply system is established will inconvenience customers and is likely to keep sales relatively low.
GM has changed its approach on ways to extract hydrogen, halting research into extracting hydrogen from methanol. Instead, it will concentrate on extracting the substance from gasoline, since methanol's toxicity makes it a potential health threat.
Methanol, however, has a high hydrogen content and allows low-temperature hydrogen extraction. DaimlerChrysler is developing a fuel cell car that can be powered by hydrogen extracted from methanol, in a tie-up with Ballard Power Systems, a Canadian start-up.

Honda to begin leasing hydrogen-powered cars
TORRANCE, California (AP) -25 July 2002 - Honda will begin leasing a four-passenger, hydrogen-powered car in California and Japan this fall, making it available to government and institutional users.
The FCX will likely become the first zero-emissions car available in California that is not powered by batteries that need recharging. There are no immediate plans to mass-market it to consumers.
The FCX - short for ``fuel cell experimental'' - is modeled on the EV Plus, a battery-powered car that the American Honda Motor Co. Inc. began leasing to consumers in 1997.
It carries 41 gallons (156 liters) of hydrogen, has a range of 220 miles (354 kilometers) and a top speed of 96 mph (154 kph).
Honda spokesman Art Garner said Wednesday the car needs federal safety certification, which the company expects to obtain in time to begin leasing 30 of the cars by the end of the year.
It has already been certified as zero emissions, meaning it meets strict anti-pollution requirements that take effect next year in California.
In California, the car will likely be leased only in the Southern California and Sacramento areas, where a limited number of hydrogen refueling stations exist. Likewise in Japan, the cars will be available only in Tokyo.

Auto Maker Nissan to Bring Forward Release of Fuel Cell Cars to 2003
TOKYO, Jul 30, 2002 (Kyodo via COMTEX) -- Nissan Motor Co. will bring forward by two years the release of fuel cell-powered hybrid cars to 2003, President Carlos Ghosn said Tuesday.
He said the company decided to accelerate the schedule because development projects have made good progress.
Nissan rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have also accelerated their schedules and are now planning to release their fuel cell cars by the end of this year.
Last April, Nissan began testing fuel cell-powered sport-utility vehicles on U.S. roads.

More info.
Terrorist attacks in Israel today:
brothers Mordechai and Shlomo Odesser from Tapuach were murdered by masked Palestinian gunmen hiding behind olive trees on their way to sell fuel in the village of Jama'im, south of the West Bank city of Ariel. More info.

A resident of Itamar, near Nablus, is in moderate condition Tuesday, after a Palestinian terrorist broke into his home, stabbing him and his wife. The couple struggled with the terrorist, who was armed with two knives. The man received moderate wounds and was admitted for surgery. His wife was lightly injured on her hands and face. The terrorist was killed by soldiers, who began searching for possible additional terrorists when the house caught fire. The terrorist jumped from a window in the house, exchanged fire with security forces, and was killed.
This attack comes just 1.5 months after the last Itamar attack, June 6, in which Rachel Shabo, and three sons Neriah, 15, Zvika, 12, and Avishai, 5, were killed by a terrorists in Itamar in early June. Yosef Twitto, head of Itamar's community response team, was also killed in the attack. Two children and two border policemen were seriously wounded. Source.

A suicide bomber blew himself up on Hanevi'im street in the center of Jerusalem Monday afternoon, lightly wounding seven people.
Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy said the bomber entered a felafel stand on a busy central Jerusalem street and detonated the bomb. More info.

An Arab armed with a pocketknife attacked a Jewish female earlier this afternoon near the Casba section of Hevron. The victim sustained light injuries. Source.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Continuing the discussion on Nusseibeh - "an extremist in moderate clothing":
In a study released today by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Itamar Marcus documents Nusseibeh's use of "moderate" language during diplomatic encounters in English, while he continues to support terrorism and anticipate Israel's destruction when speaking in Arabic.
Marcus obtained the text from an interview with Nusseibeh on Al Jazeera TV, together with a Hamas leader and a mother of a suicide terrorist, in which he expresses admiration for terrorists and their families.
"Praise is due to this woman [the suicide bomber's mother], and to every Palestinian mother, and to every Palestinian female resistance fighter and Jihad fighter on this land," said Nusseibeh.
Marcus also obtained a copy of the main graphic in an official student calendar from Nusseibeh's university, Al-Quds. The graphic, which appears on every page of the calendar and on the back cover, is a map of Israel encircled by the Islamic moon and swords. The encircling of all of Israel represents Islamic “Palestine” replacing the entirety of Israel, through the sword. The calendar’s dedication on page 1 continues the violent themes:
"[Dedicated]... to the mothers who stand firm, the believing women who received the funerals not by collapsing, but with deep belief and acceptance of fate and even with cries of joy …to the pure, who stand today despite their poverty, their lack of means, and their disgrace, stand erect and unwavering in the face of the American evil and those who aid it, because they know that the arrogance of heresy can be bent only through Jihad and Istishhad. [Istishhad means to Seek Death for Allah, and is also used to define suicide bombers.]"
Marcus also notes that a recent petition signed by Nusseibeh, which was published in newspapers worldwide, calls for a halt to suicide bombings in Israel because they are "politically damaging" and not because they are immoral. Nowhere does the petition explicitly condemn suicide attacks. Source.
Wonder why Israel gets so much attention from Human Rights organizations despite being the only democracy in a sea of dictatorships? TalG writes about censorship in the NY Times:
"International Human Rights lawyer Anne Bayefsky wrote an op-ed for the New York Times which criticized the UN and NGOs for a distorted focus on Israel and nonchalance regarding serious human rights violations elsewhere. The Times made her rewrite it so as to avoid criticizing specific organizations and to mention Israel only once. Bayefsky writes about it here (page 12). A summary is here."
The latest reports on malnutrition in the Palestinian Authority, especially highlighting children, implicitly blame Israel for the issue. In this post I'm not even going to get into the question of whether reports compiled on this subject by Palestinian medical teams are reliable, rather, taking the reports at face value read the following and draw your own conclusion about who really is culpable:

Representatives of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan reached a curious
understanding last week: to prevent the transfer of food and merchandise to
Arab cities in [the PA] via Jordan. The Itim News Agency quotes a senior Arab
Customs Wing clerk at the Allenby Bridge Crossing who said that last
Thursday's decision, which he called "puzzling," forbids Palestinian
merchants from importing goods via Jordan. Only donated goods will be
allowed through.

The source said that the decision was apparently initiated by Yasser Arafat.
Many trucks laden with thousands of tons of foodstuff usually make their
daily way from Jordan to PA storehouses - but the starved population does
not often get to partake of the bounty. Instead, the food is sold by the PA
to persons close to them or to other merchants, who then sell them at higher
prices. The Arab source told Itim that the PA is thus intensifying the food
shortage in order to allow it manage its budget deficit and to allow its
"friends" to earn extra money. Source.

Palestinian demonstrators around Arafat's Gaza City compound accused the PA of corruption:
"Some of those who should be serving the public are robbing the public," said Tawfik al-Mashwaki. who had traveled five hours through Israeli checkpoints to attend the rally.
"I warn that there is a hunger revolution coming... It is not politics anymore, it is survival," said Bassam Abu Sharif, an adviser to Arafat.
The demonstrators demanded government jobs or public assistance and accused officials of embezzling foreign aid.
Donations from Arab countries were promised at the start of the Second Intifada and were supposed to support workers who lost their jobs due to the war on Israel. Throughout the last 22 months, most of the workers have received one or two token payments.
"Where are the millions?"
"Where is the money we see donated by Arab nations on our TV screens? We get nothing."
"It was stolen"

Wonder where aid actually comes from?
On April 25, 2002, FOX’s Brit Hume interviewed former U.S. senior advisor on the Middle East Marc Ginsberg. Ginsberg said that annually, “the United States contributes about 30 percent, which is approximately $90 million while the Arab countries collectively are contributing less than five percent, between $5 million to $7 million” to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The following are excerpts from the interview:

HUME: Much of the fighting and much of the controversy on Israel's military action in the West Bank has involved refugee camps. But these so-called refugee camps don't look like camps, no tents, no cooking fires. Israelis say these places are breeding grounds of terrorism. A number of them have been there for 50 years or more. How come? Who runs them? Why are they still there?

GINSBERG: There were about 750,000 refugees who fled what is now Israel back in 1948 at the end of the Arab-Israeli war of independence. And now there is approximately 3.7 million who are registered with the United Nations Relief Works Agency.

HUME: Do these people have a special refugee status?

GINSBERG: They have a special refugee status. They are stateless persons. They are not nationalities of any state.

HUME: But the refugee camps only compose part of these areas. For example, we looked at a map the other day that showed Jenin, a city of some size, or at least a large town, and the refugee camp was only a fraction of it. So, how come some people living in the refugee camps and a lot of people are not?

GINSBERG: There are registered refugees. And then there are refugees who are actually registered to live in the camps. And the reason is very simple, economics. Many of these people living in the camps are dependent on UNRA's continuing...

HUME: UNRA being the U.N. agency.

GINSBERG: ... UN agency that continues to fund all of their social, educational, and welfare programs. Other refugees, including those who have left the territories and are not part of these refugee camps of which there are approximately 59, live in the West Bank towns and in the Gaza Strip as well as in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere. These are exiles from these refugee camps. And they've been able to and economically not be dependent on the dole that is provided by UNRA.

HUME: Now, when it comes to UNRA -- and they obviously are supported by U.N. member nations. Who and how much, roughly?

GINSBERG: Right now, the rough budget is about $340 million per annum, of which the United States contributes about 30 percent, which is approximately $90 million. The Arab countries collectively are contributing less than five percent. And that amounts equals to anywhere between $5 million to $7 million.

HUME: You include the U.K., we're up to about 60 percent. Sweden has a big chunk. And then Saudi Arabia, six-tenths of a percent. Kuwait, less than that. These are the people that would tell that you that they're the ones most concerned about the Palestinians.

GINSBERG: They're least concerned about making sure that these refugees are left in anywhere but independent part of the United Nations responsibility because they don't want to have responsibility for the care and feeding because they want this issue to remain alive as an issue that they don't want to resolve themselves.

GINSBERG: It's useful because it continues to perpetuate the myth of the right of return that these people eventually return to what is now Israel. They believe that by keeping the issue alive it deflects attention away from their own preoccupation with other domestic issues.

HUME: In other words, they have got their people worried about the plight of these refugees still stuck in these crowded refugee camps, and therefore they're not thinking about whether Saudi Arabia has a democracy or whether the Saudi royal family are the right people to be governing and that sort of thing.

HUME: Now yet these places, supported 30 percent by the United States, are rabidly anti-American, from what we can tell. And if the Israelis are right, they are a hotbed of terrorism. Why is that?

GINSBERG: ... they're the poorest people, the ones who are the most radicalized, the ones who claim that they've been denied the most by anyone, the ones who are the poorest of the poor, and the ones who have been actually mistreated the most by Arab states.

HUME: Do these people even know how much support that their place where they live gets from the United States?

GINSBERG: Absolutely not…when you stop and think about the fact that collectively the Arabs contribute less than three percent of the total budget and the majority -- or at least a lion's share of it -- comes from the United States, they have no idea. They think it's coming from the United Nations.

HUME: Why has the U.N. acquiesced in a system that has kept these people sort of ghetto-ized for more than a half century?

GINSBERG: Because of General Assembly resolutions, Brit. The General Assembly passed a resolution number 194 in 1948, which largely said that the refugees either have a right of return to what is their ancestral homes that is now Israel or they have to be compensated. There has been no other resolution ever adopted that have permitted them any other status. And the only country since 1948 that supported the nationality has been Jordan. Lebanon, they're stateless persons. They're stateless persons in Syria. They're stateless persons in Gaza as well as in Egypt. So these countries have never granted them any rights of citizenship.

GINSBERG: There is 59 refugee camps sprinkled around each of the countries, about 18 in Lebanon, 12 in Syria, 15 in Jordan, 22 in Egypt.

HUME: And they look the way they look because the U.N. has built -- with U.N. aid, buildings have been built, utilities provided, that sort of thing.

GINSBERG: Brit, These are the people who are the ones who need the greatest support from the international community to rectify their status because they are providing the hotbed for terrorist activities. They're the ones who we are talking about in terms of relieving their plight. They're the ones who are the most deserving ultimately of a final status in their situation.

HUME: From the Arabs they seem to get the least.

GINSBERG: They get the least from Arabs.

Corruption in the Palestinian Authority is a well known and pervasive problem. Some excerpts from a David Hirst 1997 article from the Guardian Weekly (certainly not a bastion of pro-Israel sentiment) titled Shameless in Gaza:

Tunis was Yasser Arafat's last headquarters in exile, and "the Tunisians" is a nickname which Gazans gave to those, officially known as "returnees", who came with him when, following the Oslo accord he established himself here instead. There are about 10,000 of them, bureaucrats who run his Palestinian Authority, former guerrillas who dominate his enormous security apparatus."

"The Tunisians" have " come home" to the soil of Palestine itself. But the terrible irony is that they are not merely strangers in their own land, they are for the most part disliked, despised, even hated.

But it is not just Hamas and Islamic Jihad, or bigots in general, who feel the shock. Liberals who welcome any challenge to the dour local mores feel it too. For almost everyone, "the Tunisians" are as alien, as unfit to rule, as those-- Turks, British, Egyptians, Israelis -- who came before them. And because they are actually Palestinians, and came as "liberators", the shock is even worse. Arafat's Palestine Revolution never made itself very popular, among governments, elites or even ordinary people of the territories it passed through.

... The [Tunisians] may attract money -- in the form of international aid -- to this poorest of Palestinian communities, but they take at least as much away from it. They are oppressive -- and immeasurably corrupt."

We live in amazing, shameful times," said one of Gaza's merchant princes, and a former Fatah fighter himself, "but you should know that every revolution has its fighters, thinkers and profiteers. Our fighters have been killed, our thinkers assassinated, and all we have left are the profiteers. These don't think even primarily of the cause, they don't think about it at all. They know that they are just transients here, as they were in Tunis, and, as with any regime whose end is near, they think only of profiting from it while they can."

This is a damning indictment, but if any system can be measured by the conduct of its bureaucrats it is a fair one. In fact, the justice of it hits even a casual visitor in the eye. Just go to the district of Rimal. Rimal means "sand", and on this former wasteland there is now arising, at incredible speed, the most up-market neighbourhood of "liberated" Gaza.

You might not think it at first sight; a sand-smothered, refuse- strewn mess of empty lots amid shacks that are disappearing and half-finished concrete monsters that are taking their place, it differs little in spirit from the rest of this desolate, infinitely decrepit and unsightly city.

But it is mainly here that "the Tunisians" have taken root, with their amazing array of "ministries", "authorities" and special "agencies", police stations and sentry posts, choice rooftop apartments, villas and places of entertainment. Here is Arafat's own sea-front bureau - - al-Muntada, The Club -- with all the "presidential" trappings he so adores, and here in the very next building, is the Zahra al-Mada'in cabaret.

Here you will sooner or later run into Suha, his young wife, out for lunch at Le Mirage, an exclusive sea-front restaurant, with her infant daughter and a posse of Force-17 bodyguards. You will run into her, at least, when she is not in Paris, where she does her shopping and can find a decent hairdresser, unlike the first, disastrous Gazan one, who reportedly turned her blonde locks almost orange.

(PHOTO: Palestinians throwing stones. Caption: While ordinary Palestinians continue to fight on the streets against jewish settlements, their rulers are busy lining their own pockets.)

And you are bound to come across Susie, her ample British nanny who affects leopard-skin tights and often has too much to drink, a condition in which she is apt to dispense indiscretions about the presidential household, threatening, some fear, another Middle Eastern nanny scandal of Netanyahu's proportions.

Among the fancy new villas, fanciest is that of Abu Mazen, key negotiator of the ill-fated Oslo accord. It is not clear who paid for this $2 million-plus affair, all balconies and balustrades in gothic profusion, but the graffiti which some irreverent scoundrel scrawled on its wall proclaimed that "this is your reward for selling Palestine".

Lifestyles match. Nabil Shaath, the highly articulate minister of planning much seen on Western TV screens, recently took a wife young enough to be his daughter. He required four receptions to celebrate this event, in Cairo, Gaza -- and two in Jerusalem. Because his Israeli friends could not go to the one in East Jerusalem's Orient House, that "illegal" outpost of the Palestinian Authority, he had another in the Ambassador Hotel.

For salutary contrast with Rimal, just stroll up the coast where, just beyond Le Mirage, you will come upon the awful squalor and open sewers of the Shati' refugee camp, conditions resembling those n which most Gazans live.

There, in a windowless concrete block they call "the cafe", I asked some day labourers, idled by yet another Israeli border closure, whether they thought that Gaza's per capita income, far from rising, had actually fallen by as much as 39 per cent since the Oslo accord. For that is what a recent UN survey says. "More like 75 per cent," one replied. "some no longer think it a shame to send their children out to beg." That also seems to be borne out by the UN report, which records an "alarming" increase in "child labour".

More shocking, really, than the contrast itself is what lies behind it. When he first came here, Arafat said he would turn Gaza into a "new Singapore". Palestinian businessmen, who made their fortunes building the Arab oil states, would help him build his.

But, three years on, it is clear that none will seriously touch it. Not just the Israelis deter them, with their repeated frontier closures that bedevil businessmen as well as workers In truth, Arafat does not want them either. For they would undermine his control, achieved through a combination of police surveillance and money power. So instead of any kind of independent, creative, wealth- producing capitalism, he and his coterie of unofficial economic "advisers" have thrown up a ramshackle, nepotistic edifice of monopoly, racketeering and naked extortion that enriches them as it further impoverishes society at large.

Two years ago, the al-Bahr company barely existed. Al-Bahr means "sea". But Gazans now dub it "the ocean", because, they say, "it is swallowing Gaza whole". Legally speaking, not being officially registered, it should not be operating at all. Yet it is so brazen about its powerful connections that -- to the impotent indignation of the Palestinian "parliament" -- it even uses the Authority's letter heads. It belongs to Arafat, or, more precisely, to his wife Suha and the other "shareholders" who handle his private finances. Al-Bahr -- who else? -- runs the Zahra al-Mada'in nightclub. The premises were supposed to go by open tender to the most qualified bidder. But Arafat just signed a decree placing it in his protege's hands. It is never by fair, and often by quite foul, means that Arafat incorporated moves into real estate, entertainment, computers, advertising, medicine, insurance. Only the most powerful Gazan businessmen can resist its encroachments. It goes chiefly after small and medium fry. These are pressed into "partnership" with al-Bahr.

Al-Bahr is the new, strictly domestic instrument of Arafat's takeover of the Gazan economy. It complements already existing monopolies, for the import of such basic commodities as cement, petrol or flour, which he operates in complicity with the Israelis. For example, out of the $74 for which a ton of cement is sold in Gaza, $17 goes to the Authority, and $17 into his own account in a Tel Aviv bank.

It is no secret what Arafat uses this money for. "I shall give you all you want if you obey and protect me -- and give me all I want." That has always been his message to his nomenklatura, and it has been amazingly successful. For what resistance can be expected from an apparatus whose minister of civil affairs, Jamil Tarifi, a big contractor, goes on building Israeli settlements even as the Palestinian people threaten a new intifada over Har Homa? Or whose high officials use their VIP cars to sail through Israeli checkpoints on their way to the fleshpots of Tel Aviv even as Israel!i border closures rob day labourers of their menial wage?

Rarely can a revolution have degenerated like Arafat's -- and yet survived. It only survives because, in robbing his people to bribe his buraucrats, he has proved so great a commitment to the peace process that the parties on which he now completely depends -- Israelis, Americans, the international community at large -- are willing to ignore, even encourage, his manifest corruptions. The Israelis may be embarrassed by the latest, scandalous revelations of their leading newspaper, Ha'aretz, about the Arafat slush fund that the great peace-maker, Yitzhak Rabin, authorised. But so long as Arafat goes on bending to their conception of the peace, they will go on letting him draw on it.

European governments would be far more embarrassed if it were established that Arafat really does earn far more from al-Bahr and his illicit monopolies than from all their aid combined. But unless the scandal becomes too great, they will go on paying too. But they delude themselves if they think that they can go on propping him up forever. And in this regard, it seems, Arafat and his "Tunisians" are more clear-headed than they are. They know that there is a point beyond which even he cannot go without risking his people's wrath.

Small wonder then that, according to Ha'aretz, a part of Arafat's secret fund is earmarked for "emergency situations", such as a coup or a civil war, in which he, his family and immediate entourage could be forced to flee into exile once more, and re- establish the leadership from there. They know, better than anyone, that the peace process, and all they get out of it, is built, like the Zahra a M ada'in, on nothing more solid than the fine white powdery sands of Rimal.

Correspondent Chanie Luz reports that in an hour-long film screened
yesterday, U.S. Independence Day, a boy from Jenin is seen pushing away a
food package sent by USAID, saying, "Enough with the lies. Tell those liars
that it is better to starve in dignity than to be satiated with
humiliation." Palestinian Media Watch tells of clips showing U.S. and
Israeli flags being burned, as well as scenes of an anti-U.S. demonstration
with the name of President Bush shown dripping with blood, next to a
skull-and-crossbones. Source.

And finally, ask yourself, why doesn't anyone talk about THIS:
Starvation among women in the Muslim community in England: "A young girl
who refuses
to marry the man to whom her father has betrothed her is likely to be (as
several of my patients have been) beaten and starved into submission. Every
Muslim girl whom I meet knows of girls who have been done to death for their
stubbornness in continuing to refuse: sometimes hanged, sometimes strangled,
sometimes thrown from the roof of a building, sometimes burnt. It costs a
father about £5 to put an end to the not very strenuous investigations into
the death of a daughter. "


Sunday, July 28, 2002

Wowie! Dawson has just listed this blog as site of the week! Imshin was last week's site. Welcome new readers, hope you'll find your visit worthwhile, and thank you Dawson!