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What’s the Game Plan?

Just when you get tired of reading the same depressing Middle East story, a new even more depressing one emerges. Rabbi Grossman hits it on the head when she points to the failure of leadership surrounding the recent developments in the PA territories where Hamas has overtaken Fatah forces in Gaza. As noted by the Council on Foreign Relation’s Noah Feldman, the breakdown in the Middle East is all about three world leaders whose base of support is more eroded than the ozone layer.
Only now that things have gone completely out of control are Bush, Olmert, and Abbas sitting down together and trying to help each others’ causes. But the recent communications between the three leaders have only highlighted the extent of the dysfunction and confusion in recent Palestainian-Israeli relations. While I am all for Israel and the U.S. trying to prop up the remaining West Bank infrastructure of Fatah, I am not sure that secular Arabs who hate Israelis will be any easier to make peace with than religious Arabs who hate Israelis.
Is it just me or does anyone understand why Israel withheld $500 million of collected taxes and military support for Abbas and Fatah over the last year, but now only after the collapse of Abbas’ government and authority have decided to hand it over to him with almost strings attached? Why now is Olmert coming to Abbas’ support when for the last year and half he did everything to undermine and prevent his government from succeeding? As usual nothing seems to make sense in the Middle East.



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Yossel

posted July 3, 2007 at 12:51 am


B”H
This is the very reason why you can’t negotiate with terrorists, nor can you turn a Holocaust denier and hater of Jews into a Jewish ally.
Abbas, although painted up as a “moderate” by the media, Abbas is actually a known Holocaust denier who refuses to remove the “eliminate Israel” clause in his charter. Can he be a willing peace partner, any more than Arafat was?
Clearly, the answer is “no.” Instead of the racist policy the Sharon/Olmert government is persuing, removing Jews from their homes where Arabs are moving in, they should be trying to integrate Jews and Arabs TOGETHER into neighborhoods in an effort for both sides to live in peace. Any group that cannot live with other faiths or ethnic groups, is racist in my opinion. Arabs must learn that Jews are not going to leave the Middle East, no more than African-Americans will leave the United States. They should get used to the idea, then there will be a true peace…Yossel



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Yechiel

posted July 3, 2007 at 4:23 am


It will be a great challenge to persuade the Israeli government to abandon large scale terror opeations such as the recent ones that displaced one million people. It will be difficult, as well, to persuade the Israeli government to stop rejecting peace offers such as the 2002 Arab League call for normalization of relations.
There are many things we can do, however, as US citizens. Contacting our elected representatives and calling on Israel to leave the Occupied Territories held in violation of international law is perhaps a good place to start. Israel’s current status as a rogue state opposed to the international consensus on many issues creates many problems — not only for its millions of Palestinian victims, but for Israeli citizens, as well.



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Uzi

posted July 3, 2007 at 1:49 pm


I believe Israel withheld the funds over the last year because over the last year, Abbas was (RELUCTANTLY OR NOT) holding hands with Haniyeh and Hamas.
Only now that Abbas has become desperate; his people falling into a civil war in front of the world in Gaza without Israeli provocation, has he become ready to actually spend any aid on actually trying to implement rule of law among the Arab Palestinian populace. And it is in the interest of Israel that the Arab Palestinian populace be reigned in without taxing their own military to do it. I agree with the temporary support, as long as Hamas is excluded.
Keep in mind though, that Abbas as a “moderate” is only a new media invention. Abbas is a moderate only against the backdrop of Hamas, in much the same way that the Boston Strangler is a moderate compared to Jack the Ripper.
-Uzi



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Esther

posted July 3, 2007 at 1:50 pm


Dear Yechiel,
Wake up and read the Fatah charter which still calls for the destruction of Israel. The only people Israel displaced are the 10,000 Jewish residents of Gaza, who were uprooted from their homes to live in trailer parks, so that terrorists can have more bases for sending rockets to kill and maim the residents of Sderot and other Israeli cities. Gaza is 100% “free” of Jews today. There is no occupation. And Fatah and Hamas are terrorists who hate and call for the killing of every Jew and every American – you included.



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Dave

posted July 3, 2007 at 8:37 pm


As someone who thinks Netanyahu would be better PM (in fact a comotose Sharon would be a better PM) I think Olmert is handling the situation in Gaza (if not the West Bank) quite well. Hamas wanted to control Gaza. The Gazans wanted Hamas to control Gaza. Fine. Everyone is happy. Just make sure they get no weapons and make sure they get hit if they hit. That’s the game plan (I think).



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Yechiel

posted July 3, 2007 at 10:39 pm


Hi Esther,
Thank you for your response. I know that the Palestinian Covenant at one time called for the destruction of Israel and that other Arab and Palestinian factions have shared that view. The best thing I can say about that is that there’s no way for these groups carry this program out.
I hope you will permit me to respond to some of your additional comments.
For example, you say that, “There is no occupation.” I don’t know what you mean by this. The basic fact of the matter is that Israel currently occupies territories taken in the course of war. You can look at many sources in libraries, online and in newspapers to learn more about this. You may wish, if you travel to Israel, to visit the territories yourself and form an opinion directly. I have not done so, though I know many people who have.
Anyway, here are a couple basic facts to get you started: More than two million Palestinians live in these Occupied Territories. According to Israeli historian Benny Morris, the Israeli government displaced about 750,000 Palestinian inhabitants in 1948, and that was the start of the displacement issue.
The Israeli High Court has recognized Israel as an occupying force, too. It ruled more than once that the Israeli government does occupy the West Bank and Gaza. The situation in Gaza has changed recently, of course, but that does not negate Israel’s earlier behavior. The World Court has ruled more than once, too, that Israel does have the status of an occupying State.
In closing I wish to say that I was raised in Jewish Day Schools to believe that Jewish people were superior to other people and that the State of Israel is uniquely ethical and a light unto the nations. Though the transition has been painful, I have learned that the Israeli government is just that – a government. It seems to me that it does not deserve unflagging allegiance any more than any other government.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on these issues.



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fred

posted July 4, 2007 at 12:24 am


Yechiel,
It’s sad that the word occupation was ever used. Israel conquered the West Bank in a war it never started, (Jordan was told to mind its own business, but wanted some of the spoils) so by all definitions it is now Israeli territory.
Regarding displacing “Palestinian inhabitanta” (very cute way of avoiding saying Palestinians), most Arabs left after UN legally (?) declared a partitio on their own volition or at the urging of the Mufti, though some were “asked” to leave (I can use cute language too).
Regarding both the Israeli Supreme Court and the World Court, two of the most biased halls of “justice” that democracy has ever spawned.



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Susan

posted July 4, 2007 at 8:13 am


Well, Israel did not withhold taxes and military support for Abass and Fatah. It withheld funds from Hamas. The Palestinians knew what would happen if they voted for Hamas, but they did anyway. Your vote has consequences in a democracy. This debate has gone way off course.



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Yechiel

posted July 4, 2007 at 8:08 pm


Fred,
I see in your response your severe contempt for both domestic law and for international law. Would you care to expand on this?



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Yechiel

posted July 4, 2007 at 10:06 pm


Sorry, Fred. I meant to include this in my response to you above:
You say above that the West Bank is not “all definitions” Israeli territory. I don’t know how you came to this conclusion. The General Assembly of the United Nations held 144-4 that Israel should stop building its separation wall, basing its decision largely on the widely-held view that the West Bank does not belong to Israel.
You may dislike the UN as much as you dislike the Israeli courts, but that doesn’t seem to change the fact that your view is not held by most of the world. Am I missing something?



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Scott R.

posted July 4, 2007 at 11:34 pm


Israel conquered the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights in a legitimate defensive war. That the UN is holding Israel to a different standard than it hold other nations (including the U.S.) shows just how worthless the UN is.
It is my fondest wish that the UN be kicked the hell out of New York. It makes me sick to see this rotten organization holding prime New York City real estate.



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Yechiel

posted July 5, 2007 at 3:10 am


Sorry, buddy. The UN is holding Israel to a standard principle of international law.
I will spell out the standard to which Israel is being held for you.
The standard to which Israel is being held is this: Territories conquered in war may not be retained by the conquering force. (I don’t know if you’re basing our opinion on anything you’ve read or heard, or if you thought it up on your own.) I welcome you to take the time to look this up in any text of international law and see what you find.
Now, as a famous verse in the Torah proclaims, Let Us Reason Together: You say you hate the UN because you believe it is being unfair to Israel. It may therefore behoove you to check the facts. Once you find that the UN is in fact treating Israel fairly, you will no longer be required to maintain your hatred for this institution. You will then be able to free up your energies for other endeavors. How does that sound?



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Yechiel

posted July 5, 2007 at 3:14 am


Oops. Scott, you’re absolutely right about the US. If international law were applied to the US and its leaders, then the US would have to leave Iraq immediately and pay massive reparations.
Furthermore, George Bush, Dick Cheney and many others would be facing war crimes charges. If the Nuremberg priniciples were applied to them, they would certainly be hung.



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Scott R.

posted July 5, 2007 at 3:29 pm


Who makes up international law?
The winners.
‘Nuff said.



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Yechiel

posted July 7, 2007 at 1:16 am


It is true that in many important cases it is the winners who create the law. One of the manifestations of this pattern is that the United States has been radically opposed to the universal application of international law ever since its modern foundations were established under U.S. initiative in 1945.
As we all know, the most egregious current example of US contempt for international law is provided by the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Between 150,000 and 655,000 Iraqi civilians have died as the predictable result. This result, of course, is largely ignored, in keeping with nationalistic ideological needs.
Similarly, Israel, as a client state of the US, enjoys legal impunity for the recent terror bombing of Lebanon that displaced one million people, for its continued occupation of the West Bank and for its refusal to accept diplomatic resolution to problems in the West Bank and Gaza. Peaceful settlement, as US and Israeli planners have long recognized, has always posed a great threat to Israel, as it would interfere with Israel’s expansion plans.
Or, as David Ben-Gurion said, “Let’s face it. It’s their land, and we took it.”



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Dave

posted July 8, 2007 at 10:54 am


1/ I googled “Let’s face it. Its their land, and we took it” and got nothing.
2/ Large numbers of Iraqis kill huge numbers of Iraqis. Or Palestinians vs Plestinians or Lebanese vs Lebanese, or a few years ago Algerians. And on the odd occasion Syrians vs Syrians. Naturally this is the fault of outsiders.
3/ What expansion plans? Israel withdrew from the Sinai and Gaza. That’s expansion? Where are these expansion plans?



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Yechiel

posted July 8, 2007 at 11:57 pm


Dave, you may have forgotten that none of these facts matter to you. They are not given by heavenly tribunals or by the Torah. The true answers can most likely be found by performing numerolgical Gematria exercises on the Parshat Hashavuah.



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the man upstairs

posted July 10, 2007 at 1:16 pm


does any one really know what hate is? does anyone really know what hate feels like?ok- hate is a heart attack.have you ever had one ?i have and i wouldnt wish that on my worst enemy.hate is the worst thing to happen.you can say you dont like or you dont care but hate is horrible, and it is a horrible feeling.so be careful when you say hate.oh you say a family member died -well guess where the are?read the bible or torah lately? they are with god how can that be hate?i know what loss is i have lost four children.they went to be with god.i thanked him for allowing me to have some time with them showing me love and loss,happy for having them ,sad for their leaving,and strength in loss,and joy that they are with him again.but not hate.fight for the man upstairs and be happy that you are doing everything for him.



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Dave

posted July 10, 2007 at 7:45 pm


When you can’t challenge the facts resort to ad hominem attacks.
Does that mean I won?



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