Sunday, November 26, 2006

November 2006

Slogans of the Month:

The extent of democratization of a given country is measured by the way that country treats its minorities. The better the treatment, the more democratic is the country.

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Minorities were, and still are, the greatest problem in the world.

Avigdor Lieberman

A homosexual can be equated to a donkey. He is a beast.

Baruch Marzel (and hundreds of like-minded religious zealots)

This month saw more Qassam rockets on Sderot; Israeli retaliation in Gaza that resulted in dozens killed. Bloodshed nourishes bloodshed, and we are unable to break the vicious circle. The gay community opted for variety: Instead of marching in Tel Aviv as in previous years, this time they wanted to march in the eternal capital of the Jewish people. For weeks the debate lasted between supporters and opposers until a resolution was reached: the gay community gathered in a close area, in Givat Ram. Hundred of policemen secured the area and shielded the gay celebration from the ultra-religious and religious hatred. I presume Jerusalem is the only capital in the free world in which a gay parade could evoke such heightened feelings.

The Hezbollah War, Qassam Attacks Continue, Bibi Netanyahu, The Fence,
Terrorism, Elections Now, Peace Index, Hamas – No News under the Sun,
Peace and Democracy Education Conference, Turkish Police,
Turkish Hospitality, American Library Association’s Resolutions,
New Article, New Book, Essential Reading, Video Clips, Beautiful Photos, Chandrashekhar Subrahmanyam on His First Day at School in the USA,

The Hezbollah War
Three months after the war, we have the second person to take responsibility. Well, like his predecessor he was rather forced to take responsibility, but this is OK as well. Brigadier General Gal Hirsch, under fire for his performance as commander of the army's Galilee Division both before and during the war in Lebanon, informed IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz that he had decided to resign his position. Maybe Halutz will follow the example…

The resignation came hours before Major General (res.) Doron Almog, head of the team investigating Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers four months ago, was expected to recommend Hirsch's dismissal due to a series of shortcomings that led to the abduction of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, and the ill-functioning of officers from the divisional commanders upward. It found severe faults on all levels. For example, the reserve battalion, two of whose soldiers were captured by Hezbollah, had not trained for an abduction scenario, as required, when it entered the region. The team also examined the intelligence at the disposal of the division and Northern Command on the eve of the abduction. It transpired that the partial intelligence tip about the abduction had not been analyzed and passed on in time. The assumption is that even without reliable intelligence, the troops should have been placed on higher alert after IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit's abduction near the Gaza Strip on June 25. Almog said recently that he insisted that Hirsch be dismissed from the Israel Defense Forces over his responsibility for the event.

However, at least five major-generals told Halutz that they object to dismissing Hirsch from the IDF and suggested merely removing him from field command. Hirsch himself contested Almog's findings. As far as he is concerned, he did verify that his instructions were carried out and there was no discrepancy between planning strategy and its implementation.

In his letter of resignation to Halutz, Hirsch said that he had acted correctly before and during the war (RCA: Sure. Yes. Brilliant. All went well), and that he has decided to leave the army because of the anguish caused to his family by recent events (RCA: on this, at least, Hirsch is correct for a change). Reminder: Hirsch was the one who prematurely declared that Bin Jbail, the Hezbollah’s major bastion in south Lebanon, where most of the fighting had taken place, was under IDF control when this was not the case. In fact, we lost soldiers there weeks after that misguided statement, till the very end of the war. Halutz, loyal to his policy to make all possible mistakes and to conceive responsibility as a balloon filled with thin air, had indicated recently that he intended to promote Hirsch to a more senior post.

The resignation follows the replacement last week of Northern Front Commander Udi Adam. Already during the war, in a step viewed as indicating a lack of confidence in Adam's leadership, Halutz sent his deputy, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, to oversee the command in the north.

Meanwhile, Amir Peretz’s popularity is rock bottom. For some reason, he still thinks he could salvage himself by being Defence Minister. He had a golden opportunity to reshuffle the Cabinet with the introduction of Lieberman into the government. But Peretz is hanging on to his office. His future is more and more behind him. This office buries him.

A recent poll conducted by TV Channel 1 showed that the majority of the Israeli public thinks that Olmert, Peretz and Halutz should resign, and that the Knesset should call new elections. A Yedioth Ahronoth poll published on November 11, 2006 showed that 71% think that Halutz should resign. 72% want another Minister of Defence. 28% wish him to remain. The latter are, I presume, either strong Labour supporters, or those who wish to have a civilian in this office; any civilian, due to suspicion of military ex-generals.

I always say: Common sense does prevail. Sometimes it hesitates, but eventually it does prevail. The last to recognize are those who need to pay a price. They will need some public help in making them realize their faults. This trio is aloof from reality, as it happens with people in key power positions. They surround themselves with yes men, and thus tend to forget where they live, what is the real reality, and their shortcomings.

For further reading see (Hebrew)

Qassam Attacks Continue
A woman was killed and two other civilians were seriously wounded by a Qassam rocket attack on Sderot on November 15, 2006. The dead woman was Faina (Fatima) Slutzker, 57, a Sderot resident. The wounded included one of Defense Minister Amir Peretz's guards, Maor Peretz, and a 17-year-old boy. Doctors had to amputate both of Peretz’s legs. Hamas and Islamic Jihad both claimed responsibility for the attack and promised to continue firing rockets at Israel.

Army sources said that most of the 13 rockets fired on that day were launched from the area around Beit Hanun, in the northern Gaza Strip, from which the Israel Defense Forces withdrew nine days prior the attack, following a six-day incursion.

Defense Minister Peretz consulted with senior defense officials after the incident and decided the IDF should step up its operations against the Qassam launchers. But defense sources said no major ground operation would be launched in Gaza in response to the fatal attack, and that even a smaller operation focused on the area from which the rockets were launched was unlikely. Peretz also decided against resuming artillery fire on Gaza, which was stopped after errant shells killed 19 civilians in Beit Hanun the previous week.

Israel cannot sustain the current situation. No sovereign country would allow this to happen. It is the duty of the state to defend its citizens, not to stand idly by when such attacks take place day in, day out. After experiencing rocket attacks during the Hezbollah War, I fully appreciate and identify with the suffering of the people of Sderot. They live under continuous nightmare for over a year. This is not life.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was in Los Angeles, said he was briefed on the attack and had consulted with Peretz on a response. "For a long time now, the IDF has been operating in the Strip, and just now it finished an operation in Beit Hanun," he stated. "The operation in Gaza will continue without a break ... and we will decide on additional steps to fight this murderous terror."

Public Defense Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) said that Israel's political echelon must instruct the Israel Defense Forces to eliminate all Qassam rocket fire using any means necessary, regardless of the risk to soldiers' safety. “The current IDF operation is not sufficient. The operation must be expanded," he added.

MK Danny Naveh (Likud) said that the current policy discriminates against the residents of southern Israel. "Every day that goes by without a widespread action (to stop the Qassam fire) creates the impression that the fate of Sderot is not the fate of Tel Aviv," he said, referring to the probability that if rockets were to rain upon Tel Aviv, the response would have been more forceful. "Israel will pay dearly with human lives if it doesn't take action immediately," he added.
MK Taleb a-Sana (Ra'am - Ta'al, a small Arab party) offered his condolences to the family of Wednesday's rocket strike victim, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded. He called on both Israel and the Palestinians to cease the violence and return to the negotiating table.

Bibi Netanyahu
Recently Bibi made some assertions that made all those who thought and argued that Bibi had change/matured/developed/learned his lessons rethink their position. In a long interview to Yedioth Ahronoth he remembered talks he had with his father, as a young child, strolling the streets of Jerusalem, watching the British soldiers and wondering about the fate of Israel. Bibi recalled asking his parents, when he was three: what about the presence of the British mandate in Israel? And the reassuring answers he received from his loving parents: Never stop believing. Stand for your rights. As a child, Bibi is already occupying his young mind with sovereignty and security issues. How touching.
How romantic. How wonderful. How impressive. What a thoughtful man.

Alas, Bibi was born on October 21, 1949, when the British soldiers were all gone. But Bibi does not allow simple facts to interfere with the romantic picture he has in his imaginative mind of him walking in the streets of Jerusalem, watching the British soldiers and wondering about the fate of the Jewish people in Israel.

In the same interview, he recalled a discussion he had with his devoted wife, Sarah, sitting at the kitchen table after he was ousted from the prime minister's office. The topic of the discussion this time was the fate of the Netanyahu family. They were discussing their income, and ways to deal with their severe economic situation. Bibi said that his earnings came to 10,000 shekels per month after taxes (at that time, roughly $3,000) and that they simply could not maintain their family. Then and there he took upon himself to deliver public talks and lectures that earned them a small fortune (emphasis on small), stabilizing their poor economic condition, relieving him of the need to approach his elderly parents, at his mature age (then 50 year-old) asking for support.

Before you break into tears, let me remind you of the facts: Netanyahu was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1982. Subsequently, he became Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, serving from 1984 to 1988. He was elected to the Knesset in 1988 and served in government positions until his defeat by Ehud Barak in 1999. Then he retired from politics for a while. Given this record, and the lifestyle he cultivated, large sums of money were needed to cultivate his livelihood.

In a memorial to Rehavam Zeevi (Gandi), Bibi recalled the days where Gandi was a loyal minister in his government. How nice. Bibi has inspiring memories yet again. In reality, however, Gandi never served in Bibi’s government. But don’t allow simple facts interfere with the imaginative Netanyahu and with the pictures of reality he builds in his mind.

The people of Israel might give Bibi another chance to cultivate his mind in the prime minister office, and I imagine that after two years in office, when he will be ousted yet again for grave miscalculations, the frustrated Bibi will retire, after a while will return and give another interview; he will then recall how he stood in Basel and envisaged the creation of Israel in Palestine; how he declared Israeli independence in 1948, and received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1994 for his tireless efforts to create peace in the Middle East. Just give him the opportunity. Bibi will surely reshape history. He has the "vision".

The Fence

On November 11, 2006 Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Abdallah Ramadan Shalah granted a long interview to Al-Manar TV, Hezbollah's television channel. During the interview, for the first time he admitted that Israel's security fence was an important obstacle to the terrorist organizations (the “resistance”).

He noted that the suicide bombing attacks (istishhad) were the Palestinian people's “strategic choice,” and were meant to “create a balance of force and deterrence” in the campaign against a superior enemy. Ramadan Shalah noted that the terrorist organizations had every intention of continuing suicide bombing attacks, but that their timing and the possibility of implementing them from the West Bank depended on other factors. “For example,” he said, “there is the separation fence, which is an obstacle to the resistance, and if it were not there the situation would be entirely different”.

During the past few years the PIJ, supported and encouraged by Syria and Iran, is the Palestinian terrorist organization which has carried out the greatest number of suicide bombing attacks. In 2005 (during the so-called “lull in the fighting”) the organization carried out five lethal suicide bombing attacks within Israel, and two more in 2006. Partially completing the fence and the IDF's successful counterterrorist activities in the West Bank indeed hinder (although do not completely prevent) the carrying out of suicide bombing attacks. Such attacks, as stated by Ramadan Shalah, are the modus operandi preferred by the PIJ and the senior leaders of the organization, who have recently expressed their intention to continue using them to attack Israel.

These statements are hardly surprising. They provide further testimony to the need for building the fence, and to its success in preventing terror. At the same time I reiterate that the fence route should have been different, along the Green Line, and not at the expense of Palestinian territory. Moreover, the route should have been more considerate of the Palestinian people and their interests. Accommodations should be made, the sooner the better. I discussed these issues several times in the past (see, e.g. my August 2006 Newsletter).

Recently I attended a media ethics conference and was somewhat surprised to hear from a leading media scholar the dictate that “one’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter”; hence refraining from using the term “terrorism”. I thought the time of this clich√© was over but apparently this is not the case. As you may know, the BBC and the CBC are instructed to be careful with the use of language and, generally speaking, terrorism does not exist. It is like a unicorn. But I expect more from media ethics scholars.

The underlying notion is that while the use of "the 't' word" may be accurate it also has a political and extra-journalistic role of de-legitimizing one side and enthroning the views of the other. In this scholar’s view, this is not the role of responsible journalism, which is and should be to describe with accuracy and fairness events that listeners may choose to endorse or deplore. I on the other hand think this is the role of responsible journalism and therefore journalists should resort to the term "terrorism" when such acts are conducted. Sides to a given conflict might use and abuse the word "terrorist" to frame the issues in order to advance their political agenda, but it does not matter how one side or another characterizes the acts of violence it carries out. What does matter is whether the acts fall within the definition of terrorism. However, because the description of a given event as terrorist might be difficult and controversial, the BBC and CBC are opting, in general, for the simple solution of refraining from use of the term. The simple, or rather simplistic way is not necessarily the most prudent one. Terrorism should be denounced. It should not be legitimized by calling terrorists “attackers”, “extremists”, “radicals”, “abductors” or any other, more neutral, term.

Elections Now

On the Center for Democratic Studies website,, a poll is being conducted whether elections should be held now, or later, or not at all. You are most welcome to cast your vote. I reiterate my call for elections as soon as possible. This government is one of the worse Israel has known, if not the worst of all.

Peace Index: October 2006
By Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann

The current view of a large majority of the Jewish public is that there will not be peace between Israel and the Arabs in the coming years. This pessimism, it emerges from the data, did not arise recently but already began to take shape five to six years ago with the failure of the Camp David summit and the beginning of the Second Intifada. More specifically, in regard to the chances of peace with Syria and with the Palestinian Authority, a similar picture comes through, but with deeper pessimism about the chances of peace with Syria than with the Palestinians. It makes sense, then, that the public’s positions on Syria are particularly hard-line: a large and constant majority opposes the formula of a full peace agreement for a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. This remains so even if Assad were to appeal publicly to the Israeli people declares his desire for a full peace, and despite the widespread assessment that without a peace agreement between Israel and Syria, sooner or later a war will break out between them.

The lack of belief in a future peace and the stringency exist despite, and perhaps because of, the majority view that Israel’s national security situation is now worse than a year ago. Apparently because of the decline in terror attacks, regarding personal security the popular view is that there has been no change, though here too more think the situation has deteriorated than improved. These feelings perhaps explain the widespread lack of confidence we found in the defense minister and prime minister’s ability to lead Israel’s security policy. They may also explain the finding that the number of those who are satisfied with Avigdor Lieberman’s addition to the government as minister responsible for the strategic threat to Israel clearly exceeds the number who are dissatisfied, and that the rate of those who believe his addition will enhance personal security is considerably higher than the rate of those who think it will weaken it.

The fear regarding the national and personal security situation explains the majority’s view that, when planning the IDF’s operations in Gaza, possible harm to civilians should be taken into account but not as a supreme consideration, with a not inconsiderable minority saying not to take it into account at all.

Those are the main findings of the Peace Index survey for October that was carried out on 31 October and 1 November 2006.

To the question of whether one believes or does not believe that in the coming years there will be peace between Israel and the Arabs in the Middle East, a minority of 17% of the interviewees responded that they are sure or they think there will be peace, whereas 68% answered that they are sure or they think there will not be peace (15% vacillated or did not know). This raises the question of whether the sweeping pessimism about the chances for peace stems mainly from the political and security developments in the recent period (Hamas’s rise to power, the ongoing Qassam fire from Gaza, and the Lebanon war) or, instead, already existed. According to findings from Peace Index surveys over the past decade, it turns out that up to the end of the 1990s, the rate of those who believed there was no chance for peace with the Arab world was lower than 40%, and in October 1999—exactly seven years ago—it stood at 37%. However, a year later in October 2000, there was a steep rise among the nonbelievers in the chances for peace that reached 60%—most probably because of the failure of the negotiations with the Palestinians at the Camp David summit in July 2000 and the outbreak of the Second Intifada at the end of September. The trend of declining belief also continued in the following year, and in October 2001 the rate of those not believing in the chances for peace reached some 68%, like the rate of nonbelievers in peace in the present survey. In other words, today’s high rate of “nonbelievers” is a continuation of an ongoing trend, one that recent developments have not changed.

A similar picture of pessimism emerges regarding the more specific chances for peace. On peace with Syria, the rate of believers in the chances stands at 18% with the nonbelievers amounting to 63% (19% are not sure or do not know). This disbelief in the chances of peace with Syria appears linked to the staunch and stable opposition by a majority of the Jewish public to the formula of a full peace treaty for a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, with only 16% favoring this formula while 67% oppose it (the rest have no clear opinion on the matter). Even if Syrian president Bashar Assad were to appeal publicly to the Israeli people by proclaiming his desire for a full peace, most of the public (62%) say they would not change their position, while for only 34% would an appeal of this kind moderately or greatly strengthen the support for this formula. As for the question of what will happen if Israel and Syria do not reach a peace agreement, it turns out that 40% believe the existing situation will continue for many years, but the majority—51%—think sooner or later there will be a war between the two countries. That is, the Jewish public firmly opposes the formula of full peace with Syria for full withdrawal from the Golan even at the risk of imminent war. Although one might have expected a close link between assessments of the chances of Israeli-Syrian war and positions on the formula of peace for withdrawal, it turns out this connection is not hard and fast. Among those who believe the existing situation will continue for many years, the rate of supporters of a full withdrawal from the Golan for a full peace agreement stands at 21% and the rate of opponents at 70%; among those who think a war will break out, the corresponding ratio is 29% to 61%.

The rigidity in the public’s position on Syria exists despite, and perhaps because of, the widespread perception of a deterioration in the national security situation, which apparently stems from Hamas’s rise to power, the ongoing Qassam fire from Gaza, and the outcomes of the Lebanon war. Fifty-seven percent think Israel’s national security situation has worsened compared to a year ago, 29% say it has not changed, 10.5% believe it has improved, and 3.5% do not know. Regarding personal security the picture is less grim, apparently because of the decline in terror attacks: the highest rate—47%—think there has been no change in their personal security, 40% say it has gotten worse, and 10.5% see it as better.

These feelings may explain the overwhelming lack of confidence in the ability of Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Peretz to navigate Israel’s security policy. Asked which of the following ministers could most be trusted to lead a process of formulating Israel’s security policy, just 2% cited Defense Minister Amir Peretz and 6%, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Compared to these minuscule percentages, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni, and the new minister for the strategic threat, Avigdor Lieberman, in fact received 17% each. But perhaps the most important indication of the public’s lack of confidence in the present security elite is that the highest rate—31%—was for those who said they could not rely on any of the ministers who appeared on the list, even though the interviewers did not present this option to the interviewees and they came up with it spontaneously.

New minister Avigdor Lieberman’s rapid inclusion in the top troika of ministers one can trust on security matters jibes with the finding that 41% of the public are satisfied with his addition to the government compared to 32% who are dissatisfied, with 21% having no opinion. It is important to stress that this support for Lieberman’s addition exists despite the widespread view (42%) that this step will negatively affect Jewish-Arab relations in Israel (only 29% think it will have no effect either way and 10% see a positive influence). A similar pattern, albeit more moderate, was found regarding the effect of Lieberman’s addition to the government on the chances of renewing the political negotiations with the Palestinians. Here, while indeed the highest number think this step will not change the situation, the rate of those who say Lieberman’s addition will negatively influence the issue is higher than the rate of those who expect a positive effect.

Finally, the general atmosphere of pessimism along with insecurity apparently also explains the Jewish public’s stance on the ongoing IDF activity in the Gaza Strip, which so far has claimed a large number of Palestinian victims including civilians. Asked whether, in the existing circumstances, the IDF should take into account the factor of harm to Palestinian civilians when planning the operations in the territories, only 21% think it should make this a consideration on the highest level, 46% think it should take it into account but not on the highest level, and 29% thought it should not take it into account at all (4% did not have a position).

Hamas – No News under the Sun

In the nine months since it came to power, and despite the PLO's demands, Hamas has not changed its views: It refuses to recognize Israel or acknowledge its legitimacy, insists that previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements will be recognized only if they serve Palestinian interests, continues to lay claim to all of Palestine, and, in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, offers only a temporary hudna (ceasefire). In addition, Hamas continues to express reservations about the Arab peace initiative of 2002, and to support resistance, jihad, and abduction of Israeli soldiers.

The following are statements made by Hamas leaders in the last two months (SOURCE: SPME Faculty Forum, 2006-11-11; Visit Scholars For Peace in the Middle East website
Rejection of Israel and Its Legitimacy

In an interview, Palestinian Political Bureau head Khaled Mash'al told the daily Al-Hayat: "Why am I required to [recognize] the legitimacy of an occupying [entity] that is sitting on my land when there are millions of Palestinians who come from the land on which this entity is sitting? It is true that there is an entity called Israel, but I do not wish to recognize it." [1]

At an October 20, 2006 Hamas convention in Khan Yunis, Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahar stated that "Israel is a vile entity that has been planted in our soil, and has no historical, religious or cultural legitimacy. We cannot normalize our relations with this entity. The history of this region has proven [time and again] that occupation is temporary. Thousands of years ago, the Romans occupied this land and [eventually] left. The Persians, Crusaders, and English [also] came and went. The Zionists have come, and they too will leave. [We say] no to recognizing Israel, regardless of the price we may have to pay [for our refusal]." [2]

In a sermon in Khan Yunis, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said: "Israel wants Hamas to hand it the card of recognition in the hope that this would lead to recognition by other Muslim countries. Israel may have been recognized by part of the Palestinian people and by some Arab countries. However, it [now] wants something more significant - the [trump] card of Islamic recognition - and it wants to obtain this recognition through the Palestinian government and Hamas..." [3]

Palestine From the River to the Sea

On the issue of a Palestinian state, Khaled Mash'al said: "The [Hamas] movement has agreed to [the establishment of a Palestinian] state within the 1967 borders and to a hudna… As a Palestinian, I am interested in a Palestinian state and I am not interested in the occupying state. Why do people require the Palestinians [to accept] the existence of two states as one of their principles and goals? The Zionist state exists. I [wish to] speak of my Palestinian state that does not exist. I am the one that has been denied [the right to] a state, to sovereignty, to independence, to liberty, and to self-determination. Therefore, my main [goal] is to focus on obtaining my rights. I wish to establish my state." [4]

Mahmoud Al-Zahar said: "We [aim to liberate] all our lands… If we have the option, we will establish a state on every inch of land within the 1967 [borders], but this does not by any means imply that we will relinquish our right to all the Palestinian lands. We want all of Palestine from [Ras] Naqura to Rafah, and from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river." [5]

An announcement issued by Hamas on the occasion of the anniversary of the Kafr Qasem massacre stated: "We will not relinquish a single grain of the soil of Kafr Qasem, or a single inch of stolen Palestinian land. Sooner or later, our people shall return to its land, to its cities and to its villages from which it was expelled…" [6]

On the 2002 Arab (Saudi) Peace Initiative

Hamas Political Bureau Head Musa Abu Marzouq said: "Hamas has serious reservations about the [Arab] initiative since it involves acceptance of two states, Palestine and Israel. Hamas rejects this because it means recognition of Israel." [7]
Khaled Mash'al also referred to the same topic: "The interested parties [involved] in the Arab-Israeli conflict and in a [potential] settlement never took the Arab initiative seriously. The problem, therefore, does not lie with the initiative or with the Arab countries, but rather with the U.S. and Israel, which reject this initiative and wish to impose the Quartet's terms on us. In the past, we were told that the [Arab] initiative is only a step [towards a goal]. Then, some of the Arab and Palestinian parties told us, officially, that accepting the Arab initiative is an important step in convincing the international community that [the Palestinians] accept the Quartet's terms. So they are not interested in the initiative itself but in its end result. That is, [they are interested in the initiative] as a step on the way to accepting the Quartet's terms. [8]

On the Legitimacy of Resistance and Jihad

In an October 6 speech Ismail Haniya said, "We [derive our] legitimacy from the legitimacy of the jihad. We are a government born from the womb of the resistance, from the womb of the martyrs... We are a government that comes out of resistance and jihad, and out of the desire for resistance and jihad against the Zionist occupation..." [9]

Khaled Mash'al said: "We do not regard our actions as terrorism or violence but as resistance that is legitimate, even according to international law, so I refuse [to use] any term that would imply self-criticism. It is the aggressor [i.e. Israel] that is perpetrating violence and terrorism. It is [Israel] that is employing every type of terrorism against people, against the land, against the holy places and against the [very] trees...As long as my people are in exile and my land is occupied, I have the legitimate right to resist... It is the American injustice and the Zionist aggression that cause terrorism and [create] the climate of terrorism... Had the international community offered us a way to obtain our rights without resistance we would have taken it, since resistance is only a means [for us], not an end." [10]

[1] Al-Hayat (London), October 12, 2006.
[2] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 21, 2006.
[3] Al-Ayyam (PA) October 14, 2006.
[4] Al-Hayat (London), October 12, 2006.
[5] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 21, 2006.
[6] , October 30, 2006.
[7] Al-Ayyam (PA), September 18, 2006.
[8] Al-Hayat (London), October 12, 2006.
[9] , October 6, 2006.
[10] Al-Hayat (London), October 12, 2006.

Peace and Democracy Education Conference

I was invited to attend this conference in Antalya, Turkey. I accepted the invitation as I wanted to meet Palestinians who are working to promote peace. The rationale followed Marshall McLuhan’s "The Medium is the Message" and, in this case, the conference is the message. The very gathering of people from Israel, Palestine and other countries is important. Discussing peace and democracy promotes, I believe, peace and democracy in our respective societies.

The Palestinians’ remarks were the mirror image of the Israelis'. Both sides are unhappy with their respective governments. Both believe the time is unripe for peace. Both blame the other. Both claim that the other is thinking only about its interests, and unable to sympathize and show understanding for the other side. Both are hopeful for a breakthrough. Both are fed up with violence but do not see a way out. Both dread the zealots but acknowledge their power to sway the events in a negative way. Both claim that the other side understands only force.

At the same time, I heard positive remarks about the introduction of a new government in Palestine. After the change, a window of opportunity will be opened that needs to be explored. Then the governments of Israel and Palestine, possibly with the involvement of the USA and the EU, may open a new phase of negotiations.

It was interesting to hear the Palestinians say that Israel “is obsessed with security”, as if Palestinians do not supply us with good reasons for the cultivation of such obsession. All the Palestinians I talked to underestimated the terror of the Qassams. One smiled when I raised the issue, as if he was saying: “I knew you will raise this red herring. Come on. Be more serious”. Another explained that the Qassams is the power of the weak. A third thought that the Qassams help the best interests of the right wing in Israel, as they serve as justification for making no concessions. He almost said that Israel is behind the Qassams… but he stopped himself short of saying that. He thinks that the Qassam serve as a pretense to kill Palestinians. Clearly, the Qassam issue is of no importance in Palestine. They have no idea how significant is this issue for Israel, or do they?

The Palestinians blamed Sharon and Olmert for not helping Abu Mazen. They said Hamas won the elections in part because the people realized that Abu Mazen does not bring any good. Were Israel to help Abu Mazen, agreeing to some of his demands, easing the pressure and the closure, stopping targeted assassinations, releasing prisoners, doing something, then his way could have won points in the Palestinian public. But when the public saw that his moderation does not reap any achievements, extremism became the alternative. Hence Hamas.

The conference clarified what should be the necessary steps in peace education:
First, eliminating prejudice, racism, ethnocentrism and hate; this by amending the curricula and connect it to culture, religion, context.
Second, provide meeting points for people, this in order to reduce alienation and increase understanding.
Third, restoration of trust, this by speaking openly about values, problems, challenges, especially those that are shared by the two nations.

These steps are difficult in both countries, but more so in Palestine, as peace education might mean there normalization that is widely rejected, or worse, collaboration with the enemy.

The difficulties are clear and should not be ignored. When I explicitly addressed the issue of hate and incitement in the Palestinian curricula, the answer was: Look first at the Israeli curricula. The Palestinian curricula is no more inciteful than the Israeli. The Israeli curricula is filled with prejudice and hatred to the Palestinians. See how Palestinians are portrayed in your education system. See how you perceive yourself vis-à-vis the Palestinians. The ethnocentrism. The resentment. The feeling of superiority. The racism. You ask why Israel does not exist on Palestinian maps. Does Palestine appear on Israeli maps?

There is a lot to do.

“Justice” is a tainted word that means different things. Forget all you know and think about the concept of “justice”. Is justice about fair distribution of resources? The answer is “No”. Respect for others? “No”. Anti-discrimination, equality before the law, freedom as long as one does not harm others? “No”, “No” and “No”. A Palestinian headmaster from Beit Lechem explained that when his pupils speak about “justice” they mean revenge.

Peace and justice do not necessarily go hand in hand. Sometimes there is a moment in the life of the nation when you need to choose between them. In Northern Ireland, releasing of prisoners was the sine qua non condition for any peace agreement. The Sein Fein made it very clear that this was the key to peace negotiations. Bloody terrorists had to be released. In the conference was Patrick Magee who plotted to kill former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet. By planting the Brighton bomb at the Grand Hotel during the Tory party conference in 1984, he nearly succeeded. In September 1986, Magee, who was then 35, received eight life sentences at the Old Bailey. Seven of them were for offences relating to the Brighton bombing on 12 October 1984. Magee was released from prison in 1999, having served 14 years in prison, under the terms of the Good Friday agreement. He has since indicated that he did not act alone at Brighton. He continues to defend his role in the blast, but he has expressed remorse for the loss of innocent lives. Was it just to release Magee and his fellow bloody murderers? The answer is “No”. But this was necessary for achieving peace. Israel can learn something from this lesson.

For five days we heard dozens of small initiatives of small organizations committed to peace. All are important. All are significant. Yet they are all like scars on a body. To really make a difference, the Palestinian and the Israeli ministries of education should take peace and democracy education on board, making them an essential part of the curricula, and make all of us redundant. All these organizations exist because we all recognized the lacuna and wish to do something to rectify the situation. But all of us are small; all struggle to raise money; all invest more time chasing after money than doing education. All are tired yet hopeful. All believe in the cause, yet frustrated that both countries do not see the importance of the issue. Peace and democracy education are no less important than mathematics and physics, arguably more in touch with our lives, more important for our existence. But they do not exist in the curricula. Does this say something about our governments’ set of priorities?

I am thankful to Dr. Gershon Baskin and IPCRI for their kind invitation to attend the peace and democracy education conference. It was a very interesting gathering.

Turkish Police
This month I visited Turkey twice. I was most impressed with the Turkish police. Friday afternoon is the time for demonstrations in Ankara. I saw another demonstration also on a Thursday afternoon. Both times, large numbers of policemen gathered around the demonstrators, circling them, making them cautious. The policemen are determined, well guarded and equipped. Their number outweighed the number of demonstrators by far. Tolerance is measured. You could smell violence in the air; luckily, there was only the smell. The situation did not escalate into violence. Turkey maintains a delicate balance between democracy and Islam. In the past, the security forces stood on guard, on the side of democracy. I hope this will continue to be the case.

In the peace education conference, one participant circulated a pamphlet that included Kurdistan in one of its maps. Soon enough, the police came to the hotel, demanding to collect all the pamphlets as they violated Turkish law. Kurdistan does not exist, and should not exist. It is part of Turkey. They asked the organizer who was behind the circulation, but luckily the organizer could not remember who of the more than 400 hundred participants was behind the publication. He, however, stopped our activity and collected all pamphlets and handed them to the police. They sniffed around for some time, and the organizers were clearly relieved when they were gone.

Turkish Hospitality

I have participated in many conferences in four corners of the planet. Very few are the equal of the generous hospitality of the Turkish branch of UNESCO, and Gazi University. My gratitude and appreciation are granted.

Turkey is a fascinating country with a rich history. Capadocia is well recommended. I loved the way nature and modern society intertwined.

American Library Association’s Resolutions
You may be interested in these resolutions that were just passed at a recent ALA meeting in Chicago.


Whereas the American Library Association recognizes the contribution librarianship can make in giving support for efforts to inform and educate the people of the United States on critical problems facing society (Policy 1.1); and

Whereas the mission of ALA is to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all (Policy 1.2); and

Whereas ALA has as one of its officially stated goals that government information be widely and easily available (Policy 1.3: Priority Areas and Goals); and

Whereas inaccurate information, distortions of truth, excessive limitations on access to information, and the removal or destruction of information from the public domain are anathema to the ethos of librarianship and to the functioning of a healthy democracy; and

Whereas evidence exists revealing that some U.S. government officials
and agencies use disinformation in pursuit of political and economic power, as well as war, thwarting the development of an informed citizenry and constituting a “critical problem facing society”; and

Whereas the list of documented instances of government use of disinformation continues to grow, and includes:
? the distribution to media outlets of government produced “video news releases” under the guise of independent journalism;
? the use of commentators paid by government agencies to express views
favorable to government policies in clear violation of Federal Communications Commission regulations;
? the censorship of scientific studies warning of the true threat of global warming;
? the fabrication and deliberate distortion of information used to
justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq;
? the removal of public information from U.S. depository libraries; and
? heightened assaults on constitutional rights under the guise of “national security”;

therefore be it

Resolved that the American Library Association go on record as being opposed to the use by government of disinformation, media manipulation, the destruction and excision of public information, and other such tactics.

Resolved that the ALA encourages its members to teach and nurture 21st century information literacy skills among the American public to help them detect disinformation, media manipulation, and missing information.

Resolved that ALA encourages libraries to actively seek and acquire alternative information resources that provide a broad context for public understanding and evaluation of news and opinion.

Resolved that this resolution be shared broadly with members of ALA, the press, the public and government officials.

Moved by Elaine Harger
Seconded by Peter McDonald

June 26, 2005

Supporting Documentation:

ALA policy references:
1.1 Mission, Priority Areas, Goals – Introduction
1.2 Mission
1.3 Priority Areas and Goals
52.4.1 The Rights of Library Users and the USA PATRIOT

Selected Bibliography on Disinformation

1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Washington DC: U.S. Congress.
1971 Pentagon Papers, by Neil Sheehan et al. New York: New York Times
1975 Inside the Company: CIA Diary, by Philip Agee.
London: Allen Lane
1978 Dirty Work: the CIA in western Europe, by Philip Agee, & Louis Wolf. New York: Dorset Press
1982 The Real Terror Network: terrorism in fact and propaganda, by Edward S. Herman. Boston: South End Press
1985 Storm Over Chile, by Samuel Chavkin. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company
1988 Agents of Repression: the FBI’s secret wars against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall. Boston: South End Press
1989 The “Terrorism” Industry: the experts and institutions that shape our view of terror, by Edward S. Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan. New York: Pantheon.
1990 COINTELPRO Papers: documents from the FBI’s secret war against dissent in the United States, by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall.
Boston: South End Press
1997 Warriors of Disinformation, by Alvin Snyder. New York: Arcade
1999 Cultural Cold War: the CIA and the world of arts and letters, by Frances Stonor Saunders. New York: The New Press
1999 Psywar on Cuba : the declassified history of U.S. anti-Castro
propaganda, edited by Jon Elliston. Melbourne, Vic. & New York: Ocean Press
2002 Body of Secrets : anatomy of the ultra-secret National Security Agency: from the Cold War through the dawn of a new century, by James Bamford. New York: Anchor Books
2003 Covert Action: the roots of terrorism, edited by Ellen Ray and William H. Schapp. Melbourne: Ocean Press
2003 Abuse Your Illusions: the disinformation guide to media mirages and establishment lies, edited by Russ Kick. New York: Disinformation
2004 Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
2004 Inside the Pentagon Papers, by John Prados and Margaret Pratt Porter. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.
2005 The Chavez Code: deciphering the intervention of the United States in Venezuela, by Eva Golinger. Editorial de Ciencias Sociales

Resolution on the Connection between the Iraq War and Libraries

Whereas, the justifications for the invasion of Iraq have proven to be completely unfounded; and
Whereas, the war already has taken the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqis and more than 1700 U.S. soldiers; and
Whereas, these numbers will continue to mount as long as the U.S. remains in Iraq; and
Whereas, during the current occupation, many of Iraq's cultural treasures, including libraries, archives, manuscripts, and artifacts, have been destroyed, lost, or stolen; and Whereas, as long as U.S. forces remain in Iraq, the inevitable escalation of fighting threatens further destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage; and
Whereas, the U.S. is spending billions of dollars every month for the occupation; and
Whereas, even a small fraction of these resources would be more than sufficient for rebuilding and greatly enhancing the libraries and educational institutions of both Iraq and the US;

be it Resolved that the American Library Association calls for the withdrawal from Iraq of all U.S. military forces, and the return of full sovereignty to the people of Iraq.

Resolved that the American Library Association urges the United States government to subsequently shift its budgetary priorities from the occupation of Iraq to improved support for vital domestic programs, including U.S. libraries.

Resolved that the American Library Association calls upon the United States government to provide material assistance through the United Nations for the reconstruction of Iraq, including its museums, libraries, schools, and other cultural resources.

Resolved that this resolution be sent to all members of Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the President of the United States, and the press.

Related ALA policies:
18.4 Resolution on Libraries and Cultural Resources in Iraq (June 25,
53.7 Destruction of Libraries
53.8 Libraries: an American Value
Additional precedent: ALA Resolution on the Southeast Asia Conflict
Mover: Tom Twiss; Seconder: Mary Sue Brown Approved by ALA Council, June 29, 2005

Resolution on Workplace Speech

WHEREAS the American Library Association is firmly committed to freedom of expression (Policy 53.1.12); and

WHEREAS the library is an institution that welcomes and promotes the expression of all points of view; and

WHEREAS library staff are uniquely positioned to provide guidance on library policy issues that is informed by their experience and education; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED that ALA Council amend Policy 54 (Library Personnel Practices) by adding:

54.21 Workplace Speech

Libraries should encourage discussion both among librarians and library workers and with members of the library’s administration of non-confidential professional and policy matters about the operation of the library and matters of public concern within the framework of applicable laws.

Moved by Al Kagan, SRRT Councilor
Seconded by Mark Rosenzweig, Councilor at Larger

Endorsed by ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee Endorsed by ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table

Approved by ALA Council, June 26, 2005

New Article
Raphael Cohen-Almagor, "On Compromise and Coercion", Ratio Juris, Vol. 19, No. 4 (December 2006), pp. 434-455.

This essay addresses the concepts of compromise and coercion. When compromise takes place between two or more parties, reciprocity must be present; that is, the concessions are mutual. A relevant distinction is between principled and tactical compromise. A principled compromise refers to a mutual recognition by each side of the other’s rights, which leads them to make concessions to enable them to meet on a middle ground. It is genuinely made in good faith and both sides reconcile themselves to the results. On the other hand, the notion of tactical compromise reflects temporary arrangement reached as a result of constraints related to time. Here, in fact, agents do not give up any of their aims. They do not act in good faith and do not intend to meet their counterpart on a middle ground. Instead, they simply realize that the end could not be achieved at a given point of time, and they aim to reach it stage by stage. The essential component of compromise, namely mutuality, is lacking.
Next, the paper draws a further distinction between internalized coercion and designated coercion. Internalized coercion relates to the system of manipulation to which members of a certain sub-culture are subjected, which prevents them from realizing that they are being coerced to follow a certain conception that denies them basic rights. Designated coercion is individualistic in nature, aimed at a certain individual who rebels against the discriminatory norm. Unlike the internalized coercion it is not concerned with machinery aiming to convince the entire cultural group of an irrefutable truth; instead it is designed to exert pressure on uncertain, “confused” individuals so as to bring them back to their community.

I’d be happy to send the essay to interested parties.

New Book

Anthony Giddens, Sociology, 5th edition (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006).

Essential Reading

Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner (Riverhead Books, 2003). This is a true gem. One of the best books I have read during the past decade. Sensitive. Realistic. Touching. You will have difficulties to put the book down for a break. A must read.

Video Clips
Some things to ponder and appreciate:
only 100 people left

Beautiful mind – look and feel humble

Beautiful Photos
This time from Romania

Chandrashekhar Subrahmanyam on His First Day at School in the USA

It was the first day of school and a new student named Chandrashekhar Subrahmanyam entered the fourth grade. The teacher said, "Let's begin by reviewing some History. Who said "Give me Liberty, or give me Death"?She saw a sea of blank faces, except for Chandrashekhar, who had his hand up: "Patrick Henry, 1775" he said."Very good!" Who said "Government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the Earth?"Again, no response except from Chandrashekhar. "Abraham Lincoln, 1863" said Chandrashekhar. The teacher snapped at the class, "Class, you should be ashamed.Chandrashekhar, who is new to our country, knows more about its history than you do." She heard a loud whisper: "Fuck the Indians," "Who said that?" she demanded.Chandrashekhar put his hand up. "General Custer, 1862."
At that point, a student in the back said, "I'm gonna puke." The teacher glares around and asks "All right! Now, who said that?"Again, Chandrashekhar says, "George Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991."Now furious, another student yells, "Oh yeah? Suck this!" Chandrashekhar jumps out of his chair waving his hand and shouts to the teacher, "Bill Clinton, to Monica Lewinsky, 1997!" Now with almost a mob hysteria someone said "You little shit. If you say anything else, I'll kill you." Chandrashekhar frantically yells at the top of his voice, "Gary Condit to Chandra Levy, 2001."The teacher fainted. And as the class gathered around the teacher on the floor, someone said, "Oh shit, we're fucked!" And Chandrashekhar said quietly, "Ehud Olmert, 2006."

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on
Earlier posts at my home page:

Center for Democratic Studies