Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tale of the Reversed Narrative


By Yisrael Medad

This is not a normal mystery tale. There is no Sherlock Holmes nor a Dr. Watson involved. Nevertheless, it has always been an enigma to me, and perhaps others, how figures of Israel’s Post-Zionist camp get away with their sleight-of-mind propaganda shenanigans.

Post-Zionism I consider the most deconstructionist (no pun intended) unarmed element to Israel’s security and future existence. The Hebrew University’s Baruch Kimmerling, a leading icon of this camp, published an example of its outlook this month at the trendy web site. Entitled “The two catastrophes”, he asserted, in a claim of fatuous equivalency, that both Israelis and Palestinians have memories “marked by inconceivable tragedy” that need be understood so that each can move beyond the past.

Kimmerling’s warped approach becomes even more devious for he goes on to claim that “the ethnic cleansing of Arabs must be seen within the context of the Holocaust”, a situation that need be balanced so as “to reach a certain ‘equilibrium of catastrophes’." In doing this, Kimmerling would appear to play loose with historical facts. His alternative, post-zionist narrative is less than authentic. It is, indeed, more than disingenuous for he, like his fellow travelers, is hiding the truth.

While he agrees in the article with the late Edward Said that even though in 1948, “the Jews carried out [brutal] ethnic cleansing”, this “cannot be compared with the systematic genocide of the Holocaust”. But he is less than generous with his sympathy because he considers the introduction of the Holocaust into the discourse “insufferable because the Palestinians are not an ‘involved party’ to the Holocaust.”

Going one step further, Biblical roots of Jews in the Holy Land, the Hebrew University professor points out, are but a 2,000 year old argument which is countered by one of just a mere 57 years ago. “This whole strange game of ‘who preceded whom’ is,” to Kimmerling’s thinking, “an absurdity.”

Here, then, is where the two narratives, one a complete reverse of the actual course of events, must unlink themselves.

First, ethnic cleansing, used here as a predated solecism, was pursued first by the Arabs of the Palestine Mandate. In March 1920, Arabs expelled Jews from Tel Hai and in 1921 tried to do oust the Jews from Petah Tikva, then a 40 year-old settlement. In August 1929, they succeeded, through a brutal three-week pogrom campaign, to cleanse Hebron, Shchem and Gaza of its Jewish population that extended back centuries. Other communities were razed. Later, in the 1948 war, Jews of Bet Ha’Arava, Kfar Darom, Neveh Yaakov, Atarot and the Old City of Jerusalem were “cleansed” out of their homes.

But more basically, throughout that pre-state period, Arabs opposed any right of domicile whatsoever of Jews anywhere in the Mandate territory, which, we need be reminded, extended from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It was their constant demand to limit and restrict and, eventually, depopulate the country of Jews. That pernicious attitude continues today but is ignored by the proponents of a “post” era.

Second, too often overlooked is the crucial influence the Arabs of Palestine had on British colonial policy in the late 1930s that dovetailed with the eventual horrific consequences of Hitler’s intentions. The Arab violence, both urban and rural, in 1933 and then, beginning with Sheikh Aziz A-Din El-Qasam in 1935 and continuing throughout 1936-1939, was the main factor that caused the British regime to close the gates to Jewish immigrants from Europe.

Palestine Arabs, supported by the weapons and irregular forces of neighboring Arab countries, effectively allowed Hitler to catch as many as six million Jews in his Holocaust net rather than tens, or perhaps, hundreds of thousands escaping to the Land of Israel. It was, in the main, their terror that pressured the British into formulating the White Paper of 1939 that limited land purchases and prevented entry to Jews fleeing persecution. British archives, as Bernard Wasserstein revealed in his 1979 study “Britain and the Jews of Europe”, are full of the notes of colonial officials who thwarted attempts to get refugees out of the clutches of the Nazis, then were caught up in the death camps, due to Arab influence.

The Holocaust could not have been as accomplished as it was without the lending hand of the Arabs. They cannot escape their culpability and pseudo-academics who ignore this ugly chapter in the relations between Jews and Arabs during the Palestine Mandate period

Third, Kimmerling overlooks the very active participation of the leader of Palestine’s Arabs, Mufti Amin El-Husseini, and others in Holocaust efforts. These included propaganda broadcasts to the Arab world, mobilizing Muslim units to fight alongside Hitler’s Waffen SS, parachuting Arab agents into the Mandate to poison its water supply as well as residence in Berlin. He called on Hitler to “accord to Palestine…the right to solve the problem of the Jewish elements…by the same method, that the question is now being settled in the Axis countries.”

Kimmerling and others of his ilk promote the false idea that Israel was founded and built upon the ruins of an Arab society and culture, a tale of a reversed narrative.

(a slightly different, edited version of this piece appeared in the Jerusalem Post on December 30, 2004 at )

Friday, December 24, 2004

Outline of A Legal Strategy Against Disengagement

I am trying to develop a legal line for a possible appeal to either Israel's High Court of Justice (Bagatz) or even the International Court of Justice.I am well aware that many of the lawyers I have turned to either fear that Israel's justices are too far left in their personal opinions to be sympathetic with the arguments or that the international tribunal even less so.

Nevertheless, since I do think my arguments logical and truthful, and becausein a very fundamental sense the protest activity we are engaged in and what Pinchas Wallerstien is now promoting - a non-violent but direct action campaign -is based on these arguments, we are going to have to "go public" eventually in some forum, even if it be magistrates' courts as a result of being arrested in Gush Katif or on the way there.I will keep my points short and concise. As we are still waiting the publicationof Howard Grief's book, much more detail can be found here:

Please review this and let me know what you think. And if there are any lawyers out there who can write this up as a proper petition, you must get in touch with me.

Here's the outline:

1. The right of a Jew to live, reside and make a livelihood, a right grounded in religious, demographic and historical traditions, custom and realities a 3,000 years old, was recognized by international law in 1920 at the San Remo Conference and thencodified by the highest international body at the time, the Supreme Council of theLeague of Nations in its July 1922 decision granting Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine.

2. That decision can be broken down into these elements:

a. the territory was originally to be all of what was then considered Palestine, east as well as west of the Jordan River.
b. even though Trans-Jordan was suspended from the terms of the Jewish National Home, for sure all of the area west of the Jordan River, i.e., Judea, Samaria and Gaza, were included.
c. the purpose of this decision was to reestablish and reconstitute in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people. Not one word was mentioned about "Arabs".
d. to accomplish this sacred undertaking, political, economic and administrative conditions to secure this development needed to be taken (Article 2).
e. no territory of Palestine (at the least, J, S & G) was to be ceded, leased or in any way placed under the control of the government of any foreign power (Article 5).
d. the right of Jews to closely settle on the land was of paramount consideration (Article 6).

3. This decision was to be implemented by the Jewish Agency of the World Zionist Organization.

4. The 1952 Law of the Status of the JA/WZO designated the JA/WZO as the body to continue to operate for the development and the settlement of the country. A second law, in 1954, established a "pact" which granted the JA/WZO the right to represent World Jewry in the fields of immigration and settlement.

5. Ever since 1967, J, S & G have indeed been "settled" by the JA/WZO.

6. Thus we come to the crucial part of my argument which may be a bit new:
While the state of Israel can, theoretically, withdraw its forces from J, S & G, they cannot expell and transfer Jews out of their homes, farms and factories. This prohibition is based on international law and the laws of the state of Israel itself. A Jew has the principled right to live anywhere in J,S & G.
Therefore, any Jew currently living in Gush Katif or any of the northern Samarian communities who belongs to the WZO (being a member of NRP, Likud, Moledet, etc. is enough to qualify your standing in this case as they are members of ther WZO) should be able to petition the courts against the Disengagement Law and any subsequent actions taken based on that law.

The Pervasiveness of Bias

As the NYT's correspondent Greg Myre reports, Arabs of the Palestine Authority voted in "orderly municipal elections" and that "the turnout was large and the voting went smoothly, with no major glitches or security problems reported" ("Palestinian Voting Is Held Without Serious Incident", Dec. 24, 2004).

This reality, of course, highlights the falsity of the media-hype that was generated by PA spokespersons seeking to accuse Israel, aforehand, as interfering with the process of democratization upon which a peace depends. Israel, they succeeded in doing, is first guilty and when proven correct, no one remembers. This tactic is successful, too often, due to the bias that has crept into Western thinking as Senator Charles Schumer pointed out in his own letter published on the same day.

(One sentence in your Dec. 18 editorial "Timely Help for the Palestinians" betrays the subtle and inherent bias against Israel that pervades too much of Western thought. When supporting the removal of Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, you write, "While those checkpoints have undoubtedly reduced the number of attacks by suicide bombers, they have made it virtually impossible for average Palestinians to move freely, whether going to the polls or simply trying to go to work."

Doesn't it make sense that Palestinians should be required to eliminate the suicide bombers
in their midst before Israel is forced to open checkpoints? What other nation would be asked
to put the ability of its adversaries to move freely over the need to protect the lives of its people?

Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator from New York

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Lost Raiders

Here's a Reuters story. Arabs die in a "raid". But who led the raid?
Was it the Pals. or the Israelis?
And which "raid" started first? Who "began" it?

December 19, 2004

2 Palestinians Die in RaidBy REUTERS

GAZA, Dec. 18 (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinian militants on Saturday,
the second day of a raid in Khan Yunis, a refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip,
medics and witnesses said.

Israel began the raid on Friday to curtail mortar attacks on Jewish settlements.

Anyone Seen Any Terrorists?

Well, the terminology gets a bit more complicated. We're in Iraq with this story. In addition to "militants" (who kill pupils with bombs), we also have "insurgents". But still no "terrorists".

Militants' Bomb Misfires, Hitting School Bus; Pupil Dies
Published: December 19, 2004

ERBIL, Iraq, Dec. 18 - One Iraqi eighth grader was killed and six others wounded Saturday morning in Mosul when insurgents trying to detonate a roadside bomb in the path of a routine American patrol misfired and hit a school bus full of children, the military said.

American troops identified and fired at insurgents nearby, killing one, military officials said, following the 7:45 a.m. attack in Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Insurgents also staged several attacks in north-central Iraq on Saturday, killing one Iraqi and wounding eight others at an election center near Samarra and wounding four American security contractors in Baiji.

Something Missing

In practically all the media reports on the collapsed tunnel in Rafiah over Friday and Saturday, the element left out was the most intriguing from a media point-of-view.

Israel diverted its military efforts to aid in the rescue of Arabs who had been trapped 23 hours in a collapsed underground weapons smuggling tunnel. Ambulances were allowed into the no-go area.

Israel's standards of morality recently have been questioned regarding the shooting of children, harassment at checkpoints and mutiliation of the dead. That Israel, whose citizens suffer daily bombardment and shootings from the weapons brought in from Egypt via these tunnels, would deign to expend its resources to rescue these terrorists once again illustrates its high level of commitment to all human life.

And, of course, the non-reporting of the story reflects negatively on the media.

Who is Escalating Whom?

notice the use of "escalate" by Israel and the Pals. in this UPI story:

Violence grows in post Arafat era
GAZA, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A Palestinian report released Saturday suggests the Israeli army escalated its military actions against Palestinians after Yasser Arafat's Nov. 11 death.

The PLO report said that between Nov. 11 and Friday the Israeli army has not stopped carrying out incursions, demolishing houses and committing assassination. The report also noted Israel did not stop the construction of the barrier, which Palestinians call a wall, in the West Bank in addition to confiscating Palestinian land and imposing curfews.

Palestinian militants during the same period escalated their mortar and missile attacks on Jewish settlements in Gaza and southern Israel, as well as firing at Israeli troops and Jewish settlers' vehicles.

Another example of balanced, ethical, reliable and non-discriminatory reporting.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Crying Over a Weeping Friedman

Thomas L. Friedman is weeping ("Holding Up Arab Reform", Dec. 16) because the publication of the third Arab Human Development Report is being delayed due to a U.S. demand that its prologue, critical of Israeli occupation and the American invasion of Iraq, be rewritten.

Friedman belittle's the prologue but he is being disengenuous. That introduction assigns the primary responsibility for all that needs reform in the Arab world at Israel's doorstep. It is biased, unfactual and academically unprofessional.

And if Friedman excuses it "to give political cover to the Arab authors", then he is need of reform himself.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

No Damage Caused?

Quoting from an AP report, the New York Times informed
its readers that an anti-tank missile was fired into a
civilian Jewish community in Gaza. While it caused no
damage or injuries, the missile had exploded near a
nursery school.

The report then noted that "Palestinian militants
frequently fire rockets and mortar shells at
settlements and army bases, but they rarely cause
casualties." ("Israel, Palestinians Reach Election
Plan", Dec. 8). This last phrase is obviously a
throwaway, as if to say 'well, nothing happened so why
get all upset and injuries or worse are rare, so who
really cares'.

Rarely caused casualties are not to be dismissed as
insignificant. The intent of the planning and effort
of these "militants" is to kill and maim innocent
civilians and, in this specific case, infants and
young kindergarten children. They are not 'militants'
but coldblooded killers, terrorists.

I hope that the NYT will pursue the issue of the questionable journalistic validity of continuing to use the term "militants"
and its use will soon come to a conclusion and that the word will not be employed to describe such actions and operations.

The wording of the AP report should not have been
adopted by the New York Times.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Follow the Money Trail

Greg Myre writes in the New York Times that Palestinians are dependent on international aid "which has approached $1 billion dollars annually for a Palestinian population of fewer than four million" ("Poverty Worsening in Israel and Palestinian Areas, 2 Studies Find", Nov. 24).

Unfortunately, he neglected to note that many tens of millions of those donor nation funds have been embezzeled by corrupt Palestinian Authority officials, from Yasir Arafat on down. Kickbacks and skimming are most rampant. Other monies feed the terror campaign. This is one aspect of the poverty that cannot be blamed on Israel, or can it?

So, When is a Terrorist Not A Militant?

I found this report on the NYT web site on November 21. (URL below).

Islamic Jihad is an officially recognized terror group.(*)
Why, then, does the NYT insist on using the term"militant" when the group itself acknowledges the person's organizational affiliation while on a mission of violence? Why not "terrorist"?

The report:
"In violence Sunday, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian militant who tried to attack a Gaza road frequented by Jewish settlers, the Israeli army and Islamic Jihad said. The army confirmed it killed one militant during the incident, which occurred in an off-limits area not far from a crossing point into Israel. It said soldiers chased after another armed man, but Islamic Jihad said he escaped unarmed. The Islamic Jihad confirmed in a statement one of its men was killed in the incident.

(*) State Department Identifies 37 Foreign Terrorist Organizations
A listing of terrorist organizations and groups is included in "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003", areport released by the Department of State on April 29. Designation of a group as a foreign terrorist organization results in the U.S. government blocking assets held in U.S. financial institutions, denying their members visas, and making it a criminal offense for U.S. citizens or persons within U.S. jurisdiction to provide them with material support or resources.

Following is the list of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, determined by the Secretary of State, plus a list of other terrorist organizations that the report identifies as active in the past year Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2003U.S. Department of StateWashington, D.C. April 29, 2004
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)
Hizballah (Party of God)
Kahane Chai
Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

To which, I received this reply:-

Dear Yisrael Medad,

Thanks for the message. Mr. Okrent briefly touched on this in a recent web journal post where he also said he would be revisiting this issue at some point during his tenure.

Personally, I was torn until a conversation I had last week with a reader from Germany. Absent any clear definition, I felt, it seemed reasonable to use "abuse" if it helped keep temperatures down, much as the use of "militant" instead of "terrorist" in the Palestine-Israel conflict suggests a sometimes misplaced wish neither to take sides nor to be inflammatory (many supporters of Israel feel very differently about this, and I expect to address the specific issue in a future column). I will keep the example you sent us on file for him.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sharon Worse Than Clinton?

President Bill Clinton's Library opened and I searched through its site. Did you know that,
of all people, he refused to commit to a Palestinian state? Maybe Sharon should review his American policy history and realign with what is in Israel's best interests?

For Immediate Release September 28, 1998
AT The Oval Office 12:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I would like to publicly welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat. We have had a very, very good meeting today, following the one-on-one meeting that the Prime Minister and the Chairman had last night, their first face-to-face meeting in a year. I believe that we all agree that we have made progresson the path to peace... And again I want to thank both these men for the open, candid, respectful way in which they worked and we worked together. And we're going to work at this now to see if we can get it done.

Q What are the major sticking -- Q Mr. President, there was --

THE PRESIDENT: Wait, wait. One, two, three. We'll do them all. Go ahead.

Q Mr. President, do you support the Palestinian state in principle, and do you think the Palestinians have the right to have a state made for -- or in principle, and self-determination for them?

THE PRESIDENT: In the Oslo Accords, that question was left for the final status negotiations. Because of the heavy involvement of the United States in the peace process, I believe it would be in error for me to comment on that. I think the important thing is that has to be resolved in the final status negotiations as provided for in the Oslo Accords. As long as the peace process is going forward, whatever the United States says on that publicly will be unhelpful to the ultimate outcome.
Q Mr. President, the First Lady commented on this in public --
Q Mr. President, is it your assumption --

THE PRESIDENT: She did, but she's not the President and she's not trying to manage this peace process.That's a different thing. But I'm telling you the --we gave our word when we agreed to try to be an honestbroker to respect the Oslo process. And therefore -- I have to tell you, when I'm in Israel or when I'm with American Jewish groups, they also try to get me to say things that I said before I was the President and the broker of the process that I can no longer say. So it's a different -- I gave my word that I would be faithful to the process that these two parties set out for the resolution of their agreement, and I have to try to do that.

Vote Absentee

I would think there is a simple solution to the Palestinian Authority demand that elections scheduled for January 9 be conducted in Jerusalem, a demand that U.S. Secretary of State Powell forced Israel to commit to.

Why not absentee ballots?

If millions of Americans can vote abroad in a presidential and congressional campaign, as done earlier this month, less than 200,000 Arabs in Jerusalem should present no logistical nor political problem. That is, unless PA officials are interested in creating one.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Misquotation in NYTimes

Judith Miller's obituary of Yasir Arafat (Nov. 11) quotes Menachem Begin, Israel's former Prime Minister, as referring to Arafat as "a beast on two legs".

Actually, on June 8, 1982, Begin spoke during a debate in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. He referred to Arab terror directed against civilians, specifically children as his context. The minutes of the session read: "the children of Israel will happily go to school and joyfully return home, just like the children in Washington...We will defend our children. If the hand of any two-footed animal is raised against them, that hand will be cut off...".

Begin did not mention Arafat, but rather terrorists in a generic sense, those who deliberately target children. These were the "animals".

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Quoting the Wrong Quotations

I first met Menachem Begin personally in a synagogue in Queens in 1968. He was on an Israel Bonds tour and I and other Betar youth movement members provided an honor guard for the event. Of course, I had earlier "met" Begin through the books he wrote, which I had read. I had also been present, during my year of training in Israel in 1966-1967, at outdoor rallies and indoor meetings where he had spoken. Later, as a result of my work in the political field, I even took dictation from Mr. Begin in the summer of 1982 at coalition talks when he was prime minister.Thus, it was with interest and curiosity that I listened to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presenting his disengagement program to the nation. In his statement before the Knesset last week, he recalled words Begin spoke over two decades ago during the first debate on his autonomy plan. He also quoted two lines from a song penned by Begin's mentor, Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Obviously, he was seeking to underpin his drastic turn-about from traditional nationalist camp policies by attaching himself to luminaries of the past.There can be a problem in drawing historical parallels based on the relevance of what was once said, and it is obvious that Sharon was not that successful in attempting to mobilize this postmortem support. Let me start with Jabotinsky.Sharon noted that Jabotinsky possessed a vision for partnership and peace among the peoples of this land. In an article published in his last collection, The Jewish War Front, he even proposed the possibility of an Arab president for the future state of Israel. In the plenum, Sharon read two lines from a song written in 1934 that became a popular song of the Betar movement.Its fourth stanza reads: "There he will benefit from bountiful plenty and joy, the son of the Arab, the son of Nazareth and my son." The song's title, Sharon neglected to inform his listeners, is "The Left Bank of the Jordan" and the "there" in the line quoted is quite a different geographical reality from Sharon's disengagement. Jabotinsky's "there" was the entire area of the mandate granted to Great Britain by the League of Nations in 1922.To Jabotinsky's great regret, the mandate was whittled down considerably and all of Trans-Jordan, east of the Jordan River, was awarded to a Saudi Arabian refugee named Abdallah, a scion of the Hashemite family. Forced by his personal commitment to institutional discipline, Jabotinsky, as a member of the Zionist Executive, did not vote to reject the loss of homeland territory. But he later resigned in protest and his Revisionist party championed the concept of the integrity of the homeland.So, while Sharon sought to don a mantle that Jabotinsky once wore, in truth, his quotation was, to put it kindly, a slight misrepresentation. And now, to what Menachem Begin said.On December 28, 1977, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin presented his plan for Palestinian autonomy. Sharon quoted the following excerpt, where Begin refers to criticism directed against him from Chanan Porat of Gush Emunim:"I once said, during an argument with people from Gush Emunim, that I love them today, and will continue to like them tomorrow. I told them: 'You are wonderful pioneers, builders of the land... However, you have one weakness - you have developed among yourselves a messianic complex.... I call on you today, my good friends from Gush Emunim, to perform your tasks with no less modesty than your predecessors, on other days and nights. We do not require anyone to supervise the kashrut of our commitment to the Land of Israel!"It is easy to understand why Sharon selected these lines at this moment, faced as he is with his decision to expel some 8,000 people from their homes. Begin's legalistic approach, we know, led him to distinguish between Sinai and the former Mandate area. Sinai, Begin insisted, was not Eretz-Yisrael. Sharon, however, is dealing with Gaza and a portion of northern Samaria. This is another matter entirely.In fact, a few paragraphs on in his speech, we read Begin saying: "When it was demanded of us [in Washington] that we agree to the establishment of a so-called 'Palestinian' state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, we replied that in no way would we accept such an entity, which represents a mortal danger to the state of Israel."Moreover, in Begin's last public address, on August 14, 1983, he said: "As far as Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district are concerned, we have a perfect right to live and stay there;" a clear indication that his vision of the people of Israel in the land of Israel was quite different from that of Mr. Sharon.Words are important. People remember them. They remind us. Care, too, we now know, must be taken to guard them and to recall them in their context and circumstances. To do otherwise is to distort, something public debate should not tolerate.

Monday, October 18, 2004

From Left to 'Wrong'

I admit that in joining the Betar Zionist youth movement when I was 16 I
was not aware I was becoming a member of yet another minority within a

The move to Betar was borderline heresy in the black yarmulke world to
which I belonged, despite my having only joined it three years previously.
I was leaving my childhood friends behind and aligning with
the political Right just when the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam protest
movement was about to burst on to the scene.

While the ethos of the New Left beguiled much of my generation, I went
down a different road. At Zionist youth council meetings and joint kumzitz evenings
as well as at the annual folk dance festival at Madison Square Garden, "fascist" was
the epithet hurled at those of us in Betar by members of the pioneering youth movements.
It was they who came to control the Zionist apparatus and its budget within the World
Zionist Organization. The pioneers were ostensibly nonpolitical youth groups. In practice,
they were partisan and left-wing. Our movement's ideology, our reading of history, left us convinced that Hashomer Hatza'ir or Habonim were wrong. Our take on the communist threat to Israel
and to the Jews of the Soviet Union left us unenthused about the value of linkingup
with progressive forces.

Four decades later I have the sense that I am still part of a much-maligned minority, and that left-wing ideas shape the political orientation and cultural landscape of Israel's civil society.

GENE SHARP is the doyen of nonviolent direct action strategy at the Albert Einstein Institute in Boston. Recently I wrote him about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for unilateral disengagement from Gaza andnorthern Samaria.I drew his attention to the draconian elements of the new Disengagement Law being prepared for legislation. Paragraph 27(A) [2-3] decrees up to three years' imprisonment - five years if a policeman is endangered -for those who refuse to leave their homes. Thus employing the tactic
of passive resistance, such as a sit-in, is outlawed.

Sharp's reaction was striking. "Such an extreme law against explicitly nonviolent opposition may
drive people who prefer to use nonviolent methods instead to use violent methods."But Israel's Left,
in the media, Knesset and other corridors of power seem almost oblivious.

From where I sit, it seems that the Right is a particular target offree-speech restrictions. For example, any national camp figure employing the phrase "Oslo criminals" is excoriated. But when Yossi Sarid wrote in the September 23 edition of Haaretz that "the time hascome to admit that the crime of the settlements is the greatest crime in the history of the country" - inflammatory and inciteful from our point of view - nary a criticism was leveled. And what are we to make of Yahad MK Avshalom Vilan's August 20 interview
in Haaretz in which the Peace Now founder said, "I am telling you that the goal of the extreme Right is to create Jewish shaheeds."... In the end a situation is liable to be created in which the trigger will have to be squeezed slowly, responsibly, coolly and intelligently."But when Ofra's Uri Elitzur talks about having anti-disengagement demonstrators shoving soldiers trying to remove them, he is targeted as a seditionist.

And what are we to make of the sympathetic treatment Tali Fahima has been getting - at least judging by the advertisements that have appeared in the prestige press, and the talk radio chatter? She's the activist who was placed in administrative detention for allegedly intending to carry out a terrorist attack inside Israel
in conjunction with a Jenin-based terror cell.

Contrast her case with that of far-Right activist Noam Federman, who failed to garner expressions of concern about his eight months in administrative detention from progressive voices concerned with civil liberties.
More recently, rabbis who urge their pupils to talk to their commanders about not taking part in the disengagement plan have been pilloried. But soldiers who refuse to serve in the territories are upheld as paragons of morality.Haifa University philosopher Ilan Gur-Ze'ev is within his rights in advocating that Israelis embrace an exile-oriented education. But, then,why should talk on the theological Right about a Messianic Zionist
education be denigrated?

In September 2003 former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg wrote in Yediot Aharanot that " The Israeli nation today rests on a scaffolding of corruption, and on the foundations of oppression and injustice... [a state]
run by an amoral clique of corrupt lawmakers who are deaf both to their citizens and to their enemies.
A state lacking justice "

Harsh words. Perhaps as harsh as the words of Nadia Matar, who compared disengagement head Yonatan Bassi to a Judenrat official. The difference is that Matar's remarks landed her an appointment with the police, while Burg's didn't. Despite all the years that have passed since my decision to align mysel fwith the Zionist Right, I have still not become inured to the sense that my progressive opponents enjoy an unfair advantage.

The Jerusalem Post
October 17, 2004

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Just How Militant?

A letter to the special Middle East news editor of the BBC:-


See, please, the item from today on the BBC web site.

Just how "militant" was this militant?

Was he fiercely militant? Meekly militant? Non-violently militant? Was he militant enough to kidnap a CNN reporter? To carry an AK-47? To fire a Kassam missile into a civilian center of non-militant Israelis in Sderot? To launch a mortar shell into another civilian center in the Gush Katif area?
Was he a Hamas militant? an Islamic Jihad militant? A Fatah militant?  Was he as militant as a "settler" or less so?
Yisrael Medad


Militant killed in Gaza incursion
A Palestinian militant has been killed during an Israeli military incursion
in the northern Gaza strip, reports say.


The Terminology of Reuters

Here's something I noticed about the Reuters story on the Riyad kidnapping:No "militants", no "activists". Just plain ol' "armed" likepolicmen are armed, like army personnel are armed.Certainly not "armed guerrillas" or "armed militiamen".Gee, how low can Reuters go?

====GAZA (Reuters) - Armed Palestinians seized an Israeli Arab producer for theCNN television network from a car in Gaza City on Monday after asking forhim by name.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Did anyone notice that the op-ed in Sunday's NYTimes, today, September 26,
describing Iraq's nuclear weapons development history was missing something?
This op-ed:

Like, missing Israel's bombing raid on the Osaryk reactor on June 7, 1981?
The one that saved the world from a nuclear holocaust.
The reactor assisted by France.
The bombing ordered by Menachem Begin.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Nadia Matar Has Surprised Me

No, I wasn't surprised by Nadia's use of Holocaust analogies, intimations and semantics in comparing what Yonatan Bassie, head of the Disengagement Office to remove the Jews from the Gaza District, is doing to what the Judenrat's were asked to do.

The very first demo of the Women in Green, I recall, when they went out to the Green Line, was one in which Holocaust-recalling terminology was used, specifically "ghetto". I have consciously tried to avoid use of the Holocaust but have succumbed in one respect: when I point out to critics of Israel that I cannot recall one single instance when a Nazi, having found out that a few Jews were still living in some bunker, forest lair, ghetto or shetel or concnetration camp or death march, strapped on some dynamite and tossed himself in among them to kill them, But the Arabs, who supposedly are less evil than Nazis (according to our "friends" abroad and our Lefties at home), hate us so much that they are willing, and even orgiastically excited enough, to kill themselves if only to be able to kill more Jews.

But, getting back to my main point, Nadia Matar and Ruth Matar surprised me. Nadia was visciously attacked in the Jerusalem Post for her Holocaust remarks and, of course, misquoted and quoted out of context. But when I opened my Jerusalem Post this morning, Friday, there was a WIG ad with an Oleg cartoon (I haven't gone through the JPost web site so I don't know if any WIG ads are there).

Why surprised you are still asking yourselves? Well, I would have thought that Nadia and Ruth would have pulled their ad. Now, I know that the JPost is one of the main outlets of advertising to Jews living abroad, who, like for many institutions and advocacy groups, including those that I am affiliated with, contribute handsomely to our causes, for which we are very grateful. But, nevertheless, the blow that the JPost struck WIG would have, I thought to myself (and now I am thinking out loud to all of you), was mean.

In other situations and circumstances of the politics and policy of demos of Women in Green, I think Nadia and Ruth would have advocated withdrawal of financial support as a means of expressing intense displeasure. In fact, that's what they are berating Bassie for, offering money to the Gaza district Jewish residents.

Moreove, they even demanded that Yonatan Bassie himself give up his job and yield financially.

Of course, maybe they did try to pull the ad but it was already too late or maybe they have a long-term contract that Michael Matar (Ruth's husband, a lawyer) can't break so quickly. If so, this being Yom Kippur eve, I request apologies from all concerned.

But, I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Shaul Magid purports in the Jerusalem Report that "radical settlers…rejectstate authority if it conflicts with their messianicvision” and that they are “adopting anti-Zionist andanti-state attitudes” (The Settler Secession”, Sept.20). Actually, his view is a twisted reflection ofhis own broken mirror.Our Zionism is the traditional kind, the one bothsecularists and the religiously observant lived,labored and died for for over a century since theadvent of Herzlian political Zionism, the one that wasapproved by the world’s foremost international bodyback in 1922. That Zionism sought the reestablishmentof the Jewish National Home through close settlementon the land, as the League of Nations decision readwhen Great Britain was awarded the Mandate.If there is a change of vision, it is a result ofthose, like Magid abroad and other academics and thecultural elite in Israel, who promote the idea of“State” above all. If the “State” declares the Osloprocess to be followed, when dead Jews become, asShimon Peres termed them, “sacrifices of peace” and ifthe “State” seeks to expel and exile Jews from theirhomes, but will prosecute citizens who talk of thetransfer of Arabs, then who is the radical, theextremist and the real anti-Zionist?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Tariq's Tricks

Tariq Ramadan, the controversial Swiss Islamist, published an op-ed in the NYTimes of September 1. He outlines the “legitimate criticism of American foreign policy” which cause the Arab and Islamic world “misgivings” and lists them as “five specific grievances”.

The first, naturally, is the “unbalanced role” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The fact that in a neutral countup, America essentially supports perhaps as much as 90% of Palestinian demands regarding territory, Jerusalem and settlements (or, if we stiill go with Ehud Barak’s plan, we can up that to 97%).

Then we have American support for authoritarian regimes in the Arab world and indifference to democratic movements, particularly those of a religious bent. Well, in my opinion, it is the Arab world that supports these dictatorships and I have not read, heard or saw any religious-based democractic Islamic movement.

Third is that Washington’s policies are driven by short-term economic and geo-strategic interests. Excuse me? If it wasn’t for oil, the Arab countries would still be back in the dark ages of camel caravans. They don’t share these interests?

Fourth is the tolerance of some prominent Americans of Islam-bashing. Aw, gee, at least they don’t chop off fingers, hands or heads.

Fifth and last is the use of military force as the primary means of establishing democracy. Of course, the major establishment of American democracy was the result of the War of Independence and a Civil War some 85 years later, quashed a fallout of American democracy. The defense of that democracy was accomplished in another military action called World War II, when the Arabs fought with, supported or otherwise avoided fighting against the Axis powers.

Tariq Ramadan should add stand-up comic as an additional performance ability.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

In the New York Times editorial of August 23, "Folly in the West Bank",
the paper insists a peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian issue "To be just, workable and sustainable...will have to divide that land into two coherent territories...".

While supposedly a logical idea, one needs recall that that proposal was tried in 1922, when TransJordan was lopped off the original mandate area, in 1937, when the Peel Commission partition was put forward and in 1947 when the UN Resolution predicated itself on partition. While the Zionist movement accepted the principle of surrendering Jewish rights to its historic homeland, the Arabs never sought any peace based on geographical division and never accepted such.

During 1948-1967, Palestinian Arabs, as fedayeen and later, as Fatah,
sought to "liberate" a Palestine that was but in reality the eradication of Israel. Even with Lebanon, yielding up all the territory Israel controlled in 1999 does not satisfy the Hezzbolah while the other territorial occupation by Syria is ignored by international forums.

Perhaps the New York Times can suggest a better plan, that might work?

Friday, August 20, 2004

How to Skew The News

Steven Erlanger, in his report published today, Friday, sought out additional
commentary and quoted from two Israelis, Nahum Barnea and Yaron Ezrahi.
Ezrahi also was quoted in another report this past week by Erlanger.

As a long-time observer of the New York Times' reporting on Israel, and having
had personal contacts with many correspondents, I wrote the following to the
newspaper's Public Editor:-

I have noticed that this aspect of journalism is particularly problematic. In the past, Thomas
Friedman would include quotations from Rabbi David Hartman as well as his Persian
grocery store owner. Other reporters also concentrated on just a few'outsiders'.

The problem is that the NYT reporters here almost exclusively rely on sources
who are Leftist or moderate, 'peace' pro-activists, anti-religious and anti-government.
I amnot referring to persons involved in the story but to those, like in Erlanger's report,
who are brought in from academia or the media to provide 'ambience" to the story.

This reliance on a rather cliquish and an elite band of sources will bias the reports
read by the NYT readers. Rarely is there a Rightist, a staunch Zionist or a conservative
philosopher or cleric. This is unfortunate and imbalanced.

I hope that my drawing attention to the area will prove a benefit to the
professional ethical reporting of the NYT.

And I could and should have added that these sources are always nebulously identified
without reference to their political views and ideological positions.

Mr. Sharon's largest problem is that his Gaza disengagement policy is
not what most Likud members want, said Nahum Barnea, a columnist with
Yediot Aharonot. "He's committed to continuing negotiations with Labor and
his disengagement plan," Mr. Barnea said. "But it's hard. He's weakened,
and he could really split Likud. And when you're weaker, people tend to
raise the price.''
Yaron Ezrahi, a political scientist at Hebrew University, said Mr. Sahron might
not consider it a catastrophe if Likud split. "He could head a huge center bloc
that would back his policies, if he could only get these guys in Likud off his back,''
he said.The temptation is for Mr. Sharon, Labor's Mr. Peres and Shinui's Tommy
Lapid, all over 75, and all of whom largely agree on Gaza and the dismantling
of some settlements, to unite to run on a single party list in the next election,
marginalizing the far right and the religious parties.But Mr. Barnea thinks that is
a very unlikely outcome, given the complexities. And Mr. Sharon seems to
understand that he needs at least some religious party to deal with the honest
agonies of the Israeli settler population.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Morality and Israel

James Bennet's final climatic chords in his profile of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "Sharon's Wars", that he had published in the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday, August 15, 2004, refer to an Israel that is "morally alert...morally conflicted but...also morally compromised in the eyes of the world". He then selects as a final nail in his coffin carpentry a statement spoken by extreme left-winger, Yaron Ezrahi, a former Peace Now spokesperson, that Israel could become ''the largest ghetto in modern Jewish history."

Bennet's pessimism is but a reflection on the refusal of too many to accept that Israel, and its driving nationalist ideology, Zionism, have a place at all in the scheme of things. Kept away for centuries from its rightful sons, our land became a neglected desert and, starting in the 1930s, when we Jews were kept away from the land by restrictive immigration policies, millions were eventually cremated and buried alive in the Holocaust. Land and people are inextricably bound up.

Prior to 1967, the disputed territories were somehow not "occupied" by Jordan or Egypt and the "Palestine", it became obvious, that terrorists attempted then to "liberate" was but Israel itself. That unpleasant fact was, and still is, ignored.

Israel is in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as a result of Arab aggression but it is there by the right of historical and legal primacy. These areas are the Jewish heartland where our kings, priests and prophets lived and bequeathed to the world the highest degrees of religious and cultural morality.

To ban Jews, like myself, from living in sites such as Shiloh, Beth El and Hebron, whether initiated from within by Israeli politicians or forced on our leaders from without, is the immorality that cannot be tolerated.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

When is a "Militant" not a "Terrorist"?

Here's a short letter I dashed off to the Public Editor
of the New York Times today:-

The following headline appeared over a story that appeared in the New York Times on August 13: "Militants' Blast Kills 2 Palestinians by Israel

As the story notes, a Palestinian bomber detonated explosives near a busy checkpoint, where scores of civilians gather to pass into Jerusalem, killing two Palestinian passers-by and wounding about 20 people, including 6 Israeli border police officers, 3 of them seriously.

In the past, the New York Times has deigned from replacing the term "militants" which it considers 'neutral' with a more value-content word such as 'terrorist'. The reasoning, I understand, is that the NYT does not want to define a national liberation movement either as 'freedom fighters' or 'terrorists' but to let the acts speak for themselves.

The implication, by perforce, is that when Palestinians kill Jews they are but militants, rarely, if at all, terrorists. But in this case, the bomber knew that his bomb was left in the midst of dozens of Palestinian civilians and that they would necessarily be injured and worse in the blast even if the bomber's main target was Israeli security forces.

That the NYT headline writer still selected to use the word 'militant' is beyond me.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Here's the reaction of the New York Times to my intimation regarding the media ethics of the photographers who had perhaps laid in wait for the bomb to be exploded against the Israeli tank:-

Dear Mr. Medad,

Our public editor is on vacation, and his office has passed your correspondence to me as standards editor of The Times.

Normally we are unable to reply individually to letters to the editor that are clearly intended for publication. But since you asked the public editor for a comment, I'll try to give you one.

Your letter poses a hypothesis from which The Times is at least three levels removed.

First, the cameramen in question were employed by news agencies, not by The Times; you might wish to address your comments and questions to The Associated Press and Reuters.

Second, the suggestion that the cameramen had been alerted in advance is based on nothing more than what you describe as questioning by leading media observers. I do not know who they are, or what makes them "leading."

What we have here is rumors and speculation, metamorphosing before our very eyes into an assumption of scandal. The "symbiotic relationship between terror groups and the press" is not something I recognize as characteristic of The Times.

Finally, while it is not unusual for reporters and photographers to accompany military units when accredited, I cannot imagine that a Times journalist would collude in terrorist activity or a plan to shed innocent blood.

Allan M. Siegal
Assistant Managing Editor/Standards
The New York Times

Friday, August 06, 2004

And Ayelet's Father Writes of Goldberg

The "outpost" is called Amonah, a neighborhood of Ofra, There are two dozen families living there. There are no Arab villages nearby, so no one "trekked through Arab villages" to get there. There's a paved road from Ofra, half a kilometer away.

There were no "radical nationalists" (whatever that means) there. Dress was casual. My ex-father-in-law, Yossi Ben-Aharon (Shamir's former Bureau Chief) was the sandek. Carrying weapons is a necessity given the on-going terrorism, so I carried mine. Everyone who does so is licensed and trained. Facts of life.

Perhaps Jeff thinks that I too am one of those apocalyptic zealots, though I wouldn't have guessed from the many hours we spent together in warm and friendly conversations.

The Amalakites didn't attack "the Children of Egypt" (sic) but who knows, maybe in his reading of Torah they did.

My son-in-law Akiva was not at the brit; he was in court for participating in a Kach demonstration without a permit. Anyway, all charges were dropped. My daughter denies speaking to Goldberg at the Brit; she was with her girlfriends.

I don't know to whom he talked or what "radical yeshivot" he is referring to. I introduced Goldberg to Rav Dudkevitch, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar (who spoke to Goldberg on my recommendation), and many others. He said he was impressed by their moderation and sincerity.

Avi Dichter (and HaNegbi) admitted openly that they had no information about radical elements (it was just their intuition) and of course no arrests were made. It did capture the headlines for a while. The media loves that sort of thing, especially when it's against religious Jews.

I found Goldberg's comparison between yeshiva students and Al Quida a bit exaggerated.

Reference to Rabin's "murder on the alter of settlements" was also strange, since Amir was not a settler. According to polls taken at the time he was murdered, he was the most unpopular PM in our history, with more than 2/3 of the people against him.

Rav Nevensal gave an halachic answer to an halachic question; he was quick to add that such a position does not condone violence in any way.

Rabin did not lead the Israeli army in 1967; he was depressed and holed up somewhere according to military historians. The people who openly called Rabin a Nazi and displayed pictures of him were "fake settlers" who were actually Shabak agents, like Avishai Raviv, Amir's handler.

Gosh, Goldberg

The Jeffrey Goldberg saga, continuing (expect more postings soon)

Dear Jeffrey,

I just managed to get over being dumped from your New Yorker piece after spending
a good deal of time with you at my office at the Begin Center and on the phone (and after waiting a long time between your first approach to me and then finally sitting down to talk) and now your NYTimes op-ed.

You had me fooled, I'll admit. I took you for a serious, open-minded individual,
knowledgeable of the circumstances, the instricacies and at times, the covoluted narratives of Israeli officialdom, Arabs, and the Jewish revenants who reside in portions of the historic land of Israel not yet under sovereign Jewish rule. But reading carefully through you two last products, I'm stumped.I presumed that I did not make it into your New Yorker opus because I was not extremist enough or, to be self-conglaturatory, that I was too cogent, rational and logical and had a good enough answer for every question you raised. I was under the impression that you were objective and wanted to tell the story as it is, a simplistic but very fundamental journalistic credo, one they teach or sort of mention in passing in
Journalism 101.

Of all the figures you included there, I was chagrined that I didn't even merit a small two sentence paragraph. After all, I've been in Yesha, in my community of Shiloh, since 1981, managing to participate in the first settling attempt at Sebastia in 1975 and serving as part of the English-language information & PR team of Gush Emunim for three decades.

I was even at the Yesha delegation that shadowed Yitzhak Shamir at the 1991 Madrid
Conference and during 1983-1988, served as editor of Counterpoint, the Gush Emunim
periodical, was founding editor of The Yesha Report in 1990 and sat on the Yesha Council and the Nekuda editorial board. As a second-echelon person, I think my opnions could have counted for some literary value.Then comes your latest in this week's New York Times.

If you go to my blog web site, - - you'll see that I wrote these comments, pithy and concise(with a few newly added notes):-

a) Why dateline "Ofra"? Nothing in the story relates to Ofra. Why not Jerusalem?(I now know you were at Amona. But if so, why dateline it Ofra?)

b) Okay, we have a Kachnik, one. Does that reflect on 250,000 other Jews?
c) The last political assassin was not a "settler". Why emphasize the "settlers" in this if the issue is the future assassination of Sharon?

d) If Dichter believes 200 potentials are out there, and he believes in administrative detention (=A.D.), how come no one is in A.D.? After all, they put Noam Federman in (and had to release him as, we suppose, they had no real proof), why not Haim, Yankel or even Mrs. Ayelet?

e) He misquotes Rav Neventzahl.(the Rabbi said that while he cannot erase the Halachic principle from our books, it should not be part of "hashkafa" - sort of philosophical outlook).

f) Meir Kahane was assassinated by a Muslim fanatacist - according to Goldberg's logic, should we start then assassinating muslim fanaticists (or are we already doing that and now Goldberg says its okay)?

g) Wilder claims he didn't exactly quote him in proper context.(I spoke with him yesterday)

h) Sharon himself could be doing a lot more to prevent, heavens forbid, his future assassination if he acted at least within democratic parameters, no? Wouldn't a liberal like Goldberg support that position?(could it be that this is a form of "liberal projection"? That the liberals are set on uprooting people from their homes and so need a counter-criminality from the Right?).

In addition, the spokeswoman of Ofra, Ruchie Avital, wrote this:

Although Jeffrey Goldberg datelined his article, "Protect Sharon From the Right," Ofra, West Bank, nowhere in the article is Ofra mentioned and none of the people referred to or quoted live in Ofra. I fail to understand the reason for this - did Mr. Goldberg stop off on his way and write the story on his laptop in the Ofra bus stop or local restaurant? The dateline could just have well have been Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. He seems to imply that Ofra is somehow part of the alleged threats and violence he discusses in the article, while this is not at all the case. Goldberg, I would think, has violated basic journalistic ethics in this case.

and this, too, she penned:

From the description, I had no way of understanding from the article itself where the
"outpost" Mr. Goldberg mentions is. He mentions it being "in the radical settler heartland near Nablus." Ofra is 15 minutes north of Jerusalem and 10 minutes from Ramallah - Nablus, on the otherhand, is a good 50-60 minutes to the North. Amona itself, the "outpost" Goldberg visited, is only about 8 miles north of Jerusalem,
as the crowflies, as I'm sure he could clearly see from the synagogue where the Brit was held. Being a very small country, these distances are verysignificant. Additionally, he mentions "rough trek through Arab villages to get to this hill." To reach Amona, one travels a well-paved highway to Ofra - both from north and south - a large community of about 550 families, and then drives up a paved road.

In addition, Goldberg's screed against settlers and Orthodox Jews is filled with inaccuracies and selective facts; to mention just a few: Rabin was not assassinated by a settler, the vast majority of Jews living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, including among the younger generation, do NOT support Kahane or his extremist followers, and Kahane himself was murdered by a Muslim fanatic in New York.

But the most important fact of all is that besides their strongly felt moral repugnance towards the idea of murder, political or otherwise, the Jews of Judea, Samaria and Gaza are well aware that nothing could bemore disastrous for the entire settlement movement than an attempt or even hint of an attempt to harm Ariel Sharon. Goldberg claims to have heard 14 people express a desire to murder the prime minister. I must admit, I have never heard even one.

And now back to me, Yisrael Medad:

I was contacted by Ayelet's father-in-law who claims that she denies the circumstances and narrative of her meeting with you that you included in your story. Gosh, Jeff, have we a problem with you or have you a problem with yourself?

The conflict between us Israelis and us revenants is bad enough without fabrications
and muddling interference from either clumsy ignoramuses or high-minded "save-Israel-from-itself" crusaders. Jeff, decide, are you an op-ed writer, a journalist and a media person or are you a Peace Now activist in disguise?

Please, you have your right to be either, but don't disguise your purpose in life.

Yisrael Medad

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Journalistic Ethics

Reporting on the deaths of three Arabs in the Gaza Strip in the August 4 edition of his newspaper, caused by a prematurely exploded bomb, New York Times correspondent Greg Myre notes that "videotape taken by Associated Press Television News showed a group of Palestinians placing a detonator in an alley". Other camermen, including Reuters, were present as well.

Media observers should have been quickly off the mark to ask this question: were these camermen informed beforehand of the expected attack that was to be denonated against the Israeli target? Did they know what was about to happen to the Israeli soldiers (but didn't)?

The symbiotic relationship between terror groups and the press raises questions regarding proper professional journalistic ethics in covering such violent activity. The thought of a press that lies in wait to snap a picture of an Israeli soldier being injured or worse, knowing full well that blood will be shed, is a horrific situation to contemplate.

Goldberg Goldbricks

Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker published an op-ed in the New York Times today, August 5, 2004 (see below).

My comments, pithy and concise:-

a) Why dateline "Ofra"? Nothing in the story relates to Ofra. Why not Jerusalem?
b) Okay, we have a Kachnik. Does that reflect on 250,000 other Jews?
c) The last political assassin was not a "settler". Why emphasize the "settlers" in this one if the issue is the future assassination of Sharon?
d) If Dichter believes 200 potentials are out there, and he believes in administrative detention (=A.D.), how come no one is in A.D.? After all, they put Noam Federman in (and had to release him as, we suppose, they had no real proof), why not Haim, Yankel or even Mrs. Ayelet?
e) He misquotes Rav Neventzahl.
f) Meir Kahane was assassinated by a Muslim fanatacist - according to Goldberg's logic, should we start then assassinating muslim fanaticists (or are we already doing that and now Goldberg says its okay)?
g) Wilder claims he didn't exactly quote him in proper context.
h) Sharon himself could be doing a lot more to prevent, heavens forbid, his future assassination if he acted at least within democratic parameters, no? Wouldn't a liberal like Goldberg support that position?


August 5, 2004
Protect Sharon From the Right
OFRA, West Bank

Not long ago, at a West Bank settlement outpost surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by dyspeptic German shepherds, I attended a joyful event: a brit milah, the circumcision of an eight-day-old boy. This outpost was home to just a handful of families, but more than 100 people came to celebrate with the boy's parents.
Many of the visitors made the rough trek through Arab villages to get to this hill. These young settlers are the avant-garde of radical Jewish nationalism, the flannel-wearing, rifle-carrying children of their parents' mainstream settlements, which they denigrate for their bourgeois affectations - red-tile roof chalets, swimming pools, pizzerias - and their misplaced fealty to the dictates of the government in Jerusalem. These new pioneers set out for the Samarian mountains and the hills of Hebron, where they live in log cabins and broken-down trailers, in settings sufficiently biblical and remote to allow for the cultivation of a new variant of apocalyptic zealotry.
The mohel's table stood at the rear of a double-wide trailer that serves as the outpost's synagogue. I stood by the door, near the tables holding plates of hummus and bottles of schnapps. I fell into conversation with an acquaintance of mine, a woman named Ayelet, who is in her late teens, pregnant, the daughter of a former assistant professor of history at City College. She is a resident of an outpost in the radical settler heartland near Nablus. We were interrupted by the newborn's father, a goat farmer, as he began giving a d'var Torah, an interpretation of a Bible passage. He turned, rather quickly, to the threat posed by the Amalekites, the eternal enemy of the Jews, a tribe that, according to the Bible, attacked Moses and the Children of Egypt on the exodus from Egypt.
"Amalek," in the language of the settler hardcore today, often stands for the Arabs, the existential enemy of the Jews. "I am looking at our life today, and what Amalek wants to do is swallow up the people of Israel," the father said. "This is the snake. This is the snake."
I turned to Ayelet. She wore a long skirt, her hair was covered, and she carried an M-16. I asked her if she thought Amalek was alive today. "Of course," she said, and pointed out the door, toward an Arab village in the distance. "The Amalekite spirit is everywhere. It's not just the Arabs."
Who else, then? "Sharon isn't Amalek," she said, "but he works for Amalek."
I had not seen Ayelet before with a rifle. She told me it belonged to her husband, Akiva, who couldn't be here, because he was in court in Jerusalem. He was, she said vaguely, answering charges related to his work for Kach, the racist movement founded by the late Meir Kahane.
I asked her if she would use the M-16 only against Arabs, or against Jews who came to tear down her outpost. "God forbid," she said. "We wouldn't want to hurt a Jewish soldier."
What about a Jewish prime minister?
"Sharon is forfeiting his right to live," she said.
I asked her if she would like to kill him.
"It's not for me to do. If the rabbis say it, then someone will do it. He is working against God."
Over the past year, I've heard at least 14 young Orthodox settlers - in outposts, and in yeshivas in the West Bank and Jerusalem - express with vehemence a desire to murder Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his men, in particular the deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the defense minister, Shaul Mofaz. I've met several more who actively pray - and, I suspect, work - for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim shrine on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. And I have met dozens more who would not sit shiva, certainly not for the Dome, but not for their prime minister, either.
The threat of the radical right has become a matter of terrible urgency in the Israeli government. Avi Dichter, the chief of the Israeli internal security service, has been for months running around - to borrow a phrase from George Tenet - with his hair on fire over the threat. He has warned of the potential for attacks against the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque, on the Temple Mount; such a strike, he said, would set off global war between Muslim and Jew - a goal the radical yeshivas of the West Bank share with Al Qaeda.
Mr. Dichter told a Knesset committee last month that his agents believe there are 150 to 200 settlers hoping to kill Mr. Sharon. A member of the committee asked, "If we were talking about Palestinians and not Jews, would you place these people in administrative detention?" Mr. Dichter answered, "Absolutely."
Now, there is surely something strange about an Israel in which Ariel Sharon, the invader of Lebanon and the father of settlements, is in mortal danger from the right. And it should be noted that Mr. Sharon's withdrawal plan has flaws and limitations. Yet what is most interesting here is that the settlers grasp something about the plan that Mr. Sharon's critics on the left do not, which is that Mr. Sharon poses a greater threat to theologically motivated settlers than even Yitzhak Rabin.
The difference between Mr. Rabin - who was murdered on the altar of settlement nine years ago - and Mr. Sharon is the difference between bilateralism and unilateralism. Mr. Rabin's plan depended on Yasir Arafat, and he undoubtedly would have come to see Mr. Arafat as no partner for peace. But there is only one indispensable man in Mr. Sharon's plan, and that is Mr. Sharon himself. If Mr. Sharon evacuates a settlement - and if the sky does not respond by falling - the logic of dismantlement may take hold; a majority of Israelis already support the unilateral shutting of many settlements.
Which is why the Orthodox right is in panic. The rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem, Avigdor Neventzal, announced in June that anyone who gives up a part of the land of Israel - even a single settlement - to a non-Jew could be the target of a religiously sanctioned murder. The official spokesman of the Jewish community in Hebron, David Wilder, wrote in June: "Nobody wants violence. Especially against our own brethren. But it's time to wake up. The reality is, if Sharon insists on trying to implement his 'Jewish transfer' from our homes and land, it's going to happen."
In the summer of 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was more or less alone. The man who led the Israeli Army to victory in the Six-Day War - making possible the settlement movement in the first place - was called a Nazi at public rallies; radical Orthodox rabbis cursed him; and much of world Jewry was silent. Today, once again, the atmosphere is one of tolerance for murder. "God's name is being invoked against Sharon, but where are the rabbis?" asked Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and one of the few American Jewish leaders to take heed of Mr. Dichter's warning.
The extremist yeshivas that give rise to fundamentalist thuggery are financed in part by Orthodox Jews in America. Several Orthodox rabbis in America took the lead in demonizing Mr. Rabin. And Meir Kahane, the inspiration for so much fanaticism, was an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn.
The mainstream Orthodox rabbinate - in America and in Israel - failed nine years ago to defend Yitzhak Rabin against extremism. It could be doing a great deal more today to prevent the murder of Ariel Sharon.
Jeffrey Goldberg is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

In the Letters to the Editor section of the New York Times of July 22, Mubashir Hassan argues, regarding Israel's justification for its security wall, that "One can argue similarly that if there were no occupation, there would be no terror"
He thus ignores the fact that even before Israel was accused of being an "occupier" in administering the disputed territories post-1967, there was Arab terror, which, between 1949-1967, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis.
His suggestion that Israel should erect a wall "on its own land and not on land belonging to the Palestinians" is insidious because until 1967, all the land that was then Israel was claimed by the Arab Palestinians, Israel having no right to exist. 

Moreover, one needs to follow Hassan's path backwards.  Since indeed there was Arab terror prior to the so-called "occupation", the ending of such, including dismantlement of Jewish civilian communities, etc., will not bring about peace.  For if the terror existed, which it most certainly did, and the "occupation" didn't, what else, then, was causing the terror?  The very existence of the state of Israel!  What "Palestine" were Arabs trying to "liberate" prior to 1967 if not the state of Israel?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Myre Responds

On July 9th, I wrote the following letter to the New York Times:-

A report by your correspondent Greg Myre on Israel's military activity in the Gaza Strip notes that "the Palestinians have fired more than 300 of their crude, homemade rockets in recent years, to little effect." (July 9). In addition, he records the death of an Arab woman, a mother of 7, shot in the street.As regards the number of rockets, Israeli sources claim over 4100 rockets, mortars and missiles of various types have landed among Jewish civilian targets, both in the Gaza area and within Israel, since the Arabs initiated hostilities in September 2000. The disparity in numbers is too great and raises doubts as to the reliability of your paper'snews.Moreover, Myre studiously avoids noting who killed the woman. Was it an Israeli soldier, a Palestinian militant or could not Myre have written that the source of the gunfire was in doubt? The context unfairly incriminates, without factual basis, Israeli forces.

I received this from the Public Editor's office
Dear Yisrael Medad,
Thank you for your message.Regarding your first point, are there reliable news reports to which you can direct me which claim over 4100 rockets, mortars and missiles have been fired?

To which I replied

see this progression of news:-
a) see this LATimes report from April 2001 which counts 56 mortars since February (a two month period) and that was three (!) years ago.
Palestinian Use of Mortar Shells Signals New Escalation of Conflict
By Tracy Wilkinson
GAZA CITY Palestinian fighters have added mortars to the arsenal they regularly use against Israel, drawing heavy retaliation and signaling a new phase in half a year of conflict. In a rare interview, Palestinians who claim responsibility for firing mortar shells into Israel proper, as well as at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, said they already have succeeded in one goal -- unnerving the enemy. Next, they said, they will attempt to improve their aim to exact more casualties. An Israeli government spokesman on Monday branded the firing of mortars at the Jewish state an act of hostility that marks a dangerous new level of warfare. Gaza has seen a fierce escalation in recent days, with Palestinians firing mortars at Israeli targets and Israel retaliating with rockets, anti-tank missiles and mortars of its own. There has been minor damage on the Israeli side, while two Palestinian police stations, an office of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement and a civilian home were destroyed over the weekend. After months of using rocks, assault rifles, Molotov cocktails and the occasional suicide bomber in their fight to oust Israel from the West Bank and Gaza -- and taking the brunt of casualties -- Palestinians have increased both the range and the destructive potential of their firepower by using the mortars. The use of such weapons also stands in sharp contrast to years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the first intifada, which began in 1987 and in which Palestinians’ choice of arms was much more limited. In early February, for the first time, Palestinians began lobbing mortar shells at the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in Gaza. On March 18, the first mortars were fired at Israel proper, hitting an army base near the Nahal Oz kibbutz. The kibbutz was hit April 3. In all, there have been 56 mortar attacks since early February, according to a tally by the Israeli army. Sporadic at first, they are now occurring with regular intensity. Another shell crashed Monday into the Atzmona Jewish settlement in Gaza. Palestinians said that on Sunday Israelis launched surface-to-surface missiles, another first in the spiral of violence. No Israelis have been killed in the shelling, but three were injured, including a 1-year-old. The retaliatory rocketing by Israel, which has come swiftly since the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon took office last month, has injured scores of Palestinian police and civilians. “We consider ourselves to be free to act against Israeli targets, without restraint, whether inside or outside of Gaza,” said the leader of a unit that has carried out shelling. This story was published on Tuesday, April 10, 2001. Volume 121, Number 17
2) an AIPAC report on October 7, 2002 (two years ago) counts over 1100Terrorists have established weapons factories throughout Gaza Gaza’s crowded cities and neighborhoods are conducive to concealing the manufacture and spread of dangerous weapons technology. In response to mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel, in recent weeks, has destroyed dozens of arms factories and weapons workshops that have allowed Hamas, with the aid of the PA, to produce massive caches of explosives and ammunition and to develop a series of indigenous rockets known as the Qassam. The Qassam-1 is thought to have a range of up to three miles, while the six-foot-long Qassam-2 has a range of up to five miles and can carry a payload of more than 20 pounds of explosives. Several Israelis, including a 16-month-old boy, have been wounded in rocket attacks emanating from Gaza. Since the violence began more than two years ago, the Palestinians have launched more than 1,100 mortars and Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel.
3) found the first recorded use of artillery in Commentary July 2001 - three years ago"On January 30, Palestinian artillery was put to use for the first time when a mortar shell hit the settlement of Netzarim in Gaza... "
4) in a report in HaAretz, eight months ago, more than 3000 mortars and rockets had been launched(the web source is actually pro-palestinian)Two out of fiveNADAV SHRAGAIHa'aretz, 25 September 2003Almost 40 percent of the Israeli fatalities in the intifada were murdered in the territories. From September 2000 to the beginning of the hudna, 17,405 attacks were recorded in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza StripFrom September 2000 up until the beginning of the hudna, or cease-fire, (in early July this year), 18,135 terror attacks were recorded. Of these, 17,405 (96 percent) were in the territories and "only" 730 (4 percent) were in the state of Israel. That is, for every attack within the Green Line, there were 24 attacks in the territories. The attacks within Israel were relatively few, but very deadly. The overwhelming majority of terror victims within the Green Line - 401 people - were murdered by suicide bombers and 54 were shot to death. In the territories, on the other hand, there were countless attacks, but they were relatively less lethal. But they succeeded in disrupting the routine of life there for long periods of time. * Shots were fired at passing vehicles 2,199 times, and 100 people were killed (89 in the West Bank and 11 in the Gaza Strip) * Roadside bombs were detonated 1,091 times in the territories, and only rarely by suicide bombers. As a result, 64 Israelis were killed (37 in the West Bank and 27 in the Gaza region). Another 657 bombs were found and disarmed before they exploded. * Shots were fired at settlements 739 times, killing 17 people. * More than 1,800 grenades were thrown at soldiers and civilians, especially in the Gaza Strip. * Eighteen attempts to run over Israelis were recorded (with no fatalities), and 2 people were killed in 68 stabbing and other assaults. * More than 3,000 mortars and Qassam rockets were fired during the past three years at settlements in the Gaza Coast Regional Council.
5) is the web for the Gazan Jewish communities. they have counted some 4200. I am pretty sure the NYT quotes PA sources so the Jewish communities should be at least as reliable
eventually, on July 17, I received this response from Greg Myre
Mr. Medad,
In response to your e-mail about my story, I have rechecked the information on the Qassam rockets, and it is correct. Furthermore, the information you offer does nothing to contradict my story.I wrote that the Palestinians have fired more than 300 Qassam rockets since the current fighting began in September 2000. The Israeli military has cited this figure repeatedly in recent days. As of today, the army spokesman's office says the figure is 320. That's basically all you need to know, but I will elaborate.The recent Israeli incursion into the northern Gaza Strip was carried out specifically to stop Qassam rocket fire from that area, according to the military. The military has not cited other types of fire, such as mortars or missiles, for staging this operation. This is why I gave the figures for the Qassam rockets and not other types of weapons.In contrast, you cite a rather different figure - '4100 rockets, mortars and missiles of various types.' I'll take your word that this figure is accurate, but I don't think it is relevant to this story, and I also think it is meaningless without further explanation.The Qassam rocket is the most dangerous of these weapons. As I'm sure you know, rockets killed two Israelis last month, prompting the Israeli invasion. This was the first time that the Qassams caused any deaths. As my story noted, they are extremely inaccurate and have caused few injuries and relatively little damage.The other 3800 'mortars and missiles of various types' have not caused any deaths, and as far as I know, no serious injuries. There is nothing wrong with mentioning this figure, but it's critically important to note that as weapons they have been almost totally ineffectual, a fact your letter fails to mention.You also raised a question about the Palestinian woman shot dead in Gaza. My story reported all the information that was available to us, citing Palestinian witnesses and the Israeli military. I said that there was a gunbattle in the neighborhood and the women and her children fled, and that she was shot dead in the street.I don't know who shot this woman, and my story didn't claim to have this information.During the past four years of fighting, I am sure there have been cases where Palestinians have been killed by Palestinian fire. However, having covered the fighting since it began, I am quite certain that in the vast majority of cases like this, Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire.Neither side conducts detailed forensic studies to provide absolute proof of the source of fire. In addition, the Israeli military acknowledges that it rarely has precise information on Palestinian casualties.In this case, and others like it, I am not inclined to suggest that a Palestinian was killed by another Palestinian, or an Israeli killed by another Israeli, unless we have some evidence pointing in that direction. The overwhelming evidence is that Palestinians are killing Israelis, and Israelis are killing Palestinians.Sincerely,Greg Myre

To which I then replied

thanks for replying. that the other almost 4000 ballistics of various types were ineffectual is problematic.I am sure that the intention of those that launched them was murderous and thatthey were mostly, if almost exclusively, aimed at civilian targets and therein liesan important point, especially as Israelis reactions to these attacks sometimescause unintended Arab civilian casualties - which are played up. the media imageof a big military power oppressing an under-defended population is something thatis a bit unfair.if the NYTimes would devote a story to the entire issue of the threat facing Israelfrom these missiles, rockets and mortars, a threat that would only increase ifIsrael does indeed disengage, and a threat that no fence that I can imagine would halt,and a threat helped along by Egyptian either indifference or active conspiracy, that would be a contribution of good for the Palestinian woman, in this case I was just complaining about unclear languageand am aware how stories are edited and re-edited down the road.again, thanks for the input and providing me with more information than I need know.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Treason. Treason?!

In an item by Ma'ariv's Nadav Eyal, Tomy Lapid of Shinui is quoted as saying that a "government with Hareidim is treason (begida, in Hebrew) against the secular public". (it's in the Friday, July 16th issue, page 5, at bottom right).
Gee, doesn't he know that that word is prohibited from use in polite company and that he might be accused of fomenting murder, subversion and other forms of usuraption?
Or is it that only when right-wingers use it that every newspaper will carry an accusatory headline, that every TV news program will excorciate them and that every radio interview program will denounce them?
Ever since the Rabin assassination, that word has been banned from use by our trendy liberal, progressive and humanist lefties who dominate all forms our public discourse in Israel.  But, of course, Lapid, to an extent, belongs to that milieu and so, we won't hear any murmurings of discontent, no denunciations.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Maybe Just Unattainable

James Bennet asserts the New York Times of July 15 that the Palestinian Authority's "institutions of statehood are crumbling" and highlights this by juxtaposing two Jenin residents who first met in 1989 during what he terms the "first Palestinian uprising against Israel", ("In Chaos, Palestinians Struggle for a Way Out").

Actually, this pattern of self-destruct was already apparent during the truly first Arab revolt, against the British Mandate and the Zionist community, in the years 1936-1939. Internecine fighting, mutual assassinations, local banditry, countryside pillaging of peasants by marauding bands of terrorists all were present at that time and subverted any hopes for unity of purpose.

There is a pattern here. It could be that statehood is not an attainable goal for Palestine's Arabs, or, as logic dictates, they don't deserve it.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Myre Mires and Muddles

Greg Myre, a New York Times correspondent in Israel, reported in the July 9 issue on Israel's military activity in the Gaza Strip. He noted that "the Palestinians have fired more than 300 of their crude, homemade rockets in recent years, to little effect." In addition, he records the death of an Arab woman, a mother of 7, shot in the street.
It can be found here:

As regards the number of rockets, Israeli sources claim over 4100 rockets, mortars and missiles of various types have landed among Jewish civilian targets, both in the Gaza area and within Israel, since the Arabs initiated hostilities in September 2000. The disparity in numbers seems to be too great and raises doubts as to the reliability of the paper's news.

And I will ignore that remark about "little effect". Who cares? What counts is the intention of the terrorists to kill and damage as much as possible.

Moreover, Myre studiously avoids noting who killed the woman. Was it an Israeli soldier, a Palestinian militant or could not Myre have written that the source of the gunfire was in doubt? It has happened before that Pals. have killed their own people, even by accident. The context unfairly incriminates, without factual basis, Israeli forces as if they purposefully shot down a mother of seven.
see Myre's reply on July 17

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Sorry, But This Wasn't Israel


Coalition says it hit safe house; at least 18 killed
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Coalition forces Saturday said they launched a missile strike against a "safe house" in Fallujah, Iraq, linked to the anti-coalition network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an insurgent wanted for attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqis.
Hospital and Iraqi official sources said at least 18 Iraqis were killed and nine others were wounded in the Sunni Triangle city -- where witnesses described a U.S. airstrike. The coalition later acknowledged its operation and did not dispute that up to 19 people might have been killed.
The U.S.-led coalition said it used precision weapons to destroy the safe house after receiving intelligence from multiple sources.
The coalition said secondary explosions from illegal weapons and ammunition stockpiles lasted for 20 minutes.
On Wednesday, a senior Pentagon official said intelligence indicated insurgent leader al-Zarqawi and members of his organization might be hiding in Fallujah.
A senior coalition official said the structure was believed to house members of the al-Zarqawi network, but al-Zarqawi was not believed to be inside. Coalition officials believe members of his network were among those killed.
The Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi has been blamed for several attacks in Iraq, including Thursday's car bombing outside an Iraqi army recruitment center in Baghdad that killed at least 35 people and wounded 145.
Some witnesses and survivors said they saw two U.S. jets launch an attack and subsequently saw the destruction of two houses.
Wounded people in a Fallujah hospital earlier said their houses had been hit by a U.S helicopter strike. The senior coalition military official would not confirm jets were used in the strike but he said the operation did not involve helicopters.
Among the dead were two children and a woman, and the bodies were charred, hospital officials said. Two women among the injured and wounded people were taken to hospitals in Baghdad and Ramadi.
News footage from Fallujah showed people milling around and picking through the rubble.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Really Right Words

In the August 5, 2001 column of ON LANGUAGE by WILLIAM SAFIRE, in the New York Times Weekend Magazine, I found this:-

"Words have connotations. In the disputed territory known as the West Bank, an Israeli village is called a settlement, implying fresh intrusion; a small Palestinian town, even one recently settled, is called a village,
implying permanence."

Not to take all the credit, but I have written to Mr. Safire several times in the past, using that exact example. Well, maybe we have gained a supporter for a
proper Hasbara line.

For those who have time to read, here's the whole section which touches also on other related topics in the "semantic war".:

''President Boris Trajkovski,'' reported the Guardian correspondent in Skopje, Macedonia, ''vowed to continue the fight against the gunmen of the National Liberation Army.''

In Belfast, The Associated Press reported that ''two gunmen fired shots at Catholic men smoking outside a community center.''

''Three Palestinian militants were killed'' in an Israeli helicopter attack, reported ABC News. ''In apparent retaliation, Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli yesterday and set off two car bombs.''

Words have connotations. In the disputed territory known as the West Bank, an Israeli village is called a settlement, implying fresh intrusion; a small Palestinian town, even one recently settled, is called a village, implying permanence.

A word that terrifies many fair-minded editors is terrorist; it connotes criminality. Because it is said that one man's terrorist is another man's ''freedom fighter,'' journalists have reached out for other nouns, like
guerrilla, militant or paramilitary.

The latest rush from judgment is gunman. In 1999, that word appeared once in the database I checked for every five uses of terrorist in connection with Israel; now it's running about one in two.

Because the Associated Press stylebook has no specific entries on terrorist or gunman, I asked its editor, Norm Goldstein, about what went into the choice. ''Words like gunmen, separatist and rebel are often more precise than terrorist and less likely to be viewed as judgmental,'' he notes. ''We often prefer the more specific words for that reason.'' Nor does the Times stylebook have a guideline; its editors tell reporters to use ''the most accurate and impartial term, especially in cases where the political merits are disputed.''

The United States Department of State has a guideline in Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d): ''The term 'terrorism' means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets'' -- that means civilian or unarmed military -- by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an

Gunmen may be a useful catchall for journalists who do not want to appear less than objective by applying that standard of political intent and noncombatant victim. But in avoiding one problem, it engenders another:
''Why do you suppose this gender-biased word is still in use?'' asks Isaac Moses of Cambridge, Mass. ''Perhaps the lesson that violence is a particularly male occupation is not one that we want to impart on our little boys.''

In every other walk of linguistic life, sexism is being rooted out. Firemen are firefighters, policemen police officers, postmen mail carriers. But in current ultra-nonjudgmental parlance, there are neither terrorists nor
gunwomen. A female terrorist using a gun goes by the name of gunman.

Bush and "Settlements"

President George W. Bush, in his speech on the White House steps on Monday, made one direct reference to the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and another, oblique reference.

In the one section of his address, he stated that "Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop." This is a bit unclear to me. Did he mean a "provisional" stop, like as in a provisional state a la Colin Powell? Is this a halt that is to be temporary or part of the final resolution of the conflict? Are the communities to be allowed, at a future date, to begin natural development once again, or must they remain fixed at the current situation or what?

In a second section, he touched on the core issues that divide Israel and the Palestinians and insisted that if there is to be a real peace, these claims must be resolved. In this context, Bush said that "the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended...with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognize borders." Again, I am not sure of the details. Must the Jewish civilian presence in these areas be banned and the communities dismantled? Would President Bush be amenable to accept that Jews can live in Shiloh, Samaria and Hebron, Judea just like we can do so in Shiloh, Ohio (or Illinois or Wisconsin) or in Hebron Texas, (or Nebraska or Maryland)?

And if he does accept the rather immoral and unjust Palestinian stance that their territory must be emptied of Jews, would he accept a rather more permanent resolution of the conflict that would permit Israel to move its Arab population into the new Palestine?

Obviously, the question of the legality of the Jewish residential communities in areas beyond Israel's former "Green Line" border is one that simply will not go away. Kofi Anan, last March, spoke of an "illegal occupation" what George P. Fletcher called "careless language". Arabs are insistent that international law forbids Jewish communities in the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (which in Hebrew acronym form is initialized as YESHA).

The constant repetition of this theme has browbeaten many. Others simply ignore the claim, assuming it may be correct but nevertheless promote a Jewish presence due either to Israel's security needs or out of a religious-based recognition that these are actually the heartland of the Biblical geographical landscape. Israel's Foreign Ministry's wishy-washy information services, mainly due to partisan internal politics, never tackle the issue head-on. In truth, international law supports those villages, agricultural communities and municipalities.

What Mr. Bush may not be aware of is that the text of the 1917 Balfour Declaration of 1917 had been approved by a previous United States President,
Woodrow Wilson, prior to its publication. Indeed, the Inquiry Commission established by President Wilson affirmed "that Palestine should become a Jewish State" and that "Palestine...was the cradle and home of their vital race", a succinct statement of the essence of the principle of self-determination, a principle the Arabs have absconded away with as if applicable only to their cause.

That declaration, issued by the British Government and later to serve as the basis for the League of Nations Mandate approved in 1922, refers on the one hand to "a National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine" while on the other, it refers to "non-Jewish communities in Palestine".

The distinction is not coincidental nor unintentional. National and historical rights are recognized clearly in the context of the Jewish people only. The assumption that the land in question, 'belonged' as it were, to an Arab people (there were no Palestinians to speak of at the time), was, and is, textually unsupported. What was included in the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate were the "civil and religious rights" of non-specified "non-Jewish communities". Again, no "Arabs".

Furthermore, the Mandate acknowledges that "recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country". In Article 6, the administration apparatus of the Mandate, the temporary form of government, was charged with facilitating and encouraging "close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes". Well, it seems that international recognition of "settlements" and settlement activity is over 80 years old.

President Bush should also be apprised that the United States House of Representatives and the Senate adopted resolutions supporting the Mandate, on June 30, 1922 and May 3, 1922 respectively. Indeed, President W. Harding signed a proclamation on September 21, 1922 which stated that "the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People...and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected". These acts reinforced the position fully understood that the rights accruing a national grouping belonged solely to the Jewish people and that non-Jewish elements could claim but protection for property and civil rights on an individual buildings basis.

Interestingly enough, one might ask if the administration can pursue a policy - the prohibiting of residence - which if activated in the United States would surely be struck down by the Supreme Court there as racist and illegal. Given that the U.S. Congress has already expressed a principled support to the right of Jews to live throughout its historic homeland, I would suggest that President Bush should review his policy.

In the end though, it comes down to a gut feeling: can it be that a Jew cannot live in the places where his religion, cultural and national identity was shaped for many hundreds of years? What "law" touts that?