Monday, December 24, 2007

Idiot of the Day Award

As many of you may have read, Israel is considering broadening the criteria for Palestinians prisoners qualifying for release in a potential swap. The negotiators claim that with current "no blood on their hands" criteria, there are no prisoners left!!
So today on the morning radio I heard Rafi Eitan, the health minister offer forth the following argument for release of murderers, including the ringleader Marwan Barguti: The prisoners organise themselves and remain activist in prison anyway (evidently we allow them to do so). So there's no reason to hold on to them, and if and when they return to terrorism (which they are extremely likely to do) we can simply arrest them again or kill them.
This is not only morally bankrupt but sheer lunacy. The terrorists kill or injure Israelis. IDF risks soldiers lives to capture them, after they commit terrorist acts. They are tried and convicted in a court of law. We then summarily release them so that they continue their activities, thus risking the lives of their potential victims and of the soldiers who have to arrest them again. Can you imagine Rafi Eitan making the same argument for releasing jailed common criminals?

Very compelling logic and brilliant strategic thinking.

Matan Vilnai, vice primier, and another over-confident and under-intelligent minister, states that we have to do anything to secure Shalit's release, and if this means releasing the arch-terrorist Barguti, then so be it. According to this logic, even if Hamas demands we withdraw from Jerusalem or disband the IDF we must do so, since we must pay any price.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Israel's Newspapers

Here's another example of the Israeli press's immature journalism and Ami Ayalon's stupidity.
Suddenly, yesterday every paper was carrying a story reporting some of this idiot's remarks, that could come either from the journal "Duh!", or from Neville Chamberlain's School of International Relations. Here are some of the "pearls" quoted in the stories:
1. There is a military intelligence "failure" in that we don't have enough information to rescue Shalit.
2. We should do no less to stop the Qassams than what we're doing to get Shalit back (presumable he means talk to Hamas)
3. Here's to real duezy: Hamas is now asking for a cease fire because they are in distress, for what reason? Because of the diplomatic process since Annapolis. (Not because of our military successes against them)

I can't believe that this guy was really head of the Shabak! Its kind of scary that he has a say in government policies.

Ayalon's PR man must have launched a campaign to get him some publicity, otherwise how can we explain why the ranting of a second rate politician suddenly appear in the headlines in all of the online papers? Israel's major newspapers, in their unprofessionalism, cooperate in this scam.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Now I figured it out

In one of my Shabbat discusions with a friend, I finally came to understand the essence of why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is destined to continue, and why around the world we are so misunderstood:

Good will.

Online definition:
"An attitude of kindness or friendliness; benevolence.
Cheerful acquiescence or willingness.
A good relationship, as of a business with its customers or a nation with other nations."

The American/western culture, in essence, values the "other" and sees conflict as a way of resolving misunderstanding. In other words, if 2 parties have a disagreement, it results from misunderstanding each other. Since the parties really want to resolve their differences, negotiation is really about problem solving and increasing each side's understanding of the other's needs and interests, thereby finding a creative solution. Everybody wins. American negotiation is characterized by pragmatic problem solving, with "goodwill" gestures and avoiding dirty tricks.

This is not part of Palestinian Arab culture, which sees negotiation more as a zero sum gain. I win and you lose. They are not men of good will. Gestures on our part, which we and the Americans see as "goodwill", are seen by them as concessions out of weakness, to be pocketed, and used in the future against us. Have we ever seen a "good will" gesture from them? I'm not saying we're all sugary with them, but there is a gulf between us in our basic approaches to negotiation. Herein lies the problem. We approach peace talks from a problem solving point of view, they view it as a method to defeat us, in lieu of or in parallel to, military force. In this case the rules of negotiation are very different than ours. Lying, cheating, and trickery are legitimate tools in negotiation to defeat the enemy. (They quite openly still refer to us as the "enemy"). Witness Iran's antics in dealing with the West.

Here in Israel I work for a medical HMO. We have branches in East Jerusalem, run by local Arabs. I am told by my administrative colleagues that doing projects with them is nearly impossible. Why? Because we'll set up a meeting, come up with agreement on a plan, and shake hands over it. Later, when the plan isn't implemented, when the local Arab administrative head is confronted, he behaves as though no plan was agreed upon and we have to start all over.

So the Americans and Europeans see the problem as an issue of misunderstanding, whereas in truth, we understand each other all too well.

Therefore, I don't see a resolution in the foreseeable future, until the Pals lose all hope of defeating us.