zaterdag 6 september 2008

Palestijnen eisen 1967 grenzen ook in Oost-Jeruzalem

De Palestijnen houden vast aan heel Oost-Jeruzalem, inclusief de Joodse wijk in de oude stad, Joodse begraafplaats, Klaagmuur en andere voor de Joden zeer belangrijke plaatsen. Ma'an nieuws, een Palestijnse krant, schrijft:
Illegal settlements in East Jerusalem have transformed the city into a patchwork of Jewish and Palestinian areas. Israel unilaterally annexed Jerusalem and a ring of surrounding territory after the occupation of 1967, although Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are not full Israeli citizens.
De belangrijkste Joodse plaatsen liggen in Oost-Jeruzalem, en in 1948 is de Joodse bevolking uit de Oude Stad met geweld verdreven door het door de Britten getrainde en bewapende Jordaanse Legioen. Palestijnse inwoners van Oost-Jeruzalem was na de annexatie door Israël het staatsburgerschap aangeboden, maar dat weigerden de meesten uit protest tegen de annexatie. Toen kregen zij een soort 'permanent residency' status, met een aantal Israëlische rechten op bijvoorbeeld sociale voorzieningen en om vrij door Israël te reizen, maar zonder landelijk stemrecht.

Palestinian leadership rejects Barak's suggestion of Palestinian capital in parts of East Jerusalem
Date: 03 / 09 / 2008  Time:  21:18
Bethlehem - Ma'an - A top Palestinian negotiator rejected a suggestion by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday that Israel might allow certain parts of East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and a member of the Palestinian negotiating team said that East Jerusalem is not an entity that can be separated from the rest of the West Bank.

In an interview with Ma'an, he said that Israel must withdraw from all areas it occupied in 1967. Palestinian negotiators, he said, would accept nothing less.

Barak told Al-Jazeera television in an interview broadcast on Wednesday, "We can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily-populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital that, of course, will include also the neighboring villages around Jerusalem."

Barak did not specify whether this would include all Palestinian neighborhoods, or what would become of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

Asked if a peace agreement is possible before the end of the year, Barak said "I'm not sure whether the gaps are close enough."

Illegal settlements in East Jerusalem have transformed the city into a patchwork of Jewish and Palestinian areas. Israel unilaterally annexed Jerusalem and a ring of surrounding territory after the occupation of 1967, although Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are not full Israeli citizens.

Is Syrië serieus over vrede met Israël?

Is Syrië serieus wat betreft haar toenadering tot Israël? Of zitten daar andere belangen achter, en hoopt Assad de Golan voor 'een koopje' te kunnen krijgen? Onder welke voorwaarden moet Israël vrede met Syrië sluiten? Ami Isseroff bespreekt een artikel uit de Jerusalem Post.
Twee zaken die steeds worden vergeten: Assad zal, hoewel nog jong, niet eeuwig aan de macht blijven en een nieuw regime kan altijd besluiten de vrede op te zeggen.
De bestandlijnen van 1949, waar Syrië naar terug wil, waren niet de oorspronkelijke grenzen tussen Syrië en Israël, want Syrië heeft in 1948 een stukje van Palestina/Israël ingepikt. Daarbovenop eist het de gedemilitariseerde zones op, die ook onderdeel waren van het Britse mandaatgebied Palestina. Israël heeft alle recht om dergelijke eisen te weigeren.
Een belangrijke vraag is ook of opgeven van de Golan een kille vrede waard is zoals met Egypte, waarin de media en politici de walgelijkste dingen, tot en met holocaustontkenning blijven spuien, en culturele en economische samenwerking in tegenspraak met het vredesverdrag wordt vermeden.

Is Syria Serious?

What does Mr. Assad want, and more important, what do we want? Are we really willing to give up the Golan Heights in return for a "peace" like we have with Egypt? Will it really neutralize the threat of Syria permanently?
What Mr. Assad wants, like what everybody wants, is to buy cheap and sell dear, to play off both ends against the middle, to have his peace and eat it. Assad is certainly a good Levantine trader, as his father war. But what is he selling and what are we buying? His merchandise may be defective, and his coins may be counterfeit. The record of the Syrian regime, as the editors point out, is far from encouraging.
The editors write:
IT IS IN Israel's long-term interest to have a peace treaty with Syria - but not at any price. The extent of any withdrawal must parallel the depth of the peace offered.
Not exactly. It was a good phrase when Rabin coined it, but it doesn't apply really. For removing X number of missiles from Lebanon, Israel should not be giving up Y square meters of Golan territory. Even if Assad promises to wipe out Hezbollah entirely, break all ties with Iran and goes straight, we should not be giving up the Galil, and probably not even ceding demilitarized zones that Syria took by force in 1948. Peace must be based on reasonable principles. A peace treaty that establishes the wrong principles is not in Israel's interest. Given the shaky nature of Syrian regimes, it is also a bit naive to talk about long term interests. If we give up the Golan for peace, and then Assad is replaced in a Muslim Brotherhood coup, we will have no peace and no Golan. Yet at the same time, we cannot very well ignore sincere overtures for peace.
Is an appearance in Jerusalem by Assad really the most important thing? If Assad really wants peace, he will offer borders that Israel can live with. Look at the map. All of the Golan in total is a tiny drop in the Syrian land mass. But what held up the peace treaty until now was Syrian insistence on getting a few meters of territory that do not belong to them, and controlling the sea of Galilee. Giving up that demand is probably all that is really needed for peace, and it is more important than Assad's charming presence in Jerusalem, unless Assad is prepared to declare East Jerusalem to be part of Israel. He will not do that, will he?
Ami Isseroff
Something is afoot in Syria, though to judge its significance is a matter of no small complexity. Yesterday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Damascus on the first visit by a Western leader to Syria since the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. He is joined there today by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa for a summit meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Sarkozy's visit comes on the heels of Damascus's declared intention to open an embassy in Beirut for the first time, thereby recognizing Lebanon as something other than Greater Syria. The summit also comes after news that another round of indirect talks between Israel and Syria is set to begin on Sunday.
In an interview on Tuesday with France-3 television, meanwhile, Assad declared that the indirect negotiations with Israel have brought "the possibility of peace," although the two countries still have quite a way to go toward that goal. "Today, we can only say that we have opened the door to peace," he said.
IT IS IN Israel's long-term interest to have a peace treaty with Syria - but not at any price. The extent of any withdrawal must parallel the depth of the peace offered.
Yet we can't help but ponder why Assad's rhetoric veers so unsteadily between belligerence and conciliation.
Israel must be clear-eyed, first of all, on the nature of the Syrian regime, which happens to be engaged in brisk military build-up and procurement. According to Military Intelligence's head of research, Brig.- Gen. Yossi Baidatz, as of June 2007, Syria was "accelerating military acquisition." In late 2006, the US State Department's assistant secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, John C. Rood, testified that Syria was engaged in research and development for an offensive biological warfare program.
Damascus is also a long-standing state sponsor of terrorism, hosting Hamas and other extremist Palestinian organizations. It has not only shipped Iranian weapons to Hizbullah but also supplied it with Russian-made military equipment such as the Kornet anti-tank missile and its own 220mm anti-personnel rockets. Syria has also played a key role as the source of foreign fighters and insurgents infiltrating Iraq.
Although a Kuwaiti newspaper reported this week that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal had left Damascus for Sudan because of Syria's interest in moving along the diplomatic talks with Israel, Jerusalem officials have challenged the claim.
If Assad is making conciliatory sounds now, therefore, perhaps it's not because he has abandoned a belligerent posture, but because it serves his interests and deflects pressure. This, indeed, is a long-established pattern.
In 2004, after the UN passed Security Council Resolution 1559 calling for Syrian departure from Lebanon, the Damascus leadership mentioned the possibility of negotiations with Israel. The next year, just after the Hariri assassination, as the US and France, among others, severed diplomatic ties with Damascus, Assad once again brought up peace with Israel.
Now Assad is once more under intense pressure. Some of it is economic, stemming from a growing fiscal deficit, rising food prices and the ongoing depletion of oil reserves. In April, budgetary problems forced the country to end its traditional gasoline subsidies.
Some of the pressure on Assad comes from human rights groups appalled by the increased repression in Syria. Twelve activists, including Riad Seif, a former member of parliament, are currently on trial for attending a meeting of opposition groups last December. An independent press remains nonexistent.
Most significant of all, however, are the increased political pressures on Syria's Alawite ruling clique. After suffering the great embarrassments of Israel's bombing of an alleged North Korean-supplied nuclear facility in September 2007 and the assassination - five months later, and still unexplained - in Damascus of Hizbullah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh, Assad's regime now fears the international tribunal tasked with prosecuting Hariri's murderers.
Could it be that Assad is once again dangling the possibility of peace with Israel as a way to renew contacts with Washington and Paris and end his international isolation?
Then again, he may be sincere. If so, he should come to Jerusalem, or invite our premier to Damascus, and lay out his peace vision.

Cartoons voor Vrede

Cartoonist Plantu ken ik nog uit mijn oude Solidariteitsagenda (midden jaren '80) waarin hij vooral commentaar leverde op de arm-rijk/noord-zuid relaties. Daar zaten hele scherpe cartoons bij. Een tijdje terug kwam ik cartoons van hem over Israël-Palestina tegen die mij te Israel-bashing waren, althans zo staat het me bij; wat ik nu op zijn site vind valt me weer behoorlijk mee.
Een Israëlische cartoonist zei:
"We are trying to put together people who, let's say, have a common understanding of what should be done with cartoons, or more correctly, what should not be done."
Met dat laatste doelt hij wellicht op de anti-Israël en soms antisemitische cartoons in de Arabische pers, die hier aan de kaak gesteld zijn door bijv. Hans Jansen met dank aan clubs als MEMRI. Uit onderstaand artikel valt op te maken dat er wel degelijk ook Arabische cartonisten zijn die zich voor vrede en dialoog inzetten. Gelukkig maar!

Cartooning in the cause of peace
By Karin Kloosterman  
August 26, 2008^l2248&enPage=BlankPage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=object&enVersion=0&enZone=Democracy&

It might not look like it on CNN, but the majority of people who live in Israel and the region - Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens along with Palestinians - are rooting for peace. There are dozens of projects bringing Arabs and Jews together to show the positive face of the Middle East: Israel has Interns for Peace, Chefs for Peace, Belly Dancers for Peace, bloggers, musicians and even dentists in the name of peace.

One of the latest projects to land in Israel is Cartooning for Peace, founded by famous French political satirist, Jean Plantureux (Plantu). This past June, cartoonists from around the world gathered in Israel and the Palestinian Authority at four simultaneous exhibitions in Ramallah, Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and Holon.

The artists met to share how cartooning can be used as a means for peaceful dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as others in the region including Turks, Algerians and Egyptians. Participants also included Japanese, Americans, and French citizens.

Selected cartoonists, such as Plantu, who works for French paper Le Monde, were present at the event where the artists got a chance to present their work and participate in master classes attended by an audience that included diplomats. The meet was supported in part by the Peres Center for Peace in Israel.

A founding member of Cartooning for Peace, Israeli political cartoonist Michel Kichka, spoke with ISRAEL21c about the importance of the event: "Cartooning for Peace, or any other professional meeting gives you opportunities to talk," he says. "We are trying to put together people who, let's say, have a common understanding of what should be done with cartoons, or more correctly, what should not be done."

Commenting on the recent attacks on cartoonists in Europe, Kichka, who is originally from Belgium, says he personally believes that offending a person's religious beliefs is the lowest form of cartooning, but that the furore showed there is a long way to go in achieving public understanding of a cartoonist's right to free speech.

When cartoonists meet, says Kichka, "We learn nothing can be taken for granted. There is still a fight that has be done. Democracy is not something that should be taken for granted. The freedom of speech should not be taken for granted. We have to fight for it... Even when you mean to be liberal and positive, anything you say [as a cartoonist] can be turned against you."

When the members from Cartooning for Peace gather, it allows people who normally don't meet each other to participate in panels and debates, says Kichka. This last meeting in Israel wasn't the first time he's met with Arab and Palestinian cartoonists, however.

And although it is important for Israelis and the Arab world to meet, it is also important for regional cartoonists to be in touch with Americans, Japanese and other representing nations among the group. Says Kichka, "Through them we understand their culture, country and concerns and can feel how much we have in common and how similar is our fight."

Aliza Savir, deputy director general of the Peres Center, said her organization helped the cartoonists arrange entry permits to Israel and other details. She tells ISRAEL21c: "Humanization of the other side is crucial for any good relations between Jews and Arabs in the future."

Kichka said this past opportunity in Israel, "allowed us to understand what it means to be a cartoonist in a different country, whether in a country with heavy censorship or a democracy in which dissenters deal with sensitive issues. Each cartoonist brought his own experience with him and together we've put together something unique."

vrijdag 5 september 2008

Israël en Hezbollah: Weten wanneer toe te slaan?

Ondanks VN Veiligheidsraad resolutie 1701 blijft Hezbollah - dat inmiddels is herbewapend terwijl Unifil, de VN en de Libanese regering werkeloos toekijken - een serieuze bedreiging voor Israël. De dreiging die van Hezbollah uitgaat belemmert Israël bovendien erin om op te treden tegen de echt grote bedreiging: die van een Iraans atoomwapen.
Israël is echter geen grootmacht zoals China, Rusland of de VS, en zal zich daarom waarschijnlijk geen 'pre-emptive strike' tegen Hezbollah kunnen permiteren, zoals Israel Harel vorige week bepleitte in Haaretz (zie hieronder). Het lijkt niet dat de VS haar daarvoor rugdekking zou geven zoals bij de oorlog in 2006 en zoals China en Rusland regimes als Soedan rugdekking geven.
Een volgende confrontatie met Hezbollah lijkt onvermijdelijk, maar Israël zal alleen kunnen reageren als Hezbollah een eerste zet doet.

Knowing when to strike

By Israel Harel
Last update - 13:54 28/08/2008

Ehud Olmert said during a visit last week to the Home Front Command that "the next war will also reach the cities and homes." "What we will be called on to do," he added, "is bring about a quick victory." But that decisive attack, he qualified, would only occur "if Lebanon turns into a Hezbollah state. [Then] we shall have no restrictions in this context."

In Tehran and Beirut's Dahiya neighborhood, they probably rejoiced at this commitment, and from now on will act in accordance with all it entails. To prevent a preemptive strike by Israel, which would wipe out the missiles threatening its cities, homes, and strategic facilities (Ehud Barak recently declared that Hezbollah already has some 40,000 missiles), Hezbollah (Iran will make sure of this) will not turn Lebanon officially into a Hezbollah state.

That will enable Tehran to utilize Hezbollah, while serving its purposes, to launch its missiles at Israel. And when the hands are the hands of Hezbollah (thus it was in the past and thus, to go by Olmert's statement, it will be in the future), Israel cannot respond to Tehran or Beirut.

Nasrallah, with his customary nerve, replies at once to Olmert: "The Zionists will think tens of thousands of times before attacking." And Mohammed Ra'ed, a senior Hezbollah member, confirmed publicly that the missiles were intended from the start for Iran's consumption. "The first shot at Iran from the Zionist entity," the cat came out of the bag, "will elicit a response of 11,000 missiles from Lebanon."

Israel does not have the aspirations of a superpower, nor is it fighting for the sake of economic interests. But precisely because it is fighting only for its existence, it must prove to every foe, and also friend, that when it comes to protecting the lives of its citizens, it will also resort to preemptive operations and will not take pressure and condemnation into account.

Israel is obligated to demonstrate independence even toward the United States. If Israel were to attack Hezbollah missile installations in Lebanon, presumably the U.S., and certainly the European Union countries, would condemn Israel for attacking a sovereign state. But that is the crux of the matter: Precisely because a terror organization, which bears no responsibility for the fate of Lebanon's residents, is threatening to fire missiles at the Israeli home front, it must be preempted and broken once and for all.

In contrast to the Second Lebanon War, this time Israel must present an ultimatum first: Either the missiles are destroyed, or it will attack. Israel will not permit Iran to attack Tel Aviv and Dimona from Lebanon, and will no longer refrain from repaying those who ordered the missiles launched, Tehran. Israel will also announce that it will not hold back, as it did in the last war, from responding with full force in Lebanon. This is because Hezbollah (Olmert's pronouncement foolishly grants it the promise that if it acts with restraint, Israel will not attack first) is Lebanon, and Lebanon, which capitulates to it and allows it to operate, is Hezbollah.

When the Soviet Union intended to deploy missiles in Cuba, U.S. president John F. Kennedy threatened that the U.S. would respond with all its might. The whole world panicked, and the Kremlin backed down. The Israeli ultimatum need not be aimed directly at Iran; also because it might react irrationally. Those next in line are the ones who initiated Resolution 1701 and failed to enforce its implementation: the United Nations, the U.S., the Middle East Quartet. They are the ones responsible for removing the missiles from Lebanese soil. If they feel that this time Israel means business and will launch an offensive, they are bound to find some way to deal with the missile threat.

If Israel is determined this time, actually only if it is determined, perhaps a preemptive strike will not be necessary. Barack Obama has already understood: Israel must not be made to feel, he said this week, that its back is against the wall. This applies to the danger of missiles from Lebanon as to the danger of missiles and nuclear weapons from Iran. But for others to feel pressured and go ahead and take action, Israel must project the message that if they don't hurry up, nothing will stop it from going ahead and taking action.

Debat in De Standaard: Kritiek op Israël drijft opiniemakers in de pen

Volgens velen wordt een ieder die kritiek uit op Israël steevast door de Israëllobby voor antisemiet uitgemaakt, in een poging de critici de mond te snoeren. Het is een inmiddels grijsgedraaide grammofoonplaat (of beter gezegd: CD), maar critici van Israël kunnen er geen genoeg van krijgen. Beide kanten maken elkaar in discussies voor van alles uit, en het duurt inderdaad nooit zo heel erg lang voordat de Holocaust er door een van beide kanten bij wordt gehaald. Dit gebeurt overigens juist veelvuldig door sympathisanten van de Palestijnen, die menen dat Israël zich vanwege de Holocaust boven de wet verheven voelt en boven kritiek zou staan, die menen dat de Joden nu hetzelfde doen met de Palestijnen als henzelf is aangedaan of die menen dat Israël ten onrechte is gesticht uit schuldgevoel over de Holocaust en wij daarom nu juist voor de Palestijnen moeten opkomen.
Het blijft blijkbaar moeilijk voor mensen om Joden als een gewoon volk te zien met recht op zelfbeschikking en hetzelfde recht om fouten te maken en wreed te zijn als andere volken. Met kritiek op die fouten en wreedheden is natuurlijk niks mis, en maar weinig mensen hebben helemaal geen kritiek op Israël, maar juist de relatie met de Holocaust die veelvuldig wordt gelegd, de hogere eisen die men aan Joden stelt, en stereotyperingen over een almachtige Joodse lobby en vermeende Joodse exclusiviteit maken kritiek op Israël beladen en verdacht. En ik heb zelden een discussie over Israël meegemaakt waarin dat soort zaken niet om de hoek komt kijken.
De eerste regel van onderstaand artikel is eigenlijk al onjuist:
"Maakt de Joodse lobby het debat over Israël onmogelijk of wordt ze er kwaadwillig uit geweerd? Het debat is springlevend."
Er is geen 'de Joodse lobby', er zijn mensen met allerlei meningen over Israël en er zijn verschillende organisaties die het voor Israël opnemen, zoals er ook allerhande Palestina Komité's en werkgroepen en platforms zijn. Waarom is dat geen lobby dan?
Het is overigens positief dat er eindelijk een debat is over dit soort zaken, waarin mensen van beide kanten hun mening geven. Mensen die het voor Israël opnemen worden inderdaad uit veel debatten en bijeenkomsten geweerd, vooral wanneer deze door progressieve partijen en groepen worden georganiseerd. (Op de Belgische Indymedia is een pro-Zionistische stellingname zelfs verboden!)
Dat nota bene het Vlaams Belang deze eenzijdigheid aan de kaak stelt is natuurlijk diep triest, want progressief zijn en sympathie hebben voor Israël sluit elkaar absoluut niet uit, en juist Hezbollah en Hamas zijn uitermate reactionaire bewegingen.

Kritiek op Israël drijft opiniemakers in de pen

BRUSSEL - Maakt de Joodse lobby het debat over Israël onmogelijk of wordt ze er kwaadwillig uit geweerd? Het debat is springlevend.

Ortwin Depoortere (Vlaams Belang) interpelleerde gisteren in de Gentse gemeenteraad over een debattenreeks op de Gentse Feesten, georganiseerd door Eric Goeman. Depoortere vindt de debatten te links en vindt dat de stad daarvoor beter geen schoolgebouwen ter beschikking stelt. Hij verwijst naar een debat over Israël, waar volgens hem enkel anti-Israëlische sprekers uitgenodigd waren.

Extreemrechts als bondgenoot van de pro-Israëllobby, tegen de vrije meningsuiting? Het Platform voor vrije meningsuiting, waar ook Eric Goeman deel van uitmaakt, is allerminst verwonderd en reageert met een open brief. De pro-Israëlische lobby probeert volgens de ondertekenaars van de brief 'ook in ons land al geruime tijd de critici van de Israëlische bezettings- en annexatiepolitiek de mond te snoeren'. Het wapen dat de lobbymachine daarbij hanteert, is Israël-critici antisemitisme te verwijten, een middel dat werkt, want 'niemand wil in verband worden gebracht met die zwarte bladzijden uit de Europese geschiedenis'. De lobby, die zo al succesvol verschillende kritische acties monddood heeft gemaakt, gedraagt zich volgens het platform bovendien steeds agressiever en vindt - ironisch genoeg - zelfs steun bij extreemrechts. De brief is ondertekend door bijna negentig academici, auteurs en opiniemakers.

Op de open brief kwam onmiddellijk reactie van het Platform voor faire meningsuiting. Dit tweede platform geeft het eerste gelijk: 'Kritiek op Israël is geen antisemitisme.' Helaas kan eenzijdige en ongenuanceerde kritiek wél leiden tot antisemitisme en heel wat organisaties 'die er een aparte wereldvisie op nahouden' organiseren 'projecten waarbij de Joodse staat het keer op keer moet ontgelden' en waarin geen tegenstem te horen is. En dat is onfair, vindt het platform. De Israëllobby maakt het serene debat niet onmogelijk, er is gewoon geen debat, want de helft van de argumenten wordt nooit gehoord. Een schare opiniemakers, schrijvers en academici ondertekenden op hun beurt deze brief. (wwo)

Blz. 18 Opinie.

Antieke zuidmuur Jeruzalem uit de Tweede Tempel periode ontdekt

Even iets anders. Wij kregen eens een -overigens anonieme- vraag op onze blog waarop de Palestijnse bewering gebaseerd is, dat Jeruzalem en de Tempelberg géén oude Joodse heligdommen zouden zijn:
"Interessante uitspraak, uiteraard zeer gevoelig en garant voor een hoop ophef. Mijn vraag is: is dit ooit onderzocht? Wat staat er in de geschiedenisboeken? Als zoveel mensen geloven dat de joden geen connectie met Jeruzalem hebben dan moet dat die gedachtegang toch op bepaalde bewijzen zijn gebaseerd toch? Jammergenoeg zie ik niks daarvan in het geschreven stukje. Weet iemand toevallig een website oid met informatie hierover?"
(Nadruk door mij)
Het antwoord is een duidelijk nee. Die 'gedachtegang' is niet op bepaalde bewijzen gebaseerd, maar op achterlijkheid, godsdienstwaan en schaamteloze propaganda met politieke doeleinden.
De vraag wat er in de geschiedenisboeken staat is te simpel voor woorden. Ik zou zeggen: lees er eens één....
Hieronder een bericht over de jongste ontdekking in de Oude Stad. Klik op de link onderaan voor afbeeldingen.
September 3, 2008

Press Release

The Southern Wall of Jerusalem that Dates to the Time of the 2nd temple was Discovered on Mount Zion

The southern end of ancient Jerusalem, from when the city was at its largest, was recently discovered in the form of an impressive city wall 2,100 years old

A large excavation which is being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority together with the Nature and Parks Authority, and underwritten by the Ir David
Foundation, was presented in a press conference that was held today (Wednesday)

An exciting discovery in Jerusalem constituting extraordinary remains of the wall of the city from the time of the Second Temple (second century BCE-70 CE) that was built by the Hasmonean kings and was destroyed during the Great Revolt, and also the remains of a city wall from the Byzantine period (324-640 CE) which was built on top of it, were uncovered in an extensive excavation that is currently underway on Mount Zion. The lines of these fortifications delineated Jerusalem from the south in periods when the ancient city had reached its largest size.

The new finds were presented today (Wednesday) at a press conference that was held on Mount Zion. The excavation has been in progress for the past year and a half, under the direction of archaeologist Yehiel Zelinger of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and with financial support provided by the Ir David Foundation.

The project is being implemented as part of the master plan for the Jerusalem City Wall National Park, the purpose of which is to preserve the region around the Old City of Jerusalem as an open area for tourism. In the future the remains of the ancient city walls will be incorporated in a promenade that will encircle the southern side of Mount Zion and will continue along the northern bank of Gai Ben Hinnom and terminate in the City of David.

The lines of the wall that delineate Mount Zion from the west and the south were first discovered and excavated at the end of the nineteenth century (1894-1897) by the Palestine Exploration Fund, under the direction of the archaeologist Frederick Jones Bliss and his architect assistant, Archibald Dickie. The work methods they employed involved the excavation of shafts that were linked by subterranean tunnels which ran along the outer face of the city walls.

Over the years their shafts and tunnels have filled up with soil and a year and a half ago when archaeologists were asked to determine the location of the areas that were excavated one hundred years ago they were unsuccessful in doing so. By cross-referencing the plans of the old excavation with updated maps of the area from today archaeologist Yehiel Zelinger was able to locate the tunnel which the British expedition had dug. There remained in it "souvenirs" that were left behind by the early excavators in the form of one of the laborer's shoes, the top of a gas light which was used to illuminate the tunnels, as well as fragments of beer and wine bottles from 120 years ago.

According to Yehiel Zelinger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "Having located the two city walls on Mount Zion corroborates our theory regarding the expansion of the city toward the south during these two periods, when Jerusalem reached its largest size. In the Second Temple period the city, with the temple at its center, was a focal point for Jewish pilgrimage from all over the ancient world and in the Byzantine period it attracted Christian pilgrims who came in the footsteps of the story of the life and death of their messiah. The exposure of the Hasmonean city wall and the line of fortifications from the Byzantine period, which is dated 400 years later and is right on top of the former, prove that this is the most advantageous topographic location for the defense of the city. The artifacts indicate that in spite of the fact that the builders of the Byzantine wall were unaware of the existence of the wall from the time of the Second Temple they constructed their wall precisely along the same route". Zelinger adds, "The fact that after 2,100 years the remains of the first city wall were preserved to a height of three meters is amazing. This is one of the most beautiful and complete sections of construction in the Hasmonean building style to be found in Jerusalem".

Additional Information and Details

The Byzantine Period City Wall
Christian pilgrims of the fifth and sixth centuries CE ascribe the line of the city wall's construction to the Empress Eudocia, the estranged wife of Emperor Theodosius II. According to the historical sources of this period, the city wall was erected because of a biblical verse that appears in the Book of Psalms (51:20), "Do good in thy favor unto Zion; Build Thou the walls of Jerusalem". In translating the Bible to Greek the word that meant "do good in thy favor" was translated with a word that greatly resembled the name of the empress. Eudocia therefore concluded that the reference was explicitly intended for her and that it was she who was destined to build the walls of Jerusalem. In the excavation a section of the city wall was uncovered that rises to a maximum height of 3.30 meters and is approximately 2.50 meters wide. The wall was built of stones that were specifically quarried and dressed for this purpose; however, one can also discern some of the stones in its construction were probably taken from nearby ancient fortifications.

The Fortifications of the Second Temple Period
South of the line of fortifications from the Byzantine period and at a depth of approximately 4 meters below the elevation of its base, a tower that is preserved to a height of 3.20 meters was exposed which dates to the time of the Hasmonean Dynasty (the Second Temple period). The tower was built on the bedrock which was straightened and made fairly level. It was constructed of large stones that are characterized by a dressed boss in their center, with no bonding material between them. The "header-stretcher" construction method used in building the tower is typical of the Hasmonean period. The tower was part of the line of the "First Wall" that is described by Josephus. Other sections of the "First Wall" were revealed at the base of the western wall of the Ottoman city wall, in David's Citadel and in other excavations that were conducted in the Jewish Quarter. The soil fill and the pottery sherds that abut the city wall prove that it was used until the time of the Great Revolt and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the year 70 CE.
Afterwards, the stones of the wall were taken for secondary use, probably in order to build "Aelia Capitolina", the Roman colony which the emperor Hadrian established on the ruins of Jerusalem in the year 131 CE.

Link for downloading images:

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Palestijnse minister van BuZa pessimistisch over vredesakkoord

Verschillende partijen en groeperingen in Israël gaan steigeren bij de gedachte aan een vredesakkoord waarbij Israël belangrijke gebieden in de Westoever en Oost-Jeruzalem zou prijsgeven. Dat is echter het enige vredesakkoord dat überhaupt mogelijk is, en een regering die meer vertrouwen van de bevolking geniet dan de huidige, en die voldoende veiligheidsgaranties en andere compromissen van de Palestijnen in ruil krijgt, zou waarschijnlijk kunnen rekenen op steun van een meerderheid van de bevolking voor zo'n akkoord.
De tegenstanders hebben echter waarschijnlijk weinig te vrezen: de Palestijnse positie is al gedurende het hele onderhandelingsproces zo onbuigzaam dat er weinig compromissen te verwachten lijken. De al dan niet voortgaande nederzettingenbouw -volgens mij is die toch grotendeels bevroren buiten Jeruzalem- lijkt daarbij vooral als excuus te worden gebruikt.

PA minister: No agreement on any issue

Not a single word has been set on paper and there is no real agreement on the smaller points, let alone the core issues, of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said on Wednesday.

Negotiations between the two sides continue on almost a daily basis in an effort to reach a deal by the end of 2008, Malki told the Israel Council on Foreign Relations in Jerusalem.

He struck a pessimistic note when he added that "until this moment," with four months left to go until that deadline, "they [the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators] did not start writing one single word on paper. The reason for this is that they do not really agree on any issue or sub-issue yet.

"But they are trying very hard and they have exchanged positions, ideas and maps," Malki said.

His words were echoed by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, who had been originally scheduled to address the council but at the last moment sent Malki in his stead.

In a statement that was read by Malki to the council, Fayad said, "I fear that the two-state solution is losing currency among both our peoples and with the world community beyond."

Extremists could take over the institutions of both sides, he said.

Their words followed a meeting on Sunday between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that was likely their last face-to-face exchange before the Kadima primary on September 17.

Israeli officials discounted Malki's pessimism, saying that progress had been made on important issues such as final borders and that it was logical that nothing had yet been formally set in writing, although clearly there were portions of negotiations' contents that had been written down.

In what is seen as a sign of significant progress toward resolving the issue of settlement expansion, the cabinet is set to discuss an evacuation-compensation plan for settlers in Judea and Samaria on Sunday, according to the Prime Minister's Office.

The initiative, first proposed by Labor and Meretz politicians years ago and being handled at the cabinet level by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, would compensate settlers who move within the Green Line.

Sources in Kadima said the decision to discuss the initiative was politically motivated.

"This government's days are numbered and there is no place for [discussing Ramon's initiative] before the diplomatic process has developed. This move seems to [have been] planned by someone who wants to prevent Olmert's successor from forming a coalition with Shas or other nationalist parties.

"The discussion comes too soon, and [the] political aim and timing, on the Ramon-Olmert axis, is not coincidental," the sources said.

This is the first time that the proposal has reached the cabinet level. According to left-wing groups that have worked on this issue, such as One House, thousands of settlers would be willing to evacuate peacefully in return for compensation.

The main opposition to Ramon's plan is expected to come from Shas and other hawkish coalition partners who believe that no decision on the issue should be made less then two weeks before the primary after which the prime minister is expected to make good on his word and resign.

The plan is also expected to be fiercely opposed by the Likud, National Union-National Religious Party and Israel Beiteinu.

The Prime Minister's Office said, however, that there was no intention of making a decision on the subject right away and that no vote would be held on the issue at the present time.

"The prime minister wants to hear what his ministers have to say," Olmert's staff said in a statement.

The spokesman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said, "The only evacuation pending is the evacuation of the government for the failures it has brought the citizens of Israel."

Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, at a Kadima primary campaign event in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening, came out against dealing with the evacuation and compensation bill now, saying it would be possible to push it forward only after "we know what the borders will be."

"Only after the road map [peace plan] is implemented will it be possible to be move to the next level," she said.

Livni's main rival in the Kadima race, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, came out "adamantly" against the proposal. "This is a law that weakens Israel, and weakens its position in the negotiations, and I will not support it," he said.

Sources close to Mofaz said the timing of bringing the bill to the cabinet now was odd, and indicated some discussions in the negotiations with the PA that Livni was heading were being kept from the public.

The sources said Livni should let the public know what was being discussed and "stop talking in two voices."

The cabinet discussion comes amidst harsh criticism by the Palestinians on Wednesday, including from Fayad and Malki, of settlement construction, which they say has increased sharply since the latest round of talks began in November 2007 in Annapolis, Maryland, contrary to Israel's agreement to refrain from such activity.

Such building destroyed the viability of a future Palestinians state, so "we understand by such actions that Israel does not want a viable state to be created," Malki said.

He declined to say what options the PA would consider should the idea of a two-state solution fall apart. But despite the dire warnings from Palestinian leaders that the two-state solution would soon be doomed, "We have to believe that a two-state solution is possible, but it depends on the attitude and the behavior of the Israeli government," Malki said.

Fayad said in the statement that Israel had to choose between settlements and a two-state solution.

The Palestinians, Malki said, were committed to reaching a peace accord by the end of 2008. It was possible, he said, if there was a desire on the Israeli side, that negotiations could continue in 2009 if that deadline was not met.

"I need the same assurances from the Israeli side and the international community. I do not know if the international community will maintain its interest in pursuing peace in 2009 as it did in 2008, he said.

He worried in particular that with the recent world events such as Russia's entry into Georgia, that the international community would lose its interest in solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"We do need them here [the international community] he told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting. "We cannot progress in any way without them."

The Palestinians, Malki told the council, were committed to working for peace now, 10 years from now and 100 years from now, because peace between them and the Israelis was in everyone's interest.

"We will do our utmost to achieve it," he said, adding, "The sooner the better."

For the Palestinians, he said, that solution means a withdrawal to the pre-1967 border. When it came to Jerusalem, where that border ran through the city, Malki said he respected Israel's decision to make Jerusalem its capital just as he hoped that Israel would likewise respect the Palestinians' decision that it was their capital as well.

"I do believe that Jerusalem is so important and so holy for all of us. You know that we could share [it]," he said.

Gaza was also an important part of the future Palestinian state, Malki said. "We have said it very clearly from the beginning that the problem in Gaza is a problem that we are determined to solve and we will solve it in due time."

Should a final-status agreement be reached with Israel, it would be the PA's responsibility to bring Gaza back under the PA's control, he said.

As an initial step in that direction, Abbas called in June for the start of a national dialogue among all the Palestinians factions, including Hamas. The PA had asked Egypt to create the "positive conditions and atmosphere" for such a dialogue, Malki said.

Even today, Egypt was working on a bilateral level with the representatives of the various factions to see if a national dialogue could be held under the umbrella of the Arab League.

"We are hopeful that all the factions will adhere to such an initiative and that this initiative will result in ending the separation between Gaza and the West Bank and will bring Gaza back under the full authority of the government leadership," Malki said.

Once Gaza and the West Bank were reunited, one of the first steps would be the creation of a coalition government that was not partisan and not factional, he said.
At that time the PA security services would be restructured.

It would also be helpful to have a pan-Arab force deployed in Gaza to help ensure order. It is an idea, said Malki, which has the support both of the PA and of Egypt.

He said he planned to raise the matter at the September 8 meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, should Egypt fail to open a debate on the issue.

"We will assess then exactly if this idea is possible and practical and under what conditions," Malki said.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

Olmert stelt internationale betrokkenheid voor in onderhandelingen over Jeruzalem

Abbas and his closest aides presented Olmert's emissaries with a series of reservations, and argued that they were being offered a "partial agreement" of the kind that will weaken Abbas. They also said that "the timing is not good for an agreement at this time."
Dit is tekenend voor de houding van de Palestijnen. Terwijl Israel met allerlei voorstellen komt en naar oplossingen zoekt, komt men met slappe excuses aanzetten. Waarom is de timing niet goed? Waarom zou die straks beter zijn? Als er onoverkomelijke bezwaren zijn, moet men die eerlijk op tafel leggen, en eerlijk tegen de Amerikanen zeggen dat al hun pogingen de partijen tot een overeenkomst te brengen vergeefse moeite zijn.
Shas heeft eerder gedreigd uit de coalitie te stappen als er over Jeruzalem onderhandeld zou worden. Dat lijkt onontkoombaar.

Shas chief: Olmert has no authority to decide the fate of Jerusalem

By Aluf Benn, Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
Last update - 10:56 31/08/2008

Hours before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was to suggest international involvement in negotiations over Jerusalem in a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said Sunday that the prime minister has no legal or public authority to make a deal with the Palestinians, and certainly not to decide the fate of Jerusalem.

"The leadership of the Palestinian Authority is virtual," Yishai said. "Any agreement with them will be the basis for more terror. It is clear to everyone that Jerusalem's fate cannot be negotiated like it was a currency, and certainly not with international participation."

The Olmert-Abbas meeting, scheduled for Sunday in Jerusalem, will likely be their final session before the Kadima primary on September 17, after which Olmert will step down from his post.

Olmert was expected to try convincing the Palestinian leader to accept an agreement of principles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that will represent a framework for a two-state solution.

As far as Olmert is concerned, the talks with Abbas have entered the "final straight" and there are about two weeks left to reach an agreement before the prime minister steps down.

However, veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Saturday that he does not expect the two sides to conclude a joint document during September.

Erekat made the comments Saturday following various reports that the Bush administration would like to present a joint document of understandings between Israel and the PA before the UN General Assembly in September.

Central in Olmert's proposal to the Palestinians is that the talks on sovereignty and control over the holy sites in Jerusalem be held under an international umbrella, where governments and other interested parties will be able to contribute their views. The negotiations will be held directly between Israel and the Palestinians, and international parties will not be able to impose their views on a solution. The role of the international parties would be to bolster the agreement that the two sides will agree upon in direct negotiations.

According to Olmert's proposal, a five-year timetable will be set out for completing a settlement on Jerusalem.

Olmert's proposal, which was discussed in recent talks with Abbas, is meant to bridge his promise to coalition partner Shas that Jerusalem will not be raised during the current round of talks, and the Palestinian demands that any agreement between the two sides would include mention of "all the core issues" - borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem.

The solution offered by the prime minister is to agree to a mechanism for discussing the issue of Jerusalem, and delay the substantive talks on the subject to the future.

This is the first time that Israel has proposed involving international parties on the Jerusalem issue, even if their role will be limited to a consultative one. The idea was raised during the Camp David talks of 2000, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat argued that he does not have a mandate to decide the future of the holy sites - which are important to the entire Muslim world - and rejected the offer of then-prime minister Ehud Barak to divide Jerusalem.

Olmert's proposal is meant to gain broad backing for the Palestinian leadership's decisions, and prevent any collapse of the agreement because of opposition from other countries and religious groups.

Olmert is probably planning to include in the negotiations members of the international Quartet (the U.N., U.S., EU and Russia), as well as Jordan, Egypt, the Vatican and possibly the king of Morocco. From Israel's point of view, broadening the international, inter-faith element only increases the chances of finding an acceptable agreement, even though there is risk in involving parties who are opposed to Israel's sovereign control over the holy sites in Jerusalem.

The prime minister presented his detailed proposal to the Palestinians to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Jerusalem last Tuesday. Rice told Olmert that "it is a very generous plan" for the Palestinians and discussed it with Abbas, with whom she met several hours after her talks with Olmert. Olmert told Rice that he presented his plan to Abbas a month ago, but the PA president had still not given him a final answer.

In the past few weeks, Olmert sent a number of emissaries to Abbas and his aides, in an attempt to convince them to adopt the plan. Among the emissaries were Vice Premier Haim Ramon, MK Yossi Beilin and U.S. businessman Daniel Abraham, a personal friend of the prime minister.

Abbas and his closest aides presented Olmert's emissaries with a series of reservations, and argued that they were being offered a "partial agreement" of the kind that will weaken Abbas. They also said that "the timing is not good for an agreement at this time."

In response, Olmert's emissaries said that an agreement will allow Abbas to present an achievement ahead of the PA presidential elections scheduled to take place in January 2009.

Barak biedt Arabische wijken Jeruzalem aan voor Palestijnse hoofdstad

Israel komt de laatste weken met een aantal voorstellen en compromissen, in de hoop zo nog dit jaar een principe-akkoord met de Palestijnen te kunnen sluiten.
Na een vredesvoorstel waarin niet over Jeruzalem werd gesproken en een voorstel om bij de bespreking van Jeruzalem adviseurs van buiten te betrekken, biedt men nu concreet aan dat sommige Arabische wijken van Jeruzalem deel kunnen worden van de hoofdstad van een Palestijnse staat.
Als de Palestijnen nou ook met compromissen en redelijke tegenvoorstellen komen, is er misschien zowaar weer een beetje hoop. 

Last update - 20:07 03/09/2008      
Barak: Arab parts of J'lem could become Palestinian capital

By Reuters and Haaretz Service

Some Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem could become the capital of a future Palestinian state as part of a final peace agreement, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

Barak did not say whether these neighborhoods would include all of Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of the state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"We can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily-populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital that, of course, will include also the neighboring villages around Jerusalem," Barak told Al-Jazeera television.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks were launched last November by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the goal of reaching an agreement in 2008.

But the negotiations have been marred by violence, as well as disputes over Jewish settlement building and Olmert's insistence that the fate of Jerusalem be decided later.

"I'm not sure whether the gaps are close enough," Barak said when asked if a deal was possible this year.

The talks have been thrown into further doubt by Olmert's announcement that he would step down as prime minister once his centrist Kadima party elects a new leader later this month.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem, including some surrounding areas in the occupied West Bank, to be its capital.

Israel wants to hold onto several major Jewish settlement blocs. Palestinians say these and other settlements will deny them a viable state.

Olmert and some of his closest advisers have hinted in the past that Israel would consider turning over outlying Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem in a future deal.

As prime minister in 2000, Barak presided over peace talks in Camp David that broke down amid violence. The then-premier first raised the issue of relinquishing Arab parts of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians near the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

"It will be Jerusalem and al-Quds, one next to the other, as two capitals," Barak said in 2000.

Kibboets revival in Israël

Eindelijk eens goed nieuws uit Israël:
Er kwamen zoveel nieuwe mensen bij in de Kibboetsiem, dat deze ze geen huisvestig kunnen bieden.
Er is veel veranderd in de kibboets, met meer ruimte voor het individu en verschillen in eigendom (vroeger was er geen privé-bezit), maar de beweging is niet dood, en het is juist het collectieve en de saamhorigheid die ook hun aantrekkingskracht vormt. Het is in feite het meest succesvolle socialistische experiment, dat zich van onderop heeft ontwikkeld.
Kibbutzim enjoy long-awaited comeback as defectors come home
By Haaretz Staff and Channel 10
Last update - 21:37 03/09/2008 10 daily feature for September 2, 2008.
Shahar Bookman recently packed up his Jerusalem home to move his family to Kibbut Yizrael, where he was raised.

Shahar isn't alone. After Israeli society spent the better part of the last two decades mourning the death of the kibbutz, the collective communities that lay the foundations for the state are enjoying a comeback.

Last year, 1,500 new members joined kibbutzim around the country. Adults who grew up on the kibbutz and left comprise roughly 60 percent of that number.

Related articles:
  • Kibbutzim seek to revive declining community tradition - Passover seders
  • As volunteers come in droves, Kibbutzim run out of room to house them
  • The kibbutz movement - round two

    donderdag 4 september 2008

    Hamas leider Meshaal verlaat Syrië voor Soedan

    Een teken dat Syrië serieus vrede wil, of in ieder geval bereid is een teken van 'goodwill' te geven. Naast het wegsturen van Meshaal zal men ook de politieke en militaire steun aan Hamas en ook Hezbollah moeten stopzetten, maar het is een goed begin.

    Last update - 16:55 02/09/2008      
    Hamas leader Meshal 'leaves Syria for Sudan'
    Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported Tuesday that Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal has left Damascus to live in Sudan at Syria's request, in a move stemming from Syria's desire to advance indirect peace talks with Israel.

    The paper quoted Palestinian sources stating that the move was part of a secret deal between Meshal and the Syrian authorities. Meshal has been based in Damascus since his expulsion from Jordan some ten years ago.

    Israeli sources believe that the move signals a serious desire on Syria's part to advance the negotiations.
    A Damascus-based Hamas official denied the report, saying "media reports that Hamas' politburo chief, Khaled Meshal, and other members will move to Sudan are false." He spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

    Israel and Syria announced in May that they were holding indirect peace talks under Turkish auspices. Since then, senior officials in Jerusalem have stated that Syria has carried out a number of measures that reflect that it is taking talks with Israel seriously.

    One of Israel's key demands in the negotiations is that Syria break off its contacts with Palestinian militants groups, in particular Meshal's Hamas.

    Het belang van het Israëlische thuisfront

    Israëls kracht was traditioneel niet alleen gelegen in de militaire overwinningen van het leger op het slagveld, maar ook in de onverzettelijkheid en standvastigheid van de bevolking. Men doorstond bombardementen, aanslagen, aanvallen, en allerhande dreigementen en oproepen tot vernietiging zonder van zijn stuk te raken. Dit lijkt de laatste jaren te zijn veranderd.
    Een reden is dat met de groei van de welvaart en Westerse levensstandaard ook de bereidheid allerlei ontberingen te doorstaan afneemt, maar belangrijker wellicht nog is dat het vertrouwen dat politiek en leger doen wat ze kunnen is afgenomen. Alom wordt de uitkomst van de Libanonoorlog geweten aan incompetentie van het politieke en militaire leiderschap, domme fouten, slechte voorbereidingen en verkeerde inschattingen. Bovendien was, om paniek te voorkomen, officieel de oorlog niet uitgeroepen, waardoor een aantal praktische zaken niet goed waren geregeld. Onderstaande analyse van Ami Isseroff gaat in op het belang van het thuisfront.

    The Israeli Home Front

    The INSS article (The Civilian Front: In Search of the Right Positioning)  by Meir Elran about the home front in Israel raises a very important issue, but it also shows that the author, and perhaps the government, have not learned all the real and somewhat unpleasant lessons of the Second Lebanon War,
    The problem was not just organizational and bureaucratic and budgetary as the author seems to think. It is not a matter of the right bureaucrats or the right gadgets only, and the problem is in large part not due to the new nature of the threat. The author hints at the real problem when he writes:
    The absence of clear leadership of the civilian front is not just a matter of budget.
    In general, the problem is indeed not just a matter of budget, nor is the lack of clear leadership limited to the civilian front, nor is it just a problem of bad government. Government reflects society though it also affects society. Israel lacks all the things that Meir Elran points out because of an underlying problem. The lack of progress in remedying problems since the Second Lebanon war is pervasive. It is not due to many coincidental single point failures. It indicates a more basic malaise.
    The ability of citizens to withstand attack is a vital strategic asset, a lesson demonstrated in Britain and the USSR in World War II. For most of Israel's history, the staunch forebearance of Israeli civilianss has been one of our greatest and most important assets. Israel underwent bombing and shelling of civilian populations since 1948. The Egyptians bombed Tel Aviv , and the Jordanians and Arab irregulars shelled Jerusalem and many other places in the Israel War of Independence. Whole communities were wiped out, or withstood pounding by massed artillery and air attacks, but the spirit of the people never broke. On May 15, 1948, Ben-Gurion broadcast to the United States. The Egyptian bombs could be heard in the background. Afterwards, Ben Gurion toured Tel Aviv and watched the anxious subdued citizens cleaning up and looking for survivors. He said "Eyleh Ya'amdu" - these will stand.
    During and prior to the Six day war communities in northern Israel were subject to massive Syrian bombardment. There was no question of panic. The Palestinians who planned the violence that began in 2000 were likewise convinced that a few suicide bombings would cause Israelis to panic and sue for peace. They found they were grievously mistaken. A good part of this exemplary behavior was due to the conviction that the Israeli government was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of its citizens and the defense of the country. This unwritten contract is the basis of every society in times of emergency.
    Since then however, something may have changed. In the Second Lebanon War, there was a problem of morale that did not exist in any previous war, of a magnitude much greater than the reaction to Iraqi Scud attacks in 1991, the reaction to the "Intifada II" or any other other crisis.  This psychological problem was bigger than any objective issue. It became an objective issue.  Foreign observers pointed out that Israel's relatively low casualty rate was due in part to our excellent civil defense mechanisms, but Israelis complain about poor civil defense. We expect more from our government and our army than is customary in other countries. The complaint was not just about objective hardship, but about failure of the government and the IDF to live up to the contract.  
    Of course, the shelters could have been better, and in some cases there really was a problem of negligence. But the big problem was fear and panic. FDR said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," and this applies to Israel as well. Because of the panic, municipal workers abandoned their posts, and this made it difficult to organize basic services and rescure efforts in some places. The panic was also spread deliberately by cynical media manipulation. One TV channel showed a hysterical woman getting into a taxi with her baby, crying and screaming. One time it was news perhaps. But the channel showed this footage over and over, creating the impression of massive panic.
    The government, for its part, behaved irresponsibly. Because no war was declared (to save money evidently as well as supposedly to prevent panic) no emergency measures were in place. There was no plan to unite all the TV and radio stations into a single emergency network. There were no  emergency orders to keep municipal workers at their posts. In this situation, the only real resource should have been the fortitude and level-headedness of the Israeli people. Too many, unfortunately, lost their cool, perhaps because they sensed that the leadership was incompetent and insensitive.
    Likewise in Sderot and all over the Western Negev, the government has failed to provide for reasonable civil defense and failed to take measures to eliminate the threat of rocket attacks. Pressure from civilians under bombardment forced the government to conclude a disadvantageous truce with the repugnant Hamas, a truce that could be broken at any time. Israel can't invade Gaza among other reasons, because the invasion would subject civilians to a huge rocket barrage, and the civilians are not physically or psychologically ready to withstand this barrage. As the Hamas is improving their armory, it is likely that when the fighting is renewed larger and more destructive rockets will target not only Sderot and kibbutzim, but large towns such as Ashkelon and Ashdod. In the absence of any realistic defense, the rockets will create an intolerable situation. Investing in military toys like the Iron Dome system is not a complete or adequate solution. Iron Dome is expensive and won't be effective for all types of rockets and for mortar fire.
    It is really not possible to legislate and organize dedication, patriotism and calmness in a crisis, and allocating more money and making more committees can only be of limited use in this context. Nor is it possible to legislate courageous, wise and competent government.  However, clear legislation and efficient automatic mechanisms can help to prevent panic and can substitute for inexperienced, incompetent or faint hearted leaders. The population of Jerusalem in 1948 were not all steely eyed Zionist patriots. Their resolution was ensured by administrative measures and by the resolute leadership of Dov Yosef, mayor of Jerusalem and by the orders of Ben Gurion.
    We are not always blessed with such leaders. The law should ensure that any such conflict is declared a war or emergency situation automatically, not as the result of an arbitrary government decision. The law should ensure heavy penalties and disbarment from further public employment for anyone who leaves their post. The law should ensure that all media are united in a single network, and should provide an efficient mechanism for correcting problems like the locked shelters of Safed, which mysteriously remained padlocked for many days despite repated compaints. Sometimes the "mechanism" needed is only a hammer and screwdriver to break open a padlock. Some initiative should also be shown by citizens.
    The other very practical measures that Meir Elran recommends are very important. They require money. It is no secret that very little has been done to correct the problems uncovered over two years ago in the Lebanon war, or to reinforce the towns and kibbutzim around Gaza, because funds are allocated elsewhere and nobody really cares anyway. The ultraorthodox are more adamant about funding for their Yeshivot, so the Yeshivot get the funding that could go for shelters and civil defense measures. But even with the best preparation, the home front will only be as strong as the fortitude of the civilians and their resolution to keep calm in adversity.
    All of the foregoing relates to wars that may occur with enemies who have relatively innocuous weapons, as was the case in the Lebanon War. It would be a grave error, though a common one, to prepare for the previous war. We have to assume that at the very least, as Mr. Nasrallah promises, Hezbollah rockets will be able to reach Tel Aviv and the center of Israel. If we are to be really prepared, we have to undertake the renovation or construction of tens of thousands of shelters.  Add to this the possibility of nuclear or chemical warfare, and the really huge potential demands of civil defense become obvious, and perhaps unmanageable. If large sums are expended on defense and their is no war, then critics will insist that money was wasted, as they did say regarding the distribution of gas masks in Israel. For that matter, when there was no war for a few years, people began insisting that defense is a waste of money, and the funds would better be spent on their own favorite projects. But really, it seems better to "waste" money on nuclear shelters and measures to combat chemical and biological warfare then to be caught without them when they are needed.
    Elran wrote:
    The prime minister was right in suggesting that "we do not have to frighten ourselves too much about threats." But at the same time, the present period of relative tranquility must be exploited to prepare for the effective response needed on the civilian home front as well as on the military front.
    The Prime Minister doesn't seem to be worried about threats at all, and certainly there is no danger he will be too frightened. If he lived in Sderot or Kiriat Shmona, he might at least be frightened enough to do something about it.
    Ami Isseroff

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    PA televisie toont kinderen een wereld zonder Israël

    Voor de meeste Palestijnen is heel Israël eigenlijk Palestina, zijn Israëlische steden Palestijnse steden en ligt het Meer van Galilea in Palestina. Dat is wat dit conflict anders maakt dan de vrijheidsstrijd van de Basken, Amazigh, Koerden of Tchetchenen, of welke etnische strijd dan ook. Nog los van het feit dat de Palestijnse strijd vaak bijzonder gewelddadig is geweest, wil men een ander, bestaand land, overnemen en dus ontmantelen of vernietigen. Ondanks het feit dat de PLO in 1993 officiëel (niet 1988 zoals sympathisanten van de Palestijnen veelal beweren) Israël erkende, en ondanks het feit dat ook Abbas zegt een tweestatenoplossing voor te staan, wordt in Palestijnse media, in schoolboeken en op TV heel Israël als Palestina neergezet.
    Het gaat gewapende groeperingen als de aan Fatah geliëerde Al Aqsa Martelaren Brigades, de Hamas, het Volksfront voor de Bevrijding van Palestina etc. dan ook niet om de in 1967 door Israël bezette gebieden maar om heel Israël. Het is vreemd dat velen aan dat feit voorbij gaan en doen alsof het slechts om de 1967 bezetting gaat. De meeste Palestijnen verstaan onder bezetting duidelijk wat anders dan de Westerse media en politici, maar dat heeft nog niet iedereen door.

    PA TV children's quiz:

    Teaching about

     a world without Israel

    By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook


    Palestinian children are taught through formal and informal education to see a world in which the state of "Palestine" exists and replaces all of Israel. A children's quiz broadcast this week on Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority television shows how thoroughly Palestinian children have absorbed this message. 


    Children on the TV program routinely identified every Israeli city and landmark as part of the State of "Palestine." Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat are described as Palestinian ports, the Sea of Galilee is said to be a Palestinian lake, and the area of the Palestinian state is said to be 27,000 square kilometers. In fact, the total area of Gaza and the West Bank totals 6,200 square kilometers, so the only way to come up with the larger measurement is to include undisputed Israeli territory in the calculation. The "State of Palestine" is said to border Lebanon and the Red Sea; in fact, these are Israel's borders.


    In an unsettling reminder of the 2007 Hamas children's TV program that used a Mickey Mouse character to preach hatred and world Islamic domination, the child host of this week's PATV (Fatah) program is sitting in front of a photo of Mickey Mouse.

    Following is a link to a clip from the program:

    The world view of these Palestinian children is a direct result of their formal education, which teaches them to envision a world without Israel.
    The following are examples from PA schoolbooks, which teach children to imagine a world without Israel:

    "Coastal states differ in terms of their access to water sources, such as...: states located on sea coasts with accesses to two seas, for example: Palestine and Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea."
    [Physical Geography and Human Geography, Grade 12, p. 105]
     "Palestine has a long coast facing the Mediterranean sea and a short coast on the Gulf of Aqaba."
    [Health and Environment Studies, Grade 8 (2003), p. 130, the Israeli city of Eilat is on the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba) - Ed.]
    "... The Tiberias Lake [Sea of Galilee], in Palestine"
    [Physical Geography, Grade 5, p. 25]
    Following is the text of the quiz:
    Host: List three Palestinian ports.

    (On phone) Adham: Haifa, Ashdod and Gaza.

    Host: Your answer was correct...I'll add a few. Dear friends, we have the Haifa port, Jaffa, Ashkelon, Eilat, Ashdod & Gaza.
    [Note: All are Israeli cities except Gaza.]

    Host: What is the size of the state of Palestine?

    (On phone) Haidar:  27,000 sq. km.  
    [Note: The size of the West Bank and Gaza is 6,220 sq. km.]

    Host:  Bravo!

    Host: Name three countries bordering Palestine.

    Boy: That's easy.

    (On phone) Muhammad:  Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt.
    [Note: Only Israel borders Lebanon.]

    Host: The Palestinian borders overlook two important seas. What are their names?

    (On phone) Lama: The Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
    [Note: The Red Sea borders Israel's southern tip.]

    Host: Congratulations, your answer is correct.

    Host: What's the name of the only sweet-water lake in Palestine?

    On phone: Ayyam The Tiberias Sea [the Sea of Galilee or the Kinneret].
    [Note: The Sea of Galilee is in Israel.]

    Host: Your answer is correct.
    PATV (Fatah), Sept. 1, 2008
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