Saturday, 16 June 2007

GUEST COMMENTARY: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ON HAMAS' TAKEOVER OF GAZA

Ken Berwitz

Don't you just love it when people you respect agree with you?

As someone with an eclectic set of positions, a good number of which are to the Republican/conservative side, in a largely liberal Democratic family and neighborhood, that is rarely the case for me.

But today is different.  The Wall Street Journal has editorialized about hamas'  takeover of Gaza, which I blogged about yesterday, and we are in virtually complete agreement.  Here it is:

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Arafat's Children
Gaza's mayhem is the bitter fruit of terror as statecraft.

Saturday, June 16, 2007 12:01 a.m.

Scores of Palestinians were killed this week in Gaza in factional fighting between loyalists of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and those of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. As if on cue, it took about 24 hours before pundits the world over blamed the violence on Israel and President Bush.

This is the Israel that dismantled its settlements in Gaza in August 2005, a unilateral concession for which it asked, and got, nothing in return. And it is the U.S. President who, in a landmark speech five years ago this month, called on Palestinians to "elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." Had Palestinians done so, they could be living today in a peaceful, independent state. Instead, in January 2006 they freely handed the reins of government to Hamas in parliamentary elections. What is happening today is the result of that choice--their choice.

That election didn't simply emerge from a vacuum, however. It is a consequence of the cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history and which has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years.

In 1972 Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Yet only two years later Yasser Arafat addressed the U.N.'s General Assembly--the first non-government official so honored. In 1970 Arafat attempted to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein and tried to do the same a few years later in Lebanon. Yet in 1980, the European Community, in its Venice Declaration, recognized Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate negotiating partner.

In 1973, the National Security Agency recorded Arafat's telephoned instructions to PLO terrorists to murder Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador in Sudan, and his deputy George Curtis Moore. Yet in 1993, Arafat was welcomed in the White House for the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel. That same year, the British National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that the PLO made its money from "extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud." Yet over the next several years, the Palestinian Authority would become the largest single recipient of foreign aid on a per capita basis.

In 1996, after he had formally renounced terrorism in the Oslo Accords, Arafat told a rally in Gaza that "we are committed to all martyrs who died for the cause of Jerusalem starting with Ahmed Musa until the last martyr Yihye Ayyash"--Musa being the first PLO terrorist to be killed in 1965 and Ayyash being the Hamas mastermind of a series of suicide bombings in which scores of Israeli civilians were killed. Yet the Clinton Administration continued to pretend that Arafat was an ally in the fight against Hamas. In 2000, Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of statehood midwifed by President Clinton and instead initiated the bloody intifada that left 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead.

In 2005, only months after Arafat's death, Israel dismantled its settlements and withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have used the opportunity to intensify their rocket fire at civilian targets within Israel. Last month, Israeli security services arrested two Gazan women, one of them pregnant, who were planning to enter Israel on medical pretexts in order to carry out suicide attacks. Yet the same month, the World Bank issued a report faulting Israel for restricting Palestinian freedom of movement.

Now it appears Hamas has taken control of the Gaza Strip's main road and its border with Egypt, as well as the offices of the so-called Preventive Security Services, traditionally a Fatah stronghold. "They are executing them one by one," a witness told the Associated Press of Hamas's reprisals against the Preventive Security personnel.

We do not pretend to know where all this will lead. On Thursday, Mr. Abbas dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency, though he seems powerless to change the course of events in Gaza. Israel could conceivably intervene, as could Egypt, and both states have powerful reasons to prevent the emergence of a Hamastan with close links to Iran hard on their borders. But neither do they wish to become stuck in the Strip's bottomless factionalism and fanaticism.

At the same time, pressure will surely mount on Israel and the U.S. to accept Hamas's ascendancy and begin negotiations with its leaders. According to this reasoning, the Bush Administration cannot demand democracy of the Palestinians and then refuse to recognize the results of a democratic election.

But leave aside the fact that Mr. Bush did not simply call for an election: Is it wise to negotiate with a group that kills its fellow Palestinians almost as freely as it does Israelis? And what would there be to negotiate about? The best-case scenario--a suspension of hostilities in exchange for renewed international funding--would simply give Hamas time and money to consolidate its rule and rebuild an arsenal for future terror assaults. Then, too, the last thing the Palestinians need is yet further validation from the wider world that the violence they now inflict so indiscriminately works.

The deeper lesson here is that a society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing would inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. This is not the result of Mr. Bush's call for democratic responsibility; it is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.  -

The WSJ gets it.  I would like to think most rational people do too.  But, sadly, I know better.  Some people are trapped by their knee-jerk reflex to blame Israel, blame the USA and blame President Bush for everything, and since this is part of everything they get blamed for this too.

As Bob Dylan sang, "Oh when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?"


ROOTING FOR OUR SIDE

Ken Berwitz

Attention senate malaise leader harry reid and disparager of the house nancy pelosi:

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Gates says Iraq troop surge only starting to bite

by Jim MannionSat Jun 16, 8:25 AM ET

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday that a troop surge in Iraq is only starting to have its full impact and that it is too soon to tell whether conditions will be ripe by September for decisions on US force levels.

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said that the latest troop reinforcements to arrive in theatre had enabled the military to begin major operations against Al-Qaeda rear-bases outside the capital.

"While I indicated yesterday that I think we'll see some trends and be able to point in some directions by September, the full impact of the surge is really just beginning to be felt," Gates said. -

Now, will you both stop telling our troops and our country and the world that the troop surge is a failure before it begins?  Who knows, it might even convince a few people that you're more interested in our success against terrorists and murderers than you are in short term political gain.

Thank you.


OZYMANDAFAT

Ken Berwitz


                  I met a traveller from an antique land,
               Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
             Stand in the desert . . . . Near them, on the sand,
               Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
                And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
               Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
            Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
               The hand that mocked them, the heart that fed;
                  And on the pedestal, these words appear:
                    My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
                  Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
                  Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
                 Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
                 The lone and level sands stretch far away."


 

Yasir Arafat was the savior of the "palestinian people" ****  They loved him with all their hearts.  Next to Allah, he was their god, their king, their redeemer.  The fact that he was stealing the money which should have been used to better their lives, and passing it off to his buddies and to his personal swiss bank accounts?  What of it?

 

Well, Arafat is now dead.  And in death his patina of greatness has, shall we say, tarnished a bit.  Read this:

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Crowd loots Gaza home of Arafat

Published:  06.16.07, 13:20 / Israel News

A crowd on Saturday looted the home of longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, destroying one of the strongest symbols of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip, witnesses and Fatah officials said.

 

Fatah officials said the crowd took furniture, wall tiles and Arafat's personal belongings. (AP)

-

 

Incidentally, that gorgeous poem I led with is titled "Ozymandius".  It was written by the great Percy Bysshe Shelley and published  in 1817. 

 

Shelley must have been a visionary:  How else could he have known so much about Yasir Arafat?

 

---------------------------------------------------------------

****(I put "palestinian people" in quotes because there is no such thing. 

 

Arafat invented the "palestinian people" in the mid 1960's.  Try and find any history book - including Arab history books - published before the 1960's that mention "palestinians" and mean only Arabs.  You can look until your eyes fall out and you won't find one.

 

Before Arafat co-opted the term and used it to invent a bogus people, Palestinians - correctly - were anyone, regardless of who they were, where they came from or who they worshipped, living on the land area of Palestine.

 

Once, many centuries ago, there was a Palestinian tribe (actually they were the Philistines - Palestine is the greco-roman pronunciation for Philistine).  They were neither Arabs nor Muslims.  They existed as a tribe for about 400 years, then were largely wiped out over 700 years before Christ by the Assyrians.  The few survivors scattered and assimilated into other populations


MICHAEL NIFONG'S DISBARMENT

Ken Berwitz

Here's the news, one day after Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong's hearing, during which he resigned - as if they would have let him continue:-

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A disciplinary committee said Saturday disgraced prosecutor Mike Nifong would be disbarred for his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rapea punishment the veteran prosecutor admitted was appropriate.

"This matter has been a fiasco. There's no doubt about it," said committee chairman F. Lane Williamson.

The North Carolina State Bar charged Nifong with breaking several rules of professional conduct, including lying to both the court and bar investigators and withholding critical DNA test results from the players' defense attorneys.

The committee, after deliberating for a little more than an hour on Saturday, unanimously agreed with the bar on almost every chargeincluding the most serious allegationsthat Nifong's actions involved "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation."

The veteran prosecutor, who had already pledged to resign his position in Durham County, would waive any right to appeal the punishment, said his attorney, David Freedman.  -

Good.


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